Microsoft has been slowly cutting back on the features supported by their voice assistant, Cortana, including removing its integration from Android handsets and taking away support for basic features such as setting timers.

It seems the company has now started the phase of building it back up again, with ALumia reporting that Microsoft has released a significant update for Cortana Beta, taking it to version 2.1912.18729.0, which introduces a number of new features.

These include:

  • Suggested Taks: Although at the moment there is an empty section, the activities are in turn divided into three sub-categories (Found, Active and History).
  • WakeWord : Microsoft has introduced the possibility to start Cortana simply by saying its name (as was already possible with the old Cortana app). The feature does not appear to offer the ability to set your own wakeword yet.
  • Redesigned settings:  Microsoft has significantly improved the settings of Cortana (Beta), introducing a more elegant and responsive hamburger menu;
  • Support for old versions of Windows 10 has been eliminated:  You can now download Cortana (Beta) only on Windows 10 PCs with a build 19023 or higher on board;
  • Corrections and improvements

Some of the features can be seen illustrated in ALumia’s screenshots above.

Currently, Cortana only supports US-English, with Microsoft set to withdraw from most of the world. It remains to be seen if the space will be filled by competitors such as Amazon’s Alexa or if Microsoft will claw its way back up to relevance again.

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