Cortana in German – first some problems, later an already solid digital assistant

wp_ss_20141205_0002Cortana has been available in the US and Great Britain (also in China with a different name) for some time now. Citizens of other countries either had to use the English version or do without the smart digital personal assistant. With yesterdays update, however, Cortana was made available to millions of people living in other European countries like Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Me being German I was really excited about the news. Immediately when I have heard the update was available yesterday evening I installed it…

…and run into some problems. First, Cortana just did not want to work for me, literally. Pressing the search button just opened up the Bing search app. Countless restarts and numerous amounts of region changing in hope Cortana will get installed later, and I realized: Only a reset will get Cortana working for me.
So I did it. After only 10 minutes everything was done, and after I have set everything up the next problem occurred: WiFi does not work. The arrows in the status bar showed that the phone was able to get an outgoing connection, but no incoming. In other words: I could not download any data. The phone was unusable, as I really did not want to download several hundreds of MB  over my carrier network. Reset. Same problem. I decided to reset it via the button combination. Same problem. Being totally annoyed and tired, the last option I saw was the Lumia Software Recovery Tool. It was also the only way to downgrade my phone to the latest official (meaning non-preview) software available for my Lumia 1520, and viola, everything worked again.
Afterwards I could update my phone with the preview for developers app to the latest software available. It took three updates or 30 minutes and I finally had Cortana – and everything else as well – working.

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After I set everything up and installed all the apps I need the testing began. Cortana in German is not much different from the US Cortana. In fact, only a small amount of features do not work, and the voice is still very robotic. For example, I cannot ask the German Cortana how tall Vladimir Putin is just yet, and when she can give me an answer (e.g. “How far is it to Berlin”) her voice is very stuttering. Instead of saying “It’s about 681 kilometers”, her answer sounds more like “It’s – about – – – 681 – – – kilometers – to – Berlin.”. Anyways, it was not much better with the American Cortana in the beginning, and I am sure it will be fixed very soon, and her voice already sounds very nice. In fact, it sounds almost like the American Cortana, which is very nice, considering the British version of Cortana sounds not that lovable.

Speech recognition works awesomely well. She understands everything I say, only when I talk a little faster than normal people do (I usually talk faster than others) she will get one or two words wrong. Mostly, however, she still gets what I said.

Also, most, and the most important, features already work. I can set people reminders, see how long I would need to get to place xyz and Cortana will remind me when I arrived at certain places. This does not mean these features work perfectly just yet. I can ask her to remind me to watch a movie when I am at the cinema, and she will ask me which cinema, but she will not understand “supermarket”, just to name one example. Basic small talk, like “sing a song” or “tell me a joke” works without any problems, except that the database is not filled with many jokes and songs yet.
There are other flaws as well. Translation sometimes… well, misses something. Sometimes sentences are grammatically a little bit wrong due to words being missing, or a perfectly right text is being displayed but Cortana skips one or two words reading it out. These are just little things, however. For an early Alpha which came earlier than most of us probably expected, Cortana in German is awesome. It will be fun to see her growing up and learning new things, and actually, she even asked for being patient with her. She is just an intern yet was said when I set up the phone Zwinkerndes Smiley
If you want to see the German Cortana working, I recommend you watch Rafael video for Microle.de

Have you already tried out Cortana in German, French, Italian or Spanish? Let us know in the comments below what you think about her, and what flaws you have found.

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