Microsoft Band Tip: Use Cortana

Microsoft Band Tip: Use Cortana

Microsoft Band Tip: Use Cortana

If you're using Microsoft Band with a smart phone based on the latest version of Windows Phone OS, you have some additional functionality: You can use your voice to access the Cortana personal digital assistant from your Band. You can also optionally view Cortana notifications on the Band.

Note: This tip is based on content in my free e-book, Microsoft Band Field Guide, which I'm currently writing. You can always find the latest version of this book—which will be updated as Microsoft Band is updated—at the Field Guide Books web site.

This functionality has a few specific requirements. Your smart phone must be running Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 or newer. And you must have Cortana enabled on your phone: To do so, navigate to Settings, Applications, Cortana and make sure the top option is set to On.

Note: You don't need to enable the Cortana tile on your Band to use voice control. Doing so only enables the display of Cortana notifications. In other words, if you're using Band with a Windows Phone (8.1 or newer), you automatically get Cortana functionality.

Using Microsoft Band, you can access the Cortana personal digital assistant by pressing and holding the action button for two seconds. Band will vibrate and then display a "Listening..." screen, indicating it is ready for your voice commands. (Microsoft Band has a built-in microphone.)

As for what you can say to Cortana, you may be surprised to discover that there is a wide range of capabilities here, which Microsoft details in part on its Windows Phone web site. Among the interactions you can have—and yes, these all work via Band too—are:

Use Cortana to answer a question. Ask Cortana a question such as "what is the weather?" or "what is the capital of Massachusetts?" Or ask her funny questions like "how are you feeling?" or "can you sing me a song?"

Use Cortana to perform a task. Cortana can interact with many of your phone's functions. You can ask for a reminder ("remind me to leave at 3pm") or set an alarm, create a OneNote-based note ("create a new note," followed by some text for that note), send a text message ("text Stephanie," followed by some text for that message), and much more.

I can't really provide a full guide to Cortana—that's a huge topic in its own right—but these interactions all follow a similar path. You provide a voice command, Cortana communicates that she is listening and then thinking about your request via the Band's display, and then she may make sure she understands or ask follow-up questions. And in some cases, you may need to complete the action on your phone. But I think you'll find that the capabilities here are surprisingly strong as you construct fairly involved text messages or new calendar appointments—or whatever—with just your voice.

Plus, you get to look like Dick Tracy while doing so.

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