Cortana, a smart voice assistant is a fantastic feature that was announced along with Windows Phone OS 8.1 few months ago. Cortana on Windows Phone is similar to an Apple’s Siri or Android’s Google Now. Cortana uses Bing for most of its searches/stories and currently works only in the US. Microsoft have announced that, it will roll-out Cortana to other countries as early as possible. This is a simple how-to article on how can you activate Cortana on your device running Windows Phone 8.1 even if you are not based in the US. Changing the language on your phone to United States English is the first step. I am listing out these steps from my Nokia Lumia 930, which I imported from the UK. So I have to first change the language from English (United Kingdom) to English (United States).
Step 1: To do the same, click on settings on your phone and reach out to the region options. You can then click on “Add language” and select US. Remember, the phone may restart while configuring the region options. After the reboot, ensure that, the Phone Language, Regional Format and Speech are all enabled. If not, then click on the language, and reboot the phone again.
Remember, it will take sometime to download the language packs, and configure the same on your phone.
Step 2: Now Tap on the region, and change the same to United States. Ensure that the, Regional Format is enabled to ‘Match Phone Language’ or English (United States). Its better if you override the settings and change it to English (United States). You may have to reboot the phone once you make this configuration.
After the reboot, you wont see a Cortana in any of the applications or in the hot search key. You will have to go to Settings, Applications and then Enable Cortana. You can also change your name and make other speech and battery settings for this app.
Cortana is now enabled on your phone. You can click on the Search icon to start the application or rather conversation.
English diction can be an issue at the beginning; however, the phone learns you well as you start using it more often.
If you are wondering what to talk to your new digital assistant, this article would come handy.
PS: Now that you have changed your default language of the phone to United States English, you may not have the default currency icon of pound on your keyboard. However, you can long-press the currency icon and it will display all the other available options.
Deactivating Cortana: If for some reason you would like to disable Cortana from your phone, you can go to Settings -> Applications -> Cortana and turn it off. Reboot the phone and then delete the Phone Data to clear the logs.