Microsoft finally unveils its Siri competitor ‘Cortana’

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It’s been nearly three years since Apple unveiled Siri on its iPhone 4s, and Microsoft finally has its answer to the digital assistant: Cortana. Named after a virtual character in the company’s popular Halo gaming franchise, the feature is powered by Bing and offers a mix of Google Now-ish and Siri-like characteristics.

We first got a glimpse of Cortana earlier this year courtesy of a developer leak, but Microsoft officially unveiled her this morning at its Build Developer Conference in San Francisco. The assistant will ship alongside several other new features in the Windows Phone 8.1 update, expected to launch in the next few months…

How does it work? Cortana can be triggered either by an assigned Live Tile on your Windows Phone home screen, or via your device’s built-in search button. From there, it works pretty much like any other digital assistant, capable of setting alarms, searching the web, finding nearby restaurants and other standard affair.

Cortana also has a few unique traits as well, such as contextual reminders that will remind you of something when you’re talking to a designated person, and the ability to add shows to your queue on Hulu Plus. Microsoft has provided an API for third-party apps to interface with—but to what degree, we don’t know yet.

Here’s a video overview of Windows Phone 8.1 (Cortana comes in at 1:50 mark):

Other 8.1 improvements include a new Action Center, similar to iOS 7′s Control and Notification Centers, a refreshed start screen and an updated Windows Phone Store. Skype has also been integrated in new ways this time around, and the WP keyboard has been revamped with support for ‘wordflow’ gesture-based typing.

Microsoft says the update will be rolling out to Windows Phone users in the “next few months” and will start shipping on new devices later this month. On that front, 3 new Nokia Lumia phones were also unveiled today, including the Lumia 930 which features a 1080p display, a 2.2Ghz CPU, 2GB of RAM and a 20MP camera.

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Overall, Windows Phone 8.1 seems like a solid update and early reviews of Cortana have been glowing. It would seem that Apple and Google have their work cut out for them. Apple is up first, with its World Wide Developer Conference to likely take place in early June, and Google will follow with its I/O Conference later that month.

Nokia announces the X, X+ and XL, its first Android phones!

Nokia is officially launching its very first Android devices, known as the X and the X+, on stage at its annual Mobile World Congress press conference. We were a caught off guard a bit by the second (and third) device, but either way it’s still incredible to see Nokia take this particular approach. We’re not yet sure the difference between the two handsets, but we should find out soon. What we do know is that the X will have a 4-inch, 840 x 480 IPS screen, 512MB RAM, 4GB of storage expandable storage via microSD slot and 3-megapixel camera. Both handsets will be based on the forked AOSP Android OS, which Nokia says will have the advantages of the Android ecosystem, but with a “differentiated experience.” So far, Here Maps, MixRadio, Skype and Outlook will be offered. You can access the Nokia and third party stores using the devices, but not Google Play, obviously.

Nokia has built the interface around something called FastLane. When you swipe across it, it’ll bring up a sort of notification bar, featuring recent apps, missed calls and texts and other activities. When you bring up the Nokia store, it’ll show recommended apps, and Elop also showed Aero Express, a Russian-flavored app that he pulled down from the Yandex store. As for pricing, both the X and X+ will be available immediately and run 89 euros and 99 euros, respectively.

Well, Stephen Elop is just full of surprises today. On top of the two Android devices just launched, the Nokia X and the Nokia X+, we now have the Nokia XL, a bigger 5-inch Android device. It’ll have a WVGA IPS screen, a 2-megapixel front camera and an LED flash, but we don’t know any of the other specs so far. What we do know is the price: it’ll cost a mere 109 euros, in keeping with the intended emerging markets. As with the X and X+, there will be no Google services or Play store, so you’ll have to access apps through Nokia’s store and other third-party Android markets.

Nokia X Android phone gets closer in latest leaked shot !

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This recent press image leaked by evleaks seems to put the Nokia X name into concrete. The device was code-named Normandy thus far and appears a low-end Android device bound for the Asha lineup next month.

The specs are expected to be a 4″ WVGA display, dual-core 1 GHz Snapdragon chip (perhaps Snapdragon 200), 512 MB of RAM, 5 MP camera, dual-SIM support and a 1,500 mAh battery.

Nokia would desperately need to win over developers if their Android phone is to succeed. Rumors so far have it that the phone is based on the Android source code but it won’t have any of Google’s services built in. This means there is no Play Store, so Nokia must create its own application repository. Nokia will also be substituting Google’s services for its own HERE Maps location services and Microsoft’s Bing, Outlook and Skype.

We last heard that a dev-version of the Nokia X is already being shipped to devs in India.

Nokia’s Android phone “Normandy” purportedly leaked sporting custom UI and dual-SIMs!

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We have already heard about Nokia’s rumored Normandy budget phone, but now, new details of the yet-to-be-announced first Nokia Android device has been revealed in new leak.Phone tipster, @evleaks after earlier claiming that reports suggesting that the Nokia Normandy will not see the light of day were incorrect, has now shared fresh leaked images of the device.

The leaked images purportedly reveal the alleged Nokia Normandy with a completely custom Android interface. The UI looks reminiscent of the software on Nokia’s budget Asha line-up, though it’s obviously Android underneath. Notably, an earlier report had suggested that Nokia, following the lead of Amazon, has been working on a fully-tailored or forked version of Android. Further, the report claimed that the alleged Nokia Normandy smartphone has been targeted at the low-cost segment as an Asha-equivalent smartphone, but with access to more traditional smartphone apps – a benefit that the report suggested had been missing in Nokia’s dated Series 40-based Asha phones.

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The leaked Normandy images also show dual-SIM support, lock screen notifications, an on-going call screen (that could be the dialer app, but looks very similar to popular messaging app Viber) and a log-in screen for Microsoft’s Skype.

The tweet by @evleaks reads, ” Android on Nokia ( -virtual buttons)” and includes the purported image of the device. The tweet hints that Nokia’s forked Android version might not feature any on-screen navigation keys.

It is yet-to-be-seen if Nokia can release its rumored Android phone ahead of the completion of the Microsoft deal. Especially considering that after signing the pact, Nokia can neither license the ‘Nokia’ brand for use in connection with mobile device sales nor use the brand on its own mobile devices for a specific period.

Prior to this, Nokia’s alleged Normandy was leaked in a render showing the device in various color variants.(Picture Above)

Nokia 12-inch Windows Phone tablet has futuristic specs!

We recently saw the arrival of Nokia’s first Windows Phone tablet, the Lumia 2520. Now we have news about a Nokia 12-inch Windows Phone tablet that has futuristic specs. Sadly, though this Nokia tablet is a concept design, but read on to see some ideas that will blow your mind and a video.

From time to time we like to show readers concept designs as they can offer an intriguing look at upcoming devices or what the future might hold. Sometimes specs are realistic and in other cases simply not credible, but nevertheless they remain interesting renders.

This Nokia 12-inch tablet comes from designer Ashraf Amer and it has advanced specs such as a 12.4-inch OLED flexible display, 6GB of RAM and 500 GB of internal storage! It gets better (read more unrealistic) with an 82-megapixel Pureview rear camera with dual-LED flash, and a 20-megapixel front-facing Pureview camera.

Design-wise you’re looking at a tablet that measures just 0.3 cm thick and comes in several color options. If you check out the brief YouTube video below this story you’ll see a render of this Nokia tablet created with 3D Max 2014 software.