Most people are locked on to this idea that Cortana is the WP 8.1 show stopper. I disagree. Digital assistants and I have a very tumultuous relationship in every iteration that has existed. Voice controls just feel clunky to me. Being able to process and understand natural language is one thing, but being able to actually understand and get what I’m saying whether it’s natural language or a direct command in the digital assistant’s preferred vernacular and syntax is something entirely different. Cortana has been doing well for me, but I’m not going to be using it just for the sake of using a feature. The feature has to make sense for me. So far the action center has done more for me than Cortana has. I’ve used Cortana here and there for things like waking up from a nap in 20-30 minutes instead of having to go into alarms, figure out what 20-30 minutes from now is when I’m already groggy, set my time and then go back to the business of falling to sleep. Cortana does simplify that process for me. I used it to check for traffic this morning, which was stupid because there is never traffic on my morning commute and I live 20 minutes from work. So basically for anything that Cortana could do for me I’ve already found and have been using other apps or processes for figuring out my various digital desires.
I am however loving the action center. It makes getting to commonly used settings quick and painless. It makes me far less frantic to tear my phone from my pockets the very second I think I feel a vibration, whether it is real or not. I know that my toast notifications, while helpful, are not my last chance at figuring out what caused the subtle vibration in my pants. I don’t have to pour through apps to determine if one of the dozen apps that has toast notifications did indeed… toast? Is that the word for that particular thing those apps do? Doesn’t matter. There is no longer a need to fret over either the nomenclature nor the phenomenon. With the action center I can quickly check and dismiss the myriad of notifications I have received from my various apps. Whether they are emails, social networks, sports scores, or what have you they are all easily accessible and definitely the greatest improvement in my digital life.
As far as I’m concerned Cortana will remain a solution for a problem I don’t really have in my life at this moment. I know that some of you have probably found better uses for her than I have. Let me know how much Cortana has really changed your phone usage below. I also swear to every god if my Surface doesn’t stop changing Cortana to Fortuna I’m going to have to punch it in its digital assistantless screen until it is bent to my will.