Microsoft Cortana digital assistant is on its way to the overseas markets, says Joe Belfiore, the company’s corporate vice president of operating systems. The first target markets include China and U.K.
Belfiore said that Chinese and British users of Windows Phones will get the voice-recognizing app “in an update to Windows Phone 8.1.”
In China, the app nicknamed “Xiao Na,” will speak Mandarin and include locally relevant information, like air quality reports in weather updates and information on local TV shows and celebrities. In Britain, users will get an app that has a British accent and be up-to-date on English Premier League soccer and other local matters.
Users in Australia, Canada and India will also be allowed to use a version of Cortana. However, Redmond, a Washington-based IT company, said that would be an earlier test mode and tailored to U.S. and U.K. audiences.
The update allows for phones to use two SIM-cards, supports a better screen resolution for lower-end phones and adds support for so-called “smart covers” that give users brief notifications through a small window in the cover like on Samsung’s S4 and S5.
The update adds support for faster charging and improves support for Bluetooth accessories like fitness tracker wristbands.
On the software side, the update will allow self-styled “live tile” icons to be grouped into folders, a functionality that has long been available on Apple iPhones and devices that run Google’s Android operating system.