WPDang reports that Microsoft Asia’s Internet Engineering team or working on making the Chinese version of Cortana even more useful by adding Home Automation support.
According to their sources Microsoft is working with a multi-national smart home giant, which suggests we may see the products reach beyond Asia to the rest of the world also.
The technical work is apparently already done, suggesting we may see the results sooner rather than later.
Apparently the work at present only extends to activating lights, but should extend much further eventually.
In USA Microsoft has already hooked up with Insteon, and are selling their products at Microsoft stores there.
Read more at WPDang here.
Thanks Shaosen for the tip.
A video showing off Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1 running on a Nokia Lumia 1520 has popped up on YouTube.
Unfortunately pretty low resolution, it does show the new start screen folders and Cortana doing its thing in Chinese.
Developer Preview users are expected to receive GDR1 as an update next week, which brings a much longer list of features. Read more about them here.
GSMDome reports that Joe Belfiore has announced the Chinese version of Cortana called Xiao Na at an event at the Conrad Hotel in Beijing last night.
Joe is quoted as saying:
“Cortana just came on stage to announce the good news of China! Cortana is the first and currently the only mobile operating system built-in personal assistant! I am very proud of the work we have done Chinese team, please give us a lot of attention and valuable comments and suggestions!”
The name was also announced on Microsoft’s Weibo account as Microsoft Xiao Na.
Joe said that the work done with the Bing team on Cortana was quite specific to China, and now the company is forming a Beijing-based team to focus on China-specific work for PCs, phones and tablets.
Google Now is not available in China,
Read more about it after the break and at GSMDome here.
Chinese site Zol.com.cn reports that Microsoft is sending out invitations to a Chinese event where it is strongly suspected that Microsoft will be launching Cortana in the region.
The invitation, for the 30th July, which features a Cortana logo on the phone, is very suggestive, but the envelope containing it even more so, with a massive Cortana logo.
Microsoft has long said China and UK will be the next markets to receive the voice assistant, with UK also expected to get the update next week.
Zol notes they expect Cortana to have the more sedate name of “Huna” in the region.
Read more here.
Thanks hengxiang32401 for the tip.
In the last few weeks, we have seen many reports about the upcoming Lumia 530 Windows Phone device. Today, Nokia Lumia 530 images were leaked on Chinese social media. This device is expected to be launched in the coming months with the price tag around $179 for an unlocked device.
The main difference from Lumia 520 is that this device will support Dual Sim and it is expected to feature Snapdragon 200 processor along with 512MB RAM. Find another image after the break.
Today, a images of a new Nokia Lumia Windows Phone devices was leaked on Chinese social network Weibo. The design of the device looks very much similar to the latest Lumia devices with capacitive hardware buttons in the bottom. The device has a aluminum frame around it with polycarbonate in its back.
WPDang speculates that this device could be the mid-range WP8.1 device Lumia 830 that could act as the successor to Lumia 820. And they also expect this device to be launched in China soon. Even though there was no information about the specs, my guess is that it will have Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB RAM, HD ClearBlack display and 8MP camera. The pricing should be around $500 unlocked.
See higher resolution pictures after the break.
Of all the markets in the world where Microsoft is having trouble, its issues in China are the most serious.
China has the second largest economy in the world, but Microsoft generates more revenue from the Netherlands than China. Windows Phone has a negligible and dropping market share there, and Windows 8 has just been banned by the Chinese government.
It seems Microsoft is not taking the challenge lying down however.
Microsoft is creating a new Operations System Group Engineering division based in Beijing in China where they hope to adapt Windows and Windows Phone to make it more appealing to the local market.
It seems Cortana will be rolling out around the world much faster than even we expected.
We have heard rumours that Microsoft’s Digital Voice Assistant will be hitting UK shores within the next 2 weeks, and now Marcus Ash, Group Program Manager for Cortana on Windows Phone, has confirmed that it will be “weeks, not months” before we see availability here.
Equally interesting is that China will also be getting the update within the same time frame.
In China Cortana could give Microsoft a significant edge. Google Now is not allowed there and Siri is hobbled, leaving Microsoft with a cool product without significant competition.
Some signs of the Cortana getting ready to deploy there include the appearance there of:
Microsoft has today officially announced the Nokia Lumia 636 and 638.
The Nokia Lumia 636 is heading to China Unicom, while the 638 is heading to China Mobile. Both devices are 4G LTE, with the China Mobile version sporting TD-LTE, China Mobile’s version of the global standard.
Well, this is a bit of a surprise. It seems a whole range of Lumia 63x handsets are in production, including a new variant, the Nokia Lumia 638, which is currently on pre-order in China.
The handset is a 4G LTE device, but is also still dual-SIM, a feature not available in other locales.
Cortana may be coming to China before UK, if recent moves by the Cortana team is any indication.
According to Liveside.net, Microsoft is already preparing for Cortana’s launch in China, with numerous local features already showing up for Chinese Windows Phone 8.1 users.
Some of these include:
- Daily Routine: Beijing driving curbs schedule.
- Celebrity: celebrities news and social activities which is provided by Bing Score, a rank service developed by Bing China.
- China Watch: public holidays schedule, Bing Dictionary “Word of the Day” and the Beijing Movie Festival schedule.
- Lottery: lottery drawing date and results.
- Movies and TV: top movies and TV in some categories from Youku.
- Weather: temperature in Celsius and air pollution index.
Using Cortana in UK, I have not noticed any particular local features yet, but having said that, the digital assistant already works pretty well, except for the annoying weather in Fahrenheit issue.
Asian rumour site Digitimes reports today that despite Microsoft’s efforts Chinese OEMs were still reluctant to release Windows Phones this year.
Despite the OS going free and Microsoft releasing a reference platform based on Qualcomm processors, OEMs were still concerned about time and increased costs with supporting the platform vs Android.
According to their sources OEMs complained that the use of peripheral chips and some key components for product differentiation also built up production costs, offsetting the benefits of free licensing from Microsoft.
It appears making Windows Phone free has paid off, at least in terms of attracting new Windows Phone manufacturers.
At the Qualcomm Reference Design and Wireless Innovation Summit in China Zhang Yongli, vice president of Microsoft Greater China formally announced two new OEMs, one of which we have heard of already.
The first is Florida-based Blu, who have already teased their Windows Phone.