For many Windows Phone users, Cortana has served as a sense of pride; she is our fight against Apple’s Siri and she assisted Master Chief when he needed help the most. Cortana provides quick access to information and allows users to perform complex actions, such as calendar scheduling, with a simple voice command. However, when we get in our cars, it can be hard to call upon her without taking our eyes off of the road – or is there a better way?
Cortana on the Road
After Microsoft introduced Windows Phone 8.1, a new subtle feature was added to devices that many users are still unaware exists. To put it simply, when you connect your Windows Phone to a car’s Bluetooth system, a once hidden contact for Cortana appears in your address book. Thanks to this new functionality, Cortana’s useful features are only a steering-wheel button press away.
We are going to show you how to easily access Cortana while you are driving, but you will need a few things to make this possible. First, you will need a Windows Phone device running the latest version of the operating system, 8.1. Second, you will need an automotive vehicle with built-in Bluetooth. Instructions will vary depending on your vehicle, but we will try to give a broad overall explanation, so that you can take this advice back to your very own car.
Setting the System Up
To start, we are going to have to pair our Windows Phone device with the car’s Bluetooth system. Begin by swiping down from the top edge of your device and selecting “All Settings”. Next, select the “Bluetooth” menu option and ensure that the toggle switch is set to the “ON” position.
For this example, we are going to be using a 2014 Toyota Corolla with Toyota’s Entune audio display system. Start by selecting the Setup button in the upper right corner of the home screen (Note: on some models, it is a physical hardware button), then select Bluetooth, and finally, the “Add” button.
Now, head back to your Windows Phone and look for the name of your car in the Bluetooth settings list – in this example, my car was named “TOYOTA COROLLA”. Once you have selected your car, give the unit a moment to connect, and if prompted, enter the provided Bluetooth pairing PIN on your phone.
Once a connection has been established, your phone will ask permission to transfer contacts from your device to the car’s system – select yes; this process may take a bit of time depending on how many contacts you have on your device. My Windows Phone has over 800 contacts, and the process took almost five minutes.
If you do not have a Toyota with Entune, your system may still be similar. Look for a settings menu, and then an option to access Bluetooth and add a device.
Using Cortana on the Go
Once the car and phone have been connected, you are ready to go! You will find a listing for Cortana in your car’s address book. If you have voice recognition in your vehicle, you can simply activate it (Toyotas have a button on the right side of the steering wheel), and state “Call Cortana”.
Once again, if you do not have a Toyota with Entune, the process may be similar in your vehicle. Check your owner’s manual on how to initiate a phone call via the auto’s Bluetooth system.
After stating, “Call Cortana”, you will hear the typical beep letting you know that she is listening, and you can make any requests as usual. For Example: “Text John Smith that I will be late to tonight’s party.”
To create an even better experience, head into the settings of your Windows Phone once again, but this time select the “Speech” menu option. From here, you can tell Cortana to read text messages out aloud when you are connected to a Bluetooth device. She will let you know who is texting you, and then you can either ignore the text, respond back by voice, or initiate a phone call.
We are here to Help
We hope this helps, as it has made my drives much easier over the last few weeks. Remember, if you have a different model car with Bluetooth, you should consult your owner’s manual for detailed instructions. If you need any additional help, be sure to comment below and we will try to help you out as best as we can!
Disclaimer: We are not aiming to promote Toyota — it is simply the car I own. If you would like to send me a BMW, Mercedes, or Tesla to test out, I will gladly write a tutorial just for you. ;)