With Windows Phone 8.1 update, Cortana is going international

Gigaom

Microsoft(s msft) announced the first update to Windows Phone 8.1 at an event in China on Wednesday. The update, which will be available in preview form next week for developers, comes with a bunch of new features, including a new way to pin folders on the Start screen and updated versions of Microsoft apps like Xbox Music.

The reason Microsoft announced the news in China is because the company’s voice assistant Cortana is going international — Windows Phone users in China and the U.K. will soon be able to talk to their Lumia and hear it talk back to them in a region-appropriate voice. Canadian, Indian, and Australian users are getting Cortana too, but users in those countries will need to use the English-speaking U.S. or U.K. versions.

Other feature improvements include something called “SMS merge and forwarding,” which will let users delete multiple texts at once. There’s also an apps list tweak called…

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