Microsoft personal assistant, Cortana is now fully available for both Android and iOS …as long as you live in China, or the USA.
Not that that news will come as any surprise to most people who’ve followed recent app releases. As seems to be the case with growing numbers of apps across all platforms, software updates are becoming more and more staggered as the complexity and power of modern software increases.
Developing and launching core Windows apps such as Cortana for other platforms has been part of the “cloud first, mobile first,” direction Microsoft has been following for the last few years. A Beta version of Cortana was made available on Android back in July, that anyone could sign up for. The iOS Beta however was much more limited, and was available to only 2,000 lucky testers because of the tight rules that Apple demands for iOS Beta test.
While not originally built for either Android or iOS, Cortana is supposed to be just as ‘intelligent’ as it on PC, and should also sync across all linked devices regardless of Operating System. That said, while Cortana on both Android and iOS is supposed to be as smart, it has lost something of its native core functionality that comes as standard on Windows powered devices. Microsoft state that:
“This includes toggling settings or opening apps, and the ability to invoke Cortana hands-free by saying “Hey Cortana.” The ‘Phone Companion’ app on your Windows 10 PC will help you install the Cortana app from the Google Play or Apple App Store onto your phone so you’ll be able to take the intelligence of Cortana with you, wherever you go.”
…which isn’t quite the same thing, if we’re honest. While Cortana does work well on Android and iOS, it’s hard to tell quite what Siri and Google Now users will make of it. Both of these native apps do inherently allow more in built functionality, and are just that little bit more capable. Not that Cortana can do all that much about it, especially when it comes to iOS. Apple’s tight control over what they will and won’t allow app developers to do on Apple devices has constrained Cortana significantly.
In that respect Cortana for Android and iOS might be more of a sales and marketing tool for Microsoft’s own hardware and software than a genuine native replacement.
Anyone using Windows 10 though that is looking for a level of cross device integration before anything else may however be able to overcome these limitations, and find Cortana a worthwhile addition to their life.