It has been officially announced by Microsoft that its assistant software named Cortana will be launching on iPhone and Android soon.
On iOS and Android, Cortana will be launching in app form and will respond to the same questions as it does on Microsoft devices. Cortana was originally created for Windows 10 and on that operating system it will be able to help with and search for more. However, on iPhone and Android it will still be able to do useful things such as provide users with notifications such as information about flights, weather, sports and things saved to calendar.
Microsoft has also made it clear that the Phone Companion app will make Windows 10 compatible with iPhone and Android, meaning that sharing files across many devices should be easy. For example, if you take a photo with your smartphone it will appear on your Windows 10 computer and Microsoft apps such as Word will automatically link to your computer so you work on things across all your devices. Non-Windows phone users will need to initially provide more details like email addresses and passwords, but once this is complete they will have the same functionality available to them.
The Phone Companion will help to install Microsoft apps such as OneNote, Office, Skype and Outlook onto a smartphone which is connected to a Windows computer. Cortana and Music will soon join the list of Microsoft apps and Phone Companion will be available to Windows 10 Insider testers to get to grips with in the next few weeks. The new app is designed to allow services, functions and files that are available on Windows 10 to always be accessible.
Microsoft has said that the experience of having Cortana on iOS and Android will be similar but not identical to the experience on Windows and Windows Phone. Cortana on iPhone and Android won’t be able to launch apps, change system settings or respond to the ‘Hey Cortana’ trigger that enables the assistant to be used hands free on Windows 10 PCs and Windows Phones. Windows 10 browser Edge is integrated with Cortana on PCs but it won’t be available for other platforms as Microsoft doesn’t intend to make it a cross-platform product.
Cortana’s launch on Apple and Android devices is another way to enable Windows users to have access to Microsoft’s products and services on whichever device they may be using at the time. This will be very useful for some. More users for Cortana will help with things such as speech recognition, but users of smartphones running iOS or Android have Siri and Google Now so may not see Cortana as a helpful feature or even one that they would ever use. If someone with a phone made by companies other than Windows would want to use a virtual assistant they would turn to the one made by their native mobile operating system which would be able to provide better functions and integration for their phone. The main area which Cortana will help with for avid Windows users who don’t have a Windows phone is to provide you with notifications which were set on a computer and have no other way of syncing with a smartphone.
Further to the thought of providing a seamless experience for Windows users, it was recently announced that the PC maker Lenovo and Microsoft have created a partnership together over Cortana on Windows 10. Lenovo have created software called REACHit which allows Cortana to offer a large inventory of information to search, enabling users to have a comprehensive and natural way to find their personal digital content. REACHit needs to be connected to file storage locations such as Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive as well as to Cortana in order to help the virtual assistant find personal documents and files. The software will allow Cortana to remember things such as when you worked on a file, what device you were on or who emailed it to you. REACHit will launch in the autumn but will only be available for Lenovo computers and tablets running Windows 10. If the app were to ever become available for all Windows 10 users, especially those on tablets or smartphones, it may give Cortana the extra functionality it needs to really be useful.
The Cortana app will be free and will become available for Android at the end of June and for iOS later in the year.