Cortana now on iOS and Android, but only in US and China

9 Dec 2015

It might not be considered in the same league as Google Now or Siri, but for the first time, Microsoft’s voice assistant Cortana can be downloaded on iOS and Android, but not everywhere.

The Cortana AI program is much-loved, at least within Microsoft’s ecosystem, with its availability so far limited to its own Windows Phone system and Windows 10 operating system (OS).

Well, not entirely, given that last July it was reported on that, despite its release on Windows 10, the voice-activated assistant would not be making it to Ireland.

There was also the first indication that other operating systems were to get Cortana following Microsoft’s decision to roll out the apps in beta form last August.

And following Microsoft’s announcement today (9 December), Cortana still won’t be coming to these shores, or any outside of the US or China, for an equally long time.

According to Microsoft’s announcement on the release, along with Android and iOS, Microsoft has struck a deal with the OS provider Cyanogen OS – which provides the OS for OnePlus One – to have a closer connection with Cortana to make it native, rather than being only accessible through an app.

iOS version quite restricted

The custom integration, Microsoft says, includes the ability to ask Cortana to toggle network modes, power down your phone, and turn on Quiet Mode, amongst other features that will come into being following an update later this month.

In the Android app, Cortana users will have a somewhat similar experience to those using the Cyanogen OS in that the reminders and calendar functions will be accessible by saying ‘Hey Cortana’ into the phone.

Those in either the US or China who have Android 4.1.2 or iOS 8 and above can now access the app through the respective app stores.

As for iOS users, well, none of this functionality will be included outside of the app given Apple’s rather strict policy of keeping strict control over almost all of its back-end and its obvious need to promote Siri over a competitor.

Cortana image via Bhupinder Nayyar/Flickr

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic