Microsoft is expected to make official its personal assistant, Cortana, on Android, a mobile platform by competitor Google, at some point in the future. While that future may be soon, there is no clear timeline from the company as to when that will happen. But it is sure to happen soon. Microsoft has committed itself recently to making available its products and services on competing platforms.
Cortana is one of the standout features of Windows 10 and it is no stranger to Android. The Android version of the personal assistant first leaked online sometime in July and Microsoft has since gone on to invite the public to help it fine-tune the application before eventual rollout. One of the features that has just been made available to those testers is the ability to wake the personal assistant by simply calling out ‘Hey Cortana’.
The ‘Hey Cortana’ feature is not new to mobile. It has been available to users of Windows Phone already works on desktop machines pretty well. However, on Android, the home of Google’s ‘Hey Google’ feature that is tied to the Mountain View-based company’s cash cow, Search, ‘Hey Cortana’ has so far been a no show.
While it is exciting news that the choices available to Android users to use for querying scores of their favourite football teams and the weather conditions just increased, some will be disappointed to find out that for now, the ‘Hey Cortana’ feature only works when the device is unlocked, the screen is on and the application itself is open. That’s annoying but we’ll take that for a first step even as Microsoft works to overcome the challenges it is facing in implementing always on ‘Hey Cortana’ like Motorola managed to do with the Moto X’s then unheard of ‘OK Google’ feature two years ago.
Since I use Cortana on my Windows 10 installation on the PC, after being prompted by the application to sign in to my Microsoft account, it was able to sync all my data and immediately started suggesting local news stories I may be interested in as well as responding accurately to my queries on the likelihood of rain now that El-Nino is real. Of course, this has been always how Cortana has worked on Android since it was in private beta but the entire process is once again of interest as one can do exactly all that but using their voice. It will be a while before ‘Hey Cortana’ propels Microsoft to the top where it hopes to challenge Google but this is a good start.
To enable the ‘Hey Cortana’ feature on Cortana on Android, one has to be running the latest version of the beta application and have it enabled in the settings. The latest version of Cortana for Android can be found at APKMirror for your sideloading pleasure while the setting is just a swipe away hidden under the Hamburger menu.