Cortana, Microsoft's voice assistant, will soon no longer be exclusive to Microsoft's own Windows products. The Redmond-based company plans to release versions for iOS and Android in the near future, taking much of Cortana's functionality to the market-leading platforms.
There's no question that, in mobile space, Microsoft is playing a game of catch-up with iOS and Android. Both of the aforementioned have been around for longer than Windows Phone--soon to be Windows 10 for Phones--and notably, both are a great deal better established. But WP has continued to put up a fight, and the introduction of the Cortana voice assistant has been about the most noteworthy implementation in recent times. Now, Microsoft has confirmed that Cortana will soon reach the App Store and Google Play Stores, catering to iOS and Android respectively.
As you might expect, the Cortana implementation for the two major platforms is not going to be as in-depth an experience as you'd get on Windows Phone. The app will integrate with Windows 10 to deliver notifications support, but if you're expecting support in the same kind of arena as Siri on iOS or Google Now on Android, you're going to be sorely disappointed.
To be honest, even if Microsoft did want to build a substantial port of Cortana for other platforms, it would struggle to do so, particularly on iOS. Apple's ecosystem is stringent with regards to the kinds of experiences that developers can create, but Microsoft is quick to point out that the iOS and Android versions of Cortana "can do most of the things Cortana does on your PC or on a Windows phone."
The new Cortana app will supplement the Windows 10 experience, and as Microsoft adds, the 'Phone Companion' on PC will guide users through the process of downloading Cortana from the Apple App Store or Google Play. Once installed, you an use Cortana to set reminders, track flights and manage many tasks, and as you will see in the video clip below, has quite a lot to offer:
It's all very well Microsoft integrating its smartphone range with the rest of the product line-up with Windows 10, but the company also recognizes that most Windows users do not use the platform on-the-go. By bridging the gap between Windows and Android / iOS by means of Cortana, Microsoft is giving its mobile OS some much-needed coverage on the smartphones running the software of the Big Two, and who knows, perhaps Cortana's extended reach will help increase up-take of smartphones running Windows.
Since taking over from Nokia, Microsoft has concentrated mostly on mid-range smartphones rather than power-hungry flagships, but with Windows 10 fast approaching, it makes very little sense for the company to add Windows Phone 8.1-compatible high-enders at this point. Hopefully, as Windows 10's public release draws closer, there'll be a top-tier handset or two to savor as well, and for those not in the market for a Windows smartphone, you'll soon be able to enjoy one of the software's foremost features.
The Cortana companion will hit the Play Store by the end of next month, while the iPhone version will arrive "later this year."