Cortana for iOS, Android Available Now

9 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Cortana for iOS, Android Available Now.

The voice-activated digital assistant, designed to organize users’ calendar and email items, the weather, and news interests, is available from Apple’s App Store and Google Play in the U.S. and China starting Wednesday, Microsoft said. Though Cortana lacks the deep operating system hooks of Android’s Google Now and iOS’s Siri, it could still be a useful companion for users of Windows 10 PCs.The computing giant first revealed plans to introduce its Siri-like Windows digital assistant to other mobile platforms back in May — the Android public beta kicked off in August, followed by a limited beta rollout on iOS last month. Cortana is the Redmond company’s entry in a crowded field of assistants aimed at simplifying basic tasks and Web searches by allowing users to carry out functions without fumbling on a phone keyboard or opening a Web browser. The app is effectively a companion to Windows 10 machines, letting you start and finish tasks across devices, receive reminders, track key information (such as flights), get missed-call notifications, and more.

Though you don’t technically need a Windows 10 PC to take advantage of the Cortana app, Microsoft says its assistant apps work best when used with Cortana’s desktop counterpart. To some software developers working on the tools, digital assistants promise the next advance in human interaction with computers, perhaps supplanting the Web search box or mouse and keyboard for some tasks. Given that Microsoft and Cynogen are working together more closely these days, Microsoft said it “created a more integrated experience” for the open-source OS. Setting up the Windows Mail app allows Cortana to track flights and inbound packages, and you can specify favorite sports teams, weather locations, and news topics of interest in Cortana’s Notebook menu on the PC.

Interestingly, it is also compatible with the OnePlus One Android phone which runs on Cyanogen OS — this is OnePlus’s first flagship phone, which was replaced by the OnePlus 2 earlier this year. When the two are used together, the idea is something like Apple’s Continuity features, which make it easy to switch between tasks on different iOS and OS X devices. For example, it has enabled “Hey Cortana” voice activation on Cyanogen devices “so you can call on her while on any screen or when you’re immersed in an app,” Marcus Ash, Cortana group program manager, wrote in a blog post. “The custom integration includes the ability to ask Cortana to toggle network modes, power down your phone, and turn on Quiet Mode amongst other features. With Quiet Mode enabled, all notifications, calls and alarms will be silenced.” “Hey Cortana” functionality is not available on iOS or Android, nor is toggling settings or opening apps.

So instead, Microsoft is taking the opposite approach, and hoping Cortana’s availability on those platforms will help keep people attached to their PCs. While Cortana for iOS and Android are designed to extend the digital assistant’s functionality beyond Windows and onto other platforms, there are some features available on Windows phones that won’t work elsewhere — such as saying “Hey, Cortana” to activate Cortana hands-free. But you can do things like set a location-based reminder on your PC—just before leaving work, perhaps—and have it pop up on your smartphone once you’ve arrived at the set destination.

There were rumors about it expanding beyond the Windows ecosystem, however, and that was confirmed in August, when Microsoft released a beta version of Cortana for Android. To take Android integration even further, Microsoft is partnering with Cyanogen, which offers a custom version of Android for phone makers who don’t want to make their own. Once the update, expected later this month, is live, OnePlus One users will be able to invoke the “Hey Cortana,” command and use the assistant to adjust system settings like changing network modes, activating quiet mode and turning off a device. The company is much more interested in selling cross-platform services than artificially propping up a platform that has continually struggled to gain traction.

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