Microsoft frees Cortana from Windows with standalone Android app

You no longer need to use Windows to take advantage of Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana. Microsoft released an early version of Cortana on Google Play Monday, the first time the app has been available to all Android users.

Microsoft notes that Cortana on Android has much of the same functionality as the Windows version of the assistant. You can use the app to set reminders, search the web and add items to your calendar. The Android app also comes with the same “notebook” feature, which lets you tweak Cortana’s personalized recommendations for nearby restaurants, news alerts, weather updates, sports scored and other categories based on your previous habits and interests.

There are, however, a few limitations to the Android app. You can’t use Cortana to adjust your phone’s settings, launch other apps or use the “Hey Cortana” command to initiate a query. But you can make the assistant feel a little more like a native part of Android by replacing the Google Now shortcut with Cortana when you long press on the home key.

The Android version of Cortana is still in beta, so there are likely a few bugs and other issues Microsoft needs to iron out before the app’s official release.

Originally released to a small number of users in July, Monday’s update is a significant step as Microsoft looks to expand Cortana’s footprint beyond Windows. A standalone iOS app is also in the works, but Microsoft hasn’t revealed an update on when it might be available.

Cortana is available now to all Android users who opt in to Microsoft’s beta program. The beta is U.S. only for now, but Microsoft says it’s planning to make it available in more countries in the future.

Author: Karissa Bell
Source: Mashable Tech