Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana, is now available for iOS and Android users in the US and China. Users will need to have at least iOS 8 or Android v4.1.2 installed on their phones to use the assistant. Cortana’s UI is pretty much the same as that on Windows devices, with a search box at the bottom, hamburger menu on the top left, and information cards. The cards show the user their appointments, tracks packages, weather information, latest scores, etc. The assistant requires users to sign in with their Microsoft Account to sync their interests and settings.
However, there are some differences in the capabilities of Cortana on iOS and Android. Both platforms do not support the opening of apps or changing the settings through Cortana. On Android, Cortana can be activated by saying “Hey Cortana” on the Home screen, but the feature is not there on iOS. Another feature that iOS misses out on is missed call notifications on the user’s Window 10 PC.
Cyanogen users will get a special version of Cortana on their devices. This version of Cortana is deeply integrated into the OS as compared to Cortana for Android. It will support “Hey Cortana” voice activation from any screen, not just from the Home screen. It will also offer the assistant control over some settings like toggling the Quiet Mode. Microsoft had entered into a strategic partnership with Cyanogen earlier this year and in September, it was reportedly planning to deeply integrate the assistant into Cyanogen OS.
Microsoft had announced that it was making its digital assistant available for iOS and Android back in May this year. In a post, Microsoft had said that the assistant would lack several features that are available on Windows Phone. It said, “Some features require access to the system that aren’t currently possible with iOS or Android, so things like toggling settings or opening apps won’t initially be available in the Cortana companions for those platforms. Similarly, the ability to invoke Cortana hands-free by saying “Hey Cortana” requires special integration with the device’s microphone, so that feature will be limited to Windows Phones and PCs.”