Everything you need to know about Microsoft's Cortana on iPhone and Android
The newly announced Windows 10 Phone Companion App will let you link your Android or iOS devices to Windows 10, but that’s not all. It will also give users of those rival mobile operating systems access to Cortana. I’ve used both Siri and Cortana, and I much prefer Microsoft’s virtual assistant over Apple’s. Having access to both (or Cortana and Google Now, in the case of Android), is great news for consumers.
To make use of Cortana you’ll need to have Windows 10 installed on a PC, and the Cortana app for iOS or Android. These isn’t available yet, but Windows Insiders will be able to try out the Phone Companion app in a future Windows 10 Insider Preview Build which is set to arrive in the coming weeks.
The Android app will arrive at the end of June, and the iOS version later in the year.
Although Cortana will be much the same as she is in Windows 10 and on Windows Phone devices, she won’t have all of the functionality. Joe Belfiore corporate vice president, Operating Systems Group at Microsoft says:
The Cortana app can do most of the things Cortana does on your PC or on a Windows phone. You can have Cortana remind you to pick up milk the next time you’re at the grocery store, and then your phone will wake up and buzz with the reminder. You’ll be able to track a flight using Cortana on both your phone and your PC, and get the updates on the device that you’re on so you don’t miss anything. Everything in Cortana’s Notebook will show up across all your devices and any changes you make on one device will be reflected when you use Cortana on any of your other devices. The Cortana companion app will help you complete tasks you begin on your PC wherever you are, on your phone.
"Most of the things"? So what's missing? Belfiore explains:
Although the functionality will be very helpful, because it’s "just an app" there will be certain things that Cortana does on Windows phones that won’t work on Android devices or iPhones. 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.
So Windows Phone users will still have the better Cortana experience initially, but for how long remains to be seen.