Cortana Launches As Open Beta For Android

Since the launch of Windows Phone 8.1 last year, the Windows platform has had its own rather unique personal digital assistant, named Cortana.  With the launch of Windows 10, Cortana was welcomed to desktops, laptops, and tablets.  And, as of a few months ago, we Android users have been hoping and hearing about (as well as perhaps sideloading leaked versions of) Cortana for the Android ecosystem.  Today, Microsoft has officially unveiled the open beta session for Cortana on Android.

We've seen Google's take on personal assistance, Google Now, in action since 2013 with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and it's improved a lot since then.  In the past month, we've seen the next step for Google Now, Now on Tap, come more into the light in the most recent iteration of the Android 6.0 Marshmallow developer preview (even though its overall functionality is nonexistent).  Also in the past month, we've seen Bing's own take on the Now on Tap method of on-screen search aid, but Cortana extends beyond just search.

Cortana aims not to just be the kind of assistant you ask to wake you up at such-and-such a time, or to add a meeting to your calendar and set the reminder to be an hour and thirty minutes before.  Her goal is to personalize the experience of having a P.A., and offer users the conversational tones of a secretary as well as the purely informational robustness of an online search.  The only limitation, and it's rather reasonable and obvious, is that to actually get past setup, you'll need to log in with a Microsoft account.

Once in, you'll choose what name she calls you when responding to some queries, and then pick what you like to do on a daily basis to personalize some of the cards and results you'll be offered.  Obviously, if you've used Cortana on either the desktop or mobile front before, and gave her some of your information such as stocks to watch, cities to show weather and forecasts for, and what locality of news you prefer to be notified of, it'll show up in the Android version without needing to be added manually.  As mentioned, this is a beta launch, so changes and improvements will come down the road, so if something is broken, let the folks at Microsoft know to fix it. To find out more or sign up for the new open beta version, hit the source link below. 

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Phil Bourget

Staff Writer
Using Android since 2012 and the Galaxy S III, I'm now running a Nexus 5 paired to a Moto 360 to keep updated on the Internet of stuff. Usually found on Google+ or in class.
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