Microsoft's beta edition A.I. assistant Cortana for Android can now read text messages aloud for users, suggesting that the feature could roll out to all Android Cortana users in the future. For clarity, this is still a feature only found in the latest update to the beta version of the app that isn't directly available without a signup on the Play Store. There's also no time frame for when that will be released and, as with all updates, it may not have hit every user just yet. However, this could be an extremely useful feature when it rolls out to the stable app since it is programmed to automatically work when it will most likely be needed most. Namely, Cortana only reads text messages in that way when connected via Bluetooth to a device such as a vehicle or a pair of headphones.
It goes without saying that the feature is bound to raise privacy concerns from users who both don't want their messages read aloud and those that don't like the thought of Microsoft's bot reading their messages. However, Microsoft's developers appear to have foreseen those types of objections to this particular implementation. Unlike the version of Cortana a certain well-known Microsoft operating system, users can turn off SMS reading completely if they want. Conversely, there are a few configurable options for the feature too. For those who aren't as averse to annoying everybody by having messages read publicly, settings do allow for the feature to be turned on even when it isn't connected to anything via Bluetooth. The company will most likely continue to develop those kinds of options moving forward but it is, after all, just a beta for now.
That beta status also means that Microsoft didn't exactly advertise this feature and that users will need to be signed up for the beta app in order to get it working. Accomplishing that isn't necessarily difficult but there are ordinarily a limited number of spots available in a given beta. It's worth pointing out that as with other app betas will probably not be as stable as the more general release. So those who use Cortana frequently may want to pass until the feature is released to the stable app. Having said that, anybody interested will want to click the Google Play button below to become a beta tester.