You can now get Cortana on iPhone and Android. It's also built into Cyanogenmod!

Microsoft’s Cortana becomes available on iPhone and Android, as a final RTM product. Cyanogenmod, a custom version of Android, will embed Cortana as part of its core system. After trying to lure the smartphone users onto its Windows Phone platform from behind closed walls, Microsoft has moved out and decided to go after the users where they live today. And that is Android and i OS. Why would you want to get Cortana on these platforms? Let’s explore the answers in this article:

Microsoft lives on iOS and Android now

Microsoft has changed direction under Satya Nadella and started deploying its best software as smartphone apps on the platforms of its competitors. Microsoft Office was the first heavy salvo, earlier this year. The most used Office suite in history has been kept until this year as a prized possession available on smartphones only on the Windows Phone platform. The whole tactic of "build it and they will come" did not deliver the expected results and Microsoft has decided to go after users on the smartphones they use today. Less than 3% market share globally for Windows Phone does not allow a large enough trial of its services, however good they are.

Cortana has been reviewed as a worthy alternative to Siri and Microsoft put money into advertising that showed them competing from an iPhone and a Windows Phone. The move of getting Cortana directly on the iPhone makes the challenge a lot more daring and shows confidence in Cortana’s abilities to stand up to Siri .

It is worth mentioning that Google has its own digital assistant alternative in Google Now. One thing that seems to be missing for Google is the association with a personality. While Siri and Cortana built a perception that spans from digital to personal, Google Now seems more of a feature in the device. To be fair, this is what all three digital assistants are, but Google seems to come up short in creating a brand image.

Since we got to Google and Android, it is worth mentioning the Cyanogenmod piece. This custom flavour of Android has been built initially with Google Apps embedded. Since Cyanogenmod is open source, Google requested that Google Apps (like Gmail, Maps, etc.) be taken out. Since then, Cyanogenmod has been delivering its operating system with the request to install Google Apps separately. Cyanogen’s CEO, Kirt McMaster, has been quite vocal i n his wish to get rid of “ Google’s tyranny ”. In this context, he expressed his desire to deliver an Android system without any Google apps. Getting Cortana embedded in the core Cyanogenmod is a daring move for both Cyanogen and Microsoft.

What is Cortana offering?

Microsoft’s selling point for installing Cortana on other platforms is the need to have a continuous experience from the PC to the smartphone. And while the smartphone is dominated by Apple and Google, when it comes to the PC, Microsoft still reigns supreme. What does this continuous experience look like?

  • Reminders. In this age of information overload, our ability to remember things needs all the help it can get. The reminder list is built-in peace and quiet while we sit at our desk. However, the smartphone is the device that travels with us everywhere and it is able to intervene at the right moment. You can get a time based reminder which is what all calendars can do. More interestingly, Cortana can bring up a reminder when you talk to a specific person or when you get to a certain place. This is taking much better advantage of the capabilities of your smartphone.
  • Missed calls. Sometimes even the vibration of your smartphone sounds rude and disruptive in a meeting. Cortana gets the missed calls on your Windows 10 PC and it even let s you reply with a text message straight from the PC. All this is happening while the smartphone can be securely on silent and tucked away.
  • Tracking. You can keep track of packages or flights, add or access your tracking list from both the smartphone and the PC.

There are some things Cortana will not do on Android and iPhone. Since this is not its native platform, it does not have access to change settings for you and you cannot invoke her hands-free, using “Hey Cortana”. On the other hand, the tight integration of Cortana with Cyanogenmod means that accessing settings like Quiet Hours or invoking “Hey Cortana” works in this Android mod. Cortana is available today for download in US and China for iPhones (iOS 8 and up) and Android 4.1.2. One Plus One smartphones will get an over the air update to Cyanogenmod 12.1.1 later this month.

Would you download Cortana on your smartphone?

Heating up the competition on digital assistants is good news for us. Both Google and Apple will feel compelled to up their game now that Cortana is not limited to Windows smartphones. Do you use a digital assistant on your smartphone? For what do you use it ? Do you intend to try out Cortana on an iPhone or Android smartphone? Let us know in comments below.

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