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Microsoft Plans To Put Cortana on iOS, Android Devices

Microsoft on Tuesday announced its plan to bring Windows 10 apps, including the Cortana personal assistant, to Android and iOS devices.

Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Operating Systems Group, said in a blog post that Microsoft plans to deliver "companion apps" for Android and iOS with the launch of Windows 10. A Cortana companion app will be available for Android and iOS devices via a Windows 10 "Phone Companion" app for desktop PCs.

The Windows 10 Phone Companion app resides on a Windows 10 PC. It works like an installer to get Cortana apps from the Google Play store or the Apple store. It also delivers Office apps, a OneDrive storage app, Skype communications and an Xbox Music app, if wanted (see screenshot). Those apps already come with Windows Phone 10 devices.

[Click on image for larger view.] Windows 10 Phone Companion app setup interface. (Source: screenshot from a Microsoft video.)

The Cortana app for Android and iOS won't have all of the features of the Cortana that runs on Windows 10 devices. In Windows 10, Cortana is integrated with the operating system, but on Android- and iOS-based devices, Cortana is "just an app," Belfiore explained, so it won't do the same things. Cortana's limitations on Android and iOS include:

  • No voice command capability
  • No ability to open apps
  • Inability to toggle settings

Microsoft claims that the hands-free aspect of using Cortana with voice commands "requires special integration with the device's microphone, so that feature will be limited to Windows Phones and PCs."

The apps loaded onto Android and iOS devices are set up to share content using OneDrive when the Windows 10 Phone Companion app is used. For example, photos taken with a smartphone and stored with OneDrive will show up on a Windows 10 PC. Music stored on OneDrive will be accessible on a PC as well as a smartphone.

The new Phone Companion app will arrive when Microsoft releases a new Windows 10 preview build "in a few weeks," according to the post. However, the Android and iOS companion apps will be available at different times. The Cortana companion app for Android devices is expected "at the end of June." The one for iOS devices will be available sometime "later this year."

Microsoft also plans to release an updated music app for Android and iPhone devices "in late June or July." However, the app's playback capability using OneDrive files will be at the "beta" stage at that time.

Microsoft has indicated plans to release Windows 10 commercially sometime this summer.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.