Cortana for Android has gone into public beta, bringing Microsoft’s sass-talking personal assistant to smartphones running Google’s OS. Promising a mixture of Google Now-style contextual learning with smart speech recognition,Cortana supports voice-controlled calendar control, web searches, and more, along with sifting through news articles and other pertinent data she believes each individual user might be interested in.
Microsoft gave Android users a taste of Cortana’s magic earlier in the year, though the closed beta meant not everybody could take part.
Today’s release, though, is available to anybody in the US, though Microsoft says those in other markets will have to wait a little longer. It’s still a beta, too, so expect some bugs and glitches to surface.
It’s also not quite the same experience as you’d get on a Windows device. Whereas you can summon Google Now by saying “Ok Google,” for instance, Cortana’s “Hey Cortana” speech trigger won’t work on Android right now.
However you can remap the Android home button to trigger Cortana rather than Google Now.
Similarly, you can’t control device settings – like turning off WiFi – by voice, or indeed open up third-party apps. We’ll have to wait for Microsoft to build that in over time; the company says it’ll be working on changes as inspired by beta users.