Cortana for Android Leaks Out Ahead of Windows 10 Launch
A leaked version of Microsoft's Cortana for Android app began appearing online over the weekend, and the early verdict is that the application appears to work nearly as well as it does on Windows devices.
Microsoft announced in May that it would be bringing its Cortana digital personal assistant to Android and iOS devices through a "phone companion" app that could be launched through the Windows 10 operating system on users' desktops and laptops. The successor to Windows 8, the new OS is scheduled to become available beginning on July 29.
First appearing on the site APKMirror, the pre-release version of Cortana for Android appears to perform smoothly, although some commenters on that and other sites noted it did not work on all Android phones. Unlike Cortana on Windows devices, however, the digital personal assistant on Android and iOS phones will function as a standalone app as opposed to an integrated feature of Windows 10.
'Pretty Close' to Windows Version
The leaked beta version of Cortana works with phones running Android 4.1.2 and up, according to comments on various developer sites. "For now, at least, Cortana on Android seems to be pretty close to Cortana in Windows 10, Windows Phone, and Windows 10 Mobile," software expert Peter Bright noted on the Ars Technica technology site.
Cortana's voice recognition capabilities, for instance, perform "as well as we've come to expect from other other platforms," Bright said. However, the Android version doesn't seem to be able to glean content from users' e-mails, "can't listen for music" and doesn't offer the same level of call/message muting and "Inner Circle" access available on Windows devices, he added.
Users who want to test the beta version of Cortana for Android must be able to link a Microsoft account to the company's Windows Insider testing program. They must also agree to a number of permissions to enable Cortana's access to SMS messages, contacts and calendar applications, among other apps.
Different Markets, Different 'Flavors' of Cortana
The full Windows version of Cortana is scheduled to roll out when Microsoft launches Windows 10 next week. Cortana will appear first in the U.S., U.K., China, France, Italy, Germany and Spain.
After that, Cortana is set to become available over the coming months to Windows Insiders in Japan and Australia and for English speakers in Canada and India, according to Marcus Ash, group program manager for Cortana. Later in the year, it will also roll out to Windows Insiders in Brazil and Mexico, as well as to French speakers in Canada.
"Designing an intelligent personal assistant for new markets requires abandoning a 'one-size-fits-all' approach and instead requires embracing thoughtful local customization that takes into account what is important in each individual country and culture," Ash noted in a blog post today. In addition to working with local programmers and others to build relevant experiences for users in different countries and cultures, Microsoft also selected voices and personalities for Cortana that reflected local needs and tastes.
In Japan, for example, Cortana will "bow by default" to demonstrate politeness, Ash said. Her British counterpart, meanwhile, will feature that nation's uniquely self-deprecating humor.