Today, Microsoft released Cortana — its virtual digital assistant (think Apple’s Siri with an attitude) — into a public beta for Android smartphones.
Anybody can download and install Cortana to their Android devices, so long as they’re ok with the fact that this early version has some limitations. In the beta, you can’t use Cortana to launch another app, and you can’t use your voice to activate Cortana hands-free, according to the Microsoft blog.
Still, this marks an important step for Microsoft: Early Windows 10 user surveys indicate that Cortana is quickly becoming a favourite feature, and this means that Android users will be able to take her with them on the go.
As Microsoft looks to extend its reach past the Windows ecosystem, Cortana’s ability to learn from users across devices is quickly becoming a crucial part of the company’s sales pitch. When Cortana becomes available for iOS later this year, that reach will extend even further.
To commemorate the occassion, I decided to email Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to ask how he uses Cortana.
He’s a busy guy, so a Microsoft spokesperson replied to confirm that Nadella uses Cortana on both his Windows 10 desktop and his Microsoft Band wearable device (presumably in conjunction with a Windows Phone). Apparently he “uses voice to command apps, ask for weather updates, news, and stock updates.”
Most interestengly, when Nadella is on the go, the Microsoft spokesperson says “Cortana picks news articles which he browses.”
So there you have it: the CEO of an incredibly valuable technology company trusts a computer to pick the news stories he should read. That’s a heck of a vote of confidence.