Microsoft has confirmed that its personal digital phone assistant Cortana is coming to Android and iOS. It’s also coming to PCs, but, you know, who talks about desktops any more. From the announcement:
Part of the power of a personal assistant comes from being available on the go, on the device you carry with you everywhere. And for people who don’t have the benefit of a Windows phone, we want to extend the advantage of Cortana in Windows 10. How will this work? Today, we’re announcing a Cortana application for Android phones and for iPhones which works as a companion to Cortana on your Windows 10 PC.
So far, Siri has been the faceless poster child for digital assistants, but it’s also gotten the brunt of most of the jokes. Certainly, for most, its usefulness seemed to average down to setting alarms at night. When Cortana debuted, many touted its broader capabilities since it was able to open apps and toggle settings and was generally more responsive. But its big problem was that it was only available on Windows phones, the phones everybody seemed to like but nobody wanted to own.
With the announcement, Cortana is getting a bigger stage, not just against Siri, but also Google Now, the non-personified Google equivalent. So maybe this is the pressure that starts making digital personal assistants more helpful. Of course, the caveat is that Cortana won’t be as full-featured as its Windows phone counterpart, since they don’t have the access to the operating systems and hardware to integrate deeply enough. So it might be a nonstarter.
Either way, I feel somehow guilty for using neuter pronouns throughout this post.