Microsoft Cortana (UI)

Microsoft has wont to arrive late to parties: following Siri’s introduction nearly three years ago, Redmond in April of this year has finally gotten around to unveiling a personal assistant of its own, Cortana, at the Build Developer Conference in San Francisco.

Originally conceived as a Windows Phone 8.1 exclusive, the Windows giant is now reportedly considering bringing the virtual assistant to rival platforms, namely to iOS and Android.

Let me get this straight. Beats updates Android appMicrosoft launches Office for iPad before even releasing a touch-optimized version for Windows 8 tablet. Apple reportedly mulling iTunes for Android

What a difference a few years make, eh?

Matt McGee over at Search Engine Land has learned that Microsoft is considering bringing Cortana to iOS and Android, based on the software giant’s appearance at Thursday’s keynote talk at the SMX Advanced conference in Seattle.

Marcus Ash, a Windows Phone Group Program Manager, and Rob Chambers, a Group Program Manager in the Applications and Services Group, said at the event that Microsoft is not interested in monetizing Cortana with ads.

As for an iOS edition, the two men said:

We want to scale Cortana internationally and across devices. The Android/iOS question is interesting. We’re asking, would Cortana be as effective if she didn’t have access to the details on your phone?

We’re still trying to get Cortana adopted on Windows Phone and figure out what it wants to become there.

But we’re actively talking about this.

Note: actively talking ≠ making.

Be that as it may, the execs said Microsoft wants Cortana to be “pervasive” and hinted she could be brought not only to iOS/Android, but to the desktop and into vehicles and other venues, too.

So there you have it.


Though far from an official confirmation, the very fact that Microsoft is publicly mentioning bringing Cortana to other platforms speaks volume of its new direction under CEO Satya Nadella’s leadership, and even more so in light of the surprise Office for iPad release.

Cortana will make its debut as part of the impending Windows Phone 8.1 launch. As for the technical difficulties the executives briefly touched on, a theoretical iOS build of Cortana could easily access iPhone contacts, calendar items, reminders, microphone, location and photos (with user permission), just like any other third-party iOS app can.

The biggest hurdle to Cortana’s adoption on iOS would be lack of deep system integration. Having been built deep into the bowels of the operating system, Siri is accessible anywhere with a long-press of the Home button.

Other search assistants on iOS, including Google’s standalone Search app with Google Now, don’t get to enjoy such unparalleled access to an iOS device.

This is why I’m unsure that bringing Cortana to iOS makes business sense. I could be wrong, of course: Redmond may be looking to put Cortana on iOS as a Trojan horse of sorts, to pique our curiosity and make us re-consider the Windows Phone platform.

With that in mind, if they ported Cortana to iOS would you give it a whirl? And if better than Siri, would you make her your go-to personal assistant?

  • jack

    you talk as if a third-party app (e.g. Cortana for iOS) can do everything an OS-integrated feature like Siri can do…… it’ll be a failure unless it is integrated in the OS, which I think will never happen

    • mlee19841

      Same here. I see it just like a google now thing for the iPhone.

      • Your Mother

        both Google Now and Cortana are superior to Siri. if only you’d get your info from non biased sources you’d see that.

    • 1Mr_Styler

      even if cortana comes to iOS, it won’t be as powerful as Voice Answer

      • Your Mother

        any app that comes from Google or MS will be less powerful on iOS because of the limitations and restrictions of iOS not found on those other platforms.

    • Eni

      with jailbreak everything is possible

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  • nazcorp

    @dujkan:disqus @jack:disqus
    I don’t quite agree that it doesn’t make any business sense when considering that Google already does this. I honestly use Google (the app) as much as I can, even for voice recognition and doing searches. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I used Siri whereas before Google added voice to it’s application, I used her about 3 times a week – usually for movies information. The new update to Google brings so many awesome features, directly accessible in the app. Now granted me double-clicking the status bar opening Google makes it a little easier, I would totally still find it more useful even if I had to open it directly. The same can be said for Cortana – the more the merrier. I think that it would be nice to have the additional options, and would love to see that same personality integrated into Cortana in iOS. However, with all that being said – I haven’t yet used Cortana and it is still early in it’s lifespan – I doubt they would be able to afford the infrastructure required to support not only Windows Phone and Windows (which I would assume would come before any others) without adding iOS to the mix also. I also think they’d want to mature her more in real world usage before rolling out to any other platforms. But we shall see. Great articles lately Christian.

    • Sokrates

      Totally agree. I’m using the google voice search on a daily basis. Especially since you can initiate searches with “ok google”. It takes so much less effort not to type everything out.

      • Juschan

        well hey siri is coming:D

      • ARX8

        It’s only available when the phone is charging

    • ARX8

      iPhone is really really popular. They’re probably bringing it to iOS for getting more voice data to improve Cortana on Windows Mobile. They can also attract a number of people too

  • David Gitman

    apple is going to remove it the second it will arrive to the appstore
    good luck Microsoft

    • DarekSlaby

      Why would they remove it?

    • arvindb02

      Apple has actually been developing a better relationship with Microsoft. They even featured microsoft office in the appstore

  • How desperate are you, Microsoft?! With Siri integration with 3rd-party apps, Cortona will be a failure!

    • Eni

      i’ve seen cortana in action, and that is definately not a failure

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        But does it have app integration and built-in Shazam?

      • Eni

        i think with time it’s going to have them. anyway, se it for yourself, search for videw reviews on youtube

  • Jonathan

    First sentence: “Microsoft has wont to arrive late to parties”

    • Tony

      Probably was written by Cortana or Siri thus the reason why it doesn’t make sense to us humans. 🙂

      • Derek Harper

        seriously? Cortana’s voice recognition is pretty damn good. Used it multiple times when i was in the hospital and couldn’t use my phone. So, I’m guessing siri on that.

      • Jonathan

        lol xD

  • Andrew Roth

    They already said on Twitter they’re coming to iOS…

    • 1Mr_Styler

      Its a waste of time, Microsoft should better think of somethingelse to do

    • Kurt

      Why not come to windows 8?

  • CS

    These virtual assistances are still years away from being useful. Siri has improved greatly with features, but the quality is still just “ok”

    As for Google bringing there assistant to iOS – I don’t really understand why. Virtual assistances need access to the entire OS to actually be useful. Apple isn’t giving anything to Google in those terms. No point besides googling stuff, but just typing it out is just as easy 😛

  • abdullah575

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  • Ron Tal

    Cortana,Please show me your design in Halo 3!
    Cortana,Please revive yourself in Halo 5!

  • Nirvana

    They sure pick the fine time, now that Apple has allowed devs to deeply integrate apps.

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