Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that it would be bringing Cortana to Android and iOS as companions to the company’s Windows 10 version.
With Windows 10 on the horizon — it is launching on desktops and tablets on July 29th — it’s clear that Cortana is becoming a central tenet of Microsoft’s platform strategy. Google owns link-based search, but Cortana allows Bing, Microsoft’s “intelligence engine,” to shine through Cortana’s conversational semantic prowess.
Now, a leaked version of Cortana for Android has made its way to the internet, and we had a chance to play with it. While the UI is still rough around the edges — menu lack design, and there are areas where very little care has been taken to lay out content — the core functionality is there. Once logged in with a Microsoft account (so Microsoft will know you’ve downloaded and installed the leaked version, if that matters to you), you can begin asking Cortana questions.
Most of the functionality is fairly similar to Google Now and Siri, and takes the form of direct questions, such as “What is the weather going to be like this weekend?” to “Remind me to pick up milk on the way home today.”
The interesting thing about Cortana is that it has built in location reminders, so she will attempt to you when and where is most likely to inspire action. If you’ve used Cortana on Windows or Windows Phone, you’ll already likely have inputted home and work addresses, and once I logged in on Android, those addresses, as well as my search history, were available in the app. This cross-platform potential is what makes Cortana’s Android and iOS berth so interesting.
Another interesting part of the service involves elements of contextual intelligence that are only coming to Google Now and Siri later this year. I asked Cortana what the weather was going to be like this weekend, and then I asked, “What about next Thursday?” She knew what I’d previously asked, and used that to determine that I still wanted to discover weather-related information.
Like Google Now, Cortana displays cards in a hierarchy, with the most recent or most important stuff at the top. Upon opening the app, I was presented with local news, general news, local weather, movie times at a cinema nearby, movie trailers, nearby interesting events, and restaurant recommendations.
With a few weeks left in July, there’s still room for Microsoft to release a final version of Cortana for Android, but it’s equally possible the app will get delayed until August. It’s unclear how old this leaked version is — it could be months old, already — but Microsoft is certainly make good progress.
Download the leaked version of Cortana for Android.