After a beta version of Cortana leaked on Android in mid-July, we haven’t heard a lot of details on Microsoft’s personal assistant as she relates to Google’s mobile operating system. Mostly that’s thanks to the fact that Microsoft has yet to set a firm date for the app’s launch on Android. What is clear is that Cortana’s development team has been hard at work creating compelling reasons for Android users to ditch Google Now.
During the weekend, Microsoft pushed a new version of Cortana to its Android beta testers.
Dubbed version 18.104.22.168, this iteration of the app allows Android users to set Cortana as their default personal assistant, which means that it’s possible to launch the app by holding down on the home button.
That said, it’s unlikely Android users will ever be able to activate the personal assistant by saying, “Hey, Cortana,” as Android does not allow third-party apps constant access to a phone’s microphone. This latest beta also features a more polished user interface compared to its predecessor.
However, the app does have at least one advantage over Google’s personal assistant. Although Google is set to make Google Now more contextually aware with Now on Tap, Cortana is already able to intelligently parse queries. For instance, if a person makes a query like “What’s the weather like this week?” and then follows that up by saying, “What about next Thursday?” Cortana is able to understand that the person is referring to the Thursday after the weekend.
Access to the beta can gained by either signing up through Microsoft’s website, or by downloading the beta from APK Mirror.
As mentioned before, Microsoft has yet to announce when the app will be available on the Play store, but based on this latest version of Cortana, it looks like we’re quickly approaching that date.