Step aside Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana has entered beta on iOS

microsoft cortana beta ios mockup
Michael Crider/Digital Trends
If you look forward to replacing that lovely but robotic voice assistant on iOS with something a bit more personal, Microsoft has finally entered the beta stage of launching Cortana on Apple’s operating system. While the Android version has already been out for three months, it’s better late than never. Sorry, Siri.

This week, a handful of testers who signed up to test the beta were notified via email that they now could download the iOS version of Cortana, according to TechCrunch. The digital voice assistant manages your schedule, reminders, and alarms. She can also track flights, packages, stocks, scores, and more, the goal being for all of this to work in unison so that you get contextual information based on where you are and what the app thinks you’re doing there. You can also send a text or email, get directions, track your interests, and open apps, according to the product description.

Microsoft first published a survey in an online forum where those who were interested in trying out the iOS software could be filled in. The survey asked about participants’ devices and whether or not they also used Cortana on a Windows 10 PC. It would seem that Microsoft used the survey to find users who could test the cross-platform capabilities of the software. Considering that cross-platforming is one of the definitive advantages that Microsoft’s voice assistant has over the competing services from Apple and Google, it makes sense for them to focus their efforts on improving upon that particular functionality.

One example of what Cortana’s cross-platform functionality is the ability to sync appointments. Say that you are sitting by your computer with your phone placed elsewhere, or perhaps you’re just feeling a tad too lazy to use it while working. You could simply use Cortana to state what to do, when, and where. After that, you could be reminded by Cortana via the phone while you’re on the road.

Cortana has worked as the personal digital assistant to one of earth’s most prominent interstellar warriors, Halo’s Master Chief, for over ten years now. That’s a bit more of a developed personality than Apple’s counterpart, but it all comes down to how effective these personal assistants are at understanding you and providing useful contextual information.

The beta is only available to a select few via Apple’s TestFlight platform. This means that the number of possible testers are limited to 2,000 per application, at least for now.


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