Rejoice! Cortana Comes to Android Phones. Now We Can All Be Like Master Chief

If you’ve ever played any of the Halo games, then you’re familiar with the artificial intelligence character known as Cortana. With the rise in popularity of the Halo games also came the rise in the character’s popularity. She became so well known that Microsoft decided to use her as the inspiration for their digital intelligent personal assistant on Windows Phone. Now, as part of Microsoft’s plans to make the popular character-based assistant available on platforms other than Windows Phone, the company has released it on Android phones, giving users the option to choose Cortana over Google Now as the default function when holding down the home button on those devices.

The Push for Other Platforms

Despite having originally been designed and developed for Windows phones in 2009, Microsoft announced in January of this year that Cortana would be available on Windows 10 computers and mobile devices as part of their efforts to merge Windows Phone into the main Windows operating system.

Then, in May of this year, Microsoft announced its plans to make Cortana available on other platforms. The company planned to release it on Android phones in July, but it was leaked onto the internet before its official release. It is also headed for release on iOS later this year.

During this year’s well known trade fair, E3, Microsoft also announced that Xbox One would be getting Cortana as well, packaged with a Windows 10 update for the popular gaming console.

What Makes Cortana So Awesome?

While the name alone, being a reference to one of the most loved video game characters in popular culture today, is enough to send many fans clamoring for the newest Cortana-enabled device, many of her features have distinguished her since her release from other assistants like Siri and Google Now.

Microsoft’s intelligent personal assistant is able to do many of the same things that other devices with personal assistants are able to do, such as answer questions using information gained from search engines, setting reminders, and recognizing a user’s voice for voice-activated services. However, Cortana can also identify what song you’re listening to. She can roll dice for you, or flip a coin to help you make decisions. She even has a feature called Concert Watch, which helps her figure out what kind of music and bands you like based on your Bing searches.

Since October of last year, Cortana became voice activated through the use of active listening, which enables users to activate her services by simply saying “Hey, Cortana,” even when the phone is not in its user’s hands. However, this is one feature that Microsoft says will not be available on Android phones. According to the company, this is not due to any shortcomings in programming on their part, but because of restrictions and limitations in the hardware of Android devices.

How to Replace Google Now with Cortana

If you’re looking to give Cortana a new home on your Android phone, all you need to do is go to the Microsoft blog and sign up for the program. All you need is a Windows Insider account and a willingness to share with Microsoft your Google account details that you use for your Android phone. The beta version is currently limited to the United States, but will be expanding its reach soon. With the release of Cortana onto Android devices, Microsoft seems to be stepping up its efforts to control the mobile market…look out Siri, Cortana’s coming for you next.

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