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Microsoft Cortana Gets A Voice Through Android

Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-powered digital assistant, is moving from Windows-based phones and PCs to the Android platform as part of Microsoft’s efforts to expand beyond its own ecosystem.

A public beta version of Cortana for Android has become available here for consumers who want to replace Android’s Google Now voice-activated assistant. The beta version is only for U.S. consumers for now.

Microsoft is also working on bringing Cortana to Apple’s iOS mobile devices to replace Siri.

Cortana already works across Windows 10-based tablets, laptops and desktops and the latest Windows-based phones.

In a blog post, Microsoft said the Cortana app “can do most of the things Cortana does on your PC or on a Windows phone,” such as setting and getting reminders, searching the web, tracking flight details, and starting and completing tasks across devices.

There are some differences, however, between what Cortana can do today in its native Windows environment and in the Android app, Microsoft said. Toggling settings, opening apps, or launching Cortana hands-free by saying “Hey Cortana” are only available on Windows for now. Microsoft said it promises to continually improve the experience.

Since the launch of the closed beta, the company has made several improvements to Cortana for Android, such as the ability to set Cortana to activate by pressing the home button.

Microsoft has already made Microsoft Office apps available for Android, as well as OneDrive, OneNote, and other apps.