My Thoughts on Cortana Beta on Android, Good but could be Better


It is no secret that Microsoft is bringing Cortana to Android and iOS, along with many of their other software offerings.  If you are crafty you can get access to the Cortana beta right now for your Android device, just be prepared, it is a beta and (please help us entities in the sky) it is probably far from complete.  There are a lot of things that are not, and probably will never be, implemented in the Android version (and presumably the iOS version).  For some, this may be a deal breaker and they won’t bother with Microsoft’s search assistant, rather content with Google and Apple’s offerings.

First up, Cortana on Android is pretty similar to the Windows Phone version if you are only using it as a search app.  It works great in that regard.  Everything you have come to expect is here.  The little mic is there in the corner so you can talk to Cortana if you want, and the search bar to type is to the left of it.  The settings hamburger menu is in the upper left, just like Windows Phone. Screenshot_2015-09-01-22-19-12

Now for the major differences.

When searching for something on Windows Phone, Cortana automatically starts filling in the results on the page as you type.  What is interesting on Windows Phone is, this includes searching your device, not just the web.  So, if you are type “a” and wait a second, Cortana will show the stuff on your phone (games and apps for instance) that start with the letter “a” along with web results.  That is kind of cool and can be quite handy.  She does none of that on Android, rather she waits till you are done and hit enter to get results.  More reactive than proactive on Android.  Kind of a shame as that feature is really nice on Screenshot_2015-09-04-18-10-16Windows Phone when you are not quite sure what you are looking for (say “Bitcoin…”and then results pop up for common Bitcoin search criteria).  On Windows Phone 10 though, Cortana no longer searches contacts, like she did on Windows Phone 8- that is a bummer.  For Android users, she doesn’t search contacts either so this may be a move Microsoft is making behind the scenes to better provide a unified feel across devices (but why limit your flagship devices?).

Also, on Android, Cortana is not currently tied to your account so you won’t be earning points for using her to do searches, as far as I can tell anyhow.  This may have changed by the time you read this but at the time of writing, no points are being counted.  You will have to continue to use the Bing app on Android to earn “mobile search” points.  That really sucks for me as the main reason I like Cortana on Windows Phone is because Bing and Cortana are integrated together- no need to use two apps.

There are smaller niggling problems with Cortana on Android but they are quite forgettable.  At the moment, Microsoft only has a couple of big things to fix with their Android version of Cortana, not sure they can fix the searching of the device though.

Cortana is out of Beta on Android and available on Google Play.

Carl Williams

It is time gaming journalism takes its rightful place as proper sources and not fanboys giving free advertising. If you wish to support writers like Carl please use the links below.

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