Microsoft Cortana, the company’s digital assistant, has been available on Android for some time now and its latest update brings an exponential improvement in usability to the app. The new build, version 2.8.0 for those keeping score, allows you to configure Cortana so that it is your default assistant app instead of Google Assistant. It means that you can now long press the Home button on your phone and it will pop-up Cortana so you can ask questions directly to it.
The new feature in Cortana is not enabled by default so if you want to use it as your Assistant, you will have to configure you phone to do so. Just go into Settings and use the search feature to find Assist. This will open up your defaults page on your phone (where you set your home launcher, browser, etc) and you will see a section Assist & voice input. Tap it then tap on Assist app. Now you can change it from Google to Cortana.
For those that use Cortana on their Windows 10 PC, the ability to use it on their phones easily is a big win. Now all of your
searching and calendar information can be sync’d across both devices. More importantly, you don’t have to go through a lot of effort to make it happen. Just press the Home button and you will open up Cortana.
To be sure, Cortana isn’t nearly as powerful as Google Assistant but it is continually improving like Google. The more it is used, the more it learns. I set it up as my default Assistant this weekend on my Google Pixel and for the most part, I’m pretty satisfied with it. Personally, I put Cortana behind Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa as far as AI prowess but well ahead of Siri.
The updated Microsoft Cortana app is now in the app store. If you want to try it out, the download is free.