Cortana could crash the smart assistant party on Android and iOS


Microsoft’s efforts to make Cortana as pervasive as possible could see the intelligent digital assistant brought to Android and iOS. A member of the software giant’s Windows Phone team has confirmed that Microsoft is “actively talking” about bringing Cortana to rival platforms.

“The Android/iOS question is interesting,” Windows Phone Group Program Manager Marcus Ash told Search Engine Land. “We’re still trying to get Cortana adopted on Windows Phone and figure out what it wants to become there. But we’re actively talking about this.”

Cortana’s biggest rival, Siri, is very much exclusive to Apple’s iOS platform — and given the Cupertino company’s stance on offering its biggest and best services to third-party platforms, it’s highly unlikely that will ever change. But the idea of Cortana being pervasive and available to more than just Windows Phone users “is important to us,” Ash said.

Supporting rival platforms is nothing new to Microsoft, of course. Many of its products and services can be found on Android and iOS, including SkyDrive, Xbox Music, and the mobile Office suite. In fact, rumor has it the company’s new and improved version of Office designed specifically for touchscreen devices will be available on iPad before it even hits Windows.

Competing platforms may not be the only place you’ll see Cortana in the future, either. Ash also hinted that the technology could one day be brought to the desktop, and into vehicles and other technology.

Google Now, another Cortana competitor, is already fairly widespread. Although it is best used on Android, where it has the greatest freedom for a wider feature set, it can also be found on iOS and via Google Chrome for the desktop. Google famously shuns the Windows Phone platform, however, so Microsoft won’t have to worry about competing with Google Now on its own turf.

Ash also promised that Microsoft wasn’t looking to monetize Cortana with advertising — at least not initially. “We’ll explore monetization eventually, but Cortana is so nascent. It’s too early,” he said.

Microsoft certainly recognizes the commercial opportunities a platform like this offers, but its focus right now it establishing what exactly Cortana is and how its users are taking advantage of it.