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Microsoft adds Cortana to Android and iOS with Windows 10 Phone Companion app (VIDEO)

By April Taylor , May 27, 2015 06:34 AM EDT
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Microsoft is adding support for its Cortana digital assistant to Android and iOS as well, in the form of a companion app for Windows 10.

The Phone Companion app will allow users to access Windows 10 content either from their Windows 10 PCs or from their mobile devices, regardless of whether they run on a different platform such as Android or iOS.

"In a multi-device world where you move between your phone, tablet, and PC multiple times a day - you expect your experience to go wherever you do. That's why we built Windows 10 on a common core and enabled Windows Universal Apps, so people using Windows 10 for both their PC and smartphone experience will get an optimal, seamless experience as they transition devices throughout the day," Microsoft reckoned in a new company blog post on Tuesday, May 26.

"But, we also realize that many people use iPhones or Android phones, and we want them to enjoy some of their Windows experience and content while away from their Windows 10 PC. Regardless of the operating systems you choose across your devices - everything important to you should roam across the products you already own - including your phone," the company further explains.

With this goal in mind, Microsoft has built a Phone Companion app into Windows 10, aiming to allow users to connect to their PC even if they don't use a Windows phone, but an Android handset or an iPhone.

When launching the Phone Companion app on the PC, users will be able to select which type of phone they use - Windows, Android, or iPhone (see image above) - and go on from there. If they have a Windows phone, users will not be required to take any other steps. With an Android phone or an iPhone, meanwhile, users will have to go through a few steps to get the right apps for their mobile device and make it work seamlessly with their Windows 10 PC.

With this Phone Companion app installed and everything set up, all files and content will be available both on your phone and your Windows 10 PC. The OneDrive app installed on the mobile device, for instance, will allow users to back up their camera shots to the Photos app on their Windows 10 PC. At the same time, writing a note on the PC in OneNote will also make it available on your phone, and any modification made on the phone will also reflect on the PC version. The upcoming version of the Music app will also allow users to store and access their music on OneDrive from their PC, as well as their iOS or Android Phone.

Lastly, Cortana will also be a big part of this Phone Companion app, set to arrive on Android by the end of next month and on iOS later the year. Microsoft's digital assistant will offer notifications for sports, flight schedules, and other features supported on Windows Phone and Windows 10. With the Phone Companion app installed on a PC, users will be able to download the Cortana app from Google Play on an Android device, or from the Apple Store on an iPhone.

Not all Cortana features supported on the Windows mobile platform will be available for Android and iOS as well, however, as some features need a stronger integration with both the hardware and the software. Some features may not be available at least in the initial versions, but it all sounds quite promising nonetheless.

"Although the functionality will be very helpful, because it's 'just an app' there will be certain things that Cortana does on Windows phones that won't work on Android devices or iPhones. Some features require access to the system that aren't currently possible with iOS or Android, so things like toggling settings or opening apps won't initially be available in the Cortana companions for those platforms. Similarly, the ability to invoke Cortana hands-free by saying 'Hey Cortana' requires special integration with the device's microphone, so that feature will be limited to Windows Phones and PCs," adds Microsoft.

For more information about this intriguing Phone Companion app, check out the video below.

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