Microsoft Silences “Hey Cortana” In US Version Of Android App

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An update to Microsoft’s Cortana app for Android removes the “Hey Cortana” hands-free activation feature. Updated December 20, the new version of the app lists three “what’s new” features:

  1. Improved app stability.
  2. Enhanced call and text features.
  3. Removed “Hey Cortana” feature for US market.

“Hey Cortana” was reportedly removed because the feature disrupted use of the microphone. It’s not clear whether the feature will come back in a future version when the bug is fixed.

Google offers the “OK Google” hands-free search capability, and iPhone owners can invoke Siri with “Hey Siri” (only when plugged into a power source). I haven’t seen any data on how popular or widely used hands-free voice search is. Yet it is a strategic feature and one that Microsoft will want to fix.

According to Google Play download figures, the app has been installed between 100,000 and 500,000 times. A recent MindMeld consumer survey (n=1,800 US smartphone owners) reported that voice search and voice assistants have seen significant usage increases in the past year.

According to the survey, Siri was the most widely adopted assistant. However, Cortana was used by 6.1 percent of respondents, which is more than 2X Windows Phone’s market share in the US. That means Android owners are using it.

MindMeld voice search data

Source: MindMeld (October 2015)

The richest and most complete Cortana experience is available to Windows 10 desktop users. However, Microsoft abandoned its Windows-only approach to apps some time ago, taking a platform-agnostic approach in an effort to grow its audience.

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