The newest update for Cortana for Android enables users to make it the default assistant on Android devices, displacing the Google Assistant. A prompt when Cortana is initiated takes users through the quick setup process (below).
Once installed, a long press on the home button brings up Cortana instead of the Google Assistant. Users will no longer be able to simply say “OK Google” to access the Google Assistant, although the latter can still be initiated via the Android home screen search box and mic. Cortana cannot be summoned in a hands-free way on Android phones, however.
Previously, Microsoft made Cortana available on Android’s lock screen. This move makes it even more native to Android devices; however, it’s not clear how many people will bother to make it the default assistant. I suspect this is aimed at people who use Windows PCs but have Android phones, enabling a cross-platform assistant experience.
Microsoft says that Cortana has nearly 150 million users across its ecosystem, which includes Windows 10, Android, iOS and the Xbox. It also has an SDK strategy to make it the virtual assistant for third-party hardware devices.
Despite this large audience, Cortana is fighting something of an uphill battle against Siri and Google Assistant because of their built-in position on the iPhone and Android. Accordingly, Cortana is trying to raise its profile and innovate around features to differentiate. One example is the recently introduced Cortana price notifications/comparison tool for the Microsoft Edge browser.
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