Cortana for iOS, Android now features quick access to common actions

Microsoft's virtual assistant is getting a facelift and launching in the UK on non-Windows platforms

Microsoft's Cortana virtual assistant is getting a facelift on iOS and Android aimed at making it more useful for users, and also bringing a bit of brightness to what's currently a rather dour interface. 

The app's biggest change is the launch of a button that lets users quickly choose between a suite of common actions, like viewing their calendar at a glance, checking reminders, or getting a weather forecast. The app itself looks friendlier, with a purple gradient background replacing a stark black, white, and blue color scheme. 

On top of that, Microsoft also announced on Thursday that the iOS and Android versions of Cortana are coming to the U.K., so that Brits will be able to use the virtual assistant. Microsoft has been slow to expand Cortana's geographic reach until the assistant has been set up to work with local social norms and other expectations.

The Cortana app is a key part of Microsoft's strategy with its virtual assistant. Windows smartphones are an extreme minority compared to the iOS- and Android-powered devices that overwhelmingly dominate the market. If Microsoft wants its virtual assistant to be ubiquitous, it's important to invest in a mobile app that works on other platforms. 

The virtual assistant is a major feature of Microsoft's Windows 10 push, along with its larger ambitions around powering intelligent assistants. Cortana is competing in a crowded market, against the likes of Siri, Alexa, and the Google Assistant. 

In addition to the redesign, Microsoft also said that the app is faster than its previous version, which will be helpful for competing against other assistants. 

The update is rolling out to Android devices this week through the Google Play Store, and the iOS app will get updated "in the coming weeks," according to a Microsoft blog post. 

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoft

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Blair Hanley Frank

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?