Windows 10 users will be able to download a companion app for Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana to iOS and Android devices, the company said, where it will be competing against the native Siri and Google Now.
The software giant also announced a “Phone Companion” app and an updated Xbox Music app for mobile devices.
“We realise 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,” the company said in a statement.
Microsoft warned that 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,” it said. Other casualties include the ability to invoke Cortana hands-free.
The app will be available for Android at the end of June and for iPhones later in the year.
According to Sheridan Nye, principal analyst for information and communication technologies at Frost & Sullivan, Cortana for Android and iPhone is Microsoft’s “third major effort to extend its PC home territory into the mobile phone domain” having already tried the OS route with Windows Phone and the hardware route with its Lumia devices.
“Microsoft now sees Cortana as the bridge that will entice consumers to access Microsoft services from their mobile devices,” she said, adding that the move not only “acknowledges that all services need to be multi-screen and accessible and synchronised from the cloud” but also means Microsoft recognises “that it will not achieve a significant footprint through its earlier acquisition of Nokia’s handsets.”
She added that Microsoft needs an app that gives it more information about the consumer to give it an edge. Skype is valuable in this respect and Cortana could prove “complementary as it prompts the user to interact… It won’t be long before Siri, Cortana and other assistants suggest products and services we might want to buy”.
The Phone Companion app enables will allow data stored on a Windows 10 PC to be available on mobile devices across operating systems, while the Xbox Music app will enable free playback of music files and playlists from OneDrive.
Those interested in the Phone Companion app can join the Windows Insider Program. The updated Xbox Music app for Android and iPhone will be available around the end of June or early July, with beta functionality to enable playback of OneDrive music content.
Last month, Microsoft unveiled a raft of updates at its Build 2015 event, including new tools to enable Android and iOS developers to take code to Windows 10.