Microsoft Readies Its Cortana For iOS Beta, Promises Invites In “Weeks”

Microsoft said earlier that its Cortana personal assistant – something of a rival to Google Now and Apple’s Siri – would take on its competition by offering cross-platform support, including via iOS and Android. It then delivered on those promises in August when it rolled out a Cortana for Android beta. Now it seems the iOS release is nearing, too – as the company has begun recruiting beta testers for the iOS build, with invitations expected to be emailed within weeks.

This news was reported earlier by ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley and The Verge, who both pointed to a link to a survey for testers posted recently by Microsoft officials in an online community forum.

According to the survey, the Cortana for iOS beta is only available in the U.S. and China, though over time, it will become available to all the same regions where Cortana for Windows is supported, the company notes. Microsoft may also be looking for testers who use the app on a Windows 10 PC, it seems, as one of the survey questions was related to the frequency of their Windows 10 usage.

The companion application is one of Windows 10’s standout features, offering voice-powered searches; the ability to get answers about sports scores, movie show times, restaurants and other items; the ability to set reminders and alarms, track flights, place calls, dictate SMS messages, and more.

The Android beta build has since grown to between 50,000 and 100,000 installations, according to data from Google Play – a decent enough number given it’s a private test, but also one that indicates many Android users are happy enough using the built-in Google Now assistant instead.

On mobile devices, the Cortana app isn’t as functional as it is on Windows and Windows Phone. For example, Microsoft said earlier that its “Hey Cortana” hotword functionality to start the app won’t initially be available. And if the iOS beta is like the Android release, you also won’t be able to open apps from Cortana, or toggle settings as you can on Windows PCs.

Microsoft says it will begin sending out download links via email to on-board testers in the “coming weeks.”

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