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article imageMicrosoft's Cortana now comes preinstalled on more Android phones

By James Walker     Nov 25, 2016 in Technology
Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant is now preinstalled on some new phones from Xiaomi, expanding its availability on new Android handsets. Cortana is available as an app for all phones. The partnership with Xiaomi will help increase user adoption.
Cortana was originally a Windows Phone 8.1-exclusive service. In the past two years, it has expanded considerably, moving first to desktop PCs via Windows 10 and then onto the iPhone, Android and the Xbox One. The assistant is popular with users and has been built to rival the likes of Siri and Google Now on their own turf.
Recently, Microsoft has been partnering with Android handset manufacturers to broaden the reach of its services. Its Office apps now come preinstalled on some high-end Samsung phones, alongside the existing Google Office suite. In June, Microsoft signed a similar deal with Xiaomi, leading to Office coming preinstalled on Xiaomi phones.
The next step in the partnership involves promoting Cortana, one of Microsoft's rapidly growing hero products that combines its expertise in AI and cloud technologies. Cortana has been found preinstalled on Xiaomi's new flagship devices, according to a German-language report from WinFuture today.
The Xiaomi Mi MIX has been confirmed to have Cortana installed from first use. The 6.4-inch handset was unveiled last month. It features a virtually bezel-less display and curved edges that create one of the most striking smartphone designs this year. A handful of other Xiaomi devices now also come with Cortana.
Preinstalled apps on phones are more likely to attract attention. Even if a user is interested in Cortana, having to go to the Play Store, search for the name and download the app could turn people away from actually trying the service. Recent evidence has also found people don't like installing new apps, considering it to clutter their phone.
Seeing as many Android users are still unacquainted with Cortana, Microsoft's new deal with Xiaomi could help to promote the service. By offering Cortana on a plate, accessible from the app drawer as soon as the phone's unboxed, people are more likely to give the assistant a try.
Xiaomi is the second Android phone maker to include Cortana as a built-in app. Microsoft has previously worked with OnePlus on a special integration between Cortana and CyanogenOS. Cortana became deeply coupled with the underlying system, giving it access to capabilities not usually accessible to Android apps. The assistant operated more similarly to its fully-featured Windows original.
Microsoft has been working hard on developing Cortana this year. In August, it introduced multiple new features as part of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. More recently, Cortana gained the ability to create and manage simple to-do lists, as well as advanced integration with Wunderlist. Adding new features to Cortana is relatively straightforward for Microsoft as most of the heavy lifting occurs on its servers. This allows improvements to be launched regularly across all supported platforms.
More about Microsoft, cortana, digital assistant, Ai, xiaomi
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