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article imageMicrosoft's Cortana comes to the iPhone for the first time

By James Walker     Nov 28, 2015 in Technology
An early beta of the version of Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant for the iPhone is now available to a small group of select testers. Cortana's iOS version is similar to the one on Android, giving users access to a subset of its Windows commands.
There's still no release date for the iOS version of the app but Neowin reports a beta release is now being distributed via Apple's TestFlight platform. Microsoft let people sign-up to request access earlier this month and now some of those who have registered will be able to download the current development version of the app. TestFlight only lets 2,000 people test at any one time so Microsoft is clearly sticking with a small sample for the time being.
Because most of Cortana's features are delivered via the Internet, the majority of commands will work on the iPhone in the same way as they do on Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10. TechCrunch reports that creating appointments, sending emails and texts, setting reminders, getting event recommendations and searching for information all work without issues.
The full range of trackable interests is also available in Cortana's notebook. The app's interface design looks very similar to its appearance on Windows 10. The only major difference is a font change to better fit Apple's platform.
There is some degree of feature disparity between the iOS and Android versions of Cortana and their Windows counterparts though. The nature of developing for a third-party platform means Cortana can't tie into the operating system as much as it can on Windows so features like always-on listening for the "Hey Cortana" voice command simply aren't possible. It also seems unlikely Apple will let Microsoft replace Siri as the default voice search, restricting Cortana to an icon on an iPhone's home-screen.
Microsoft has worked to support these features in the Android version of the app due to the more open nature of the platform. There is now always-on listening and the option to set Cortana as the default search provider but iOS is more restrictive in what it allows installed apps to do.
Cortana first debuted around 18 months ago as a key component of Windows Phone 8.1. Since then, the Siri and Google Now-rivalling digital assistant has become one of Windows 10's most important new features.
Microsoft announced earlier this year that versions of Cortana for iOS and Android are in development, the former now in open beta and the latter seemingly moving to closed testing. In the near future, Cortana will also be coming to the Xbox One with some exclusive commands to let gamers send messages, manage parties and take screenshots using nothing more than their voice.
More about Microsoft, cortana, Ios, Windows, digital assistant
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