Cortana for Android hands-on and Windows 10 Mobile comparison

Earlier today the APK file for the private beta version of Microsoft's Cortana for Android leaked onto the internet. Microsoft later clarified that the public version will come later this month. We fired up the personal assistant on our Galaxy S6 Edge to see what the hubbub was all about.

Long story short, Cortana on Android is exactly what you expected it to be: a fancy search engine and personal assistant. However, as we also anticipated it is rather handicapped on Android compared to the native version on Windows 10 Mobile. For instance, as of now there is no interactive widget for Android. You also cannot set it as your default search engine when you hold the action key on the S6 Edge (you can do this for Bing, however).

Cortana on Android

It is quite plausible that in later versions, Microsoft will add widget and default app abilities. Even still, without passive listening in the form of 'Hey Cortana' on Windows Phone, Cortana on Android will still not be as immersive.

Cortana on Android

It is rather neat knowing Windows 10 PC users who also have an Android phone will get near the same experience on the go. After all, for Cortana to flourish the service needs data and by opening the assistant to Android and iOS, that is sure to happen.

For now, you can watch the hands-on video and see the beta app compared to the Windows 10 Mobile version. Let us know what you think in comments!

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • I hope Satya knows what he is doing
  • He does.
  • Trust me, he knows what's he's doing for Microsoft.
  • Hamburger menu can be open with swipe in Cortana for Android.. :-/ I don't have it in my Lumia though .. Nice feature :-€
  • Opened*
  • This is something which I hope it will come to windows 10 mobile. Is really dumb for MS to implement the burger menu without the swipe in gesture.
  • Let's hope for the best.. I'm pretty sure MS wont do anything reckless with WP.. It's a kind of their last chance.. So more hope for us..
  • Agreed. And this is really needed on 5" and above phones where the hamburger menu isn't always reachable.
  • Microsoft already has done something reckless. Made an exclusive deal with AT@T for the two high end WP. All those on other carriers won't be able to get one. Think about the loss of sales. And the loyal subscribers that will have to jump ship to upgrade their already 2 year old phone's. Disgusts me with Microsoft.
  • Yes, swipe is better and should be included and swipe is Metro too.
  • Indeed! I'm always wondering why Microsoft seems forgetting to do this on Windows 10 Mobile. They do it on Android but not on Windows.
    Putting a swipe gesture for Hamber Menu on Windows 10 Mobile will resolve the issue of one-hand usability, though not completely since Menus are from the top. Unless they will implement similar to Charms where it aligns the menu to your finger whether you swipe either top, middle or bottom.  This should be top priori​ty on Feedback app!
  • He couldn't give a toss.
  • I am starting to seriously question it! BTW, Why can't Cortana remember me on my PC when I already created a Notebook on my Windows Phone??
  • Guys, I've just updated to Windows 10 (10166) on my 930 and I can't download the English language for speech; it shows some error. What can I do?
  • She will never be the same as in Windows Phone. No matter how much they implement, android/iOS aren't her world.
  • No, not the same. But if the past is any indication, she'll be better.
  • That makes absolutely no sense
  • As Daniel already said. It isn't possible for it to be better on other platforms.
  • Define better.
  • it is impossible for cortana to be as much integrated in android/ios as in W10
  • Well damn
  • Isn't that called polygamy?
  • Don't forget that there are tons of genius over at XDA who may put miracles with custom roms on android. We shall see.
  • CM + Cortana services = Winning
  • How secure are custom roms?
  • Or they could partner with OEMs and make it a pre-installed app.
  • I would guess the majority of people wouldn't want Bing as the default search engine anyway.
    Live tile, they can use a widget, although my tile hardly ever has that much on there anyway.
    So you have to press a button instead of being able to say hey Cortana, like I currently have to press a button, doesn't feel less immersive to me, if that is the limit of the deep integration that other platforms are going to be missing, not sure why people keep trying to make out that it's just not as good, a second class citizen etc.
    Do people really find being able to say hey Cortana, instead of pressing a button, is that really that huge for people?
    Nice if you can do it, not a big deal if you can't for me personally.
  • That really depends on what "Hey Cortana" requires. On Android you can already make a background service that listens to the mics and then do what you will with the audio data, but not sure if that can be implemented efficiently.
  • Which is why there is limited appeal for anyone, but diehard Microsoft fans to install Cortana in the first place. On a Windows device, it is an integral part of the experience - much like Siri is on iOS. Most people, including me, do not see the reason to install another personal assistant. What benefits does it have over Google Now? Especially when it is not nearly as integrates with your phone. I know Microsoft thinks that the whole "they use it on PC so they will like it here" matters but it really doesn't. What matters is solid integration. This will go down as a foolish experiment at best and will just serve to destroy the reputation of Cortana because it'll underserve on other platforms.
  • Why???? I can understand Office and the like but why Cortana??? Why will anyone bother with WP if all its features are available on the other, better established platforms?
  • No one is bothering anyway. Cortana isn't bringing anyone over. People need to get real here. Features like continuum are what MS is betting on. Read what people in MS are saying. They have lost mobile, they are now trying to find a niche in mobile where they can survive.
  • Plus this some incentive for those on Android or iOS to use Windows 10 for PC, tablet, laptops, etc. It's about ALL of Microsoft's product lines, not just phone.
  • Windows desktop already has the marketshare.
  • What about for tablets? Yeah...
  • @raphok may be market share is decreasing.. May be they don't want to take risk.. Now Android users have Cortana which can sync with their PC.. Google can't push chrome OS onto Android users.. Check ;)
  • Windows's market share has increased actually in last month's report..
  • daniel can you please tell how you set up that bing search bar on your samsung in the middle? is it a launcher? will change all myfriends search to bing by using that trick. plz explain.
  • If you download the Bing app from the store, you can go to the widgets section on the phone and find the bar there. Just pin it to your home screen and you are good to go. Posted via my HTC One (M7)
  • It seems more like "It's about all of Microsoft's product lines, EXCEPT phone."
  • Maybe because even on low profile windows phones the system runs fluid? and because every app on other platforms from microsoft will be better on windows phone and will have deeper integration... because windows phone is the best price/quality in the market... and I can keep going...
  • This is why you got 3rd place in the 32bit console wars.
  • If adding Cortana to Android will make Android better suited to your interests, then as a consumer, shouldn't you be happy? You can always grab an Android then...    
  • Who cares?! Cortana is still not even available for my region till date! Windows phone is dead. Microsoft triggered another reset for the mobile platform with windows 10. And satya is not even sure this will work out well.
  • Is this region restricted? Just US? Just UK?
  • US and China for the beta fase.
  • They need to make a Microsoft Launcher and have Cortana be a part of that.
  • Like the old Bing app on iOS. Loved that it had a people hub with fb and twitter feeds and everything.
  • That would be great. If it was bug free and not a resource hog, that is
  • If these plastic flagships aren't as amazing as I'm hoping for, I'm going to test myself a lovely LG flex with Cortana and office and all other Microsoft goodies
  • Cortana everywhere! jajaja! Skynet wont take over the world, Cortana will!
  • Yeah... Seema familiar .. As i watch the movie.. I keep on thinking of Cortana! Coz i am seeing lumias and windows on that movie hahaha!
  • Which movie?
  • Terminator
  • "Thank you for helping shape and improve Windows 10 and Cortana" Heh
  • Dear Microsoft... Can I get Cortana on my Lumia 930 before my android device please? Why do you forget countries like NZ and Australia? So frustrating. My next phone will be android.
  • Looks like they don't care to much.
    Even skype is better on android Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Facebook for Windows isn't to good either. I'm a bit disappointed with wp to be honest. I hope win phone 10 will be much better.
  • This comment is so stupid. I didn't want to reply but I just felt obligated to tell you.
  • Thanks for the info. But if you can be a little bit more civil and tell me why you think its stupid then we might have dialogue. I'm just conveying how I feel after moving from Android to Windows phone. Surly Microsoft would roll out Cortana for all wp users before android? Please tell me your thoughts on this.
  • You do know that Cortana is regionally restricted for android as well? It's US and China for them by release time...
  • Localization of Cortana and porting her over to other platforms are entirely different issues, as the apps are frontend and the localization is mainly backend. If the backend isn't ready for a certain region that region won't get the frontend, i.e. the app, regardless of the platform it would run on. Also, it would be reasonable to assume that there are different people working on both so the fact that Cortana is now coming to Android should in no way delay a wider regional availability. If anything, the Bing team has even more reasons to step up their game now, considering porting Cortana to Android increases her user base.
  • Not stupid. Windows Phone is mediocre when it comes down to apps whether you like it or not. Posted via the Windows Central App on my Lumia 640 or using the Android Version which is free*
  • So true... Same problem where I live (fr-CH). We don't even have wordflow keyboard (the feature is 2 years old now in other countries). I also think my next phone won't be a windows one.
  • Huh? Word flow is regional?
  • Cortana is still only available in since regions. This will not be different on other platforms. If you want to try it out, change your region settings to US. Some "local" features may not work well, but you'll at least get a taste. I did this for my mom in South Africa, and she loves her new assistant. Location based reminders by itself is enough reason to enable it by changing your regional settings. And yes, I do wish that Microsoft would realize that people would like the option of turning on Cortana, even in an incomplete state.
  • Store does not work if your credit card is from different region.
  • Its more to do with carriers than microsoft, if it was up to them it would be all luacnhed at the same time 
  • And Sweden.. If it don't get better I have to switch to Android... Lack of apps and more...
  • Band integration, stat! Works great on my Note 4. I occasionally pair my band to my 1520, but use it with my Note 4 90% of the time. I'm getting very tired of Cortana firing on it's own on my 1520. Digitizer hell I guess.
  • Bad bad bad idea -_-
  • Cortana on Windows 10. Millions of new users in two weeks.   Billions of non Windows Phone users...for now. Exposure = outstanding idea.   Great great great idea. :)
  • Just relax, microsoft have an idea to make people from android will change their phones to windows using Cortana.
  • No. I just don't see it. I love my windows phone and its smoothness and responsiveness but its app selection is atrocious and Cortana just didn't cut it especially with Siri and Google Now on platforms that also have Cortana AND that have great app selection and content. Apps are killing this platform and I wouldn't recommend a user to switch full time. Posted via the Windows Central App on my Lumia 640 or using the Android Version which is free*
  • No not really you are talking about a best case scenario. I think only tech lovers will know about it and maybe only wp lover's will use it. Personally it's my belief that 90% of all Windows users don't know about Cortana nor care about it.
  • It's on the taskbar, the getting started app that launches at first boot mentions her, and she's a pinned tile on the start menu/screen. Do you also believe that 90% of windows users don't find the start button?
  • Does anywhere near 90% of Windows users sign in to a Microsoft account? I think that will be the hurdle here. Getting Windows users to create and use a Microsoft account. What percent of Windows 8 users are signed into an account? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Working good my galaxy s6 edge.
  • Anyone notice how fast it launched on Android....