What you need to know
- Cortana inside the Microsoft Launcher is being removed if not in the US.
- Users will not be able to set it as the default assistant on Android.
Updated November 7 2019: I'm told that the removal of Cortana inside the Microsoft Launcher will be for users outside the United States. Those in the US will still be able to use Cortana through the Microsoft Launcher. So while not all bad news, this will be a regression in supporting Cortana outside the US.
Users of Cortana have been spoiled for choice when it comes to accessing the digital assistant on Android. Today, you can do so via the dedicated Cortana app, or via integration through the Microsoft Launcher. But according to sources familiar to the matter, Microsoft may be removing at least one of those entry points very soon.
I'm hearing that in the next couple of months, Microsoft will begin phasing out Cortana integration inside the Microsoft Launcher. Why? Because it no longer aligns with what Cortana is on mobile. Microsoft is pivoting Cortana away from being a single access point on a device and wants the assistant to work for you more contextually inside Microsoft 365 productivity apps such as Outlook, Skype, and Teams.
I don't know if this means the dedicated Cortana app on iOS and Android is going away as well. I've not heard anything about this, but I wouldn't be surprised if the dedicated apps follow suit. I do know that Microsoft is building a dedicated app for Surface Headphones and Surface Earbuds set up and configuration, which would alleviate the need for Cortana when setting up those devices.
The one outlier here is Cortana on Windows 10. Microsoft is in the middle of building out a brand new dedicated Cortana app on Windows 10. Perhaps this is because Windows still needs a default assistant of sorts, but it's clear that Microsoft doesn't expect people to use Cortana like people use digital assistants on their phones.
If the dedicated app goes away along with the Microsoft Launcher integration, that does mean that fans of Cortana will no longer be able to use it as their assistant of choice on mobile. That's a real shame, but considering so few people use it already, it won't be something that most people will miss.