The latest Microsoft Copilot update on Android makes me mourn the death of Cortana

ChatGPT on a Google Pixel 7 Pro
Beta testers can now set Microsoft Copilot as their default assistant app on Android. (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Some users can now set Microsoft Copilot as their default assistant app on Android.
  • To set Copilot as your default assistant app, you have to have a beta version of Copilot installed.
  • At the moment, Copilot is quite limited, as it can't perform tasks like taking a screenshot on your phone or integrating with the system in a meaningful way.

Microsoft Copilot will soon be able to be your default assistant app on Android. In fact, if you're running Microsoft Copilot beta, which doesn't seem to be listed in the Google Play Store, you can already set it as your default assistant app. The change was spotted by Mishaal Rahman on X (formerly Twitter).

As the functionality is in beta testing, it's limited at the moment.

"You can now set the Microsoft Copilot app as your default assistant app on Android! However, it seems Copilot isn't taking full advantage of this, as invoking it just launches the main activity. It doesn't even automatically listen for input yet, nor does it use the APIs that would let it grab a screenshot of the current on-screen content," explained Rahman. "I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft is working on these aspects, though."

In its present state, setting Copilot as your default assistant app essentially creates a shortcut to Copilot. The app doesn't start listening for a voice command by default. Copilot also lacks integration with Android, so it can't perform tasks such as taking a screenshot.

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In its current state, Copilot cannot replace Google Assistant/Gemini, Alexa, or even Bixby Voice, at least in everyday use. Microsoft hasn't announced the functionality yet, so there's a good chance that it's in its early stages.

Microsoft Copilot vs Google Gemini

Cortana on Windows Phone looking sad.

The death of Cortana as a digital assistant can still be felt through the limits of Microsoft Copilot. (Image credit: Windows Central)

It's a shame that Cortana never worked out for Microsoft. If things had lined up differently, we may have seen Copilot gain access to smart devices and commands like Gemini has with Google Assistant (though that setup isn't perfect). While Copilot has a place on a computer, I think an assistant on your smartphone needs to be able to do more day-to-day tasks. I can't speak for anyone else, but I use my digital assistant to control my smart lights or start music while using Android Auto. I think Microsoft Copilot will be rather limited if it can never gain access to those types of features.

It will be interesting to see what Microsoft does with Copilot on Android. The tech giant is certainly capable of adding functionality expected from a digital assistant, but that isn't the current focus of Copilot.

Microsoft is eager to get Copilot into the hands of users. You can now summon Copilot with the push of a button on Windows 11. When Copilot first launched on Windows the tool could only perform a few system tasks. Microsoft has since expanded that list. In a recent Insider build of Windows 11, Microsoft added a wave of capabilities through integration with Power Automate Desktop.

One potential solution would be Microsoft Copilot working with another assistant. That's not an entirely foreign concept, since Cortana could work with Alexa at one point. But again, would that be viewed as a step forward by Microsoft?

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

  • Cmndr_Bytes
    I used Cortana a lot from controlling my lights, to reminders, to letting her read my text messages to me from across the room and even on occasion letting her sing me a lullaby. I did much of this through my now thoroughly defunct HP Invoke.
    The thing I liked best about Cortana was she had personality. None of these assistants these days seem to have a "spark" like she did. She was a better assistant in her early days (before MS started lobotomizing her) than any of the other assistants out there.
    MS missed such a golden opportunity. She could have felt more "alive" than ever and in the day of virtual eye wear could have actually appeared. I always thought it would have been amazing to see her in the Hololens. And now with the HALO series out and seemingly doing well it could have added to the hype.
    So Sean, I feel you pain. Spread the word!! We want Cortana back!!!!
    Reply