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“Hey Cortana” may give “OK Google” a run for its money on Android

A major new update for the Cortana for Android Beta now brings "hey Cortana" functionality to the assistant.

Published onOctober 23, 2015


Microsoft openly released Cortana for Android Beta back in August, but at the time, Cortana’s abilities had a few limitations that kept her from competing with the Android standby “OK Google.” Cortana couldn’t be summoned by voice commands, for instance, and she wasn’t able to launch apps or change settings. However, a major new update for Cortana for Android Beta has made the playing field a little more level.

Android users with the app can now say “Hey Cortana” aloud to get the attention of Windows’ personal assistant. This is a major step forward for Cortana, but unfortunately the device still has to be unlocked for her to be listening. This is a shortcoming not present on Windows devices. This is an area where some people believe Windows phones have a bit of an edge over Android devices. “Hey Cortana” can bring up voice commands for Windows phones even if the phone is locked, but few Android devices offer always-listening functionality for Google Now’s “OK Google.”

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It looks as though we may be on the verge of a battle of personal assistants. This update brings Cortana close to the full functionality of “OK Google,” and Android users can now choose which voice recognition software they would prefer using.

Cortana for Android has not yet received an official release, and Microsoft is still developing the app and responding to feedback from the beta release. With this update, some speculate that a full launch will come sometime in the very near future. What does this mean for you? How much do you use “OK Google,” and is there any temptation to swap to Cortana? Those who already use Cortana regularly, what makes it preferable to “OK Google,” in your opinion?

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