Now Cortana Can Configure Itself as the Default Assistant on Android

Posted on June 18, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 17 Comments

Now Cortana Can Configure Itself as the Default Assistant on Android

You’ve been able to configure the default assistant in Android as Cortana for quite some time, but the option is hard to find. Now, the latest version of Cortana will simply make this change for you if you’d like.

I’ve written about and discussed this capability many times, and perhaps most recently in Android for the Windows Guy: Redmondize Your Smartphone. What you’ve needed to do, to date, was open Settings, search for “Assist & voice input,” and then change the Assist app to Cortana.

Now, you will apparently be prompted to choose between “Google” and “Cortana” when you long-press the Android home button for the first time after updating to the new version of the Cortana app. (This shortcut is the primary way to launch the assistant on Android.)

I write “apparently” there because I don’t see this prompt on the Pixel XL. That is most likely because I am using a pre-release Android 8.0 (“O”) version. But the method noted above still works, so I suspect that it will work on this device, and with this Android OS version, soon.)

Even with this nicety, Cortana is still missing a much-needed feature that would make it truly integrated with Android and useful to all: The ability to enable “Hey, Cortana.” Maybe that will arrive in a future update.

Also, if you make the change to Cortana and later wish to switch back to Google, you can do so in Settings, as described above.

You can download Cortana for Android from the Google Play Store.


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Comments (17)

17 responses to “Now Cortana Can Configure Itself as the Default Assistant on Android”

  1. rameshthanikodi

    Just want to add, Cortana won't be able to work on the lock screen in Android 8.0, because apps no longer can draw over systemUI and the lock screen is part of systemUI.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to rameshthanikodi:

      Well we know why they did that now, don’t we?

      • rameshthanikodi

        In reply to jimchamplin:

        Well generally speaking, Google's direction for Android has been heading towards less openness and locking down the OS more. I don't think they were targeting Cortana specifically, but rather, rouge apps that display ads on the lockscreen (they're out there). Unfortunately this breaks most of Android's customization that deals with the lockscreen and status bar.

  2. mikeghou


    I just got my wife an Honor 6x and Paul's tips are v. valuable. I have installed Cortana, but she doesn't always reply by voice as she did on Windows Phone. Example: If I ask where Costco is, she will say "I've found...." and show a map.

    But if I say, "set a reminder" she does not respond by voice as on WP where she would ask what you want to be reminded of and then when to set the reminder.. Instead, she brings up a screen to tap to set the reminder.

    Am I missing something, or is this the current way it works?

  3. quick_razor360

    Paul is this still Valid on Samsung S8+ Running Android 7?

  4. wright_is

    Still waiting for Cortana to appear in the Play Store. Any news as to when it will become available outside the USA?

    I loved Cortana on my Lumia, Google's Assistent is useless in comparisson. I used to be able to get Cortana to start playing podcasts or Audible audio books, I've yet to find a way to get GA to do the same. That was about the only thing I used Cortana for.

  5. mbsnl

    Can we cut the Cortana crap or fix it once and for all?

    Since the Windows 10 Anniversary Update (1607), Cortana is available when it's available for your region/language, or when you have your display language set to English in other parts of the world.

    So now for Android, after 12 months beta, the Windows 10 Policy still does not apply to Android Play Store (yes, I did ask, and many around the world did).

    My believe is that Microsoft has no intention to make Cortana a succesfull product, if they still don't understand the implication of their global policies around regional/language and localization towards their Cortana (and other) products.

    • robincapper

      In reply to mbsnl:

      Agree, ask Microsoft NZ about proper Cortana here and the response is... crickets...

      Even more annoying when you watch them raving on about how well Azure enables massive rollout of AI across the globe...

    • wright_is

      In reply to mbsnl:

      Yep, I'm here in Germany. I loved Cortana on my Lumia, but it still isn't available here in the Play Store, even though Windows' Cortana has been available for a couple of years.

  6. Mark from CO


    With tongue not so firmly planted in cheek, perhaps 2020 will be the year the "Hey, Cortana" feature arrives.

    Mark from CO

  7. ponsaelius

    When I ask Cortana "how tall is everest" in the UK I get a search telling me how to order Everest Double Glazing products. Everest is a major supplier in the UK.

    I suppose Cortana is customised for the UK market but obviously lacking in context.

  8. craigsn

    Maybe I'm dense, but on the Android settings page, I cannot find Assist & Voice Input. I have a Moto Z Play, with Android 7 on my phone. any Help?

  9. fanchettes

    Can Cortana on android play Groove music like it does on Win10?