A small group of external testers has finally gotten their first peek at Cortana on iOS, according to various reports. This first semi-public Cortana release follows an earlier call for testers, which as you might imagine quickly filled up with eager candidates.
“We’ve focused on making Cortana on iOS the perfect companion to your Windows experience,” Microsoft explained at the time it announced plans to ship Cortana on iOS. “Cortana helps you be more productive by completing basic tasks like sending emails, scheduling events, and using the power of Bing to quickly search your devices, the cloud, or the web. Cortana’s also the best at reminders, delivering them at the right time and place so you forget less and can do more.”
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Cortana for iOS, like the earlier release for Android, will be introduced slowly, over time. This first release is only open to a small group, and it is available only in the U.S. and China. Microsoft says it will continue to deliver frequent updates to the app to expand the features and functionality over the coming months and, presumably, make Cortana available in more markets as well.
As Brad noted earlier, the walled garden approach that Apple takes with iOS means that Cortana will never be as full-featured as the Windows (and Windows phone) client, let alone the Android release. “Hey Cortana” is not yet supported on iOS, and likely never will be, though Microsoft has figured out how to implement it on Android. But the beta version of the app offers “voice-powered assistance, plus help with managing your schedule, reminders, and alarms, as well as the ability to track things like flights, packages, stocks, scores and more,” TechCrunch claims.
Cortana is being distributed, for now, via Apple’s TestFlight system, which limits testers to 2,000. Microsoft will likely need to move beyond TestFlight for future, broader, releases.