Microsoft is working on a redesign of its Cortana app for iOS and Android, reports WindowsCentral. Version 3.0 of the app has been released for those enrolled in Microsoft’s Beta program. It delivers a number of improvements, including an updated UI that lets you have “conversational experiences” with the voice assistant, as well as music and podcast support across both the phone and connected Bluetooth devices.
The app now better integrates with the rest of Microsoft’s ecosystem of services. You can manage your calendar, set reminders, create meetings, and ask to join Skype or Teams (Microsoft’s version of Slack) meetings. The update’s summary notes that you can also send short emails by voice.
Along with these functionality improvements, the app has also been reorganized into three tabs: Discover, Upcoming, and Devices. Discover appears to be aimed at introducing you to the voice commands you could use with Cortana. The Devices tab lets you set up other Cortana-equipped devices, such as the Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker or the recently announced Surface Headphones. Upcoming already exists in the current Cortana app, but the new version gives it a clean redesign that reduces the space between its cards.
Despite not having a stake in the smart speaker market to the same extent as Amazon or Google, it’s clear that Cortana is still an important service for Microsoft. Earlier this year, the company acquired an AI startup called Semantic Machines partly in an attempt to make Cortana sound more human, and it has also previewed an update that integrates Cortana with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.
Cortana is unlikely to ever be your primary voice assistant, but that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from wanting it to be the easiest way to interact with its services — even if that means integrating it with its direct competitors.