Thursday, 19 January 2017 06:40

Cortana now lives right on your Android lock screen


It's now easier than ever to use Cortana on your Android phone.

A new feature currently in beta puts Cortana right on your lock screen for quick access, MSPoweruser reports

The feature is similar to Cortana's behavior on Windows 10, where it can answer questions and perform other tasks without requiring a login. If the action requires another app, Cortana prompts you to unlock your device. Cortana now lives right on your Android lock screen

Cortana, which is named after Halo's AI assistant character of the same name, first started out on the Windows phone and then moved to desktop. Initially released in 2014, Cortana has evolved from a gimmicky feature into a powerful assistant. In 2015, Microsoft brought Cortana apps to iOS and Android.

Users in the beta program already have access to the new lock screen feature, so it will likely be widely available in the next few weeks. Unlike the Windows version, users still need to swipe the Cortana logo right or left to use it and cannot prompt it by saying “Hey Cortana.” 

If your phone has a password or PIN, Cortana does not require it. This means that anyone with access to your phone can potentially access Cortana. While we haven't tried the beta program, other assistants like Siri will respond with private information regardless of who asks: Pick up your friend's phone, ask about her next appointment and it'll tell you. 

To avoid such problems, Google’s assistant offers a "trusted voice" option, which only lets “OK Google” unlock the device when the sound matches a preregistered voice model. By the time Cortana's lock screen functionality is rolled out to all users, it's possible Microsoft will add some similar gatekeeping mechanism. 

In the meantime, for those concerned about the security implications, a nice alternative to the new lock screen shortcut is the existing home screen widget. It requires the phone to be unlocked but provides a lot of the same functionality. 

Cortana home screen widget

Cortana home screen widget


Putting Cortana on Android home screens could be a great move on Microsoft's part. For Windows users in particular, this bridges the divide between phone and laptop. As an overall strategic move, this puts Microsoft in direct competition with Google Assistant and makes Cortana function a lot more like a native assistant. 

You can try the feature by signing up for the beta here.


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