CortanaCortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant became available for download a month ago in pre-beta, and now, an official US beta version of Cortana for Android is available.

When you look at the Windows 10 or Windows Phone version of Cortana, you have access to the full Cortana experience and functionality, but since the Android version doesn’t have access to your email or doesn’t read your calendar, the depth of the assistant just isn’t the same.  As far as the beta version of Cortana goes, here are some of the things you can do with it:

  • Search by voice for Web queries
  • Initiate texts and calls with voice
  • Set alarms
  • Create reminders
  • Create meeting and calendar entries
  • Get driving directions using Google Maps
  • Conduct local searches near me

At this point, we don’t know why this version of Cortana can’t read email (Gmail) or Google Calendar.

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There are certain things that you can’t ask Cortana, such as anything that would rely on your calendar or emails.  If Cortana doesn’t know the answer to a question, such as a flight time (which would be something you’d probably have logged in your calendar), it’ll translate the question into a conventional search query, serving you with a page of mobile Web results.  Because of this, the results you get from this may not be relevant to what you were asking for specifically.

If you want to use Cortana permanently instead of Google Now, just swipe up and select “complete action using Cortana…always.”  But for the time being, Google Now is the better assistant when compared to the like of this version of Cortana.

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