For Microsoft, their digital assistant seems to be in a bit of a tough spot. Despite the fact that the assistant has been integrated into Windows 10, which has a user base of 700 million users globally, Cortana has only about 150 million users according to the last official Microsoft figures.
In comparison, this is several times fewer than Google Assistant and Siri, while Alexa has fewer over all users but dominates the smart speaker market.
Also, there is a Cortana SDK that allows third party device makers to include Cortana in their hardware. Google and Amazon are both pursuing a similar strategy and, so far, Cortana is the only one to have limited adoption by third party device makers.
Because of this data, Microsoft is introducing a redesigned app for iOS devices. Many noted that it has a primarily white background and an overall more spartan user interface. Music and podcasts have taken on a new emphasis.
Here’s what Microsoft says is new in Cortana 3.0 compared with the previous version:
- A new conversational experience for answers
- A new place to manage and set up your Cortana devices
- Listen to music and podcasts on the go
- Stay on top of your tasks managing meetings, emails, reminders and To Do on the go
- Join your next Skype or Teams meeting by simply asking Cortana
Three are three tabs now
There is even a hamburger menu in the upper right that offers lists, reminders and suggested tasks.
You’ll find Upcoming on the home screen, which has weather, calendar entries and other to-dos. the Discover tab is basically a tutorial about what can be done with the assistant, such as play music, join meetings, get news, ask questions, and set reminders. The Devices tab lets you connect to other devices. There are currently four different devices it can connect to:
- GLSA smart thermostat
- Surface headphones
- Harman Kardon Invoke
This short list is a big tell of the mostly unused state of the Cortana device ecosystem.
It wouldn’t be surprising, even after this update, that there would be much in the way of many new users to iOS devices, especially since Cortana is a non-native assistant on iPad and iPhone. This puts it at a huge disadvantage when compared to Siri or even the Google Assistant.