Use Cor­tana on an An­droid de­vice

Mi­crosoft has re­leased Cor­tana for An­droid users. Mar­tyn Casserly ex­plains how to use it

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

Mi­crosoft has made its Cor­tana voice as­sis­tant avail­able on An­droid phones. It ar­rives at a time when the voice con­trol bat­tle­ground fea­tures some se­ri­ous play­ers. Ama­zon has Alexa, Ap­ple has Siri, and ‘OK Google’ has long been An­droid users’ weapon of choice.

To find the Cor­tana app, go to the Google Play Store and search for the name, then hit the in­stall but­ton. When you first launch it you’ll be asked to grant the app ac­cess to your lo­ca­tion and your files. Both of these are nec­es­sary for the app to be able to be able to work fully, so agree to the re­quests. You’ll also be asked to agree to ac­cess to a long list of things, in­clud­ing your cal­en­dar, search his­tory, and voice in­ter­face. This is due to Cor­tana be­ing a voice as­sis­tant rather than a stan­dard app, so when you tell it to do some­thing it needs to be able to do it with­out pop­ping up a per­mis­sion box. Tap agree, then log into your Mi­crosoft ac­count. If you don’t have one tap the ‘Cre­ate one!’ op­tion.

Now Cor­tana will be­gin a setup process that asks you to en­ter the name you want the app to call you and the colour of the


You can do a num­ber of dif­fer­ent things with Cor­tana, just as you can with the Google As­sis­tant. Tap­ping the square of nine dots in the bot­tom left cor­ner opens up a list of func­tions you can try out. Swip­ing the menu to the left re­veals sev­eral more op­tions that are also avail­able. back­ground. Once these are de­cided, you can run through a quick tu­to­rial with the app that sug­gests dif­fer­ent things it can do. If at any point you are un­sure about com­mands avail­able, you can tap the mi­cro­phone in the bot­tom right cor­ner and ask “What can I do?” Cor­tana will then tell you about the var­i­ous op­tions.

My Day The first op­tion is My Day. This pro­vides in­for­ma­tion that the app thinks will be rel­e­vant to you each morn­ing. It in­cludes ap­point­ments, news head­lines, weather, places to eat nearby, and other ephemera. As you use the Cor­tana more fre­quently My Day is de­signed to learn your likes and dis­likes so that this fea­tures be­comes more use­ful.

Re­minders As you would ex­pect from a dig­i­tal as­sis­tant, Cor­tana makes it easy to set up re­minders. It does this in two dif­fer­ent ways. When you se­lect the New Re­minder op­tion you’ll be given the op­tion of ei­ther en­ter­ing the time when some­thing is hap­pen­ing, or to be re­minded of a task when you ei­ther ar­rive at or de­part from a spe­cific lo­ca­tion.

So if you know you have to pick up milk on the way home you can en­ter that the re­minder needs to warn you when you leave the of­fice. Clever and use­ful.

Meet­ings Or­gan­i­sa­tion is at the heart of any dig­i­tal as­sis­tant, so to com­ple­ment the re­minders there are also Meet­ings. When you first tap on this icon you’ll be asked to give per­mis­sion to ac­cess your cal­en­der. Once you agree to this the Meet­ings sec­tion es­sen­tially turns into the agenda style ver­sion of your cal­en­dar. Tap­ping on any of the sched­uled ap­point­ments will open them up in Google Cal­en­dar or what­ever app you nor­mally use. You can also link dif­fer­ent cal­en­dars to the app – say a Mi­crosoft Ex­change ac­count – by tap­ping the Con­nect Cal­en­dar op­tion and then se­lect­ing the app you want to at­tach.

Ex­tra fea­tures There are also op­tions for Weather, News, Alarms, and you can even ask Cor­tana to tell you a joke or sing you a song. She’s got a good voice, too.

Change set­tings

In the top right-hand cor­ner of every screen you’ll see the icon of shoul­ders and head. Tap this to open up the set­tings menu. Here you’ll see a cou­ple of sec­tions: Note­book and Set­tings. Note­book Note­book is where you can con­trol the in­for­ma­tion that Cor­tana learns about you and the kind of rec­om­men­da­tions you’ll re­ceive. Tap­ping on it brings up a list of ar­eas that include Events, Nav­i­ga­tion, News, and a num­ber of oth­ers. Each sec­tion has set­tings within it, so if you tap on Eat and Drink you can then tell Cor­tana whether you like to eat out of­ten, how far you’re will­ing to travel, and the pre­ferred price ranges of res­tau­rants. Set­tings Here you’ll find the set­tings that per­tain more to the look and feel of Cor­tana. You can cre­ate a short­cut on the home screen for the voice in­ter­face, turn on the ‘Hey Cor­tana’ fea­ture so that when you’re in the app you can say that phrase and im­me­di­ately is­sue re­quests with­out hav­ing to press a but­ton, plus you can sync no­ti­fi­ca­tions to Cor­tana on your com­puter.

So that’s it. A whis­tle-stop guide to Cor­tana. Mi­crosoft has built a very in­ter­est­ing app with per­son­al­ity and use­ful, gran­u­lar con­trols. Whether it can knock Google’s own of­fer­ing off the throne is some­thing that re­mains to be seen, but it’s a good start. J

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