Microsoft's Cortana coming to Xbox One this fall; Android in July

Cortana is coming to Xbox, along with a free update of the console, later this fall. The Cortana on Android app will hit preview in July.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is continuing its quest to put Cortana on all Windows 10, as well as certain non-Windows-10-based devices.

Microsoft's Cortana personal digital assistant will be integrated into Xbox One this fall for users in the U.S. and U.K., Microsoft execs confirmed during the E3 show this week.

And a beta of the Cortana companion app is now slated to arrive for Android users in July, according to a June 16 Microsoft blog post. Last month, Microsoft execs said to expect Cortana on Android in June. (There's still no updated timing information as to when the Cortana companion app will be available for iPhone beyond "later this year.")

The Cortana apps for Android and iPhone will allow users to do many, but not all, of the same spoken- and/or typed tasks as they will be able to do on Windows-based devices. Microsoft is working to enabled the syncing of Cortana's notebook across all devices where the personal assistant is available.

"On your Windows PC, you can use natural language to ask Cortana to help you find recent documents and pictures. On your Xbox One, you can use natural language to ask Cortana to find a friend online or record a game DVR clip," explained company officials in a June 16 post.

On the Xbox, users seemingly will need a Kinect sensor in order to use voice commands to talk to Cortana. I had wondered whether users also might be able to speak into a headset to direct Cortana, hands-free.

"The best way to use Cortana on Xbox One is with Kinect. Voice commands make hands-free navigation easy so you can stay focused on your game. If you want, you can type questions and fill in search bars using your controller, as well," said a Microsoft spokesperson in response to my query. (I've asked again if "best" means "only," but have yet to hear back.)

Update: I'm still not sure if Kinect is required, given this rather oddly-worded response to my follow-up question from the same spokesperson:

"We want to enable the intelligence and power of Cortana for all customers across a wide set of devices. What we announced is that Cortana with Kinect on Xbox One delivers great gaming specific capabilities. We have no further details to share at this time."

Windows Central found mention of what seems to be a Kinect requirement for Cortana on Xbox at the end of a video, but I still can't get a yes or no from Microsoft.

Microsoft officials are expected to update the Xbox One operating system core so that it is Windows 10-based. (The Xbox One OS currently includes Windows 8 core.) It looks as if this will happen this fall, as well. Microsoft also is on tap to deliver an updated Xbox One dashboard interface this fall.

"When the new user experience (dashboard) launches on Xbox One through a simple and free system update, Xbox One will take some of the best parts of Windows 10 and optimize them for gaming. Windows 10 will enable faster and more intelligent experiences on Xbox One," said Microsoft officials in anotherE3-related blog post.

Microsoft also has made the promised game streaming technology that will connect Windows 10 and Xbox One devices available to Xbox One Preview members as of June 15.

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