Cortana public beta on Android can replace your launcher


— 7:32 AM on August 25, 2015

If you have an Android phone, and you've been itching to talk to Cortana, now's your chance. Microsoft has opened the Android public beta for its personal assistant. 

Some of Cortana's features will sound familiar if you're already using Google Now. The app can set alarms and reminders, track time-sensitive information like flights, and search the web with Bing. Cortana's integration with a user's Microsoft account syncs the digital assistant across multiple devices, so some information is always available from the cloud. Microsoft has also made Cortana a possible option for home button presses, which means the app can serve as a launcher. 

There are a few limitations to Cortana on Google's OS, however. The current beta can't open apps, which would make for a frustrating experience if it was used for home button presses. Cortana can't toggle settings right now, and the beta also doesn't activate in response to saying "Hey, Cortana." Still, if you're interested in the public beta, you only have to agree to be a tester on the app's Google Play page before you can download Cortana for yourself.

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