In many ways, Cortana is one of the best features of Windows 10, and Microsoft has been lauded for deciding to push its personal digital assistant to Android and, later on, iOS as part of CEO Satya Nadella's move to offer cross-platform services instead of locking users into the Windows ecosystem.
However, the Redmond-based software company is not yet done distributing Cortana to all corners of the technology industry. The latest company believed to be working with Cortana is Cyanogen, which develops the Android-based open source Cyanogen OS running on the OnePlus One and the recently launched British brand Wileyfox phones.
In an interview with the Internal Business Times, Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster says the next version of Cyanogen OS will include Cortana. While Android already has its own Cortana app released just recently, McMaster says Cyanogen will have Cortana "deeply integrated" into the software to enable features that are not available to Android users.
Cortana for Android is a great app that performs powerful searches using natural language, scheduling appointments and setting alarms and reminders, tasks that Google's own Google Now, the default assistant for Android, can do just as well. However, Cortana's most significant abilities, such as the ability to control apps, requires it to be baked right into the operating system.
"Natural language coupled with intelligence is very important but as an application it doesn't really work because you need to be embedded into the framework of the OS because that is where you get all the signal from the services that makes that intelligence smarter," McMaster explained.
He believes that the integration of Cortana into Cyanogen OS will be the significant selling point that will differentiate it from the big guns, that is, to him, Google's Android and Apple's iOS. He also believes Cortana is a better personal assistant than Siri and, in some ways, than Google Now, pointing out that while Siri can control Apple Music, it cannot do the same with Spotify, and that is where Cortana shines.
"When Apple launched Apple Music at WWDC, they showed the Siri integration with Apple Music," he said. "Siri doesn't power Spotify like that so we can do these kinds of things with, for example, integration of Microsoft's Cortana into the OS, enabling natural language to power Spotify and other services."
For its part, Microsoft has declined to comment directly on whether it has agreed to license Cortana for deep integration into Cyanogen OS, but a spokesperson has pointed to an earlier announcement about a partnership with Cyanogen.
"As we announced in April, we're excited to integrate Microsoft's high-value services across the Cyanogen Operating System," a spokesperson stated. "We have no further details to share at this time."
The previous announcement was for a partnership that enabled Cyanogen to integrate Microsoft services into Cyanogen OS, but not the CyanogenMod ROMs. These services include Office, OneDrive, Skype, OneNote and an umbrella category called Bing services, under which Cortana could fall.