What Cortana coming to iOS and Android means for wearables

Microsoft's virtual assistant escapes the confines of Windows Phone
What Cortana on iOS and Android means

Cortana is finally coming to iOS and Android.

Microsoft's digital assistant is now available on 'select' iPhones, Android phones and Cyanogen OS devices. It's only in the US and China for now, too. So it's not exactly taking over the world overnight.

Read this: Microsoft Band 2 review

But it's potentially very good new for the Microsoft Band 2, its GPS enabled fitness band, as well as its upcoming Cortana dedicated hearable.

On the Band 2, Cortana can be used for audio guided workouts and workout reminders when paired with a Windows Phone. So if the same features now work on iPhone and Android, that suddenly opens up the number of people who might consider the tracker. We'll update this story once we've tested this.

In Microsoft's blog post, it does point out from the off that Cortana on iOS and Android phones isn't the same experience as it is on Windows Phone. So you can't toggle settings or open apps, plus there's no hands-free 'Hey Cortana' trigger unless you're in the app screen or your homescreen on Android.

In November, we reported that Microsoft is working on its first hearable, powered by Cortana, and is due for a reveal in early 2016. Even more so than the Band 2, this kind of device can't rely solely on sales to Windows Phone owners.

Microsoft also announced some new features for Cortana on PC and smartphones. All could work nicely on a hearable - tracking flights and packages, setting location-based reminders and missed call alerts with auto responses on your computer.

As for Microsoft's augmented reality headset, HoloLens, we don't yet know whether its voice controls will be powered by Cortana. But it's clear the internet thinks this should happen. So 2016 could be a pretty big year for the virtual assistant and wearable tech.

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