Microsoft's virtual assistant, Cortana gets a facelift; launches on non-Windows platforms

Microsoft continues the push into smartphone prominence with its virtual assistant, Cortana for iOS and Android, which also got a facelift and launching in the UK on non-Windows platforms, with quick access features to common actions.

While the biggest improvements include the quick action buttons and voice-enabled control, that let users choose common actions, such as viewing the calendar, reminders, or checking the weather forecast.

Microsoft's Cortana support for iOS and Android will be rolling out in the UK, after the U.S. first point of call, aimed at making it more useful for users in that region to avail the virtual assistant capabilities.

The company attributed the slow roll-out of support for Cortana to more geographic location to incompatibility with local norms and restrictions.

The virtual assistant app is a key part of Microsoft's strategy, even as Windows smartphones remain an extreme minority compared to the dominance of Android and iOS devices, with its larger ambitions around powering interactions on these devices that completely dominates the market.

In terms of performance, the app is now faster than its previous version, and the design sport a purple gradient background replacing the stark black, white, and blue color scheme.

The update has rolled out to Android devices this week, while the iOS app will be updated in the coming weeks.
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