Since the demise of its own Windows Phone platform, Microsoft has been putting a lot of effort into creating a compelling suite of Android apps instead. Microsoft Launcher started life as the experimental Arrow Launcher but morphed into its current form late last year. It features a control center panel unlike any other Android home app and is unsurprisingly linked with Bing rather than Google for search.
A new beta update has just been released which integrates Microsoft's digital assistant, Cortana. It seems to work much as it does in the Cortana app (which doesn't need to be installed), but as an overlay on top of the launcher. It's not dissimilar to the Google Assistant and can be used to find answers, makes calls, schedule meetings, and more.
Cortana isn't the only improvement in v4.6; check out the changelog below:
What's new for v4.6
- Now Cortana, your personal digital assistant comes in the Microsoft Launcher: use Cortana to make a call, schedule meetings, change wallpaper, Continue on PC or read the latest headlines!
- Share Launcher via NFC & QR code;
- Support for Arabic/RTL languages
- Intune integration supports remote data-wiping;
- Choose what contacts to display on your People card
- Place widgets into the dock
- Pin searched app/contact to home screen
To give the Beta a try you need to sign up for the testing program on Google Play and then download the pilot version. Alternatively, you could sideload the Beta from APKMirror. If you don't want to go to all that trouble, these changes will make their way to the stable version in due course.