Cyanogen Inc is rolling out Cyanogen OS 12.1.1 for the OnePlus One today, and it's not just any update. This is the first version of Cyanogen OS with support for Microsoft Cortana baked right in. After Microsoft finally made Cortana official for other phones, then removed the always listening feature, the OnePlus One is rather unique.
Microsoft has been branching out recently to make its previously exclusive apps and services available on more platforms. Cortana just became publicly available after a lengthy beta test, and now there's a big update. Not because it added big things, but because it took one away. In v1.2 of the Cortana app, you can't use the "Hey Cortana" hotword in the US anymore.
You could think of Cortana as Microsoft Now. We Android users ask Google questions by default, but when you're on a modern Windows device, Cortana's the one who will chime in with an answer.
Microsoft's plans to bring Cortana to Android has been no secret. A leaked APK hit the web back in July. The public beta entered the Play Store around a month later. Now the official release is ready for all.
Cyanogen, the company that's grown out of the most popular third-party ROM for Android phones and tablets, is now a partner of Microsoft. CEO Kirt McMaster (who you might remember from some rather colorful statements earlier this year) says that the first fruit of that union will be the integration of Cortana with future versions of the modified Android ROM.
McMaster revealed that Cyanogen is working with Microsoft to deeply integrate Cortana into the next version of Cyanogen OS. This is key to catapulting Cyanogen into the mass market, he asserts: Cortana is currently available as an app on Android, but in order for it to make a real difference, it needs to be able to be integrated at the OS level so that its full potential can be leveraged.
Just because you have an Android device, that doesn't mean you have to commit to using Google Now. Maybe you don't trust el Goog with that much information. Maybe, for some reason, you rather give that data to Microsoft instead. In such a case, you're welcome to use Cortana as your digital voice assistant.
A good portion of you have probably been playing with a spiffy new Windows 10 upgrade this week. If you're a fan of Microsoft's HALO-branded digital voice assistant, Cortana, you can check it out on your Android phone, too - it's more or less a remade version of the implementation that debuted on Windows Phone devices. The Android beta app has been available for a few weeks, and Android developers are already having fun with the new tool.
If you're so enamored with Cortana that you'd like to make it the default voice assistant on your Android phone... well, you're probably going to make Microsoft very happy.
Windows 10 marks the official debut of Cortana on the desktop, and already a developer has integrated the voice assistant with Android devices. Mass producer of Tasker plugins João Dias, known as joaomgcd in the Play Store, has published this video showing Cortana playing along with AutoRemote and AutoVoice to control room lights and disable phone notifications.
Microsoft has restricted the Cortana virtual assistant to Windows device thus far, but an official Android release is right around the corner. You don't have to wait, though. The beta Cortana app has leaked, and it appears to be fully functional. Just grab the app from APK Mirror and give it a shot.
Microsoft says that the Android app will be "working as a companion to Cortana on your Windows 10 PC." Exactly what that means isn't clear, but it seems that Microsoft may limit Cortana on Android to Windows 10 users, at least initially.
You've already got Google voice commands, but what about something with a little more personality? Microsoft has got you covered, or rather, it will in a few weeks. Redmond is working on a version of its Cortana virtual assistant app for Android.