The decision removes a voice assistant option for Android and iPhone users. While there’s still Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa, those who are deeply invested in Microsoft’s suite of software and hardware might’ve preferred an option with deeper ties to Windows 10 and Xbox, for example.
Cortana launched on Android and iOS with its own app a little under three years ago back in November 2018. With the removal from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, no new users will be able to download and install the software. For those who haven’t deleted the app from their device yet, it won’t be automatically stripped from your phone.
However, any content that you created within the Cortana app will no longer work within the software.
Lists and reminders will no longer be accessible or editable within the Cortana app. Instead, if you need to access either of these, you’ll need to download Microsoft’s To Do app on iOS and Android. If you’d rather use voice commands, you can still use Cortana to summon your lists – but only on Windows 10.
After stripping out Cortana completely from Windows 10, Microsoft is slowly bringing back the talkative voice assistant for a limited number of features. Moving forwards, Microsoft has promised to shift focus so that its Halo-inspired voice assistant will help users with Microsoft 365 services.
With Siri and Google Assistant core parts of iOS and Android, respectively, using an alternative voice assistant takes some work. Finding and launching a dedicated app to use a voice command is much harder than the hands-free access offered by the defaults from Apple and Google. The removal of the Cortana app from the App Store and Google Play Store seems like an admission that a device-independent voice assistant wasn’t as popular with smartphone owners as Microsoft had hoped.
Clearly, the costs associated with maintaining and updating these mobile apps were no longer worth it for Microsoft.
For the most dedicated Windows 10 users, that will be a real blow. But for most iPhone and Android users, they likely won’t even notice the disappearance.