Microsoft’s Cortana app for iOS and Android will close soon, the company has announced on a support page. This effectively puts a nail in Cortana’s coffers for consumer affairs, at least as far as competing directly with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
We will soon end support for the Cortana app on Android and iOS, as Cortana continues its development as a productivity assistant.
As of March 31, 2021, the Cortana content you created – such as reminders and lists – will no longer work in the Cortana mobile app, but can still be accessed through Cortana in Windows. Cortana reminders, lists, and tasks are automatically synced to the Microsoft To Do app, which you can download for free on your phone.
After March 31, 2021, the Cortana mobile app on your phone will no longer be supported.
This is no surprise. Microsoft had already started depreciating Cortana on mobile in certain markets, and the writing seemed to be on the wall when the company announced that many of Cortana’s consumer-focused skills would get the ax about a year ago.
Support for third-party skills has ended, and the only smart speaker on the market that supports Cortana pulled the plug on functionality related to Microsoft’s assistant earlier this month.
Microsoft announced the change coming to the mobile apps back in July.
However, this is not the end of Cortana; Microsoft is just moving out of all areas where Cortana did not get a grip on competitors such as Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant. But Cortana is still heavily integrated into Microsoft 365 in several ways; you can think of Cortana as the modern, much smarter equivalent of Clippy, in a way.
A few years ago (not so long ago at all, in fact) the smart assistant man began to sweep consumer electronics, and many large companies tried to get their own assistants out there, from Google to Amazon, LG, Samsung, Microsoft and Apple.
Most of this was powered by smart speakers and some features on mobile devices, although the expansion of the smart home category also played a role. But there was no way all these smart assistant offerings would survive; consolidation was inevitable.
Among other things, it is because it is a heavy burden for the many smaller technology companies to include support for all the countless assistants in hardware and software products. In recent years, Google and Amazon have achieved shared dominance in this wide-open space, with Apple’s Siri playing a narrower role on specific devices.
Do you remember Bixby?
Like Samsung’s Bixby (which still exists, but which does not exactly make waves), Microsoft’s Cortana just could not compete. And at least on the surface, it’s a shame – it was hard not to anchor it with the audacity to be named after a character from the video game Hello, after all.
Today, Google Assistant and / or Amazon Alexa are available in a large number of personal electronics products in one form or another. And while Apple’s Siri has not had the same impact on the entire ecosystem, it has a massive installation base in Apple’s own products, and usage statistics suggest that users lean heavily on the assistant.
In the meantime, you can (at least for the foreseeable future) still find Cortana hanging inside Microsoft Office, answering your basic questions like a chat bot.