If you thought Microsoft would allow Cortana for Android to be an also-ran compared with the Windows version, think again. Android Central reported Friday afternoon that the latest release of the Cortana for Android beta will now listen to commands when you call its name.
According to Android Central, as of version 18.104.22.1689, you can get Cortana to listen for spoken commands simply by saying, “Hey Cortana”—a little like Google Now’s “OK Google” and Siri’s “Hey Siri” hand-free modes. All you need to do is go into Cortana’s settings and make sure the “Hey Cortana” checkbox is ticked.
There are some limitations to Cortana for Android’s hands-free mode, though: Android Central says that the hands-free mode “only works if the phone’s display is on, and the screen is unlocked or you already have the app open,” but it also notes that this is the case for Google Now’s hands-free controls on many Android phones.
The story behind the story: Cortana’s presence on Android may seem a little odd given Microsoft’s traditional Windows-centric ethos, but the company has increasingly embraced other platforms under CEO Satya Nadella. Under Nadella’s “mobile-first, cloud-first” strategy, Microsoft is less focused on bringing users onto its own platforms as it was in the past, and is instead more focused on bringing its software to where the users are, regardless of the operating system they’re on.