More than two years after bringing its Cortana digital assistant to iPhones , Microsoft today debuted Cortana for iPad, including a new interface specifically optimized for 7.9-inch, 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch, and 12.9-inch screens. The app also boasts 20 percent faster launch times than the prior iPhone-only version, which is important, given that Cortana will likely need to be re-opened often on iOS devices.
While the iPad version of Cortana is only accessible when the app is launched — and per Apple mandates, cannot be instantly summoned like Siri — it includes many of the features of the Windows 10 assistant. Beyond presenting personally-tailored news stories, it can track your flights and packages, leverage awareness of your email to create reminders, and assist with calendar scheduling. Cortana also has a smooth voice that sounds very close to human when responding to requests.
The release of Cortana for iPad comes at an interesting time: After some major developers have slowed development or killed their iPad-specific apps in favor of web experiences — but amidst rapidly growing interest in smart speakers and digital assistants — Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant were amongst the most popular apps this holiday season.
Cortana has seen a slow and limited rollout across the globe. As of last March, Cortana for iOS was only available infour countries.Today, the Windows 10 version is available in 13 regions , versus Siri’s current 36 . Adding iPad support may help Microsoft expand Cortana’s user base, which was pegged at just under 150 million people last October.
Cortana for iPad is available as a free update to the previous iPhone app and can be downloaded from the iOS App Store, but iPad users may need to switch the store’s filter to Supports > iPhone Only to see the update.