Microsoft unveils Cortana voice assistant for Android and iPhone

Yes, it's official: Microsoft is bringing Windows' Cortana voice assistant to Android and iPhone. Both platforms will get a dedicated app that, much like you see on Windows Phone today, will let you dictate reminders, track flights and otherwise keep your life organized. Cortana's Notebook, which remembers what you like, will also sync across all your platforms. This won't be a one-for-one recreation of what you get right now, though -- since Microsoft can't tap directly into the operating system like it can on Windows devices, you won't get hands-free activation through "hey Cortana" or options to launch apps or settings. Still, it'll be worth seeing what this Halo-inspired helper can do when it reaches Android in late June, and iPhones sometime later this year -- and we'd add that it's not the only treat Microsoft has in store for your smartphone, either.

The Redmond crew is also unveiling Phone Companion, a Windows 10 app (due in the OS preview within a few weeks) that helps you sync your Android, iOS or Windows handset with your PC. It'll mostly entail loading apps for Microsoft's services if you're using non-Windows hardware, but it should take the challenge out of accessing your computer's content when you're on the road. And yes, this includes music on all platforms. The company is promising an updated version of Xbox Music for Android and iOS that, like on Windows, will stream your OneDrive music for free. This doesn't arrive in beta form until July, but it'll be worthwhile if you thrive in Microsoft's ecosystem.