Microsoft takes on Siri with major update to Cortana for iPhone

Digital assistants have come a long way since Clippy the Paperclip, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

That explains why Microsoft has just released a major overhaul of its Cortana app for iPhone, in a bid to kick Apple’s own Siri software to the curb. The update makes the app much more simple, making it more likely to woo disenfranchised Siri users.

For a start, the new app loads much faster, and will begin listening for your voice immediately. So as soon as it’s open, you can start speaking, asking questions, or issuing commands.

There’s also a dedicated home-screen that displays carded information. For instance, it’ll show you recommended news (with an option to search for more via Bing, obviously), as well as information about flights or deliveries, yanked from your e-mails. It’s a bit like Android’s Google Now.

You can also perform a number of actions from the Cortana app, including sending e-mails, setting alarms and reminders, and checking the weather.

Unfortunately, Cortana will always be hampered by Apple’s restrictive iOS software, which means you can’t activate her voice controls outside of the app. That’s in contrast to Siri, which can be activated from basically anywhere, and is has functions that are integrated into a bunch of other Apple services natively.

Still, Apple’s Siri is seen as being one of the weaker smartphone-based artificial intelligence, so some iOS users will be pleased that a major alternative is now much better.

Related: iPhone 8 release date

Which digital assistant is your favourite: Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, or Alexa? Or perhaps Clippy the Paperclip? Let us know in the comments.