Earlier last month, Microsoft announced that it’s killing off support for the Cortana voice assistant on Android and iOS. Both its standalone app, as well as the Cortana integration within the Microsoft Launcher, will go away on January 31.
Back then, it was reported to vanish from the Play Store and App Store in India, the UK, Australia, Germany, Mexico, China, Spain, and Canada – except the US. We’ve today received confirmation of the same and learned the reason why Cortana will continue to be supported only in the United States.
In a recent interview with Venturebeat, Microsoft’s Cortana team lead Andrew Shuman stated that the Cortana app on Android and iOS is needed to configure and update the Surface Headphones firmware. This is one of the reasons that the app isn’t going away from the US. The publication, however, makes a valid point by adding that the Surface Headphones are also available in several other regions across the globe.
“We still have people who use their Cortana apps to manage their headphone operation. So, if you have the Surface Headphones, you can use the Cortana app with those (not in every location though) and we’re still supporting that,” said Shuman. Only US users will have access to its mobile app while everyone else will ultimately have to rely on Cortana for Windows.
Also, Shuman added the locations where Cortana support is being ended saw very limited traction. The second reason for keeping the lights on in the US will have to be experimentation. Microsoft may have brought Alexa into the fold to offers its users a lot more versatility but it hasn’t given up on Cortana just yet. Voice assistance is surely the future and the company is still holding out hope – looking to build a standalone assistant that may one day come into play somewhere.
In the same interview, Shuman revealed that the delayed Surface Earbuds (Microsoft’s attempt at truly wireless earphones) will see the light of day in Spring next year. It will launch with an accompanying Surface Audio app for Android, iOS, and Windows PCs to allow users to configure Cortana and manage the settings. So, stay tuned for updates.