There’s no shortage of phone assistants for Android, some more popular than others. If you’ve never bothered to set one up, long-pressing your smartphone’s home button will result in Google Assistant popping up, and that’s fine if that is what you want to use. If you’re more fond of Microsoft’s alternative, though, you can replace Google Assistant with Cortana as your default Android phone assistant.
This new functionality has been made possible via Cortana on Android’s latest update to version 2.8.0. With this, Microsoft says that Android users can now make Cortana their default phone assistant, as well as enjoying better app performance and calendar consistency.
How do you make the change? It’s really simple and only takes a minute or two.
1. Download Cortana
This is the easiest and most obvious step — you need to head over to the Google Play Store and download the Cortana app (or, if you already have it, download the latest update).
2. Open Cortana
Open Cortana and head into ‘Settings.’ From there, you’re going to scroll down to the part of the menu that says ‘Assist App Mode.’
This will take you to your handset’s ‘phone assistant page’ where you can choose the assistant app you want to use and tweak some of its settings.
3. Select Cortana
If you’ve never changed this setting before, you’re going to see ‘Google’ as the default assistant.
Tap that and you’ll be presented with a list of options based on the apps you’ve installed. From there, select ‘Cortana.’
Now you should be back on the phone assistant page — check and make sure that ‘Cortana’ is listed as your handset’s default phone assistant. If it is, congratulations! You’re finished.
Now that you’ve made Cortana your phone’s default assistant, you can summon her by pressing and holding the home button on your phone. Instead of Google Assistant popping up, the familiar circle will. The first time you launch the app, you’ll be prompted to give it access to your phone’s microphone and some other things; be sure to accept these prompts, otherwise the app won’t be able to function fully.
What all can you do with Cortana?
The app will guide you through using and setting up many of its features, of which you can set reminders, make lists, establish your daily commute, view the weather, check out any meetings you’ve got coming up, and more.
You’ll need a Microsoft account to fully utilize Cortana, which is particularly useful if you use Outlook email. Selecting any of the above features will guide you through using them; in some cases, the feature will present data relevant to your area. Tapping ‘Movies,’ for example, will present you with a listing of movies that are showing in the theaters closest to you. Tapping ‘News’ will pull up news stories from Bing.
Other features, such as ‘My Day,’ present a snapshot of your day, including the weather in your location, events in your calendar, any packages you’re expecting (based on your email), reminders and events you’ve manually created, and more.
Finally, of course, you can tap within the text field and type or speak commands at Cortana, asking her to check the weather for a specific location, find a recipe, send a text or make a call to a specific contact, and more.
Cortana is, like Google Assistant and Siri, one of several personal assistants that make a smartphone a bit smarter and more convenient. You’re not forced to use any single assistant on Android, and the process of changing the app you use is very simple. If you’re not happy with Google Assistant and want to give Cortana a try, follow the steps above.