Microsoft's voice assistant Cortana ported to Android by hackers

Apple may have been the first to bring a voice-powered digital assistant to smartphones with Siri, but Microsoft followed up in a big way with its own Cortana. Named after the AI companion from the Halo video game series, Cortana has been available on a number of Windows Phone models, and is expected to play a big part in the forthcoming Windows 10. Obviously, being a Microsoft creation, Cortana has been limited to Windows devices. That is, until a couple of hackers managed to bring her to Android.

The group of Italians, who call themselves OrangeSec, admit that the project isn't that impressive to look at and that there are limitations. Namely, that users must be online for the assistant to work, and she can only speak Italian at this point. But to show they have a sense of humor about the whole thing, they've named the mod "Portaña."

The reason Portaña must be online to work is that while the system is running on an Android device, it is still communicating with Microsoft's back-end servers. This means that the assistant can't be used to control or integrate with Android features like the original Cortana does when running on Windows Phone. The hackers say they got Portaña to work through a combination of hardware proxies, custom SSL certificates, and DNS spoofing. In other words, it's messy.

OrangeSec unveiled their mod at Droidcon 2015, but they admit the whole thing is mostly a proof of concept, and there's little chance of an official release. Those hoping to see Cortana on other platforms may get their wish one day, as Microsoft has been rumored to be bringing the voice assistant to both iOS and Android. Nothing's been confirmed at this point, and the only news Microsoft has announced is that Cortana will be coming to PCs and tablets later this year with Windows 10.

SOURCE Venture Beat