At Microsoft’s Ignite conference this month, the company announced a new vision for its personal productivity assistant, Cortana — one which aimed to make it more useful in your day-to-day work, including email, but one which also saw Microsoft scaling its ambitions back from Cortana as a true Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant competitor. Now, the other shoe has dropped, as Microsoft says it’s planning to shut down its standalone Cortana mobile apps across a number of markets.
The company quietly revealed its plans to wind down support for Cortana on iOS and Android in several regions, with an end-of-life date of January 31st, 2020. After this point, Cortana mobile app will no longer be supported. Microsoft also said it will release an updated version of its Microsoft Launcher, that will have Cortana removed.
Microsoft tells us the impacted markets include Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Mexico, China, Spain, Canada, and India. While the U.S. isn’t in this list today, it would not be surprising to see its support pulled at a later date. The Cortana app for iOS is only ranked No. 254 in the Productivity category on the App Store, and only No. 145 on Google Play, according to current data from Sensor Tower.
After Jan. 31, 2020 the Cortana content users had created like reminders and lists will no longer function in either the Cortana mobile applications or in the Microsoft Launcher, but will continue to be accessible through Cortana on Windows. In addition, Cortana’s reminders, lists, and tasks are automatically synced to the recently updated Microsoft To Do application, which will continue to work.
Microsoft has been steadily dialing back its plans for Cortana over the past couple of years. At Microsoft’s Build 2018 event, the company showed off Cortana’s interoperability with Alexa, for example — an admission of sorts that Cortana wasn’t powerful enough on its own to serve the needs of voice assistant users. And this January, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the company no longer saw Cortana as an Alexa competitor and ended its plans to go in the direction of Cortana-powered smart speakers.
“Cortana is an integral part of our broader vision to bring the power of conversational computing and productivity to all our platforms and devices,” a Microsoft spokesperson told TechCrunch in a statement. “To make Cortana as helpful as possible, we’re integrating Cortana deeper into your Microsoft 365 productivity apps, and part of this evolution involves ending support for the Cortana mobile app on Android and iOS.”
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