Cortana’s version 3.0 redesign, which we first saw released in beta last month, is now available to all iOS users. As well as overhauling its interface, the update adds the ability for you to have “conversational experiences” with the voice assistant, listen to music and podcasts, and set up Cortana devices. These latter two pieces of functionality are especially relevant right now, given that Microsoft’s Surface Headphones are due to launch next week on November 19th.
As expected, the update also brings better integration with the rest of Microsoft’s ecosystem of services. You can now use the app to join Skype or Teams (Microsoft’s version of Slack) meetings, and also access your calendar, meetings, emails, reminders, and to-dos.
The interface appears to have changed a lot since the beta that we saw last month. Rather than being organized into three tabs, the final version of the update has just a single tab called “Upcoming,” which shows an outline of your day. Additional features such as reminders or lists are available from a slide-in menu from the right. Overall, it’s a much cleaner update than last year’s version 2.6, with a focus on white space making the entire interface look a lot less cluttered.
Despite the fact that Cortana’s functionality lags behind the competition, Microsoft clearly still sees the voice assistant both as an important component of its own ecosystem and a means of linking its own services to competing voice assistants. It even recently acquired an AI startup which is focused around making bots like Cortana sound more human.