More than two years after bringing its Cortana digital assistant to iPhones, Microsoft today debuted Cortana for iPad, including a new interface specifically optimized for 7.9-inch, 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch, and 12.9-inch screens. The app also boasts 20 percent faster launch times than the prior iPhone-only version, which is important, given that iOS device users will likely need to reopen the app frequently.
While the iPad version of Cortana is only accessible when the app is launched — and per Apple mandates cannot be instantly summoned like Siri — it includes many of the features of the Windows 10 assistant. Beyond presenting personally tailored news stories, it can track your flights and packages, leverage awareness of your email to create reminders, and assist with calendar scheduling. Cortana also has a smooth voice that sounds almost human when responding to requests.
The release of Cortana for iPad comes at an interesting time — after some major developers have slowed development of their iPad-specific apps (or even killed them) in favor of web experiences, but amidst rapidly growing interest in smart speakers and digital assistants. Rivals Alexa and Google Assistant were amongst the most popular apps this holiday season.
Cortana has seen a slow and limited rollout across the globe. As of last March, Cortana for iOS was only available in four countries. Today, the Windows 10 version is available in 13 regions, versus Siri’s current 36. Adding iPad support may help Microsoft expand Cortana’s user base, which was pegged at just under 150 million users last October.
Cortana for iPad is available as a free update to the previous iPhone app and can be downloaded from the iOS App Store, but iPad users may need to switch the store’s filter to Supports > iPhone Only to see the update.