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Every few months, another rumor pops up about Microsoft’s supposed plans to bring its personal digital assistant, Cortana, to more platforms. Today, Reuters reports that the project is taking shape under the name “Einstein,” and is “an advanced version” of the Cortana program that’s been running on Windows Phones for a year or so.

The report cites “people familiar with the project,” and says that both Einstein and the current version of “Cortana will be available as a standalone app, usable on phones and tablets” running iOS or Android. As to when this might happen, the report doesn’t quite know. Microsoft, meanwhile, hasn’t commented on the news either, and back in June, the company flat out denied that it had any current plans for Cortana to make its way to other platforms.

Let’s pretend, for a moment, that Microsoft does have plans to put Cortana on Android and iOS devices. There’s a bit of an uphill battle in at least one of those regards, since Apple is notoriously choosey when it comes to letting apps into its App Store. Google is more open about its Play Store – but in both cases, those platforms already have digital assistants that work well with those platforms’ suite of apps and programs.

The biggest hurdle with Siri showing up on Android, or Google Now working well on iOS (since it’s already there in a more limited form than its Android counterpart) is that these programs need deep access to the OS to really do a good job. Future versions of Cortana or this supposed Einstein app could conceivably gain this access somehow, but chances seem good that they’d always fall somewhat short of the assistants that are programmed into the OS’s core.

That said, perhaps Microsoft has plans for providing a high level of service for users who enjoy Office Suite and Outlook. Google Now works great with Gmail – why shouldn’t Cortana or Einstein do the same with Outlook? Especially now that Outlook is easily available on Android and iOS…

Until Microsoft actually announces anything, it’ll be a bit too soon to say what comes of this rumor. But it refuses to die, and Microsoft is getting awfully good at creating interesting products that people actually want lately. Maybe we’ll all be talking to our own little Pocket Einsteins before too long…

[Source: Reuters]

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