If you’ve rooted your phone, then there’s a good chance you’ve installed Cyanogen OS. The world’s most popular custom ROM recently announced that it plans to integrate Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant “deep” into the Android operating system.
Cortana is Microsoft’s new voice-recognition digital assistant. After debuting on Windows Phone in 2014, Cortana now appears on Windows 10 computers around the world.
Cyanogen, on the other hand, is the company that creates Cyanogen OS, which is the world’s most popular custom ROM. It’s a non-Google-approved version of Android that offers a slightly different look and features that appeal to power users. You can only install Cyanogen on rooted Androids (it also comes preinstalled as the default version of Android on the OnePlus One).
So why, exactly, is an Android custom ROM planning to integrate Cortana into one of Windows Phone’s biggest rivals?
Well, this may be a surprise to you, but Cyanogen and Microsoft are actually very friendly with each other. Microsoft actively supports Cyanogen (likely because it saps market share away from Google’s native Android OS).
As a signal of the two company’s friendship, Office apps come installed on Cyanogen OS by default, for example.
According to a recent interview with International Business Times, CEO Kirt McMaster wants to deepen the bond between Microsoft and Cyanogen:
“When Apple launched Apple Music at WWDC, they showed the Siri integration with Apple Music. Siri doesn’t power Spotify like that so we can do these kind of things with for example, integration of Microsoft’s Cortana into the OS enabling natural language to power Spotify and other services.”
Cyanogen OS already claims to offer the best customization, privacy, security, and enhanced experiences on Android. By adding Cortana integration, Cyanogen could provide Siri-like usability with native Android services.
One of the key motivations for adding Cortana to Cyanogen is that devices like the Windows Phone have failed to attract an audience. In that same IBT interview above, McMaster claimed that:
“People are not buying Windows phones; it’s as simple as that.”
Cyanogen is also in a unique position in that it has no legacy business and no dependencies. That means it’s not forced to align itself with any particular developer or voice assistant:
“Having a company that has no legacy business, that has no dependences, means that we can open up opportunities for third parties that the incumbent OS creators don’t.”
How Will Cortana Work on Cyanogen?
McMaster claims that Cortana will be a “big deal” for Cyanogen and will play a critical part in its business development over the next couple of years.
He believes that Cortana is better than Siri and also better than Google Now in many areas.
At the same time, Cyanogen has no active relationship with Google. Nevertheless, Cyanogen’s creators will understand that its users are huge fans of Google services and apps – so it will have to strike a careful balance as its aims to integrate Cortana and Cyanogen over the coming months.