- Microsoft Corp. today announced a partnership with mobile internet company Cheetah Mobile Inc. to add Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana to Cheetah’s mobile launcher app CM Launcher, according to a press release made available to Mobile Marketer. Microsoft and Cheetah have plans to partner on additional products later.
- The collaboration will bring Cortana’s voice-controlled features to CM Launcher 3D users, and Microsoft can expand its artificial intelligence (AI) technology user base. Now in open beta in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany, France and Australia, the official Cortana version of CM Launcher will be released in these countries in January 2018.
- Adding Cortana will give CM Launcher users the ability to make hands-free calls, create events, read news headlines, translate and search the web. They will also gain access to Microsoft Office and the company’s third-party partners, including music, movies, ride-hailing and Cortana-connected speakers.
With all the voice-assistant competition out there, Microsoft, banking on its success in the business-productivity software space, has high hopes for making Cortana the top voice choice for businesses and professionals, according to a Business Insider report. Though it has leveraged relationships with major car-makers Nissan and Volkswagen, Cortana had previously only been available on Windows 10, which had about 400 million users as of late 2016, compared to the billions of Apple and Android users.
Partnering with CM Launcher will let Microsoft broaden Cortana’s reach among Android users, many of whom like to customize their experience via launcher apps that are responsible for the home screen and organizing and launching their apps. CM Launcher is available in more than 200 countries and has had about 300 million downloads so far. Cheetah offers a number of other Android tool apps, including Clean Master, Security Master, Cheetah Keyboard, PhotoGrid, CM Browser and Battery Doctor.
American users of voice-activated assistants were expected to double in 2017 to 35.6 million, according to an eMarketer estimate, with Amazon Echo and Google Home leading the market. Software-based virtual assistant usage, including Amazon Alexa, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana, was predicted to grow 23.1% in 2017.
Microsoft has also collaborated with Amazon to let their voice-activated assistants talk to each other. Amazon Echo users can say, “Alexa, open Cortana” and access work calendars or schedule meetings on Microsoft Outlook. Windows 10 users can say, “Cortana, open Alexa” to shop on Amazon and access its 20,000-plus skills created by third-party developers.