Microsoft retires Cortana mobile app

A screenshot displaying the words "Hey Cortana" on dark screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Microsoft has finally called time on its Cortana mobile app, with users in the US no longer able to access reminders and lists created in it as of today.

The company originally revealed plans to retire the app in November 2019 and it ceased to operate in the UK and other non-US territories on 31 January 2020.

US users were initially given a reprieve, but in July last year Microsoft announced it would retire all third-party support of the AI tool after 31 March 2021.

This isn’t the end of Cortana, at least not for now. According to Microsoft, the virtual assistant, which was launched in 2014, will continue “its evolution as a productivity assistant”.

The move was fueled by the product proving to be less successful among consumers compared to rivals such as Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa. At the same time, Microsoft also acknowledged the popularity of competitors’ tools by allowing them to become more accessible on Windows 10. Since September 2019, users have been able to open their laptops as well as Amazon Echo devices by calling out 'Alexa', while Cortana had been moved into a separate app in the Microsoft store and away from the built-in search experience in the operating system.

Sunsetting the Cortana mobile app is in line with Microsoft’s ambitions to transform Cortana into an enterprise-focused tool. In 2019, CEO Satya Nadella said that Microsoft envisions Cortana as an assistant to Office 365, which is also primarily a desktop-focused product, rather than a mobile one.

Last year, Microsoft announced the decision to improve Cortana’s integration with Office 365 by allowing users to manage their calendars and email using voice commands. The tech giant also combined Cortana functionalities with Microsoft Teams, making it possible to join meetings, make a call, share files with colleagues, and even send chat messages using the virtual assistant.

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.