An Italian group of hackers calling themselves OrangeSec claim to have “ported” Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant to Android. They affectionately named their creation “Portaña.”
There are some limitations. Portaña apparently only speaks Italian. It also doesn’t work offline.
The reason for the latter comes down to the fact Portaña is apparently communicating with Microsoft’s servers, and it’s not a strict port: the hackers have not recreated all the digital assistant’s features. Portaña naturally can’t interface and integrate with Android and its various features like Cortana does with Windows Phone.
OrangeSec merely leveraged Cortana’s backend to create a basic, but functional, Android assistant:
The group could try to expand Portaña’s feature set, but this looks more like a creation by fans eagerly awaiting an official release. They want to show what’s possible with a little work, not create a competitor.
When we asked Microsoft about Portaña, the company was careful not to reference it specifically.
“Cortana was first available for our Windows Phone customers in Spring of 2014, and we announced on January 21 that Cortana will come to PC and tablets later this year with the release of Windows 10,” a Microsoft spokesperson told VentureBeat. “We believe the best way to enjoy the full Cortana experience is as designed by Microsoft and available through Windows Phone and the Windows 10 technical preview.”
In other words, “Portaña is cool and all, but it’s no Cortana.”
There have been multiple rumors suggesting that Microsoft is planning to bring Cortana to third-party platforms, in particular Android and iOS. While the company hasn’t officially confirmed the plan, reports continue to suggest it’s in the pipeline, though the expected timeframe is unknown.
Still, this alleged hack shows that there is excitement surrounding Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Google Now and Apple’s Siri. If and when Microsoft brings Cortana to other operating systems, it will be a first for a digital assistant from a major tech company.
For now though, the bigger test for Cortana will be Windows 10 on PCs. If the digital assistant becomes popular on the desktops of Android and iOS users, they will be much more interested in trying it out on their mobile devices.