Cortana is a beta of Microsoft's digital assistant, now available on Android in the US (other territories should be arriving soon).

There are a few limitations in this first public beta. You have to launch the app manually, for instance - there's no "Hey, Cortana" just yet - and you can't use it to run apps or toggle settings.

But aside from that, everything works more or less as you'd expect. You're able to ask natural language questions (or type), run web searches, set reminders and alarms, place calls to your contacts, dictate SMS/ texts, and more.

Even though there's no hands-free activation, Cortana can now be called up when you hit the home button, so it's never that far away.

Please note, the download link takes you to a page where you must agree to be a beta tester. If you're happy, clicking the link takes you to Cortana's product page and you can install it as usual.

Verdict

It still needs some work, as you'd expect for a beta, but Cortana's first public Android appearance is a solid start.