Microsoft Cortana Beta Update Adds a “Hardware” Section to Manage Devices

Microsoft delinked Cortana from the operating system, launching a new standalone Cortana app in July 2019 and launching it in The Windows 10 20H1 build 18945 beta in July 2019. The app provides more conversational UI and can be updated independently because it is no longer bundled with the operating system, so Cortana has more room to play in smart home features and third-party skills. Now, an update to the Cortana beta app brings a “hardware” section.

The section controls Cortana-enabled devices such as the Surface headset, Xbox One console and Harmon Kardon Invoke smart speaker, and also includes Amazon Alexa devices that may be connected to Cortana.

Once updated and opened for the first time, this section lists all devices connected to Cortana. It can then let users manage the different app permissions and settings for these devices. When a user first tries to set up a Surface headset, the section can also direct users to the Microsoft Store to download the Cortana device settings app.

Given that the company is planning to release a new Surface headset, the update is a noteworthy addition, and surface Subuds, announced last year, will be available on May 6. It’s easier to control the single source of these devices through the Cortana app, and Insider, which runs Windows 10 2020 in slow and release preview channels, should now be able to see updates to the app in the Microsoft Store.