Microsoft has officially released its Cortana app for Android, allowing users of Google's mobile operating system to take advantage of most of the functionality found on Windows version.

I say official because a pre-release version hit the web last month.

Cortana for Android arrives in beta form and is capable of searching the web, setting reminders, tracking flight information, helping you find a restaurant for dinner and so on. What's more, Cortana can be configured to replace Google Now as the default virtual assistant when the Home button is pressed.

One thing Cortana for Android can't yet do is respond to hands-free commands. In its native environment, you can simply say "Hey Cortana" to get the assistant's attention much like you'd say "Ok Google" to wake up Google Now.

Microsoft notes that Cortana for Android is currently only available in the US although there are plans to roll it out to other markets in due time. Because of its beta status, it's entirely possible you'll come across a few hiccups or missteps. The Redmond-based company said it is continually improving the experience and will incorporate feedback along the way.

Have you had the opportunity to try one of what is now several virtual assistants? If so, are you a fan or do you believe they are just the next marketing ploy to help sell hardware? Let us know in the comments section below.

Image courtesy Engadget