It looks like Microsoft has begun testing -- whether intentionally or inadvertently -- its coming Cortana app for Android.
Microsoft officials confirmed a couple of months ago that the company would be releasing Cortana apps for Android and iOS. At that time, Microsoft execs said in May to expect a public test build of Cortana for Android in June; later the company pushed that date back to July.
But Microsoft's July 14 offer to its Windows Insiders to get access to an early version of Cortana on Android has resulted in the code for that app leaking.
From the July 14 note to Insiders:
In the spirit of the Windows Insider Program, we are looking for a limited number of people to get their hands on an early version of the app. It's important to keep in mind that is the first public release of the Cortana for Android beta. And that for now, Cortana for Android is only available in the U.S. and China. Over the coming months, we'll continue to deliver frequent updates to the app to expand the features and functionality.
If you're interested in getting early access to the beta version in the U.S., please take this short survey. We'll be limiting access to begin with, and will start sending out download links over email to bring users on-board in the coming weeks.
On July 17, a number of individuals got their hands on an early preview version of Cortana for Android and began posting their initial thoughts on the app.
Microsoft's plan in releasing a Cortana app for non-Windows devices is to allow users of all kinds of devices to use Microsoft's own personal digital assistant technology across their various devices. As Microsoft execs mentioned back in May, the Cortana apps won't have all the features that Cortana on Windows and Windows Phone do, since Microsoft can integrate Cortana more deeply with its own operating systems.
I've asked Microsoft officials when the company will open up the beta of Cortana for Android. No word back so far.
Update: From a Microsoft spokesperson: "In the spirit of the Windows Insider Program, we're testing the Cortana for Android beta with a limited number of users in the U.S. and China before releasing the beta publicly in the next few weeks."