The discussion surrounding Windows 10 Mobile has been a hotbed of predictions, analysis and speculations. Even though the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella has come out and strategically reaffirmed the viability of a longer-term Windows Mobile (specifically phone hardware) strategy, the words to describe Windows Mobile future were chosen very carefully. The story of Windows 10 Mobile is a commingling of broader definitions of mobile as well as establishing a Microsoft-centric app ecosystem across various devices.
As Microsoft continues to farm out it's once ‘Windows first’ app ecosystems onto rival platforms, many die-hard Windows users grasp at the few remaining reasons to choose Windows first. Until recently, Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana remained one of few shining examples of how choosing Windows first would be a benefit to users in the ecosystem. Unfortunately, for some, those days are quickly approaching an end.
Cortana's deep integration with Windows means that’s where she can really shine. So, while there are some features you'll use on Windows that we don't (yet) support on Android phones (like saying "Hey Cortana" to wake her up), we have focused on making Cortana on Android the perfect companion to your Windows experience.
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.
While the official announcement of beta programs intended to expand Cortana’s presence onto iOS and Android were revealed a few months ago, the news still isn’t sitting well with some Windows users. The beta testing of Cortana for Android was scheduled to start at the end of this month and run through August. However, a leaked APK on the internet brings a working build with comparable functionality.
The details of the .APK, the level of integration and how well it works on the Android are still scarce at this point. It should be expected, that we'll be bringing more news, articles, and videos to surface over the next month with more information on this development. Our initial testing of the app lands the Android version comparatively against the Windows Mobile version. Windows Phone users will note that stylistically, the Android version of Cortana resembles the Windows Phone version. As for the voice recognition, the Android version seems speedy, if not slightly more favorable. The increased speed may be in part, due to newer code being applied to the APK that will eventually make its way to Windows. Disgruntled die-hards should note that Cortana on Windows Mobile still offers greater integration than what will be presented on Android or iOS. Hooks for items like Calendar, Email, and other apps will present Cortana with a much richer pool of information to offer daily cards and reminders for Windows Phone users.
For anyone interested, there are several places where the .APK can be downloaded. Since this is not an official Microsoft release you'll have to search them out for yourselves. For anyone looking to be a part of the official Microsoft beta program for Cortana on Android, more information can be found here.
Thanks for the tip @NairobiWP