Just because you have an Android device, that doesn't mean you have to commit to using Google Now. Maybe you don't trust el Goog with that much information. Maybe, for some reason, you rather give that data to Microsoft instead. In such a case, you're welcome to use Cortana as your digital voice assistant.
An early Android version has been available since last month. We've even seen an update roll out that lets you launch Cortana using the Google Now "swipe up" gesture. Now you can get future updates without having to hunt around for the APK or wait for Microsoft to approve your request. Read More
Are you looking for a full-featured fitness tracker on the cheap? Then Amazon has Microsoft's branded Band for $50 off today. That brings the price down to $150, pretty reasonable for a tracker with a full-color screen and a heart monitor built in. (The price from Microsoft's store is already a bit discounted, down to $180.) It comes with free shipping, and Amazon Prime members can get two-day shipping for gratis as well. All three models of the Band, large, medium, and small, get the same discount.
The design of the Microsoft Band is remarkably similar to the Samsung Gear Fit from back in 2014, minus the curved screen. Read More
One of Google's big innovations in Android Marshmallow is Now On-Tap, a contextual search service that uses the content on your screen to perform searches and find relevant information. It's only going to work on Android 6.0, but Microsoft has just updated the Bing app with a similar feature called Snapshots that will work on any device. Read More
The latest updates to Microsoft's OneNote app have taken advantage of an ability granted to it by the openness of Android OS: the ability to place an overlay on top of other running apps. Similar to Facebook Messenger's chat heads UI, OneNote now has an opt-in feature called "floatie" that remains accessible while you use non-OneNote apps. The idea is that inspiration for notes may come at any time and you may not want to leave the app you're in to do it. And in spite of the silly name, my first impression of floatie is that it serves its purpose well. Read More
Redmond may be riding high on some well-deserved positive press after the launch of Windows 10, but the various developer teams are still going full steam with diverse support for other platforms. Microsoft has released more apps for Android than anyone might have expected from an erstwhile competitor, and it continues to improve them. Today the note syncing app OneNote gets some notable improvements, specifically by requiring one less app.
Previously Microsoft released a stand-alone Android Wear app for OneNote, which allowed users to view notes on their watches and create new ones with a voice command. Now that separate app is no longer necessary, as the functionality is baked into the main app. Read More
Microsoft continues to branch out to other platforms beyond its own Windows ecosystem. The latest app from Redmond to land on Android is Microsoft Translator. Not only can you talk to the phone to get translations, it has support for Android Wear as well.
Xbox Music is now Groove. This is news that Microsoft detailed weeks ago, but it's only now—coinciding with the release of Windows 10—that we're seeing the name change on Android.
In the latest version, the rebranding has taken place. Microsoft highlights the ability to upload your music to OneDrive, stream music with a Music Pass subscription ($9.99 a month or $99 a year), and save files for offline use.
Not wasting any time, Sonos has already announced that it supports Groove. The integration is still in beta, but you're free to try it out right away. Look for it under Add Music Services. Read More
Microsoft surprised Android developers last year with the launch of a brand new emulator designed for performance and features that aren't available anywhere else. While the initial Preview release only included an image for KitKat, subsequent updates introduced an expanded set of emulator images and some valuable new features. While a high-speed emulator is certainly compelling, many developers still didn't adopt it because it had to be downloaded and installed alongside a very large Visual Studio package, not to mention it was also frustrating to set up for use with other IDEs. Last week, Microsoft unburdened the emulator and released it as a standalone download along with step-by-step instructions to set it up to easily run with Android Studio and Eclipse with ADT. Read More
In line with their recent trend of developing for all platforms, Microsoft has quietly released a semi-private beta of a launcher app called Arrow. The early release sports an interface reminiscent of Aviate, but appears less devoted to contextual recommendations. While the current version is fairly basic, the big ideas may still be on the horizon.
The first thing I noticed is that Arrow replaced the stock icons for system apps like Phone and Messages, which isn't in and of itself a bad thing but an unexpected behavior.
The main screen is divided into three sections. There is a row on top for recent apps, a larger area in the middle for frequently used apps, and the bottom row for user-selected quick access apps. Read More