There's yet another streaming music option on Android, and it comes courtesy of Microsoft. An Xbox Music app is set to debut today in Google Play. It will provide access to unlimited streaming to Xbox Music Pass subscribers, but the initial release is a little light on features.
If you're a dedicated follower of tech news, you've probably heard the big story from late last night: Microsoft is buying Nokia. Holy cow, Redmond has an end-to-end distribution model! This could finally make Windows Phone a competitor! The phone and tablet market is getting its first major shakeup since the rise of Android!
Well, yes, and then again no. While it's true that the upcoming acquisition is a huge deal for Microsoft, and an even bigger deal for Nokia and anyone who's invested in the company (either in a monetary sense or as a customer), I can't see it having a huge impact on Android.
It's here! Microsoft Office is finally here! Well, sort of. Following a similar release on the iPhone several months ago, Microsoft has released the official Office for 365 app for Android, as promised. It's a companion application for their cloud-enabled Office subscription service, and in order to use it, you'll need to be an Office 365 subscriber - plans start at $60 a year for a single user.
Office 365 is only available for Android phones.
Get this, Microsoft has drastically redesigned MSN for Android, introducing a new app to replace the outdated MSN World. I know, that's trippy. Apparently MSN is still a thing. This new release leaves the interface looking somewhat spiffy, as it now shows off tiles that would look at home on a Windows Phone device, yet still looks good mixed with Android's versatile Holo interface. That said, the bottom black toolbar might look crowded on devices with a virtual toolbar, and it gives me the impression that Microsoft figured it could update its Android app with the interface it threw together for the upcoming iOS 7.
Microsoft is on a roll today – first a Skype update, and now OneNote for Android is on the receiving end of a fairly major update, as well. Those who rely on Microsoft's note-taking service should find that the update brings some rather favorable and useful changes, including support for Office 365 notebooks and new formatting options. Here's a look at the full changelog:
* New note formatting options and full fidelity viewing
* Support for Office 365 based notebooks
* Support for roaming “Most Recently Used” list
* Home screen Widgets with quick actions for capturing photo and audio notes
* Create audio notes
Unfortunately, the official blog post is very iOS-centric, but the details should translate across all versions of the application.
A few days ago, there was a huge commotion around the Android and iOS campfires: Microsoft is bringing its first-party games to mobile platforms other than Windows Phone! The news stemmed from this Reuters report that Age of Empires would be coming to Android and iOS, followed by other titles. The first part is correct (though not nearly as exciting as it sounds, see below) but the latter part seems to be a translation error - Phil Spencer, Microsoft's VP of the company's internal game studio, clarified the issue via his Twitter account.
Changing ecosystems is hard. You have to download your apps all over again and if you're going to a platform that's not made by Google or Apple, you have to wonder whether or not you'll even have your apps available to you. Well, thankfully, Microsoft has stepped in to provide a tool for users to find out whether or not you'll be covered if you switch. I tried it out and guess what it found?
FairSearch Europe—a coalition of Google competitors or legal adversaries including, among others, Microsoft, Nokia, and Oracle—has filed a complaint with the European Union alleging that Google is abusing its dominant OS position in the mobile market to push its own set of apps.
The group claims that Android is used "as a deceptive way to build advantages for key Google apps in 70 percent of the smartphones shipped today," pointing out that manufacturers have to agree to a certain set of rules requiring inclusion or placement of certain apps.
Back in December of 2011, Microsoft released the first version of Lync for Android, which brought real-time Exchange collaboration to mobile. Considering that version came before ICS and the Android Design Guidelines, it looks a little (read: very) outdated on modern smartphones. Thankfully, Microsoft just released Lync 2013, which brings a nice looking Holo-meets-Windows-Phone sort of UI along for the ride.
The app essentially retains all the functionality of the previous version, allowing you to IM, collaborate, and video chat with other colleagues using Lync.
Google has announced a new initiative today that might, if we're lucky, slowly lead to some meaningful changes in how patent litigation is approached. Or, alternatively, make it easier to highlight the jerks who are ruining it for everyone. The Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge gives would-be inventors a pool of patents that Google promises to never sue anyone over, "unless first attacked." That last part is where eyebrows go up, though.