January brought us the yearly madness that is CES, but that doesn't mean much in terms of software. The biggest news is probably Microsoft's continued expansion into multi-platform support for its biggest software sellers, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and now even Outlook. Google has been uncharacteristically quiet so far in 2015, aside from updating its current stable of apps.
Microsoft Outlook Preview
Android Police review: Microsoft Releases Outlook Preview For Android
It's been possible to use Microsoft Exchange mail accounts on Android for years, but never exactly in an ideal or intuitive way. Read More
Yammer is a social network for people in suits, a way for corporate employees to learn about their colleagues and communicate without all the distractions that come with relying on a platform that's connected to the entire world. Microsoft bought the service in 2012, but apps remain available for iOS and Android. In the latest round of updates, the latter version is getting Android Wear support.
Out of the box, Android Wear could already display any notifications that Yammer shot out. Read More
Dedicated Google users may not be aware that the Bing homepage consists predominantly of a giant background image, sometimes animated, that changes by the day. In perhaps a fit of creativity, Microsoft has decided to release a lockscreen replacement app by the name of Picturesque that takes this background and makes it your phone's lock screen. Read More
There are many ways to go after a competitor, and Microsoft isn't storing all of its eggs in one basket. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, the company that challenges Android with Windows Phone is investing in Cyanogen Inc.
Yes, we're talking about the same Cyanogen that was built around a custom ROM towards the end of 2013. Microsoft is reportedly a minority investor in a round of equity financing that accumulated roughly $70 million for the startup, during which investors have valued the company in the hundreds of millions. Read More
Microsoft's Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps have been in preview on Android for a few months, first as an invite-only preview then as an open one. Now Redmond appears to be moving forward with the real deal—the preview label is gone, and the final versions are rolling out.
In the dead of night (for those in the US, anyway), Microsoft has released its Outlook Preview app to the Play Store.
Built for Android phones and tablets alike, Microsoft promises that Outlook will help you "get more done from anywhere," handling all your email accounts and attempting to automatically triage your inbox based on what seems most relevant.
For manual triage, the app offers swipe gestures for quickly deleting, archiving, or "scheduling" messages (essentially like snoozing in Google's Inbox). Read More
Microsoft started a closed beta for Office on Android tablets back in November, but today it's opening things up. Just mosey over to the Play Store, and you can download Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for free, no beta invite required. These are still preview apps, but they seem ready for prime time.
Microsoft Lync is instant messaging for people wearing suits and ties. The service, which you generally won't see outside of corporate environments, supports typing, talking, or staring at each other's faces through an Android device. Now Microsoft has rolled out an update that adds new features and brings more feature parity with the Windows Phone and iOS versions of the software.
For starters, the Lync Android app can now handle Anonymous Join, which lets users join a Lync meeting without an account. Read More
Microsoft has acquired HockeyApp, a service that helps developers test their apps and get feedback from users. The company plans to use the platform, akin to Apple's TestFlight (purchased early this year), to attract app creators to its development tools. The folks at Redmond intend to integrate HockeyApp with the Application Insights service in Visual Studio Online to improve support for Android and iOS.
HockeyApp offers developers integrated crash reporting, information on beta distribution, and a built-in user feedback system. Read More
Microsoft has been surprisingly generous when it comes to apps for Android, a platform it's technically still competing against. (Sort of.) Today the company launched an entire suite of Android apps to support its MSN/Bing web platform. All six of them tie directly into existing services: MSN Food & Drink, MSN Health & Fitness, MSN Money, MSN News, MSN Sports, and MSN Weather. They're all free to download in the Play Store right now. Read More