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 Considering that version came before ICS and the Android Design Guidelines, it looks a little (read: very) outdated on modern smartphones.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.
Whether you use Windows Phone or not, chances are at some point you're going to have to get used to the concept of tiles. Microsoft's putting them everywhere. On your Xbox, PC, tablet... They're unavoidable. If you like the idea of tiles over icons, though, here's an app you might want to try out: Tile Launcher Beta. While it's not quite a clone of the MS-borne smartphone interface (for example, you can still have a custom background), it does place brightly colored squares on a continuous scrolling homescreen.
Over a year ago, Microsoft released an official Hotmail app to the Play Store. And it sucked. Well, it still pretty much sucks. Now, the same dev team - which goes by Microsoft + SEVEN - has released an abomination they're called "Outlook.com." It's pretty clear that they didn't even try on this one:
Just look at that UI! You don't have to take our word for how bad it is, though; a quick look through the Play Store reviews should do offer a pretty good idea of what this app's all about:
Definitely not a good one for Microsoft.
It seems like the Android world is getting a ton of extra tablet love in the past few months. Today, Skype joined the party by finally introducing an optimized UI for those of you with a little more screen to love. While the new look is nice, it bizarrely forces your slate into landscape mode. Even on the Nexus 7, you have no choice but to use the wider layout. This probably isn't a bad thing, since it looks great in this mode, and might seem cramped otherwise.
It seems the rumors can't stop flowing out of Redmond. Last month, a representative from a Microsoft subsidiary in Czech Republic claimed that Office would be coming to Android in 2013. While the company distanced itself from those remarks pretty quickly, that may simply be a smokescreen to cover leaks, like the kind the Verge picked up, including a few screenshots of Office running on iOS, and information on the release for our little green buddy.
There's a startling amount of crossover between people who use Android for their mobile needs and Windows and Xbox for their desktop and console gaming. The SmartGlass app has been a definite hit for Xbox 360 users who also have Windows Phone 7 devices... all eight of them. Now Android users can join the fun: Microsoft's released the official SmartGlass app for Android, available for free in the Play Store.
If you're not familiar with SmartGlass, it controls just about every aspect of the media-friendly Xbox 360 aside from actual game control.
Let's start with a disclaimer, shall we? Analysts are generally full of it. When we hear a claim that says, with undeserving certainty, that come 2016 there will be 2.3 billion Android and 2.28 billion Windows devices, we're a little skeptical. The likelihood that anyone knows exactly how many units of a particular platform will sell to that level of accuracy is almost none.
However, as we approach what might just be the single biggest week for Microsoft in decades, it's worth asking the question: are Android and Windows gearing up for a battle over the next few years?