Get this, Microsoft has drastically redesigned MSN for Android, introducing a new app to replace the outdated MSN World.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.
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.