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Report: Microsoft making patents royalty-free for Android OEMs

According to a report published by ZDNet today, Microsoft has just made a whole pile of its IP available in a "royalty-free and unrestricted license" by joining the Open Invention Network (OIN), a shared defensive patent pool launched to protect Linux. By pledging these patents to the group, Android OEM members of the pool should have that same royalty-free access to the relevant patents, which cover Linux and Android-related technologies.

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Microsoft changes pistol emoji in latest Windows update

Emojis, modern day hieroglyphs, are always in flux. The Unicode Consortium is responsible for developing new characters, but it is up to individual companies to decide how they will look on their devices. Few have changed as much as the “pistol” emoji, which is now essentially a water gun. Apple led the way several years ago by redesigning it into a green “water pistol” and since then, most operating systems have followed suit. Microsoft was the last remaining holdout despite announcing the revision back in April.

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Microsoft Launcher v5.0 beta adds Timeline support for syncing between mobile and PC

Windows Phone might be a thing of the past, but for those who still love Microsoft's operating system, you can get a rough approximation with Microsoft Launcher. The launcher employs a distinctive Windows aesthetic and provides access to features that are particularly handy to users deep in the Microsoft ecosystem. Case in point, the new beta — v5.0 — adds Timeline, a feature that syncs your recent activity between mobile and Windows desktop. 

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Microsoft announces Android app mirroring on Windows with the 'Your Phone' app

Microsoft unveiled a slew of new and updated products at an event yesterday, curiously including laptops without USB-C ports. It's not normally our place to cover Microsoft announcements, but there was one interesting tidbit that is relevant to us. An app called 'Your Phone' got some brief stage time, and it will enable app mirroring from an Android phone to a Windows computer.

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New feature in Microsoft Excel app for Android turns photos of data tables into spreadsheets

Microsoft's annual Ignite conference kicked off today in Orlando, bringing with it a number of product announcements primarily directed at IT and enterprise customers. However, there are a few updates that are also of interest to Android Police readers, including a new Excel app feature that turns a picture of a data table into a spreadsheet. The Redmond, Washington-based tech giant also announced a search tool that spans across most of its products and some Microsoft Teams updates. 

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[Update: Read receipts now rolling out to all] Skype finally gets read receipts in Insiders Preview build

In-conversation read receipts are either a useful way to keep track of text-based communication or a hindrance in ignoring people, depending on who you ask. They're finally coming to Skype — but only in its Insider Preview beta build. Now when someone reads a message in either one-on-one or group conversations, their avatar will appear underneath it.

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[Update: Renamed app] Windows 10 Insider Preview now syncs photos and SMS messages with Android

Now that Windows 10 Mobile is pretty much dead, Microsoft has been focusing more on making iPhone and Android devices work with desktop PCs. The company announced a 'Your Phone' app for Windows 10 earlier this year, which promised to send notifications and messages from an Android device to a PC. That functionality has finally gone live in the Windows 10 Insider builds.

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Skype v8.29 ditches Snapchat-like 'Highlights' and has a simplified UI

Skype has floundered in recent years, among increased competition from services like WhatsApp, Hangouts, Discord, and others. In an effort to gain back market share, Microsoft has bloated the desktop and mobile apps with features like add-ons and Snapchat-like 'Highlights.' The Skype team is now flip-flopping, as it has announced a new focus on simplicity and usability.

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InBrief
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[Update: OneDrive too] PowerPoint and Excel pass 500 million installs on the Play Store

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Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft unite: Data Transfer Project promises portability between services

Many of our readers should be familiar with Takeout, ostensibly now called "Download your Data," which allows you to back up a copy of all the information associated with your account for most of Google's services. Right now you can even use it to transition your Drive storage between providers, but thanks to the upcoming open-source Data Transfer Project—publicized yesterday in a joint effort with Microsoft, Twitter, and Facebook—that data may someday be as portable as your phone. 

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