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printed April 1, 2015
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Windows 10 Preview to Reach Dozens More Phones Soon

Monday, 7:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft said it is preparing to make the technical preview of Windows 10 available to a large batch of phones in the coming weeks. Microsoft delivered an early build of the technical preview to just a few handsets in February. However, due to the way most handsets' partitions were created, the preview couldn't function properly on the vast majority of devices. Microsoft has completed a process called partition stitching, which allows devices to adjust the partition dynamically. Microsoft has since been testing the technical preview on a wide variety of Windows handsets to make sure the build is functional. Microsoft expects to spend about another week engineering the code, and then will likely make the preview available through its Windows Insiders program. Some of the handsets that will be able to test the new operating system include the Lumia 1520, 1320, 1020, 920, 925, 928, Icon, and a smattering of handsets from the Lumia 500, 600, 700, and 800 series. Microsoft will have more details about timing of the release in the days to come.


Lumia 640 Landing At T-Mobile In Near Future

Mar 25, 2015, 2:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile recently added the Microsoft Lumia 640 to its web site and described the device as "coming soon." Microsoft revealed the Lumia 640 at Mobile World Congress earlier this month. The phone has a 5-inch HD screen, 8-megapixel camera, LTE, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and Microsoft's productivity apps. The Lumia 640 will ship with Windows 8.1, but can be upgraded to the full version of Windows 10 later this year. T-Mobile didn't disclose exact availability or pricing, but Microsoft said the phone will reach stores in April for about $180. AT&T and MetroPCS also plan to sell the Lumia 640.


Microsoft Releases Windows 10 Developer Toolkit

Mar 23, 2015, 3:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today made a software developer kit available to developers interested in creating apps for the forthcoming Windows 10 platform. The SDK requires users to be a member of the Windows Insider Program and have the latest build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview, as well as a handful of other apps. By releasing the SDK, Microsoft is essentially asking developers to start coding Windows 10 applications for Windows PCs, tablets, and phones. Microsoft expects to release Windows 10 this summer and will want a healthy supply of apps available for the new platform when it arrives. The SDK arrives about a month before Microsoft plans to hold its annual Build developer conference. More details are expected to surface at that time.


Samsung Agrees to Preload More Microsoft Apps

Mar 23, 2015, 10:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung plans to preinstall a wide range of Microsoft's productivity apps on its Android devices moving through the first half of the year. Samsung already announced the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge will have Microsoft's OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype apps on board. Today, Samsung said will will put Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype on some of its Android tablets. The GS6 and GS6 Edge will also have access to 100GB of OneDrive storage for a period of two years. Microsoft and Samsung believe the expanded partnership will provide potential business customers with improved productivity options via Office 365, and better security through Samsung's KNOX program. The companies did not specify if Microsoft's productivity apps will be preinstalled on more smartphones, but Microsoft Office apps are already free for most Android devices to download from the Google Play Store.


Microsoft Enables Music Playback from OneDrive

Mar 19, 2015, 7:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has made it possible for people to access their personal music collections from OneDrive across their Windows devices with the Xbox Music app. A new "music" folder has been added to OneDrive. Any music stored in that folder will be available in users' Xbox Music apps for Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1, the Xbox 360/One, and via the web. The OneDrive music service doesn't require Microsoft's Xbox Music Pass, but customers who do have the pass will gain 100GB of OneDrive storage for their music.


Lumia 430 Most Affordable Windows Phone Yet

Mar 19, 2015, 7:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today announced the Lumia 430, an entry-level smartphone that will be among those updated to Windows 10. The Lumia 430 features a 4-inch WVGA screen; 1.2GHz Snapdragon 200 processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage; 2-megapixel main camera and VGA user-facing camera; and 1,500mAh battery. The Lumia 430 runs Windows 8.1 with the Denim update installed and will be updated to Windows 10 later this year. The Lumia 430 supports dual SIM cards and costs approximately $70.


Microsoft Says Windows 10 Arriving This Summer

Mar 18, 2015, 7:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today made a number of announcements regarding Windows 10, including details about its arrival. Microsoft will make Windows 10 available to smartphones, tablets, and PCs "this summer." Previously, Microsoft had only committed to "later this year." In addition to the timetable, Microsoft announced a commitment from Lenovo that will the see the company bring Windows 10 phones to market (in China) by the middle of the year. Further, Microsoft is helping Xiaomi create a downloadable technical preview of Windows 10 that owners of the Xiaomi Mi Note 4 will be able to install on their Android phones and test. Microsoft and Qualcomm today introduced the DragonBoard 410C. It is a developer board for Windows 10 with integrated WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and Snapdragon 410 chipset. (Qualcomm recently released an Android version of the developer board, too.) At launch, Windows 10 will be available in 190 countries and 111 languages. More details will emerge at Microsoft's Build conference, scheduled for late April.


Microsoft Adding Biometric Security Support to Windows 10

Mar 17, 2015, 12:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 17, 2015, 12:26 PM

Microsoft today said Windows 10 will natively support biometric security measures, such as fingerprints, retina scans, or facial recognition. Microsoft's biometric authentication service is called Windows Hello and it will be available to PCs, tablets, and smartphones. Microsoft believes these measures can be more secure than passwords, as they are truly unique to individual users. Windows Hello can be used to authenticate devices, network access, and app access. Moreover, Microsoft is offering a tool called Passport to developers and IT admins, who will be able to add biometric support to their own apps, sites, and services so users will never have to use a password to log in. Windows 10 is set to debut later this year. Biometric support has been available to Windows devices for a decade or more, but only through third-party hardware and software support. Microsoft's competitors, including Apple, HTC, and Samsung, have added fingerprint scanners to their smartphones in recent years.


Nintendo Pushes 'Start' On Mobile Game Development

Mar 17, 2015, 7:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nintendo today announced plans to develop games for mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. The move is an about-face for the gaming company, which has steadfastly insisted on supporting only its gaming consoles. In order to kickstart its development efforts, Nintendo has partnered with DeNA, a Japanese mobile gaming company, to bring games to market quicker. Nintendo and DeNA are each investing about $182 million in one another, with Nintendo acquiring a 10% stake in DeNA and DeNA acquiring a 1.2% stake in Nintendo. Together the companies will launch a "multi-device membership service for the global market" in the fall encompassing consoles, PCs, tablets, and smartphones. "This will allow us to build a bridge between smart devices and gaming consoles," said Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. "It doesn't mean smart devices will eat away at gaming consoles, it will create an entirely new type of demand." Nintendo did not share details about the first game, but said it will not create "hand-me-down" versions of its existing games. Nintendo's most popular titles include Super Mario Bros. and Mario Kart. Nintendo has lost significant share in the gaming market due to its stubborn refusal to adapt to mobile devices. Sony and Microsoft, with their PlayStation and Xbox brands, have embraced console gaming and mobile gaming. Nintendo isn't giving up on consoles and is working on something called the Nintendo NX. Nintendo didn't provide any details about the NX.


Microsoft Working On Version of Cortana for Android and iOS

Mar 13, 2015, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft is preparing to make its Cortana personal assistant software available as a stand-alone application to the Android and iOS platforms later this year, reports Reuters. Microsoft is already developing an improved version of Cortana for its forthcoming Windows 10 desktop, tablet, and phone operating system, expected this fall. Microsoft is culling research from an artificial intelligence project called Einstein to improve Cortana's predictive and conversational abilities. "This kind of technology, which can read and understand email, will play a central role in the next roll out of Cortana, which we are working on now for the fall time frame," said Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research, in an interview with Reuters. Microsoft believes Cortana's abilities can surpass those of its rivals, Google Now on Android phones and Siri on iPhones. "We're defining the competitive landscape of who can provide the most supportive services that make life easier, keep track of things, that complement human memory in a way that helps us get things done," said Horvitz. Microsoft envisions Cortana becoming more capable with respect to helping users by anticipating their needs. Google and Apple have taken similar steps with Google Now and Siri, respectively. Google Now is adept at providing just-in-time reminders and details in the form of cards, but Siri is more limited to responding to direct requests. Horvitz did not confirm Microsoft's intent to bring Cortana to Android and iOS, but Reuters says people familiar with Microsoft's plans are certain it will appear after Windows 10's debut later this year. Microsoft has made an aggressive push over the last year to port key applications to the Android and iOS platforms, such as Microsoft Office. Bringing Cortana to Android and iOS would fit in with the pattern of Microsoft's behavior.


Microsoft Sues Kyocera Over Patents

Mar 7, 2015, 9:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has filed a lawsuit against Kyocera in which it alleges the Japanese smartphone maker is violating seven of its patents. In particular, Microsoft is targeting the Duraforce, Hydro, and Brigadier series devices. Microsoft claims these phones use Microsoft-patented technology pertaining to location services and text messaging. These devices all run Google's Android platform. Microsoft has successfully forced most Android smartphone makers into signing licensing agreements for patents that are part of the Android operating system. "We respect Kyocera but we believe they need to license the patented technology they are using. We're hopeful this case can be resolved amicably," said Microsoft in a statement. Kyocera has yet to respond to the allegations.


Hands-On: Microsoft Lumia 640 and 640 XL

Mar 2, 2015, 4:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft debuted another pair of mid-range handsets in the long buildup to Windows 10. The Lumia 640 and 640 XL are worthy update to the 635 and 1320, but they leaving us aching for a new flagship from Microsoft.

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Lumia 640 XL Offers More for Phablet Lovers

Mar 2, 2015, 2:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 2, 2015, 3:05 AM

Microsoft today announced the Lumia 640 XL, a larger version of the Lumia 640. The screen is stretched to 5.7 inches, the camera is improved to 13 megapixels, and the battery is slightly bigger, as well. It includes Microsoft's standard set of productivity apps and supports LTE 4G. It will ship with Windows 8.1, but can be upgraded to the full version of Windows 10. The Lumia 640 XL will be available in April from AT&T, T-Mobile, and MetroPCS in the U.S. Microsoft said it will include a one-year subscription to Office 365, 1TB of OneDrive storage, and 60 Skype world minutes. The price will be approximately $245.


Microsoft Demonstrates More Windows 10 Features

Mar 2, 2015, 2:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 2, 2015, 2:58 AM

Microsoft today revealed more features specific to the smartphone version of Windows 10. For example, Skype integration will return to the native messaging application. The device will expand the number of tools available in the action center from four to 12, and newly-installed apps will appear at the top of the app menu listing. The company talked up the Project Spartan browser, which Microsoft says will adapt to whichever type of device on which it is running. One new feature is a Reading List view, which simplifies the layout of web articles to make them easier to read. Project Spartan is a universal app, meaning it runs similarly across all Windows devices. The company also demonstrated how HERE Maps works on the Surface and can easily transition to other form factors, such as PCs and smartphones. Reminders set in Cortana will sync across all Windows 10 devices, no matter which device was used to create the Cortana reminder. Further, Cortana's Notebook feature will be better at making suggestions based on the user's interests. Microsoft also spent some time showing off the email application, which makes it easy to flag or archive messages, set calendar appointments, highlight and select text, as well as loop in colleagues for threaded conversations. Windows 10 is available as a technical preview to select Lumia devices, but isn't expected to reach all phones until later this year.

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Microsoft Commits to Windows 10 Flagship Later This Year

Mar 2, 2015, 2:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said it has a range of new Windows 10 handsets prepared for debut later this year, including a new flagship device scheduled for mid-year. Microsoft hasn't released a flagship Lumia phone in over a year.

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Microsoft Announces the Lumia 640

Mar 2, 2015, 2:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 2, 2015, 3:08 AM

Microsoft today announced the Lumia 640, a new Windows Phone. It has colorful and interchangeable rear shells. It includes Microsoft's standard set of productivity apps and supports LTE 4G. The 2,500mAh will last all day, says Microsoft. The phone has a 5-inch HD screen and supports single- and dual-sim configurations. The camera captures 8-megapixle image. It will ship with Windows 8.1, but can be upgraded to the full version of Windows 10. The Lumia 640 will be available in April. The price will be approximately $178.


Microsoft Pairs with AT&T to Launch Mobile Office Suite

Mar 2, 2015, 2:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 2, 2015, 3:11 AM

Microsoft today announced the AT&T Mobile Office Suite, a new partnership between the two to help small- and medium-sized businesses manage their devices, data, and productivity. It will be available later this year.

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Samsung's Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge Tout Metal and Glass Designs

Mar 1, 2015, 12:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 1, 2015, 5:31 PM

Samsung today announced the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, two Android smartphones that marry high-quality design with leading specs. The devices are made with a mix of metal and glass materials, with the GS6 Edge offering a curved display on two sides. According to Samsung, the display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4 and comes in several jewel tones with names like black sapphire, white pearl, blue topaz, and gold platinum. Aside from the display, all specs are shared between the two phones. The GS6 and GS6 Edge measure 6.8mm and 7.0mm thick, respectively. The Super AMOLED display measures 5.1 inches across the diagonal and includes 2560 x 1440 pixels (quad HD). Samsung says it has enhanced brightness for better outdoor viewability. The 16-megapixel main camera boasts optical image stabilization, auto HDR, and a Quick Launch feature that starts the camera app in less than a second. The user-facing camera rates 5-megpaixels; both have an aperture of f/1.9 for better low-light performance. Samsung is relying on its own technology to power the GS6 and GS6 Edge. It ships with an octa-core processor with a quad-core bank of processors clocked at 2.1GHz and a second quad-core bank clocked at 1.5GHz. The processor is paired with 3GB of LPDDR4 memory and UFS 2.0 flash for faster storage performance. The phone includes a 2,600mAh battery that supports both the WPC and PMA wireless charging standards, in addition to quick charging. Samsung says it has upgraded its KNOX security platform to better protect the device, added a Find My Device tool and remote wipe/remote reactivate tools, and improved the fingerprint scanner. The security tools will help when Samsung launches Samsung Pay, a mobile payment service planned for the second half of the year. The device will be preloaded with several Microsoft applications, including OneDrive (115GB of free storage) and OneNote. Other specs include Category 6 LTE, dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, ultra power-savings mode and Android 5.0 Lollipop. The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge will be available globally starting April 10 with 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB internal storage options.


AT&T Pushing Demin Update to Lumia 1520

Feb 26, 2015, 3:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today made the Denim system update available to the Nokia Lumia 1520. The update makes numerous changes to the behavior of the camera, including a faster shutter and 4K video capture, and also adds Live Folders and an updated Glance screen. According to Microsoft, Lumia 1520 owners need to have 1GB of free internal storage in order to install the update, which can be downloaded and installed via WiFi. The update is free.

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OneDrive for Windows Grabs New Security Features

Feb 26, 2015, 12:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released a modest update to its OneDrive application for Windows Phone handsets. OneDrive now allows users to sign in with multiple Microsoft accounts on a single device. It also adds PIN code protection to prevent people from intentionally or inadvertently accessing, changing, or deleting files. Last, the app adds the ability to create and manage photo albums (different from folders) directly on the handset. Microsoft says the albums can contain photos from any folder in OneDrive and can be easily shared with others. OneDrive for Windows Phone is free to download from the Windows Store.


Microsoft to Let Developers Add OneDrive to Their Apps

Feb 24, 2015, 1:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released an API for its cloud-based OneDrive storage service. The API will allow third-party app developers to add OneDrive access and features, such as file retrieval and uploads, to their own applications. The API is compatible with Windows, Android, and iOS devices, in addition to desktop web browsers. Microsoft said it will use the API internally with its own apps to "ensures that everyone is building on the platform with the same set of tools." When Microsoft adds new features to the API, developers will have immediate access to them. Microsoft has spent the last year expanding the availability of its core apps and services across platforms. This is the latest step in its more open strategy.


Nokia and ZTE Cleared In InterDigital Patent Case

Feb 18, 2015, 1:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A court today said Nokia and ZTE did not violate patents held by InterDigital, a patent licensing firm. InterDigital had filed a case against the two phone makers with the International Trade Commission. The ITC said Nokia and ZTE were in the clear, and InterDigital appealed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the ITC's decision. Nokia and ZTE were cleared on the charges of violating four patents, while a fifth InterDigital patent was tossed. Microsoft said it was pleased with the ruling and InterDigital said it was disappointed. InterDigital beat ZTE in a similar case last year, and is still awaiting a separate trial against Microsoft in Delaware.


Microsoft to Close the Door On Windows Phone's 'Rooms'

Feb 17, 2015, 5:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has begun informing owners of Windows Phone handsets that it will discontinue the Rooms feature in March. Users will still be able to see their rooms, as well as use existing photo albums, calendars, and notes, but users won't be able to create new rooms or change permissions in existing rooms. The chat function will be disabled, as well. Rooms were added to Windows Phone 8 as a way for small groups to communicate and share information. Microsoft noted that Rooms will not be available in Windows 10, including the technical preview, which is already available to select devices.


iPhone Users Can Now Store Office Documents In iCloud

Feb 17, 2015, 10:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today announced several new features for its Office suite of productivity apps. First and foremost, third-party cloud providers can now integrate their own services into the "locations picker" in the iOS Office apps. This means mobile device users can open, edit, and save their documents to any cloud service. Apple's iCloud is the first to receive this support, so iPhone and iPad users can store their mobile Office documents in iCloud. Microsoft said it plans to bring this feature to the Windows and Android versions of Office soon. Further, Microsoft is making it possible for cloud storage providers to weave Office Online into their own mobile applications. Microsoft's vision here is to let people open, view, and edit their online documents from any browser on any device. Microsoft said Box, Citrix, and Salesforce are already working on this level of integration. Microsoft has dramatically increased the availability of Office to mobile devices in recent months with the hopes that people and businesses will continue to use its productivity suite rather than competing products from Apple and Google.


Microsoft Adds Security Options to Android Lock Screen

Feb 13, 2015, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft recently updated its Next Lock Screen application for Android devices with several security tools. Users can now set either a pattern lock or PIN code to secure their devices. Previously, the app offered only a password. The app also adds support for Spanish and Mandarin, and disables the home button to prevent accidental unlocks. Microsoft's Next Lock Screen is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Windows 10 Preview for Phones Now Available

Feb 12, 2015, 12:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 12, 2015, 1:27 PM

The technical preview for Windows 10 on smartphones is available beginning today, according to Microsoft employees. "Okay, Windows Insiders, you've all been patient enough. Today is the day for Win10 Technical Preview for phones," tweeted Gabriel Aul. Aul's comments were echoed by Microsoft's Joe Belfiore. He said, "Who's ready!? Who's ready!? Now remember, these bits are early! Still lots of work to do, but still, this will be fun." In order to access the technical preview of Windows 10 for phones, interested parties will need to be part of the Windows Insider program (free to join). According to the documentation available through Windows Insider, the Lumia 630, 635, 636, 638, 730, and Lumia 830 are compatible with the technical preview. At the moment, Microsoft's flagship handsets, the Lumia 1520 and Lumia 930, cannot install the Windows 10 preview. Owners of these handsets will need to have the Windows Insider app installed on their phone before they can proceed. Microsoft's Belfiore said the company will add features and more handsets to the technical preview over time. The Technical Preview is not for everyday people. It is an unfinished version of the operating system meant for testing purposes. Microsoft isn't expected to deliver the final version of Windows 10 to PCs, tablets, and smartphones until the summer months.


Microsoft Puts Purchase of Sunrise On Its Calendar

Feb 11, 2015, 12:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 11, 2015, 2:40 PM

Microsoft confirmed via its YouTube channel today that it has acquired a calendar application called Sunrise. The app is available to Android, iOS, and Mac machines and is highly rated by users. Microsoft last year bought an email app called Acompli, which it turned around and released as Outlook for Android and iOS devices. Microsoft said, "Our goal is to create more meaningful, beautiful experiences in mobile email and calendaring across all platforms." Sunrise will "accelerate Microsoft’s path to that future of calendaring." The app will remain available to Android and iOS devices, despite the acquisition. Microsoft didn't reveal terms of the deal.


Lumia Denim Now Pushing to Verizon's Icon

Feb 11, 2015, 9:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said the Lumia Denim system update is now available to the Nokia Lumia Icon, which is sold by Verizon Wireless. The update makes numerous changes to the behavior of the camera, including a faster shutter and 4K video capture, and also adds Live Folders and an updated Glance screen. According to Microsoft, Lumia Icon owners need to have 1GB of free internal storage in order to install the update, which can be downloaded and installed via WiFi.


Qik Makes Sharing Videos Across Social Networks Simpler

Feb 10, 2015, 4:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today announced updates to its Android and iOS video messaging applications that simplify sharing. In earlier versions of the app, users needed to save videos to their camera roll before they could be shared outside of Qik. Moving forward, users will be able to record from within Qik and then share to whatever other social networks/services they might have accessible from their phone through the phone's native sharing tool. The update is available today to Android and iOS devices, but not yet to Microsoft's own Windows Phone platform. Microsoft said a new version of Qik for Windows Phone is still several months away.


Microsoft and Samsung Bury the Patent Hatchet

Feb 9, 2015, 6:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 9, 2015, 6:50 PM

Microsoft and Samsung have come to terms ending a dispute over patents and royalty fees. Google's Android operating system uses a number of patented Microsoft technologies and Android handset makers pay Microsoft a fee to use them. Samsung abruptly halted making payments after Microsoft acquired Nokia, claiming the company violated the terms of their agreement by becoming a direct hardware competitor. The dispute has been on-going for months, but is now resolved. "Samsung and Microsoft are pleased to announce that they have ended their contract dispute," said the companies. Terms were not disclosed.


Low-End Lumias to Get Stripped Down Windows 10

Feb 9, 2015, 8:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore said on his Twitter account that entry-level Windows Phones may not get all the features of Windows 10. "We are working on Win10 for 512MB, including 520. Our ambition is to make Win10 available for these devices, but features may vary," wrote Belfiore. Many of Microsoft's most popular Lumia devices are entry-level handsets such as the 520, 530, 625, and 630, which are all limited to 512MB of RAM. Belfiore didn't say which features will or won't be included in the system update for low-spec'd phones. Microsoft had previously said all Windows Phone 8.1 phones would updated to Windows 10. Microsoft is expected to release a preview version of Windows 10 for phones this month.


TileArt App for Windows Phone Encourages Creativity

Feb 3, 2015, 1:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft recently released a new app called TileArt that lets Windows Phone owners fully customize the appearance of their home and lock screens. With TileArt, people can create their own custom tile layout and upload transparent images to use with the layouts. Users can create their own lock screens and share their home screen layout with friends. The app provides access to some free TileArt, too, to help people get started. The TileArt gallery showcases backgrounds from professional animators, illustrators, and designers. TileArt is free to download from the Windows Phone Store. The app requires Windows Phone 8.1.


Microsoft Brings Bing to Android Lock Screen

Feb 3, 2015, 8:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft's Garage team recently released a new app for Android handsets called the Picturesque Lock Screen. The lock screen adds Bing's home page images to Android devices. Users can easily change up the image by shaking their phone or swiping side to side. The image changes daily on its own. Picturesque also allows people to search Bing right from the lock screen, view the latest news and weather, see missed calls or messages, and view upcoming calendar appointments. Last, Picturesque includes controls for the camera, phone, and other basic tools, such as WiFi and Bluetooth radios, volume, brightness, and flashlight. Picturesque is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Qualcomm Boasts of Snapdragon 810 Support

Feb 2, 2015, 8:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Following reports of poor performance of its flagship Snapdragon 810 processor, Qualcomm today rounded up support from a handful of handset makers that plan to use the chip. LG and Xiaomi have already committed to using the processor in the G Flex 2 and Mi Note Pro, respectively, and reiterated their trust in the processor. Motorola, Sony, Oppo, and Microsoft today also offered statements in support of the processor and suggested they each plan to use the 810 in forthcoming handset designs. Last week, Qualcomm lowered its revenue outlook for the year after stating that a "large customer" decided to pass on using the Snapdragon 810 in its own flagship device. Earlier in January, Samsung claimed the 810 overheated. The Snapdragon 810 is a premium mobile processor with a quad-core design, advanced GPU, and support for Cat 9 LTE.


Microsoft to Back Cyanogen's Android Efforts

Jan 29, 2015, 2:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has agreed to invest an unknown dollar figure in Cyanogen, which offers a version of Android devoid of Google's strictures. Cyanogen recently raised $70 million in funding, of which Microsoft is playing a minority role say sources cited by the Wall Street Journal. Neither Microsoft nor Cyanogen commented on Microsoft's involvement with the Android software maker, but Cyanogen has big goals. Last week, Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster said, "We're going to take Android away from Google." Cyanogen is working with handset makers to have its version of Android preinstalled on devices rather than Google's. It has succeeded with Micromax in India and is working to win over others. Google may offer Android to OEMs for free, but the search giant places strict requirements for handset makers to access the Play Store and other Google services. Cyanogen claims 50 million people have installed its variant of Android on devices, most of whom are enthusiast users who root their device and sideload the operating system.


Microsoft Offers Outlook Email App to Android and iOS

Jan 29, 2015, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released an Outlook email application for Android and iOS devices, including smartphones and tablets. The app is based on the code from Acompli, a company Microsoft acquired last year. With Outlook for Android and iOS, users can manage their work and personal email. It supports Office 365, Exchange, Outlook.com, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, and other email services. Users can personalize their experience with customizable swipes and actions. The Outlook email app also offers native calendar integration to make scheduling and managing a calendar easy. Outlook for Android and iOS is free to download from the Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively. The Android version of Outlook is being offered as a preview for the time being. In other Microsoft news, the company stripped the preview tag from its Office for Android suite of apps. Android tablet owners can now download Word, Excel, and PowerPoint from the Play Store and access a basic set of document creation and editing features with their Microsoft account. Advanced features require an Office 365 subscription.


OneDrive 5.0 for iOS Supports Personal and Biz Accounts

Jan 28, 2015, 4:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today pushed out a relatively big update to its OneDrive application for iOS devices. Most significantly, OneDrive for iOS allows people to sign into both their personal and business OneDrive accounts, open/organize their business files, and save new files to their business account. The app improves how it handles photos. For example, users can create photo albums that let them view photos in one folder or album without moving the actual image files. It also now supports tags, such as "plant" or "animal" automatically thanks object recognition. OneDrive for iOS also boasts a new design, integration with third-party password managers (1Password, LastPass, etc.), improves search and text recognition, resolves audio playback issues, and addresses several other bugs. OneDrive is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


Twitter Adds Bing Translation Tool to Mobile Apps

Jan 23, 2015, 8:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Twitter has added a feature to its Android and iOS mobile apps, as well as Twitter.com and TweetDeck, that will let users translate foreign-language tweets. Microsoft's Bing Translator is providing the machine-based translations. In order to see translated Tweets, users need to turn the feature on in their online account settings. Once enabled, a globe icon will appear with foreign-language tweets. Users can click the globe and see both the translation and the original text. Twitter said Bing Translator can work with 40 different languages, though it warned the system is not perfect. Tweet Translator is available immediately.


DropBox Lands On Windows Phone

Jan 22, 2015, 8:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Dropbox has released an app for the Windows Phone platform for the first time. The app gives Windows Phone owners 2GB of free cloud storage for saving documents, files, and photos. Users can easily share their files by sending a link to others. Dropbox competes with Microsoft's own OneDrive. Users can pay to upgrade their storage to higher amounts, but the base app is free. Dropbox is already available to Android, iOS, and desktop platforms.


Microsoft Reveals Details About Windows 10

Jan 21, 2015, 12:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 21, 2015, 1:55 PM

Microsoft today offered an early first look at its forthcoming Windows 10 operating system, which will run on PCs, tablets, and phones. Microsoft said it is taking a new, more user-centric approach with Windows 10. It is incorporating the feedback it received about Windows 8/8.1 and is making sure to add user-requested features, such as the old Start menu. The company now views Windows more as a service and it will provide continual updates. Microsoft said Windows 10 will be a free upgrade during its first year of availability, for example, to all devices running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1. Windows 10 for PCs and tablets will gain features from Windows Phone, including the Action Center and Cortana, Microsoft's voice-activated personal assistant. Windows devices with screens 8 inches and larger will include the "desktop experience." Smaller devices will have an altered experience more suited for phones. A rough build of the phone-centric version of Windows 10 features a revised settings menu that has new graphics. Windows 10 also allows users to move the keyboard around on the screen if they so wish. The entire Windows 10 platform will include Skype more firmly entrenched across apps. Further, full versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint that closely match the desktop variants will be included in Windows Phone 10. All Windows 10 devices will have a new Outlook client, which has been revised with the Word engine. Other major app re-writes include the calendar, photo gallery, and Internet Explorer, which is based on Project Spartan, a complete overhaul of the browser. Last, the entire platform will more broadly support Xbox gaming, including PC-to-Xbox play. Microsoft said the first preview of Windows 10 for phones will be available to "insiders" beginning in February.


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