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Hands-On: Microsoft Lumia 640 and 640 XL

Today, 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

Today, 2:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 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

Today, 2:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 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

Today, 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

Today, 2:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 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

Today, 2:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 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

Yesterday, 12:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 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

Thursday, 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

Thursday, 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.


Facebook Working On Its Own Voice-to-Text System

Jan 20, 2015, 8:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook plans to add voice-to-text transcription to its Facebook Messenger application, said David Marcus, Facebook's vice president of messaging products. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Marcus said the company is already testing the system using machine-to-machine learning, though he declined to say when the feature might be added to the app. Facebook expects the feature to be popular across Asia and other regions where typing various languages on mobile devices is more of a chore. Apple, Google, and Microsoft already provide their own voice-to-text services, which are built into the iOS, Android, and Windows Phone operating systems, respectively. Marcus didn't say how Facebook's transcription service will differ from what's already available to consumers. Marcus said 500 million people use Messenger monthly and it hopes to grow that number to 1 billion. Marcus indicated Facebook is exploring ways to monetize Messenger, but the company wants to avoid advertising. Facebook also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, which have 700 million and 300 million monthly users, respectively. Facebook said it will monetize Messenger before WhatsApp. Facebook has an "ambitious" roadmap for Messenger, and will add other features over the course of the year.


Microsoft Commences Denim Rollout to Lumia Phones

Jan 15, 2015, 1:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today made good on a promise it made last month and began to distribute the Lumia Denim system update to devices running Windows Phone 8.1. The Denim update adds live folders, improves the Internet Explorer browser, adds SMS merging, and makes vast improvements to the imaging tools. More specifically, the Lumia Icon, 1520, 930, and 830 will also get an updated Lumia Camera. The update is being rolled out to specific devices in phases. Most Lumia phones running Windows Phone 8.1 will eventually have access to the Denim system update, but U.S. carriers haven't said when they'll push the update to their Windows Phone lineups.


Microsoft Debuts Two Low-Cost Lumias

Jan 14, 2015, 8:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today announced the Lumia 532 and Lumia 435, two entry-level Windows Phones. Both devices run Windows Phone 8.1 with the Lumia Denim update and include core software features such as Microsoft Office, Skype, OneDrive, HERE Maps, and Cortana. Shared hardware features include 4-inch WVGA displays, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, 1,560mAh batteries, and support for memory cards up to 128GB.

  • Lumia 532: This handset (pictured) has a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, a 5-megapixel main camera, and a VGA user-facing camera. It costs about $93.
  • Lumia 435: The 435 is Microsoft's least-expensive Lumia device ever at just $81. It has a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor, 2-megapixel main camera, and VGA user-facing camera.
The Microsoft Lumia 532 and 435 go on sale in select markets beginning next month. Both handsets will be available in single- and dual-SIM configurations.


Microsoft Offering Android Tablet Preview of Office

Jan 6, 2015, 1:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today expanded the availability of its Office productivity to suite to more Android tablets. Microsoft said all ARM-based Android tablets running KitKat or Lollipop with screens between 7.0 and 10.1 inches can run Office. The company made Word, Excel, and PowerPoint available for free in the Play Store. People interested in the apps can download them without joining a waitlist or registering for access. Microsoft warned the apps are in a preview status and users may encounter bugs. Microsoft hopes early adopters will offer constructive feedback to it can improve the apps for all users. Microsoft already offers Office to Android smartphones, as well as the iPhone and iPad.


Microsoft Announces the Nokia 215

Jan 5, 2015, 9:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today revealed the Nokia 215, a $29 feature phone meant to help more people get online for the first time. The bar-style phone has a 2.4-inch screen and a numeric keypad. It runs the Series 30+ platform and includes apps such as Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, Opera Mini, Bing Search, music player, and MSN Weather. Hardware features include a flashlight, VGA camera, an FM radio, Bluetooth 3.0, and support for microSD cards up to 32GB. The device will reach select markets in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe beginning in the first quarter of the year.


Apple's Patent Consortium to Sell 4,000 Patents for $900M

Dec 23, 2014, 10:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Rockstar Consortium, a patent-holding company headed by Apple, has agreed to sell more than 4,000 mobile patents for about $900 million. Apple and partners Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson, and Sony paid $4.5 billion for more than 6,000 patents from Nortel four years ago in order to help protect against litigation. The companies are selling two-thirds of the patents to RPX Corp., which is another patent-focused company that protects companies from lawsuits. RPX plans to license the patent portfolio to a syndicate of 30 technology companies, including Google and Cisco, according to the Wall Street Journal. The syndicate members contributed the bulk of the $900 million in order to purchase the patents. In addition to the patent sale, Rockstar will settle patent-related lawsuits it has filed against Android device makers, including Samsung, Huawei, HTC, and LG. Terms of those settlements were not disclosed. Rockstar Consortium will hold onto about 2,000 of the old Nortel patents, which the Journal described as the "most valuable" of the bunch.


Google Fails to Have Lawsuit Dismissed

Dec 18, 2014, 2:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google was unable to convince a San Jose judge to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit filed against the search giant over preinstalled apps. The judge expressed concern over some the the plaintiffs' claims, which allege Android handset makers are forced to use Google's apps in lieu of competitive apps/services. For example, Google is the default search engine on Android handsets instead of Microsoft's Bing. The judge will dismiss some of the arguments, but wants to see more evidence from the plaintiffs before making a final decision on the antitrust complaint. Google did not comment on the decision.


Microsoft Targeting January for Lumia Denim Update

Dec 18, 2014, 1:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said that it will begin pushing the Lumia Denim system update to its Windows Phones en masse beginning next month. The update is already trickling out to a few phones in select markets, but all Lumia smartphones running Windows Phone 8.1 will see the update at some point next month. According to Microsoft, improved imaging is the most significant new feature of the update. Notably, the camera app should function much faster, especially on devices such as the Lumia 930, 830, 1520, and Icon. In addition to speed, the camera will gain a feature called Moment Capture, which records 4K video at 24 frames per second with each and every frame saved as an 8.3-megapixel image. Users can snag a single frame from the video as a stand-alone image if they wish. Another new camera function is called Rich Capture. With it, the camera takes over settings such as auto HDR, dynamic flash, and dynamic exposure so users can focus on getting the shot and not on futzing with the camera app. Microsoft also notes the camera app makes use of new algorithms to improve focus and exposure. The Denim update also adds live folders, SMS merging, and other improvements. Microsoft first announced Lumia Denim in September.


Microsoft to Sell MixRadio Service to Line

Dec 18, 2014, 11:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today announced it has agreed to sell the Lumia MixRadio service to Line for an undisclosed sum. MixRadio is a music-streaming service available to Lumia smartphones. It offers curated radio stations and also allows users to create their own. MixMusic chief said, "MixRadio fans can expect the same level of commitment to bring a personalized music experience to Lumia smartphones, thanks to MixRadio's recently launched recommendation engine." MixRadio's development team will remain in the UK. Line believes its platform is a good place for MixRadio to expand its user base. Microsoft and Line expect the deal to be completed next year.


Microsoft Expands Xim's Sharing Abilities to TVs

Dec 18, 2014, 9:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft recently updated its Xim app and added compatibility with a wide range of media streaming devices. Microsoft first released Xim in October. It's a cross-platform app that allows people to easily share photos without requiring them to physically hand their phone to someone else. People use Xim to create a connection directly between devices for sharing photos from sources such as the camera roll, Instagram, and Facebook Today's update allows people to share photos not only with other phones, but with streaming media devices, including Chromecast, Apple TV, Xbox One, and Amazon Fire TV. Xim users need only connect to the WiFi network associated with the streaming media device for it to show up in the list of sharing options within the Xim app. Xims are impermanent, sort of like Snapchat, and expire after a short period of time. The updated Xim app is available from the iTunes App Store, Google Play Store, and Windows Phone Store.


Google Seeks to Dismiss Antitrust Lawsuit Over Android

Dec 18, 2014, 8:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is hoping to convince a San Jose judge to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. over its app-bundling practices on Android smartphones. Two plaintiffs allege Google restricts the use of competing apps, made by companies such as Microsoft, in favor of its own apps and services on Android handsets. For example, Google is the default search engine on Android handsets, rather than Microsoft's Bing. Google believes the suit should be dismissed because consumers are free to use whichever apps they want. The plaintiffs disagree, stating most people don't know how to change the default apps, and many of those who do won't go through the trouble of doing it. The plaintiffs argued Google apps "are widely used on Android by requiring default placement and other mechanisms for disadvantaging competing apps." Reuters reports that if the lawsuit is allowed to move forward, lawyers will gain access to internal emails and contracts between Google and its handset partners. The initial hearing is set to take place later today.


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