Microsoft today said its Edge browser for Android and iOS has exited preview and is now available as a final, public application. Microsoft Edge for mobile devices ports over popular desktop features, include Favorites, Reading List, New Tab Page, and Reading View. It can sync bookmarks and browser history with the desktop and includes a built-in QR code reader. This final version of the app adds Roaming Passwords, which allow you to save passwords on one device and sync them to others, such as from a phone to a PC and vice versa. The browser also gains a dark theme. Microsoft Edge is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Skype has updated its mobile app with new tools for customizing pictures similar to Instagram and Snapchat. The photo effects include face stickers, captions, celebrity lookalikes, location and weather, and face swaps for adding a dash of whimsy to shared images. A "magic wand" button appears on the screen after users snap a photo and provides access to the effects tools. Photos can then be shared with friends and family via chat or highlights. Microsoft says the sticker selections will change over time, especially as holidays come and go. The new version of Skype is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Microsoft today ported its Cortana personal assistant to its Skype chatting application, providing people with access to information without forcing them to leave Skype. Microsoft says Cortana in Skype can suggest useful information based on chat contents, suggest smart replies, manage schedules and/or reminders, and more. Beyond the proactive assistant duties, Cortana exists as a Skype contact with which users can have "conversations" to check movie times, the weather, flight status, stock quotes, and restaurant recommendations. Microsoft says it is rolling out Cortana to Skype users in the U.S. gradually beginning today. The personal assistant is available to the Android and iOS versions of Skype. Microsoft today also updated its Outlook mobile email and calendar app for Android and iOS devices with much wider support for varied calendar actions. For example, Android and iOS users will now be able to view and edit shared Office 365 or Outlook.com calendars; manage someone else’s calendar at work; connect your Meetup account to Outlook; and more easily manage events from mobile devices. Outlook for Android and iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Microsoft executive Joe Belfiore on Sunday explained in a series of Tweets that the company is no longer creating new software or hardware for its Windows Mobile platform. Belfiore was responding directly to questions posed by fans when he said, "Many companies still deploy [Windows Phone] to their employees and we will support them! Of course we'll continue to support the platform ... bug fixes, security updates, etc. But building new features/[hardware] aren't the focus," Belfiore admitted that he, like Microsoft founder and former CEO Bill Gates, has switched to Android. "As an individual end-user, I switched platforms for the app/hw diversity." The questions put to Belfiore arose due to Microsoft's recent move to expand its Edge browser to to iOS. The browser is in beta mode via the App Store. Microsoft has focused much of its mobile app efforts on the Android and iOS platforms in recent years with its Office productivity suite, Skype communications tool, Android Launcher, OneDrive, and more. In the end, apps became the problem for Windows 10. "We have tried very hard to incent app [developers]. Paid money ... wrote apps for them ... but volume of users is too low for most companies to invest," wrote Belfiore. With no real selection of apps, Windows Mobile didn't have much of a chance against the Android and iOS platforms, which each offers more than one billion apps available to end users.
Microsoft today made a beta version of its Edge browser available to Android and iOS devices. The beta, available to registered Windows Insiders, requires users to initiate the signup process through a Windows 10 PC. Edge for mobile devices ports over popular desktop features, include Favorites, Reading List, New Tab Page, and Reading View. It can sync bookmarks and browser history with the desktop and includes a built-in QR code reader. It's only available to U.S. beta testers in English for now. Microsoft today also released a new launcher for Android handsets. The launcher replaces the native home screen on Android devices in favor of Microsoft's. It includes Windows 10 features such as favorites, recent photos, documents, and more. Before today, the Microsoft Launcher for Android was in beta status via the Microsoft Garage. It is now available for download through the Google Play Store.
Microsoft today announced changes to its music offering for Windows devices that will see it transition from its own Groove Music service to Spotify. According to Microsoft, the Groove Music media player application will continue to work for playing back owned music on Windows devices, but it will no longer offer the option to stream, purchase, or download music after December 31. Microsoft says all Groove Music Pass customers can easily transition their curated playlists and libraries to Spotify. The newest Groove Music app for Windows devices will encourage customers to initiate the transition from Groove to Spotify. Spotify is one of the world's largest music streaming services and has more than 30 million tracks available for on/offline listening. Some Groove Music Pass customers may quality for a free 60-day trial of Spotify Premium, which normally costs $10 per month.
Apple has released iOS 11.0.1 a week after that platform's first public debut in a move to stamp out early bugs. The new operating system is rife with small glitches and Apple says this release helps smooth some of them over on the iPhone and iPad. According to Ars Technica, one of the most significant bugs repaired in the patch impacted email syncing from certain Microsoft Exchange-based email services. iOS 11.0.1 is free to download from Apple.
Apple today changed its Siri voice assistant to use Google for web searches instead of Microsoft's Bing. The change affects direct requests to search the web, as well as default results when Siri cannot return a more specific, intelligent answer or action. Apple says the switch is intended to make web search more consistent, as Google is already the default within Apple's Safari web browser in phones. Bing will still power Siri's image search function. The change takes effect today.
Microsoft today updated its Outlook email application for Android devices and gave the app the ability to support add-ins. Microsoft says add-ins let Outlook users do more with their email thanks to powers enabled by third-party applications. For example, adds-ins will negate the need to leave Outlook to perform certain tasks, such as translate text, insert GIFs, or save items for safekeeping. Some of the launch partners include Evernote, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Translator, Nimble, OnePlaceMail, Outlook Customer Manager, Smartsheet, and Trello. More are on the way. Microsoft says add-ins are available when reading or composing and replying to emails. Microsoft Outlook for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store. Add-ins were added to Outlook for iOS earlier this year. Microsoft said it will be bringing add-ins to Gmail customers on iOS and Android soon.
Microsoft and Amazon today announced a new partnership that will allow Windows 10 users to access Alexa via Cortana, and Echo users to access Cortana via Alexa. The tie-up lets people use one personal assistant to open the other. For example, people who own Windows 10 PCs will be able to say "Hey Cortana, open Alexa" and then speak queries to Alexa through their PC. Conversely, people who own an Amazon Echo device will be able to say "Alexa, open Cortana" to set reminders, check appointments, and make other requests of Cortana. Microsoft says this capability is available to Windows 10 PCs first, but it will come to Android and iOS devices later this year.
Apple and a handful of technology companies are asking the Supreme Court to carefully consider the potential adverse outcomes if law enforcement is given warrantless access to personal information, such as location data. The companies filed a brief with the Supreme Court, which will soon hear a case about how law enforcement gleaned a suspect's location by taking the data from a third party without a warrant. The case, and the companies' collective opinion, hinges on the third-party doctrine, which has been in place since a 1979 case. The corporations that signed the brief together collect, transmit, and hold terabytes of data and meta-data generated by their customers' use of their services. If the Supreme Court decides data held by third-parties should still be up for grabs, the corporations may have to provide it whenever law enforcement asks. They feel this violates the spirit of the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees certain expectations of privacy, and could in turn convince people to use their online services less. "This transmission of data will only grow as digital technologies continue to develop and become more integrated into our lives. Because the data that is transmitted can reveal a wealth of detail about people’s personal lives, however, users of digital technologies reasonably expect to retain significant privacy in that data," argued the companies. "Fourth Amendment doctrine must adapt to this new reality." The signees include Airbnb, Apple, Cisco, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Nest, Oath, Snap, Twitter, and Verizon. The companies filed the brief through the ACLU, which is participating in the upcoming case.
Microsoft today said the latest version of Skype for Android and iOS devices makes it possible to send funds to other Skype users via PayPal. Users will be able to send money through PayPal without leaving the Skype app. The sender will need the new version of Skype to send PayPal funds, but the recipient can accept funds from older versions of Skype. Both the sender and the receiver, however, will need a PayPal account in order to fund and accept the money. If the recipient does not have a PayPal account, they'll be prompted to create one in order to access the funds. The service is available in the U.S. and 21 other countries, and supports the ability to send funds in various currencies. The new version of Skype is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
Google this week updated Google Calendar so that it interacts more fully with Microsoft Exchange Server. Specifically, Google Calendar now supports real-time free / busy lookups between Google and Microsoft servers within businesses. This means people will be able to search for common meeting times with colleagues and collaborators even if they use different email and calendar systems. Google says this has been a top request from users. This change targets Google's G Suite, which is the business-grade version of Google Calendar. It requires IT admins to configure it properly, so it is not meant for consumers at this time. Google didn't say if or when the same functionality will be made available to free users. The improved hybrid G Suite / Microsoft Exchange integration is coming to both mobile and the web over the days ahead.
Microsoft recently withdrew its WordFlow keyboard application from the iTunes App Store. WordFlow was one of many Microsoft Garage projects, which are chiefly apps that target Android and iOS devices. WordFlow for iOS was a version of Microsoft's capable swipe-style keyboard that was originally found on Windows Phone. On its own web site, Microsoft calls the WordFlow experiment "complete" and suggests people download SwiftKey instead. "The SwiftKey product team is frequently building and evaluating new features for SwiftKey and shipping updates," said the WordFlow team. Microsoft bought SwiftKey in February 2016.
The USB 3.0 Promoter Group this week released the spec for USB 3.2, which has the potential to boost speeds through cables. Specifically, USB 3.2 takes advantage of the multi-lane operation that has been built into existing USB Type-C cables. Now, as long as both devices support USB 3.2, end users should see data transfer speeds double. The Promoter Group says the spec allows for up to two lanes of 5 Gbps or two lanes of 10 Gbps operation. The spec makes use of the existing SuperSpeed USB physical layer, but makes minor updates to the hub specification to address increased speeds in addition to transitions between single- and two-lane operation. The USB 3.2 specification is available to developers only at this time. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group expects to release the final version of the spec in September. Devices with support for USB 3.2 will likely not appear in the market before 2018. It's unclear if or how USB 3.2 might be used with mobile devices. Some of the companies in the USB 3.0 Promoter Group include Apple, HP, Intel, Microsoft, ST Microelectronics, and Texas Instruments.
Adobe today said it will stop updating and distributing the Flash player in 2020. The web plugin is widely used across the web to power experiences such as video and gaming. Adobe says new, open standards such as HTML5 and WebGL have already begun to replace Flash in web browsers. Adobe is working with partners including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla to help with the end-of-life process. Adobe will update and patch Flash up until the end-of-life moment arrives in order to ensure users are protected. It is already encouraging content creators to adopt the new open standards ahead of the change. Flash was once a flashpoint in the mobile space after Apple debuted the iPhone. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously penned a blog post entitled "Thoughts on Flash" in which he explained Apple's reasons for not supporting Flash within iOS. It was a major point of contention, as it prevented the iPhone from accessing some web content. Apple is now helping Adobe with the transition away from Flash.
Microsoft has released an overhauled build of its Outlook mobile email application for both the Android and iOS platforms. The update targets several specific functions of the app to smooth over performance. For example, the new app makes it much simpler to switch between email accounts or folders within email accounts thanks to a redesigned nav bar. The help and settings tools are surfaced higher up within the app so they can be reached more easily. Microsoft also targeted threaded conversations. The app now shows more of the conversation at once, with clearer borders between messages. Outlook will automatically open the first unread message in a thread, while still allowing people to open other messages in the conversation. Replying to everyone in a thread should be easier, too, thanks to a quick reply function built into the app. Last, Microsoft plans to add a universal search bar to Outlook that can be used to find names, addresses, emails, and more. While the first two features are reaching Android and iOS this week, the search tool will be added at a later date. Outlook is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Microsoft has totally re-envisioned its Skype messaging application and, in the process, made it more like Snapchat and Facebook Messenger. To start, Skype offers more personalization. For example, users can tweak colors and more easily add animated emoji and reaction icons to conversations. The app now supports what Microsoft calls a Highlight Reel, which is a Snapchat Stories-like compilation of videos and photos. Microsoft says people can create Highlights by accessing the in-app camera, or by pulling in content from their phone's photo gallery. People can then react to Highlights or use them as a starting point for a new conversation thread. Bots are headed to Skype, too, via the new Find tab that's built into the app. Users can take advantage of the bot-enabled search tool to find concert tickets, see what's trending across social networks, and more. Microsoft expects third-party developers (businesses and brands) to create their own add-ins and bots for Skype over time. Skype still supports one-on-one and group conversations, video calls, audio calls, and other legacy features. Microsoft says the new Skype will reach Android devices over the next few weeks with the iPhone to follow in a month or so, and Mac and Windows desktops to follow later this year.
Microsoft has a new tool for Android and iOS device owners to use when signing into Microsoft accounts. The phone sign-in functionality relies on the Microsoft Authenticator. People can add their Microsoft account to either the Android or iOS version of the Microsoft Authenticator mobile app. Then, when signing into a new Microsoft app, people will only have to put in their username. The Authenticator will pop up a notification on users' phones that, once approved, unlocks access to the new app. "This process is easier than standard two-step verification and significantly more secure than only a password, which can be forgotten, phished, or compromised," said Microsoft in a blog post. Microsoft Authenticator is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Microsoft will sell the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ in its brick-and-mortar retail stores beginning April 21, reports ZDNet. Microsoft will customize the S8 and S8+ by adding a number of its own apps and services, though Microsoft declined to state exactly which ones. Likely contenders include OneDrive Cortana, Outlook, and MSOffice. "The new device customization is an example of bringing together Microsoft applications on more devices so customers can work, play and connect from their pockets," said Microsoft in a statement provided to ZDNet. Microsoft has preinstalled its software on Samsung handsets in the past. Microsoft will charge the same $750 and $850 retail prices for the S8 and S8+, respectively, as Samsung and other retailers. Microsoft did not say if the customized phones will be sold unlocked.
Samsung today announced DeX, a desktop accessory for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ that allows them to function as computers when attached to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. DeX is similar in concept to Microsoft's Continuum product. For the S8 and S8+, the DeX includes HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, Ethernet, and cooling functions. The software relies on features baked into Nougat to help scale the Android user interface for desktop screens. It supports full multitasking with moveable windows and runs most standard Android apps. Phone apps, text messaging, and other essential mobile communications will all function normally. DeX and the S8/S8+ support Microsoft Office, with Adobe Lightroom and PhotoShop Express coming soon. A special Samsung browser provides a full desktop internet experience. Pricing and availability of the DeX are to be announced at a later date.
Microsoft today made it possible for Android device owners to access and use Cortana above the lock screen on their smartphones. Microsoft has been testing the feature since earlier this year and is now rolling it out to all users. People can swipe on the lock screen to see Cortana's basic information screen as well as ask Cortana questions, set reminders, and view their calendar appointments. These features are all usable without requiring people to unlock their devices. Microsoft also improved Cortana home on Android, which now includes more glanceable information about daily schedules, commute times, reminders, as well as shortcuts to creating reminders and calendar items. Last, Microsoft is making Cortana available to Android and iOS devices in Australia. The new version of Cortana with lock screen access for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Google today made its Gmail application for Android devices more useful to those who use Microsoft Exchange services. The latest version of Gmail adds support for Exchange tasks. Gmail can automatically synchronize tasks to/from Exchange, allowing Gmail users to stay on top of their task list. People can create, edit, and flag tasks, as well as set or alter task priorities from within Gmail. The unified task list across Exchange and Gmail means people will be able to check things off their task list from their phone or PC and see things marked as complete on their other devices. Gmail for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Qualcomm today revealed two new sets of products design with the Internet of Things in mind. First, the company plans to add support for the Android Things operating system to its Snapdragon 210 processors and X5 LTE modems. Android Things is Google's IoT platform. Qualcomm says the the Snapdragon 210 and X5 combo will be the most powerful processor/modem available to Android Things, allowing developers and hardware makers to design more capable devices and services. Some possible use cases include electronic signage, video monitoring, and asset tracking, as well as smart home assistants and smart appliances. The Snapdragon 210 and X5 SoC for Android Things will be available later this year. Separately, Qualcomm said it is sampling two new SoCs for IoT that combine three radios into a single package. The QCA4020 includes Bluetooth Low Energy 5, Dual-band Wi-Fi, and 802.15.4-based technologies, including ZigBee and Thread. The QCA4024 integrates Bluetooth Low Energy 5 and 802.15.4 tech. These modules will support a wide range of IoT platforms, including Apple's HomeKit, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Open Connectivity Foundation. Qualcomm expects to see them put to use in smart cities, toys, home control and automation, networking, and home entertainment. The QCA4020 and QCA4024 are sampling now and will reach consumer devices later this year,
Skype's mobile app for Android and iOS devices now looks a lot more like Facebook Messenger, based on the preview released by Microsoft this week. In a blog post, Microsoft explained the new features are meant to make conversations more expressive and entertaining. First, Skype adds in-call reactions. These let people add live emoticons, photos, and text to video calls. The integrated camera now supports emoticons, stickers, and annotations. People can respond to any individual message with multiple reactions, such as a thumbs up, sad face, smiley face, or shock. Last, the app adds a new search panel for finding and sharing links, news, sports, points of interest and other data. Microsoft says this negates the need to jump back and forth between apps. Android device owners can download this Skype Preview from the Google Play Store. iPhone owners will need to apply to become a Skype Insider for iOS. If selected, Skype will email a download link to the app. Microsoft hopes those who preview this version of Skype for Android and iOS will offer feedback before the company releases these features to everyone.
Microsoft today improved its Cortana personal assistant, which can now remind people to take care of tasks they've promised to do via email. The tool is available in Microsoft's Office 365 and Outlook.com email services. Cortana will scan emails and when users tell someone they'll complete a specific task (such as file a report) Cortana will automatically suggest a reminder to help people follow through. Microsoft says machine learning is behind the new tool and it will learn from user behavior over time. Moreover, these reminders will automatically be added to the action center so they are visible outside of the email app. Users will need to ensure they are signed into their Microsoft account and have granted Cortana the proper permissions. The tool is being made available to Windows 10 devices first, but Microsoft plans to expand it to Android and iOS in the weeks ahead.
Microsoft this week released the Project Rome SDK, a tool for developers that will let Android devices control Windows devices and vice versa. Once fully enabled, third-party apps will be able to see Android and Windows devices when they are connected to the internet. For example, a Windows PC may see a music app on a connected Android handset and open it remotely. The remote app service lets people not only open, but control apps from afar. For now, the SDK only permit Windows devices to access and run apps on Android devices, but Microsoft expects to make expand the SDK so Android devices can control Windows apps. Developers can download the SDK from Microsoft's developer console.
Microsoft today updated its Outlook email application for iOS devices and gave the app the ability to support add-ins. Microsoft says add-ins let Outlook users do more with their email thanks to powers enabled by third-party applications. For example, adds-ins will negate the need to leave Outlook to perform certain tasks, such as translate text, insert GIFs, or save items for safekeeping. Some of the launch partners include Evernote, Giphy, Nimble, Trello, and Smartsheet. Microsoft says add-ins are only available when reading emails for now, but it plans to add support for add-ins to the email composing/replying screens before too long. Moreover, add-ins are being made available to Office 365 subscribers first, with Outlook.com users to follow. Add-ins will be added to Outlook for Android at a later date. Microsoft Outlook for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Alcatel today made its Idol 4S with Windows 10 smartphone available unlocked from the Microsoft Store. The Windows Idol 4S has a 5.5-inch full HD display, Snapdragon 820 processor, 21-megapixel camera, and USB Type-C. Other features include a wide-angle 8-megapixel selfie camera, 3,000mAh battery, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, stereo speakers, and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. The Idol 4S with Windows is compatible with Continuum, which enables it to act like a full PC with the proper accessories. The phone is compatible with the networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile. The Idol 4S with Windows 10 costs $470.
Microsoft and Qualcomm plan to make Windows 10 run on Qualcomm's next-generation, ARM-based Snapdragon processors. The idea is to enable full PC functionality on cellular-connected devices of varying form factors. Qualcomm said its new chips are fully compatible with the Windows 10 ecosystem, and hardware makers can use them to create phones, tablets, and other mobile devices. The companies say new Windows 10 PCs with Snapdragon inside can support x86 Win32 and Universal Windows apps, including titles such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and even games. Microsoft said these "cellular PCs" will be able to take advantage of eSIM technology, allowing people and businesses to activate and use them on the network of their choice. Microsoft and Qualcomm expect to see the first Snapdragon-based Windows 10 PCs reach the market as early as next year. "With Windows 10 on cellular PCs, we will help everyone make the most of the air around them. We look forward to seeing these new devices with integrated cellular connectivity and the great experiences people love like touch, pen, and Windows Hello," said Microsoft's Terry Myerson.
The European Union today approved Microsoft's proposed $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn. The Union set several conditions in allowing Microsoft to proceed. For one, it must allow other professional networks to link into Office, and must let PC makers choose whether or not to preinstall LinkedIn on their machines. Last, Microsoft must let rival networks access the Microsoft Graph for mining data. The U.S. has already approved the transaction, which can now move forward.
Microsoft today announced an update to its Outlook email app for iOS that should ease the process of scheduling group meetings. A new scheduling assistant built into the app makes it possible to see coworkers' availability when booking new meetings. Users will first need to create an event and set invitees. Outlook will then use color-coded effects to show when invitees are free. Users can drag the time picker around the calendar until it turns green, which signals when all the invitees are available. A few more taps sets the event and sends invites to the other participants. The new tool requires a connection to Office 365 or the latest version of Exchange. Microsoft said this feature will be available to Android and Windows 10 Mobile devices soon. Outlook is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Microsoft today announced a new 3D Capture app for phones. Using only the phone's camera, it can capture an object's shape and texture for importing into the new 3D tools available in the new version of Windows 10, dubbed Windows 10 Creators Update. The app will be available soon for Windows 10 Mobile, followed by versions for Android and iOS.
T-Mobile today listed the "Alcatel IDOL 4S with Windows 10 VR" on its web site. The unique version of the Idol 4S not only runs Windows 10, but sports many of the upgrades available in the related BlackBerry DTEK60, such as the high-end Snapdragon 820 processor, 21-megapixel camera, and USB Type-C connector, none of which are in the standard Idol 4S. The Idol 4S with Windows 10 also includes free VR goggles (for a limited time) for use with "pre-loaded games and videos". Curiously, while the standard Idol 4S includes a Quad-HD display ideal for VR, this version steps down to a full-HD display, according to T-Mobile's specs. The Idol 4S with Windows 10 also supports Windows Continuum, which lets you connect a screen and keyboard to turn the phone into a full Windows 10 computer. Other features of the phone include a memory card slot, stereo speakers, 8-megapixel front camera, and 4 GB of RAM. T-Mobile's specs do not mention NFC. Pricing and release date have yet to be announced. Microsoft is
Microsoft today made it possible for Skype users to sign into other Microsoft services with their Skype username and password. For example, people who have Skype credentials will be able to use them to log into Xbox, Office, or OneDrive. Moreover, people will be able to use those services across devices and platforms with this new single sign-in, negating the need to enter separate usernames and passwords for each Microsoft service across their devices. Microsoft is now wholly managing the Skype sign-in screen, password change, and account recovery flow, but none of these changes impact how people access and use Skype. Microsoft says the single sign-in tool will be available in the newest versions of the Skype app across platforms in the days ahead.
Samsung today said it has agreed to purchase Viv, an artificial intelligence startup run by the team that originally developed Apple's Siri. Siri's creators left Apple to form Viv, which is based in San Jose. Samsung plans to add Viv's artificial intelligence technology to its own Galaxy smartphones and other consumer electronics products. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Samsung did not explain if Viv will have its own personality, or if it will be baked into Samsung's S Voice app, which is already on its phones. Samsung wants to ensure its devices can compete with the voice-activated personal assistants available on products from Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon.
A handful of big tech companies have formed a partnership with the goal of keeping people informed about the development of artificial intelligence. Many people already use technology that is aided by AI, and that number will only continue to grow. The group includes Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM, and Microsoft, each of which has its own AI tech (such as Alexa, Watson, and Cortana). The primary aim of the Partnership on AI will be to educate the public about the uses of artificial intelligence and calm any fears that AI will take over our lives. The secondary goal will be to ensure that all companies developing AI are using best practices formed by non-business experts such as philosophers and ethicists. Founding members of the coalition are expected to contribute financial and research resources that will be shared among all members. The group has mandated that the board be equally split between corporate members and non-corporate members. "AI technologies hold tremendous potential to improve many aspects of life, ranging from healthcare, education, and manufacturing to home automation and transportation," said the Partnership in a statement. "Through rigorous research, the development of best practices, and an open and transparent dialogue, [we] hope to maximize this potential and ensure it benefits as many people as possible."
Microsoft today released a new version of Skype for iOS 10 devices that includes support for Siri. Skype users can now initiate Skype calls by asking Siri to connect them. In order for the tool to work well, Skype suggests users save Skype contact information directly to the native contacts app — something that's now possible in the new version of Skype. This should make it easier to start Skype audio/video calls, as well as Skype IM chats, without requiring people to first open the Skype app. Last, Skype for iPhones and iPads makes use of Apple's CallKit, so incoming and outgoing calls now rely on the native iOS phone application. Skype 6.25 for iOS 10 devices is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Microsoft today updated its Outlook email and calendar app for Android and iOS devices. The refreshed communications and scheduling tool offers a number of new features aimed at the calendar. For example, Outlook now offers design elements borrowed from Sunrise (a calendar app acquired by Microsoft.) The Outlook calendar will show things like coffee cup and bike emoji when people schedule coffee meetings or bike rides. Moreover, Outlook will autocomplete addresses when filling in meeting locations, as well as allow users to tap the time/date on the calendar to create events with those details filled in automatically. Meeting participants will be notified automatically if the organizer adjusts meeting start/end times, and users can create Skype for Business meetings directly from their phone. Last, Outlook will allow people to discover and subscribe to interesting calendars, such as sporting events, holidays, and more. Microsoft's Outlook email and calendar app for iOS and Android is free to download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.
Microsoft's Word Flow keyboard now features a search tool for finding GIFs, images, and emojis. The search functionality also allows iPhone owners to find contacts and look up restaurants. Microsoft says the app includes more predictions, including GIFs, that show up as users type. Word Flow now makes it possible to control the cursor placement with 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. The app gains some accuracy improvements, particularly when in one-handed mode, and support for the iOS text replacement function. Last, Word Flow has even more themes that people can use to customize their keyboard. Word Flow from Microsoft is free to download from the iTunes App Store.