Category: Microsoft

SwiftKey Update Brings Improved Swipe Typing Suggestions

SwiftKey, one of the more popular keyboard apps for Android, has received a sizable update that brings improved Flow typing predictions to your phone.  The Microsoft owned SwiftKey will now give you three predictions as you type or use Flow, the swiping across the keyboard to spell words.  As you type, the center word is highlighted and will be automatically inserted as you begin typing the next word.  If, however, that word is not correct, you can tap the left or right word next to it for it to be inserted.  Previously it would only insert whatever word it though you were typing which caused users to have to backspace to type in the correct word.

Along with new predictive typing model, this update also fixes a big where the brackets in right-t0-left languages are no longer flipped incorrectly and has added four keypress sound profiles to the

Swiftkey for Android

SwiftKey for Android

app.  If you want to have sound with keypresses, you can now choose from Modern, Android, Traditional or Blip.  Previously only Traditional was available.

 

While Google’s GBoard has been getting the lion share of attention these past few months, rightfully so, SwiftKey has been doing a lot of what GBoard does for a long time.  It also has some 250 million users globally which shows its stamina.  If you haven’t tried it out, it is free and available in the Play Store.

Microsoft Officially Brings Tablet Support in Arrow Launcher

Last month I told you about the latest beta of Microsoft’s Arrow Launcher bringing support for Android tablets.  That support is now official.  The latest update to the popular launcher is rolling out in the Play Store now and with it comes support for tablets along with a handful of other updates & tweaks.  The support of tablets is something that long time Arrow users have requested of Microsoft as it gives a uniform experience across their devices.

Along with with, Arrow Launcher also supports horizontal layout for your apps page from the app drawer.  This is primarily aimed at tablets and it is an option that needs to be enabled.  The backup & restore feature also has more backup options available.  It still backs everything up to OneDrive but you can now have it save things like SMS messages too.

Microsoft Arrow Launcher on a Nexus 9

Microsoft Arrow Launcher on a Nexus 9

The utility page, something that was introduced in the last update to the app, can also be configured in this new release.  You can show it or hide it as well as chose if you want the card to be transparent or white.  For those who may have tried Arrow Launcher in the past, the utility page is now where you find things like your recent contacts, your recent documents and other information.  These all use to be separate pages in the launcher so having them all in once place makes life a bit easier.

If you have Arrow Launcher installed on your phone, you should get the update to the latest build over the course of the next few days.  Unless you are in the beta, you will need to go to the Play Store to install it on your tablet.

Bing Update Brings Improved Local Travel Results

Microsoft has begun rolling out a nice update to their Bing search app for Android.  The update brings improvements around the travel results for places to go and the best time to go to those places.  This is very similar to Google search which has a bar graph that shows you when a location is busiest.  Along with the improved time suggestions, the app also gives you tips and guides and one-tap directions to the location from your current location.

While those of you who use Google search may give a shrug of the shoulders at this being added to Bing but for those who depend on the Microsoft

Bing Local Travel Results

Bing Local Travel Results

search solution, this is certainly good news.  Bing has continued to make solid strides in the search space over the past two years and while it is certainly behind Google in overall usage, those who are deeply tied in to the Microsoft ecosystem continue to leverage it for their search needs.

In addition to the new location information, this update also gives warning about malicious websites and has a homepage gallery filer.  This feature allows you to filter and find your favorite Bing homepage images.  If you haven’t checked out the daily images from the site, you are missing a treat.  Some of them are spectacular.

If you have the app installed then you can expect the update to hit your phone over the course of the next few days.

OneNote Update Brings Better Link Handling Within Notes

Microsoft has rolled out a nice update to OneNote for Android today that greatly improves the handling of hyperlinks within your Notes.  The new update is in the 16.0.7 train (actual build numbers will vary by device) and once you have it, you will be able to open, edit or remove a link within a note.  If you tap to open the link, you will be taking to your default browser.  Previously, in the mobile apps, links could be copied and then pasted into your browser but opening them directly from OneNote wasn’t an option.

The improvement should increase productivity for users of the app, especially for those who share notes with others.

Microsoft Groove Music App Gets A Healthy Update

Microsoft has rolled out a sizable update to the Microsoft Groove app, their music streaming and subscription service.  The update brings a lot of changes to the app that frankly, catches it up to other services that are out there.  This update is rolling out now so if you have the app installed, expect the OTA today or tomorrow.

The biggest new edition is that you can explore relevant artists, albums and songs for a particular genre.  This not only allows you to see your favorite artists but also expose you to some that you may not have heard of before.  It is a great way to discover new artists in your favorite kind of music.

Microsoft Teams App Update Brings Single Sign-On for Office 365

Microsoft has rolled out an update to the Microsoft Teams app that has a lot of new features and improvements for organizations who use it for collaboration.  The update’s biggest improvement is Single Sign-On (SSO) so that users of Office 365 will be able to sign in easier to Teams if they are already signed into other apps on their phone.

OneNote files can now also be shared in Teams.  If a OneNote file is being shared, it can be viewed in conversations.  Previously OneNote files couldn’t be viewed in Teams.

Microsoft Office 365 Apps for Android Updated With New Features

Microsoft has pushed an update out to the Android version of Excel, Word and PowerPoint to the Play Store.  The updated Office 365 apps brings new features to each app that continue the company’s drive to have feature parity between the desktop and the mobile screen.  For Excel, the big new feature is the ability to open a file that contains form controls.  Form controls, as the name suggests, are when you have a form embedded into a spreadsheet.  This previously could only be opened on the desktop.

For PowerPoint, a likely more useful addition than the form controls in Excel for most of us.  Now in PowerPoint on Android you can send a single slide to someone.  Previously you had to send the entire presentation and couldn’t send an individual slide.  Again, this is something you could do on the desktop and online version of PowerPoint but now can do it on your phone or tablet.

Microsoft Cortana Could Soon Have Lock Screen Access on Android

A new beta of Microsoft Cortana, the personal assistant AI from the Redmond company, is out for Android and with it comes a pretty nice new feature.  In the beta, you can allow Cortana to have access to your Lock Screen.  Why is that a big deal?  You could ask Cortana for information without having to actually unlock your phone.  It appears to function in nearly an identical way to Google Assistant in the Google Pixel Launcher or the Google Now Launcher.

Cortana, the AI character from the Halo series, is perhaps the most forgotten of the AI assistance out there, behind Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant.  But it is a solid performer and is integrated into Windows 10 and in Windows 10 Phone.

Outlook for Android Update Brings Mentions to Emails

Microsoft has pushed a new update out to Outlook for Android users.  The update should be hitting users in the next few days and when it does, you will find a new Mentions features.  The new feature allows you to mention people or call attention to things in your email by using the @ sign in your email.  When you use @ in your email, you will get a pop-up of your frequently used contacts or you can dive into your contacts list (personal or corporate if on Office 365).  This makes it just a couple of taps away from adding a person to an email you are sending.

Microsoft Arrow Launcher Gains Customizable Icons in Latest Update

Microsoft has once again pushed out another big update to their Android launcher app, Arrow Launcher.  The update is in the Play Store now and has a number of improvements and new features.  In fact, there are three big features that users of the launcher will likely enjoy immediately.  First is the ability to customize the icon and name of individual apps.  All you have to do is long press the icon and it will pop-up a menu that gives you these options.

Next is an all new backup and restore feature.  This gives you the option to save your app layout and settings and restore them if you need to reinstall the launcher.  This is a huge win as you no longer have to recreate your home screen layout if you delete and reinstall the app.  This is something many other launchers do so it is great to see Microsoft bring the feature to Arrow Launcher too.

Microsoft StaffHub Launched to Help Businesses Manage Employees

After spending the last three months in preview, Microsoft has pulled back the covers and launched Microsoft StaffHub for Android, iOS and on the web.  The service and app is aimed at providing a centralized place for managers and staff to handle schedules, send out information and connect with other workforce management tools that are in the market.  With it being across multiple platforms and on mobile devices, Microsoft is aiming to have staff management be easier regardless of where you are – work, home or at play.

Scheduling can be done by managers and allows works to see who is working when and for how long.  This is particularly important for businesses with shift workers.  Managers can also enable the ability for workers to trade shifts with other employees should a personal conflict arise.  This is all done within the app and can be pre-approved by the manager when the feature is enabled.

Microsoft’s Next Lock Screen Update Brings Battery Life Improvements

Microsoft has pushed an update out to their Android lock screen app, Next Lock Screen.  The new 3.11 version brings much improved battery performance so all users of the app are encouraged to upgrade.  If you aren’t familiar with the app, it is designed to give you more information on your lock screen than the standard lock screen found on Android devices.  Sure it can give you things like notifications and weather, but it gives so much more.  You can for example text friends who have texted you right from the lock screen or have your favorite apps one-tap away.  It will also allow you to do searches via Bing right from the lock screen.  The idea is to give you quick information or access to key apps without having to go through the unlocking process.