The personal assistant wars may be getting, well, personal. Microsoft has released a public beta of Cortana, the personal assistant found in Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile, to the Google Play Store for Android users. Cortana is aimed to compete against Google Now for your quick search, information and reminders on your phone just like Now does. For the longest time, Cortana was exclusive to Windows Phone 8.1 and recently made its desktop debut in Windows 10 and both allow you to simply ask your device a question starting with “Hey Cortana” and you can search anything on your PC or the Internet. Sound familiar? It should. If you have used Google Now, you will see the direct competitive nature of this to “OK, Google” that you ask your phone today.
Microsoft’s continued mobile app development on iOS and Android continues seemingly non-stop and today’s release of Microsoft Translator shows they are both serious about it and really good at it. Microsoft Translator allows you via typing or speaking, translate between 50 different languages and it comes with out-of-the-box support for Android Wear, something that is not supported in Google Translate. It also has far smoother audio playing of the translated text than Google Translate, sounding far less “robotic” than Google’s offering. If you are looking for a translation app, this is one to seriously consider. It’s free and in my testing of it today has performed flawlessly.
In the first 24 hours, Windows 10 has landed on over 14 million devices according to Microsoft. That would easily make Windows 10 one of the quickest adopted versions of Windows with reviews of the new flagship OS from Redmond being generally positive. I personally have installed it on both my primary PC and tablet (Toshiba Encore 2) and both have performed flawlessly. Indeed I would suggest the Tablet mode is a massively improved experience over Windows 8.1 for my Toshiba tablet.
Microsoft hosted launch events globally, mostly in their retail outlets here in the United States, and all indications are those were well attended.
Despite being publicly available for about a day and a half, rumors are already floating that Windows 10 will see its first major service pack next week. The news was first broken on The Verge that Service Release 1 is expected in August and likely as soon as next week. This is a far cry from the Service Pack mentality of Windows of old and is likely the path that Microsoft will continue to take as Windows 10 evolves. Like it or not.
Windows 10, the next generation of Windows, has officially launched today in over 190 countries globally. Windows 10 is a free upgrade for those who are running Windows 7 or 8.1 and it brings back the Start Menu which many loathed about Windows 8.1. It also brings an all new browser experience in Microsoft Edge and has Cortana, the voice recognition personal assistant built into it.
Having used Windows 10 for several months, I can tell you that this feels like Windows yet feels completely new. I personally think it is the best Windows release yet and after you upgrade I think you will agree.
Google Docs continues to evolve into a powerful word processing app and the latest update gives users even more ability when it comes to Microsoft Word docs. You have been able to track changes in Word docs being viewed and edited by Google Docs and now you have the ability to reply to comments in those docs, not just read them. This latest update is build 1.4.272.12.35 (gotta love Google’s version numbering system!) and it is for both Android phone and tablet devices.
After spending the past couple of months in a closed beta, Microsoft has release Hyperlapse for all Android users in the Google Play Store today. For those who aren’t familiar with Hyperlapse, it is a simple app that allows you to quickly and easily capture time lapse videos on your phone. Not only do you have a wide range of speeds you can use (2x to 16x normal speed) but the quality of the videos is outstanding.
Last weeks announcements that over 7,000 people were being laid off from Microsoft, mostly in the Nokia acquired mobile division, was the final nail in the Windows Phone coffin. Couple that with the multi-billion dollar write down of the Nokia business and, well, that nail is properly sunk deep in said coffin.
Make no mistake: I love Windows Phone. I have been using a Windows powered mobile device since the Pocket PC days and even before that in the H/PC days. In fact you can still visit one of the last H/PC sites out there, HPC:Factor, a site I helped found. But I left the platform in 2012 because of a lack of apps and direction. I came back in 2014 because it looked like things were turning around.
I was wrong. I’m terribly sad that I was wrong but I was wrong.
Over the course of the last two months you have seen a shift on my site. That shift has been more around Android than Windows Phone. The writing has been on the wall. Windows Phone is dying and Microsoft all but confirmed it was on its death bed last week. Sure there will be a new device or two for enthusiasts and developers but the cutbacks on devices should not be under estimated.
Microsoft flew the white flag last week. The war is over. Apple and Google won.
Microsoft has released a new update to the OneNote for Android app that brings several new and advanced editing features to the note taking app. The update, version 15.0.3931.1008 for those keeping score at home, follows up on the general release of the entire Office for Android Phone yesterday. While a part of the Office suite as a whole, OneNote for Android has been out for Android phone and tablets for some time now and is on a different development cycle. This app is also free and it uses your OneDrive account to store and sync your notes.
After spending the last few months in Preview (Beta) mode, Microsoft has officially launched the Office for Android Phone apps to the general public. The new Excel, PowerPoint and Word apps are now universal apps for both Android tablets & phones and are available for free from the Google Play Store. If you have a device that is under 10.1″ in screen size, they are able to view, create and edit files while those with an Office 365 subscription will have every feature fully enabled.
For those who keep score at home, the Office for Android new versions are builds 16.0.4201.1008.
I’ve been testing the Office for Android apps for the entire Preview period and while there were a few bugs here and there, generally speaking they were all solid on performance and stability. The release today brings some additional features to the apps including support for Google Drive.