Microsoft Garage launches two Android apps for your lock screen and travels

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Today, Microsoft Garage was introduced as an “after-hours idea factory” for company employees to work on their own projects. Microsoft started the day by launching Bing Torque for Android Wear. Now, two apps for phones are available in the Play Store. One is a lock screen replacement and the other is a social app for traveling.

Microsoft wants to be front and center on your Android phone with Next Lock Screen. The app is all about launching apps as quickly as possible. It displays things like your calendar, missed calls, emails, messages, and more. There is a swipe-to-dial feature that allows conference seamlessly. So it seems that people looking for productivity will find Next Lock Screen more useful. A nice touch for Next Lock Screen is that the background is dynamic and changes throughout the day and based on location.

Hit the break for more.


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Microsoft wants you to use Bing Torque instead of saying “OK Google” on your Android Wear smartwatch

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I’m not sure what’s going on at Microsoft these days. First, Microsoft Research released a pretty much useless keyboard for Android Wear smartwatches, and now, Microsoft Garage has just released Bing Torque.

Bing Torque replaces the need to speak “OK Google” each time you want to ask a question. With Bing Torque, you can just twist your wrist and then say your question. If you’re reading between the lines here, it’s not just the “OK Google” command that’s being replaced here. Yup, you guessed it. Next time you want to find out how tall President Obama is, you will be asking Bing. Microsoft is saying that it’s like having Cortana running on your smartwatch. However, it might not work for commands like, “Set a timer” or “Send a text to _____.”

The app works well on the LG G Watch, LG G Watch R, and Samsung Gear Live, but not so well on the Moto 360. If Bing is your thing, then by all means, hit the break and check out the screenshots and download this app today.


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Teenagers use voice commands most often and really want to order pizza

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Teenagers use voice commands a lot and they really want to order pizza. That is just some of what Google found from its Mobile Voice Study. Google looked at 1,400 smartphone users and how they use voice commands from Google Search, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana. Teenagers (ages 13-18) use voice commands every day while adults are more inclined to “feel tech savvy” because of it.

Here are some notes from the Mobile Voice Study:

  • 55% of teenagers in the United States use voice commands every day
  • 45% of adults feel geeky when using voice commands
  • 89% of teenagers and 85% of adults believe that voice commands will be “very common” in the future
  • 22% of teenagers use voice commands in the bathroom
  • 45% of teenagers selected “send me pizza” when told to “pick one thing you wish you could ask your phone to do for you”
  • Northeasterners are the most active group to use voice commands — 50% use it at least once per day


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Skype launches new video messaging app called Skype Qik

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Do you remember video streaming service called Qik? Well Skype acquired them a few years ago and closed down the app, but it’s back in a new format. It’s called Skype Qik, and it’s all about video messaging. Basically, it’s just like texting, but with video instead.

You can set up a group of friends and quickly and easily send short videos. If you ever want to delete a video, you can, but the app will automatically delete content after two weeks.


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New Microsoft Xim app lets groups view photos together

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Microsoft has released a new app, Microsoft Xim, that combines a couple different features for users to enjoy photos as a group experience. Similar to features found on some Android platforms, one person can share a photo on their device to the screen of other users in a group in real time. The benefit of this is that users do not have to try to huddle around a single screen to look at a photo. Microsoft built the app so that only the person sharing an image needs Xim while all others can view the image using a browser. When done with a session, Xim pulls a Snapchat type move and deletes the image after a short period so no storage is consumed.
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Microsoft takes aim at Chromecast with new Wireless Display Adapter

 

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There are many media streaming devices out there, but few compare to Chromecast because of simplicity and price. Microsoft, though, believes it can compete with its new Wireless Display Adapter. The device uses Miracast technology to work with devices running Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1, or Android 4.2 and higher. With the Wireless Display Adapter, content from devices can be sent over to a bigger display. It operates with an HMDI and USB port.

Hit the break for a video introducing the Wireless Display Adapter.


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Microsoft offers 30GB to OneDrive users that use auto upload feature

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Just in time for the launch of the new iPhone, Microsoft is doubling the amount of free cloud storage. OneDrive, which typically offers 15GB of free cloud storage, will give users of any platform 30GB to enjoy. The promotion runs through the rest of September and all it requires is for the auto upload feature to be activated. After Microsoft adds the extra 15GB to your account, you can disable it without losing anything.

Hit the break for download links.


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Microsoft’s new Universal Mobile Keyboard works with both Android and iOS

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Looking for a new Bluetooth keyboard for your Android tablet? You might want to consider the Universal Mobile Keyboard from Microsoft. That’s right you read that right….Microsoft. This one not only works with Windows, but it also works with Android and iOS too.

It might seem weird that Microsoft would offer a keyboard that works with Android, but if you think about the fact that they are pushing Office 365, it isn’t all that surprising. If you plan on using Office 365, you will need a keyboard if you want to be productive, and Microsoft figured they might as well join the party.


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