Microsoft launches three Android apps (!)

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How about this for some unexpected news? Despite having Windows Phone to attend to, Microsoft has dipped its toe into Android waters by launching three new Android apps – including one which will give your phone a new lock screen.

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The apps come out of “Microsoft Garage”, which seems to be a “skunk works” type thing – with developers given more freedom to make interesting stuff. Here’s what they’ve come up with:

Next Lock Screen

This is a new lockscreen for Android, that will apparently show you not just notifications but what you’re doing next: So if someone calls and you miss it, it’ll be listed here – as will incoming emails and your next calendar appointment.

Perhaps most interestingly, it lets you have different custom views for different contexts. So you can have one set of apps display when you’re at home, and a different set when you’re in the office – and it should be able to figure out where your are by GPS. Brilliant – so you can have quick access to Netflix when lounging on the sofa, but be a touch away from LinkedIn when sat at your desk.

Journeys and Notes

This is a bit of a weird one – the premise is that if you’re on a journey, you put where you’re going from and to, and it’ll figure out how you’re getting there – and then show you reviews and comments from other people who have made the same trip.

One the developers explained that “Here in Seattle, people complain about public transit on Reddit or on Facebook, but there‚Äôs no place for commuters to come together”. So if you like having a moan about public transport, this could be the app for you.

Torque

Finally, if you’ve got an Android Wear smartwatch, it must be annoying for Microsoft as you’ll be using all of Google’s stuff – rather than Bing. So it has come up with “Torque”, which does voice search by flipping up on your watch screen – no need to say “OK Google”. It sounds like it works nearly the same as Google Now, but using Bing instead.

James O’Malley

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