Microsoft airs Cortana vs. Siri ad showing contextually-aware tasks

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 28, 2014

Microsoft on Monday shared a new television commercial which the company first showed off at its annual conference back in April to rally up developers who were concerned that the software giant was losing its mojo.

The 30-second video depicts a showdown between Cortana, Microsoft’s own digital personal assistant baked into Windows Phone 8.1, and Apple’s Siri.

Microsoft’s assistant is shown completing a number of contextually-aware tasks using a plethora of services and data sources… Read More

 

Microsoft’s OneDrive for iOS now supports AirDrop, adaptive video streaming and more

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 23, 2014

Having more than doubled free OneDrive tier from seven to fifteen gigabytes of cloud storage, Microsoft today rolled out an update to its free OneDrive client for iPhone and iPad.

In addition to the inevitable bug fixes and performance improvements, OneDrive now lets you share files via Apple’s AirDrop technology and includes HLS support which lets it adapt to your available bandwidth when video-streaming… Read More

 

Microsoft starts rolling out increased OneDrive storage today

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 16, 2014

A little over three weeks ago, Microsoft announced a forthcoming increase to OneDrive storage tiers, promising to more than double free 7GB accounts to as much as fifteen gigabytes of free cloud storage.

The Redmond company additionally promised a brand new 1TB tier for the consumer Office 365 accounts and up to seventy percent cheaper monthly subscriptions. Today, Microsoft has delivered on that promise.

That’s right, your OneDrive just got bigger… Read More

 

Skype refresh brings back voice messaging and contact profiles

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 7, 2014

Having unceremoniously removed voice messaging from the recently remastered Skype 5.0 for iPhone, the Microsoft-owned VoIP provider on Monday pushed a minor update that has brought the useful feature back while adding two others.

The new Skype 5.2 for iPhone is rolling out this morning. In addition to voice messaging, the refreshed Skype app has also brought back the ability to access contact profiles while allowing you to add participants to the existing conversation at any time… Read More

 

Microsoft reportedly building iOS-compatible fitness band

By Cody Lee on Jul 2, 2014

Like Apple and several others, Microsoft is said to be working on a smartwatch that it plans to introduce later this year. There have been multiple reports on the project, including one from Forbes in May that described the wearable as a Samsung Gear Fit-like fitness band.

Tonight, Windows blogger Paul Thurott offered up some new details on Microsoft’s wearable ambitions, reaffirming that the device will indeed be a wristband with a focus on sensors and fitness. He also notes that the gadget will be compatible with both Android and iOS… Read More

 

Microsoft now encrypts your OneDrive connections and Outlook emails

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 1, 2014

Microsoft’s OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) is great if you need to store your files in the cloud and sync them between devices seamlessly. And with the recently introduced 15GB free tier, OneDrive has become even more competitive compared to Dropbox and its pedestrian 2GB free tier.

Also, Microsoft’s web-based email – which went through several rebranding efforts and is currently known as Outlook.com – has its loyal following.

Those who’ve been concerned about general security of their emails and OneDrive files needn’t worry as Microsoft now employs end-to-end encryption on both services to prevent eavesdropping as data travels between servers… Read More

 

Microsoft updates OneDrive with camera backups in the background and more

By Christian Zibreg on Jun 25, 2014

The free OneDrive app for the iPhone and iPad (formerly SkyDrive) has just gotten a lot better with features like photo backups in the background and other perks that allow you to do more from your phone.

And thanks to proper support for Microsoft’s mobile Office apps, getting your photos and videos into OneDrive to import them into your Office projects on the iPhone and iPad is a trivial affair now.

That’s the gist of a blog post Microsoft somewhat hastily put together today to counter a Google Drive app update and a plethora of announcements that have been coming out of Google I/O since this morning… Read More

 

Microsoft will give you $650 to trade in your MacBook Air for a Surface Pro 3

By Joe Rossignol on Jun 23, 2014

Microsoft has kickstarted an aggressive sales promotion for the all-new Surface Pro 3, offering customers that trade in select MacBook Air models up to $650 towards the purchase of the tablet. In order to be eligible for the store credit, the MacBook Air must be in working order with no cracked screen or water damage. The trade-in value is then determined in store based on the condition of the notebook, alongside any documentation and accessories. Not valid online.

In order to get the maximum discount possible, the store credit must be used towards the purchase of a new Surface Pro 3. The third-generation Surface Pro tablet has a thinner and lighter build than its predecessors, with a 12-inch display that has a resolution of 2160 × 1440 pixels and 3:2 aspect ratio. The device is said to the thinnest ever to have a desktop-class Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor…  Read More

 

Microsoft unfathomably removes voice message feature from remastered Skype for iPhone

By Christian Zibreg on Jun 23, 2014

If you’ve updated to Microsoft’s five times faster Skype 5.0 for iPhone featuring a Windows Phone style interface revamp, you can no longer use the software’s free voice message feature.

And rubbing salt into the wound further, a Skype community manager advised folks who need the feature to use another mobile platform.

Not only is this a huge blunder, the removal of voice messaging is inconveniencing customers with a dedicated Skype Out number… Read More

 

Microsoft announces 15 GB free OneDrive storage, lower prices on monthly storage

By Joe Rossignol on Jun 23, 2014

Microsoft on Monday announced that it is bolstering its OneDrive storage plans for both free and paid users. OneDrive will now include 15 GB of free storage, more than double the previous 7 GB limit, and all versions of Office 365 will come with 1 TB of storage. Microsoft previously rolled out 1 TB of cloud storage for business customers in April.

The Redmond-based company also announced that it is taking over 70% off the cost of its monthly subscription storage options, dropping its 100 GB tier to $1.99 per month (previously $7.49) and 200 GB tier to $3.99 (previously $11.49). The aggressive new pricing tiers makes OneDrive a much more competitive offering alongside iCloud, Google Drive and Dropbox…

Read More

 

Microsoft mulls porting Cortana assistant to iOS

By Christian Zibreg on Jun 13, 2014

Microsoft has wont to arrive late to parties: following Siri’s introduction nearly three years ago, Redmond in April of this year has finally gotten around to unveiling a personal assistant of its own, Cortana, at the Build Developer Conference in San Francisco.

Originally conceived as a Windows Phone 8.1 exclusive, the Windows giant is now reportedly considering bringing the virtual assistant to rival platforms, namely to iOS and Android.

Let me get this straight. Beats updates Android appMicrosoft launches Office for iPad before even releasing a touch-optimized version for Windows 8 tablet. Apple reportedly mulling iTunes for Android

What a difference a few years make, eh? Read More

 

Skype 5.0 for iPhone is back in the App Store

By Christian Zibreg on Jun 12, 2014

The wait is over as Skype 5.0 for iPhone has finally started to roll out to international App Stores this morning. Microsoft previewed the remastered Skype for iPhone with a brand new design earlier this week and unleashed the updated software upon the App Store the following day.

But something was amiss as Skype 5.0 went live in the Canadian App Store only, with some international users briefly spotting the update before it disappeared quickly.

As of this morning, the VoIP application appeared to propagate through the App Stores around the world so go ahead, update your copy of Skype and let us know how you like its new Windows Phone-style swipable interface… Read More

 

Xbox One SmartGlass app is now your universal remote for TV and cable boxes

By Christian Zibreg on Jun 4, 2014

Microsoft’s Xbox One companion app, SmartGlass, has been bumped to version 2.5 earlier today, bringing out a handful of new features that improve your living room experience and interactions with the console itself.

Most importantly, the app now features a remote control functionality similar to Apple’s free Remote software. But as Microsoft’s console lets you hook up a cable or satellite box to it, you can now basically channel surf from across the room using your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.

The update is now live in the App Store and I have a full list of features for your right after the break… Read More

 

Forbes details Microsoft’s rumored iOS-compatible smartwatch

By Christian Zibreg on May 30, 2014

After taking on both Apple’s iPad tablet and the ultra-portable MacBook Air notebook with the recently announced Surface Pro 3, the Windows giant Microsoft appears ready to challenge Cupertino on wearables.

Yes, I know Apple has yet to reveal its cards concerning the long-rumored iWatch project, but an exclusive report by Forbes has it that Microsoft is betting heavily on a smartwatch of its own.

In line with the software giant’s One Microsoft mantra and its renewed commitment to make its software and services available under every major platform, the gadget will reportedly sync with the iPhone and iPad, as well as with Android and Windows Phone devices… Read More

 

Microsoft demos real-time voice translation feature for Skype

By Cody Lee on May 28, 2014

Last night at Recode’s inaugural Code Conference, Microsoft announced a new real-time voice translation feature for its Skype VoIP service. The company says it’s currently in beta form, but it plans to eventually roll it out to all devices.

The goal of the feature is to allow users to hold a conversation with someone speaking a foreign language, with Skype providing near-instant voice translations for both parties. And judging by the initial demonstration, it works fairly well… Read More

 

Microsoft announces Surface Pro 3 to take on MacBook Air with thinner, lighter build

By Jake Smith on May 20, 2014

Microsoft has announced the Surface Pro 3 at a media event in New York City on Tuesday, setting its sights on not only Apple’s iPad, but the MacBook Air as well.

The Surface Pro 3 busts past the 10.1-inch norm to a 12-inch display with a 2160 x 1440 resolution. It’s not a 16:9 aspect ratio, but rather a more comfortable 3:2 aspect ratio with a HD screen – a first for Microsoft’s Surface line. But the thinness and lightness is where Microsoft is hoping to sell you.  Read More

 

Microsoft’s Nokia Lumia 630 ad shows how to do a smartphone switch with a football

By Christian Zibreg on May 16, 2014

Microsoft-owned Nokia earlier this week announced its first Windows Phone 8.1 handset, the Lumia 630, with sales starting in Asia this week, followed by Europe and the United States.

In promoting the low-to-mid-range smartphone, Microsoft and Nokia put together a commercial sporting Finnish goalkeeper and Trick Shot master Lassi Hurskainen who shows how to do a smartphone switch with a football.

And some of the handsets flying out of people’s hands seemingly resemble a certain iconic smartphone from a certain California company. Have a look at the video included after the break and meet us in comments… Read More

 

Microsoft announces Office for iPad has surpassed 27 million downloads

By Cody Lee on May 12, 2014

Microsoft announced today that downloads for its newly-released Office for iPad suite have surpassed another major milestone. The company’s Julia White told a crowd at its TechEd conference in Houston this morning that the software has been download over 27 million times, more than double the figure shared a month ago… Read More

 

Microsoft schedules Surface press event to unveil iPad mini competitor

By Jake Smith on May 5, 2014

Microsoft has sent invitations to members of the media for an event on May 20 where it’s expected to unveil a smaller version of the Surface tablet.

The Surface branding and “join us for a small gathering” tagline hint smaller hardware will be the main attraction at the event. The tablet is expected to be called the Surface Mini, and could help fill a gap in Microsoft’s tablet line-up to help it go after both the iPad Air and iPad mini after more than a year of sluggish tablet sales. Read More

 

Microsoft Research demos mechanical keyboard that can interpret motion gestures

By Christian Zibreg on Apr 30, 2014

Microsoft’s research and development arm has shown off a novel mechanical keyboard prototype which incorporates elements of natural user interaction such as touch and low-effort motion gestures. The goal is to enhance user interfaces on desktop by allowing for smooth transitions between text entry and gestures.

The system uses an array of proximity sensors embedded in the keyboard itself and is coupled to a software that uses the motion signature technique which utilizes pairs of motion history images and a random forest classifier to robustly recognize a large set of motion gestures.

It works like magic and we have an impressive video right after the break to prove it… Read More

 
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