Microsoft’s new Cortana ad mocks Siri for lack of contextual reminders and traffic reports

Microsoft has released yet another Cortana advertisement that mocks Siri for lacking contextual reminders and real-time traffic reports. Microsoft pokes fun at the personal voice assistant by claiming that it “just got bigger,” a sarcastic reference to the larger screen sizes on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Perhaps the Redmond-based company is overlooking all of the new features Siri gained in iOS 8. Read more

Google reaches agreement to settle patent litigation with Apple-backed consortium Rockstar

google

Google, according to a report out of Reuters, has agreed to settle all of its patent litigation with the Rockstar consortium, which consists of a variety of tech companies including Apple, Sony, BlackBerry and Microsoft. The Rockstar consortium paid $4.5 billion for Nortel Network Corporation’s huge patent portfolio in 2011, outbidding Google at the time. The Rockstar consortium originally sued Google and a handful of Android manufacturers in October of 2013, claiming that the companies infringed on seven Nortel patents.

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Xiaomi has competition in the iPad mini cloning business as Nokia announces N1 tablet

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Xiaomi has built its business on copying Apple, so it wasn’t a great surprise when it launched its iPad mini clone, the Mi Pad. It’s slightly more surprising to see post-Microsoft Nokia going down the same route, today launching its N1 tablet which has cloned everything from the curved edges to the speaker grilles at the bottom of the device to the button placement at the top. Even the friggen website looks like it was lifted from the apple.com domain.

The Android-powered N1 is Nokia’s first new product since selling its devices and services division to Microsoft last year …  Read more

Microsoft begins inviting users to Skype for Web beta

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We told you Microsoft released a redesigned version of Skype for the Mac earlier last month, and today Microsoft says the communication software is starting to roll out as a service on the Web. Skype for Web will allow users to chat, video call, and manage contacts from a web browser without having to download the Skype app. Microsoft is currently offering Skype for Web as a beta to select users. Read more

Flashlight alpha app for Mac could show us the future of Spotlight

flashlight

Spotlight, the search tool built into OS X, got a lot smarter in Yosemite – but one developer thinks it could go a whole lot further. He’s developed Flashlight, an app that extends the capabilities of Spotlight to include weather animations and Wolfram Alpha searches.

More interestingly, he’s intending it to act as an unofficial API other developers can use to add functionality to Spotlight …  Read more

Microsoft adding Dropbox integration including syncing and sharing to Office for iOS

Office Dropbox iPad

Microsoft and Dropbox announced a new partnership between the two companies today and a commitment to bring integration between Dropbox and Office apps on iOS and Android. Currently Office users rely on local storage for saving files or Microsoft’s own OneDrive service for saving and syncing files, but the newly announced partnership will allow Office users to use the popular Dropbox service as an additional storage and syncing option and introduce new features between the productivity apps and syncing service. Read more

Microsoft redesigns Outlook for Mac, says new Office coming in 2015

Outlook for Mac 2014

Microsoft has today announced an updated version of its Outlook for Mac software with an updated design and performance improvements. The new version of email, calendar, and contacts app from Microsoft is available through the company’s Office 365 subscription service,  and Microsoft says it offers a more consistent experience with the iPhone and iPad versions.

In addition to releasing the new version of Outlook for Mac, Microsoft has shared that it will ship a new version of Office for Mac in 2015. An overhauled version of Office, which includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote, will be available for Mac users as a public beta in the first half of 2015 while Microsoft is targeting the second half of 2015 for the commercial release. Read more

Microsoft OneNote for iPhone and iPad updated with iOS 8 support, iPhone 6 design, and more

Microsoft has pushed out updates for its OneNote client on both iPhone and iPad, adding support for new features added in iOS 8 and a design that’s optimized for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Users can now password protect sections of documents directly from mobile devices (a feature that used to require a Windows PC). Those with an iPhone 5s or newer will also find that they can now unlock password-protected sections of documents using Touch ID. That feature isn’t mentioned in the iPad change log, so users on the iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3 might need to wait for a future update to enable it.

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Microsoft latest to mimic Snapchat with new Skype Qik ephemeral video messaging app

Microsoft has just joined the ranks of companies looking to capitalize on the success of ephemeral messaging apps like Snapchat. Through its Skype division, the company has launched a new cross-platform app for iOS, Android, and (of course) Windows Phone called Skype Qik. The premise of the application, as can be seen in the video above and screenshots below, is simple: you can record a quick video, and then share it to either one person in your address book or multiple groups of people.

Differentiating itself from some of the other players, the Skype-based solution is video-focused, and Skype is positioning it as a communication tool for in between full-scale Skype video chats. Notably, the whole service is connected to your phone number and existing contacts list, so it doesn’t require signing up with a standard Skype account. If you send a message via Qik to a user without the Qik app, the other person will be sent an SMS text message with instructions for downloading the Qik app to view the video message. This app is based on the technology from startup Qik, which Skype acquired a few years ago.

By default, videos will expire after two weeks, and you can also un-send messages at any time. A cool feature of Skype Qik is the ability to pre-record various 5 second GIFs that you can send as instant replies. So, if you don’t have the ability to send a live video reply, you can just choose one of your pre-record defaults. The app is free today on the aforementioned platforms, and Microsoft says that updates, such as one for blocking iPhone contacts (that feature is available today on Android and Windows Phone), will come often to enhance the feature-set.

You can view some screenshots of the iPhone app in action below:

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Ex-Microsoft exec Ray Ozzie creates messaging iPhone app to ‘revolutionize’ voice calling

Ray Ozzie, who used to be Microsoft’s Chief Technical Officer and Chief Software Architect, has come out with a new app for the iPhone. In an extensive profile, Steven Levy explains the premise behind the app, dubbed Talko. You can read the full overview on Medium. The app has been in development for more than two years.

A new take on phone calls, the app shows if your recipient is currently walking or driving — giving a hint at attentiveness of the speaker before the conversation even begins. It’s a nice use of the Apple M7 and M8 coprocessors. Any voice communication is archived into the growing thread … to organize a conversation like any other modern chat app really. Talko seems best as an app for modern meetings, like a conference call replacement, although Ozzie insists it can be used beyond business.

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Want to install Windows 10 on your Mac? Parallels posts instructions

I keep my Parallels Windows VM around to do stuff like Quickbooks, upgrade Mifi Firmware and occasionally check websites in IE (see our PArallels 10 review here) not to experiment with the latest versions of Redmond’s OS.

But if you want to check out what’s coming down the pike in Windows-land without leaving your trusty Mac, Parallels has an Installation guide for you. First step: if you haven’t already, download Parallels 10 (free Trial)

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