Windows Phone is the smartphone platform and OS from Microsoft. Like Google does with Android, Microsoft only makes the software, allowing various hardware manufacturers to make the phones that run Windows Phone. Windows Phone replaced the older Windows Mobile (Professional and Standard editions.) Windows Phone competes directly with iOS and Android, offering most of the same OS features.
PayPal today said it will sunset its Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and Amazon Fire Phone apps on June 30. After that date, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and Fire Phone users will not be able to login to or use the Paypal mobile app. PayPay says these users will be able to sign in to PayPal.com via the browser of their device and conduct transactions online. PayPal further said all Android and iOS users of its mobile app need to upgrade to version 6.0 between June 3 and June 30. Version 6.0 of the PayPal mobile app has a fresh design. PayPal said it gave more prominent placement to features its customers use most, such as send and request money, PayPal balance, and transaction history. PayPal is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Microsoft today said it plans to further streamline its smartphone business, an action that includes job cuts and restructuring charges. The company plans to cut 1,350 jobs from its facilities in Finland, as well as another 500 jobs globally. The company expects to take a charge of about $950 million, of which $200 million will be used for severance packages. "We are focusing our phone efforts where we have differentiation — with enterprises that value security, manageability, and our Continuum capability, and consumers who value the same," said Satya Nadella, Microsoft's CEO. "We will continue to innovate across devices and on our cloud services across all mobile platforms." Microsoft says it expects to complete most job cuts by the end of this year and all cuts by July 2017. Sales of Windows 10 Mobile phones began in late 2015, but the platform has lost more ground since then, accounting for just 1% of smartphone sales during the first quarter, according to Gartner. Microsoft recently sold its feature phone business to a Foxconn subsidiary, and Nokia recently gave that same subsidiary the rights to use its brand on mobile devices. This paves the way for Nokia to make a return, of sorts, to the mobile phone business.
Google today said its Chrome operating system will soon have access to the Google Play Store and the Android apps therein. ChromeOS will support all Android phone and tablet apps, including games, productivity apps, and social networking. Android apps can run in three different window sizes in ChromeOS and users will be able to move the windows around and multitask as needed. Keyboard, mouse, and touch input will all work together within Android apps, and Android-based notifications will be pushed to Chromebooks as well as phones. Moreover, users will be able share files seamlessly between Chrome and Android devices through a new Files app. Google says developers can add admin-level network support to their Android apps for Chrome so businesses and schools can control options such as Bluetooth and WiFi. Android games should run very well on Chromebooks, according to Google. Google Play for Chrome will be available to developers on the Asus Chromebook Flip, Acer Chromebook R 11, and the Chromebook Pixel with a wider launch expected later this year. Google says it will add support for Android apps to more Chromebooks over time. ChromeOS is Google's light-weight, browser-based operating system that runs on inexpensive laptops.
Microsoft has decided to remove the WiFi Sense feature from all versions of Windows 10, including mobile devices and PCs. The feature was pulled from the most recent preview build of Windows 10 for PCs; it will be pulled from phones, too. WiFi Sense allowed people to share their WiFi logins with social network connections, as well as connect to public WiFi networks with less hassle. "The cost of updating the code to keep this feature working combined with low usage and low demand made this not worth further investment," explained Microsoft. Microsoft said people who leave WiFi Sense running on their phones will still be able to connect to open WiFi hotspots that are already in Microsoft's shared database. Microsoft recently released a new preview build of Windows 10 for handsets. Build 14332 mostly targets bugs and makes refinements to the user interface of select apps. The next preview build for phones will likely strip out WiFi Sense.
Facebook today announced three new apps for the Windows 10 platform, including a proper Instagram app for phones, and dedicated Facebook and Messenger apps for desktops. The Instagram app for Windows 10 Mobile includes features that have long been available only to the Android and iOS apps, including Instagram Direct, videos, the Explore tab, and more. Further, the Live Tile for Instagram now shows photo updates on the home screen. Instagram for Windows 10 Mobile will reach the Windows Store later today. Facebook said it plans to port the new Facebook and Messenger Windows 10 desktop apps to smartphones later this year.
Microsoft recently added the Acer Liquid M330, a low-cost handset running Windows 10 Mobile, to its U.S. web store. The M330 includes a 4.5-inch screen with 854 by 480 resolution and is powered by a Snapdragon 210 processor with 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, and support for 64 GB memory cards. The phone has two 5-megapixel cameras. The rear-facing camera includes autofocus and a flash, while the front-facing camera is fixed focus. It includes a standard batch of radios, such as Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi, and limited LTE support including bands 2, 4, 7, and 12. This makes it somewhat compatible with the 4G networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile. The M330 supports two SIM cards. The phone is available directly from Microsoft for $99.99 It is sold unlocked.
Microsoft is looking to clear inventory of the Lumia 950 XL and Lumia 950 smartphones, which means consumers can buy one at full price and get the second one for free. The deal is available via Microsoft's U.S. web store. Specifically, people who purchase the 950 XL at $649 will receive a Lumia 950, valued at $549, for free. Both devices are being sold unlocked with support for GSM carriers, such as AT&T and T-Mobile. The promotion is available while supplies last through May 2. Microsoft reported shipments of about 2.3 million Lumia phones in its most recent financial documents, which represents a steep drop from the 8.6 million it shipped in the year-ago period. The company admitted it is sitting on a lot of excess inventory of its flagship Windows 10 Mobile devices. Moreover, the company expects "year over year revenue declines to deepen as we work through our Lumia channel position." Cricket Wireless is expected to launch Microsoft's mid-range model, the Lumia 650, early next month. Microsoft has recently pushed a significant update to its Windows 10 Mobile platform and updated core apps such as email, Groove Music, and the Edge browser.
Cricket Wireless today announced plans to sell the Microsoft Lumia 650. The prepaid carrier will offer the phone beginning May 6 for $130. The phone runs Windows 10 Mobile and features a metal-frame design with a 5-inch HD OLED display, 8-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and removable battery. Cricket says people who switch from another carrier will be eligible for a $50 bill credit. T-Mobile customers who switch to Cricket will be eligible for a $100 bill credit. Cricket's prepaid plans start at $40 per month.
WhatsApp today updated its service with full end-to-end encryption. Now, the latest version of the app protects calls, messages, photos, videos, files, and voice messages by default. Users don't need to take any action to enable it. Encryption applies to messages sent to individuals and groups. The company says no one but the recipient(s) will be able to read the messages. WhatsApp itself cannot see message contents. The update covers all versions of WhatsApp, including the Android, iOS, and Windows apps. WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, says more than one billion people use the app to communicate. The change follows the widely publicized FBI case against Apple, which ordered the company to unlock an iPhone. Apple refused, but the FBI was able to unlock the device using another method. WhatsApp says the government will not be able to read WhatsApp messages.
Microsoft has made the Lumia 650 available for purchase from its U.S. web site. The phone runs Windows 10 Mobile and features a metal-frame design with a 5-inch HD OLED display, 8-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and removable battery. Microsoft is selling the phone unlocked for $199. It is compatible with the networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile.
Microsoft is giving Skype a boost of intelligence thanks to Cortana and Skype Bots. With Cortana integration, Skype users will be able to do things such as manage their calendar and contacts without leaving the Skype app. Cortana will also be able to interact with bots, which Microsoft said will allow people to perform tasks such as book hotels and order pizza by conversing with the app itself. Bots are available in preview form within the messaging part of Skype, but will eventually be added to audio and video calling, too. A new version of Skype for Android, iOS, and Windows enables the bots. Companies will be able to create their own bots for Skype via Microsoft's developer program. People will be able to add the bots they want to their contact list. Microsoft revealed the bots are part of its larger vision for voice-activated computing.
Microsoft today charted a new course for its Skype platform as realized on mobile devices, tablets, laptops, and PCs. Late last year, Microsoft announced its intent to offer a universal app for PCs and tablets, with separate apps targeting Windows 10 smartphones. After digesting feedback over the last few months, Microsoft has had a change of heart and will offer a universal app for all platforms. This will let people invested in the Windows ecosystem enjoy the same experience across different form factors. However, the company still intends to offer the separate mobile apps for calling, messaging, and video because it says phone users often prefer task-based apps. Microsoft will release the universal Skype app for Windows 10 PCs soon, with a version for phones to follow later.
Microsoft has made a new build of Windows 10 available to mobile phones and PCs alike. Build 14291 makes significant changes to several important features. First, the Edge browser now supports extensions. Though this feature is limited to PCs, it makes the browser more competitive with Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari. The Edge browser also makes it possible to pin tabs within the app to anchor specific web pages, and adds more options when copying and pasting URLs. This Windows 10 update also heralds big improvements to the Windows Maps app for handsets and PCs. Maps is now more consistent between phones and PCs, and has a lightweight user interface. Some of the features added to Maps include one-tap access to search and directions, Cortana turn-by-turn directions, and quick access to cities rendered in 3D. Microsoft says the new Maps lets users view multiple searches and directions at the same time, minimize search results and directions during navigation, and see labels more clearly. Turn-by-turn navigation is easier to understand at a glance, and now supports landscape orientation. There are a number of other changes to the platform, such as a revised alarm clock app, support for various Japanese text entry modes, and the addition of the Feedback Hub for Windows Insiders to share their thoughts about Windows 10. This build is available to Windows Insiders in the Fast Ring for the Lumia 550, 650, 950, 950 XL, Xiaomi Mi4, and Alcatel OneTouch Fierce XL. Microsoft says these devices are on deck for more previews in the weeks ahead.
Microsoft has begun making Windows 10 Mobile available to older smartphones running Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft first expected to release the platform in November or December of last year, but pushed the update to the first quarter. The new operating system is available to the Lumia 430, 435, 532, 535, 540, 635, 640, 640 XL, 730/735, 830, 930, and 1520. Owners of these phones must first download the Upgrade Advisor app from the Windows Store and accept the terms and conditions of the upgrade. Once this proactive step is taken, the phone is prepared for Windows 10 and Microsoft will deliver it as an over-the-air update. Microsoft hasn't said if handsets other than this initial batch will be able to install Windows 10 Mobile. There are some significant omissions, such as the Lumia 520, 920, 1020, 1320, HTC One M8 for Windows, and the Lumia Icon. The refreshed platform makes improvements to Cortana and Office, and puts the mobile experience in line with Windows 10 desktop machines.
Twitter for Microsoft's Windows 10 platform has been given a significant update, putting it more in line with the apps available to Android and iOS devices. For example, Twitter now includes the Moments tab for summaries of current events and support for inserting GIFs into tweets. It also adds muting and group chat. As a universal app, these features are available to Windows 10 phones, tablets, and PCs. Twitter is free to download from the Windows Store
Here Maps today said it is dropping support for Windows 10 and Windows Phone. The company plans to pull all Here-branded mobile apps from the Windows Store by March 29, as the apps will cease working on handsets by June 30. "We made the Here apps compatible with Windows 10 by using a workaround that will no longer be effective after June 30," explained Here's Pino Bonetti in a blog post. "To continue offering the Here apps for Windows 10 would require us to redevelop the apps from the ground up, a scenario that led to the business decision to remove our apps from the Windows 10 store." This means Here Maps will no longer be available to Windows 10-based smartphones, tablets, and PCs; instead, Here says Windows 10 devices will need to use the Microsoft Maps product. Microsoft Maps relies on Here's mapping data, but doesn't have the robust feature set of the Here Maps apps. Phones running Windows Phone 8/8.1 will still be able to use Here Maps on their devices, but Here will limit any future updates to critical bug fixes. Here Maps, Nokia's former mapping division, is now owned by a consortium of German auto makers including Audi, BMW, and Daimler. The consortium plans to focus efforts on other platforms, including Android and iOS.
Microsoft has improved the browser-based version of Skype with new several tools. To start, users can now call mobile phones and landlines from the web, including international numbers (Skype credit required). The web client also gains the ability to view YouTube videos directly in message threads, rather than force users to open a separate window. YouTube support includes standard playback controls, such as volume and play/pause. Skype for web makes it easier to invite non-Skype users to join conversations with an improved sharing tool, and new notifications mean web users won't miss incoming messages or calls when signed in. Skype for the web is free to use and is compatible with mobile Skype apps, such as those for Android, iOS, and Windows machines.
Microsoft today made Windows 10 Techincal Preview Build 14283 available to Windows Insiders in the fast ring. This build of Windows 10 Mobile makes changes to several core communications apps, including the phone and Outlook Mail. In the phone, for example, Microsoft added missed call and voicemail waiting indicators to the tabs to make spotting them easier. Outlook Mail now allows users to turn off the message preview text in the message list, which adds a bit of privacy. Users can also more swiftly dump junk from their inbox. Outlook's calendar tool can now be used to send alerts, such as "I'll be late" to other meeting attendees. Microsoft is preparing to merge the Windows Feedback app and Insiders Hub into the Feedback Hub to streamline user feedback tools. Build 14283 also resolves a lot of bugs. This Windows 10 Mobile Techincal Preview is available to the Lumia 950, 950 XL, 650, and 550.
Microsoft today expanded Skype's calling and messaging functions to the online versions of Office and OneDrive. People will be able to initiate Skype conversations when using the web-based Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and OneDrive apps. Microsoft imagines the feature will be useful for people who need to collaborate on files in real time. Microsoft recently gave these same tools to the mobile versions of Office and OneDrive. Skype, Office, and OneDrive are free for Android, iOS, and Windows, but some Office functions require a subscription to Office 365.
Microsoft today released Windows 10 Mobile build 10586.122 to Windows Insiders in the Slow and Release Preview rings. Microsoft made the same build available to Fast Ring Insiders last week. It mostly fixes bugs.
Deezer today made a new beta app available to Windows devices. The universal app works on Windows 10 for smartphones, tablets, and PCs and, says Deezer, delivers a more seamless experience across form factors. The app looks and functions the same no matter which device the subscriber uses, and includes a new design with revised content pages, tab bar, and My Music folder. Most importantly, as people use the new Deezer app on one device, changes are reflected across other devices the user may have so they always have access to the same music and settings. The new Deezer universal app for Windows 10 is available to both Premium+ and free users.
WhatsApp plans to cease supporting a handful of older mobile operating systems by the end of the year. WhatsApp will stop working on devices running Android 2.1 and 2.2; all BlackBerry OSes, including BlackBerry 10; Nokia's S40 and Symbian S60 platforms; and Windows Phone 7.1. "While these mobile devices have been an important part of our story, they don't offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app's features in the future," explained WhatsApp in a blog post. WhatsApp suggests people relying on devices that run this operating systems upgrade to newer hardware if they wish to continue using WhatsApp. Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 for $16 billion. Facebook says WhatsApp has more than 1 billion users worldwide.
Microsoft today provided an update on the tools it offers to developers and said it has canceled plans the Windows Bridge for Android (project Astoria). The Bridge was meant to help Android developers re-use their code and port their apps to Windows. Microsoft released the Windows Bridge for iOS last summer and keep that Bridge up and running based on the positive feedback it has received from developers. Microsoft also announced that it has purchased a company called Xamarin. Xamarin offers tools to developers so they can build mobile apps using C# and deliver native mobile apps to all major devices, including iOS, Android, and Windows. The Xamarin acquisition will help make up for, in part, the loss of the Windows Bridge for Android, as it lets developers use .NET and C# along with a full set of APIs for each platform. Microsoft believes it now has a more robust set of tools for developers to use to write apps not only for the Universal Windows Program, but also for Android and iOS.
Microsoft today is making a fresh build of Windows 10 available to both PCs and phones at the same time. Build 14267.1004 for phones is nearly identical to the build Microsoft released last week, but resolves two important bugs. For example, it fixed an issue that prevented the Lumia 550 from charging, and returned the "history" function to the People app. The build also introduces one new feature: visual voicemail for dual-SIM devices. Windows 10 Build 14267.1004 is available to Windows Insiders in the Fast Ring. Microsoft will push the build to devices in the Slow Ring later.
Microsoft announced the Lumia 650 ahead of Mobile World Congress and we had a chance to take a look at it on-site here in Barcelona. This mid-range Windows 10 handset is far more impressive than the entry-level Lumia 550, and almost outshines the high-end Lumias 950 and 950 XL. Here's why.
HP is jumping back into phones at a completely unexpected time. HP made quite a few iPAQ Windows smartphones back in the day (2004-2009, to be precise.) Then they bought Palm and infamously drove that into the ground. (RIP, webOS.) But now HP is jumping back into the fray with yet another Windows smartphone: the Elite x3 with Windows 10. This huge 6-inch phablet sets itself apart with not only Windows 10 with Continuum, but the ability to run old-school x86 Windows apps (not just Windows Universal apps like the Lumias.) It also has serious security features. In other words, this is a phone aimed squarely at serious enterprise customers. We checked it out. Read on for our first impressions.
HP today announced the Elite x3, a Windows 10 Mobile handset that can take advantage of Continuum to stand in as a laptop or desktop computer. It is a ruggedized handset that meets mil-spec 810G for protection against abuse and IP67 for protection from water and dust. It is compatible with a 12-inch screen/keyboard accessory to serve as a laptop, or can plug into a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to serve as a full desktop. The Elite x3 is a phablet boasting a 5.96-inch quad HD screen with Gorilla Glass 4. The phone is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 processor (2.15 GHz octa-core) with an Adreno 530 GPU and support for Quick Charge 3.0 for rapid charging. The Elite x3 boasts a 16-megapixel main camera at f/2.0 and an 8-megapixel user-facing camera. It runs Microsoft's mobile operating system complete with Office and built-in security tools for business users. Other hardware features include 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, and support for external memory cards; full suite of wireless radios, including LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi; as well as a built-in 4,150mAh battery that supports wireless charging. HP didn't say when the Elite x3 will go on sale, nor what it and its accessories may cost.
Microsoft today announced the availability of Windows 10 Mobile technical preview build 14267. This marks the first release of Windows 10 Mobile from the main development branch this year, putting Windows 10 Mobile on par with Windows 10 for PCs and tablets. This release is initially being made available only to the Lumia 950, 950 XL, 550, and Xiaomi Mi4 — all devices that shipped with Windows 10 Mobile preinstalled. This build makes it easier to search for music using Cortana, allows the WordFlow keyboard to function in the Edge browser address bar, makes InPrivate Tabs simpler to open from mobile phones, and improves download prompts within the browser. Microsoft says there are some known bugs in this build, including one that impacts voicemail. Build 14267 is being distributed to Windows Insiders in the Fast Ring, and will be pushed to other users over time.
Apple is making it easier to buy new iPhones by expanding the selection of phones it will accept as trade-ins. The new program is called Trade Up With Installments and lets people hand over an old phone when buying a new iPhone. Apple will apply the credit of the old phone toward the cost of a new phone and break up the payments for the new iPhone over a 24-month period. Apple will give $100 in credit for an iPhone 4 or 4s, $200 for an iPhone 5, 5s, or 5c, $300 for an iPhone 6, or $350 for an iPhone 6s, depending on the condition of the the trade. Apple will give between $100 and $300 in credit for Android and Windows handsets that are traded in. The 24-month financing plan includes Apple Care+ ($129). People interested in upgrading need to visit Apple Stores to earn credit toward a new iPhone. Trade Up With Installments kicks off today.
Cat Phones today announced the S60 smartphone, a fully rugged handset that is the first to include a thermal camera. The thermal camera allows the S60 to see and take pictures of heat signatures at a range of 50 to 100 feet. Cat says the camera can be used to view heat loss around windows/doors, see over-heating electrical appliance, and see in the dark. The S60 is also more waterproof than most other rugged handsets. It can sit in five meters of water for up to an hour. The S60 has a 4.7-inch HD screen with Gorilla Glass 4, wet finger tracking, and glove support. The phone has a large 3800mAh battery and is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 617 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The Cat S60 has a 13-megapixel main camera and 5-megapixel front camera, and an extra loud speaker. The phone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Cat expects to ship the S60 later this year for $599.
Line today said it plans to close its MixRadio streaming music service. MixRadio was initially developed by Nokia for Windows Phone, sold to Microsoft, and later sold to Line. Line later released MixRadio to the Android and iOS platforms. Line says the music service simply isn't viable. Line's core product is a mobile messaging service. "After a careful assessment of the subsidiary's overall performance, the financial challenges posed by the music streaming market, and priorities of Line, Line has determined that future growth would be difficult to ensure and decided to discontinue the MixRadio music streaming service," said the company in a blog post. The company, which focuses its efforts in is Asia, had hoped the music service would help it expand. Moving forward, Line will remain focused on Asia.
Microsoft today announced the Lumia 650, a $199 Windows 10 handset that bridges the gap between the entry-level Lumia 550 and the pricer Lumia 950 / 950 XL. The Lumia 650 boasts an aluminum frame, slim profile, and high-quality glass. The phone has a 5-inch 720p AMOLED panel with ClearBlack technology and wide viewing angles. The phone is powered by a quad-core, 1.3 GHz Snapdragon 212 processor with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The Lumia 650 includes an 8-megapixel main camera and 5-megapixel wide-angle front camera for enhanced selfies. Both lenses have an aperture of f/2.2. The main camera has an LED flash, but video capture is limited to 720p HD. The Windows 10 platform includes Microsoft Office, OneDrive, OneNote, Cortana, and business-grade security features, as well as Xbox compatibility. The Lumia 650 packs Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, and WiFi. The published spec sheet suggests LTE support is limited to bands 1, 3, 7, 8, and 20, meaning it isn't necessarily compatible with US networks. Microsoft's web site does, however, link to a user manual for a Cricket-branded version of the Lumia 650. Microsoft expects to ship the Lumia 650 to select European markets beginning February 18 for about $199.
Instagram today said users will soon see how many views their video posts receive. Instagram says it is adding this data because view counts are "the most widely expected form of feedback on video." The view count will appear where previously the app showed the number of likes. Likes will still be visible by tapping the view count. Instagram said the feature is rolling out slowly over the next few weeks to its Android, iOS, and Windows Phone mobile apps. Vine, which is owned by Twitter, already displays view counts for user videos. Instagram says more video-focused features are on deck for later this year.
Microsoft today released a new technical preview of Windows 10 Mobile for Windows Insiders. Build 10586.107 is a cumulative update and only makes some bug fixes and performance improvements. Microsoft called out adjustments to missing Start screen tiles, narrator behavior, and the reset experience. Microsoft also noted it will release technical previews in three stages moving forward, rather than two. Before today, it offered updates first to Windows Insiders in the Fast Ring followed by Insiders in the Slow Ring. Now, it has added the Release Preview ring, which Microsoft says is "best for Insiders who enjoy getting early access to updates for the Current Branch, Microsoft applications, and drivers, with minimal risk to their devices." The latest preview will hit the Lumia 950 and 950 XL first. Microsoft is still working to bring Windows 10 to existing Windows 8.1 handsets, which it was expected to do late last year.
T-Mobile has made the Alcatel OneTouch Fierce XL with Windows 10 available from its web site. The phone, announced earlier this year, has a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen, a 1.1GHz quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor, an 8-megapixel main camera with flash, and a 2-megapixel front camera. The Fierce XL supports LTE 4G along with VoLTE, HD voice, and WiFi calling. T-Mobile is selling the phone for $139.99 or 24 payments of $5.84. T-Mobile hasn't indicated yet if the Fierce XL with Windows is available in stores. T-Mobile also sells an Android variant of the Fierce XL.
VAIO has unveiled a smartphone running Microsoft's Windows 10 platform for its home market of Japan. The VAIO Phone Biz is a stylish handset with aluminum unibody construction and mid-range specifications. It includes a 5.5-inch full HD screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, 16 GB of storage, 3 GB of RAM, and a 2800mAh battery. The Phone Biz offers a 13-megapixel main camera and 5-megapixel selfie camera. It can run Microsoft's Continuum software, which allows it to act like a full Windows 10 PC when hooked up to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. VAIO will sell the phone in Japan for approximately $424 beginning in April. VAIO is Sony's former PC business, which it spun off several years ago. The VAIO Phone Biz won't be sold in the U.S., but is notable due to its design and the fact that it is the first VAIO-branded Windows smartphone. The VAIO Phone Biz isn't as capable on a spec basis as Microsoft's own Lumia 950 and 950 XL phones, but it is more stylish and less expensive.
Microsoft today said it has acquired SwiftKey, a company that develops software keyboards for Android and iOS devices. SwiftKey has strong word prediction capabilities, and is often able to suggest not only the word being typed, but what word might come next. Microsoft said SwiftKey's technology aligns with its own vision of "personal computing experiences that anticipate our needs versus responding to our commands." Microsoft also finds SwiftKey's use of artificial intelligence and prediction interesting. SwiftKey employees will be added to Microsoft's roster, where they will continue their work and enhance Microsoft's own Word Flow software keyboard for Windows. Microsoft said the SwiftKey app will continue to be available to Android and iOS devices. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Microsoft today released technical preview build 10586.71 for Windows 10 Mobile Insiders. The new platform build mostly fixes bugs, such as performance and stability, SD card detection, Edge browser PDF rendering, Bluetooth, Groove Music, and power usage. The fresh build also includes the small Configuration Update that Microsoft released last week. Microsoft hopes users will test the build and provide feedback.
Microsoft today released a new technical preview of Windows 10 for PCs, but not for mobile devices. The company hasn't provided an update to Windows 10 Mobile in some time, so it took the opportunity to reassure consumers that new bits are on the way. Microsoft said it is "still on track to release Windows 10 as an upgrade to existing devices early this year as we planned." (The update was originally supposed to arrive in December.) Microsoft said it is fine-tuning the code based on feedback from Windows Insiders who've installed preview builds, and it continues to make good progress. The company will share more details as soon as it knows when the rollout to older phones will take place. More to the point, Microsoft says it is working to unify the Windows OneCore across PCs, smartphones, Xbox, and its HoloLens platform. "Our build systems produce new builds daily for all of these editions, so as we've been doing this work we have been producing new PC builds as well as mobile builds. Today we deliver our 4th PC preview build, and are nearly ready to start sharing new preview builds for mobile as well," explained Microsoft. The new preview builds will be made available to the 950, 950XL, and 550 first, followed by other Windows 10 devices down the road.
Microsoft today said it is adding new features to Cortana that will help people better manage their schedules. To start, Cortana will be more proactive with respect to reminders. Microsoft says people often make promises or commitments to one another via email, but then fail to follow through for various reasons (most often forgetfulness). Using tools from Microsoft Research, Cortana is able to scan email messages for promises/commitments and then automatically add reminders to help people keep track of those commitments. Microsoft also took steps to improve Cortana's ability to help manage calendar appointments. Microsoft says Cortana is able to see individuals' unique work styles, such as when they generally like to take meetings. Now, when meeting requests arrive that fall outside of preferred meeting windows, Cortana will send alerts so the recipient can take the appropriate action, whether it be to reschedule the request or set an alarm. Cortana's new powers will reach Windows Insiders on Windows 10 PCs first and expand to others Windows 10 devices and users over time.