Microsoft to invest in Cyanogen—which hopes to take Android away from Google

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Update: A previous version of this article stated that Microsoft was investing $70 million, but it seems more likely that the company is only part of that total number. It’s not known how much Microsoft is investing. Feel free to read WSJ’s ambiguous wording below…

The Wall Street Journal reports today that Microsoft plans to take part in a $70 million investment round in Cyanogen, a company that was once just a group of modders working on a variant of Android. Now, Cyanogen has bigger ambitions. “We’re going to take Android away from Google,” said on the record recently by Kirt McMaster, Cyanogen’s CEO.

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Microsoft launches preview of revamped Outlook mail app based on Acompli for Android (Video)

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Microsoft announced today a new app for its Outlook email service on Android. The app [Google Play, Free] is based on the Acompli software that the company purchased in December for $200 million. The app includes “email triage” features found in the old app as well as new features to help appeal to a wider audience, such as the ability to toggle threaded conversation views.

The Outlook Android app will also support mail from third-party services beyond Microsoft’s. Gmail, iCloud, and Yahoo email accounts can be plugged into the app, and attachments can be added to messages from cloud services like Google Drive and Dropox. Check out the video below …

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Opinion: Can Google woo businesses while seemingly suffering from ‘Product ADD’?

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Two of the biggest tech companies in the world–Google and Apple–couldn’t be more different in their philosophies. Apple has always believed in doing a very few things very well, famously saying no to a thousand things for every time it says yes. Google, in contrast, has tried to do– well, almost everything, including things well in the realms of science fiction.

Steve Jobs and Larry Page spoke about this difference shortly before Jobs died, with the Apple co-founder urging Page to “figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up.” Jobs expressed the view that, without focus, Google was in danger of turning into the next Microsoft, creating a large number of ok products but none of them with any wow factor …  Read more

Google changes its mind and signs student privacy pledge, says reaffirms existing promises

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Google has changed its mind and signed the student privacy pledge endorsed by President Obama last week, reports the WSJ. The pledge commits companies not to sell student data or use targeted ads on education products.

A total of 75 companies signed the pledge last week, including other tech giants like Apple and Microsoft, but Google declined, saying that it already had these commitments in place. Google’s change of heart may have been influenced by Obama’s statement that he would ensure parents were aware of companies that had not signed-up …  Read more

Microsoft officially kills its sleazy Scroogled ad campaign website

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Microsoft’s sleazy and highly publicized Scroogled ad campaign has been its primary marketing effort against Google for two years now, but it appears that the program is finally dead. Speculation began to arise last year that Microsoft was slowly killing the controversial ad campaign after corporate restructuring.

Today, Winbeta noticed that the Scroogled website is no longer live, and instead redirects to a new “Why Microsoft” page. The Scroogled page had been live up until very recently, but without much publicity from Microsoft. The death of the Scroogled webpage also comes with no comment from Microsoft, who appears to want to act like it never happened in the first place.

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Microsoft releases suite of MSN apps for Android, including News, Sports, and more

Microsoft released an entire suite of MSN apps for Android today, which includes MSN News, Money, Health & Fitness, Food & Drink, and Sports, and Weather.

The Health and Fitness app allows users to track their diet and fitness goals, keep track of health-related news, view an interactive map of the human body. The Food and Drink app will include videos and articles on cooking from top culinary sources. It also provides a shopping list feature and wine guide.

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Microsoft’s ‘Bing Torque’ Android Wear voice assistant now works on your phone

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A couple of months ago, Microsoft released a Bing-powered voice assistant app called Torque, and now the same app—which was previously only for Android Wear devices—can be activated at any time on your Android phone itself. The app works very similarly to Google’s own “OK Google” offering, but with a twist. Literally, you twist your wrist to activate the assistant rather than using your voice. But beyond that activation gesture, the app offers much the same information as OK Google, like weather updates, sports scores, information about nearby restaurants, stock prices, and more.

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Nokia announces N1 tablet, an Android-powered iPad mini clone launching first in China

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Nokia has today announced its first new product since selling its devices and services division to Microsoft, the Nokia N1 tablet – a device bearing more than a passing resemblance to Apple’s iPad mini 3.

Aimed initially at the Chinese market, the $249 Android-powered tablet has decent specs, with a 2048×1536 resolution display, a 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 CPU, 2GB RAM, 32GB storage, 8MP main camera and 5MP front-facing camera. It’s also one of the first devices to support the new reversible USB-C connector. Impressively, the company has managed to make it both slimmer and lighter than the iPad 3 it resembles.

But perhaps more interesting than the hardware is the software …  Read more

Microsoft outs upcoming fitness ‘Band’ with premature Android and Mac app releases

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Microsoft hasn’t officially announced its wearable device, but it seems the company has accidentally published its desktop syncing client to the Mac App Store early. Whoops. The device is called the Microsoft Band (possibly Lumia Band, according to some currently non-functional support URLs).

The Microsoft privacy policy for the app lists some of the Band’s features: “Microsoft Band sensors help you keep track of things like your heart rate, steps, calories burned, and sleep.” Links in the document claiming to lead to a page with additional data, such as a list of sensors, currently lead to a 404 page.

Other key feature include the ability to get phone notifications on the Band, create reminders using Cortana, and more:

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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.

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 Android app in action below:

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