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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Samsung paid Microsoft $1B in patent royalties last year, but it now wants to void the contract

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Samsung and Microsoft initially inked an Android patent licensing deal back in 2011, but since then, Samsung’s dominance in the smartphone has grown incredibly fast. The South Korean company, according to court documents that become public on Friday, is now saying that it no longer wants to pay the royalties to Microsoft.

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OneDrive for Android updated with All Photos View and new file search features

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Microsoft updated OneDrive for Android today with some new features that change the way users view photos saved to the company’s cloud storage service. Bringing the app up to speed with its counterparts, the software maker added All Photos View to its mobile application, along with some new search features that make it easier for business customers to locate specific files.

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Microsoft, Amazon, others reportedly eyeing Cyanogen for future smartphone software

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CyanogenMod—which is probably the most well-known fork of Android—lets users customize their phone beyond what Google intends, and touts having as many as 12 million active installs across a variety of devices. But the company behind the famed alternative operating system is reportedly getting a lot of attention, notably from companies that would consider themselves some of Google’s biggest rivals.

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