Microsoft plans to bring Google Now competitor Cortana to Android devices, with focus on predictive intelligence

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Microsoft is planning on making the next generation of its voice-recognition system, Cortana, available on Android and iOS devices sometime after the fall, reports Reuters. The focus, says the company, will be on an intelligent assistant that predicts the help you need, rather than simply responding to user requests.

Cortana could tell a mobile phone user when to leave for the airport, days after it read an email and realized the user was planning a flight. It would automatically check flight status, determine where the phone is located using GPS, and checking traffic conditions.

Google has of course long majored on this kind of proactive approach through its Google Now service, which aims to work out what you will want to know when, but Microsoft believes that integrating everything into the digital assistant is the future …  Read more

Google among hundreds of businesses urging US Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage

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Apple, Google, Microsoft and hundreds of other businesses have joined together to urge the US Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage across the country.

The companies have filed what’s known as an amicus brief, a way for parties not directly involved in a case to make an argument for or against a particular decision by the court. The brief argues that there is a sound business case for consistency across the country, explained counsel Susan Baker… Read more

Microsoft launches free Picturesque lock screen replacement for Android devices

Microsoft has launched a new lock screen replacement for Android devices called Picturesque. The app comes from Microsoft’s Garage division, which the company describes as “a 24-hour idea factory.”

Picturesque features a daily wallpaper from the Bing homepage (which you can change by shaking your phone), the ability to search the web and browse the results directly from the lock screen (also powered by Bing, naturally), along with a news feed, weather updates, app notifications, and controls for your camera and phone calls.

The free lock screen replacement is available from Google Play now. You can find the full description and feature set listed below:

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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

Torque Search on Wear or Phone - Android Apps on Google Play 2014-12-05 11-20-25

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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