Microsoft’s Google Now competitor Cortana coming to Android in June, plus tight integration with Windows (Video)

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Reuters reported back in March that Microsoft planned to bring its Google Now competitor Cortana to Android, and Microsoft has now officially confirmed this in a blog post.

Today, we’re announcing a Cortana application for Android phones and for iPhones which works as a companion to Cortana on your Windows 10 PC. The ‘Phone Companion’ app on the PC will help you install the Cortana app from the Google Play or Apple App Store onto your phone so you’ll be able to take the intelligence of Cortana with you, wherever you go […]

The Cortana companion will be available for Android phones at the end of June and for iPhones later this year.

While Microsoft is pitching the intelligent assistant as a companion to a Windows PC, it appears that most of the functionality will work in the Android app without the need for a Windows device, Microsoft saying that you can “make the same queries, ask the same questions” in the standalone app …  Read more

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

Android called ‘unbeatable’ as it trumps iOS with 84% global market share in third quarter

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The latest numbers from Strategy Analytics reveal that Android was installed on over 8 of 10 smartphones worldwide in the third quarter, as the mobile operating system captured 84% global market share for the three-month period ending September. That figure arrives just one day after the research firm reported that Chinese company Xiaomi has become the third-largest smartphone maker in the world.

Android continued to be a dominant player in global smartphone operating system market share, increasing its lead over iOS by three percentage points compared to the year-ago quarter. Apple’s mobile operating system held 12.3% market share during the third quarter, trailed by Windows Phone (3.3%) and BlackBerry (0.7%). Other mobile platforms accounted for less than 0.1% market share. Read more

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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HERE offline map app arrives on Android for the first time, initially on Samsung Galaxy phones only

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HERE, the competitor to Google Maps initially available only on Windows Phone, has arrived on Android for the first time. Initially, the beta version of the Android app will be limited to Samsung Galaxy smartphones.

The main claim to fame of the app is that it offers the ability to download entire regions or countries for offline use, in contrast to Google Maps which only allows you to cache areas you have viewed while online. HERE maps currently cover around 200 countries, though turn-by-turn directions are so far limited to about half of these …  Read more

Android picks up five points from iOS in the enterprise market, reaches 32 percent market share

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The latest enterprise market share data from Good Technology shows that Android gained five points from iOS, hitting almost a third of the market at 32 percent while iOS fell from 72 to 67 percent. Windows Phone remains flat (and irrelevant) at just 1 percent. (BlackBerry data is not included as the company uses its own servers and activations are invisible to Good Technology.)

What’s particularly impressive about the numbers is that Good’s technology mostly connects mobile devices to Exchange servers and organizations that use Google services for enterprise, which are more likely to Android, aren’t being counted here…

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Amazon’s unlimited ebook and audiobook subscription service finally goes live in the U.S., try it free

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Amazon’s worst kept secret, an all-you-can-read Kindle eBook service, is now live. Dubbed Kindle Unlimited, this $10 per month subscription service grants its members unlimited access to over 600,000 ebooks and thousands of audiobooks. Highlights of the library include:

The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, Water for Elephants, Oh Myyy! – There Goes The Internet, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People… plus thousands of classics such as Animal Farm, To the Lighthouse and 2001: A Space Odyssey…

Kindle Unlimited members will also get free access to Audible’s library of over 150,000 audiobooks for 3-months. After which, you’ll presumably need to pay the standard rate of $14.95 per month.

Anyone in the U.S. can try Kindle Unlimited for free for 30 days by signing up for a free trial. All of this content is available on Android, iOS, Windows phone, and of course all Kindle hardware.

Full press release follows:

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Microsoft appears to be blocking Google as default search option on select Lumia devices

 

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Microsoft is reportedly blocking Google as a search engine option on some of Nokia’s new Lumia handsets. Windows Phone devices ship with Bing as their default search engine without an option to change platforms. Prior to Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s phone making division, the Finnish company provided users with an option to change a Lumia’s search engine via its web browser, but this appears to be gone from some devices.

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How many apps do you use a month? Study shows the average is 26 [Poll]

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Nielsen study (via TechCrunchreveals that while we all spend much longer using mobile apps than we did two years ago, and we may have many more apps installed on our phones, the average number of apps we actually interact with in any given month hasn’t changed nearly as much.

While time spent using mobile apps climbed from 18h 18m in 2011 to 30h 15m by the end of last year, the total number of apps actually used only increased from 23.3 to 26.8. So we’re spending more time using pretty much the same number of apps …  Read more

Android shows significant growth in last three months, led by success of Moto G and LG G2

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Kantar Worldpanel has released its latest report on smartphone marketshare for the last three months. Android share is up significantly compared to a year ago, with Kantar calling out two devices in particular for their contributions to this increase: the Moto G and the LG G2.

In the US, Kantar says that Android has a 55% share of smartphone OS sales share, up from 51.1% in February 2013, an increase of 3.9 percentage points. This compares favourably to iOS’ performance, which fell 4.9 points year-on-year to a 38.7% share. Incidentally, Windows Phone was the only other platform to grow in the US, rising from 4.1% in 2013 to 5.3%.

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