Journeys and Notes
It is well documented that Microsoft makes a lot of money from Android, arguably more than it does from its own Windows Phone platform. The company achieves that mostly through patent licensing (around $1 billion per year), but Redmond is also looking to make its presence felt on the rival platform with its services.
Microsoft has previously released such services as Bing and Office, but it is now branching into more dedicated apps such as the Universal Mobile Keyboard launched recently. The company is now rolling out three more applications on the Android platform, Next Lock Screen, Journeys and Notes, while Torque is a new app that will land on Google’s smartwatch platform Android Wear. What a difference a few years and dwindling influence in a market makes as Microsoft would never have contemplated this kind of cross platform service in the past. That said, the company made its name and legacy by making Windows available to anyone, so in many ways it is in Microsoft’s DNA to share services to get revenue.
These apps and others like them are made by Microsoft’s Garage division, giving developers the chance to build for other platforms, creating services not necessarily intended for Microsoft powered products. Next Lock Screen is joining a list of thousands of Android lock screen alternatives and is focused on calendar notifications and management. It also comes with an ability to quickly launch apps from within the lock screen interface. Next Lock Screen displays a feed of their calendar events, allowing users to slide to call a number attached to a specific event.
The other smartphone/tablet oriented app from Microsoft is Journeys and Notes, which the company mystically describes as “the space between an origin and a destination.” That sounds like a pretty trippy and awesome thing, but do not get too excited because this is just a travel app. A good one though it seems, so if you are catching a cross country train from New York to Los Angeles, you can input the journey and the app will give you reviews and comments from people who took that trip via the same method.
The final new app is one that is dedicated for the Android Wear smartwatch platform, Torque. This application offers a quick way to access apps and services on the smartwatch. You may be thinking that using Google Now and saying “OK Google” does the job already, but Microsoft thinks even talking it too much, so with Torque you can flick your wrist to open up Bing and then voice search from there. Make no mistake, this is Microsoft looking for an inexpensive and novel way to get Bing worked into Android Wear, because Redmond’s search will default over Google if you use Torque.
iPad Mini 2
Not that the iPad Mini 3 and iPad Air 2 are out in the open some of you may be thinking, “I can now get an older model for a more affordable price” and you would be right. At its launch event in Cupertino today, Apple detailed a slew of price cuts for its remaining iPad range giving the company its first ever coverage over multiple price points.
The iPad Mini range especially has been padded out extensively with Apple taking the unexpected step of keeping the original iPad Mini. That’s the one you may remember that came with no 64-bit processer and no Retina Display, but it is still a very competent slate and now looks very attractive at $249. I should confess that I still think this is the best of the iPad Mini range. The new iPad Mini 3 is almost identical to the iPad Mini 2 save for the inclusion of the Touch ID scanner. However, if you do not want that fingerprint sensor, you can now pick up the 64-bit A7 processer, Retina packing iPad Mini 2 for $299. The iPad Air was seen as a big step forward in the range last year and it has now been reduced to $399, with the new Air 2 costing $499. As always the case with all of these iPads, the 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB versions all cost $100 more through each version, and then a further $100 for each LTE variant.
Desire EYE This article is based on rumor and contains speculation.
I doubted, the tech media community doubted, hell perhaps everyone doubted, but HTC has done the right thing with its upcoming handset. You may remember the One M8 EYE that will be launching next week, a device that was reported to be a variant of the company’s flagship device. As it turns out the EYE is actually an entirely new smartphone that will be a part of its Desire range.
When it was the One M8 EYE, the smartphone felt just a little bit like a rip off because it maintained the look and specs of the flagship, but merely traded the 4MP UltraPixel dual lens for a 13 megapixel dual lens snapper. I argued that this device would be utterly pointless unless HTC delivered something of differentiator or managed to pull a surprise. It turns out the Taiwanese company has done the former. However, there is one more twist in the tale… is this there only one EYE device or will HTC also show off the One M8 EYE too at its press event in New York on October 8th.
The upcoming Desire EYE has leaked courtesy of new leaking scamp @Upleaks and this is an entirely new device in terms of looks. Yes, HTC’s distinct design language is present, but this is an individual look and once again HTC seems to have delivered an aesthetic winner. This will also be one highly spec’d Desire device, a line of handsets that HTC uses for lower end smartphones too. The Desire EYE is rumoured to feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 clocked at 2.3GHz with 2GB of RAM, a 5.2-inch HD display, 32GB of storage, and a removable 2,400mAh battery. Considering the Desire series rarely passes mid-range, I would be surprised if these blazing specs hold true, but I will be waiting to see if HTC delivers the Desire EYE next week.