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.