Microsoft on Android: here are the coolest, unique, and useful Microsoft apps that are out right now
Microsoft has been fighting for a steady ground on the mobile market for quite a while now with its own operating system — one that we've known as Windows Phone, then Windows Mobile, and now, just Windows 10. While handsets touting the Microsoft logo do have a number of devout fans who enjoy the unique approach to the user experience and the integration with Windows on their PCs, Microsoft still has a pretty small piece of the smartphone market pie – around 3%.
Interestingly, instead of using its resources to create platform-exclusive software, which may attract or lock customers in to using Windows phones over its competitors, Microsoft has instead put some effort towards publishing a lot of its apps for Android and iOS, providing its services to all users. And since Android has a more open nature, it also tends to get some cool and unique apps, especially in the form of lock screens or home screens. We dug up 10 of these that have mostly launched in the past year. Check them out below, they are all free, and they are certainly worth keeping on one's phone!
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This is an amazing timelapsing app, specifically made for moving footage. If you want to share a hike, drive, or any timelapsing video, which has the camera moving around, Hyperlapse will definitely do a stellar job. It employs some heavy algorithms to detect landscape and smooth out movement, so shakes and disturbances are basically neutralized, making for a very smooth, pleasurable clip. Definitely check it out, if only to see it in action.
This app will let you do a search (via Bing) or do some calculations without leaving whatever you are currently doing on your smartphone. Just shake the device and a small Bing window will appear, waiting for your voice command on what it should do. The app is also available for Android Wear, allowing you to start a search with a simple flick of the wrist (as opposed to having to say OK, Google before uttering your search query).
An amazing app for sharing photos with friends around the table. Instead of having to pass your smartphone around, just choose which pictures you want to show everyone and send your friends a request. The recipients don't need to have the app – they will receive a web link for the gallery. Then, when everyone is in, just start browsing through the photos. When you slide to a new one, the recipients' devices will also slide over in sync, letting you tell your story without worrying whether everyone is looking at the same photo or not. Also available for iOS.
A mixture of a traveler's companion and a social network. It allows you to “drop notes” wherever you go – be it along your daily route to work, a road-trip, a hike, etc. You can either read others' notes, or leave tips for other travellers, reminding them to not miss a view, warning them of a threat, or just dropping a fun message to put a smile on somebody's face. Basically – it aims to reduce the boring hours of travelling from point A to point B by connecting you with anonymous people, who have gone the very same route before you.
Having trouble waking up? Always hitting the snooze button until you oversleep for work / school? This is an alarm clock that'll require you to make a specific grimace before shutting it up. So, if you have a bit of trouble getting out of bed in the morning – you may want to give this one a spin! Trying to put the right face on is definitely an infuriating exercise early in the morning and one will find it hard to go back to sleep after it.
Arrow looks like a mix of concepts, taken from Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. It's a pretty simplistic launcher that will analyze your app usage, and give you a single homescreen with your most often-launched apps. On the pages next to it, we get quick access to our recent contacts, notes and reminders, recent app actions, and a screen dedicated solely to widgets. It has an app dock in the bottom, which expands to show a second row of apps and quick toggles. A very straightforward, simple, yet useful launcher for the no-nonsense folk out there!
This lock screen will give you a single great photo a day – in the same way that Windows 10's lock / standby screen does. However, it doesn't stop there — the app will give you quick access to actionable notifications, a second screen for news stream, a Bing search bar that also gives you access to all your contacts and apps, and a pull-down bar that contains system toggles and your favorite apps.
If you want even more functionality from your lock screen, check out Next. It, too, will change its wallpaper on a daily basis, like Picturesque, but will also let you do a lot more without having to unlock your phone. It will display weather forecast and detailed actionable notifications as soon as you light up your screen. On the bottom, there's an app dock, which can be extended to show two rows of apps. These can either be customized by the user, or let Next decide which ones to put in there. If the latter is chosen, the dock will auto-change the apps based on your current location (work / home). Next Lock Screen also features a power saving feature of its own, since some of its functions may drain a bit of juice.
We can't go without some of the classic productivity apps here. Microsoft Remote Desktop does exactly what the name suggests – it lets you control a PC straight from your smartphone. Great for server management, helping out someone with their PC troubles, or just checking up on your own machine whenever you are away. There are plenty of remote desktop apps out there, but it's certainly more appealing to work with the app created by the same company that actually made Windows, right?
According to latest stats, this is currently the most popular Microsoft app on Android. It lets you take a picture of a whiteboard / document / anything with text on it and trim and pan it in a way that turns it into an easily readable digital document. Exporting to PDF, Word, or PowerPoint is supported, and OneDrive and OneNote services are integrated into the app for quick sharing across multiple devices.
As you can see, Microsoft's portfolio on the Play Store is certainly growing. If you want to be able to check out what's new and what's hot from Microsoft, you can download this app. It will show you all currently available offerings, either by category, what's new, or popularity.