Posted by Rob Rich on March 27th, 2014 iPad Only App - Designed for iPad
Today Microsoft has confirmed that Office is on its way to the iPad. In fact, the entire suite (Word, Excel, and Powerpoint) is available now for free, with a subscription service available for full functionality.
Word is in many ways the same word processing program that you’re no doubt already familiar with, only retooled for touch screens. Tables, charts, graphics, a table of contents, and all those other useful features are available on your iPad. Charts and other images that have been imported from Excel can be edited from within the app, and text will dynamically adjust around these items as you drag them around the page. Co-op features are also built in, which will allow multiple users to edit a document simultaneously in real-time across a number of different devices. No worries about things getting too confusing, though. It’s also possible to display markup so that you can see what edits have been made, have conversations with your fellow users within the margins, and so on.
Excel carries over all the familiar features from its PC counterpart, along with the obvious changes for a touch-based interface. You can sort through chart layouts quickly and easily, and the app will even make recommendations for you with samples that use your data. Even the keyboard has been adjusted to cater to iPad users, with a customized numeric keyboard that should make data entry a lot easier.
PowerPoint allows you to import and edit your slides and images, includes all those popular transitional effects everybody seems to love, and has added some new functions that are specific to touch screens. First, you can call up a digital laser pointer by tapping and holding your finger on the screen, in order to make it easier to point out specific elements in a presentation. Second, you can add annotations by drawing highlights directly on the screen.
All of the apps in the Office 365 series also share data across multiple devices (iPhone, iPad, PC, etc) using Microsoft’s OneDrive service. The entire collection is available now, for free, and uses the Office Mobile subscription-based model. So you can opt to pay $9.99/month or $99.99/year (family) or between $60.00/user/year and $180/user/year (business) in order to access the complete list of features across Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Microsoft Office, which debuted on the iPhone in June of last year, is finally expected to come to the iPad next week via Satya Nadella’s first press event as CEO of Microsoft. Members of the media have been receiving invites to this supposedly mobile-first and cloud-first press conference, and according to sources for The Verge the event will mark many major announcements – with Office coming to Apple’s tablet being only one.
The iPad version of Microsoft Office is expected to be much like the iPhone version, and as such will require a subscription to Microsoft’s Office 365 service to be able to edit documents. Document types supported in this mobile version are the same as the iPhone version; you’ll be able to edit within the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps.
We’ll be sure to let you know here at 148Apps when the app is officially announced.
While this post has nothing directly to do with iOS, it is a pretty major story in the mobile world. One you are likely not going to hear the end of soon. Microsoft has just officially unveiled Windows Phone 8, the mobile version of their new Windows ecosystem.
While at first glance it looks like Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8 has matured nicely. The Windows Phone 7 interface, known previously as Metro, has become the basis for all Windows 8 devices, desktop, tablet, and mobile. Which is great for standardized usability, maybe. There are some really good things about Windows Phone 8, and some bad ones. The interface is great, the apps, not so much.
Windows Phone 8 – The Interface
When Joe Belfiore got on stage to introduce the final unknown features of Windows Phone 8, it seemed like a sigh of relief. Microsoft has been teasing this release for what seems like months, but it’s finally here. However, it’s not without some notable issues.
I must point out that the Windows Phone 8 OS interface is perfectly suited for mobile. It is the only mobile OS designed from the start for mobile and it shows that a lot of thought went into the design. In many ways it’s a better interface for mobile than iOS or Android (which just copied iOS). It is focused on getting you the data you need quickly. The strength in iOS is with the apps. But that isolates that data inside the app and requires extra touches to get to it. Windows Phone is designed to surface the data from your apps onto your start screen. It’s just there and it’s really well done.
Some really good new features were presented, like Kid’s Corner, a specially administered interface on your device for when your kids want to play. Deep integration of your social networks is also a huge plus–doubly so on the go. Rooms allow groups of people to share things like photos, calendars, and even group messages.
Windows Phone 8 – The Hardware
Microsoft has announced a range of devices that will run Windows Phone 8. Let’s be honest: they are all pretty good but not amazing. None of them that I tried have the design and feel of the nearly perfect iPhone 5, but they are functional and fairly well done. Some corners were cut with most devices being all plastic, but that also keeps the retail prices down.
Some stand-outs include the Nokia 920, and the HTC 8X. Microsoft handed out HTC 8X devices as the unveiling this week and it’s the device I’ve been using to test Windows Phone 8.
Microsoft asks for a third chance
Here’s the really bad thing about Windows Phone 8, Microsoft is asking for yet another do-over in mobile. They messed it up, failed to build properly for the future, again, and need to start over. That means that the old stuff is deprecated and won’t be upgraded.
So all the years of their rhetoric about Windows Mobile being the operating system of the future? False. Windows Phone 7 is the future? False. Have a Windows Phone 7 device? It’s not upgradeable to Windows Phone 8, just a few short months later. Sorry, Microsoft needs to start over and create something new, so you are left with the short straw. If you have a recent Windows Phone 7 device it can be upgraded to 7.8, a subset of Windows Phone 8, but incompatible with WP8 apps, which is little consolation.
So even while Nokia was spending crazy ad dollars telling users that the “Smartphone beta test is over,” they knew it was just a ruse. It’s unforgivable to me that Nokia was selling devices it knew would not be upgradeable in just a few short months. Imagine if the iPhone 5 were not upgradeable to iOS 7 when that inevitably comes out next year. Oh, the fervor that would raise. But you see, hardly anyone bought Windows Phone 7 devices, so there’s no outrage. There are good things about being on the low end of the list in smartphone production, huh, Nokia?
I think Microsoft should just buy every Windows Phone 7 user a new Windows Phone 8 device. Would be great PR, and probably more effective than some of the ads they will end up running.
The end result of this is that you should be at least a bit concerned that Windows 9 is right around the corner and could easily make any Windows Phone 8 device you buy obsolete and non-upgradeable.
So, that’s a bit off my chest. But now here’s the kicker. I really like Windows Phone 8, I do. I think it’s innovative, pleasing to use, and all around well done. But the sad thing is, I won’t use it regularly, because there are still too few good apps for it.
Right Achilles Heel: Where are the good apps?
While Microsoft touts 120,000 apps for Windows Phone, there’s a real problem with those apps: a huge majority of them are just horrible crap. Most of them are way worse than the crappiest of apps on iOS. Many of the recognizable ones, the ones that Microsoft trumpets as being keystones on the platform, are just way behind compared to their iOS counterparts. Some are designed as feature sub-sets of their iOS versions, but others just haven’t been updated in too long.
The good news is that this lack of good apps should start to be less of an issue. At the Windows Phone 8 event this week Microsoft said they would have 46 of the top 50 apps on Windows Phone. I don’t know where that top 50 came from, but they did announce some good additions, like Pandora, Temple Run, and Angry Birds Space.
Microsoft will spend a ton of cash advertising Windows Phone 8; hopefully it will help. Flurry has already announced a huge uptick in new Windows Phone projects. Hopefully those new apps will be first class citizens, unlike some of the feature-lacking ones available now for Windows Phone.
But that’s not all. There is yet another problem with the Windows Phone app marketplace: device-specific apps.
Left Achilles Heel: Manufacturer Specific Apps
Forget about the Windows Phone 8’s (lack of) upgrade fiasco. Or even that the apps released for Windows Phone are sometimes generations behind other platforms. Here’s another big problem: device-specific app markets.
It seems like every other platform tries to match the iTunes App Store, but none are able to do it. Microsoft has capitulated to the device manufacturers to allow them to place manufacturer-specific app market sections in the main marketplace leading to apps that not all users can get to. Of course, the device marketing wonks have run with it. Releasing apps for specific devices from one manufacturer instead of all devices on the platform is a weak marketing tactic. In the end, it’s the whole of Windows Phone that will suffer for it.
Windows Phone 8 – Where does it fit in?
It’s easy to categorize mobile users. This is a generalization, of course, but Android users tend to be the DIY types and the “I heard there’s something called a smartphone and I want one for free” users. iOS users are the people the like it when their devices “just work.” Those iOS and Android users have already invested time and money into their platform of choice and the apps there. They aren’t likely to switch in large numbers to Windows Phone 8. So who’s left for Microsoft?
Business users, perhaps. Those that work for companies heavily invested in Microsoft technology, maybe. The problem with this is it takes years for companies to upgrade this type of infrastructure.
People who don’t already have a smartphone? These are the best candidates for Windows Phone 8. If you have a Windows 8 computer, it just makes sense to go with Windows Phone 8 if you aren’t invested in something else.
Then there are those that just want something no one else has. It is different from iOS and Android, so perhaps a certain number of people will want it just because of that fact.
Windows Phone 8 is a great mobile OS with good hardware, but a lot of hurdles yet to clear. In spite of everything negative listed above, it is well thought out, very well implemented, and something to keep tracking. If it gains enough steam, and everything meshes perfectly, it could possibly be a top mobile OS. But the real problem is it just may be too late–5 years too late. We will see if Windows Phone 8 will be enough to win Microsoft more than just an honorable mention.
Lately Microsoft has been making serious strides in the iOS development space. One such example was their recent release of the official Xbox LIVE companion app, My Xbox LIVE. At first the tool was mainly for viewing Xbox LIVE messages, gamerscore and avatars, but now things finally seem to be taking a turn for the more interactive.
As part of their sixth update to the application, functionality has now been patched in to actually remote control and interact with the console from the iPad. Granted the remote control abilities are limited to multimedia playback and they do not apply to the iPhone version, but at least it is a baby step towards Microsoft eventual SmartGlass feature set. It remains to be seen if the My Xbox LIVE software will actually be the vehicle for launching the initiative down the road but as far as we are concerned, any kind of convergence across the platforms is a move in the right direction.
Either way, if you own an Xbox and an iPad there is really no reason not to check the app out anyway, considering it is free. Give it a look. Who knows? You might be surprised at what you find.
At Microsoft’s E3 press conference, they revealed an interesting new feature that will integrate smartphones and tablets to the Xbox 360. Called SmartGlass, this is designed to operate a second screen during games, movies, and TV shows. This means that hypothetically, a game could display a map on the tablet screen, or even integrate interactive game elements like maps and play-calling in sports games.
TV shows and movies will be able to provide supplemental information and features with SmartGlass as well. Game of Thrones was mentioned specifically as an application of SmartGlass. In fact, that may be the killer app for SmartGlass, considering that there’s no way to understand what’s going on in the show without consulting the internet! SmartGlass will also be able to control the upcoming Internet Explorer for Xbox.
Despite Microsoft trying to make their own imprint on the tablet market with Windows 8, SmartGlass is going to be platform-agnostic, with apps for iOS and Android, with support for both phones and tablets. This shows that Microsoft is a very segmented company, with their Xbox division potentially removing a valuable reason to get a Windows 8 device, as well as the fact that these non-Microsoft operating systems are so prominent that Microsoft has to play ball with them. No release date for SmartGlass is available yet, but it will likely be part of the fall Dashboard updates that Microsoft releases.
Remember the Courier? That dual-screened, book-like tablet that Microsoft might have released. We’ll now there’s an iOS app that attempts to give users the experience they might have had on the Courier. Tapose, a successful Kickstarter project by developers Benjamin Monnig and Ricky Drake, has just been released.
Tapose’s main feature is the “slide bar” in the middle of the screen. It functions as a control panel for both sides of the screen. It can also be moved to change the sizes of each screen. Users can control two separate functions on each side of the bar (web browsing, note taking, etc). Tapose even offers web storage so that work done through the app doesn’t fill up the iPad’s hard drive.
The Kickstarter project raised over $26,000 and was partially funded by the leader of the Courier project at Microsoft, J Allard. Taposé is available in the App Store for $2.99. Check out the video of Tapose in action below.
Microsoft may have a competing smartphone OS, but that isn’t stopping them from releasing apps for their competition. Their latest iOS app is Photosynth, an app that allows you to take 360 degree, three-dimensional panoramic photos with your iOS device. You launch the app, tap to take a starting picture, then move around to take pictures to add to the panorama, trying to line up the center dot with the dashed lines to add new photos to the panorama, adding new photos until you feel that it’s complete. When you’re finished, the app saves a 2D version of it to your Camera Roll. This process is invisible and automatic, though – you won’t even know that it’s saved there unless you check, as even App Store reviews complain that there’s no way to save photos to your Camera Roll from the app, despite the automatic saving. You can also share to Bing Maps, Facebook, and Photosynth.net.
The app has a few drawbacks. Your photos need to be taken in consistent lighting conditions, or else the stitching process will make your photos look weird, as different photos might have different exposures. There is an exposure lock in the settings you might want to turn on to help this out. The app occasionally loses your position as you move around, which can create spots where a photo may be randomly mismatched with the rest of the panorama. Finally, it seems difficult to create a photo with straight edges, if not impossible, so you photos will largely be jagged-edge affairs. However, this app still lets you create some unique-looking panoramas that even a standard panoramic photo app can’t match.
The irony of this situation is that Photosynth is actually not available on Microsoft’s own Windows Phone 7 yet. The reason apparently has to do with the level of camera access that iOS provides to apps – apparently they can access the camera API in ways that Windows Phone 7 does not yet allow, so the app won’t be on there for the near future. Photosynth is available for free, with support for 3rd generation and up iOS devices, including the iPad 2’s camera, although the app does not run natively in iPad mode yet.
What do kids want Santa to bring them this year? According to battery-maker Duracell, iOS machines sit atop the list. Fourteen percent of tykes want an iPhone 4, while 13 percent are wishing for an iPod Touch and 12 percent opine for an iPad. As a point of comparison, Microsoft’s Kinect, the new “controller free” controller, comes in at only six percent.
The survey was conducted with over 2,000 children ages 5-16, and we’re hoping that it was the upper tier of ages which tilted the numbers in favor of the iOS devices. While there’s plenty of reason for a 16 year-old who wishes nothing more than to be cool to want an iPhone or iPad, the machines should really hold little sway over a kindergartner. Then again, Apple’s ubiquitous iOS ads may have made demand transcend age, in which case we can only say kudos to the evil-yet-effective marketing team. Here’s the full top-ten list for those who are curious:
01) iPhone 4 (14%)
02) iPod touch (13%)
03) iPad (12%)
04) Kinect (6%)
05) Zhu Zhu Pet Hamsters (5%)
06) Flip Video Camera (4%)
07) Toy Story 3 Jet Pack Buzz Lightyear (4%)
08) PlayStation Move (4%)
09) Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4: The Video Game (3%)
10) Barbie Video Girl (3%)
For those of our readers with kids, how closely does this list align with what your youngsters have been asking for? More importantly, how many of you are thinking about getting your children an iOS machine and how many believe that these are devices really more aimed at adults and should be kept out of the hands of kids? Maybe instead you buy yourself the iPad and let your kids play with it when you put it down — which is never.
Angry Birds developer Chillingo may cease to be an indie darling in the near future, as EA has bought the company. Reports put an the deal at $20 million cash, but the future of all the studio’s properties are still up in the air.
Chillingo was already a hot commodity after Angry Birds, but the massive success of the recently released Cut the Rope has truly turned the UK developer into a den of rock stars. While companies like Activision, Gameloft and even Intel were vying for the studio, EA was able to close the deal.
“By acquiring Chillingo, EA Mobile is increasing its market leadership on the Apple Platform as well as reaffirming its position as the world’s leading wireless entertainment publisher,” EA’s Holly Rockwood said in a statement.
It sounds like EA wants to keep Chillingo in the mobile space, but we can’t help but wonder if the studio will be asked to dabble in consoles and handhelds as well. EA has dabbled with physics games by publishing Boom Blox on the Wii, but the series has stalled and perhaps the company is looking for a new franchise to bring to non-Apple audiences. There’s also the distinct possibility EA could request a totally new IP from Chillingo, one which could be backed with a big budget and marketed across all platforms.
Where things may get tricky is in regards to ownership rights of games published under the Chillingo banner. Rovio created Angry Birds, while ZeptoLab made Cut the Rope, and, at least according to Rovio, the development studios still own those properties. A Rovio spokesperson says his company “controls the Angry Birds brand and any future products,” so at least that franchise may remain apart from this deal.
At any rate, let us be among the first to congratulate Chillingo and wish them the best of luck under the new ownership. They’ve already proven what talented, dedicated people can do when they put their minds to it so they deserve all the success and wealth they’ve earned. Well done guys, keep up the good work.
With iOS4 and the iPhone 4 hitting this week, it’s not so surprising that we’ve seen tons of new apps. This week’s Friday Five features a number of big-name efforts, many of which highlight the features of the iPhone 4 and iOS4. Let’s get started!
The productivity-sucking, Facebook-spawned plague has been unleashed upon the App Store masses. Someone say a prayer for us all. The iOS version is supposed to sync with the Facebook version, so if you already have a farm, don’t worry about maintaining two! Just like on Facebook, you “grow” both plants and livestock and earn coins and XP for your troubles. This app also includes in-app purchase options for both coins and premium “Farm Cash.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-06-24 :: Category: Games
I don’t know why Eliminate:GunRange is missing spaces in the title. I can tell you, however, that it’s ngmoco’s brand-new, iPhone 4-exclusive title. A spin-off of the popular Eliminate FPS series, GunRange is designed to take advantage of the iPhone 4’s gyroscope and Retina display. The game drops you into one of three shooting ranges and lets you blast away at targets using any of twelve weapons. Support for the iPhone 3GS and additional content are promised in the future.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-06-22 :: Category: Games
Windows Live Messenger
Despite the whole Apple/Microsoft battle, Microsoft has apparently seen fit to release a messenger client for its Windows Live service. It’s pretty much your typical IM app, with hooks in most major social networks (Flickr, Facebook, Youtube, MySpace, etc). In addition to chatting and sharing photos, you can access your Hotmail email account from within the app.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-06-21 :: Category: Social Networking
NPR is a wonderful, wonderful organization. It’s simply incredible how much they give away, for free. NPR Music follows their long-since-released NPR News app and gives you access to NPR’s musical selections. Listeners can choose from Classical, Hip-Hop, Jazz, and more. Live streams from over 75 public radio stations are available. Folks with new iPhones can take advantage of backgrounding, listening to music even when the app is closed.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-06-23 :: Category: Music
DC makes its iPhone debut with many familiar comics: Batman, Green Lantern, the Justice League, Sandman, and more. The app itself is something like a comic-store, from which you can download individual comics via in-app purchase. Most comics run $1.99 apiece. (A few freebies are available, too.) For viewing comics, there’s either a full-page view or a Guided Reading option; with the DC app, all of your comics are contained in one simple app. Comic lovers should at least download the free app and check out the full selection.
I had to do a triple-take on this one. Microsoft Labs has released what they call a tech preview to the iTunes App Store called Seadragon Mobile. Yes, really, Microsoft has released an application for the iPhone.
Seadragon Mobile is an image viewer for large images or a large number of images. The ability to browse hundreds of images in it’s collections and zoom into those images to an impressive level of detail is fantastic. Standard pinch-zoom is used to zoom in and out and a slideshow function is available when viewing a collection. Forgetting the Microsoft source, this is a really good image viewer for this kind of content. And except for a few server issues we’ve had, the app responds really quickly considering the amount of data it is referencing.
Some of the collections available to view include some from Library of Congress, world maps, large scale artwork, and items from Microsoft’s Photosynth. Also included is the ability to add your own content from uploaded material at Photosynth, RSS image feeds such as Flickr feeds, and Deep Zoom Content.
Seadragon Mobile is impressive for what it does and it’s an interesting demo to play around with. But I have to wonder about it’s future.