It was a light week of Microsoft news, as Google dominated the headlines with its impressive, and long-running I/O event that saw it update and refine its host of software products. That said, Microsoft didn’t stop moving to make room for its competitor.
This week marks the start of the slow decline of the moniker ‘Blue.’ It’s been fun, but Microsoft confirmed that Windows Blue will in fact be known to the world as Windows 8.1. Also out this week was the news that Windows 8.1 will be free, and distributed through the Windows Store.
That Windows 8.1 will come at now cost is not a surprise. It would have been a relations nightmare if Microsoft had tried to sell a new set of code to folks that had purchased Windows 8 itself less than a year before; that and Microsoft wants to improve the Windows 8 experience for all its users, and this is the only way that it has a chance to do so.
Distribution through the Windows Store is neat, but again not a surprise; Microsoft wants its users to spend more time in the digital marketplace, and this is a way to bring stragglers and holders-back into the fold, at least once.
Also, eating your own oats sets good precedent for the developers that are depending on Microsoft to expand and grow the Store.
This week Microsoft released a number of upgrades to the SkyDrive product. They are incremental, welcome updates. As TNW’s Emil Protalinksi reported:
Arguably the biggest new feature is the new photos timeline view. The main idea here is to give you a way to see all your SkyDrive photos across all your albums and folders based on when they were taken. There’s also a new filmstrip view, which lets you breeze through photos in a slide show.
Last but not least, the thumbnails view has been tweaked. Microsoft has also introduced new thumbnails for PowerPoint and Word files.
SkyDrive has more than 250 million users. That number will rise as Windows 8 usage rises. Forget the television show, the storage wars are real.
The Lumia 925 will ship with a different build of Windows Phone 8. The new version will sport a few new features that Microsoft calls “small,” though they are in fact large enough to warrant notice.
FM radio support will return to the platform. Data Sense will become available on more carriers. Xbox Music has been improved to help with music selection, and metadata accuracy. However, most importantly:
[The update] will contain support for Google’s sync protocols CalDAV and CarddDAV. This means that if you use a Windows Phone handset, you can keep using your full suite of Google mail, calendar, and contact services.
If you were worried about your handset’s relationship with Google services taking a hit, well, this is good news.
This week Microsoft brought Google Talk to Outlook.com. A small change, but one that lowers barriers to switching. Outlook.com now has more than 400 million active users. Gmail is more popular than Outlook.com, but Microsoft’s rebuilt email service has been the company reverse a long decline in the product category.
Outlook.com recently received a massive influx of users from the now defunct Hotmail service. Outlook.com has thus burned its chief steroid. Now, growth on the platform will only come organically.
Top Image Credit: Robert Scoble
Continue reading here: This week at Microsoft: SkyDrive, Windows Phone, and Blue
Yahoo and Twitter have partnered to bring tweets directly into Yahoo homepage’s newsfeed on web and mobile, the company announced this morning. The move follows the February relaunch of the front page. At the time, the company debuted a redesigned site with an increased emphasis on personalization, as well as a more modern design.
The Twitter partnership expands upon this earlier mission involving personalization – a key focus for Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer – noting that Yahoo will now ”seamlessly include relevant and personalized tweets alongside stories from Yahoo! and our other sources.”
These tweets will now appear directly in the Yahoo news feed, which offers an endlessly scrollable stream of content, divided into sections like “All Stories,” “News,” “Local,” “Entertainment,” “Sports” and more. The headlines that come from Twitter accounts will be indicated by referencing the source by its Twitter handle (e.g. “@ABCWorldNews” as opposed to “ABC News”) and there will be “Follow” buttons to the right of the stories, allowing users to click to add the news organization to their Twitter feeds.
“Updates direct from politicians, celebrities, media outlets, and other publishers have become an important source of real-time news and information,” Mayer explained in the official announcement today. “140 characters can connect athletes with their fans, capture live chatter from the red carpet, and inspire global debate.”
Though the post did not detail how the addition of tweets specifically ties into Yahoo’s overarching personalization goals, that refers directly to changes that took place following the homepage revamp earlier this year. The front page’s selection of news articles now starts out as a generic grouping of stories, but as users click on content that interests them, the site adapts. The more it learns about a user’s interests, the more relevant and personalized the surfaced stories become. (At least in theory). This technology will now also apply to the tweets.
Yahoo has been moving to reinvent itself under Mayer’s leadership, gobbling up startups, paring down its scattered lineup and launching well-received apps like a revamped Flickr and its new Weather app for iOS, the latter of which may be one of the highest rated iPhone applications we’ve seen, with 4,206 5-star reviews out of 4,832 ratings.
It’s worth noting, too, that the revamped Twitter-powered homepage has a mobile component as well. The update is rolling out to U.S. desktop and mobile users over the next few days, the company says.
See original here: Yahoo Partners With Twitter To Further Personalize Homepage Newsfeed
Google on Thursday announced a redesign of its AdWords Express product, featuring clearer stats and graphs, a faster signup process, and a new real-time ad preview box. Unlike most Google product revamps, the changes are available starting today; just sign in and check them out.
First up, the redesigned dashboard now lets you quickly glance to see how many views, clicks, and calls your ad generated. A pie chart breaks down your monthly spending while a line graph lets you track your results over time:
Google says these changes are in direct response to customer feedback. Small business owners told the company they are simply too busy to waste time looking for this information, so Google put it all in the dashboard.
Next up, Google claims to have made “significant improvements” to the signup experience. The company has cut it down to just three steps: select your audience, create your ad, and select your budget.
Last but not least, Google has added a new real-time ad preview box that shows your ad created right as you type. You can now hover over the icons to preview all the ad formats that are available based on the text you provide.
Here it is in action:
All of these changes are relatively minor by themselves, but together they should help businesses push more ads, which in turn should increase Google’s revenue. Many people forget that despite all the various industries the company is in, ads are still its bread and butter. As such, the improvements it makes to ad-related products and services are arguably the most important, even if they aren’t particularly exciting.
Top Image Credit: Adam Berry / Getty Images
The company is using the service’s public API to add the new feature, rather than any special relationship, but, nonetheless, Microsoft will hope that adding the massively popular services gives Outlook.com — which has 400 million active accounts – an edge over its rivals, and Gmail in particular.
Microsoft says that the move is a response to feedback from its users who “choose to use many different services”, so the company is fulfilling its role “to help them connect to the people who matter most, wherever they are”.
The integration has also come to SkyDrive and it follows the the rollout of Skype for Outlook.com last month. Google Talk joins a roster of other integrated social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Thus, adding Google Talk — the only of these social services that Gmail supports — takes it past the Google email service, and puts a selection of the Web’s most popular services in users’ inboxes.
Outlook.com had 400 million active accounts, as of May 2 when the company completed the migration of its Hotmail. Prior to that, Outlook.com hit 60 million sign-ups in February, six months after it was launched.
While the move is an interesting one that brings more functionality and will make the prospect of an Outlook.com account more appealing to many, Microsoft is competing against bigger issues than just IM/chat functionality.
Gmail is tightly linked to Google Drive and Google Docs, not to mention its vast array of other services, which has given it relative entrenchment on the Web today.
Nonetheless, Microsoft is at least working to develop its service with useful and relevant new features. It will be interesting to see what else it has in store further down the line.
Headline image via Lionel Bonaventure / Getty Images
View original post here: Microsoft adds Google Talk support to Outlook.com in a bid to woo Gmail users
Glympse has been in the news for its deals with the likes of Ford, Mercedes Benz and BMW/Mini to integrate its location-sharing and tracking technology into in-car systems on connected automobiles. Today it’s taking its expansion strategy one step further, with the release of a new software development kit, giving app developers and others the ability to include Glympse-powered location-sharing technology into their services with a few lines of code.
The news comes during a time when social-mapping technology is in the news, with Facebook reportedly in the process of acquiring Waze for up to $1 billion, and Alibaba investing nearly $300 million into AutoNavi in a strategic alliance to develop location-based commerce and other mobile navigation and mapping services.
While Waze has developed a way to collate crowdsourced mapping and traffic data, Glympse doesn’t create the maps themselves — as you can see in the example below, the map data can come from Google, but also Microsoft’s Bing, Open Streetmap and others — but its location-tracking technology effectively lets you create a real-time trail showing your route to a particular location.
The resulting maps are animated routes tracking your movements and other data like the speed at which you’re travelling, travel time, and expected arrival time. A person can also make the data ephemeral (like Snapchat!) by giving it an expiration date for how long it can be accessed look something like this:
Bryan Trussel, CEO and co-founder of Glympse, says that already there are a number of companies approaching Glympse for ways to integrate its technology into new applications — areas that the company itself just doesn’t have the resources to tackle itself right now. One of these involves integration into apps around air travel: tracking where a person is as his plane flies from point A to B, useful for someone waiting to pick up that person from the airport.
Trussel says that the SDK will effectively be a version of the private APIs that Glympse already provides to partners like the car companies and others like Garmin.
It comes at a time when Glympse will continue to expand that partner list, and expand out to other verticals. “We’ve done a major partnership every six months, and we plan more, at the rate of one every couple of months,” he said in an interview. “Some car partners but the majority will be outside the automotive space.” This could also extend to licensing deals for the Glympse technology to start appearing on mobile devices as well. And in fact, there are already a number of companies in non-automotive using Glympse’s technology already. They include Gripwire (app development), PetHub (pet protection) and Runtriz (for hospitality solutions).
Glympse will be offering use of the API free of charge to implementations of 300,000 users or less, in the form of a Lite SDK. That free SDK will include the ability to add Glympse functionality to a mobile app as well as a Map Tool, for developers to create and host a custom Glympse Map. The SDK will let users add GPS and location management, contact integration and viewer permissions as well as the coding for a user interface for users to share location from within the third-party app.
Glympse says that a further, paid commercial SDK is designed for developers and enterprises that expect more than 300,000 monthly active users, or need more support, flexibility with user experience flow, or the ability to create more custom features.
So why the delay of offering an API only now? Trussel says that Glympse has had a lot of incoming requests to use the platform from the beginning, but “we decided not to lead with the platform because we wanted to have it stable and documented. Having an SDK means dealing with support and questions, and we spent our resources working with customers directly and refining platform. Now we are at the point where our partners are using the platform in identical ways so we can handle a variation of people using in a lot of different ways. The timing will be right for us.”
Glympse has to date raised $7.5 million from investors that include Menlo Ventures and Ignition Partners.
Originally posted here: Glympse Launches Its First API To Put Location Sharing Into Any App Or Platform