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Posts tagged with "Microsoft"

Sunrise Becomes Part of Outlook for iOS

Big news from Microsoft today: Sunrise, the calendar platform they acquired earlier this year, will merge with the Outlook mobile app, providing the calendar backend for the app.

From the Microsoft blog:

The Sunrise team is now officially a part of the broader Outlook product team, bringing a fresh approach to calendaring and combining it with Microsoft’s deep expertise in both email and calendar. Better Outlook calendaring gives you more ability to manage your personal and professional life from a single, powerful app. Over the coming months, you’ll see richer calendar experiences come to Outlook from Sunrise—including Interesting Calendars and connections to your favorite apps and services. You will also see improvements to Outlook’s ability to create meetings while on the go and handle meetings across time zones. All of this means Outlook will eventually replace the current Sunrise app.

And here's from the Sunrise blog:

All the features you love in Sunrise are coming to Outlook soon
We are currently working on integrating all the extra features that made Sunrise so delightful to use in Outlook for iOS and Android. Expect features like Interesting Calendars, Connected Apps and our 3-day view to show up before the end of the year.

Until then, the Sunrise app will stay on the App Store, though it won't likely receive any updates.

After the acquisition news in February, I wrote:

It seems fair to assume that Microsoft will add more cloud integrations from their own ecosystem (OneNote, Exchange, perhaps Skype?), but I'm curious to see if and how Sunrise will work with Outlook, which comes with an embedded Calendar view.

Microsoft's answer eight months later is that they want to build an all-in-one email and calendar app that also supports connections to external apps and services. For context, Sunrise currently works with data from Todoist, Evernote, Songkick, Asana, and more. In theory, all these integrations could also be coming to Outlook, which would make it the most "open" calendar and email client on the App Store in terms of third-party (cloud) integrations.

I have mixed feelings about the all-in-one approach, at least for now. Today's update to Outlook for iOS (which I have been using as my go-to client for the past month) brings a cleaner look and native Watch app, but the Sunrise integration is half-baked and there's a lot of work to do. The Calendar view of Outlook has been refreshed with a more polished UI and a new monthly view, but none of the features that made Sunrise great – event icons, integrations, the keyboard, and the fantastic date picker – are available yet. Basically, Microsoft has announced their intention to bring Sunrise to Outlook, without any deep Sunrise integration in the actual app yet.

When the transition from Sunrise to Outlook is complete, will it be too much for a single app? Are we really going to get the real Sunrise alongside our email, or a watered-down version lacking the many small touches which made Sunrise an elegant and powerful standalone calendar app? On the other hand, if anyone can make email smarter thanks to integrations and fresh ideas, that's the Sunrise team. I want to be optimistic.

Also, don't forget about Wunderlist, which Microsoft also acquired this year. Currently, support for "tasks" in Outlook is marked as planned in the app's community section where users can vote and suggest new features. I wonder what's going to happen there.

OneNote for iPad Gets Pencil by FiftyThree Support

Tom Warren, writing for The Verge:

Microsoft might be backing Apple's new Pencil for the iPad Pro in its iOS apps, but the software giant is also supporting third-party options. One of the most popular is Pencil by FiftyThree, and Microsoft is updating its OneNote for iPad app today to support the stylus. If you're not interested in buying the larger iPad Pro for stylus support, then FiftyThree's Pencil starts at $39.95 (much less than Apple's $99 Pencil). You'll be able to use the stylus to write notes and comments in OneNote books.

Also in the latest update: keyboard shortcuts on iPad, and improvements to the app's share extension when used in Split View. I like how Microsoft continues to blend into the iOS ecosystem, though I'm perfectly satisfied with Apple's new Notes app.


Office Apps for iPad Pro to Require Office 365 Subscription

Writing for Ars Technica, Peter Bright reports that the iPad Pro version of Office for iOS won't offer the same free tier available for smaller iPads, which was later confirmed by Microsoft to the publication.

The Office apps on the current iPads offer both viewing and editing documents for free. A handful of features require Office 365 subscriptions, available as in-app purchases, but the core editing capabilities are all zero cost.

Install those same apps on the iPad Pro once it arrives in November, however, and all those editing features will go away. Office on the iPad Pro will require an Office 365 subscription for any and all editing.

This is part of Microsoft's “cut-off” policy that identifies devices above 10.1 inches as computers that are too big to get the Office apps for free. I'm curious to see how they'll handle this in the same app for multiple iPads.


Microsoft Acquires Wunderlist

In a blog post, popular task management service Wunderlist has announced they've been acquired by Microsoft. Wunderlist, like Sunrise, will remain an “independent” app for now, but it'll likely be more closely tied to Microsoft services in the future.

Here's Wunderlist CEO Christian Reber on the company's blog:

Over the next few months as Wunderlist becomes a part of the Microsoft family, we’ll introduce a host of new features, continue growing the ecosystem of partner integrations and progress in delivering Wunderlist to billions of people. We are excited and can’t wait to share with you what we have been working on–watch this space!

The Microsoft blog has also motivated the acquisition and shared details about pricing going forward:

The addition of Wunderlist to the Microsoft product portfolio fits squarely with our ambition to reinvent productivity for a mobile-first, cloud-first world. Building on momentum for Microsoft Office, OneNote and Skype for Business, as well as the recent Sunrise and Acompli acquisitions, it further demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment to delivering market leading mobile apps across the platforms and devices our customers use – for mail, calendaring, messaging, notes and now tasks.


Customers can expect the app to remain free in all of its existing markets. There will be no price changes for Wunderlist Pro or Wunderlist for Business customers and the service will continue to support a wide range of third-party apps and integrated services.

As I tweeted yesterday, I believe Microsoft has been doing some interesting acquisitions lately and Wunderlist meets the requirements for a cross-platform app that can integrate with other apps and services. Like Sunrise, Wunderlist has an API that allows other services and developers to plug into its platform to access a user's tasks and projects – like Slack and Scanbot. Wunderlist wanted to build an ecosystem of apps for your todo list, and it's easy to see how Microsoft could benefit from it.

More importantly, Wunderlist already integrates with Sunrise, allowing you to see tasks alongside calendar events natively.

I'm curious to see for how long Microsoft will keep these two apps as standalone services that don't have the Microsoft brand or only work with Microsoft services. Sunrise, for instance, also supports Todoist, one of Wunderlist's biggest competitors. Will Microsoft keep this third-party friendly approach as it keeps controlling more apps?


Microsoft Bringing Cortana to iPhone Later This Year

In a blog post today, Microsoft announced a 'Phone Companion' app built into Windows 10 (which is coming out this summer) to easily transfer content (like documents and photos) to Android and iOS devices.

They also revealed that Cortana, the company's voice assistant, will be released on iPhone “later this year”.

The Cortana app can do most of the things Cortana does on your PC or on a Windows phone. You can have Cortana remind you to pick up milk the next time you’re at the grocery store, and then your phone will wake up and buzz with the reminder. You’ll be able to track a flight using Cortana on both your phone and your PC, and get the updates on the device that you’re on so you don’t miss anything. Everything in Cortana’s Notebook will show up across all your devices and any changes you make on one device will be reflected when you use Cortana on any of your other devices. The Cortana companion app will help you complete tasks you begin on your PC wherever you are, on your phone.

Microsoft already notes that, due to limitations on iOS and Android, they won't be able to port features such as launching apps and voice activation with “Hey Cortana”. Like other big companies, Microsoft has built a solid ecosystem of apps on the App Store, and it'll be interesting to see how limited Cortana will be as an iPhone app and how it'll compare to future versions of Siri and Google Now.


No Ecosystem Is an Island: Google, Microsoft, Facebook & Adobe’s iOS Apps

Apple doesn't make a single Android or Windows Phone app, and makes barely anything for Windows. But Apple's reluctance to develop on other platforms hasn't stopped Google and Microsoft from bringing their own apps across to iOS. That shouldn't be any surprise at all, given the different business strategies the three take. But what might be surprising is the extent to which Google and Microsoft have committed to bringing apps to iPhone and iPad users.

You are no doubt aware of the big apps from Microsoft (Word, Outlook and Minecraft) and Google (Gmail, Maps, Calendar), but the reality is that these two companies alone have over 150 apps available on the iOS App Store today. For good measure, I've also taken a look at the iOS development efforts from Adobe and Facebook, which are also significant.

Read more

Microsoft + iPhone

Just a few years ago, there was a sharp divide between fans of Microsoft and fans of the iPhone. But in this “mobile first, cloud first” world, it’s now possible to combine Apple’s iPhone hardware with Microsoft’s best-in-breed productivity apps and not feel terrible about yourself. Things really have changed, and for the better.

Paul Thurrot as a good rundown of Microsoft's apps for iOS. I remember a few years ago when it seemed unthinkable to have full Microsoft and Google ecosystems on iOS, and today not only is that completely normal – people expect Microsoft and Google to release their apps on the App Store. How things change.


Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iOS Add Support for iCloud Drive

Microsoft today updated the iOS versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint to include support for iCloud Drive. This means that iOS 8 users can now open, edit and save documents to iCloud Drive, making it even easier for users who want to share a document between multiple apps. To access the iCloud Drive pop-up window, simply tap the 'More' button in the Office app's open or save panel.

Today's addition of iCloud Drive support follows the partnership between Microsoft and Dropbox which saw the suite of iOS Office apps add support for Dropbox back in November last year.

Microsoft Acquires Sunrise

After a few weeks of speculation, Microsoft has confirmed they have acquired popular calendar app Sunrise, which will remain free and join the company's existing set of mobile apps.

Rajesh Jha writes on the Microsoft blog:

I’m pleased to announce that Microsoft has acquired Sunrise, provider of a next-generation calendar app for iOS and Android. We are making this acquisition because we believe a reinvention in the way people use calendars on mobile devices is long overdue. Our goal is to better help people manage and make the most of their time in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

This is another step forward on our journey to reinvent productivity and empower every person and organization to achieve more. Today’s acquisition of Sunrise, our recent acquisition of Acompli, and our new touch-optimized universal Office apps for Windows 10 all exemplify Microsoft’s ambition to rethink the productivity category. Our goal is to create more meaningful, beautiful experiences in mobile email and calendaring across all platforms. And as you will hear in the video below, the creative talent and fresh thinking at Sunrise and Acompli will make a lasting impact on the Microsoft family as we seek to reinvent productivity.

I'm a fan of Sunrise and I like what Microsoft has been doing lately. Yes, Microsoft hasn't built Acompli and Sunrise in the first place (and that's another problem), but at least they're spending money to acquire quality apps that can help them catch up in the mobile space. Outlook is well done (I'm using it every day; I love the Focused Inbox and calendar integration) and Sunrise is, in my opinion, the best multi-platform calendar app Microsoft could ask for.

I wrote about Sunrise last year, and I still use the app for two reasons: its elegant design and integration with external services. Sunrise is unique in its ability to show tasks from my Todoist account alongside calendar events; the same applies to Evernote reminders, upcoming Songkick concerts, and even Trello todos.

Sunrise shows me all the things I need to do in a single place, and Microsoft should keep this aspect intact.

It seems fair to assume that Microsoft will add more cloud integrations from their own ecosystem (OneNote, Exchange, perhaps Skype?), but I'm curious to see if and how Sunrise will work with Outlook, which comes with an embedded Calendar view.