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Posts tagged with "Microsoft"

Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming Beta Launches on the Mac, PC, iPhones, and iPads

As we reported earlier this week, Microsoft began inviting Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to beta test Xbox Cloud Gaming yesterday. The beta is invitation-only, but if you’re a Game Pass Ultimate subscriber and are invited to test the streaming service, you can use it on PCs and Macs via Edge, Chrome, or Safari, as well as on iPhones and iPads.

At The Verge, Tom Warren has a short walkthrough video that tours the service’s UI on a Windows PC. Although the games run on older Xbox One S hardware in Microsoft’s data centers, which means longer load times than current hardware, the UI appears to scale nicely across devices. Warren describes the experience as follows:

Once the connection settles down, it’s very similar to xCloud on Android. If you run this through a web browser on a PC or iPad, you’ll even get a 1080p stream. It feels like I’m playing on an Xbox in the cloud, and there’s a dashboard that lets me access friends, party chats, achievements, and invites to games. This is all powered by Xbox Game Pass, so there are more than 100 games available — and even some original Xbox and Xbox 360 titles that can be streamed.

Warren also notes that some games work with touch, but as you’d expect, most are best experienced using a Bluetooth-connected controller.

I’ve had a chance to play with Google Stadia on an iPhone 12 Pro Max and the experience was far better than I expected, even over WiFi. Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming beta has just begun, but it looks like a promising way to enjoy your favorite games on more devices than ever.

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Microsoft to Begin Beta Testing Xbox Cloud Gaming on the iPhone and iPad

Tomorrow, April 20th, Microsoft Xbox Cloud Gaming, also known as xCloud, is coming to the iPhone and iPad and the PC as a limited, invitation-only beta. The service will allow invited Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to stream over 100 games using the Edge, Chrome, and Safari browsers.

In an announcement on Xbox Wire, Catherine Gluckstein, Microsoft’s head of xCloud said:

The limited beta is our time to test and learn; we’ll send out more invites on a continuous basis to players in all 22 supported countries, evaluate feedback, continue to improve the experience, and add support for more devices. Our plan is to iterate quickly and open up to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members in the coming months so more people have the opportunity to play Xbox in all-new ways.

Xbox Game Streaming was launched on Android last year but was delayed on iOS and iPadOS when Apple told Microsoft it couldn’t stream the games to a dedicated app unless each game was approved by Apple App Review.

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Microsoft Is Rolling Out iPad Pointer Support to Its Office Suite

Microsoft’s suite of productivity apps, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are being updated on a rolling basis over the next couple of weeks to add pointer support to the iPad versions of the apps. According to a Microsoft blog post, the update will:

give iPad users using a mouse or Apple’s new Magic Keyboard easy cursor control, fluid navigation, and precise adjustments. When moving a finger across the built-in trackpad of Magic Keyboard, the cursor transforms into the tool you need depending on the content you’re pointing to.

Microsoft is also updating the start screens and ribbon of each of its apps and mentioned that it has further updates planned in the upcoming months, including contextual menus and offline support for documents stored in the cloud.

I don’t have the new features announced yet, but I’m glad to see Microsoft adopting iPad pointer support. Especially with apps like Excel, the ability to use a precise pointer is useful when selecting cells in a large spreadsheet.

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Microsoft Previews New Office Mobile App, Unifying Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and More in a Single App

Today Microsoft previewed a fascinating new experiment in mobile: a brand new iOS app, simply dubbed Office, that houses versions of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel in one place, integrated with OneDrive, while also including Sticky Notes, Microsoft’s OCR-powered Office Lens camera, and a variety of mobile-friendly actions. Until test slots are full, you can sign up to access the beta version of the app through TestFlight.

For now, the beta version of Office is iPhone-only, but Microsoft states it “will bring this experience to tablets as well.” It will be interesting to see how that pans out, since currently Microsoft requires Office 365 subscriptions to edit in its Office apps on iPads over a certain size, while devices under that size can edit documents for free. It’s likely the new Office app will follow the same restrictions, but we’ll have to wait to find out.

I’ve spent a little time working with the beta version of Office, and I think Microsoft may be on to something here.

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Microsoft Office Debuts on the Mac App Store

Promised at WWDC last June, Microsoft Office 365 has arrived on the Mac App Store today. Office 365, which includes the company’s flagship Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook productivity apps are free to download but require a subscription available via an In-App Purchase to create and edit documents and to send and receive email messages. Before today, the Mac versions of the apps were only available as direct downloads from Microsoft.

At WWDC 2018, Apple announced a redesign of the Mac App Store. During the presentation, the company said the following apps would be coming to the Mac App Store:

  • Microsoft’s Office 365
  • Adobe’s Lightroom CC
  • Panic’s Transmit
  • Bare Bones’ BBEdit
  • Snap’s Live Studio
  • Houseparty

The addition of the apps announced has been slow. Houseparty debuted on the Mac App Store several months ago, but Transmit didn’t appear until last November. With today’s addition of Office 365, that leaves Lightroom, BBEdit, and Live Studio to go.

Office is a significant addition to the Mac App Store. The apps in the suite are used by millions of people worldwide, and the convenience of downloading them and updating the apps from the Mac App Store alongside other apps should be a welcome addition for many users. Hopefully, the remainder of apps promised aren’t far behind and will help reinvigorate the Store, which has not seen the same level of success as its iOS sibling.

Office 365 is available on the Mac App Store as a bundle. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook can also be downloaded individually.


Microsoft Announces iPad Edition of Minecraft for Education Coming in September

Today, Microsoft announced that it was expanding Minecraft: Education Edition to include the iPad. According to Microsoft:

Now, students can tap into the power of iPad to build historic monuments, swim through coral reefs with the Update Aquatic, bring creative stories to life, experiment with chemistry, and document their learning with the camera and portfolio features.

The latest expansion of Minecraft: Education Edition adds to the existing 35 million teachers and students in 115 countries that were already using the app on other platforms. The program includes training and curriculum resources for teachers too.

Minecraft is being offered as part of Microsoft’s 365 for Education program and will be available on the iPad beginning in September.


Microsoft Office and the Files App Finally Play Nice Together

Today Microsoft updated its Office suite for iOS, with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint all reaching version 2.12. Office updates rarely receive detailed release notes, and today was no exception, but user Teddy Svoronos discovered that the updates brought ‘Open In’ capabilities to the share sheet, which previously only enabled making a copy of an Office document. The ‘Copy to’ option has now been removed, replaced by the more convenient ‘Open in.’

After seeing Teddy’s tweet, I did a little playing around in the Files app and discovered that, while Excel and PowerPoint documents accessed in Files will load Quick Look previews and require tapping ‘Open in’ from the share sheet, the experience is even better with .docx files. Those Word-associated documents open directly in the Word app with just a single tap from the Files interface – no need to open the share sheet first.

It’s possible this disparity in behaviors between file types only exists because I view Word documents far more regularly than Excel or PowerPoint files. Perhaps heavy Excel or PowerPoint users will see a different behavior because the Files app has enough data to know which app you want to open certain file types in. It’s also possible, though, that the behavior I’ve seen is true for everyone, and Microsoft simply made a somewhat perplexing design decision.

In any case though, whether a Files document opens in its correct app with a single tap, or you use the share sheet and ‘Open in’ first, this is still a huge improvement for Office users. Previously any documents stored in Files would need to be accessed by going to either Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, tapping the ‘More’ button in the ‘Open’ menu, then locating the file from there. Now, iOS users can go straight to the Files app, locate the appropriate document, and open it directly with only a tap or two.

Update: One of the developers working on Office has confirmed my suspicions: the reason Word files open for me with a single tap while Excel and PowerPoint files do not is that I haven’t opened those files enough for iOS to know that I would prefer to bypass the share sheet.

In theory, a system where iOS knows what you want every time could be great, but in reality, I sure would like having the option to set default apps per document type.



OneDrive for iOS Updated with Drag and Drop on iPad, A New Design, and More

Microsoft has released version 10.1 of its OneDrive app with support for drag and drop on the iPad and a new, cleaner design.

Drag and drop support allows users to move files and folders within the OneDrive app or drag files into and out of other apps. For example, users can drag photos from OneDrive into an email message to add as an attachment or drag attachments from messages into OneDrive. Users can also access their OneDrive files from Apple’s Files app.

OneDrive now supports drag and drop on the iPad.

OneDrive now supports drag and drop on the iPad.

OneDrive also received a significant UI redesign. File names are easier to read on all devices, the organization more closely mirrors what users expect to see on a Mac or PC, and the icons of shared files have been updated to make them easier to identify at a glance.

Before the update, file and folder actions required users to tap and hold on an item, which created discoverability issues. Now, there is a tiny three-dot button next to each file and folder that opens a contextual menu with options like ‘Share,’ ‘Delete,’ ‘Make Available Offline,’ ‘Move,’ and more. Additional file and folder actions, including ‘Copy Link,’ ‘Email in Outlook,’ ‘Send File,’ and ‘Invite People,’ are available via the system share sheet. OneDrive can now preview 130 different file types too.

Additional file and folder actions are available via the share sheet.

Additional file and folder actions are available via the share sheet.

It’s unfortunate that it’s taken so long for OneDrive to adopt iOS 11 features like drag and drop. Still, the update is a significant improvement over previous versions and brings the app’s functionality in line with many of its competitors, which makes it worth another look if you have been thinking about switching online storage providers.