Microsoft on Android – competing from the insideNow that the software giant has put the Windows Phone dream to rest, it is pushing forward a campaign to spread across the two prominent mobile platforms. In an attempt to not only connect millions of more users to its existing services like Microsoft Office but also create a brand following, Microsoft has quietly slipped in dozens of apps in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. The best Microsoft apps for Android are already being offered as pre-loaded apps on certain devices, right next to Google apps. Microsoft recently partnered with Acer to ship its apps in all the Android smartphones and tablets that the manufacturer will put out, along with 74 companies in 25 countries around the world. Microsoft may have been catastrophically unsuccessful in becoming a mobile vendor, but it still sits on the throne of software development. The best way to link mobile and desktop users is not just through the operating system, but with cross-platform apps that break the barriers of productivity and ease of use.
Best Microsoft apps for AndroidMicrosoft is now an established app developer in the Google Play Store, and the rumors of Microsoft rivaling Google with its own flavor of Android OS are rampant. In the meantime, we end-users can enjoy all the Microsoft apps for Android being rolled out for free, so here’s your guide to the best ones out there.
1. Microsoft Office MobileMicrosoft Office has always been the prized goose on Windows devices, which is what compelled Google to create its very own set of similar office apps. Well, Microsoft is reclaiming its position on the charts with Microsoft Office Mobile Suite with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Since Google offers Docs, Sheets, and Slides for free, Microsoft has kept the Office Suite competitive with free features. However, if you’re looking for advanced features like advanced editing and customization, you’ll need to subscribe to the Office 365 service. Since most of us need the Microsoft Office Mobile apps just for some quick viewing and editing, you’ll rarely feel the need to upgrade. Moreover, all of the three Microsoft apps come with OneDrive compatibility, so you can easily sync the work you do on your computer and your smartphone seamlessly.
2. Microsoft LauncherWindows 10 is a clear reminder that Microsoft knows what makes a quality user interface, and it brings this to the Android platform with Microsoft Launcher. Previously known as Arrow Launcher, this UI customization app is a steep turn from the traditional Google-based UI and presents a lockscreen that does more than just looking pretty. Doing more than just a few things at once, the Microsoft Launcher successfully mashes together widgets, quick access to contacts, a calendar, Office files and the Gallery. The search bar that Microsoft puts in by default is good with local browsing, but the Bing integration will make you want to drop in the good old Google search bar right away. Despite all of that, Microsoft Launcher still is pretty much a highly customizable app, giving you the ability to change the icon sizes, enjoy a different kind of notification access bar, and even get transitioning backgrounds with Bing Wallpaper. If that isn’t enough, you get some gesture customization to lock your phone with a double-tap, swipe gestures and more.
3. OneNoteGoogle Keep is just the app you need when it comes to remembering your grocery items and writing down post-it notes. But when it comes to some serious notetaking, you’ll find yourself begging for something as versatile as Microsoft apps that is OneNote. The biggest benefit the app has over the billion other notetaking apps for Android is it’s cross-platform compatibility with its desktop counterpart, making it a bare essential for many Windows/Android users. Giving you the ability to type, hand-drawn, and even doodle your notes, OneNote comes with a powerful OCR search engine that helps you find even handwritten notes. From easy methods to organizing your notetaking mess with labels, to add media such as web clippings, voice notes, and photos to your notes, there’s very little that the OneNote app does not deliver upon. Thanks to OneDrive once again, all your notes are synced and ready for viewing on the big screen, while you can password protect them individually as well.
4. Microsoft Hyperlapse MobileHave you ever seen those amazing time-lapse videos on social media and wondered if you could ever take one with your smartphone? Well, that’s exactly the idea behind Microsoft Hyperlapse Mobile app that gives you the ability to capture mesmerizing time-lapse videos and view them instantly. Apart from instant capture and view technology, the app gives you the ability to upload your existing videos and create a hyperlapse of the content you’ve shot already. Supporting speeds all the way from 1x to 32x times the normal frame rate and multiple HD resolutions of 720p and 1080p, you can even keep the audio track on the lowest frame rates. Albeit this isn’t the first time-lapse app you’ll find on the Google Play Store, but the fact that is has been developed and actively supported by Microsoft does give it a leading edge.
5. Office LensThe world of physical documents and holding on to receipts from each of your purchases are going away, and their departure is made easier with apps like Office Lens. Putting your smartphone’s camera to good use, the ability to capture, trim, and enhance physical textual documents is what makes this one of the best Microsoft apps for Android. Whether you want to keep an online tab of your expenses or take down the details your team wrote down on the whiteboard, a simple snap and save with Office Lens is all you need. Got handed a business card and there’s no place for you to store it? Simply capture it with the Office Lens app and have all the information saved to your contacts list. Once again, Microsoft takes the advantage of its cross-platform capabilities, since Office Lens syncs with OneDrive over the cloud, OneNote for note-taking, and even Outlook to increase your work productivity.
6. XboxAs a gamer, if you own an Xbox gaming console or even a gaming PC (and the chances are that you probably do), it’s just a no-brainer getting the Xbox app for Android right now. Since gaming is more of a social thing these days, the Xbox app helps you connect with your friends and share your grand virtual accomplishments for bragging rights. On the go, the Xbox app for Android gives you a sneak peek to what your friends are up to on Xbox Live, sharing updates and game clips and even find the hottest new games on the online store. Apart from the usual, the app doubles up as a wireless remote for your Xbox One console, allowing you to navigate with the device’s keyboard and as a media controller as well.
7. Cortana for AndroidLet’s face it, whether it is Samsung’s S Voice and even arguably Apple’s Siri – they’re no match for the mighty Google Assistant. This puts Cortana further out of the league for mobile users, but for the majority of the desktop users, it is the only smart assistant they have (and it’s pretty good too). Since getting Google Assistant on a computer requires a Chromebook, it simply isn’t a trade many are willing to make yet, which is why Microsoft Cortana for Android is so hot. Putting you on the top of your day with events, reminds, alarms and more right on the homescreen of your Android, Cortana bridges the gap between your computer and mobile device perfectly. From giving you location-based reminders to set up alerts based on contacts, Cortana is smart enough to automatically look through your Outlook account and suggest reminders based on your conversations. Since Cortana is present on your Windows 10 computer natively, you’ll even be alerted every time there’s a message or incoming call, along with the feature to answer back right from the big screen.
8. Microsoft OneDriveThe business of cloud storage is booming as the world goes digital, and Microsoft has a firm stance in the field with OneDrive. A direct competitor to services like Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud and others, Microsoft OneDrive is the only cloud storage service compatible with Office 365 and the suite of Microsoft Office apps. While you get only 5GB of free storage to begin with (compared to 15GB on Google Drive), additional 50GB storage for just $2/month is a bargain for most. Apart from the peace of mind you get by syncing all your data across your PC, mobile and the cloud, Microsoft OneDrive for Android automatically syncs your device data to keep your work and personal content organized.
9. Age of Empires: Castle SiegeYou don’t even have to be a hardcore gamer to know what Age of Empires is, and the best part is that Microsoft has brought the all-time classic name to Android. Don’t expect the original version of the game on your small-screened device with all the cool cheat codes, cause Age of Empires: Castle Siege resembles more to Clash of Clans than it does to its desktop counterpart. Despite being a washed-up genre in the mobile gaming arena, battling with real historic civilizations of Britons, Teutons, Francs, and others are enthralling. From building your great empire to recruiting brave heroes of the past like Jean de Arc and Richard the Lionheart to your army, Age of Empires: Castle Siege enables you to fight for the right to be at the top of the leaderboard with your friends and foes.
10. Next Lock ScreenIf you love the traditional Google UI way too much to get the Microsoft Launcher, Next Lock Screen is among the Microsoft apps that get you the lockscreen customization and nothing extra. Covering the basics, Next Lock Screen comes with built-in security and fingerprint unlock on supported devices, along with a whole new way of showcasing your notifications. The app allows you to add contacts directly to your home screen so you can make phone calls and messages right away, and add shortcuts to installed apps as well. With quick tools for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Flashlight, and others along with Weather, Calendar, and even a built-in Music Player, you get more out of the Next Lock Screen from Microsoft than you could possibly as for.
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