Microsoft Aims to Woo Wunderlist Users With Overhauled ‘To Do’ App

Microsoft has unveiled its new-look To Do app. First launched in 2017, the productivity app came along two years after the company acquired Wunderlist, but only now does it resemble a like-for-like replacement offering feature parity with the long-running cloud-based task management service. Announcing To Do v2.0, Microsoft had this to say:

to do
When Wunderlist became part of the Microsoft family, our mission was to bring the delightful, simple, and elegant daily task experience and build it into Microsoft's intelligent, interconnected, and security-centric ecosystem to create a new app—Microsoft To Do. Today, we're unveiling the new version of To Do, which includes a fresh new design, access from wherever you are, and more integration with Microsoft apps and services.
The most obvious visual similarity is that To Do now supports background images – and even includes the Berlin TV tower image that longtime Wunderlist users will be familiar with. Every list can be given its own background image, and Microsoft says it has reduced the list header size and added new color theme customization options, with a dark mode for iOS and Mac coming soon.

Otherwise, it looks like business as usual for Wunderlist fans. The app features subtasks, recurring tasks, prioritized tasks, reminders and due dates, file attachments, and notes. Lists can also be grouped, shared with other people, and assigned.

There's a personalized daily planner feature called My Day that refreshes daily and features smart suggestions for tasks. And of course, all lists sync across devices, allowing users to stay organized at work, home, or on the go. Finally, there's deeper integration with Microsoft 365 apps and services like Microsoft Planner, linking to Microsoft-hosted email accounts like Outlook, Hotmail, and Live, and Cortana and Amazon Echo support.


Users without a Microsoft account can register with their existing email address. Once they sign in, the option to import tasks from Wunderlist is displayed, and it can also be found in Settings. Microsoft To Do is a free download for iPhone and iPad available from the App Store. [Direct Link]


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Microsoft Bringing New Dark Mode to Office Apps for iOS Devices

Microsoft today announced plans to bring a new Dark Mode option to its Office apps for iOS devices, expanding on the darker user interface theme that has been available in some of its desktop apps.

Starting today, Microsoft is rolling out Dark Mode to Outlook for iOS, Android, and Office.com. In the future, when iOS 13 launches, Microsoft plans to extend the Dark Mode option to additional Office apps for iOS.


The Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, OneDrive, Planner, and To-Do Microsoft apps for iPhones and iPads will be updated with a Dark Mode option that will go well with the Dark Mode that Apple is introducing in iOS 13.

The new Dark Mode options will be able to be set to activate automatically when iOS 13's Dark Mode is turned on, so the darker theme won't need to be manually enabled within the Microsoft app.


Microsoft said that when designing its Dark Mode option, it thought of people who are viewing email, calendars, files, and more in places like darkened airplanes, movie theaters, or in bed at night.
Our design research specifically focused on these contexts where folks would want to use Dark Mode, and the response was very positive. While some Dark Mode experiences can be neon or overly bright, people felt that Outlook mobile kept the kind of relaxed feeling you might want in a dimly lit living room or bedroom.
Testers who used Microsoft's Dark Mode apparently found it to be "comfortable, crisp, clear, and aesthetically pleasing," plus easier on the eyes because it cuts down on eye strain.

Dark Mode will be available starting today in the Outlook app for iOS devices, and it will come to additional apps when iOS 13 and iPadOS launch.


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Microsoft Launches Beta Version of Microsoft Edge Browser for Windows and macOS

Microsoft today announced the launch of a beta version of its upcoming Microsoft Edge browser, which is available today for Windows and macOS users.

Previously, the Microsoft Edge browser was available as a preview build, but Microsoft has now graduated to an official beta. Microsoft's beta channel represents more stable software than the preview channel.


Microsoft has said that its aim with Microsoft Edge is to create better web compatibility with better performance for customers while making sure there's less fragmentation of the web for web developers. During the preview period, Windows and Mac users downloaded Edge more than a million times, and Microsoft received more than 140,000 individual pieces of feedback to improve the browser.

Microsoft Edge for Mac is designed to be similar to the Microsoft Edge experience on Windows, but with "user experience optimizations" that are designed to make it feel more Mac-like.

The beta version of the Edge browser features new personalization options, such as tab page customization, dark theme support, and extensions from the Microsoft Insider Addons store or other Chromium-based web stores like the Chrome Web Store.

Tracking prevention has been added to protect users from being tracked by websites, built-in Microsoft Search for Bing, and Internet Explorer mode with Internet Explorer 11 compatibility.

Microsoft is also expanding its Microsoft Edge browser security program to the beta channel, offering rewards of up to $15,000 for the discovery of high-impact vulnerabilities.

The new Microsoft Edge beta can be downloaded for free from the Microsoft website. There's still no word on when the Edge browser will see a launch, but it's likely there will be a few more months of beta testing before that happens.


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Former Siri Chief Bill Stasior Joins Microsoft to Lead AI Team

Bill Stasior, Apple's former head of Siri development, has joined Microsoft as corporate VP of technology, reports The Information.


Starting this month, Stasior will lead an artificial intelligence group at Microsoft and will be reporting to Microsoft's chief technology officer, Kevin Scott.

A Ph.D. graduate in computer science from MIT, Stasior was head of Apple's Siri team for seven years, following the departure of Siri co-founders Adam Cheyer and Dag Kittlaus in 2012. Cheyer and Kittlaus had joined Apple when the company originally purchased Siri in 2010, but didn't stay long.

Stasior stepped down from his role as leader of Apple's voice assistant group in February, as part of a restructuring effort by John Giannandrea, Apple's senior vice president of machine learning and AI strategy.

Giannandrea was a prominent Google executive before being hired by Apple last year. With Giannandrea taking over the Siri team, Stasior was said to be stepping away from day-to-day management of Siri, yet remaining at the company. However, according to The Information, Stasior cut all ties with Apple in May.

Giannandrea's hiring came amid widespread criticism of Siri, which has shortcomings in comparison to AI offerings from the likes of Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. Apple made strides to improve Siri in 2018 under Giannandrea's leadership, with features like Siri Shortcuts in iOS 12.


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‘Mac Book’ Recommends Surface Laptop 2 in New Microsoft Ad

Microsoft has come out with a new marketing campaign that features a man called Mackenzie Book (read: Mac Book) explaining why a Surface Laptop 2 is a better option than an Apple MacBook, in his humble opinion.


The 30-second ad consists of a quick-fire Q&A session between a voiceover narrator and the man-Mac himself, who proceeds to explain why he thinks the Microsoft machine beats Apple's notebook in various departments.

"So Mac, which laptop lasts longer?" the narrator asks.

"Surface laptop lasts longer," Book responds.

The actor's answers are accompanied by the text "Mac Book says Surface laptop ... [lasts longer / is faster / has a better touchscreen.]" The latter response is qualified by the narrator with the remark "Oh right, because MacBooks don't have touchscreens."

The ad ends with two thumbs up from Mr Book and his recommendation: "You should get a Surface. Trust me, I'm Mac Book." His sign-off is followed by the tagline, "Mac Book says get a Surface Laptop."

Microsoft and Apple have often taken aim at each other over the years with jokey Mac vs. PC ads. From 2006 to 2009, Justin Long played a Mac computer in Apple's "Get a Mac" campaign, alongside John Hodgman, who played a PC.

The commercials always started out with the tagline "Hello, I'm a Mac," and were some of Apple's most iconic ads, featuring Long as the cool, casual Mac and Hodgman as a stuffy PC in a suit and tie.

However, Microsoft's latest effort is a decidedly left-field take on the man/Mac concept.


Last year, Microsoft released a holiday ad promoting its Surface Go over Apple's iPad, using the tagline "Big dreams need a real computer."

Microsoft's 2018 ad was aimed at Apple's own "What's a Computer?" ad campaign, which began in 2016 and showed off some things that the iPad Pro can do as a replacement to a traditional laptop computer.

Microsoft released the Surface Laptop 2 in October 2018 and is expected to launch refreshed Surface Pro and Surface Book models later this year.


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Bill Gates Regrets Microsoft Losing to Android as Dominant Platform Beyond iPhone

At a recent event hosted by venture capital firm Village Global, highlighted by TechCrunch, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates lamented on losing to Android, calling it "one of the greatest mistakes of all time."

Skip to the 11:40 mark:


Transcript:
In the software world, it's very predictable for platforms. These are winner-take-all markets. The greatest mistake ever is whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is. Android is the standard phone platform — non-Apple phone platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win. It really is winner take all. If you're there with half as many apps, or 90 percent as many apps, you're on your way to complete doom. There's room for exactly one non-Apple operating system.

It's amazing to me having made one of the greatest mistakes of all time… our other assets, Windows, Office, are still very strong… we are a leading company. If we'd gotten that right, we'd be the leading company.
In fairness, it was Steve Ballmer who served as Microsoft's CEO between 2000 and 2014. Ballmer is infamous for laughing off the iPhone, but Apple and Google had the last laugh, as Windows Phone failed to ever gain any significant market share among mobile operating systems and is ultimately being abandoned.


Gates added that there is room for exactly one non-Apple mobile operating system, which is certainly the case as of today. Together, Android and iOS have an estimated 99.9 percent market share, according to research firm Gartner, having squeezed out former heavyweights like BlackBerry and Nokia.


Simply put, Apple upended the industry when it launched the iPhone in 2007, and Microsoft failed to respond. Windows Phone could have been the commoditized mobile platform, as Windows is to Mac, but Android won the battle.


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Microsoft Prepping Foldable Dual-Screen Surface Tablet That Runs Android Apps

Microsoft plans to launch a small foldable Surface tablet in the first half of 2020, according to Jeff Lin, an analyst at research firm IHS Markit.

Microsoft Surface Go

In an email shared with Forbes citing supply chain information, Lin said he expects Microsoft to debut a Surface with dual 9-inch screens featuring a 4:3 aspect ratio.

Perhaps more interestingly, Lin also claims Microsoft's forthcoming next-gen Windows operating system, Windows Core OS, will be able to run Android apps natively. The new Surface will also apparently support Apple's iCloud services in Windows 10.

The device will also reportedly adopt an Intel 10nm Lakefield system-on-a-chip (SOC). Lin believes the dual-screen Surface could arrive as early as the first quarter of 2020, or by the first half of 2020.

Bearing in mind the problems that foldable displays have already presented for Samsung, it will be intriguing to see how Microsoft intends to implement a dynamic dual-display in a foldable tablet design.

Additionally, it's unclear how Microsoft plans to host its own Android App Store separate from the Google Play store, and how that would align with the company's existing Universal Windows Platform, which provides developers with a common app platform on every device that runs Windows 10.

Earlier this year reports began appearing that Microsoft is planning to launch a dual-screen mobile device, codenamed "Centaurus." The company even teased dual-screen Surface hardware in an all hands event for its devices team earlier this month, according to The Verge.

IHS Markit analyst Lin on Sunday also predicted Apple's MacBook plans for later this year, which are said to include a 16-inch MacBook Pro and refreshes for its 13-inch MacBook Pro sans Touch Bar and MacBook Air.


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Microsoft To-Do App Now Available on the Mac App Store

Microsoft has released a native Mac version of its To-Do app for the first time, meaning macOS users will no longer have to rely on company's the web app to access the to-do list service.


Microsoft To-Do is free on the Mac App Store, and offers users a personalized daily planner called My Day with suggested tasks, including tasks pulled from Outlook.
Got something on your mind? Get Microsoft To-Do. Whether you want to increase your productivity, decrease your stress levels or just clear up some mental space, Microsoft To-Do makes it easy to plan your day and manage your life.
The app features the ability to sync tasks across devices, attach files up to 25MB, create color-coded lists, break tasks into manageable steps, add notes to tasks, share tasks and lists, and set reminders,

The release of the Mac app on the Mac App Store [Direct Link] completes Microsoft's aim to bring native versions of the software to all platforms, including iOS, Windows, and Android.

(Via Thurrott.com)


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Apple Launches New iCloud for Windows App in Microsoft Store

Apple today introduced a new iCloud for Windows app designed for PCs, according to a blog post shared by Microsoft. The new app is designed to allow Apple users to access their iCloud content on their Windows 10 PCs.

The iCloud app for Windows includes iCloud Drive, iCloud Photos, Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Reminders, Safari Bookmarks, and more.

What you can do with iCloud for Windows

- Safely store your photos and videos in iCloud. With iCloud Photos, any new photos and videos that you take on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch automatically download to your PC. And you can upload new photos and videos from your PC so that you can access them from your other devices too.
- Use Shared Albums to share photos and videos with just the people you choose. Then invite friends to add their own photos, videos, and comments.
- Get your documents on every device you use with iCloud Drive. Simply drag your documents into the iCloud Drive folder on your PC and access them at any time, on any device.
- Keep your iCloud Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and Reminders up to date automatically between your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, and PC.
- Keep your Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Google Chrome bookmarks on Windows the same as your Safari bookmarks.
- Update your iCloud preferences, see how much iCloud storage you're using, delete items to free up storage, and update your storage plan whenever you want.
According to Microsoft, the iCloud Drive feature on Windows is powered by the same Windows technology behind the OneDrive Files On-Demand Feature, which lets users be more productive offline on mobile devices and quickly share files on iOS.


Apple has a support document for getting started with iCloud for Windows, which basically requires having an existing iCloud setup on an Apple device.


Windows users can download iCloud for Windows from the Microsoft Store starting today.


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Microsoft Brings ‘Insert Data From Picture’ Excel Feature to iOS Devices

Microsoft today announced that the Excel app for iOS is gaining the Insert Data from Picture feature that was previously made available on Android devices.

Insert Data from Picture lets you take a photo of data in a table format and convert it to a digital format in Excel. You can capture financial spreadsheets, work schedules, task lists, time tables, and more, so long as it's in a table format to begin with.


According to Microsoft, Insert Data from Picture combines optical character recognition technology, layout understanding techniques, and machine learning to convert information written on paper into digital data.

As of today, the Insert Data from Picture feature also supports 21 languages on both iOS and Android.

The Excel iOS app from Microsoft can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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