Microsoft’s Outlook mobile apps got a solid revamp last year, thanks to its acquisition of the email app Acompli. Now, it’s ready to integrate the spoils of another mobile acquisition: the calendar app Sunrise. The latest versions of the Outlook apps, launching on iOS today and Android in November, feature several design updates that would be familiar to Sunrise users. The calendar portion of the app now has a daily view that puts all of your activities in an easily scrollable list, and event entries now display their relevant information more clearly. On the email side of things, event invites are highlighted in your inbox, and you can even RSVP to them without opening up the message. For most users, these sorts of changes will be subtle experience upgrades, but it’s nice to see Microsoft integrate some of the design elements that made people fans of Sunrise. The new app also makes it clear what Microsoft is trying to do with Outlook on mobile: Bring all of the best design decisions from disparate apps into a single location. (One email app to rule them all, yadda yadda…)
Eventually, Microsoft plans to bring over more elements from Sunrise into Outlook, including more integration with other apps and easier event creation. That also means that Outlook will eventually replace the Sunrise app, according to Microsoft’s Outlook VP Javier Soltero (who came over as CEO of Acompli). That’s the sort of news that Sunrise fans were probably dreading following Microsoft’s acquisition of the app, but Soltero says Microsoft won’t sunset Sunrise (hah) until all of its key features are in Outlook. Really, though, the move makes sense: Outlook on the desktop focused on being your single app for your mail, calendar and contacts, so why not do the same with Outlook on mobile?
It also looks like consumers are buying into Microsoft’s new Outlook mobile strategy. It now has more than 30 million people using Outlook on iOS and Android once a month, making for more than 1.2 billion monthly sessions. Additionally, around 20 percent of those people have more than one account linked to Outlook, which is a sign that they may be relying on it for both work and personal email.
“There are a lot of tools to satisfy different scenarios of collaboration, but the one truly horizontal, ubiquitous and fundamentally open scenario is email,” Soltero said in an interview. “I joke, probably too often, that I can send you an email from my super awesome Surface Pro 4 using Outlook 2016 … and you can be reading it in Pine, if you’re a Unix nerd like I was, or maybe Eudora, if you want to go really old school… That flexibility, along with the structural flexibility of email as a communications tool, is both the reason why it’s still popular and still around, but also the reason why we hate it. The way you fix that … you don’t make it a tools conversations, you really dig deep into what exactly is not great about email…. And it turns out email would be better if people would use it better.”
Despite many tools that advertise themselves as email killers, like Microsoft-owned Yammer and the popular collaboration tool Slack, email isn’t really going anywhere anytime soon. So the best option for tech companies now is to figure out new ways to help people wrangle their email better — not by piling on features, but by focusing on usability. That’s what Microsoft is focusing on now with its new Outlook apps, and so far, it seems to be paying off.
The Galaxy J3 was spotted on GFXBench a few weeks ago, and then Samsung imported it to India last week for testing. Now, the device has passed through FCC certification, so it seems that its launch is imminent. The documents reveal that the smartphone was tested for 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE connectivity. Approval by FCC means that Samsung could soon make the device official.
The Galaxy J3 (SM-J3109) features a Snapdragon 410 processor with a 64-bit quad-core CPU and Adreno 306 GPU, 1GB RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. It will most probably be released with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, an 8-megapixel primary camera, and a 5-megapixel secondary camera. The Galaxy J2 was released in India in September for INR 8,490 (~ $130), and we believe that the Galaxy J3 will be costlier than that when it gets launched officially.
Aside from carrying their usual slew of weapons which includes a baton, pepper spray and a firearm police in The Netherlands are getting a new weapon that’s not entirely as dangerous but will certainly go a long way in making their lives easier. Some 10,000 cops of the country’s National Police have received the Galaxy S5 which comes with custom software that allows them to tap into the police database to check personal data and also write digital fines. This makes it much easier for them to ascertain whether someone is telling the truth about their identity, they simply need to run a search in the app and find out if the person’s ID is genuine or fake.
Edwin Delwel of the National Police says that cops only have to enter a name and a birthdate in the system which then brings up additional information as well as a photograph within seconds thereby saving a lot of time and eliminating the possibility of being hoodwinked. From 2016 police will also be able to record declaration with the smartphone, for example if it’s a burglary case the agent only needs to sign the ID card of the declarant, enter information about the incident, take photos and then have the declaration signed digitally which is then immediately sent to the victim via email.
Since the system will automatically pull in information from the database it means that the possibility of errors is reduced particularly when filing fines, officers will be able to hand out fines digitally by simply scanning the person’s ID card. The new system is being tested on a relatively small scale for now but by next year it will be expanded to cover some 33,000 police officers.
How are we gonna communicate, ‘cause we don’t wanna carry around a mouse, right? So, what are we gonna do? Oh, a stylus, right? We’re gonna use a stylus. No. Who wants a stylus? You have to get ‘em and put ‘em away and you lose ‘em. Yuck! Nobody wants a stylus. So let’s not use a stylus. We’re gonna use the best pointing device in the world. We’re gonna use a pointing device that we’re all born with. We’re born with 10 of ‘em. We’re gonna use our fingers. We’re gonna touch this with our fingers. And we have invented a new technology called multitouch… – Steve Jobs, first iPhone announcement, 2007
It’s been said that you can’t put a price tag on intuitiveness.
If a device is intuitive, if using it is as natural as opening a door, flicking a light switch on and off, pressing a button, etc., people will line up for it and buy it. That seems to be the magic that graced Steve Jobs’s career at Apple. As Apple’s former CEO, Steve Jobs left a legacy for a company that couldn’t have witnessed his rise at a better time. He was the true “Apple Genius,” and he passed away on Monday, October 5th, 2011 (four years ago). He changed the face of technology as we know it, and left the world of tech (and the world itself) a better place with his insight, knowledge, and his daring innovation.
When Steve Jobs announced the very first iPhone,
Apple had a chance to incorporate a stylus. Yet, Steve Jobs refused to take this path. His reason? No one wants a stylus because you 1) have to take it out, 2) put it back when you’re finished, and 3) you can lose it. And, above these three reasons, we can’t forget the first from the quote: the stylus 4) serves as a communicator, like the mouse does to a computer. The stylus was inadequate because he believed that its slight inconveniences made it a terrible writing instrument with a smartphone. To Steve Jobs, then, the stylus wasn’t intuitive. It wasn’t natural. It was just an inconvenience. For him, the iPhone would never have a stylus. To this day, Steve Jobs’s legacy lives on – at least in Apple’s smartphone collection, anyway.
In light of Steve Jobs’s disgust over the stylus,
one wonders why Samsung ever announced the first Galaxy Note with its S Pen and created the Note category. Sure, companies disagree with sound reasoning all the time, but was Samsung wrong in disagreeing with Steve Jobs? Is it the case that the only intuitive action on a smartphone is to use our fingers?
Call it a matter of having been in his particular context,
but Steve Jobs was not entirely wrong. Even today, with the Galaxy Note5, we don’t use the S Pen to navigate the display. We don’t use the S Pen all the time to open apps, or type an email, set the alarm for the next morning, and so on. We don’t use the S Pen to open or use the camera, and we don’t need to use it when we’re simply catching up on news for the day. At the same time, however, the S Pen does have a place, a significance, in the smartphone experience that makes using only our fingers at times incomplete.
The S Pen does play the role of a mouse in the smartphone experience:
Samsung’s own Smart Select, formerly called “S Pen as Mouse” in the Galaxy Note 4, allows users to copy and paste words and images simultaneously. This is the same function that the mouse performs with a computer. And yet, the S Pen, coupled with Samsung’s own unique software, accomplishes this wonderfully. The S Pen does exactly what a mouse does for a PC: it lets you copy and paste without having to copy words with one action and images with another. Smart Select lets you do two things at once.
And this doesn’t take into consideration the need to sign digital forms and documents.
No one signs PDF forms with his or her fingers only; from an early age, it’s cute to paint with our fingers, but we’re taught to color in images with crayons and color pencils, to sign our names with a pencil or pen. Even in a technologically progressive age as ours, writing instruments are still useful and relevant. We still provide a physical signature to buy a home, testify to our sibling’s marriage on his or her marriage license, agree to a two-year contract with a carrier, and so on. And Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5, as has been the case with the Note line prior, continues the tradition of combining multitouch (the progressive) with the reality that the “old-school” notion of handwritten signatures is still valid and thriving. Keyboard strokes will never replace handwritten signatures; like fingerprints, no two of them are alike.
On the fourth anniversary of Steve Jobs’s death, we stop to ask the question:
was Steve Jobs’s response to the stylus (and subsequently, Samsung’s S Pen) correct? Is the S Pen unintuitive and inconvenient? Not at all. The S Pen isn’t any more irrelevant than signing handwritten signatures in certain cases is irrelevant. Signing our names is an intuitive gesture that we learn from early on in life, and the Galaxy Note 5 continues Samsung’s tradition of merging the new digital age with reminiscences of the old one. Life is all about building bridges between the past and the future, and, as Apple may be learning with the Apple Pencil, new questions about intuitiveness require old answers.
Apple seems to be slacking behind Samsung in terms of smartphones sales according to a new report. During the quarter of July-September, Samsung sold 83.8 million smartphones, which accounts for 23.7 percent of the global smartphone market. These are truly impressive numbers when you compare it to Apple’s 48 million units sold during the same period, accounting for 13.6 percent of the global smartphone market.
These smartphone sales for Samsung are the highest they’ve ever been since Q1 2014, and it seems that a lot of sales come from mid-tier models like the Galaxy A8 and the Galaxy J5. It’s important to mention that the global smartphone market is also bigger than last year, having expanded 9.5 percent with 354.2 million units as of late-September.
While Samsung is dominating the smartphone market, they are slacking behind Apple in terms of smartwatch sales. The South Korean-based company has recently announced the first profit growth in two years time, so the future is rather bright for them. Samsung is going to begin the next year in full force with a possible flagship release in January.
For years, people have wondered if Google would merge its Android and Chrome operating systems, and the company has steadfastly held to them important but distinct pieces of its strategy. That might be changing: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google has been working for two years to merge Chrome OS and Android. The results of that unified operating system is expected to be officially released to the public in 2017, but we may see an early version as soon as next year.
Update: While some have reported Google might “kill” ChromeOS, the company seems to still have some kind of dual-strategy in mind and has disputed that interpretation. As the Senior VP of Chrome OS, Chromecast and Android Hiroshi Lockheimer probably knows the the most about each project’s potential fate, and he tweeted tonight that “we are very committed to Chrome OS.”
The WSJ says that this new version of Android will also run on PCs, though it’s not clear if the company is talking about Windows and Mac computers or just a rebranded extension of the current Chromebook lineup. The former seems likely, as the Chrome browser contains most of the functionality of Chrome OS itself. Given that Google wants to get its Google Play store on as many devices as possible, it would make sense to see a version that works with the vast number of Windows and Mac machines out there. Chromebooks will end up being rebranded to an as-yet undetermined name.
Ever since current Google CEO Sundar Pichai became both the director of Android as well as Chrome OS in March of 2013, there’s been a lot of speculation about if the two operating systems would merge. While Pichai initially said they would stay separate, he appointed Hiroshi Lockheimer to manage both operating systems late last year — so there’s been a fairly long history of Google’s two operating systems having one clear lead for some time now.
When we might see this new, combined operating system is far from certain — but it seems like the next Google I/O event would be as natural a time as any for the company to show off such a major shift.
If there are words and phrases you type out over and over again on your phone—from your email address to “I’ll be five minutes late”—then both Android and iOS include built-in tools to help you communicate faster. Here’s how to get the shortcuts set up and burn through emails and texts messages on your smartphone.
Head into the Settings app, then tap Language & input and choose the Personal dictionary entry from the menu that appears. A list of all the words you’ve added to your personal dictionary appears on screen. Tap the plus icon (top right) to enter your word or phrase, then give it a unique shortcut code in the field underneath.
That’s just about all there is to it. Next time you’re tapping out a message, enter the shortcut code and the word or phrase appears as a suggestion on screen. If you prefer, you can make use of a third-party app to do the same job—Texpand seems to be the most useful and most recently updated option out there at the moment.
On recent versions of iOS, you can find the keyboard shortcuts feature by going to the Settings app, then tapping General and Keyboard. Select Text Replacement and you can start working on your shortcuts. As on Android, a tap on the plus icon in the top-right corner lets you create a new one.
The process is almost exactly the same as it is on Google’s mobile OS—input your word or phrase, specify a shortcut, tap Save and you’re good to go. The next time the iOS keyboard pops up on screen, you can type out your shortcut and then choose your specified word or phrase from the suggestions that appear above the keys.
Marshmallow further bolsters Android’s existing notification muting features thanks to an enhanced Do Not Disturb feature.
n Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google added some new features that made it easier to silence unwanted notifications while you’re asleep or at work, for example. Android 6.0 Marshmallow builds on Lollipop’s Priority Notifications and Downtime features, and gives these notification management tools a new umbrella name: Do Not Disturb. Let’s take a look at what these expanded notification-silencing features can do.
Turn on Do Not Disturb at any time
Android Marshmallow lets you mute notifications at any time with just a tap. Pull down the Notifications drawer, then swipe down again to get to the Quick Settings tray (or swipe down with two fingers at once). Tap Do not disturb, then choose the sorts of alerts you want to receive while do not disturb is active. You can choose to continue receiving notifications for alarms or priority notifications, or you can opt for total silence. (We’ll discuss priority notifications in-depth here in a moment.)
Finally, choose whether you want to have Do Not Disturb stay on until you say otherwise (“Until you turn this off”) or for a set period of time (“For one hour,” by default). If you choose the latter option, use the “+” and “-“ buttons to set how long you want Do Not Disturb to be active.
Android Lollipop introduced the concept of “priority notifications”: These notifications rise to the top of the notifications screen, and you can choose to continue receiving auditory or vibration alerts for these notifications even when you have all other notifications muted.
To choose which notifications you’d like to treat as priority notifications, head on over to your phone’s Settings app, then tap Sound & notification—a one-stop shop of sorts for all things related to notifications and alert sounds. Next, tap Do not disturb, then tap Priority only allows. From this screen, you can choose to limit the sorts of notifications you’ll be alerted to.
First, choose whether you want to give priority to notifications for reminders and calendar events. (The option to silence alarms is grayed out for whatever reason.)
Next, review the priority notifications options for Messages and Phone calls. set your priority preferences by tapping either “Messages” or “Calls.” when you do, a menu pops open with four options:
From anyone: This option allows all notifications through, regardless of who is trying to reach you.
From contacts only: Notifications alerting you to calls or messages from people listed in your Contacts app will get priority status.
From starred contacts only: This setting gives priority to notifications that pertain only to those marked as favorites in the Contacts app. To mark someone as a favorite, go to the Contacts app, tap that person’s name, then tap the star icon in the upper right corner.
None : No call or message notifications will receive priority status.
Once you choose your desired settings for calls and messages, choose whether you want notifications from repeat callers to gain priority by toggling the “Repeat callers” slider to the On position. When this setting is switched on, you’ll receive a notification if someone calls you a second time within a 15-minute period, regardless of whether notifications from that person receive priority status.
If you want to allow all notification alerts through most of the time, but want to limit alerts during certain hours (like when you’re sleeping or at the office), Downtime is for you. During Downtime hours, you’ll only be alerted to priority interruptions; your phone will receive all other notifications silently. They’ll be there, waiting for you when you wake up, but your phone will not light up the screen, make a noise, or vibrate.
If you want to use Downtime, you first need to choose the days of the week and times you want to set as notification quiet hours. Go to Settings > Sound & notification > Do not disturb > Automatic rules. Android Marshmallow provides presets you can use for weekends and weeknights, and a preset option for managing notifications during calendar events.
Start by tapping any of these three options—for the sake of this tutorial, I’ll tap Weekend. Next, toggle the on/off switch to the “on” position. Select theDays you want the preset to apply to, then set a Start time and End time.
Finally, select the kinds of alerts you’d like to allow through. You can choose between Alarms only (allows alarms to sound but silences all other notifications), Priority only (allows only priority notifications), or Total silence(which mutes all notifications).
Take a peek at the Event preset as well, and choose whether you want to silence notifications from going off during events listed on your calendar—useful for preventing your phone from going off in the middle of a staff meetings. Switch the rule on, select the calendar and reply status you want it to use, then choose what kind of notifications—if any—you want to receive during calendar events.
You can create additional rules for notifications as well: For example, you can set one to allow only priority notifications while you’re at the office. TapAdd rule, enter a name, choose whether you want a Time rule (you enter specific times and dates) or an Event rule (one based on calendar events), then tap OK. At this point, you can set up your new rule: Doing so is pretty straightforward—it works just like the presets mentioned above.
You can delete a rule at any time by tapping its name, then tapping the trash can icon in the upper right corner. You can also choose to temporarily stop observing a rule by toggling the on/off switch to the “off” position.
Android Marshmallow, like Lollipop before it, also lets you choose to block apps from sending notifications entirely, or to mark notifications from certain apps as priority notifications.
First, head back to Settings > Sound & notification. Next, scroll to the bottom and tap App notifications, then tap on the app for which you want to adjust notification settings. Toggle the Block all slider to the “on” position to stop receiving notifications from that app. Toggle the Treat as Priority slider to “on” if you want notifications from that app to be considered Priority notifications.
While you’re here, you can toggle whether you want to view the larger “heads-up” notifications for the app in question using the Allow peeking setting.
You can also get to this screen any time an app’s notification appears by pressing and holding on the notification until you see the little info button (it looks like a lowercase “i” in a circle) appear. Tap on that, and you’ll go straight to the notification settings for that app.
Once you’re done, exit the Settings app and enjoy your newfound mastery of Android Marshmallow’s notification system.