Every year since 2011, enterprising engineers and developers for both web and software have been showcasing to Microsoft their work on platforms such as Windows, Azure and other Microsoft-related tech, in a conference known in short as Windows Build. The one for this year, held May 7 to 9 at Seattle’s Washington State Convention Center, promised some interesting new features for Windows 10, be it working with handheld devices, to cross-compatibility between its Cortana smart AI and Amazon’s own Alexa. Even a now-old Microsoft feature for its Xbox consoles has found a new purpose. And that is merely the beginning.
The Verge reports some very nice new perks that were revealed this week at the 2018 Microsoft Build conference. Here is a rundown of the ones that gathered attention. First, Microsoft previewed Your Phone, a new app that can sync a Windows 10 computer with smartphones and similar devices that are running the two major mobile operating systems of Android and Apple iOS. Through Your Phone, a user can send txt message and look up notifications through their synced smartphone. It will be made available for beta this week, and by fall it will be officially released on the 10.
Next, Microsoft and Amazon have made good on their promise from last year that their respective AI voice speakers, Cortana and Alexa, will have some integration on their respective devices. Their beta test involved a Windows 10 Surface laptop and an Echo smart speaker. With the command “Cortana, open Alexa” on the Surface, or vice versa on the Echo, they will open up the named AI assistant on the other device. Once invoked, Alexa was able to respond normally on the Surface just as Cortana did on the Echo. So far, consumers do not have access yet to this function.
Other new features revealed on Microsoft Build this week include mobile app versions of Windows 10 Timeline and a new version of tabbing for the OS. A “set” is an all-in-one customizable window where each tab is for a different application; for instance, a user-custom set could have a tab for Microsoft Word and another for his browser of choice. Next, Microsoft is salvaging its Kinect motion-sensing input tech from its meh outing on the Xbox One, and turning it into a new service on the Cloud. Developers and hardware manufacturers are targeted to utilize Cloud Kinect in the future.
Such advances by developers working on Windows 10 have been partly made possible by a great deal of generosity from Microsoft. Other app platforms on average would take 30% off the earnings on every app they host. Microsoft on the other hand promises only a 5% cut from developers’ profits.
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