App Mirroring Has Begun!

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App Mirroring Has Begun!

Last October we wrote about Microsoft’s expedition in linking mobile phones and computers to provide a seamless experience for users. Known as App Mirroring, the goal is to allows users to take any app they use on their phone and use it the same way on a desktop or laptop.  It was just a showcase idea at the time, but now the beta testing has begun!

App Mirroring:

We all love a fluid experience between our devices, yet up to this point in time there has been a noticeable gap between apps and how/if they can be accessed on a computer.  If you want to take your Snapchat conversation and continue it on a desktop, that can prove to be a feat.  With app mirroring the idea is that any app that you can use on a phone can be mimicked on a Windows screen.

We talked about how this could be exciting not only for users, but for developers too.  It could create another medium for experiences, and thus new types of apps could spring up.  Hard to say what, but that’s up the creatives of the world and I’m sure we’ll see some cool things.

Device Limitations:

App Mirroring is still a catchy term in my opinion, but the feature is currently named “Phone Screen”, and it has a few limitations.  Phone Screen will only be supported on certain types of hardware and requires users to use the latest beta Windows 10 Insiders build.  It will be compatible with Android phones running 7.0 or higher, so if you’ve bought a phone within the past few years you are probably in the clear there.

Additionally user’s PCs will need to support Bluetooth with Low Energy Peripheral mode. And with the Surface Go meeting these requirements, there will likely be a fair amount of compatibility between the app and tablet worlds as well.

Using Phone Screen:

To use Phone Screen as a beta tester you’ll simply open the Windows 10 Your Phone app.  In here you’ll be able to see a list of all your installed Android apps, and you can select any of them to open the same way you would a phone.

Currently only Windows Insiders running the latest test builds will be able to test app-mirroring (that’s how betas usually go), but it’s hard to say how long until its available to everyone.  Android users can already use the Your Phone app to see the last couple dozen photos they’ve taken on their phone.  So the first steps to bridging the gap are actually already here for all of us. It’s good to see that trend is continuing with App Mirroring

What are your thoughts on App Mirroring/Phone Screen?  Are there any apps it will be amazing to use on a desktop?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

Microsoft Moving Out Of Mobile

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Microsoft Moving Out Of Mobile

It’s the end of an era for Microsoft phones.  While back in 2017 Microsoft announced they were done developing new hardware for their devices, now they’ve decided to end support altogether.  Security and software updates will be coming to a close In December of this year.  It’s time to move on to an Android or iPhone.

Failure To Launch:

The company once had huge plans for their mobile phones, but things never really took off quite as expected. The Windows Phone 7 launched in 2010, but now less than a decade later Microsoft is moving out of the mobile hardware industry. Back then Microsoft touted that the emergence of their phones would be the death of both BlackBerry and iPhone. One of these has come true, but the other…not so much.

There are many reasons for the Windows phones not resonating with users, but a hefty one was the lack of apps in the app store.  Many popular apps on Android and iOS devices simply weren’t available for Windows users. Now Microsoft has decided to bypass this issue and instead focus on providing its services to other carriers. 

The Future of Mobile For Microsoft:

Microsoft phones may be done for, but the company’s future in mobile is far from over.  They’ve invested heavily in making Office products available on both Android and iPhones.  They also have a partnership with Samsung, who sells some of their Galaxy phones with Office pre-installed.

Android seems to be the mobile choice that Microsoft has embraced.  With an Android launcher and upcoming app mirroring support, users moving away from Microsoft phones will likely lean towards that option.

Moving Forwards:

It’s no huge surprise that Microsoft dropped support for Windows 10 mobile, since the same thing happened for the Windows Phone 8.1 in 2017.  While Microsoft will be playing a role in mobile phones down the road, their attention has shifted elsewhere.  They’re still a mega player in the tech world (we just wrote about their changes to GitHub).

Still, Microsoft is urging users to move to either one of the two main players.  They said “With the Windows 10 Mobile OS end of support, we recommend that customers move to a supported Android or iOS device.  Microsoft’s mission statement to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, compels us to support our Mobile apps on those platforms and devices.”

What are your thoughts on the end of Microsoft mobile support?  Will these phones be missed or is it best that Microsoft focus their efforts elsewhere?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

Private Repos Coming to a Website Near You

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Private Repos Coming to a Website Near You

Chances are you’re familiar with GitHub, the web-based hosting service for version control.  It’s where many developers go to save their code online or share it with others.  While GitHub is free to use, if you wanted more privacy then that cost money.  At least it used to!

Free Private Repos:

Earlier this week GitHub underwent a change.  Users are now allowed to host as many private repositories as they want.  A dramatic change considering this feature used to cost $7 a month.  Private repos are free to use with up to three collaborators, and public repos still allow for unlimited collaborators.

The number of collaborators is the only real limitation on private repos, and the change is aimed at improving the version control experience for smaller fish in the development pool. The idea being that if you’re on a small team or an individual you won’t have to pay the fees larger companies do. 

GitHub’s Going Through Changes:

GitHub has been making headlines a lot in the past few months. In October Microsoft completed their $7.5 billion acquisition of it.  In November of 2018 GitHub passed 100 million repositories (and that number could sky rocket now that anyone can utilize private repos for free).

A number of pricing changes have come along with free repos, but this is the most noteworthy for individual developers.  Originally called GitHub Developer, the $7/month plan has been rebranded to GitHub Pro.  The company also offered GitHub Enterprise and GitHub Business Cloud for $21 each and has now consolidated them into one $42/month subscription.

Moving Forward:

It’s worth noting that these changes bring GitHub more in line with other version control services like Bitbucket and GitLab.  The former allows unlimited private repos with up to five collaborators, and the latter has no limit.

This is definitely a plus for GitHub users like myself, but it by no means that public repos will come to an end.  The development community thrives on open source technology.  That being said having options is certainly nice.  What are your thoughts on Microsoft making private repos free? Let us know in the comments below!

The Microsoft Event – Spotlighting Lumia phones

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Lumia 950XL

“We see our opportunity with Lumia as we once looked at the Surface, to reinvent the category and make people more productive in new ways.” These are the bold words form Terry Myerson, spoken at the Microsoft on October 6, 2015. The event was done well and there were more than a few things to be excited about but will the new Lumia reinvent the category like the Surface did? Currently it is hard to find a PC manufacturer that does not have its own 2 in 1 tablet/laptop convertible. Will the new Lumia inspire new hardware as the ground braking Surface?  Let’s have a closer look.
There were three phones introduced but I would like to focus on the 950 and 950XL; essentially the same phone but for the processor and size.  The 950 covers 5.2″ and the XL variant will take up 5.7″ of your pocket. I will get to the processor in a minute.   First let us look at the hardware as they introduced it earlier today.
Adaptive antenna technology seemed like it was introduced only to allow Panos Panay the ability to say “No matter where you hold it”; a cheap but funny jab at Apple’s “you are holding it wrong”. Not sure it was meant that way but I am happy to pretend it was.

ThMicrosoft-Lumia-950-Smartphonee next thing discussed was the processors referred to as a Hexa-core and Octa-core processes. This is where things get a little interesting.  Microsoft initially listed the processors as Hexa-core ARM Cortex-A57 and ARM Cortex-A53 processors for the 950 and Octa-core ARM Cortex-A57 and ARM Cortex-A53 processors for the 950XL. Some of you may know these as the Snapdragon 808, and 810 respectively. The 950XL even has a contained water cooling system. I have to admit water cooling on a phone sounds cool but really, is that the best thing to do? Seem like a lot of engineering effort to work around the 810’s over stated heating issue. Although I understand why they may have wanted to stay way form referencing their processors the same way android phones do, it still did not sit well with me. Microsoft has a lot riding on these phones and the last thing they want is to have their product viewed as a lame alternative to an android device. So i understand avoiding the Snapdragon 810 name during the press release.   Still i would have respected them much more if they had the guts to say the phone runs a liquid cooled, fire breathing, SnapDragon 810 and screw you if you can handle it.  If you view their webpage now the processor is listed as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, in the Tech Specs area.  Good for you Microsoft. You came clean in the end.
Lumias have always tried for a good camera experience and I think that they do the job well. Apple has lead the market in overall quality and ease of use when it comes to cameras and camera apps but that is changing. Yes the LG G4 and Galaxy S6 are at least at the same level as Apple and many say superior but before they hit the seen we had the Lumia1520 to challenge the might fruit. It will be hard to judge this new camera until we can put it to use but it comes from good stock. I have faith that it will be a better than average experience.

Charging will be a quick. Half an hour for 50% battery life and that will be done with a usb-c cable. These items and the points above all lead to a good phone. But is it reinventing the category? Is this Lumia the next surface, ready to spawn a dozen copy cats? The short answer is, no. It looks like a really good phone with some neat features but that is just not enough to have people change their minds about the Lumia phones.

Add in the Display Dock and it just may be enough.

The Display Dock was introduced by Brian Ropert. It is a very cool accessory to the Lumia phones and something that just may change the minds of some users. This actually may reinvent the category. The Display Dock works with the Lumia phones and Windows Continuum for phones to create PC “like” productivity.  Not all of us work in the Microsoft Office world but many of us do. For those of us that do, this could really change what we do with our phones. I am impressed but hesitant. All things look good on a demo but if this works as advertised, it will change things. The really key here is phones for work.  Many of us have work issued devices, from laptops to phones.  If you where the buying your employee an phone for work, after seeing this demo, what phone would you pick?  The phone that can has Instagram or the one that can modify a PowerPoint with ease?  After a close look at these phones there is still one question that needs answering. It’s not about the processors or its incognito introduction. The question does not concern the camera or its low light performance. I don’t even want to ask about quick charging or usb-c data transfer rates

The one question is ….. can you root this thing?

 

 

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