Microsoft’s AI app for the blind helps you explore photos with touch


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Microsoft's computer vision app for the blind and poor-sighted, Seeing AI, just became more useful for those moments when you're less interested in navigating the world than learning about what's on your phone. The company has updated the iOS app with an option to explore photos by touching them. Tap your finger on an image and you'll hear a description of both the objects in that scene as well as their spatial relationship. You can get descriptions for photos taken through Seeing AI's Scene channel, but they'll also be available for pictures in your camera roll as well as other apps (through options menus).

Source: Microsoft Accessibility Blog, App Store

Xbox Live will soon connect players on Android, iOS and Switch


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You've had a degree of access to Xbox Live beyond Microsoft's platforms for a while, but usually just to chat with friends or see what they're playing -- deeper hooks are reserved for its own games. Soon, though, that support will become more substantial. A Microsoft session at the upcoming Game Developers Conference (noticed by Avers) mentions that Xbox Live will soon have a cross-platform developer kit that integrates the service into Android, iOS and Switch games. You'd have your achievements, clubs, friends list and "more" while on the move, and could pick up on some experiences where you left off.

Via: Windows Central, Avers (Twitter)

Source: GDC

Save on iPads, MacBooks, Microsoft Surface laptops, Chromebooks, and more this week


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With Hanukkah already come and gone and the big Christmas holiday just a week away, we don't have any time to waste. If you still need a gift for someone on your list (or are looking to take advantage of holiday deals for yourself), we've picked some of the best ways to save on laptops and tablets this week.

Apple fanatics (like us) will be especially happy. Walmart has the gold Apple iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi, cellular, and 16GB of storage for $429.99 and makes for a great travel companion for work or vacation. Looking to make a major upgrade? Amazon has the latest model of the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro for $2,499, saving you $300. Read more...

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Review: The iPad Pro and the power of the Pen(cil)


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Laptop users have been focused for a very long time on whether the iPad Pro is going to be forced upon them as a replacement device.

Depending on who you believe, Apple included, it has at one point been considered that, or a pure tablet with functions to be decided completely by the app development community, or something all its own.

But with the iPad Pro, the Smart Keyboard and the new version of Apple’s Pencil, some things are finally starting to become clear.

The new hardware, coupled with the ability and willingness of companies like Adobe to finally ship completely full-featured versions of Photoshop that handle enormous files and all of the tools and brushes of the desktop version, are opening a new door on what could be possible with iPad Pro — if Apple are ready to embrace it.

Pencil

Does the double tap gesture feel natural? Yep.

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Google’s latest hardware innovation: Price


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With its latest consumer hardware products, Google’s prices are undercutting Apple, Samsung, and Amazon. The search giant just unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, tablet, and smart home device and all available at prices well below their direct competitors. Where Apple and Samsung are pushing prices of its latest products even higher, Google is seemingly happy to keep prices low and this is creating a distinct advantage for the company’s products.

Google, like Amazon and nearly Apple, is a services company that happens to sell hardware. It needs to acquire users through multiple verticals including hardware. Somewhere, deep in the Googleplex, a team of number crunchers decided it made more sense to make its hardware prices dramatically lower than competitors. If Google is taking a loss on the hardware, it is likely making it back through services.

Amazon does this with Kindle devices. Microsoft and Sony do it with game consoles.

more Google Event 2018 coverage
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The Surface Go is the laptop of the year


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As a nearly constant traveler I’ve been looking for something like the Surface Go all my life. I’ve lugged around everything from massive ThinkPads to iPad Pros and I’ve always found myself stuck in one of two situations – the laptops that made the most sense were too heavy to be comfortably portable and the tablets and ultraportables I used, including the Surface Pro, offered too much of a performance trade-off to warrant swapping from a full desktop device.

I tried a number of other laptops over the past year including my daily driver, the TouchBar-powered MacBook Pro, as well as a Lenovo’s oddly designed YogaBooks. Nothing quite clicked. The trade offs were always drastic. Wanted power? Sacrifice weight. Wanted thin and light? Sacrifice the keyboard. Want battery life and compatibility? Sacrifice the desktop experience. So when the Surface Go came out I wasn’t too excited.

Now I am.

When

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‘Minecraft: Education Edition’ arrives on iPad in September


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Minecraft: Education Edition is heading to the iPad and educators will have access to it starting next month. The education version of the game launched in 2016 and Microsoft says there are now 35 million licensed users in 115 countries. "Minecraft: Education Edition on iPad unlocks new and intuitive ways of collaborating and sharing and has revolutionized the way our students and teachers explore curriculum and projects," Kyriakos Koursaris, head of education technology for PaRK International School, said in a statement. "The features allow for deep and meaningful learning, and the values it promotes, from inclusivity to 21st century skills, empower everyone to use technology with extraordinary results," said Koursaris.

Source: Microsoft

Minecraft: Education Edition is coming to iPad


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Microsoft announced this morning it’s bringing Minecraft: Education Edition to the iPad for the first time. The game, which first launched to the public in late 2016, has been previously available in schools on Windows 10 devices and on macOS. The iPad software will roll out to schools starting in September, the company says.

If the school is licensed through Microsoft 365 for Education (A3 or A5), teachers will already have access to Minecraft: Education Edition and may be able to download it onto iPads when it launches. However, the school administrator will need to assign the available licenses to the teachers who want to use it, in that case.

For schools without a license, there are volume licensing agreements available through the Microsoft Store for Education and other resellers. Schools pay for the software on an annual subscription basis, but are able to try it out for free

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The best mobile devices for students


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There's no negotiating on this: You need a smartphone at college. Powerful flagships like the iPhone X and the Samsung Galaxy S9 promise speedy performance, but even more affordable options like the Xperia XZ2 Compact and OnePlus 6 offer an impressive amount of bang for your buck. Though not necessary, you might also want a tablet for book-reading, or a smartwatch that double as a fitness tracker. While the Apple Watch is the most obvious choice for an iPhone user, other brands have offerings that are just as stylish -- stuff you won't be ashamed of wearing around campus.

As for tablets, Apple's 9.7-inch iPad doesn't break the bank (at least before you add on accessories) and is now compatible with the Apple Pencil -- a tool once reserved for the higher-end iPad Pro line. Meanwhile, the Microsoft Surface Pro offers laptop-grade power, though we recommend paying extra for Continue reading "The best mobile devices for students"

Why Microsoft might be looking to make cheap Surface tablets again


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Stop me if you've heard this one: Microsoft, beaten to the tablet market by Apple, wants to build an alternative, one that runs Windows and gives more bang for the buck.

That, of course, was the whole strategy behind the original Microsoft Surface that launched with Windows 8 in 2012. And it's also apparently the playbook Microsoft is again working from now that Bloomberg is reporting the company is looking to debut a new, lower-cost iPad competitor with the Surface brand later this year. 

That's weird, because we all know how the Surface plan played out: The first one was a billion-dollar disaster, but when Microsoft refocused around the Surface Pro line and stopped trying to compete with the iPad and instead market its powerful tablet PC as a MacBook alternative, sales soared, and the Surface found its niche as a high-end Windows machine. Read more...

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What to look for when buying a tablet as a laptop replacement

Tablets didn’t exactly take over the computing world, as Apple and Microsoft had predicted years ago. But they have been evolving to the point where they can fill in for a laptop under the right circumstances. Still, how do you ensure that the tablet you buy is good enough for you to leave conventional PCs behind? It’s not always easy — a tablet that’s powerful enough for one person might be overly complicated for another. We have some tips to help you navigate the shopping maze.

iPad users can beta test Microsoft’s Edge browser now


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Microsoft has slowly been rolling out its Edge browser to various devices; it was officially released for iPhones back in November, with the promise that an iPad version was on the way. Now, it's finally here -- but only in beta. Microsoft Edge testers for iOS can download the iPad version today.

Source: The Verge

Cortana for iPad takes full advantage of the larger screen


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Microsoft updated its Cortana app and it now features native iPad support. The interface makes use of the bigger iPad screen, but otherwise it's largely similar to the iPhone version. The update, spotted by MacRumors, also notes that the app now opens 20 percent faster. "Introducing a brand-new Cortana for iPad design. Enjoy an exclusive layout and interface for your iPad," says the update release. "Cortana now launches 20 percent faster! Enjoy a lightning-fast experience."

Via: The Verge

Source: App Store

Microsoft adds support for iOS Files app, drag and drop to OneDrive


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Apple's latest operating system for its mobile devices, iOS 11, added a ton of productivity tweaks. One of the biggest is Files, a new, well, file system for iOS that lets users interact more directly with documents and images without having to go through an associate app. Now Microsoft has just added several new features for its Office and OneDrive iOS apps, including access to OneDrive through the Files app. Other additions feature drag and drop capabilities, co-authoring on iOS (and Mac), and a better list view in OneDrive to help find your files more easily. Microsoft has also added new features to its Slack competitor Teams, like the ability to add interactive cards from apps into chats.

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft will preview the Edge browser for iPad next month


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Though Microsoft has been rolling out Edge to more devices, iPad users have been left waiting. But it appears that the browser will finally be making its debut on the iPad sometime soon. As Neowin spotted, Sean Lyndersay, an Edge program manager, tweeted that the iPad version will be previewed through Microsoft's TestFlight next month and should see a wide rollout soon thereafter.

Via: Neowin

Source: Sean Lyndersay (Twitter)

Xbox party chat arrives on iOS in beta


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You no longer need an Android phone if you want to join in Xbox party chats when you're away from your console -- Microsoft has introduced party chat to the beta Xbox app for iOS. If you've been accepted into the program (you have to sign up first), you can keep up with your teammates' voice conversations from your iPhone or iPad while you're racing home to join them in a multiplayer match.

Via: OnMSFT, Windows Central

Source: Xbox App Beta signup

There’s a fake version of ‘Cuphead’ on the App Store (updated)


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Xbox's retro-inspired Cuphead is on the App Store. There's just one problem: it's a fake. While the iTunes preview page looks legit, the game isn't actually an official project from designer Studio MDHR. A quick whois search reveals that the phoney website is hosted in Hungary and that registered owner, Sheridens LTD. has done this sort of thing before with an unofficial mobile port of melee brawler Gang Beasts. In fact, the fake Studio MDHR website was set up less than two months ago.

Source: iTunes, Whois

‘Dance with flARmingos’ in a mixed reality mating ritual


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Flamingos rule everything around her. Her clothes are covered in them. Her workspace is littered with representations of their spindly legs and hot-pink plumes. She's spent hours studying their migratory patterns, mating rituals and native environments. She's traveled the world speaking to conservationists and ornithologists to better understand them. She even adopted 20 of the winged icons to aid in her research and their preservation.

Microsoft’s Learning Tools for students heads to Word on iPad


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With its Learning Tools, Microsoft has developed a few ways to make it easier for students to get a better handle on reading and writing. One tool, for example, can read your words aloud and help you identify common grammatical issues. Another, called Immersive Reading, can also read text aloud while highlighting it in "focused" view (where words are spaced out in a distraction-free environment). The Learning Tools started out as a OneNote plug-in, but Microsoft has steadily expanded it to Office apps on desktops, mobile and the Web. Today, the company announced they're headed to Word for iPad.