There are tons of choices to choose from when looking for a great alarm app for Android. While the stock Clock app for AOSP does the job, it may lack some of the more advanced features from competitors. Let us know what your favorite alarm clock app is for Android and why.
Microsoft Build 2014: Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana and Action Center, Windows to Bring Back Start Menu
Today in San Francisco’s Moscone Center, Microsoft kicked off its annual Build developers conference. Up until now, many had been questioning Microsoft’s continued relevance in this new mobile-friendly age. However, today’s keynote clearly shows that Microsoft doesn’t intend on letting Google and Apple have all the fun.
Does Windows have what it takes to be your platform of choice in 2014? Read on to find out more about what Microsoft has in store for Windows and Windows Phone.
Windows Phone 8.1
Microsoft began today’s keynote by talking about the future of Windows Phone. As we’ve known ever since the middle of December, WP8.1 has been poised to provide a major facelift to Microsoft’s struggling mobile OS. Now, Windows Phone 8.1 is official here.
First up, we have Cortana. Just like Google Now and Apple’s Siri, Cortana can place calls, send messages, schedule appointments, set reminders, create notes, set alarms, play music, get directions, and search the Web. This functionality can also be extended via third party apps.
Despite its similarities to other digital assistants, Microsoft states that Cortana is able to get to know you more than what you’d expect from “a mere search engine.” While the not-so-subtle jab may vastly underplay Google Now’s features, there is some merit to the claim. Cortana’s keeps a “notebook,” which puts you in control of how Cortana interacts with you. This notebook allows you to customize your interests, inner circle of people who matter most, quiet hours, people who can break through quiet hours restrictions, and much more.
Next up on the topic of personalization are personalized lock screens and tile customization. Like we’ve already seen for some time on Android, WP8.1 allows developers to take control of the lock screen to deliver highly themed, custom experiences. In addition, users can now heavily customize their start screens by adding backgrounds and configuring how many tiles are displayed.
Windows Phone 8.1 finally brings proper notification handling. Dubbed “Action Center,” Microsoft’s take on the Android notification shade offers four customizable quick settings atop a standard notifications from all apps. This is accessible all throughout the entire UI, including the lock screen.
Windows 8.1 and Beyond
Microsoft also talked quite a bit about the future of traditional Windows. For starters, many will be elated to learn that Microsoft is bringing back the Start Menu with an update coming later this year. The revised Start Menu is essentially the Windows 7 Start Menu with some Windows 8 flair. It’s about the same size as what we’re used to in Windows 7, but with the added benefit of also displaying Windows 8 Live Tiles.
In addition to the new Start Menu, Microsoft is also introducing a new interface mode that allows you to run Modern UI apps while in Desktop mode. Furthermore, a substantial update to Windows 8.1 to improve keyboard and mouse usability is coming in under a week. This will bring an ever present task bar, which allows users to seamlessly switch between apps just like what was possible on Windows 7.
Finally, Microsoft also talked about making applications easier to code across all of its platforms. Now, developers can create a single app that works on Windows Phone, traditional Windows, and even the Xbox One. With this, developers can allow consumers to purchase an app on one device and access it on any connected Windows device.
What do you think of Microsoft’s announcements today at Build? Does the prospect of Unified Apps help developers and consumers? Are you glad to one day get the Start Menu back? Let us know in the comments below. And if you’d like to watch the entire three hour keynote in its entirety, head over to Microsoft’s Channel 9.
Want something on the XDA Portal? Send us a tip!
Did you watch Apple's VP draw on his wrist during the Apple Watch announcement and wonder "why can't my Wear watch do that?" In typical XDA fashion, one enterprising forum member has brought similar functionality to Android Wear with a twist; it works on phones and watches alike, with other platforms on the way! The app is called Pinsy, and its release debut is a strong proof of concept with plenty of room to grow. You may remember the developer behind this project, XDA...
Wear is said to not offer enough for mass adoption, even though its been in the market for over 9 months. I personally have a Gear Live which I purchased 8 months ago, and my experience with it has had its ups and downs throughout my time with it. For the longest time, I was not able to recommend the platform to anyone. Since then, a lot of updates have hit Wear watches, some improving battery life, others changing the...