As one of the premier developer events of the year, Microsoft Build has some of the biggest announcements that impact on everything from Windows 10 to Office 365.
With the two-day event aiming to entice more developers and software engineers to use their services, here’s some of the most exciting announcements made over the course of the event...
Your Phone: a new app for Windows 10
Your Phone is a new app which mirrors your smartphone to desktop giving you quick and easy access to texts, photos and other notifications so you don’t have to keep checking your devices.
A variety of features will differ depending on which OS you're using, with Microsoft saying more Android features will be mirrored over iOS.
Windows Insiders can currently test the Your Phone app, with it being rolled out later this year.
Timeline to be offered on iOS and Android
Your Phone isn’t the only new bit of iOS/Android functionality being introduced. Timeline keeps track of apps you’re using and how you’re using them, offering the ability to sync across devices, view your history and pick up where you left off.
Bringing Timeline to iOS and Android will help make it even more useful if you use the same apps across your phone and desktop, allowing you to drop and pick-up work depending on what device is to hand.
Timeline will be included as part of the Microsoft Launcher, while it will be introduced as a tab within the Edge browser for iOS.
Another neat boost to productivity will be rolled out with the next version of Windows. Helping you to better organise your work, you will soon be able to create a set of tabs for one window.
Essentially this means that you could have one set of tabs in a window that contains nothing but Word documents, another set of tabs in a window that contains web pages in Edge and so on.
Alexa and Cortana integration
While Microsoft made the initial announcement last year, attendees at Build were given the first demo of Cortana running on Alexa and Alexa running on Cortana on Windows 10.
Working with the simple voice command of “Alexa, open Cortana...” you can then ask your question or make your command to a specific person which is a prompt Alexa can’t do alone.
Microsoft Layout: a new visualisation tool
Microsoft announced Layout by calling it a ‘mixed reality’ tool. It lets you design and visualise real spaces via Microsoft HoloLens or a VR headset, and allows you to construct floor plans or move 3D models to preview how a room would look.
Kinect moves to the cloud
Though primarily associated with gaming via Xbox and PC, Kinect – the speech-first, gaze-first, vision-first device – was recently discontinued as a physical entity.
By moving the feature to the cloud, it will be available to developers to send information from cameras and depth sensors to Kinect which will process that information and send it back to the device.
Our first demo of Meeting Room
Aiming to make meetings and conferences more productive and manageable, Microsoft demoed the various features that will be coming to Meeting Room including a 360* camera and microphone that can detect, greet and transcribe into any language anything said in the meeting room. AI is expected to play a big part in the service too, by using it to follow up on what participants say in the meeting.
Microsoft to offer developers more money
Most app stores take a 30% cut of any money an app charges, but Microsoft are about to turn that on its head.
As a further incentive for devs to build and sell apps in the store, Microsoft announced in some cases it will only take a 5% cut of any consumer app sold. This percentage will increase if Microsoft advertises the app, but is still a huge incentive for attracting more developers to build Microsoft-specific apps.