Microsoft Edge Arrives on iOS & Android

Today the Microsoft Edge app quietly dropped its beta tag on Android, and now Microsoft has made it official. The browser is now out of preview on both iOS and Android, launching in full for everyone.

Microsoft Edge officially exits preview on iOS and Android

I have been using this web browser on my iPhone for several weeks and must say I have been impressed with its performance. This is really a nice option if you are tired of Safari or even Chrome on your smartphone.

Microsoft initially launched Edge on iOS and Android in preview in October as a way for Edge desktop users a way to easily sync their passwords, favorites, and reading list between devices. You can also quickly pick up where you left off with a “Continue on PC” feature, which opens the page your looking at on your phone on your PC.

While the app still behaves like Edge, it runs on the required WebKit rendering engine on iOS and the Blink rendering engine on Android, rather than Microsoft’s own EdgeHTML engine.

I suggest giving this one a try – especially if you use Edge on your Windows 10 PC.

Share This:

Microsoft Launcher Comes to Android

Microsoft has just launched the re-branded Microsoft Launcher on Android.

According to Play Store, the launcher was downloaded 5 million times and it currently has a 4.6 rating.

Microsoft is trying hard to make sure Android users prefer Microsoft Launcher as their default launcher on Android. The company is also sending out quick updates to fix the issues and make sure to give the best experience especially to Microsoft fans moving from Windows Phone to Android.

The launcher lets users customize feeds, download new Wallpapers from Bing, check news, customize gestures on the home screen and many more. On the top of all this, Microsoft Launcher comes with “Continue on PC” which will send files, images, docs, and websites directly to your PC using OneDrive. Microsoft Launcher is a must app for people who love to keep their home screen simple and clean.

If you’re an Android user, head to the Play Store from the link below to get Microsoft Launcher for Free.

Share This:

Microsoft Apps on Your Android or iOS Device

Although Microsoft’s Windows Phone is a distant memory and I often get choked up missing my old Windows Phone – Microsoft has done a great job embracing both Apple & Android. There are several awesome Microsoft productivity apps that you can download on your smartphone that will help you work better and get that awesome Microsoft tingly feeling (or maybe that’s just me).

Here are my favorite productivity apps that you will want to make sure are installed on your device.

Microsoft Office

Although small screens are not the best UI for major editing jobs, having the ability to tweak a presentation or other document when you are waiting to meet with a customer is valuable and these apps will give you that capability.

In addition, being connected to your e-mail and calendar is critical during the work day and having Outlook on your device for that is a no brainer. The latest versions of Outlook for iOS and Android include the Focused Inbox feature to help you stay focused on the important communications.

Microsoft OneNote

OneNote has become my second brain and allows me to take all of my notes and other information everywhere I go. It is laid out to use a heirarchy of Notebooks which then have Sections and then those areas have Pages which can then be organize with all of the data that enters our daily existence.

Microsoft To-Do

Although this app is not nearly as full featured as Wunderlist which it replaced, much to the chagrin of Wunderlist loyalists, it does integrate with Outlook and enables you to keep track of all the items on your work list.

Microsoft OneDrive

As the cloud continues to become an integrated feature in our work flow having access to it and everything stored there is what makes this app a must on your device. It has recently undergone a significant UI update while makes the experience across iOS and Android nearly the same which reinforces the companies effort to make your experience mobile no matter what platform you use.

Microsoft Authenticator

If you are not using Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) on your accounts then you are behind the security power curve. What I love about the Microsoft Authenticator app is that it is platform agnostic, What I mean by that is I am able to setup the app as a second factor of authentication for any platform that supports 2FA. There are options for entering the account data manually or using a QR Code to automatically set 2FA in action.

Bonus Apps to Help You Work

Microsoft Edge

This recommendation reaches both iOS and Android and while Microsoft Edge is still in beta preview mode on iOS and Android (public preview). iOS users can sign-up to begin testing Edge through the Apple TestFlight program.or

This app is a key element of productivity for anyone who is using the latest feature update for Windows 10, the Fall Creators Update, with these two mobile platforms. Within the Edge app there is a method to send a website link to your Windows 10 device which can be opened right then or stashed in your Action Center as an alert that can be opened later. This feature, Share to PC, is some of the early steps Microsoft is working on for their Windows Timeline feature that will make this process easier by sharing activities between a users ecosystem of devices.

Microsoft Launcher

I wish it was possible to tell everyone that this app is accessible on both iOS and Android but unfortunately Apple does not support alternate launchers on their platform so this one is just for those on Android devices.

Microsoft Launcher is one way that users can transform their phone into a pseudo Microsoft device by not using the default Android launcher options and then installing any and all of the Microsoft apps that they want on their handset.

There are options to configure wallpapers, themes, icon packs and many other aspects of the app. In addition, by tying in your Microsoft Account you can easily access your calendar, documents, and other activities. Just like the Microsoft Edge app there are also capabilities built in to share items to your Windows 10 device that uses the same Microsoft Account.

Share This:

Microsoft’s Edge Comes to Andriod & iOS

A new browser is arriving to your smartphone. While I love Chrome on my iPhone, I really can’t take Safari so I welcomed Microsoft’s Edge with open arms.

Rather than go down the path of having an open beta, Microsoft is releasing Edge for iOS via a TestFlight. This, sadly, is limited to just 10,000 users. Windows Insiders in the US can register their interest here. Lucky for me, I am a windows Insider and I have been testing out Edge for a couple of days now on my iPhone 8.

The same link is also good for Android users, who can download Microsoft’s beta from the Google Play store in the coming weeks.

If you do not want to sign up for the preview do not worry. I believe Edge will be avilable to everyone very shortly.

Image result for edge ios

Edge on Android and iOS lets you access the favorites and reading list you saved on your computer. It also comes with Reading View baked-in, which offers a delightfully distraction-free reading experience.

Astonishingly, the mobile versions of Edge don’t use the EdgeHTML layout engine, but rather whatever is standard on the device. So, if you’re on Android, Edge will take advantage of Blink/Chromium, while iOS users use WebKit/WKWebView.

That makes sense in many respects. Adapting Edge in its entirety for the two incumbent mobile platforms would probably be really technologically challenging. Although some issues are the same, like dealing with different screen aspect ratios and resolutions, Microsoft would have to pay close attention to performance and battery life. In this instance, it doesn’t really make sense to reinvent the wheel.

Hey – my technology blogs looks pretty darn good on the new Edge browser!

The last time Microsoft released a browser for a platform other than its own was… what? Internet Explorer 5.2 for Mac? And it swung the axe on that in 2003 – around 14 years ago.

Sa, as I stated at the outset of this post I am just a little excited about this. And by releasing Edge for iOS and Android, Microsoft is sending a sign of confidence in its product, even if the mobile incarnations of Edge are fundamentally different to what you’d get on the desktop. Ultimately, Microsoft wants to entice users who otherwise would have passed on it.

Image result for microsoft edge ios android

And why wouldn’t Microsoft be proud of Edge? Although it isn’t my day to day browser on the PC yet (that prize goes to Chrome) Edge is a perfectly fine browser. Since Microsoft released it, almost two years ago, it’s improved significantly, and now scores roughly equally with Firefox when it comes to support for HTML5 standards.

In terms of battery life, security, and performance, it performs well. It occasionally surpasses Chrome, suggesting technical competition is neck-and-neck.

Its biggest weaknesses are its relatively lackluster extension marketplace (understandable, since that feature is roughly a year old), and the fact that it’s somewhat barebones.

Microsoft has been very open that this is part of its mobile strategy, as it pivots away from the wreckage of its failed Windows 10 Mobile operating system. But perhaps the launch of Edge for Android and iOS will have a secondary impact in garnering interest for Edge on the desktop, as those who previously wrote it off are re-acquainted with the brand.

And either way, competition is good, right?

Share This:

Facebook’s Updates It’s Look

Facebook’s mobile apps are getting a new look, though blink and you might miss some of the changes.

The most obvious update is coming to comments, which now look a lot more like a conversation in your average messaging app rather than than a series of posts. This falls in line with Facebook’s recent desktop tests, which display comment threads a bit more like group chats.

The idea is to make comments a bit more readable, and make it easier to see who’s replying directly to another person.

Facebook might also be trying to subtly make conversations with strangers a bit more friendly. The text bubble’s resemblance to a messaging app could make it feel more like you’re actually having a personal conversation with participants, rather than replying to a random internet thread.

Less obvious are the changes to the News Feed. Facebook is using a brighter shade of blue and has increased color contrast overall to make text more readable. The link previews are slightly larger – they now take up the entire width of your screen – and the Like, Comment, and Share buttons are now larger.

Throughout the new design, Facebook has also replaced it’s silhouette style icons with more iOS-like wireframes – for better or for worse. I like them, but your mileage may vary.

There are also other small tweaks like a more prominent back button and the ability to see where a link will take you before clicking on it.  The whole shebang looks a fair bit more like Instagram now.

Oh, and Facebook pulled a Twitter, switching perfectly fine square profile photos for circular ones.

Facebook will be rolling out the new design “over the coming weeks,” so you may not see it just yet. The new look certainly isn’t the most dramatic overhaul Facebook’s ever seen, but seems to mostly be for the better.

Share This:

A Look @ Microsoft’s Outlook App

I have been recommending the Outlook mail app for iOS and Android for almost 2 years now. I have also written about it several times. During the past several months Microsoft has updated their mail app and has made it even better.

Image result for outlook app ios

Why Outlook?

Outlook’s design is very clean & unique.

Outlook has 5 icons across the bottom: Mail, Calendars, Files, People, and Settings. The way it’s laid out makes it feel like a complete communications – file management ecosystem. You are only one tap away from getting what you need. It uses a light theme with black and blue text throughout. Usually I prefer darker themes, but I feel like the design is here is very easy on the eyes. I don’t ever feel like the UI user interface) is distracting; it melts away and allows me to focus on what I need to see.

From a usability perspective, Outlook really shines. It provides me with just enough options to make it my own, but not so many that I am overwhelmed or spend time tinkering.

Outlook calendar

I love the built-in calendar function. I like being able to see email and my schedule in one app. The compose screen is simple to use as well. It allows me to change which account I am sending from, add files, photos, send calendar invites, or see my calendar availability.

One important aspect of all third-party email apps is which types of email services it supports. Outlook supports Office 365, Outlook.com, Exchange, Yahoo, iCloud, Google, and IMAP. (POP3 isn’t supported, so if you require it, you need to look elsewhere.)

Outlook supported email accounts

Outlook has support for iPhones with 3D Touch features. From the 3D Touch menu, you can hop right to your calendar, create a new event, or start a new email. I find myself using the View Calendar function frequently. A Notification Center widget and watchOS app are included as well.

Outlook supports push notifications for new emails, or just “important ones” with a feature Outlook calls Focused Inbox.

Focused Inbox sorts your email so you see the important ones first. It does this by considering past emails from a particular sender and your address book. You can also reclassify emails as you go in order to help train it. The calendar feature can also notify you of upcoming appointments as well as send short emails letting the people in your meeting know you are running late.

The snooze/delay function of email was made popular by Mailbox, but has since become adopted by a handful of other apps. Outlook offers a feature that allows you to control which folder your snoozed emails are stored. Your options for snoozing are in a few hours, this evening, tomorrow morning, or a custom time. Outlook doesn’t offer the ability to customize these times, and I’d like to see that added in the future.

Like I mentioned earlier, I like the fact that Outlook has a built-in calendar. It also has native support for a number of file systems. It includes OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive. While this isn’t as important for attaching files (due to document providers), it does offer some advantages. There is a file screen that shows your most recent files for cloud document apps, as well as making saving attachments faster.

A recent update added third-party app integration through “add-ins.” Add-ins let you turn any email into a Trello card, save a message to Evernote, insert a GIF, translate messages, and more. These are currently only available to users with Office 365 email addresses, however.

You do not need to settle for the built-in mail apps on your iOS or Android smartphone. If you decide to take the time to explore other options, I definitely recommend starting with Microsoft’s Outlook app,

 

Share This:

SpyDealer Invades Private Data on Android

A recently discovered Android Trojan can apparently steal private data from more than 40 applications.

Image result for spydealer

The newly discovered trojan, SpyDealer is capable of stealing sensitive messages from communication apps using the Android accessibility service feature, and gains rooting privileges with the help of exploits from a commercial rooting app called Baidu Easy Root. It uses root privileges to maintain persistence on the compromised device.

According to Palo Alto Networks, the Trojan can remotely control the device via UDP, TCP and SMS channels. It can steal information from popular applications such as WeChat, Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Line, Viber, QQ, Tango, Telegram, Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, Android Native Browser, Firefox Browser, Oupeng Brower, QQ Mail, NetEase Mail, Taobao, and Baidu Net Disk.

Once the malware has compromised a device, it can harvest an exhaustive list of personal information, including phone number, IMEI, IMSI, SMS, MMS, contacts, accounts, phone call history, location, and connected Wi-Fi information. It can also answer incoming phone calls from a specific number, can record phone calls and the surrounding audio and video, can take photos with the device’s cameras, monitor location, and take screenshots.

Palo Alto Networks researchers couldn’t determine exactly how SpyDealer infects devices, but say that it isn’t distributed through the official Google Play store and that some users might have been infected via compromised wireless networks. The Trojan is only effective against Android 2.2 to 4.4 releases, given that these are the only versions the rooting tool it uses supports, meaning that it could potentially infect around 25% of all Android devices.

Share This:

Sonic Heads to Your Smartphone

Following in the tradition of Nintendo – Sega is making a comeback, thanks to your smartphone. The legendary video games company has launched Sega Forever, which is devoted to keeping the Sega name alive long into the future. And what better way to do that than to reach back into the past and bring classic Sega games to your smartphone.

Sonic I didn’t realize how much I missed you. Welcome to my iPhone!

There was a time, not so long ago, when Sega was the biggest games company on the face of the planet. In terms of consoles, the Genesis was a major success. And then there are the famous characters, such as Sonic the Hedgehog.

And then Sega released the Dreamcast, a woefully underrated console, and the whole thing went belly-up. Sega still exists, and still makes arcade machines and games for other consoles. And now, thanks to Sega Forever,the old Sega magic is back. Its a little bit smaller but more mobile then ever before.

Keeping Classic Sega Games Alive Forever

Sega Forever is the new banner under which dozens of classic Sega games will be released on Android and iOS. The games will be be available as free to play with supported by ads and ad-free for a one time payment of $1.99 (per title).

Sega has kicked things off with five Genesis titles: Sonic the HedgehogComix ZoneAltered BeastKid Chameleon, and Phantasy Star II. New games will be launched every two weeks, with titles from the Master System, the Game Gear, the Saturn, and the Dreamcast still to come.

All Sega Forever titles will be available to play offline, with online leaderboards available for those who like comparing their talents with others. The older Sega titles will be brought to smartphones thanks to emulation, while the more recent titles will require full ports to iOS and Android.

My biggest complaint here is that the free ad-supported version is truly annoying. The ads are everywhere and very intrusive. If you want to truly experience that old Sega magic spend the $1.99 on the ad-free version.

Share This:

App Spotlight – Outlook for iOS

Although I gave up on Microsoft’s Windows Phone a couple of years ago I still have plenty of good memories of me and my nifty Windows Phone. In fact if you are in a nostalgic mood you can browse my Windows Phone articles here.

All is not lost for Microsoft in the smartphone world. Even though I gave into Apple empire for both myself personally and my organization all is not lost. That’s because Microsoft has been publishing apps at an amazing rate during the past two years and many of them are simply top notch.

One of my favorite Microsoft Apps is “Outlook”. Why do I recommend trashing Apple’s default mail app and installing Outlook?

Phones with Outlook app.

Innovation and Consolidation 

The Microsoft Outlook app is a mobile productivity powerhouse, bringing your email, attachments, contacts and calendars into easy reach. Outlook’s built-in analytic engine automatically surfaces important email (across multiple accounts) based on your communications, and quick swipe controls allow you to easily triage your email. It’s a great mobile email app, and works with Exchange, Office 365, Outlook.com, Gmail, Yahoo Mail and iCloud email accounts.

Also included with Outlook is your calendar, files (OneDrive, Box, Dropbox & Google Drive) and contacts. If you are using Apple’s default apps you have separate programs for each of these. With Outlook – you have one app to control them all.

Of course if you rely on Microsoft Outlook on your desktop this is the perfect companion app on your smartphone or mobile device.

You can learn more about Microsoft’s Outlook app here.

Share This:

Our Adware Battle Continues

Over the past couple years, we have focused much attention on Ransomware, and that’s for good reason. However old threats are still here to make our digital lives miserable as well. One of the oldest surviving threats we continue to deal with is adware.

Image result for adware

Adware Today

There’s no denying that adware is a big problem. In fact 2016 saw a huge spike in Mac OS malware, mostly due to bundled adware. Google has tried tackling this problem by kicking known adware distributors out of the Play Store.

Google is perhaps the most aggressive trying to battle adware today because Android especially has seen a great deal of adware in recent years.

Earlier this year, a number of Android phones were discovered to have been infected with powerful adware. The “infection” took place somewhere between the factory, and the business that ordered them. That means some Android phones were purchased with adware pre-installed!

Avoid Download Portals

Desktops also continue to be targeted. One of the popular ways of infecting desktop PCs are through download portals. Many people continue to unwittingly use download portals that bundle adware and other unwanted programs with legitimate apps that people are looking for.

Unfortunately, these download portals show up at the top of search results and trick searchers into thinking they’re getting the best version of the app. When you are looking for a specific app take the time to go directly to the software provider’s website. If you do not – and you simply click on the first link in the search results you may be using a download portal which usually will give you a boatload of unwanted apps, in addition to the one you actually wanted.

* Yes – I know I used the words “download portals” five times in this section. That’s because I want you to remember what they are – so you can avoid them.

Keeping Alert for Adware

As with any other type of malware, the best way to deal with adware is to be aware if them – and what they are. Here are four things to watch out for.

If Ads Abound on Your PC – Don’t Panic But You Do Need to Act

If you’ve been infected with adware, you’re going to be seeing a lot of ads. Pop-ups, in-app ads, browser takeovers, and all sorts of other annoying behaviors might happen.

Different types of adware behave differently.

phishing ad
Image Credit: Fireofheart via Shutterstock

However one thing that they all have in common is that they will show you a huge number of ads. You’ll notice more ads, more insistent and pervasive ads, and ads outside of the locations where you usually see them. If you’ve been seeing any of this stuff, download anti-adware software right away.

Just don’t get it from…

Third-Party App Stores

If you stick to Apple’s App Store, the Google Play Store, the Chrome Store, and other first-party, controlled app stores, you will be much safer than if you use third-party options.

The same rule for desktop and laptop software applies. Unless the app isn’t available from the Windows or Mac app stores — and you can’t find it on the developer’s website — avoid third party software download sites.

Watch for the Warnings

Believe it or not, you will often be warned right before you download adware. It’s those small print terms and conditions that often go ignored. Take the time to read them if you really – really want that free app. There’s a good chance that they contain something useful. They’ll often tell you that you’ll be getting something else in addition to the software you’re looking for.

No matter where you’re getting an app, make sure to at least browse the terms and conditions first. You just might save yourself the hassle of trying to deal with the problem later.

Avoid Free Versions of Software

If you found a place to download Microsoft Office for free, run the other way. You’re not going to get high-end, fully featured apps without paying. Someone might be offering it, but they’re probably offering a few other things that they aren’t telling you about, very likely adware – or worse.

Even apps that are normally free often carry some sort of adware. Ironically a number of illegitimate anti-virus apps have been discovered to come bundled with malware.

Always be very careful about where you get your software.

What to Do If You’ve Been Infected

Here are some warning signs to watch out for.

Have you noticed a lot more pop-ups than usual lately? Or advertisements that you can’t close? If you see a new toolbar (these are very popular), a new default search engine (also a common symptom), new programs that you don’t remember installing, or new bookmarks in your browser, you are then more likely infected with adware.

Do your best not to interact with any of these ads, as that may make the problem worse. Close — force close, if you need to — those apps and download an anti-adware application as soon as possible. Here are three choices that will help you rid your computer of adware for free.

Malwarebytes AdwCleaner (Windows)

With one of the best reputations in the game, Malwarebytes is a company you can trust to clean up your computer. Its AdwCleaner software specifically targets adware and browser hijackers, as well as “potentially unwanted programs,” which could include toolbars and other questionable downloads.

AdwCleaner is free, and all you have to do is download it and run it. It doesn’t get much easier.

BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition (Windows)

Another company with a great reputation, BitDefender is at the forefront of anti-malware tech. This lightweight antivirus app protects you from all sorts of mayhem, including adware and spyware. It also packs anti-phishing and anti-fraud features for additional protection.

While you get more features out of the paid version of this app, the free option is still a great way to go.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (Mac)

While some of anti-adware software out there only works on Windows computer, Malwarebytes’ anti-malware software will protect your Mac from attacks. This extremely lightweight client is great even if your Mac is starting to get old and slow down.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Macs don’t get adware. They do. So download this now.

And if you’re looking for mobile anti-adware apps, check out Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware. It’s free on the Play Store.

Be Proactive Against Adware

As with any type of malware, the best way to deal with adware is to not get infected in the first place. Make sure you have an up-do-date antivirus solution running on your computer, watch out for suspicious-looking sites, and remember that the best things in life aren’t free. Especially when it comes to software.

Share This:

1 2 3 6