TIME apps

Android Users, Rejoice: Microsoft Office Is Finally Here

Office for Android
Microsoft Office for Android

Word, Excel and PowerPoint are all free to download

Microsoft removed the “preview” label from its Office apps for Android smartphones on Wednesday, declaring the latest release of its productivity suite officially ready for prime time.

The announcement comes five weeks after Microsoft released the apps in preview mode to Android users, in a sort of public beta test that spanned 83 countries and 1,900 different Android phone models.

“We heard from thousands of these users,” Microsoft corporate vice president Kirk Koenigsbauer wrote in a public statement, “and over the last few weeks we were able to incorporate a lot of their feedback into the apps we’re launching today.”

The current release won’t work across every last Android device, particularly older models with tight memory constraints. But the vast majority of Android users can now download mobile versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint for free from the Google Play store.

TIME Instagram

Instagram’s New Search Update Makes it Easier to Explore the World

"Wherever something is happening, chances are you can see it here"

Instagram’s new update makes it easier to search the 70 million photos uploaded to the photo-sharing app each day.

While the shooting and sharing experiences remain untouched in version 7.0, Instagram has boosted its search capabilities, offering users a new way to discover the trending and most recent photos posted from any places, cities and countries around the world.

“Wherever something is happening, chances are you can see it here,” says Instagram in a blog post published on Tuesday. “With the new Places Search, you can now peer in at just about any location on earth, allowing you to scout out your next vacation spot in the South Pacific, get a look inside that hot new restaurant or experience your favorite music festival even if you couldn’t make it this year.”

The app also has a redesigned Explore feature, which will now present trending tags and trending places. When TIME tested the new feature last week, Donald Trump had just announced his candidacy for President, and the hashtag #DonaldTrump was already trending on Instagram with photos of his stump speech.

In the past, only content that had accumulated the most Likes appeared on users’ Explore tab. In April of last year, Instagram started incorporating personalized content including photos and videos “that people you follow have liked,” the company said then.

The Explore section also includes two curated sections around photographers (the best extreme sports Instagram users, for example) and interests (beautiful bridges or natural wonders). These sections will be updated twice a week by a team of in-house editors, says Instagram.

The new features, which are only available in the U.S., are the result of a year’s worth of work, according to the Facebook-owned company. They will also appeal to media organizations that have been clamoring for an easier way to unearth newsworthy photos as they are posted to the service.

The update comes a month after Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger appeared at the Wired Business Conference in San Francisco, Ca. During an on-stage interview, Krieger professed that search would unlock the social sharing app’s full potential. “There’s a lot more we need to do to make news discoverable, to make what’s going on in the world accessible,” he said at the time.

Instagram 7.0 is available now on iOS and Android.

TIME e3 2015

Surprise, You Can Play the New Fallout Game Right Now

This is the best E3 surprise ever

Game maker Bethesda’s first E3 press conference included one very cool surprise: a new Fallout spin-off game that is available right now.

After showing off its new consoles and PC titles Doom and Fallout 4, Bethesda unveiled a new iOS and Android game dubbed Fallout Shelter. It’s not directly connected to Fallout 4, but rather something Bethesda Studios game director Todd Howard said the company wanted to build for mobile devices “because it couldn’t be done anywhere else.”

In the game, which looks a little like the diorama-style bases in Firaxis’ XCOM reboot, you craft and manage your own vault, working to keep its occupants productive and happy. Howard says the game is free, as in genuinely free, without paywall timers, Internet connection requirements or build queues.

Fallout 4 is coming out November 10, 2015. Fallout Shelter, a game no one had the faintest clue was coming, is available on the App Store.

TIME Video Games

Nintendo Says It Isn’t Making an Android Console

Super Smash Bros.
Nintendo Super Smash Bros.

Sorry, Mario: No Google for you

Nintendo is putting the kibosh on rumors that its next gaming console will run on Google’s Android operating system.

The Android-on-Nintendo rumors were first sparked by a Japanese publication earlier this week. But a Nintendo official is making it clear that the new system, codenamed NX, will not run Android.

“There is no truth to the report saying that we are planning to adopt Android for NX,” a Nintendo spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal.

Though console gaming is what made Nintendo famous, the company recently announced that it was expanding into mobile games, possibly bringing your favorite Nintendo franchises — Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers, and the Legend of Zelda, for example — to mobile devices.

Read more: 3 Reasons Nintendo Should Switch to Google Android

TIME Microsoft

Microsoft Bought One of the Best To-Do List Apps

6 Wunderkinder

Wunderlist, one of Google's 'best' productivity apps in 2014, reportedly sold for more than $100 million

Microsoft has once again expanded its mobile footprint with the acquisition of 6Wunderkinder, a Berlin-based startup behind popular task managing app Wunderlist.

Wunderlist, which can be used to make to-do lists and set reminders, was nominated by Google as one of the best productivity apps in 2014. Users of the app can also share to-do lists with one another, making it a useful tool for work groups, roommates or couples.

Microsoft announced the deal on Tuesday, marking the latest in a string of acquisitions that has rapidly expanded the company’s suite of productivity services for iPhone and Android users. Microsoft acquired Acompli, a critically acclaimed email app in December, followed by Sunrise, a calendar app, in February. Microsoft has since rebranded Acompli as its first true Outlook mobile app for iOS and Android.

While Microsoft has not disclosed the value of the deal, an insider familiar with the negotiation told the Wall Street Journal that the acquisition was valued between $100 to $200 million.

TIME Video Games

3 Reasons Nintendo Should Switch to Google Android

Wii U
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Nintendo's Wii U console, above, and touch-pad controller sit on display during an interview with Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America Inc., in New York, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012.

And three reasons it's a terrible idea

What are the odds Nintendo’s next platform, possibly a suite of devices codenamed “NX,” would emerge running a flavor of Google’s popular operating system, as claimed by a single anonymous insider in a column by Japanese biz paper Nikkei?

I know no more than you, but you’d have to call the odds long if you’re a student of Nintendo’s modus operandi. We’re talking about a company flat out allergic to ceding control of bedrock platform control mechanisms like operating systems and software development toolkits. Nintendo has far more in common with an Apple in this regard (Cupertino’s made its bones as a diehard hardware/software self-roller), obsessed with architecting every element of the software-hardware chain. The company views that delineation between software and hardware as a false dichotomy, in fact.

Read More: Inside Nintendo’s Bold Plan to Stay Vibrant for the Next 125 Years

But in the spirit of responsible (that is, skeptical) speculation, here’s why Nintendo might or might not switch to an open albeit rival-controlled platform like Android.

The argument for…

Because Nintendo could use the help

The Wii U’s operating system two-and-a-half years on feels decades out of sync with its software. I don’t mean its visual aesthetic, which I prefer to the bland asceticism of the PlayStation 4, or the sheer geometric clutter of the Xbox One. But consider Apple’s iOS (since it and the Wii U’s overlay could be cousins, though Nintendo was doing the rowed-icons thing already in 2005 with the Wii). Now imagine if it took a dozen seconds to load iOS “Settings” each time you tapped the icon (instead of just one). And then imagine it took another dozen to get back to the Home screen when you closed out.

That’s the plight of the Wii U, for reasons no one to this day (save Nintendo) fully understands. Shifting to Android would theoretically ground the company’s Next Big Thing in a developmental environment better tuned for speed.

It (maybe) squares the third-party circle

The Wii U isn’t selling as well as Nintendo might like for one reason: third-party support. Where do fans of games like Grand Theft Auto V, Tomb Raider, The Witcher 3, Diablo III, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Dark Souls II and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor go to play some of the bestselling games in video gaming history? Not the Wii U.

Yes, the Wii U may also have capability issues running some of those games (that’s an issue outsourcing the operating neither helps nor hinders, incidentally). But the third-party developers I’ve spoken with over the years claim the biggest problem when it comes to the question of porting games to the Wii U, is that the system’s uniqueness, as with any unique architecture, adds enormous cost overhead to the game’s budget—a situation exacerbated by the Wii U’s limited install base. It’s classic chicken-egg-onomics.

Read More: Nintendo CEO Reveals Plans for Smartphones

Shifting to Android could, given the number of developers fluent with Google’s operating system, reduce the platform’s development learning curve, and if nothing else, lure vast troves of so-called independent developers. (The real question here, of course, is how outré the interface winds up being. If you have to add functionality that isn’t present in other versions of your game, it could still wind up costing tons in development.)

Nintendo wouldn’t have to pay Google a penny

Android in the form of “Google Mobile Services” is free. Unless Nintendo wants to host other services on its future devices like Google Play, or other Google-branded apps (which it surely won’t), Google doesn’t charge OEMs a licensing fee. In theory, therefore, an Android-powered platform (or suite of platforms, mobile to console to whatever else Nintendo’s thinking) would allow Nintendo to benefit from the popularity and maturity of Google’s platform, while keeping Google’s hands off its profits.

And the case against…

Nintendo cares too much about being in the driver’s seat

Hopping into the cockpit with a rival pilot has longterm risks, no matter how you spin it. What if Google tweaks its OEM strictures down the road? Will Android remain free in perpetuity? What if Android itself changes in ways Nintendo doesn’t like? And can you really see Nintendo playing the periodic Android upgrade game?

Nintendo’s 3DS, a proprietary mobile device, is doing fine without Android

Nintendo’s 3DS is the best-selling dedicated games console of this generation, including PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, full stop. Add up publicly declared PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sales and Nintendo’s handheld has that figure beat by miles. And the 3DS has done so running a fully Nintendo-fied operating system.

Read More: 8 More Fascinating Things Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata Told TIME

That’s in part because Nintendo’s first-party games have performed tremendously, but it’s also because third-party support for the device has been strong. There’s no reason to assume Nintendo’s next mobile platform wouldn’t be capable of doing the same. Whatever analytic doomsayers say, there’s no evidence anyone’s planning to abandon one of the most iconic brands in video game history, nor is it clear they’d be any less likely to partner with Nintendo on another proprietary next-gen platform, if the company can get the backend right.

This could all be a smokescreen for something minor

Let’s question an assumption everyone else routinely makes: that NX is the successor to Wii U, or 3DS, or somehow both. Is NX really Nintendo’s Next Big Thing, or is it just code for something meant to happen adjunct to the company’s Actual Next Big Thing? What if NX is just the next step in Nintendo’s already-announced plan to partner with Japanese mobile titan DeNA to carve out space in the traditional mobile gaming space? Which is to say: really just a means to promote Nintendo’s IP, and therefore operate as more of a marketing tie-in to its really really next big gaming idea?

As I said up top, I could be wrong about any of this. If I had to guess today, I’d bet Android plays a much smaller role in the company’s future than a lot of the headlines are implying. But maybe it will, and maybe that’s been Nintendo’s super-secret ploy all along. True or no, the long game for Nintendo is definitely afoot.

TIME Google

Google’s Secret to Doubling Your Phone’s Battery Life

An attendee takes a photograph prior to the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 28, 2014. Google Inc. executives are taking the stage this week to talk about a plethora of new technologies, including automobiles, home automation, digital TV, Web-connected devices and a new version of Android. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
David Paul Morris—© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP An attendee takes a photograph prior to the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 28, 2014.

New version of Android shuts down processes in certain apps to stem battery drain

Google is aiming to give your phones and tablets a little more juice to make it through the day without dying.

At its annual I/O developers conference Thursday, the company announced a new power-conservation feature in its upcoming mobile operating system Android M. Called “Doze,” the new feature uses motion sensors to detect when a device hasn’t been moved for an extended period. Android will then automatically shut down processes for certain power-hogging apps, which should significantly extend the device’s battery life.

When testing the feature, Google said a Nexus 9 tablet running Doze on Android M had a battery life twice as long as the same device using the older Android L operating system.

The new feature won’t turn your phone into a total paperweight. Users will still be alerted to alarms and high-priority messages even when the phone or tablet is dozing.

TIME Media

HBO’s New Streaming Service Is Coming to Android

San Francisco Premiere Of HBO's "Game Of Thrones" Season 5 - Red Carpet
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau attends the premiere of HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Season 5 at San Francisco Opera House on March 23, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

Standalone streaming service will be available in Google Play store

HBO’s standalone streaming service is coming to Google devices.

The search giant announced at its annual I/O developers conference Thursday that HBO Now will soon be available for Android devices in the Google Play store.

HBO Now was originally announced as a timed exclusive for Apple TV and iOS. But it was always a given that the service would eventually expand to other devices. Now users of Android phones, tablets and set-top boxes will be able to stream shows like Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley at the same time as they are broadcast on television without the need for a cable subscription. The service costs $14.99 per month.

In other streaming news, Google revealed that its Chromecast device has sold 17 million units so far. Users have pressed the cast button to stream content onto various screens more than 1.5 billion times.

TIME technology

General Motors Just Got Into Bed With Apple in a Big Way

The Hyundai Sonata has become the first car to integrate Google Android Auto. On its heels, Apple prepares to roll out its own in-car platform.

The next platform battle has begun and it’s being waged inside the car.

This week, GM’s Chevrolet and Hyundai announced plans to add technologies that will deliver smartphone functionality to the dashboard of new cars. On Wednesday, Chevrolet said it would offer both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility in 14 models, including the 2016 Cruze compact car that will debut June 24. A day earlier, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata became the first car to include Google’s new in-car voice-enabled software Android Auto.

Both platforms have the same mission to integrate the smartphone with the vehicle’s dashboard. Android Auto connects to Android smartphones, while CarPlay works with the iPhone. And they work about the same way. Once users plug their smartphone into the car’s USB port, the phone’s maps and navigation, music and selected apps are integrated onto the central screen. Both have similar features with a few notable differences—CarPlay users can only use Apple maps.

Applications in both platforms can be controlled by voice, steering wheel controls, and touchscreen and they’ll also will offer third-party audio apps, including iHeartRadio and Spotify. Google and Apple have even partnered with many of the same automakers, including Audi, GM, Kia and Ford.

Apple and Google’s battle over the connected car has been building up for a couple of years now. Apple introduced iOS in the Car—the in-car standard that would eventually be renamed CarPlay—during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013.

In January 2014, Google along with partners Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and Nvidia, formed the Open Automotive Alliance, a coalition aimed at bringing the Android platform to the car. Several months later, Google unveiled Android Auto at its annual I/O developer conference.

The fight to become the dominant in-car platform presents a challenge for Google and Apple. Both companies want to further entrench themselves in consumers’ lives, possibly through exclusive partnerships with automakers. But it’s in the best interest of automakers to offer both platforms to its customers.

With the exception of a few automakers such as Tesla Motors, the digital console of the car where drivers control A/C, music, and navigation can have a decidedly old-school feel when compared to the functionality and look of a smartphone. The touchscreen in many cars can be finicky and hard to use, forcing many drivers to use their smartphone for navigation or music.

CarPlay and Android Auto allow drivers to bypass the dashboards found in most cars—a capability that will become increasingly important as car-sharing grows. Drivers can instantly access their own music and navigational settings in a strange car by connecting to the Android Auto or CarPlay platforms.

The platforms can also help keep drivers eyes on the road—or at least out of their laps. Some 660,000 drivers, at any given daylight moment across America, are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, according to the latest figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

At least initially, the connected car field will be dominated by MirrorLink, appearing in 1.1 million cars this year, according to an IHS Automotive report released last month. Apple CarPlay will be in 861,000 new cars and Google’s Android Auto will be in 643,000 new cars this year. Apple and Google will quickly surpass MirrorLink, appearing in 37 million and 31 million cars by 2020, respectively.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.

TIME apps

The Best Livestreaming App Is Now on Android

The Periscope video streaming site logo is displayed on the screen of an Apple Inc. iPhone in this arranged photograph taken in London, U.K., on Friday, May, 15, 2015. Facebook Inc. reached a deal with New York Times Co. and eight other media outlets to post stories directly to the social networkÕs mobile news feeds, as publishers strive for new ways to expand their reach. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Chris Ratcliffe—© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP The Periscope video streaming site logo is displayed on the screen of an Apple Inc. iPhone in this arranged photograph taken in London, U.K., on Friday, May, 15, 2015.

Periscope was previously iPhone-only

Periscope, the Twitter-owned livestreaming app that has taken the world by storm in recent months, is coming to Android.

Previously available only on iOS devices, the livestreaming app is now available in the Google Play store two months after first arriving for iPhone.

Periscope lets users livestream video content to their followers directly from a mobile device. It’s become popular for journalists and experts to do video chats, and for people at big events like political rallies or sporting events to show followers what’s going down on the scene.

Twitter announced its purchase of Periscope only weeks after a similar app called Meerkat launched to much fanfare among the tech press and early adopters.

The Verge notes that the features of the new app are pretty similar to those available on the iOS version.

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