While most companies are typically focused with improving their ecosystems without even giving cross platform development a thought, Microsoft seems to have an altogether different approach. Through its Garage program, the tech giant aims to develop cross platform apps that highlight the different projects that always keep its employees busy. Apart from just focusing on the development of Windows Phone apps, the Garage program extends the challenge towards developing apps on the Android and iOS platform. While this may seem as a bad idea given the differences that exist in app availability in iTunes and Play Store versus those in Windows Store, it is beneficial in that the apps developed borrow some Windows features, thereby indirectly pulling users towards the Windows platform. Though this may not be as explicit, experimenting with other platforms gives a better understanding hence facilitating improved app development.
For a start, Microsoft Garage has only released Android apps, one of which is the Next Lock Screen. This is an Android lock screen that borrows a lot from Microsoft’s own productivity philosophy that was introduced by Windows 8. The basic principle is to save on time by availing as much information on the lock screen as possible. Messages, weather, emails, calls, and even calendar items can all be accessed from the lock screen. There is also quick app launch that enables you to pin favourite apps right onto the lock screen for easy launch. You may also enable the toggling of settings such as Wi-Fi and different profiles as you like.
Another app is the Journeys & Notes that is specifically made for travellers. Microsoft Garage is also eying Android Wear, and this became evident when they released a keyboard that enabled Wear users to handwrite letters on their devices a while back. The latest app in this line is the Bing Torque, which is a clever way that Microsoft is trying to use to make you use Bing as you default search engine in your Wear device. It eliminates the need to say ‘OK Google’, and instead you may turn your wrist in a certain way and this automatically enables Bing voice search.
While this is just for a start, it seems that Microsoft is on course towards experimenting with a lot. Satya Nadella is surely on a mission to change Microsoft, and the Garage program, which has actually been around for a long time, is the least expected from the tech industry given the rivalry that always exists. We can only wait for other apps to be released, even on iOS, and see how this strategy plays out.