Microsoft has opened up the Garage doors, and although we may have expected to find an award-winning Ferrari 375 MM, instead there are various cool mobile apps inside. The Garage was once an internal development lab, where software projects were hidden away from the public, and worked on in private. That changed this week, when Microsoft decided it wanted to share its hard work. In keeping with many of Microsoft’s recent mobile software projects, there are apps which work with Windows Phone, Android, and iOS.
There are 15 apps in total, many of which are locally relevant or have a very specific target, but there are still some gems to be discovered. Here are our picks from Microsoft’s Garage.
Next Lock Screen
An alternative lock screen for Android 4.0 and up, Next Lock Screen aims to save you time by integrating short cuts and quick access keys into a dynamic lock page. Quick access apps are displayed based on your usage, the calendar shows upcoming appointments, and there’s the chance to change the background according to your location. The page also provides notifications for SMS and missed calls.
Reach Me is for Windows Phone 8.1 devices only. Through the app, you can share your location with friends, and then provide accurate navigation instructions to where you are. It’s live, so even if you’re moving around, it’ll keep tracking your location. A time limit can be added to the tracking feature, so you won’t forget it’s activated.
Microsoft brings Bing to Android Wear with Torque. It takes Android Wear’s voice controls and adds them to a Bing search engine, which can be activated simply by twisting your wrist. The same motion resets the search, but not the program, making searches more conversational. The app is compatible with LG and Samsung Android Wear watches, but apparently has reliability problems on the Moto 360.
Tetra Lockscreen is another lock screen app, but this time for Windows Phone 8.1. It displays your daily calendar entries, and assesses how busy you’re going to be, plus it puts appointment locations on a live map. Clearly designed for people who are constantly on the move, it also makes use of Nokia’s SensorCore to count your steps, and estimate the calories you’ve burned.
Jouneys and Notes
This is a social travel app, designed primarily for public transport, and available on Android. The idea is to log each trip you take, share tips and secrets on the journey, and connect with fellow travelers. Beyond that, Journeys and Notes logs the trips, letting you see how far you travel, and even how environmentally friendly you’ve been.
All the apps found in Microsoft’s Garage are free to download, and you can see the entire list here.