Microsoft

Microsoft

Microsoft’s Cortana soon coming to your Android lock screen

Digital assistants are getting more and more popular these days. There are quite a few of them available including Google’s Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa as well as Microsoft’s Cortana. As Windows smartphones aren’t really in high demand, Microsoft brought its digital assistant to Android at the end of 2015 in hopes of expanding its user base.

According to a report from MSPoweruser, Microsoft is now trying to make it a lot easier for Android users to access Cortana on their devices. The digital assistant, which received a fresh new look about a month ago, will apparently soon be accessible from your smartphone’s lock screen. By swiping either left or right, you’ll be able to launch Cortana and ask her to help you out with various tasks.

See also:

Google Assistant update adds ability to take screenshots

1 week ago

Microsoft’s digital assistant is capable of opening apps, setting alarms, browsing the web, making calls, sending emails, and more based on your voice commands.

Microsoft is currently testing to see how well the new feature works with the help of users who have signed up for the Cortana beta testing program. Therefore, it is expected that the digital assistant might come to your lock screen soon, although no specific dates have been mentioned so far.

If you like Microsoft’s Cortana and would like to try out the new feature before the majority of users, you’ll be happy to hear that you can still sign up for the testing program. Click the button below if you’re interested.

Become a tester

Microsoft might have some secret weapons in store for its Echo competitor

You may have caught a glimpse of Microsoft’s teaser for its Amazon Echo competitor the other day. It’s a Harman Kardon speaker running Cortana that aims to take on not just the Echo, but also the likes of Google Home and whatever Samsung eventually comes out with running Bixby (besides the Galaxy S8 of course). But against such fierce competition, does Microsoft’s digital assistant speaker stand a chance?

See also:

10 best personal assistant apps for Android

4 weeks ago

In short: absolutely. But there are quite a few things to consider when trying to predict how well a virtual assistant product will do on the market. First, there are the obvious things, like the quality and feature-set of the virtual assistant itself and the hardware in which it exists.

Then there are other less obvious aspects like compatibility with other devices, price points, form factors and other barriers to entry. And then there’s the issue of the openness of the platform to third-party developers and manufacturers, which can have an immense impact on its growth.

With these things in mind, how well is Microsoft’s Cortana speaker going to stack up? Google Assistant will likely always have the edge on search, and Amazon has a massive array of skills and third-party integrations already thanks to being first to market. Microsoft’s product design, which reeks of the Amazon Echo, isn’t going to differentiate it, so what secret weapons does Microsoft have?

Google Assistant will likely always have the edge on search, and Amazon has a massive array of skills and third-party integrations already.

Cortana vs the competition

The thing with digital assistants housed in speakers is that, like most things in life, it’s essentially what’s inside that counts. No one really buys a virtual assistant speaker based on looks. If they did, Google wouldn’t stand a chance (air freshener burn!). But Google Home still has a very good chance at being the dominant speaker in years to come, because Google. That is, until Apple releases some overpriced home AI product.

But if you were to ask me for a gut-reaction to which virtual assistant is best, I wouldn’t put Cortana at the top of the list, but it probably wouldn’t be at the bottom either. Of course, depending on what you use your digital assistant for, your mileage may vary: everyone has their preferred digital assistant for their own particular reasons.

Preference for an AI assistant boils down to two things: the quality of its voice recognition and enhanced functionality.

But ultimately, that preference boils down to two things: voice recognition and enhanced functionality. A virtual assistant is no good if it can’t understand you or is incapable of doing much.

Unfortunately, Microsoft’s teaser don’t exactly inspire us with confidence. The only ‘skills’ shown in the short video are playing a song and setting a reminder. This is not the stuff of AI dreams.

Hardware options

Let’s face it, as important as the virtual assistant inside the product is, the hardware in which it is encased also matters. But not necessarily just for what it looks or sounds like, but also for what choices it offers. Microsoft, perhaps recognizing Cortana’s current weaknesses, has wisely identified that limiting Cortana’s home-assistant life to one product would put it in a very tough position.

Not only would it have to have better (or at least comparable) software abilities when compared to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, it would also have to be a better speaker than both of them. Partnering with Harmon Kardon certainly gives Microsoft’s first swing at bat a much better chance of outdoing the competition on audio quality. But why stop there?

This is where Microsoft diverges from the competition. That is because the speaker teased in the video isn’t a Microsoft product per se. It is a Harmon Kardon product that runs Cortana, much like a Dell PC running Windows. This is a critical difference.

Microsoft will only have third-party products running Cortana: the same approach it traditionally took to getting Windows on PCs.

Microsoft won’t make hardware

While Amazon and Google have released their own branded speakers running their own digital assistants, Microsoft will come out of the gate with only third-party products. This is the same way it traditionally approached hardware and software for computers (before the Surface, that is). These new products won’t just be relegated to speakers either: a recently-leaked Microsoft slide shows Cortana will live inside a wide range of household consumer products next year.

Of course, there are already third-party Alexa-powered devices available, but they tend to be less fully-featured when compared to Amazon’s own hardware (requiring a tap before speaking commands for example). They also tend to be cheaper and nastier than Amazon’s offerings, clearly pitching them beneath Amazon’s own products. And as far as I’m aware, there isn’t an Alexa-powered fridge in the pipeline.

Microsoft, Google and Amazon have all opened their platforms up to third-party developers.

Meanwhile, Google indicated way back at I/O that it was working with various audio companies on third-party speakers as vehicles for Google Assistant. But it seems to be prioritizing giving its own hardware a head start first, because we’ve not heard anything more on that front since May.

Both Google and Amazon have already opened their platforms up to third-party developers, just as Microsoft has done this week.

Microsoft might have some secret weapons in store for its Echo competitor

Third-party support

By opening up the Cortana Devices SDK to anyone that wants to include Cortana in their connected products, Microsoft is taking a two-pronged approach: get an uncrippled version of Cortana into as many products as possible, and remove itself from the hardware side of things as much as possible. This is important, because as mentioned above, Microsoft is going to need all the help it can get.

To get an idea of how Microsoft’s approach might pan out, just think of the distribution model of iOS vs Android. With Home, Echo and Dot, Google and Amazon released their own device running their own software with very little choice for consumers. This is Apple’s approach with the iPhone. It’s essentially take it or leave it.

Microsoft hasn't made an Echo competitor so much as asked others to do it on their behalf.

On the other hand, Microsoft will allow basically anyone that wants to use its software to do so, much like Google did with Android. So Microsoft hasn’t made an Echo competitor so much as it is getting others to create those products on its behalf, covering a much wider product portfolio than it could ever hope to manage on its own.

That’s not to say that making Cortana open to all OEMs and ODMs that wish to incorporate it means Cortana will suddenly become the Android of virtual assistants. Far from it. If Google does start releasing third-party speakers at the high end and Amazon continues its low-end Alexa-powered expansion, Microsoft will be squeezed from both sides.

Microsoft’s edge

For Microsoft to really compete against the cheap, third party-friendly and very capable Alexa products, Microsoft needs Cortana-powered products at the high and low end of the scale. Fortunately, Microsoft won’t cannibalize its own sales by doing so as it is strictly focused on getting Cortana out there. But if Microsoft wants to compete against the power of Google Assistant it really needs to beef up its software.

This is the crux of the software issue: Microsoft can’t just settle on letting manufacturers slap Cortana inside their products and hope for the best thanks to greater numbers. After all, Apple successfully proved one iPhone was enough to compete with the multitude of Android options.

Not having to focus on hardware means Microsoft can invest all of its time and resources into making Cortana better.

No, if Microsoft wants to join the voice assistant speaker over a year late it needs to bring something new and fresh and compelling. Not having to focus on hardware so much means that Microsoft can invest all of its time and resources into making Cortana the best-in-class assistant for whatever hardware it appears in.

Thankfully, Microsoft recently achieved human parity in conversational voice recognition and has confirmed it will make its way into Cortana. This is hugely important, as speech recognition has always been Cortana’s weak spot. The recent update to the Cortana app also shows Microsoft is actively working on more than just the back end too, which is equally encouraging.

Microsoft might have some secret weapons in store for its Echo competitor

Differentiation

A display has already been ear-marked as a requirement for third-party manufacturers to incorporate Cortana into their products. While this might sound novel, Amazon is already rumored to be working on an Alexa device with a large screen. So Microsoft won’t be able to stand out there.

Likewise, knowing you can buy the toaster, fridge, speaker and washing machine you like and have them all support Cortana is a bonus, but having multiple devices that all do the same thing isn’t necessarily a killshot either. (That said, planning multiple devices that all feature a fully featured Cortana is definitely a wise move.)

But Microsoft might have another secret weapon up its sleeve, one very close to its heart: voice controlling your Windows computer. A recent Windows 10 insider preview build includes the ability to wake your PC, put it to sleep, lock it, and change the volume, all with your voice alone. These powers and more will roll out officially in the Windows 10 Creators update scheduled for early 2017.

Microsoft might have a secret weapon up its sleeve if recently leaked plans for a Microsoft Home Hub pan out.

But it might not just be one way control, if recently leaked plans for a Microsoft Home Hub pan out. If these rumors are true, you won’t even need to go out and buy a Cortana-powered product to handle all your voice assistant needs in the home: your existing Windows 10 PC will be able to assume that role. All it will take is a software patch, which may well be a part of the Creators update.

There are numerous barriers to entry in this space: price, product range, maturity of the platform, perceived need for what is ultimately an unnecessary if-not-entirely ‘luxury’ product, compatibility and so on. But if Microsoft rolls out its Home Hub for free to gadgets people already have in their homes, it bypasses several of those traditional obstacles.

See also:

What voice commands can I use with Google Home?

November 10, 2016

Make it free

Betting your PC against an Echo speaker or Google Home is a much safer bet than competing on even ground. Microsoft must know that rolling out a free update to add super-charged AI features to your existing Windows 10 computer is a great way to introduce people to what the new Cortana can do.

Once folks have had the chance to try out Cortana’s voice assistant powers in the home will make convincing them to buy into the Cortana product ecosystem a much easier sell. Making multiple other products available without crippling them to push one’s own hardware first is also a huge plus. This might just be the way Microsoft manages to turn up late and still come out with a healthy piece of the pie.

We don’t know if we’ll see Microsoft’s Cortana-powered speaker or any other products revealed at CES or MWC, but we’ll absolutely be keeping an eye on Microsoft’s plans in this space. We may end up being totally wrong with what Microsoft has planned for its Cortana ecosystem, but what at first looked like a weak Echo clone might suddenly turn into real competition for Amazon and Google in your home.

Would you prefer your computer to take the place of a Echo or Home? Who do you think will come out on top?

Cortana for Android gets a refreshed look as it makes its UK debut

It’s been nearly a year since Microsoft officially launched the Android version of its Cortana digital assistant. Today, the company revealed that the app is finally available in the UK. At the same time, it will roll out an update this week that will give Cortana a fresh new look.

The revamped UI for the Android app includes what Microsoft is calling “Quick Actions”. Basically, Cortana now shows a number of features that can be called upon with one tap of the finger, in case you don’t want to use its voice features. These kinds of actions are available for things like showing the current weather forecast, the latest meeting schedule, a quick look at the most recent news and more. Quick Actions also allows users to set up new reminders, again with just one tap.

See also:

Best personal assistant apps for Android

2 weeks ago

In addition, when you need Cortana to answer a question, such as, “What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow?”, the Android version will now display that info on the screen in full page view, with a much cleaner look compared to earlier versions. Finally, Microsoft says it has made some changes under the hood, which will offer a faster overall performance for the app.

Overall, it sounds like Microsoft is still very interested in extending its Cortana assistant to as many platforms and markets as it can. You can grab the latest version now from the Google Play Store at the link below. Do you use the Android version of the app for your daily reminders and schedules?

Get it at Google Play

5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps Weekly

Welcome to the 168th edition of Android Apps Weekly. Here are the headlines from the last week:

  • Hatch is a new start up that spun off from Rovio. Yes, the developers of Angry Birds. Hatch is working on a project that will allow you to stream Android games to your device and play them for free. There won’t be in-app purchases or updates to deal with. It’ll be just you and the game.  There are also some ambitious ideas like pulling the Internet for help inside of the game, even in single player games. An invite beta is should be out in early 2017.
  • Facebook shut down its Live Video API access for Prisma this week. Previously, Prisma was using the API to allow people to create filters while streaming live on Facebook. Now, that is no longer possible. Facebook sent Prisma an email stating that access was revoked because Facebook already supported the feature. In reality, it seems like Facebook was just shutting down some competition before their own filters option rolls out to everyone. Good job, Facebook.
  • It has been reported that one million Google accounts have been breached by a new brand of malware called Gooligan. It affects people who download third party apps not from Google Play. From there, it downloads root kits and tries to get control of your device. It’s unfortunately, but those who keep their downloading strictly to the Google Play Store don’t need to worry because the exploit is not present there.
  • A study released this week showed that consumers spent more than $1 billion during Black Friday 2016 by using their smartphones and tablets. This is the first time that number has ever eclipsed $1 billion and shows that more people than ever before are shopping online. We’ve no doubt that apps contributed to the overall total. After all, most brick and mortar stores have their own apps these days. The total online sales from the weekend topped $5 billion.
  • Google Play is now actively trying to hunt down fake reviews in the Play Store. It’s been an issue for a while now. Essentially what happens is shady developers pay people to download the app over and over again on different accounts and leave favorable reviews. The rating goes way up and people think the app is great. We don’t know how effective this fake review washing will be, but we hope it’s pretty damn effective.

For even more Android apps and games news, releases, updates, and more, check out this week’s newsletter by clicking here! There you can find all of the last week’s app news that we didn’t have space for here. You can sign up for the newsletter using the form below and we’ll send it to you every Sunday!

Android Apps Weekly newsletter!
Subscribe to the Apps Weekly newsletter.

Distraint: Pocket Pixel Horror

[Price: Free / $1.49]
Distraint is a horror-adventure game that runs on the same engine as the Five Nights at Freddy’s games. For you PC gamers out there, yes, this is the same game that was released on Steam last year. In this title, you’ll play though a 2D experience and solve puzzles. The controls are rather simple and it shouldn’t take you long to learn how to play. The developers claim that the game should take around two hours to complete. You can download it for free or fork out the very reasonable $1.49 for the full game.

Download now on Google Play!


5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps WeeklyGoogle Santa Tracker

[Price: Free]
Google has released their yearly Santa tracking app. With this one, you’ll be able to quickly access a countdown to the big night track Santa as he makes his rounds around the world. The app also features a variety of mini-games that you can play to pass the time. Some reviewers have noticed the occasional bug so do look out for that. Otherwise, the app is completely free to download and use if you’re interested.

Download now on Google Play!


5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps WeeklyHill Climb Racing 2

[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Hill Climb Racing 2 is the successor to the very popular Hill Climb Racing. In this title, you’ll pick a vehicle and go racing. The game features the ability to perform tricks, access boosts, and there are a variety of tracks that you can play on. It’s a 2D game and the mechanics are simple so it doesn’t take long to learn the game. It also has a cartoon graphic style to give the game an atmosphere of being silly. It supports online multiplayer as well. You can pick it up for free if you don’t mind the in-app purchases.

Download now on Google Play!


5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps WeeklyClip Layer

[Price: Free]
Clip Layer is a new app from the Microsoft Garage Project. This is an overlay app that lets you quickly copy and paste items from your screen. It launches uses the home button so you’ll need to have this set as your assistant app. Once that’s done, simply long press and you can copy and paste any text on your screen. Once copied, you can quickly send it to an email address or add it to Wunderlist if you prefer. It’s a completely free app but do beware of those early release bugs.

Download now on Google Play!

5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps Weekly


5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps WeeklySamorost 3

[Price: $4.99]
Samorost 3 is the latest game in the Samorost franchise. It’s a quirky little adventure game where you play as a space gnome with a flute. Your job is to travel the cosmos and visit nine planets to complete various challenges. It has a strong showing in the graphics, sound, and music departments which adds to the overall ambiance of the title. The game runs for $4.99 but there are no in-app purchases to get in the way of you having fun.

Download now on Google Play!


Related best app lists:

If we missed any Android apps or games news, tell us about them in the comments! To see our complete list of best app lists, click here.

Microsoft’s latest Android exclusive lets you clip and save from any app

Microsoft continues to stick with its recent business model of offering apps for all popular platforms, including Android. Its latest such exclusive for Google’s mobile OS is called Clip Layer, and it’s designed to help people clip and save content from any app.

See also:

Microsoft Garage releases Parchi, a simple and light notes app that uses hashtags

October 22, 2015

The app comes from Microsoft’s experimental Garage division, which has previously released Android apps like Parchi, Sprightly and Kaizala. In the case of Clip Layer, Microsoft says the idea came from Steve Won, a senior designer with its Office team. Won, who previously released the Android-based Hub Keyboard for Android and iOS via the Garage division, said he was getting annoyed by the fact that some Android apps would not allow him to copy and paste their content. Also, he found that even if some apps did allow that to happen, the process of copying was simply too hard.

Microsoft’s latest Android exclusive lets you clip and save from any appHis solution turned into Clip Layer. When activated, the app puts a universal overlay over any Android screen. That overlay allows content on any Android app to be quickly selected and copied with just a tap to the clipboard. From there, it should be easy to share that content via email or other methods.

If you’re interested in trying it out, Clip Layer is now available to download for free from the Google Play Store.

Get it at Google Play

5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps Weekly

Welcome to the 167th edition of Android Apps Weekly! Here are the headlines from the last week:

  • Google Play is currently trying out individual game ratings. The way it works is you rate titles based on game play, controls, and graphics. The scores for each category lets people know how good those qualities are for a more comprehensive look at the game. It can also warn people if games don’t have good controller support or have great graphics but otherwise suck. We’re not sure if this is going to roll out to everybody, but it seems like a good idea.
  • So Twitter banned its own CEO this week. In an act that essentially summed up how bad it’s been at Twitter lately, Jack Dorsey spent a good portion of the day not being able to view his own Twitter account. He did eventually make it back on and told everyone that it was an internal problem that caused the ban. There’s nothing of real note here, but it was kinda funny.
  • It was announced this week that Google is ending Google Play Services support for Android Gingerbread. The change will happen in early 2017. By removing Gingerbread, Google Play Services will become a little more modern in nature and give developers more options for building apps. The number of devices that even use Gingerbread is only about 1.3%. Also, most apps don’t support Gingerbread anymore anyway.
  • The latest Humble Bundle is live! This bundle features tons of games from HandyGames and includes Clouds & Sheep, Rocket Island, 1942 Pacific Front, and plenty of other games that would cost you $42 to buy individually. You can pay what you want and get five games, pay a $3 minimum and get up to 11 games, or pay $5 or more to get the whole bundle. It’s a good way to get some games on the cheap and give to charity.
  • Google Play is tossing a huge games, apps, books, movies, and more sale in honor of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You can get stuff for up to 80% off and some of the titles are rather expensive without deals. It’s a good time to stock up on some stuff. We don’t know how long these deals will last, though, so be sure to get them while you can. Click the previous links to see the deals!

For even more Android apps and games news, updates, releases, and more, check out this week’s newsletter by clicking here! There you’ll find a bunch of stuff that we didn’t have the space for here. You can sign up for the newsletter using the form below if you’d like and we’ll send it to your inbox every Sunday! Also, don’t forget to check out the Android Authority app!

Subscribe to Android Apps Weekly!
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter


Eisenhorn: Xenox

[Price: $5.99]
Eisenhorn: Xenos is an adventure game that takes place in the Warharmmer 40,000 universe. It’s an adaptation from a book of the same name. You’ll be able to explore the world, take part in various quests, and the game comes with full voice acting. The graphics are also pretty decent. Unlike most Warhammer games these days, this one is a pay-once title with no in-app purchases. It also has full game controller support if that matters to you.

Download now on Google Play!


5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps WeeklyChase Pay

[Price: Free]
Chase Bank has released its own NFC payment app called Chase Pay. It’s about what you’d expect from an NFC payment app. You’ll be able to log into an existing Chase account and use the cards on file to make purchases. It’s brand new which means there are plenty of bugs that need to be worked out. Also, the app only works at Best Buy and a few other places right now but we expect that to increase over time. It’s not very good right now, but members of Chase Bank should keep an eye on it.

Download now on Google Play!

5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps Weekly


5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps WeeklyGear.Club

[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Gear.Club is a racing game that boasts a realistic experience. Underneath its bravado, it’s a fairly standard freemium racing game. You’ll race various tracks at various locations to win various championships. Above that, there is a large selection of cars to collect, optimize, and upgrade. The graphics are simply astounding although other parts of the game could use a little bit of work. It’s not quite prime time yet but we’re sure it’ll get there eventually.

Download now on Google Play!


5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps WeeklyPulse SMS

[Price: Free / $0.99 per month / $1.99 per 3 months / $5.99 per year / $10.99]
Pulse SMS is a hybrid of a texting app and a Pushbullet competitor. On its own, the Android app functions as a good, if slightly basic SMS app. However, you can download the app on various platforms and share the SMS messages between them. That means you can text on your tablet or your computer if you want to. Like Pushbullet, there is a subscription service although you can get a lifetime license and not have to worry about it if you want to. It’s a little buggy as new apps are, but it’s definitely going to get better over time.

Download now on Google Play!


5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps WeeklyMicrosoft Solitaire Collection

[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Microsoft Solitaire Collection is an Android port of the popular Solitaire games available on most Microsoft Windows machines. The game includes five total variants of Solitaire, including Klondike (classic), Spider, Freecell, Tripeaks, and Pyramid. This adaptation also includes daily challenges as well as Xbox Live login support where you can earn actual achievements. It’s a time waster through and through. You can also get a premium membership for a recurring charge that removes advertising and gives you in-game boosts.

Download now on Google Play!

5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps Weekly


Related best app lists:

If we missed any big Android apps or games news, tell us about them in the comments! To see our complete list of best app lists, click here.

Google, Microsoft and others create guidelines for improving IoT security

The Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group – an alliance formed by Google, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon and others in the tech industry – has laid out guidelines for improving security on Internet of Things devices.

The group, also known as BITAG, was formed in 2010 to produce best practices for broadband security and published its recommendations for IoT manufacturers yesterday.

In the document, BITAG warned that “the nature of consumer IoT is unique because it can involve non-technical or uninterested consumers; challenging device discovery and inventory on consumer home networks,” adding that IoT devices can be hijacked to create “Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, perform surveillance and monitoring, gain unauthorized access or control, induce device or system failures, and disturb or harass authorized users or device owners.”

See also:

What is the problem with IoT security? – Gary explains

3 days ago

To avoid such exploits, BITAG makes a number of recommendations for manufacturers, including:

  • Shipping products with up-to-date software
  • Including a mechanism for automated and secure software updates
  • Providing “Strong authentication”, such as password protection, by default
  • Conducting security tests on a number of configurations
  • Following security and cryptography best practices
  • Ensuring devices remain functional even if the cloud back-end fails

BITAG also suggested that, when possible, IoT devices should not be reachable via inbound connections by default. As an advisory group, however, BITAG can’t legally enforce any of its recommendations on IoT device manufacturers.

In October, an IoT exploit was a major contributor in an internet blackout in the US, which affected huge parts of the country. You can watch our own Gary Sims detail some of the concerns surrounding IoT security in this video.

Google, Microsoft and others create guidelines for improving IoT security

The Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group – an alliance formed by Google, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon and others in the tech industry – has laid out guidelines for improving security on Internet of Things devices.

The group, also known as BITAG, was formed in 2010 to produce best practices for broadband security and published its recommendations for IoT manufacturers yesterday.

In the document, BITAG warned that “the nature of consumer IoT is unique because it can involve non-technical or uninterested consumers; challenging device discovery and inventory on consumer home networks,” adding that IoT devices can be hijacked to create “Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, perform surveillance and monitoring, gain unauthorized access or control, induce device or system failures, and disturb or harass authorized users or device owners.”

See also:

What is the problem with IoT security? – Gary explains

3 days ago

To avoid such exploits, BITAG makes a number of recommendations for manufacturers, including:

  • Shipping products with up-to-date software
  • Including a mechanism for automated and secure software updates
  • Providing “Strong authentication”, such as password protection, by default
  • Conducting security tests on a number of configurations
  • Following security and cryptography best practices
  • Ensuring devices remain functional even if the cloud back-end fails

BITAG also suggested that, when possible, IoT devices should not be reachable via inbound connections by default. As an advisory group, however, BITAG can’t legally enforce any of its recommendations on IoT device manufacturers.

In October, an IoT exploit was a major contributor in an internet blackout in the US, which affected huge parts of the country. You can watch our own Gary Sims detail some of the concerns surrounding IoT security in this video.

Samsung and Microsoft partner up to expand Tizen

0

The South Korean electronics giant announced its partnership with Microsoft to bring more developers to its open source operating system, Tizen.

See also:

Samsung offering $10,000 reward to Tizen app developers

6 days ago

Samsung is slowly expanding its Tizen portfolio – mainly in the form of smartwatches and smart TVs – but while the open source OS gives the company more freedom and autonomy compared to, say, Android, the major drawback here is that Tizen just doesn’t have enough apps. Look at the recently launched Gear S3, for instance: its specs are undoubtedly one of the best out there, if not the best. The design is flawless (at least in my opinion), but there is a huge problem aside from its price tag: apps are lacking and the quality of those that are available isn’t all too great.

Well, it seems like Samsung is really convinced that Tizen has the potential to grow. The company has announced today that it would be collaborating with Microsoft on “open source projects, such as .NET Core and Xamarin.Forms” in order to facilitate .NET support for Tizen. .NET is a Microsoft-developed framework that helps developers create apps more easily.

In fact, Samsung will be releasing the first preview of Visual Studio Tools for Tizen today for .NET developers:

The first preview supports mobile application development with device emulators and an extension to Visual Studio with full IntelliSense and debugging capabilities. Support for Smart TVs, wearables, and other IoT devices will be added in future releases.

On top of that, Samsung released open source codes for Tizen RT, which is currently used in its smart fridges and AC units. According to the company, there are over 50 million devices powered by Tizen right now, and it’s only set to grow further. The success of Tizen will largely depend on its app support, so I’m curious to see how this collaboration will contribute to the growth of what Samsung seems to think is the next OS.

The success of Tizen will largely depend on its app support, so I’m curious to see how this collaboration will contribute to the growth of what Samsung seems to think is the next OS.

Would you switch to Tizen if its app support were significantly better? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!