Microsoft wants to power your Android phone and watch with these apps

Lockscreen apps for Android phone are a dime a dozen, with hundreds available from various developers. And now, The Verge reports, you can add Microsoft to that list.

Next Lock Screen

On its Microsoft Garage website, the company is showing off its Next Lock Screen app for [company]Google[/company] Android phones, which surfaces your upcoming appointments without having to unlock your handset. You can scroll through your calendar events, so this isn’t a static short list. And if one of those events is a conference call, you can dial in with a simple swipe. Next Lock Scren also provides five app shortcuts for quick access, capable of automatically showing the apps you use most. Clever, but that’s not all.

[company]Microsoft[/company] also has a social-based travel scrapbook app called Journeys & Notes for Android. It records your travel movement, letting you jot interesting notes about places you visit. These notes can be made available to other users of the app so you can gather reviews, find arcane but useful places to go and more. This app benefits as more users contribute notes on their journeys, of course.

Anyone can benefit from Bing, however, and for those with an Android Wear smartwatch, Microsoft has a new voice search app that’s aptly named Torque. Instead of speaking a command to wake your watch — such as “OK, Google” — with Torque you simply twist your wrist. That wakes the app and prepares it for your voice search, which uses Bing to return results. It sounds to me like an intelligent use of the sensors found in Android Wear watches.

Torque

To some, this embrace of Android by Microsoft may appear to be a sudden twist. The reality is that Microsoft has spent much of the last two years ramping up its approach to mobile software by bringing its apps and services to other platforms. OneNote, Office, Outlook and SmartGlass are just a few examples.

Why do this? Because Android is the most-used mobile operating system in the world (by far) and if Microsoft only caters to its own Windows Phone platform, it won’t have nearly as many users of its apps and services. It’s a smart strategy to help offset the lack of Windows Phone users, or else Microsoft runs the risk of irrelevancy in mobile.