MICROSOFT has released the latest in its line of 'John Hurt' mobile apps designed to hide inside Android and iOS devices and burst through the chest.
The keyboard app, known as 'Kane', sorry, 'Hub', is a Microsoft Garage project aimed at simplifying multitasking on devices.
“I don’t like switching between apps to do different things on my smartphone,” said Steve Won, a senior designer on the Office team and the brains behind Hub.
“But all these different apps on a smartphone have to conform to the rules of a keyboard and that got me thinking about the project as an interesting idea I wanted to explore. We’re giving users a wider gamut of tools.”
We can't deny that it's a pretty neat idea. An extra toolbar adds direct access to contacts, translation tools and attachments.
And then there's the usual rub. You can probably guess what it is. Drop in a contact, it's from your Microsoft account. Documents are from your Office 365 account. Translation is by Bing. It's yet another 'useful tool' that's actually a 'chest burster' designed to get people using Microsoft's services.
There's also a big problem at this early stage: you can have text predictions or the toolbar, not both, making it difficult to recommend. But remember that this is an experimental tool and needs testers to get better, not miserable old cynics like us.
What's more worrying from our point of view is that SwiftKey, by far the best keyboard app on the market, is now in the hands of the Redmond massive. It makes us wonder how long it's going to be before these little touches of Micro-megalomania start to invade there too.
Windows 10 Mobile is basically now a write-off, and Microsoft's mobile ambitions are like cuckoos' eggs needing a nest. Or in Alien terms, a Kane we need like a hole in the chest. µ
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