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Creating a more secure, intelligent and connected enterprise at Ignite 2018

It’s great to be back in Orlando for Microsoft Ignite. This is Microsoft’s biggest event for IT pros and enterprise developers with more than 26,000 people joining us from over 100 countries. Ignite is all about our customers—of course they attend, but we also give the mic to customers to participate in Satya’s and other executives’ keynotes, as well as sessions and workshops. Literally hundreds of sessions at Ignite are led by customers, such as Buhler, Shell, H&M and others.

We made a lot of announcements this morning for and with our customers. A few quick highlights:

If you weren’t able to join us in Orlando, you can watch Satya’s keynote on demand. There’s also a ton of great sessions available to watch virtually. And check out all the other exciting news we shared with customers today.

The post Creating a more secure, intelligent and connected enterprise at Ignite 2018 appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Seamless Growth in the Scale-Out Era

Change is inevitable and it may be a fortunate consequence of growth. In an era where agility is needed and delivering new and better services faster may be the difference...

Announcing new AI and mixed reality business applications for Microsoft Dynamics

Today, I had the opportunity to speak to press and analysts in San Francisco about our vision for business applications at Microsoft. In addition, I had the privilege to make two very important announcements: the upcoming availability of new Dynamics 365 AI applications, and our very first mixed reality business applications: Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Dynamics 365 Layout.

Our vision for business applications at Microsoft

We live in a connected world where companies are challenged every day to innovate so they can stay ahead of emerging trends and repivot business models to take advantage of new opportunities to meet growing customer demands.

To innovate, organizations need to reimagine their processes. They need solutions that are modern, enabling new experiences for how they can engage their customers while making their people more productive. They need unified systems that break data silos, so they have a holistic view of their business, customers and employees. They need pervasive intelligence threaded throughout the platform, giving them the ability to reason over data, to predict trends and drive proactive intelligent action. And with adaptable applications, they can be nimble, allowing them to take advantage of the next opportunity that comes their way.

Two years ago, when we introduced Dynamics 365 we started a journey to tear down the traditional silos of customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP). We set out to reimagine business applications as modern, unified, intelligent and adaptable solutions that are integrated with Office 365 and natively built on Microsoft Azure.

With the release of our new AI and mixed reality applications we are taking another step forward on our journey to help empower every organization on the planet to achieve more through the accelerant of business applications. Specifically, today we are making the following announcements:

Dynamics 365 + AI

First, I am happy to announce the coming availability of a new Dynamics 365 AI offering — a new class of AI applications that will deliver out-of-the-box insights by unifying data and infusing it with advanced intelligence to guide decisions and empower organizations to take informed actions. And because these insights are easily extensible through the power of Microsoft Power BI, Azure and the Common Data Service, organizations will be able to address even the most complex scenarios specific to their business.

Dynamics 365 AI for Sales: AI can help salespeople prioritize their time to focus on deals that matter most, provide answers to the most common questions regarding the performance of sales teams, offer a detailed analysis of the sales pipeline, and surface insights that enable smarter coaching of sales teams.

Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service: With Microsoft’s AI and natural language understanding, customer service data can surface automated insights that help guide employees to take action and can even leverage virtual agents to help lower support costs and enable delightful customer experiences, all without needing in-house AI experts and without writing any code.

Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights: Helps empower your marketing, social media and market research teams to make better decisions with market insights. Marketers can improve customer relationships with actionable web and social insights to engage in relevant conversations and respond faster to trends.

To help bring this to life, today we released a video with our CEO, Satya Nadella, and Navrina Singh, a member of our Dynamics 365 engineering team, showing examples of ways we’re bringing the power of AI to customer service organizations.

Dynamics 365 + Mixed Reality

Our second announcement of the day centers on the work we are doing to bring mixed reality and business applications together.

Since the release of Microsoft HoloLens over two years ago, the team has learned a lot from customers and partners. The momentum that HoloLens has received within the commercial space has been overwhelmingly positive. This has been supported by increased demand and deployment from some of the world’s most innovative companies.

We recognize that many employees need information in context to apply their knowledge and craft. Not only on a 2-D screen — but information and data in context, at the right place, and at the right time, so employees can produce even greater impact for their organizations. Mixed reality is a technology uniquely suited to do exactly that.

This is a whole new kind of business application. And that’s precisely what we’re introducing today, Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Dynamics 365 Layout.

Today, we also showcased for the first time how Chevron is deploying HoloLens to take advantage of Dynamics 365 mixed reality business applications.

Chevron is already achieving real, measurable results with its global HoloLens deployment. Previously it was required to fly in an inspector from Houston to a facility in Singapore once a month to inspect equipment. Now it has in-time inspection using Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and can identify issues or provide approvals immediately.

In addition, remote collaboration and assistance have helped the company operate more safely in a better work environment, serving as a connection point between firstline workers and remote experts, as well as cutting down on travel and eliminating risks associated with employee travel.

Here is a peek into the work Chevron is doing with mixed reality:

Unlock what’s next with the Dynamics 365 October 2018 release

Next week at Microsoft Ignite and Microsoft Envision we’ll be in Orlando talking with thousands of customers, partners, developers, and IT and business leaders about our October 2018 release for Dynamics 365 and the Power platform that will be generally available Oct. 1. The wave of innovation this represents across the entire product family is significant, with hundreds of new capabilities and features.

We will have a lot more to talk about in the weeks and months ahead. We look forward to sharing more!

The post Announcing new AI and mixed reality business applications for Microsoft Dynamics appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Microsoft acquires Lobe to help bring AI development capability to everyone

Lobe’s simple visual interface lets people easily create intelligent apps that can understand hand gestures, hear music, read handwriting, and more.

Technology has already transformed the world we live in. Computers are ubiquitous, from the machines on our desks to the devices in our pockets and in our homes. Now, breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning are helping scientists treat cancer more effectively, farmers figure out how to grow more food using fewer natural resources, and give people from different countries the ability to communicate across language barriers.

In many ways though, we’re only just beginning to tap into the full potential AI can provide. This in large part is because AI development and building deep learning models are slow and complex processes even for experienced data scientists and developers. To date, many people have been at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing AI, and we’re committed to changing that.

Over the last few months, we’ve made multiple investments in companies to further this goal. The acquisition of Semantic Machines in May brought in a revolutionary new approach to conversational AI,  and the acquisition of Bonsai in July will help reduce the barriers to AI development through the Bonsai team’s unique work combining machine teaching, reinforcement learning and simulation. These are just two recent examples of investments we have made to help us accelerate the current state of AI development.
Lobe logo
Today, we’re excited to announce the acquisition of Lobe. Based in San Francisco, Lobe is working to make deep learning simple, understandable and accessible to everyone. Lobe’s simple visual interface empowers anyone to develop and apply deep learning and AI models quickly, without writing code.

We look forward to continuing the great work by Lobe in putting AI development into the hands of non-engineers and non-experts.  We’re thrilled to have Lobe join Microsoft and are excited about our future together to simplify AI development for everyone.

 

The post Microsoft acquires Lobe to help bring AI development capability to everyone appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Exclusive new organic acquisition insights on the Google Play Console

Posted by Tom Grinsted, Product Manager, Google Play

We've updated the Play Console acquisition reports to give new insights into what users do on the Play Store to discover your app. It's a great way to super-charge your App Store Optimization (ASO) and onboarding experience.

One of the things every developer wants to know is how people discover their app or game. User acquisition reports in the Google Play Console are a great way to understand this. For many apps and games, a stand-out source is Organic traffic — it's usually the largest or second largest source of store listing visits and installs.

Organic traffic is made up of people who come to your store listing while exploring or searching the Play Store. These visitors might find your app in a seasonal collection, from featuring, or while searching for a specific use case or term.

Until recently, this traffic has been bundled together with no breakdown of data into user behavior. With our latest updates we have changed this by introducing new and exclusive acquisition insights to the Google Play Console. These enable you to understand what people in the Play Store do to discover your app or game. They reveal how many people discover your app through exploring the store, and how many search to find your app, and even the search terms they use!

App Store Optimization (ASO) is vital to driving your organic traffic and this update enables you to do this with more data and better understanding.

A new data breakdown

When you visit the user acquisition report, the first change you'll notice is that organic traffic is broken down. This breakdown means you can see how people arrive at your store listing by searching or exploring (actions that aren't search like browsing the homepage, visiting a category list, or viewing related apps).

This change has been of immediate benefit to developers, enabling their growth teams to optimize acquisition strategies. For example, Scopely found that:

"Isolating [explore] from search and then a deeper dive into search gives the whole organic picture. It allows us to focus on acquisition areas that really matter." Dorothee Pinlet, VP Partnerships, Scopely


Click through for more insights

From the new search row, you can click-through to see the aggregate number of people using different search terms to find your store listing, and which of those lead to the most installs. This breakdown is a view into the Play Store that has not been available before.

Our pilot partners, who helped us refine the feature ahead of launch, were very happy with how this data has helped them make more informed decisions.

Evernote found that the breakdown:

"... offers surprising and actionable insights about the effectiveness of search terms in driving installs and retained users."
May Allen, Product Manager, Evernote

Some partners changed their in-app onboarding experience to highlight features that reflected the search terms that were driving installs, to better meet user expectations. While others evaluated if their influencer marketing was having an impact by looking for their advocates' names in the search results after adding them to descriptions.

Better coverage

The new organic data also includes information about when people visiting the Play Store saw previews of your listings, not just when they visited your full page. People see these previews when they make certain searches, such as searching directly for a brand or app name. As well as more generally in some markets. This new information gives you more visibility into where people see your assets. It helps you decide how to optimize these assets, for instance by ensuring that your screenshots are impactful. And when you come to do that, you've got Store Listing Experiments.

This change means that your total reported visits and installs are likely to increase as of July 30, 2018. This increase is because previews will be counted as listing views, previously they were included in the category "Installs without store listing visits".

Putting the data to work

The developers who had the opportunity to test Organic breakdowns have given feedback that they loved them. They've also been kind enough to share some insights into how they plan to use the data. Perhaps these thoughts on how to use the data will spark some ideas for your business.

Some developers will be using this new data to evaluate their acquisition strategies by looking at the breakdown between explore and search. They will use this breakdown to evaluate the impact of exploring behaviors, especially around times when the app has been featured on the Play Store.

Using the information about popular search terms, several developers plan to change their app or game's Google Play listing to reflect user interests better. This change involves adjusting the descriptions and screenshots to tie more directly into the top search terms.

Others plan to use the insight provided by search term information to optimize their in-app onboarding. Here they plan to make sure that the onboarding talks about the features related to the most popular searches people made when discovering their app or game, highlighting and reinforcing the benefits.

Final word

Our team is always thinking about the tools we can build to help you optimize the discovery and installation of your app or game from the Play Store. Organic breakdowns is just one of these tools, a new way to help drive your success. Ultimately, your success is what we work towards. Organic breakdowns give you a more comprehensive picture of how people discover you on the Play Store so you can optimize your store presence, turning more visits into installs, and more installs into engaged users.

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Looking forward with Google Play

Posted by Purnima Kochikar, Director, Google Play, Apps & Games

On Monday we released Android 9 Pie. As we continue to push the Android platform forward, we're always looking to provide new ways to distribute your apps efficiently, help people discover and engage with your work, and improve the overall security of our ecosystem. Google Play has had a busy year so far with some big milestones around helping you reach more users, including:

  • Shrinking download size: Android App Bundle & Dynamic Delivery has helped reduce app sizes by up to 65%, leading to increased downloads and fewer uninstalls.
  • Helping improve quality: New tools in the Play Console have helped you reduce crash rates by up to 70%.
  • Improving discovery: Improvements to the discovery experience have increased Google Play Store visits by 30% over the last 12 months.
  • Keeping users safe: Google Play Protect scans more than 50 billion apps a day and Android API level 26 adoption requirements improve app security and performance.

Google Play is dedicated to helping you build and grow quality app businesses, reach the more than 2 billion Android devices globally and provide your users with better experiences. Here are some of the important areas we're prioritizing this year:

Innovative Distribution

We've added more testing tools to the popular Play Console to help developers de-risk app launches with internal and external test tracks and staged rollouts to get valuable early feedback. This year we've expanded the Start on Android program globally that provides developers new to Android additional guidance to optimize their apps before launch. Google Play Instant remains a huge bet to transform app discovery and improve conversions by letting users engage without the friction of installing. We're seeing great results from early adopters and are working on new places to surface instant experience, including ads, and making them easier to build throughout the year.

Improving App Quality

Google Play plays an important role helping developers understand and fix quality and performance issues. At I/O, we showcased how we expanded the battery, stability and rendering of Android vitals reporting to include app start time & permission denials, enabling developers to cut application not responding errors by up to 95%. We also expanded the functionality of automated device testing with the pre-launch report to enable games testing. Recently, we increased the importance of app quality in our search and discovery recommendations that has resulted in higher engagement and satisfaction with downloaded games.

Richer Discovery

Over the last year we've rolled out more editorial content and improved our machine learning to deliver personalized recommendations for apps and games that engage users. Since most game downloads come from browsing (as opposed to searching or deep linking into) the store, we've put particular focus on games discovery, with a new games home page, special sections for premium and new games, immersive video trailers and screenshots, and the ability to try games instantly. We've also introduced new programs to help drive app downloads through richer discovery. For example, since launching our app pre-registration program in 2016, we've seen nearly 250 million app pre-registrations. Going forward, we'll be expanding on these programs and others like LiveOps cards to help developers engage more deeply with their audience.

Expanding Commerce Platform

Google Play now collects payments in 150 markets via credit card, direct carrier billing (DCB), Paypal, and gift cards. Direct carrier billing is now enabled across 167 carriers in 64 markets. In 2018, we have focused on expanding our footprint in Africa and Latam with launches in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Peru & Colombia. And users can now buy Google Play credit via gift cards or other means in more 800,000 retail locations around the world. This year, we also launched seller support in 18 new markets bringing the total markets with seller support to 98. Our subscription offering continues to improve with ML-powered fraud detection and even more control for subscribers and developers. Google Play's risk modeling automatically helps detect fraudulent transactions and purchase APIs help you better analyze your refund data to identify suspicious activity.

Maintaining a Safe & Secure Ecosystem

Google Play Protect and our other systems scan and analyze more than 50 billion apps a day to keep our ecosystem safe for users and developers. In fact, people who only download apps from Google Play are nine times less likely to download a potentially harmful app than those who download from other sources. We've made significant improvements in our ability to detect abuse—such as impersonation, inappropriate content, fraud, or malware—through new machine learning models and techniques. The result is that 99% of apps with abusive content are identified and rejected before anyone can install them. We're also continuing to run the Google Play Security Rewards Program through a collaboration with Hacker One to discover other vulnerabilities.

We are continually inspired by what developers build—check out #IMakeApps for incredible examples—and want every developer to have the tools needed to succeed. We can't wait to see what you do next!

Meet the first Indie Games Accelerator class

Posted by Vineet Tanwar, Business Development Manager, Google Play

In June, we announced the Indie Games Accelerator, a new four month program to help indie game startups from India, Pakistan and Southeast Asia supercharge their growth on Android. We have been truly impressed by the overwhelming responses we have received, and the creativity that indie game developers from these regions have to offer.

We had a great time going through the applications and playing the games which were submitted for review. Now, it's finally time to announce the inaugural class of startups selected for the program who we will mentor and coach over the next few months. Here they are:

Congratulations to the selected participants and a huge thanks to everyone that applied! Find out more about the program or express your interest in joining next class of Indie Games Accelerator.

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Introducing Android 9 Pie

Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering

After more than a year of development and months of testing by early adopters, we're ready to launch Android 9 Pie, the latest release of Android, to the world.

Android 9 harnesses the power of machine learning to make your phone smarter, simpler, and tailored to you. Read all about the new consumer features here. For developers, Android 9 includes many new ways to enhance your apps and build new experiences to drive engagement.

You've given us tons of feedback along the way--over a thousand bugs and feature requests--thank you! More than 140,000 of you tried our preview builds through the Android Beta program, and seven of our device maker partners also brought our Beta to their flagship devices, enabling users around the world to give their feedback too.

Today we're pushing the source code to Android Open Source Project (AOSP), and starting the Android 9 rollout to all Pixel users worldwide, with Android 9 coming to many more devices in the coming months.

We continue to move Android forward as the premier open platform for developers worldwide to build their businesses. With Android 9 -- together with the powerful new capabilities in Google Play for apps and games -- we're committed to helping you build great experiences, as well as reach and engage the right users safely and cost-effectively around the world.

What's in Android 9?

A smarter smartphone, with machine learning at the core

Android 9 helps your phone learn as you use it, by picking up on your preferences and adjusting automatically. Everything from helping users get the most out of their battery life to surfacing the best parts of the apps they use all the time, right when they need it most, Android 9 keeps things running smoother, longer.

Adaptive Battery

We partnered with DeepMind on a feature called Adaptive Battery that uses machine learning to prioritize system resources for the apps the user cares about most. If your app is optimized for Doze, App Standby, and Background Limits, Adaptive Battery should work well for you right out of the box. If you haven't yet taken optimized your app, make sure to check out the details in the power documentation to see how it works.

Slices

Slices can help users perform tasks faster by enabling engagement outside of the fullscreen app experience. It does this by using UI templates that can display rich, dynamic, and interactive content from your app from within the Google Search app and later in other places like the Google Assistant. You can learn more about building Slices to enhance your app here.

App Actions

App Actions is a new way to raise the visibility of your app and drive engagement. Actions take advantage of machine learning to surface your app to the user at just the right time, based on your app's semantic intents and the user's context.

We'll be sharing more details in the coming weeks on registering your app to handle one or more user intents, so your apps can be enabled for App Actions and surfaced across multiple Google and Android surfaces in response to user queries.

Text Classifier and Smart Linkify

We've extended the ML models that identify entities in content or text input to support more types like Dates and Flight Numbers through the TextClassifier API. Smart Linkify lets you take advantage of the TextClassifier models through the Linkify API, including enriched options for quick follow-on user actions. Smart Linkify also delivers significant improvements in accuracy of detection as well as performance.

Neural Networks API 1.1

Android 9 adds an updated version of the Neural networks API, to extend Android's support for accelerated on-device machine learning. Neural Networks 1.1 adds support for nine new ops -- Pad, BatchToSpaceND, SpaceToBatchND, Transpose, Strided Slice, Mean, Div, Sub, and Squeeze. A typical way to take advantage of the APIs is through TensorFlow Lite.

Getting the most from your phone -- more easily

We're excited about making your smartphone more intelligent. But it's also important that the technology fades to the back for users. In Android 9, we've evolved Android's UI to be simpler and more approachable -- for developers, these changes help improve the way users find, use, and manage your apps.

New system navigation

Android 9 introduces a new system navigation that we've been working on for more than a year. The new design helps make Android's multitasking more approachable and makes discovering apps much easier. You can swipe up from anywhere to see full-screen previews of recently used apps and simply tap to jump back into one of them.

Display cutout

Now your app can take full advantage of the latest edge-to-edge screens through display cutout support in Android 9. For most apps, supporting display cutout is seamless, with the system managing status bar height to separate your content from the cutout. If you have immersive content, you can use the display cutout APIs to check the position and shape of the cutout and request full-screen layout around it. To help with development and testing, we've added a Developer Option that simulates several cutout shapes on any device.

Apps with immersive content can display content fullscreen on devices with a display cutout.

Notifications and smart reply

Android 9 makes notifications even more useful and more actionable. Messaging apps can take advantage of the new MessagingStyle APIs to show conversations, attach photos and stickers, and even suggest smart replies. You'll soon be able to use ML Kit to generate smart reply suggestions for your app.

MessagingStyle notifications with conversations and smart replies [left], images and stickers [right].

Text Magnifier

In Android 9 we've added a Magnifier widget to improve the user experience of selecting text. The Magnifier widget lets users precisely position the cursor or the text selection handles by viewing zoomed text through a draggable pane. You can attach it to any view that is attached to a window, so you can use it in custom widgets or during custom text-rendering. The Magnifier widget can also provide a zoomed-in version of any view or surface, not just text.

Check out our recent blog post for more about this and other Text features, such as PrecomputedText and line height and baseline text alignment.

Security and privacy for users

Biometric prompt

With a range of biometric sensors in use for authentication, we've made the experience more consistent across sensor types and apps. Android 9 introduces a system-managed dialog to prompt the user for any supported type of biometric authentication. Apps no longer need to build their own dialog--instead they use the BiometricPrompt API to show the standard system dialog. In addition to Fingerprint (including in-display sensors), the API supports Face and Iris authentication.

If your app is drawing its own fingerprint auth dialogs, you should switch to using the BiometricPrompt API as soon as possible. See this post for more information.

Protected Confirmation

Android 9 introduces Android Protected Confirmation, which uses the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) to guarantee that a given prompt string is shown and confirmed by the user. Only after successful user confirmation will the TEE then sign the prompt string, which the app can verify.

Stronger protection for private keys

We've added StrongBox as a new KeyStore type, providing API support for devices that provide key storage in tamper-resistant hardware with isolated CPU, RAM, and secure flash. You can set whether your keys should be protected by a StrongBox security chip in your KeyGenParameterSpec.

DNS over TLS

Android 9 adds built-in support for DNS over TLS, automatically upgrading DNS queries to TLS if a network's DNS server supports it. Users can manage DNS over TLS behavior in a new Private DNS Mode in Network & internet settings. Apps that perform their own DNS queries can use a new API, LinkProperties.isPrivateDnsActive(), to check the DNS mode. More in this post.

HTTPS by default

As part of a larger effort to move all network traffic away from cleartext (unencrypted HTTP) to websites secured with TLS (HTTPS), we're changing the defaults for Network Security Configuration to block all cleartext traffic. You'll now need to make connections over TLS, unless you explicitly opt-in to cleartext for specific domains. See the details here.

Compiler-based security mitigations

In Android 9 we've expanded our use of compiler-level mitigations to harden the platform through run-time detection of dangerous behavior. Control Flow Integrity (CFI) techniques help to prevent code-reuse attacks and arbitrary code execution. In Android 9 we've greatly expanded CFI usage within the media framework and other security-critical components, such as NFC and Bluetooth. We've also introduced CFI kernel support into the Android common kernel when building with LLVM.

We've also expanded our use of Integer overflow sanitizers to mitigate memory-corruption and information-disclosure vulnerabilities. We've prioritized sanitizers in libraries with past vulnerabilities or where complex untrusted input is processed, such as libui, libnl, libmediaplayerservice and others. See this post for details.

Privacy for users

Android 9 safeguards privacy in a number of new ways. The system now restricts access to mic, camera, and all SensorManager sensors from apps that are idle. While your app's UID is idle, the mic reports empty audio and sensors stop reporting events. Cameras used by your app are disconnected and will generate an error if the app tries to use them. In most cases, these restrictions should not introduce new issues for existing apps, but we recommend removing these requests from your apps.

Android 9 also gives the user control over access to the platform's build.serial identifier by putting it behind the READ_PHONE_STATE permission. To access the build.serial identifier, you should use the Build.getSerial() method.

Read more about all of the privacy changes here.

New experiences in camera, audio, and graphics

Multi-camera API and other camera updates

With Android 9 you can now open streams from two or more physical cameras simultaneously on devices that support the multi-camera API. On devices with either dual-front or dual-back cameras, you can create innovative features not possible with just a single camera, such as seamless zoom, bokeh, and stereo vision. The API also lets you call a logical or fused camera stream that automatically switches between two or more cameras.

Other improvements in camera include new Session parameters that help to reduce delays during initial capture, and Surface sharing that lets camera clients handle various use-cases without the need to stop and start camera streaming. We've also added APIs for display-based flash support and access to OIS timestamps for app-level image stabilization and special effects.

HDR VP9 Video and HEIF image compression

Android 9 adds built-in support for HDR VP9 Profile 2, so you can now deliver HDR-enabled movies to your users on HDR-capable devices.

We're excited to add HEIF (heic) image encoding to the platform. HEIF is a popular format for photos that improves compression to save on storage and network data. With platform support on Android 9 devices, it's easy to send and utilize HEIF images from your backend server. Once you've made sure that your app is compatible with this data format for sharing and display, give HEIF a try as an image storage format in your app. You can do a jpeg-to-heic conversion using ImageDecoder or BitmapFactory to obtain a bitmap from jpeg, and you can use HeifWriter in the AndroidX library to write HEIF still images from YUV byte buffer, Surface, or Bitmap.

Enhanced audio with Dynamics Processing

The Dynamics Processing API lets you use a new audio effect to isolate specific frequencies and lower loud or increase soft sounds to enhance the acoustic quality of your app. For example, you can improve the sound of someone who speaks quietly in a loud, distant or otherwise acoustically challenging environment. The API gives you access to a multi-stage, multi-band dynamics processing effect that includes a pre-equalizer, a multi-band compressor, a post-equalizer and a linked limiter.

ImageDecoder for bitmaps and drawables

An ImageDecoder API gives you an easier way to decode images to bitmaps or drawables. You can create a bitmap or drawable from a byte buffer, file, or URI. The API offers several advantages over BitmapFactory, including support for exact scaling, single-step decoding to hardware memory, support for post-processing in decode, and decoding of animated images. You can read more here.

Connectivity and location

Wi-Fi RTT for indoor positioning

Android 9 lets you build indoor positioning features into your apps through platform support for the IEEE 802.11mc Wi-Fi protocol -- also known as Wi-Fi Round-Trip-Time (RTT). On Android 9 devices with hardware support, location permission, and location enabled, your apps can use RTT APIs to measure the distance to nearby Wi-Fi Access Points (APs). The device doesn't need to connect to the APs to use RTT, and to maintain privacy, only the phone is able to determine the distance, not the APs.

Knowing the distance to 3 or more APs, you can calculate the device position with an accuracy of 1 to 2 meters. With this accuracy you can support use-cases like in-building navigation; fine-grained location-based services such as disambiguated voice control (e.g. 'Turn on this light'); and location-based information (e.g. 'Are there special offers for this product?').

Data cost sensitivity in JobScheduler

JobScheduler is Android's central service to help you manage scheduled tasks or work across Doze, App Standby, and Background Limits. In Android 9, JobScheduler handles network-related jobs better for the user, coordinating with network status signals provided separately by carriers. Jobs can now declare their estimated data size, signal prefetching, and specify detailed network requirements—carriers can report networks as being congested or unmetered. JobScheduler then manages work according to the network status. For example, when a network is congested, JobScheduler might defer large network requests. When unmetered, it can run prefetch jobs to improve the user experience, such as prefetching headlines.

Open Mobile API for NFC payments and secure transactions

Android 9 adds an implementation of the GlobalPlatform Open Mobile API to Android. On supported devices, apps can use the OMAPI API to access secure elements (SE) to enable smart-card payments and other secure services. A hardware abstraction layer (HAL) provides the underlying API for enumerating the variety of Secure Elements (eSE, UICC, and others) available.

Performance for apps

ART performance

Android 9 brings performance and efficiency improvements to all apps through the ART runtime. We've expanded ART's use of execution profiles to optimize apps and reduce the in-memory footprint of compiled app code. ART now uses profile information for on-device rewriting of DEX files, with reductions up to 11% across a range of popular apps. We expect these to correlate closely with reductions in system DEX memory usage and faster startup times for your apps.

Optimized for Kotlin

Kotlin is a first-class language on Android, and if you haven't tried it yet, you should! We've made an enduring commitment to Kotlin in Android and continue to expand support including optimizing the performance of Kotlin code. In Android 9, you'll see the first results of this work--we've improved several compiler optimizations, especially those that target loops, to extract better performance. We're also continuing to work in partnership with JetBrains to optimize Kotlin's generated code. You can get all of the latest Kotlin performance improvements just by keeping Android Studio's Kotlin plugin up-to-date.

Today, we are also releasing an update to the Android 9 - API 28 SDK (rev. 6), which contains nullability annotations in some of the most frequently used APIs. We'll provide more details about this in an upcoming post.

Modern Android

As part of Android 9 we are modernizing the foundations of Android and the apps that run on it, as part of our deep, sustained investments in security, performance, and stability.

As we announced last year, Google Play will require all app updates to target Android Oreo (targetSdkVersion 26 or higher) by November 2018. In line with that, if your app targets a platform earlier than Android 4.2 (API level 17), users installing it will see a warning dialog the first time your app is run. Here's a checklist of resources for help and support as you migrate -- we're looking forward to seeing your apps getting the most from modern Android.

Get your apps ready for Android 9!

With Android 9 coming to Pixel users starting today, and to other devices in the months ahead, it's important to test your app for compatibility as soon as possible. Just install your current app from Google Play on a device or or emulator running Android 9. As you work through the flows, make sure your app runs and looks great, and that it handles the Android 9 behavior changes properly.

Also watch for uses of non-SDK interfaces in your app. Android 9 restricts access to selected non-SDK interfaces, so you should reduce your reliance on them. See our recent post for details.

After you've made any necessary updates, we recommend publishing to Google Play right away. without changing the app's platform targeting. This lets you ensure a great experience for Android 9 users while you work on enhancing your app with Android 9 APIs and targeting.

Enhance your app with Android 9 features and APIs

When you're ready, dive into Android 9 and build with the new features and APIs in Android 9.

To get started, just download the official API 28 SDK and the latest tools and emulator images into Android Studio 3.1, or use the latest version of Android Studio 3.2. Then update your project's compileSdkVersion and targetSdkVersion to API 28. When you change your targeting, make sure your app supports all of the applicable behavior changes.

As soon as you're ready, publish your APK updates to Google Play. A common strategy is to use Google Play's beta testing feature to get early feedback from a small group of users and then do a staged rollout to production.

Visit the Android 9 site for details and developer documentation. Also check out this video and the Google I/O Android Playlist for more on what's new in Android 9 for developers.

Coming to a device near you

Starting today, an over-the-air update to Android 9 will begin rolling out to Pixel phones. And devices that participated in the Beta program from Sony Mobile, Xiaomi, HMD Global, Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, and Essential, as well as all qualifying Android One devices, will receive this update by the end of this fall! We are also working with a number of other partners to launch or upgrade devices to Android 9 this year.

As always, the system images for Pixel devices are available here for manual flash and download. If you're looking for the Android 9 source, you'll find it here in the Android Open Source Project repository under the Android 9 branches.

What's next?

Now that we've reached the official release, we're bringing the Developer Preview to a close. We'll soon be closing the Developer Preview issue tracker to new issues, so if you have feedback, feel free to file a new issue against Android 9 in the AOSP issue tracker.

Thanks again to the many developers and early adopters who participated in the Android 9 Developer Preview and public beta. Your contributions have been critical to making the Android 9 platform a great one for developers and consumers.

Supporting display cutouts on edge-to-edge screens

Posted By Megan Potoski, Product Manager, Android System UI

Smartphones are quickly moving towards smaller bezels and larger aspect ratios. On these devices, display cutouts are a popular way to achieve an edge-to-edge experience while providing space for important sensors on the front of the device. There are currently 16 cutout devices from 11 OEMs already released, including several Android P beta devices, with more on the way.

These striking displays present a great opportunity for you to showcase your app. They also mean it's more important than ever to make sure your app provides a consistently great experience across devices with one or two display cutouts, as well as devices with 18:9 and larger aspect ratios.

Examples of cutout devices: Essential PH-1 (left) and Huawei P20 (right).

Make your app compatible with display cutouts

With many popular and upcoming devices featuring display cutouts, what can you do to make sure your app is cutout-ready?

The good news is, for the most part your app should work as intended even on a cutout device. By default, in portrait mode with no special flags set, the status bar will be resized to be at least as tall as the cutout and your content will display in the window below. In landscape or fullscreen mode, your app window will be letterboxed so that none of your content is displayed in the cutout area.

However, there are a few areas where your app could have issues on cutout devices.

  • Watch out for any sort of hard-coding of status bar height -- this will likely cause problems. If possible, use WindowInsetsCompat to get status bar height.
  • In fullscreen, be careful to consider when to use window vs. screen coordinates, as your app will not take up the whole screen when letterboxed. For example, if you use MotionEvent.getRawX/Y() to get screen coordinates for touch events, make sure to transform them to the view's coordinates using getLocationOnScreen().
  • Pay special attention to transitions in and out of fullscreen mode.

Here are a few guidelines describing what issues to look out for and how to fix them.

Take advantage of the cutout area

Rendering your app content in the cutout area can be a great way to provide a more immersive, edge-to-edge experience for users, especially for content like videos, photos, maps, and games.

An example of an app that has requested layout in the display cutout.

In Android P we added APIs to let you manage how your app uses the display cutout area, as well as to check for the presence of cutouts and get their positions.

You can use layoutInDisplayCutoutMode, a new window layout mode, to control how your content is displayed relative to the cutout. By default, the app's window is allowed to extend into the cutout area if the cutout is fully contained within a system bar. Otherwise, the window is laid out such that it does not overlap with the cutout. You can also set layoutInDisplayCutoutMode to always or never render into the cutout. Using SHORT_EDGES mode to always render into the cutout is a great option if you want to take advantage of the full display and don't mind if a bit of content gets obscured by the cutout.

If you are rendering into the cutout, you can use getDisplayCutout() to retrieve a DisplayCutout that has the cutout's safe insets and bounding box(es). These let you check whether your content overlaps the cutout and reposition things if needed.

<style name="ActivityTheme">
  <item name="android:windowLayoutInDisplayCutoutMode">
    default/shortEdges/never
  </item>
</style>

Attribute for setting layoutInDisplayCutoutMode from the Activity's theme.

For devices running Android 8.1 (API 27), we've also back-ported the layoutInDisplayCutoutMode activity theme attribute so you can control the display of your content in the cutout area. Note that support on devices running Android 8.1 or lower is up to the device manufacturer, however.

To make it easier to manage your cutout implementation across API levels, we've also added DisplayCutoutCompat in the AndroidX library, which is now available through the SDK manager.

For more about the display cutout APIs, take a look at the documentation.

Test your app with cutout

We strongly recommend testing all screens and experiences of your app to make sure that they work well on cutout devices. We recommend using one of the Android P Beta Devices that features a cutout, such as the Essential PH-1.

If you don't have a device, you can also test using a simulated cutout on any device running Android P or in the Android Emulator. This should help you uncover any issues that your app may run into on devices with cutouts, whether they are running Android 8.1 or Android P.

What to expect on devices with display cutouts

Android P introduces official platform support for display cutouts, with APIs that you can use to show your content inside or outside of the cutout. To ensure consistency and app compatibility, we're working with our device manufacturer partners to mandate a few requirements.

First, devices must ensure that their cutouts do not negatively affect apps. There are two key requirements:

  • In portrait orientation, with no special flags set, the status bar must extend to at least the height of the cutout.
  • In fullscreen or landscape orientation, the entire cutout area must be letterboxed.

Second, devices may only have up to one cutout on each short edge of the device. This means that:

  • You won't see multiple cutouts on a single edge, or more than two cutouts on a device.
  • You won't see a cutout on the left or right long edge of the device.

Within these constraints, devices can place cutouts wherever they want.

Special mode

Some devices running Android 8.1 (API level 27) or earlier may optionally support a "special mode" that lets users extend a letterboxed fullscreen or landscape app into the cutout area. Devices would typically offer this mode through a toggle in the navigation bar, which would then bring up a confirmation dialog before extending the screen.

Devices that offer "special mode" allow users to optionally extend apps into the cutout area if supported by the app.

If your app's targetSdkVersion is 27 or higher, you can set the layoutInDisplayCutoutMode activity theme attribute to opt-out of special mode if needed.

Don't forget: larger aspect ratios too!

While you are working on cutout support, it's also a great time to make sure your app works well on devices with 18:9 or larger aspect ratios, especially since these devices are becoming increasingly common and can feature display cutouts.

We highly encourage you to support flexible aspect ratios so that your app can leverage the full display area, no matter what device it's on. You should test your app on different display ratios to make sure it functions properly and looks good.

Here are some guidelines on screens support to keep in mind as you are developing, also refer to our earlier post on larger aspect ratios for tips on optimizing. If your app can't adapt to the aspect ratios on long screens, you can choose to declare a max aspect ratio to request letterboxing on those screens.

Thanks for reading, and we hope this helps you deliver a delightful experience to all your users, whatever display they may have!

M12 and VC partners commit $4 million to empower women entrepreneurs

Today, I’m proud to announce that Microsoft’s corporate venture fund, M12, is joining forces with EQT Ventures and SVB Financial Group to launch the Female Founders Competition, a global startup contest to identify top female talent and accelerate access to capital for women entrepreneurs.

We’ve all heard the long odds facing women founders in tech. Last year, female founders received just 2.2 percent of total global venture capital funding, and only 17 percent of all startups have at least one female founder, despite the fact that gender diversity on executive teams correlates with greater profitability and value creation.

I’ve experienced this painful data up close. Over the course of my career, I’ve spent thousands of hours in pitch meetings, often as the only woman in the room. I still can’t hold back a smile when a woman founder walks through the door, because I know the obstacles she’s overcome just to get there.

But most importantly, I also know the opportunity she represents. Study after study shows that investing in women founders returns significantly more than the market average.

When we founded M12 two years ago, we knew we had a special opportunity to build our team from the ground up, and we set out to make diversity a competitive advantage. In an industry where only 8 percent of investment partners at the top firms are women, we worked intentionally to build a team that looked and thought differently from the rest – not only with diversity of gender and ethnicity, but of background, education, expertise and network. We believed it would make us stronger, help surface ideas and opportunities that the rest of the industry was missing, and ultimately – we hoped – lead to a more diverse and profitable portfolio.

While I’m proud of the team we’ve built and progress to date – women make up nearly 40 percent of our investment team – these efforts are not yet reflected in our portfolio, where only about 8 percent of our founders are women.

We want to change that. We want to do more. So, we’re trying something new.

Last year, we launched our first global startup competition, casting a wide net to uncover high-potential investments in artificial intelligence. We thought that by extending the search beyond our traditional network, we’d surface a companies and entrepreneurs not typically on our radar. We did; we found four incredible companies, proving there’s a ton of great potential out there that doesn’t have an easy pathway to funding, even more so for women.

Through the Female Founders Competition, we are asking startups with at least one woman founder to apply for the chance to win $2 million in funding from M12 and our VC partners, EQT Partners and SVB Financial Group, as well as getting access to technology resources, mentoring and legal counsel.

Applicants will compete for the opportunity to participate in a live pitch-off this fall, where they will present their ideas as a solution that is solving a critical business problem. Up to 10 finalists across the regions of North America, Europe and Israel will be chosen as contenders, and two winning teams will receive equal prizes, totaling a combined $4 million in venture funding.

At Microsoft, diversity and inclusion are central to the culture we’re building. To achieve our mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, we need to be a truer reflection of the planet we serve. While our efforts are a story of steady progress, we know there is more to do to become a more diverse company.

But this is about more than just Microsoft.

The future of the tech industry is still being written, and we know that many of its most important authors won’t be those of us in the Fortune 500. They’re the startups with big visions and the founders with bold ideas. If we’re truly committed to becoming the inclusive industry we aspire to, then those of us at the top have a responsibility – and an opportunity – to support entrepreneurs with new thinking, fresh voices and diverse points of view.

This has been a journey for M12, and one that’s deeply personal for me. Today is just one of many steps we’ll take to ensure that VC dollars reach the ideas and founders with incredible investment potential that too often get left behind.

Submissions are now open through Sept. 30, 2018 on the M12 website. Female-founded teams building for the enterprise are encouraged to apply.

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Meet your 2018 Imagine Cup champions – smartARM of Canada!

Satya Nadella with the smartARM team, 2018 Imagine Cup winners, and Chloe Kim, special guest and Olympic snowboarding gold medalist.
Satya Nadella with smartARM team members, the 2018 Imagine Cup World Champions, along with Chloe Kim, special guest and Olympic snowboarding gold medalist.

At its heart, the Imagine Cup is all about bringing students together from across the globe, inspiring them to usher in our collective future using cloud-based technologies of today and tomorrow, including artificial intelligence (AI), big data, mixed reality and more. Since its inception 16 years ago, the Imagine Cup has motivated nearly 2 million students from over 190 countries around the world to bring their biggest, boldest ideas to life.

Today, we are excited to announce smartARM of Canada as the 2018 Imagine Cup champions! smartARM created a robotic hand prosthetic, using Microsoft Azure Computer Vision, Machine Learning and Cloud Storage, that uses a camera embedded in its palm to recognize objects and calculate the most appropriate grip for an object. Based on machine learning, the more the model is used, the more accurate it becomes.  As the victors, smartARM wins a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, $85,000 in cash and a $50,000 Azure grant. Team iCry2Talk of Greece earned second place with a low-cost and non-invasive intelligent interface between infant and parent that translates in real time the baby’s cry, and associates it with a specific physiological and psychological state, depicting the result in a text, image and voice message. Third place went to Team Mediated Ear of Japan for its project, Mediated Ear, software for hearing-impaired individuals to focus on a specific speaker among a multitude of conversations. Mediated Ear can relay specific sounds in audio waveforms through deep learning.

For the winners, and for their competitors, the road to the World Finals started with a single idea on how to change the world through innovative use of technology. Tens of thousands of students walked this road, spending months coding their solutions and dreaming up go-to-market plans to bring their ideas to life. From there, and through fierce competition at the national and regional level, 49 teams from 33 countries were selected to compete in the World Finals.

This year, we’ve added special Imagine Cup awards of $15,000 for three key areas of digital transformation: AI, big data and mixed reality. On Tuesday, we crowned the winners. SochWare from Nepal, won the AI award for designing a solution to help farmers identify plant diseases, suggest mitigation strategies, connect with experts and get updated with recent agriculture findings. Drugsafe from India won the big data award for their solution to validate genuine drugs and decrease illness from counterfeit substances. Pengram from the United States won the mixed reality award for allowing engineers from around the world to be holographically “teleported” into a workspace when needed.

The 2018 winners emerged from a strong field of competitors featuring projects that utilized leading-edge cloud technologies with the promise of improving the way we live and work. Throughout it all, the next generation of innovators put their creativity on display in addressing some of humanity’s most pressing issues.

This year’s participants weren’t just developing unique and potentially game-changing technology experiences, but they are also actively sharpening the skills that will boost their success as developers, technologists and entrepreneurs for the next generation. They follow in the footsteps of a long line of dreamers driven to succeed. For example, 2017 year Imagine Cup alumni Declan Goncalves of Canada was featured in Betakit’s “Canada’s Developer 30 Under 30” list for developing a platform which allows medical practitioners to better quantify their patient’s progress and detect neurodegenerative disease onset with the help of AI. Another alumni team, Kobojo, began their journey making Facebook games at Imagine Cup 2008 and has since raised $6 million in venture capital for their startup.

I’d like to thank this year’s championship judges: Co-founder and COO of Bitnami, Erica Brescia; CEO of Glitch, Anil Dash;, and Microsoft’s own Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice President of Business Development at Microsoft. Special thanks also to Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Azure Compute Corey Sanders, who hosted the championship and announced this year’s winner. Last but certainly not least, on behalf of Microsoft, I’d like to congratulate our new Imagine Cup champion, team smartARM, and all of the students who worked so hard to make this 16th anniversary Imagine Cup the most inspiring one yet. If you haven’t had a chance, be sure to view the championship video above to see some of the best student developers in the world envision a brighter, bolder future for us all.

— Charlotte

P.S. Follow me on Twitter for updates on Imagine Cup and other news and noteworthy information in the cloud and ecosystem space.

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The next wave of computing is the intelligent edge and intelligent cloud

YouTube Video

Take a look around your house, office or even the next store you visit, and you’ll start to notice that internet-connected devices are bringing us closer than ever before to a world of ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence. As these Internet of Things (IoT) devices become increasingly commonplace, people will start to expect computing to be more integrated into their lives, to anticipate, understand and seamlessly meet their needs. They will expect software to respond to spoken natural language, gestures, body language and emotion, and for it to understand the physical world and the rich context surrounding each user as they navigate their personal life, their work and the world around them.

This trend has more promise than just bringing additional convenience, productivity and connections to our everyday lives. Smart sensors and devices are breathing new life into industrial equipment from factories to farms, helping us navigate and plan for more sustainable urban cities and bringing the power of the cloud to some of the world’s most remote destinations. With the power of artificial intelligence (AI) enabling these devices to intelligently respond to the world they are sensing, we will see new breakthroughs in critical areas that benefit humanity like healthcare, conservation, sustainability, accessibility, disaster recovery and more.

We call this next wave of computing the intelligent edge and intelligent cloud. When we take the power of the cloud down to the device – the edge – we provide the ability to respond, reason and act in real time and in areas with limited or no connectivity. As Satya shared at our Build developer conference, it’s still early days, but we’re starting to see how these new capabilities can be applied towards solving critical world challenges:

  • Increasing the world’s food supply: The world will need 70 percent more food according to the U.N., to feed a global population of 9.6 billion in 2050. Farmers like Sean Stratman in Carnation, Washington, are using the intelligent edge to do precision agriculture with real-time intelligence on soil, even in remote areas with unreliable connectivity. Using Microsoft’s FarmBeatssolution, which combines intelligence trained in the cloud to run on a drone, Sean created a heatmap of his land that served as a guide for him to plant the crops that will best perform in specific locations.
  • Ecological research and conservation: The intelligent edge creates opportunities to collect more accurate data in our research of natural disasters and threatened habitats. Smart sensors can collect data and act on events as they happen, providing researchers greater fidelity in their models and enabling them to take specific actions and make predictions that could improve conservation efforts. Disney Animal Kingdom is leveraging the intelligent edge to study the purple martin bird. They worked with Microsoft to develop hundreds of tiny “smart houses” in Disney’s Animal Kingdom to learn more about the species and help inspire a new generation of conservationists in the parks. The scientists have unprecedented insight now into the nesting behavior of the purple martins.
  • Reducing waste and improving safety in energy: The world depends on natural resources to produce energy for the world.  Because these resources are limited, it is also critical that energy companies leverage technology to increase efficiency. Schneider Electric is using the intelligent edge in oil fields to monitor and configure pump settings and operations remotely, only sending personnel onsite when necessary for repair or maintenance when, for example, intelligent pump monitoring indicates that something will go wrong. This contributes to overall worker safety and improved resource management.

We need to give all organizations and developers the tools to build these kinds of increasingly ambitious solutions that span the intelligent edge and intelligent cloud.  Moreover, these tools must give developers strong security foundations and help them to place security at the very core of their solutions. Devices on the edge handle some of our most sensitive business and personal data in our homes, workplaces, and sometimes in physically remote places.

To protect data wherever it lives, security needs to be baked in from the silicon to the cloud. This has been one of the central design principles of Microsoft’s intelligent edge products and services. Azure Sphere is our intelligent edge solution to power and protect connected microcontroller unit (MCU)-powered devices. There are 9 billion of these MCU-powered devices shipping every year, which power everything from household stoves and refrigerators to industrial equipment. With more processing power than traditional MCUs and a holistic security approach, we believe Azure Sphere will make our increasingly connected world safer. In addition, Azure IoT Edge enables you to run cloud intelligence directly on IoT devices and includes security from device provisioning and management to hardware and cloud services that run on top of the devices. Azure Stack, just one of our many tools to power hybrid scenarios, offers customers the flexibility to securely deploy in the cloud, on-premises or at the intelligent edge.

In the past three months, we introduced Azure Sphere at RSA; announced a powerful application developer experience with Visual Studio for Azure Sphere to accelerate innovation at the outer edge, as well as new IoT edge capabilities and partnerships at Build; and shipped Azure IoT Edge general availability last month. This is all part of our commitment to intelligent edge innovation and our broader $5 billion investment in IoT to empower our customers and partners. We have more exciting updates around the corner and look forward to seeing what our customers and partners build.

 

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Powering our customers: the innovation story behind Microsoft’s earnings

With Microsoft’s fourth quarter earnings, we delivered double-digit revenue growth across all segments anchored by the growing success in our commercial cloud as technology helps our customers power their innovation. Recently organizations like GE, PGA, NBA, Marks & Spencer, Starbucks, InMobi  Bayer and Telefonica shared how they are leveraging cloud and artificial intelligence to support growth and deliver great employee and customer experiences. Across industries and solution areas, here are some of the latest examples.

This week we unveiled a strategic partnership with Walmart as the company’s preferred cloud provider and strategic partner to accelerate its digital transformation in retail. Through a five-year agreement, Walmart has selected the full range of Microsoft cloud solutions, including Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 for enterprise-wide use, to help standardize across the company’s family of brands. Using a broad base of cloud, AI and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, the company plans to further its mission in creating incredibly convenient ways for customers to shop and empower associates to do their best work.

We announced Campbell Soup Company selected Microsoft Azure. The much-loved soup and snack company announced plans to drive IT transformation with the help a global hybrid cloud solution. Campbell chose Azure to increase the flexibility, agility and resiliency of its always-on IT, provide employees with real-time access to customized information and insights, and optimize its complex supply chain.

At Microsoft Inspire this week, I was also thrilled to feature on stage Carlsberg and its ongoing digital transformation. For 171 years, the Carlsberg Group has been brewing for a better today and tomorrow. Now, the iconic brewery group is leveraging AI and IoT on Azure to bring more science to the craft of beer, increase speed to market and improve quality control through the “Beer Fingerprinting Project.”

Also onstage at Inspire, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shared how Walt Disney World Resort technology and conservation teams partnered with Microsoft to help develop the “tiniest smart homes” for the songbirds called purple martins. Purple martins are a unique species of bird that travel between South and North America each year to raise a family, but unfortunately their population is in decline. By outfitting birdhouses at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, using Azure IoT Edge with computer vision and building models to recognize important events, Disney scientists are able to learn more about the species and help inspire a new generation of conservationists in the parks. The scientists have unprecedented insight now into the nesting behavior of the purple martins. They are also creating new experiences for guests and have even built an augmented reality game on a tablet to help guests learn about what it takes to be a great purple martin parent.

We are seeing additional momentum in Azure IoT with one of our first customers for the new Azure Sphere. For more than 70 years, Sub-Zero and Wolf have built a legacy of innovation in food preservation and preparation. As the company looks toward the next wave of innovation, along with its new Cove dishwasher brand, Sub-Zero sees an opportunity to create more personalized experiences through connected products. Securing these products over the lifetime of the device is a top priority, and they are planning to use Azure Sphere as a comprehensive solution for future products to address security holistically at every layer.

When it comes to the modern workplace solution, we are seeing continued momentum across customers in the enterprise. The nearly 40,000 employees of Eli Lilly are on a mission to make medicines that help people live longer, healthier, more active lives. That is why Lilly takes a collaborative approach to discovering and developing new medicines — between lab researchers and the rest of the company, as well as with a global network of physicians, medical researchers and healthcare organizations — and has selected Microsoft 365 to bring together scientists across hundreds of locations and organizations and truly empower the workforce.

Across our Windows 10 and Surface business, we see customers taking advantage of how the right device can light up the modern workplace for employees. Melbourne-based infrastructure, building and rail leader John Holland selected 1,200 Surface Pros with LTE to power its field workers across large geographical construction zones. Using cellular and Wi-Fi, the Surface devices seamlessly connect workers with key information like blueprints and documents at project sites. As a Microsoft 365 E5 customer, the company has also deployed Surface Hub and Surface Book 2 devices. By standardizing on Microsoft modern workplace, John Holland is helping deliver a better experience to employees and a higher standard to customers.

With growing investments in Dynamics 365 as our third cloud, we are continuing to drive value for customers across various industries. National Oilwell Varco (NOV), a leading provider of technology, equipment and services for the global oil and gas industry, is deploying Dynamics 365 across its sales and field service networks worldwide. This deployment enables NOV to optimize productivity and minimize downtime by streamlining business processes and delivering a mobile-first approach to field service operations. NOV is investing in state-of-the-art technology and cloud services to deliver premier, customized experiences to customers.

Across every industry, businesses are expanding their digital business. These are just some of the most recent examples of leading enterprises choosing Microsoft solutions to help them transform customer experiences, fuel employee creativity and collaboration, innovate operations and bring new products to market.

 

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Inspire 2018: Opening doors for partner innovation, growth and differentiation

Organizations around the world are undergoing transformation fueled by cloud, artificial intelligence, mixed reality and the Internet of Things. These technologies are helping businesses and society reach new heights – retail is becoming more personal, banking is becoming more seamless, and healthcare is becoming more predictive and preventive.

At the heart of these incredible stories of transformation – and more – are Microsoft partners. The Microsoft partner ecosystem is a group of hundreds of thousands of organizations driving positive, global impact. Building everything from line-of-business apps to industry-specific solutions on Dynamics 365 to gaming experiences, these companies are a natural extension of the team at Microsoft, delivering cutting-edge technology to millions of customers.

For Microsoft partners – their success is our success. We are squarely focused on delivering a true, two-way partnership with our partner network. It is with success and partnership in mind that, on the eve of Inspire 2018, I’m thrilled to announce new programs, tools and resources to help partners innovate, grow and differentiate their businesses.

Delivering innovation through apps and services

Whether they’re building apps or services, we know partners need access to the latest technology from Microsoft and guidance on how to extend that technology to build tailor-made solutions.

Today, we are announcing exciting new innovations in Microsoft 365, including a free version of Teams, new intelligent events capabilities, the Workplace Analytics teamwork solution and more. We are also announcing new cloud, apps and data technologies including Azure Data Box Disk, Azure Virtual WAN, Azure Firewall and more. We’re so excited to see how our partners will leverage these new offerings to help customers embrace and innovate in the modern workplace and continue to help customers in their journey to the cloud.

In addition to new technologies, we’re releasing new Digital Transformation eBooks, and practice-building playbooks, expanding on the popular resources already leveraged by tens of thousands of partners looking to build and enhance their practices.

Reach more customers to sell your solutions

In our third quarter, we noted that Azure revenue grew by 93 percent, with partners driving a considerable portion of that growth. To build on this great momentum, we’re doing two new things to fuel partner growth – leaning in on our marketplaces and enhancing AppSource as the entry point for selling with Microsoft, and enhancing our go-to-market benefits for partners to help them grow their businesses.

The new marketplace capabilities, available today, include integrated partner-to-partner solutions, private offers, and expanded consulting services. Each of these new capabilities provides partners new ways to get solutions in front of a bigger base of customers and to provide them with a better buying experience. There is no greater priority for us than connecting partners with customers.

We’re also providing greater flexibility and more opportunities to unlock new benefits that help partners go to market. Starting later this year, partners with competencies will have a choice of benefits packages based on their business focus. We’re expanding core benefits to include access to services that support generating leads, improving lead velocity and increasing close rates for app or service offerings.

Focus on differentiation to attract customers

We hear from partners that specialization is key to growth. This concept has been a cornerstone of our profitability guidance to partners and many have taken that message to heart. The ask to Microsoft, from partners and customers, is to do more to help customers find the right partners with the right solutions. Today, we’re announcing new ways for partners to demonstrate their proven expertise to customers with the introduction of new advanced specializations and the new Microsoft Azure Expert MSP initiative. Partners can now demonstrate that they have the right capabilities to help with specific customer business challenges.

Last year at Inspire, we initiated a transformation at Microsoft, and a new journey with our partners that continues together. We are here for our partners, we are working hard to prepare them for the future, and we are committed to their success. We are at a unique time when the combination of technology and opportunity brings us together, and we need to rely on each other more than ever. In the world of Digital Transformation, everyone needs an ecosystem, and a partnership with Microsoft is a partnership with our ecosystem. Together, we are in a position to take advantage of the unprecedented $4.5 trillion opportunity and unleash the power of true partnership to unlock incredible growth and success – for each other, and for our customers.

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Congrats to the new Android Excellence apps and games on Google Play

Posted by Kacey Fahey, Developer Marketing, Google Play

Join us in congratulating the latest apps and games entering the Android Excellence program on Google Play. This diverse group of apps and games is recognized for their high quality, great user experience, and strong technical performance. Whether you're interested in learning meditation or a new language, or are looking for a game about butterflies or warships, we're excited to dive in to these new collections.

Winning apps image

Check out a few of our highlighted apps.

  • Beelinguapp: Learn a new language with this unique app. Read and listen to stories with side by side text of the language you're learning, while following along with your language as a reference.
  • Fortune City: If you're looking for a fun app to help manage your personal finances, learn how Fortune City teaches good budgeting habits as you build a prospering metropolis.
  • ShareTheMeal: Feed a child in need with one tap on your phone, or create a team to fight hunger together with your friends, using this app by the World Food Programme.

Test your skills with these highlighted games.

  • Animal Crossing™: Pocket Camp: Take on the role of campsite manager as you collect items to decorate and build your ultimate dream campsite. Meet animals, build friendships and invite your favorite animals over for a fun time.
  • Cash, Inc.: Be the big boss of your business empire in this fun game. Work your way up to join a community of business elites and become the most famous money tycoon.
  • Shadowgun Legends: Save humanity from an alien invader in an epic Story Campaign spanning over 200+ mission on 4 diverse planets. Along the way, customize your character, team up with friends, and become a celebrity of the Shadowgun Universe.

See the full list of Android Excellence apps and games.

New Android Excellence apps New Android Excellence games
Beelinguapp
BTFIT
Fortune City
Letras.mus.br
LingoDeer
Memrise
PicsArt
Pocket Casts
ShareTheMeal
The Mindfulness App
Tokopedia
Trello
VivaReal
Wynk Music
Animal Crossing™: Pocket Camp
Cash, Inc.
Flutter: Starlight
Shadow Fight 3
Shadowgun Legends
War Heroes
World of Warships Blitz

Explore other great apps and games in the Editors' Choice section on Google Play and discover best practices to help you build quality apps and games.

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Launching the Indie Games Accelerator in Asia – helping gaming startups find success on Google Play

Posted by Anuj Gulati, Developer Marketing Manager, Google Play and Sami Kizilbash, Developer Relations Program Manager, Google

Emerging markets now account for more than 40% of game installs on Google Play. Rapid smartphone adoption in these regions presents a new base of engaged gamers that are looking for high quality mobile gaming experiences. At Google Play, we are focused on helping local game developers from these markets achieve their full potential and make the most of this opportunity.

Indie Games Accelerator is a new initiative to support top indie game startups from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam who are looking to supercharge their growth on Android. This four month program is a special edition of Launchpad Accelerator, designed in close collaboration with Google Play, featuring a comprehensive gaming curriculum and mentorship from top mobile gaming experts.

Successful participants will be invited to attend two all-expense-paid gaming bootcamps at the Google Asia-Pacific office in Singapore, where they will receive personalized mentorship from Google teams and industry experts. Additional benefits include Google Cloud Platform credits, invites to exclusive Google and industry events, and more.

Visit the program website to find out more and apply now.

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New team assembled to unlock the innovation potential in healthcare data

Peter Lee, Joshua Mandel and Jim Weinstein
From left, Peter Lee, Joshua Mandel and Jim Weinstein of Microsoft Healthcare. Photo: Dan DeLong for Microsoft

It’s an exciting time to be working shoulder-to-shoulder with our healthcare partners and customers, who represent some of the brightest minds in this important industry. We have been approaching the complexities of the healthcare industry with a growth mindset, and for the past two years our team has worked across Microsoft to accelerate healthcare innovation through artificial intelligence and cloud computing, with our initiative Healthcare NExT (New Experiences and Technologies). We shared some updates earlier this year on our work in cloud architectures, empowering clinicians and care teams, and precision medicine, and I’ve been thrilled to see the progress and reaction across the industry.

Today we are building on that progress. I’m very pleased to welcome two prominent experts in the science, technology and practice of value-based healthcare to the team. Jim Weinstein and Josh Mandel will be joining Microsoft Healthcare – which integrates Healthcare NExT and its research-driven efforts – with an added focus of creating strategic partnerships, and driving the cross-company strategy for healthcare and life sciences.

Jim Weinstein, Vice President, Microsoft Healthcare, Head of Innovation and Health Equity

Jim Weinstein will work closely with organizations on the front lines of healthcare delivery as we aim to support health systems, empower clinicians and enable the systems of care as they move to the cloud. He will be my partner in developing the strategic vision for Microsoft Healthcare, and will provide leadership that is grounded in decades of health industry experience. A widely respected visionary, author, surgeon and leader in the future of healthcare delivery who has advised three administrations on healthcare policy, Jim most recently served as CEO and president of Dartmouth-Hitchcock and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health system, and is the past director of the Dartmouth Institute, home of the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care. Jim is also the co-founder and inaugural executive director of the national High Value Healthcare Collaborative, which brings together some of the nation’s top healthcare systems to share data, develop insights and advance the causes of better healthcare outcomes. He recently chaired the “Communities in Action, Pathways to Health Equity” report for the National Academy of Medicine. His book “Unraveled” looks at the broken healthcare system and how it might be repaired with patient-based clinical insights.

Joshua Mandel, Chief Architect, Microsoft Healthcare

Joshua Mandel will work closely with customers, partners and the open standards community to lay the groundwork for an open cloud architecture to unlock the value of healthcare for the entire health ecosystem. As a tireless evangelist for the importance of open standards, Josh will continue his work to help systems across the industry become more agile and interoperable. Josh’s impressive background as a physician and brilliant software architect has set him apart as a leader in the development of next-generation standards for healthcare data interoperability.  In his most recent role, Josh led the health IT ecosystem work at Verily (Google Life Sciences). He is a member of the research faculty at the Boston Children’s Hospital Computational Health Informatics Program where he served as lead architect for SMART Health IT, and is a visiting scientist at the Harvard Medical School Department of Biomedical Informatics. Josh earned his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his M.D. from Tufts University of Medicine.

Jim and Josh join us at an exciting time, as healthcare processes undergo a digital transformation. This transformation has created a wealth of healthcare data that has potential to help identify diseases earlier, create and improve treatments and improve the lives of patients across the globe. Unfortunately, even with advances in data protection and governance, healthcare data is not easily accessible by the researchers and doctors who need it to help us all realize the potential. And so, for a variety of regulatory, technological and political reasons, we see what is called the “health data funnel,” which holds back the case of scalable innovation in healthcare.

At Microsoft, we’re confident that many aspects of the IT foundations for healthcare will move from on-premise doctors’ offices and clinics to live in the cloud. We ask the questions: Can we take advantage of this huge sea change in healthcare to unlock the innovation potential in healthcare data? Can we work as a community to ensure that we don’t simply re-create the same data silos that we have today?

We think that together, we can solve these problems. We are taking concrete steps with an initial “blueprint” intended to standardize the process for the compliant, privacy-preserving movement of a patient’s personal health information to the cloud and the automated tracking of its exposure to machine learning and data science, for example to support external audit. This is a small first step, but progress toward an open architecture that ultimately will benefit doctors, nurses and clinicians in how they interact with patients, and also allow more time for patients to spend face-to-face with their care providers. It also opens up research opportunities for this data to be shared, and to be done under the same compliance and regulatory standards which protect your health data today; all with the goal of leading to advancements in medical science.

We have our work cut out for us but know that we have the right team in place. We’re looking forward to sharing more later this year about what we’re doing to help unlock the power of healthcare data and create opportunities for the entire health ecosystem.

The post New team assembled to unlock the innovation potential in healthcare data appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

It’s almost time! Imagine Cup 2018 Championship judges and special guest announced

Last October, I announced the 16th annual Imagine Cup competition, which gives college and university students the opportunity to test their intellectual, creative and teamwork skills while using technology to change the world. Forty-nine teams who have won their National Finals are now well underway in getting their solutions ready to compete at the World Finals, which will be held July 23-25 at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington. Last year, dozens of teams from nearly 40 countries were present at the World Finals, and this year is setting up to be just as exciting and diverse!

I love overseeing the Imagine Cup because it lets me interact with inspiring talent shaping the future and get to know incredible people along the way. Microsoft cares deeply about fostering careers in STEM, and I can’t think of a better way to give students the opportunity to take an idea from concept to completion, while also helping them acquire marketable skills they’ll be able to use throughout their careers. The work that comes out of Imagine Cup is innovative and life-changing — and often turns into full-fledged products!

Mug shot of Corey Sanders
Corey Sanders

This year’s Imagine Cup host is Corey Sanders, the corporate vice president for Azure Compute.

Corey’s no stranger to innovation — he holds four patents and was the creator of the Infrastructure-as-a-service offering for Azure.

Mug shot of Kate Yeager
Kate Yeager

And, last year’s emcee, Kate Yeager, is making a return appearance to call the action.

Judging the Imagine Cup is a big task, but this year’s judges are up for the challenge — all bringing a unique aspect of thought leadership to the table. The panel includes:

Mug shot of Peggy Johnson
Peggy Johnson

Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft, who started her career as an engineer and found her way into business development, merging her technical expertise and business savvy to become Microsoft’s “chief dealmaker.”

Mug shot of Anil Dash
Anil Dash

_ CEO of GlitchAnil Dash, who oversees the popular creative community for coders, and whose work as an entrepreneur, activist and writer reckons with the way technology transforms society, media and culture.

Erica Brescia
Erica Brescia

_ Co-founder and COO of Bitnami, Erica Brescia, an entrepreneur through-and-through with a “get it done” approach, she’s also an active investor via X Factor Ventures, funding amazing women founding extraordinary companies.

At the Imagine Cup Finals, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will be in conversation with special guest Chloe Kim, the youngest woman to win an Olympic snowboarding medal when she won the gold in the women’s snowboard halfpipe at age 17! Chloe is an outstanding example of a young person at the top of her game, much like the Imagine Cup participants are at the top of theirs.

Photo of Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim

Chloe Kim. Photo credit: Peter Morning

This year’s prize value of cash, travel and Azure credits totals more than $700,000, in addition to a mentoring session with Satya. Artificial intelligence, big data and mixed reality have special award prizes as well.

Want to see which team has the winning solution? You can watch the championship via live stream at ImagineCup.com at 9 a.m. PT, Wednesday, July 25.

I’m so excited to see what these remarkable students create this year. They are only bound by imagination, and as we’ve seen year after year, when given the opportunity to follow their imaginations, people can change the world.

P.S. Follow me on Twitter for updates on Imagine Cup and other news and noteworthy information in the cloud and ecosystem space.

The post It’s almost time! Imagine Cup 2018 Championship judges and special guest announced appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Microsoft to acquire Bonsai in move to build ‘brains’ for autonomous systems

Group shot of Bonsai's team members
Bonsai’s team members. Photo courtesy of Bonsai.

With AI’s meteoric rise, autonomous systems have been projected to grow to more than 800 million in operation by 2025. However, while envisioned in science fiction for a long time, truly intelligent autonomous systems are still elusive and remain a holy grail. The reality today is that training autonomous systems that function amidst the many unforeseen situations in the real world is very hard and requires deep expertise in AI — essentially making it unscalable.

To achieve this inflection point in AI’s growth, traditional machine learning methodologies aren’t enough. Bringing intelligence to autonomous systems at scale will require a unique combination of the new practice of machine teaching, advances in deep reinforcement learning and leveraging simulation for training. Microsoft has been on a path to make this a reality through continued AI research breakthroughs; the development of the powerful Azure AI platform of tools, services and infrastructure; advances in deep learning including our acquisition of Maluuba, and the impressive efficiencies we’ve achieved in simulation-based training with Microsoft Research’s AirSim tool. With software developers at the center of digital transformation, our pending acquisition of GitHub further underscores just how imperative it is that we empower developers to break  through and lead this next wave of innovation.

Today we are excited to take another major step forward in our vision to make it easier for developers and subject matter experts to build the “brains”— machine learning modelfor autonomous systems of all kinds with the signing of an agreement to acquire Bonsai. Based in Berkeley, California, and an M12 portfolio company, Bonsai has developed a novel approach using machine teaching that abstracts the low-level mechanics of machine learning, so that subject matter experts, regardless of AI aptitude, can specify and train autonomous systems to accomplish tasks. The actual training takes place inside a simulated environment.

The company is building a general-purpose, deep reinforcement learning platform especially suited for enterprises leveraging industrial control systems such as robotics, energy, HVAC, manufacturing and autonomous systems in general. This includes unique machine-teaching innovations, automated model generation and management, a host of APIs and SDKs for simulator integration, as well as pre-built support for leading simulations all packaged in one end-to-end platform.

Bonsai’s platform combined with rich simulation tools and reinforcement learning work in Microsoft Research becomes the simplest and richest AI toolchain for building any kind of autonomous system for control and calibration tasks. This toolchain will compose with Azure Machine Learning running on the Azure Cloud with GPUs and Brainwave, and models built with it will be deployed and managed in Azure IoT, giving Microsoft an end-to-end solution for building, operating and enhancing “brains” for autonomous systems.

What I find exciting is that Bonsai has achieved some remarkable breakthroughs with their approach that will have a profound impact on AI development. Last fall, they established a new reinforcement learning benchmark for programming industrial control systems. Using a robotics task to demonstrate the achievement, the platform successfully trained a simulated robotic arm to grasp and stack blocks on top of one another by breaking down the task into simpler sub-concepts. Their novel technique performed 45 times faster than a comparable approach from Google’s DeepMind. Then, earlier this year, they extended deep reinforcement learning’s capabilities beyond traditional game play, where it’s often demonstrated, to real-world applications. Using Bonsai’s AI Platform and machine teaching, subject matter experts from Siemens, with no AI expertise, trained an AI model to autocalibrate a Computer Numerical Control machine 30 times faster than the traditional approach. This represented a huge milestone in industrial AI, and the implications when considered across the broader sector are just staggering.

To realize this vision of making AI more accessible and valuable for all, we have to remove the barriers to development, empowering every developer, regardless of machine learning expertise, to be an AI developer. Bonsai has made tremendous progress here and Microsoft remains committed to furthering this work. We already deliver the most comprehensive collection of AI tools and services that make it easier for any developer to code and integrate pre-built and custom AI capabilities into applications and extend to any scenario. There are over a million developers using our pre-built Microsoft Cognitive Services, a collection of intelligent APIs that enable developers to easily leverage high-quality vision, speech, language, search and knowledge technologies in their apps with a few lines of code. And last fall, we led a combined industry push to foster a more open AI ecosystem, bringing AI advances to all developers, on any platform, using any language through the introduction of the Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX) format and Gluon open source interface for deep learning.

We’re really confident this unique marriage of research, novel approach and technology will have a tremendous effect toward removing barriers and accelerating the current state of AI development. We look forward to having Bonsai and their team join us to help realize this collective vision.

The post Microsoft to acquire Bonsai in move to build ‘brains’ for autonomous systems appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Grow and optimize your subscriptions with new Google Play features

Posted by Larry Yang and Angela Ying, Product Managers, Google Play

Subscriptions on Google Play continue to see huge growth, with subscribers growing over 80% year over year. At I/O 2018, we announced several improvements we're making to the user experience to reduce barriers to subscription sign-up, and more tools to let you manage your business the way you want to.

More control for subscribers

While users derive a lot of value from their subscriptions, our research shows their fears of being "trapped" in a subscription without the ability to cancel or worry they'll lose track of how much they're spending create a hindrance to users signing up for your subscription apps. To address these fears, we recently launched a new subscriptions center, a one-stop shop for users to manage their subscriptions on Google Play.

Through the subscriptions center, users can:

  • View all of their subscriptions to see details and status
  • Manage and update payment methods, including setting up a backup payment method
  • Renew a subscription
  • Restore a cancelled subscription
  • Cancel a subscription

In addition, if a user cancels a subscription, we will now trigger a cancellation survey to give developers feedback as to why the user is cancelling. Currently you can see the data from the cancellation survey by querying our server side API.

The new subscriptions center also has a "Get Started" link in the empty state that lets users discover subscription apps through curated and localized collections.

With the launch of the subscriptions center, we're also launching new deep links you can use to direct your users to manage their subscriptions from your app, over email or via the web. To implement, use the package name and SKU to construct the deep link, and then add the deep link as a button or link from anywhere in your app. View the Android Developers website for more information.

More control for you

In addition to creating a better experience for users, we're also rolling out new tools that give you more flexibility in managing your business. One of the features we've heard requested most is price changes. Coming soon, you can easily ask users to accept a price change via the Google Play Console without having to set up a completely new SKU. Google Play will notify users of the change via emails, push notifications and in-app messaging, and if by renewal date the user hasn't agreed, we'll cancel their subscription. Sign up here if you are interested in participating in the early access program.

Other features we launched at I/O that help you better manage your subscription business include the ability to:

This is in addition to faster test renewals and flexible intro pricing we announced earlier this year.

To easily implement all of these, make sure you are using the Google Play Billing Library, which launched version 1.1 at I/O. The billing library is an abstraction layer on top of the AIDL file, and API updates are automatically picked up when you update your build dependency file the next time you compile your app. Price changes and upgrade/downgrade with the same expiration date are only available through the billing library. This will be the case for future launches as well.

Better for everyone

We strongly believe that by building a great user experience, we build a high quality subscriber base. And by giving you tools and insights to better manage your business, you have the flexibility to do what is best for your business and your customers.

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Google Play security metadata and offline app distribution

Posted by James Bender, Product Manager, Google Play

In December last year we announced that we would be making updates to app security to help verify product authenticity from Google Play. We are now adding a small amount of security metadata on top of APKs to verify that the APK was distributed by Google Play.

One of the reasons we're doing this is to help developers reach a wider audience, particularly in countries where peer-to-peer app sharing is common because of costly data plans and limited connectivity.

In the future, for apps obtained through Play-approved distribution channels, we'll be able to determine app authenticity while a device is offline, add those shared apps to a user's Play Library, and manage app updates when the device comes back online. This will give people more confidence when using Play-approved peer-to-peer sharing apps.

This also benefits you as a developer as it provides a Play-authorized offline distribution channel and, since the peer-to-peer shared app is added to your user's Play library, your app will now be eligible for app updates from Play.

No action is needed by developers or by those who use your app or game. We're adjusting Google Play's maximum APK size to take into account the small metadata addition, which is inserted into the APK Signing Block. In addition to improving the integrity of Google Play's mobile app ecosystem, this metadata will also present new distribution opportunities for developers and help more people keep their apps up to date.

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Microsoft and Flipgrid unite to bring social learning to students around the world

On Monday, Microsoft announced the acquisition of video-based social learning platform Flipgrid, used in 180 countries by more than 20 million pre-kindergarten to Ph.D.-level educators, students and families.

Like Office 365 Education software, Microsoft will also be making Flipgrid free for schools so it’s easy for any school to utilize the software. Customers who’ve purchased a subscription from Flipgrid will receive a prorated refund.

“We’re thrilled to see the impact Flipgrid has had in social learning thus far and look forward to helping them continue to thrive as part of the Microsoft family,” said Eran Megiddo, corporate vice president for Microsoft. “We’re diligently committed to making sure their platform and products continue to work across the Microsoft, Google and partner ecosystems to benefit students and teachers everywhere.”

Flipgrid was created in 2015 with a mission of empowering educators as they help students define their voices, share their voices and respect the diverse voices of others. That mission aligns with that of Microsoft, which aims to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.

Microsoft sees Flipgrid as an effective tool to help teachers and students build social emotional skills beyond traditional curricula – skills the company’s recent research says will be required in 30 to 40 percent of the fastest-growing occupations.

Educator Lucretia Anton from the Arcadia Unified School District in California has seen this firsthand, and says Flipgrid “helps students develop communication skills, increase self-awareness and grow from failure, setting them up to contribute positively to the world.”

In joining Microsoft, Flipgrid will retain its distinct brand, culture and team that is focused on amplifying the voices of all students. Expanding Flipgrid’s accessibility across the global educator community, the company will also align with Microsoft’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)-, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)- and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)-compliant privacy architecture to ensure Flipgrid continues to be a safe, secure place for students and teachers to communicate.

To learn more, visit the Microsoft Education Blog.

 

The post Microsoft and Flipgrid unite to bring social learning to students around the world appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

#IMakeApps – Celebrating app makers worldwide

Posted by Patricia Correa, Director, Developer Marketing, Platforms & Ecosystems

The Android developer ecosystem is made up of exceptional individuals with different backgrounds, interests, and dreams. To celebrate the people who make up our community, starting today, and over the coming months, we'll be meeting with developers, founders, product managers, designers, and others from around the world to hear more about their passions and discover what they do when they step away from their computers.

Watch stories featuring adventurer Niek Bokkers from Polarsteps (Netherlands), artist Faith Ringgold from Quiltuduko (USA) and chair restorer Hans Jørgen Wiberg from Be My Eyes (Denmark). You can also read more about them and their apps on g.co/play/imakeapps.

Share your story

We'd love to hear from you too. Use the hashtag #IMakeApps on your social channels, sharing the app or game you work on, your role in its creation, and an image that best depicts who you are outside of work. We will regularly select and share some of our favorites on our channels.

If you also want to get featured in an upcoming #IMakeApps film, tell us more about yourself and your app or game, by completing this self-nomination form.

Stay tuned for more #IMakeApps stories by following us on Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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Driving opportunity for device partners in the era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge

Satya Nadella recently shared our vision for the future of computing – one in which the intelligent edge and intelligent cloud create experiences where trusted technology is part of the fabric of our lives.Today at Computex 2018, joined by executives from Microsoft’s engineering, marketing and research teams, I had the opportunity to share what that vision means for our device partners. The opportunity to leverage artificial intelligence (AI), ubiquitous computing and Microsoft 365 multi-device and multi-sense experiences has never been greater. Together we can create new, compelling devices and experiences in the era of the intelligent edge and intelligent cloud.

To accelerate innovation in this new era we invite all our partners to join our Intelligent Edge Partner Community. The community will help partners connect with one another to identify opportunities to collaborate on technology innovation and achieve shared business goals. In addition, community members will be able to participate in training and community events, and can participate in early-adopter programs that provide access to documentation, specs, OS builds and certification details. To sign up, simply head to http://Microsoft.com/intelligentedge.

Today, in Taipei, we announced a new category of teamwork devices: Windows Collaboration Displays. These large, interactive displays will let people experience Microsoft 365 collaboration tools: Office, Teams and Whiteboard at room scale, and include built-in sensors that can connect to Azure IoT spatial intelligence capabilities. This incredible technology will allow facility managers to utilize environmental data to make real-time decisions. A variety of collaboration displays, from Sharp and Avocor will be available later this year.

A Windows Collaboration Display from Sharp.
A Windows Collaboration Display from Sharp.

We also announced Windows 10 IoT Core Services. This new service offering enables partners to commercialize a secure Internet of Things (IoT)-device backed by industry-leading support. It provides device makers the ability to manage updates for the OS, apps, settings and OEM-specific files, and is backed by 10 years of support.

Advances in ubiquitous computing and AI will drive the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge era 
Every part of our life, our homes, our cars and our workplaces are being transformed by digital technology. We are seeing this in every industry and sector of our economy.  The era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge will be driven by advances in ubiquitous computing, artificial intelligence and multi-sense, multi-device experiences.

First, with ubiquitous computing, Azure is being built as the world’s largest computer with cloud services from 50 regions around the planet, more than any other cloud provider. Azure also has the broadest set of compliance certifications in the industry, and brands across all industries are using Azure at scale. With offerings like Azure Stack, an extension of Azure that enables a truly consistent hybrid cloud platform; Azure IoT, a broad set of services that power IoT solutions; Azure IoT Edge, that allows devices on the edge to act on their own and connect only when needed; and Azure Sphere, a new solution to secure the 9 billion microcontroller unit (MCU)-powered devices that are built and deployed every year, Microsoft provides the most comprehensive ubiquitous computing fabric that partners can use to bring intelligence to edge devices from servers to gateways, to the smallest MCUbased sensors.

Computer scientists at Microsoft have been working on AI technologies for decades. Thanks to the immense computing power of the Azure cloud, access to comprehensive and secure data spanning services such as Bing, Office and LinkedIn, and the AI breakthroughs coming out of our worldwide network of research labs, we are uniquely able to infuse AI into our core products and services. Beyond that we’re delivering AI tools and frameworks including cognitive, vision, spatial and object APIs, and the recently announced Project Brainwave, an architecture for deep neural net processing on the edge – all of which partners can use to enable next-generation AI applications and solutions that run on devices.

Modern devices amplify the power of Microsoft 365 

Using Microsoft’s programs, platforms and suite of services, our partners are bringing to life a breadth of devices at the intelligent edge that delight customers and empower them to do more.

Microsoft 365 enables people and organizations to embrace the modern culture of work, to be more creative, work together more effectively and have a more productive experience – without sacrificing protection and security. This platform opens the door for new experiences brought to life by great hardware innovations from our partner ecosystem that helps users fluidly go from mouse to keyboard to touch to ink – and beyond, to multi-sense scenarios like voice and vision.

Modern devices from our partners light up Microsoft 365 features. Today at Computex, for the first time, we showed the brand-new HP ProBook x360 440 built for growing businesses and professionals on-the-go. Powered by Windows 10, the ultra-slim device delivers the power, security and durability businesses demand in a versatile 360-degree design. Built-in security from HP BIOSphere Gen4, a firmware ecosystem that automates protection of the BIOS, coupled with Microsoft 365 and an infrared sensor supporting Windows Hello face authentication, provides incredibly strong protection.

The new HP ProBook x360, built for business
The new HP ProBook x360 440, built for business.

Another great device that takes advantage of Microsoft 365 is Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580, beautifully designed with an all-aluminum unibody in a luxurious Deep Dive Blue with Rose Gold detailing. This high-performance laptop isn’t just beautiful, it’s also powerful and able to handle the most demanding tasks with ease, powered by the latest eighth-generation Intel Core processors. The ZenBook Pro series also features Windows Hello capabilities and built-in support for Amazon Alexa voice services, giving users new, smart ways to interact with their laptop.

The Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580.
The Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580.

Last year at Computex we announced a new category of always-connected PCs that partners including, Asus, HP and Lenovo are bringing to market. These devices come with incredible battery life and work like your phone with always-on connectivity. Earlier this week, Qualcomm announced that Samsung is joining us to expand this category of always-connected devices.

A new era needs a new level of trust

This new era represents tremendous opportunity for the ecosystem and comes with a responsibility to ensure that the technologies, devices and solutions we all create are trusted by the individuals and organizations that use them. We also need to ensure everyone can experience technology’s benefits and are inclusive. We all need to work together to ensure privacy, protect the legal rights of people around the world, drive cybersecurity efforts to keep the world safe and take steps to ensure that AI works in ethical and responsible ways.

Every part of our lives, every industry and every sector of our economy is being digitally transformed. There are limitless opportunities for Microsoft partners – from the largest Azure servers to the smallest devices using Azure Sphere and everything in between.

I’m so inspired by the opportunity for innovation that’s made possible by the intelligent cloud, the intelligent edge and AI, and I look forward to the future we’ll build together.

The post Driving opportunity for device partners in the era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Microsoft + GitHub = Empowering Developers

Today, we announced an agreement to acquire GitHub, the world’s leading software development platform. I want to share what this acquisition will mean for our industry and for developers.

The era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge is upon us. Computing is becoming embedded in the world, with every part of our daily life and work and every aspect of our society and economy being transformed by digital technology.

Developers are the builders of this new era, writing the world’s code. And GitHub is their home.

As every industry – from precision medicine to precision agriculture, from personalized education to personalized banking – is being impacted by technology, the developer community will only grow in numbers and importance. Developer workflows will drive and influence business processes and functions across the organization – from marketing, sales and service, to IT and HR. And value creation and growth across every industry will increasingly be determined by the choices developers make.

In short, developers will be at the center of solving the world’s most pressing challenges. However, the real power comes when every developer can create together, collaborate, share code and build on each other’s work. In all walks of life, we see the power of communities, and this is true for software development and developers.

That is why we are so excited about today’s announcement. More than 28 million developers already collaborate on GitHub, and it is home to more than 85 million code repositories used by people in nearly every country. From the largest corporations to the smallest startups, GitHub is the destination for developers to learn, share and work together to create software. It’s a destination for Microsoft too. We are the most active organization on GitHub, with more than 2 million “commits,” or updates, made to projects.

Microsoft has been a developer-focused company from the very first product we created to the platforms and tools we offer today. Building technology so that others can build technology is core to our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Chris Wanstrath (left), Github CEO and co-founder; Nat Friedman, Microsoft corporate vice president, Developer Services; Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO; and Amy Hood, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer.

Microsoft is also committed to empowering communities, from the world’s professionals to IT professionals to gamers. We believe in the power of communities to achieve much more than what their members can do on their own. It’s our ability to work together that helps our dreams become reality, and we are dedicated to cultivating and growing communities to do just that.

And Microsoft is all-in on open source. We have been on a journey with open source, and today we are active in the open source ecosystem, we contribute to open source projects, and some of our most vibrant developer tools and frameworks are open source. When it comes to our commitment to open source, judge us by the actions we have taken in the recent past, our actions today, and in the future.

Given all of this, together with GitHub, we see three clear opportunities ahead.

First, we will empower developers at every stage of the development lifecycle – from ideation to collaboration to deployment to the cloud. Going forward, GitHub will remain an open platform, which any developer can plug into and extend. Developers will continue to be able to use the programming languages, tools and operating systems of their choice for their projects – and will still be able to deploy their code on any cloud and any device.

Second, we will accelerate enterprise developers’ use of GitHub, with our direct sales and partner channels and access to Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure and services.

Finally, we will bring Microsoft’s developer tools and services to new audiences.

Most importantly, we recognize the responsibility we take on with this agreement. We are committed to being stewards of the GitHub community, which will retain its developer-first ethos, operate independently and remain an open platform. We will always listen to developer feedback and invest in both fundamentals and new capabilities.

Once the acquisition closes later this year, GitHub will be led by CEO Nat Friedman, an open source veteran and founder of Xamarin, who will continue to report to Microsoft Cloud + AI Group Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie; GitHub CEO and Co-Founder Chris Wanstrath will be a technical fellow at Microsoft, also reporting to Scott. You can see how Chris, Nat and I envision the opportunity ahead in this public presentation.

Together we will continue to advance GitHub as a platform loved by developers and trusted by organizations.

The post Microsoft + GitHub = Empowering Developers appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

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