Cortana only works with Microsoft Edge, Facebook releases Windows 10 apps, Google lets you know when apps have ads, Uber insists you shouldn’t tip your driver, and a madcap inventor creates a homemade hoverbike.
Microsoft Confines Cortana to Edge
Microsoft is limiting Cortana searches to Edge and Bing, locking its three properties together in an effort to drive adoption. That’s not the official company line, of course, with Microsoft claiming the use of Cortana with unsanctioned browsers and search providers leads to “a compromised experience that is less reliable and predictable.”
In a blog post outlining the move, Ryan Gavin, Microsoft’s head of Search, states:
“The continuity of these types of task completion scenarios is disrupted if Cortana can’t depend on Bing as the search provider and Microsoft Edge as the browser.”
“Starting today, to ensure we can deliver the integrated search experience designed for Windows 10, Microsoft Edge will be the only browser that will launch when you search from the Cortana box.”
This makes perfect sense from Microsoft’s point of view, as it guarantees a smooth user experience, and gets people using more of its products. Essentially, if you want to use one (Cortana), you have to use two others (Bing and Edge).
However, it means Microsoft is removing customer choice from the equation, which harks back to the bad old days of the 1990s. Still, Microsoft was phenomenally successful back then, so…
Windows 10 Gets Facebook Apps
Facebook has released a trio of new apps for Windows 10. Namely, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. There was previously a Facebook app available on Windows 8, but it was pretty poor, leading most users to simply open Facebook in a Web browser instead.
These new native Windows 10 apps have all of the features regular Facebook users will be familiar with. For Facebook itself that means the full set of reactions, stickers, and event reminders. There is also an in-app browser, which means you can open multiple tabs at once, with Facebook clearly hoping this will encourage more sharing.
Facebook Messenger, which has never been available as a Windows desktop app before, features group conversations, stickers, and GIFs, with native desktop notifications keeping you up-to-date at all times.
The Instagram for Windows app has been launched on Windows 10 Mobile first, and supports Live Tiles as well as all the features regular Instagram users will be used to using. Seeing as Microsoft seems to have abandoned Windows 10 Mobile for the time being, having Instagram officially available is sure to be a boost for the small number of people using it.
Google Play Labels Apps With Ads
The best part about ordering presents online is how what you just ordered shows up as banner ads for the next month.
— Grant Brisbee (@mccoveychron) April 28, 2016
Google Play is now labeling apps which contain advertising, as we previously reported it would. Users will see this as a “Contains ads” note on an app’s listing, right next to the note warning them of “In-app purchases”. This is the first time Google has advised users to expect advertising, and it should help people decide whether or not they want to install certain apps.
While this is a positive move on Google’s part, with transparency always a thing to be applauded, there is an obvious rule of thumb to employ when installing apps. Only a tiny percentage are given away for free with no method of monetization, so an app will either cost money up-front, contain in-app purchases, or be funded by advertising. Simple.
Uber: You Don’t Need to Tip Your Driver!
Uber, the ride-sharing company which wants to kill traditional taxis, recently settled two class-action lawsuits brought by drivers. Settling will cost Uber $100 million, but means the company can continue treating drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.
As part of the agreement, Uber said it would allow drivers to start soliciting tips from passengers, an activity formerly discouraged. Cue disgruntled passengers feeling a need to start tipping to preserve their rating and, as a consequence, their chance of being picked up.
However, Uber has now stated that you shouldn’t tip your driver. You can, but you don’t have to do so. Josh Mohrer, Uber’s New York City general manager, emailed customers saying:
“As we’ve said for many years, being Uber means you don’t need to tip. Of course, if you want to tip your driver—we estimate riders offer tips on only a very small number of trips—you’re free to do so, and drivers are free to accept.”
The problem is that mutual rating system which means that drivers and passengers both rate each other at the end of a journey. If you don’t tip your driver there’s a good chance they’ll give you a lower rating now than they would have previously.
So, despite what Uber is saying, tipping is now a part of the experience, whether you like it or not.
Colin Furze and His Homemade Hoverbike
And finally, it turns out you can make your own hoverbike at home, at least if you’re Colin Furze and have the backing of Ford. Which most of us aren’t and don’t. Still, we get to watch Furze try and wrangle his homemade hoverbike around his garden without losing a limb. Which is fun in itself.
Furze is a madcap British inventor who has made a name for himself on YouTube, but this homemade hoverbike may be his most ambitious project yet. He used an S-shaped metal frame, two two-stroke parajet motors, and two propellers in order to get this thing off the ground.
We don’t recommend you try this at home, as it’s extremely dangerous. And expensive. And probably a little bit disappointing in reality. [H/T Reddit]
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
Are you annoyed at Microsoft for confining Cortana to Edge? Will you be installing the new Facebook apps on Windows? Would you rather pay for apps or put up with advertising? Do you tip Uber drivers? Would you like to own your own hoverbike one day?
Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.
Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.