Microsoft has been quite enthusiast about Android apps recently, releasing the Office Mobile suite, and developing the Next Lock screen, by their Microsoft Garage research division with which Microsoft tries to make sure you are shown the notifications you want at a glance without having to unlock the phone. The recent acquisition by Microsoft comes as a surprise as they have bought Echo Notification Lockscreen, which also acts as a lock screen replacement app, and lets the user personalize the kind of notifications appearing on the lock screen on a phone or tablet. This acquisition makes Echo the second lock screen replacement app for Android by Microsoft.
It does sound a bit weird, coming from Microsoft, but not everyone shares the same thought. Microsoft’s Chief Experience Officer Julie Larson-Green has a different take on it, saying that productivity and keeping the user immersed into the moment is what drives them to develop the app for Android. According to her, the de facto standard of all the current lock screen face, regardless of whether its Android, Apple or Microsoft is that it is not personalised at all – it’s just a bunch of notifications, one alert at a time. The problem with this is that they are just a bunch of announcements the apps want the user to see, not necessarily what the user wants to see. The solution to this is precisely what she is specialised to deal with, being the Chief Experience Officer ever since Satya Nadella took the reins over at Redmond. A major part of Larson-Green’s job is to help people access their notification in new ways that are both personal and intuitive, and relevant to the context, harnessing data from location, local time, and various other factors.
Looking at it from a different perspective, and keeping in mind the how much larger the Android userbase is compared to Microsoft Windows, Android serves as an excellent platform for rapid experimentation, data collection, and as a source of feedback, without affecting the Windows users with a half-baked product to the millions of Windows users, and damage the reputation. Android is the perfect candidate for this, thanks to deep system access that is impossible in iOS. Echo has over fifty thousand reviews on Google Play Store, providing Microsoft with invaluable feedback, to improve the basics of the product. Microsoft is better known about the rich level of service it provides, along with the products. This idea is also the key behind recent Microsoft experiments like Snip, Clutter, and the upcoming GigJam. By developing them as standalone apps, Microsoft gets the much-needed chance to refine the concept before integrating it into the system.