The elves at Microsoft sure have been busy. Much like Google’s 20 per cent time, Microsoft’s employees have been coming up with their own personal projects in the company ‘Garage’, and now some of these ideas are available for Android and Windows Phone users to try out for themselves.
DevSpace provides software engineers with the ability to check on a Visual Studio Online project on their mobile device, while Join Conference, as the name suggests, makes signing into conference calls a hell of a lot easier.
SquadWatch is a little bit creepier, depending on your perspective, as it updates you on the whereabouts of your friends – presumably so you can hook up for coffee if they’re in the neighbourhood, rather than for nefarious stalking purposes. And finally, Your Weather is a Chinese-language weather app.
Picturesque Lock Screen incorporates the Bing homepage into the Android lock screen, offering up search, news, calendars and weather at a glance. Meanwhile, Torque enables users to customise Android shake functions to start voice calls, open apps or begin a voice search, among other options. And Keyboard for Excel…Well, that’s pretty self-explanatory.
Giving employees an outlet to come up with their own nifty creations is not just a great way to keep up morale; it also adds genuine value on a consumer level. And as TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherington points out; “fostering innovation in an organisation that size, which in many ways depends on stability and an innate conservatism, is no small feat.”
“The Garage is realising a dream, helping makers of small-scale projects connect with consumers,” says Microsoft’s Ed Essey. “The momentum continues to build as we release both updates and fresh surprises on a variety of platforms.”