The Download: May 8

This is a special edition of The Download, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

Microsoft Build 2018

MS Build, Seattle 2018

Microsoft took to the stage in Seattle to unveil its vision for the future at its annual Build developers conference. The two-day conference focused on AI today, but tomorrow’s keynote will include updates on Windows. Here’s what we learned in today’s keynote.

Your Phone app coming to Windows 10, Windows Timeline coming to iOS in Edge, Microsoft Launcher for Android getting Timeline support

Windows 10 Your Phone

After abandoning Windows 10 Mobile, Microsoft has turned its attention to embracing iOS and Android. A new Your Phone app is hitting preview for Windows 10, Windows Timeline is coming to iOS via Microsoft Edge, and Microsoft Launcher for Android is getting Timeline support.

These updates are part of Microsoft’s Continue on PC functionality which lets you send tasks from your Android or iOS device to your Windows 10 PC. The feature first arrived with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update in October, and Microsoft has been slowly broadening it ever since.

Your Phone would launch for Windows Insiders this week, but it’s not quite ready for all Windows 10 users.

As the name might imply, Your Phone’s goal is to let you access all of your phone’s content including text messages, phones, and notifications on your Windows 10 PC. One potential use case includes Microsoft being able to drag and drop your phone’s photos into a document on your PC without having to take your phone out of your pocket.

Windows Timeline lets you search through all the activities you performed on your PC up to 30 days in the past to find what you were working on, including files, apps, and websites. You can also pick up what you were doing on your iOS or Android device if you’re signed into your Microsoft account while using Edge or Office 365.

If you use Edge for iOS, browsing sessions from your Windows 10 PC will bring their Windows Timeline to iOS.

Android users will get similar functionality first on Microsoft Launcher, along with cross-device application launching.

Nearly 700M devices run Windows 10, Office 365 has 135M MAUs

Just under 700 million devices are now using Windows 10, up nearly 200 million from a year ago. Meanwhile, Office 365 has now reached 135 million monthly active commercial users. That’s up 15 million from last October.

Microsoft Pay rolling out to Outlook users over coming months; integrates Stripe, Braintree, Sage, Wave, & more

Microsoft Pay Outlook payments

Microsoft Pay, the company’s answer to Google Pay and Apple Pay, is getting integrated into Outlook. This means that, for example, when a company sends you an invoice through email and you read it in Outlook, you can pay that bill directly without leaving Outlook. Instead, a panel will open to the right of the main one with Microsoft’s Adaptive Cards technology.

The feature will come first to a limited number of Outlook.com users over the next few weeks, and then more broadly over the next few months – with Stripe (using Stripe Connect) and Braintree among the payment processors powering the service. Zuora, FreshBooks, Intuit, Invoice2Go, Sage, Wave, and Xero will be among the billing and invoicing services will initially be using the feature.

“We’re excited to work closely with Microsoft to power payments in Outlook, allowing anyone receiving an email invoice or bill in Outlook to immediately take action and pay that invoice with a few simple clicks. By removing the friction and time needed to complete a payment, Stripe and Microsoft can help businesses around the world reduce missed or late payments, ultimately increasing their revenue.”

Richard Alfonsi; Stripe head of global revenue and growth, in a statement

Stripe also announced that its supporting Microsoft Pay so businesses that use Strip in other apps can now offer this as an option to users already using Microsoft Pay to avoid having to input their card details multiple times.

“Our partnership with Stripe opens up new opportunities for developers to monetize on Microsoft platforms. Starting with payments in Outlook, anyone using Stripe on our platforms can now accept payments with minimal effort, creating a more powerful experience for both our partners and our customers.”

Peggy Johnson; Microsoft executive vice president of business development, in a statement

Uber hires former NTSB chairman to advise company on safety culture

Uber

Uber has retained former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman Christopher Hart to advise the company on safety after a fatal self-driving crash in March.

According to The Information, Uber determined the likely cause of the collision that killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona as a problem with the software that decides how a self-driving car should react to detected objects. The report said that the car’s sensors detected a pedestrian but the software decided that the car didn’t need to react immediately.

“We have initiated a top-to-bottom safety review of our self-driving vehicles program, and we have brought on former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart to advise us on our overall safety culture. Our review is looking at everything from the safety of our system to our training processes for vehicle operators, and we hope to have more to say soon.”

Uber, in a statement

The NTSB and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are also investigating the incident.

Snap announces Tim Stone will become company’s CFO, Drew Vollero stepping down on May 15

Snap

Snap chief financial officer Drew Vollero is stepping down May 15 with Amazon vice president of finance Tim Stone succeeding him.

Stone has a background in digital content and cloud services, both of which play perfectly into Snap’s primary business. Volero will pursue other opportunities, but will remain with the company until August 15 as a paid “non-employee advisor” to ease the transition.

“I am deeply grateful for Drew and his many contributions to the growth of Snap. He has done an amazing job as Snap’s first CFO, building a strong team and helping to guide us through our transition to becoming a public company. The discipline that he has brought to our business will serve us well into the future. We wish Drew continued success and all the best.”

Evan Spiegel; Snap CEO, in a statement

Stone will have a salary of $500,000, restricted stock units with a value of $20 million and $500,000 in options, subject to time-based vesting.

Vollero shephered the company from having a five-person finance team that worked on Quickbooks to being a publicly held company.

“I am proud of all that the finance department has accomplished leading up to the IPO and work done to streamline the company. The financial strategies we have in place are gaining traction to grow margins, flatten costs, and reduce cash burn, and we have a talented finance team that can execute well.”

Drew Vollero; Snap CFO, in a statement

Android Auto to get RCS, group messaging support, better support for third-party apps, more; new Volvos to have built-in Google Maps, apps, Assistant

Volvo Android Auto

Google has announced that Volvo will add Google Maps, Assistant, and Google Play Store to the Sensus infotainment system in the company’s next-generation cars over the next few years.

Meanwhile, Android Auto is getting a bit of a visual refresh to make the whole system a bit smarter. The platform will soon support group messaging, and Rich Communication Service (RCS) which is the foundation for Google’s new messaging app. The company’s now improving integration with some third-party apps. For example, media apps like Spotify can now make search results available to the top level of Android Auto. This can offer up a more diverse and dynamic set of results when you look up an artist or track with Google Assistant.

Lastly, Google’s making new templates available to developers that should make it easier for them to surface more immediately actionable information when apps are opened in Android Auto. This should cut down on the number of taps required inside Android Auto.

Google will ban ads promoting bail bonds services starting in July

Google_web_search

Google announced that the company will ban ads prompting bail bonds services starting in July.

The company suggested in a blog post announcing the news that these ads constitute a “deceptive or harmful product,” citing a 2016 study that concluded that minority and low-income communities typically are most affected by these services.

“For-profit bail-bond providers make most of their revenue from communities of color and low-income neighborhoods when they are at their most vulnerable, including through opaque financing offers that can keep people in debt for months or years.”

Google, in a blog post

Color for Change executive director Rashad Robinson, whose advocacy group has been pushing for this change, called the move “necessary” in a statement to Ars Technica.

“At a time when corporations are finally being held accountable for their roles in enabling mass incarceration, it is encouraging to see a company as powerful as Google cutting ties with businesses that profit from incarcerating poor Black and brown people… Google’s announcement comes after months of advocacy by our organizations. We hope this decision encourages other corporations to take proactive steps to sever ties with the for-profit bail industry and end the incentives that fuel mass incarceration.”

Rashad Robinson, Color for Change executive director

In other news…

  • Slack has hit eight million daily active users with three million of them being paid users.
  • Apple is adding a security feature to iOS that will stop data from being sent over USB if the device isn’t unlocked for seven days.
  • According to analysis from Bloomberg, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has purchased roughly $10 million of the electric car company’s stock, pushing his ownership stake in the company to nearly 20 percent.
  • Ring has launched Neighbors, a standalone app that takes the quasi-social networking aspect of the Ring app and brings it into its own iOS and Android app, no Ring hardware required. Users can leave photos and text responses on a neighborhood map to communicate with law enforcement and neighbors about suspicious activity near their homes.
  • Microsoft is changing its revenue sharing structure to give developers a bigger piece of the pie with consumer app developers for PC, Windows Mixed Reality, Windows Phone, or Surface Hub receiving 85 percent of revenue of downloads – up from 70 percent – when tracked down from the Windows Store.
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