As has become tradition, Microsoft kicked off its Build 2018 developer conference today with a lengthy keynote from CEO Satya Nadella. This year saw Microsoft focus squarely on developers with a slew of announcements related to AI, the intelligent edge, and Azure. Here are some of our picks for the top announcements from Build 2018 day one.
Your phone is coming to Windows 10 (sort of...)
Though it reared its head in the Microsoft Store a couple of days before Build started, Microsoft officially took the wraps off of a new "Your Phone" feature for Windows 10 PCs today. The experience takes Microsoft's phone integration a step further by giving users instant access to text messages, photos, and notifications from your phone. The goal? To let you focus on what you're doing at your PC without having to pick up your phone to deal with interruptions.
It's time to take Timeline to Android and iOS
Windows Timeline is a handy new feature in Windows 10 that allows you to quickly go back in time and resume files you were working on or websites you were browsing from up to 30 days ago. That's neat on your desktop, but soon, the experience will be available on Android and iOS as well. For Android users, you'll now be able to resume activities as part of the Microsoft Launcher app. Over on iOS, Microsoft is bringing the feature to the Edge app.
Kinect is back (for Azure)!
In what came as a bit of a surprise, Kinect is back in the limelight. Microsoft introduced Project Kinect for Azure, which is a new sensor bundle built to run Azure AI services and equipped with Microsoft's next-generation depth sensor. While built as a way for developers to experiment with and create new spatial mapping and depth sensing solutions, Microsoft also quietly confirmed that the Project Kinect package will appear in the next HoloLens headset.
Mixed Reality + Work = Wowzers
Yes, mixed reality is still very much on Microsoft's radar. The company took to the stage today to introduce two new mixed reality apps built for firstline workers: Microsoft Remote Assist and Microsoft Layout. Remote Assist allows workers to remotely collaborate on tasks and receive hands-free assistance from experts, while Layout lets users see 3D models at real-world scale in the space around them. Both are pretty interesting additions, particularly as HoloLens sees more industrial and enterprise applications.
Microsoft had two major partnerships to announce today. First, the company is teaming up with drone maker DJI to build an SDK for Windows 10 and build commercial drone applications. Second, Qualcomm and Microsoft are teaming up to put together a vision AI developer kit. The running theme? AI and edge computing are a big focus for Microsoft this year.
AI takes on accessibility
Last year, Microsoft announced a major program intended to tackle environmental problems with AI. After that program's success, Microsoft is tackling another problem area: accessibility. The new AI for Accessibility initiative is a $25 million grant program that the tech giant hopes will provide a boost to developers, inventors, and organizations working on AI-first tools for people with disabilities.
And that's not all
Those are our picks for some of the top announcements, but that's certainly not all. Microsoft had a lot of new Azure tools and Visual Studio features to show off. There were even some new tidbits that went slightly under the radar, including a new revenue-sharing split for developers, Fluent Design for Win32 apps, and more.
For more, be sure to check out our Build 2018 landing page for everything from the conference.