Microsoft leaks its brand new chat app for iPhone.

Flow will work alongside Microsoft Outlook.

Microsoft has inadvertently leaked plans to release a new chat app for iPhone called Flow, which will allow users to have “rapid email conversations.” The service will be a part of Outlook, but it will focus on quick communication with “no subject lines, salutations, or signatures.”

Flow sounds a lot like any other instant messaging service, but the way in which it will tie into Outlook will make it somewhat unique. Flow conversations will appear in your inbox alongside the rest of your email, allowing you to use either application to continue your conversations.

While inside the Flow app, however, you’ll only see Flow conversations, so you won’t be bogged down by the rest of the clutter that’s sent to your email address.

Flow gives Outlook users a more casual way to communicate with the people who are closest to them, such as friends and relatives, where the formalities usually associated with email — particularly those that are work-related — aren’t necessary. In turn, it makes the Outlook service more personal.

While Flow may be a lot like existing instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, Viber, and Facebook Messenger, then, it may be a more convenient solution for those who are already tied to Outlook.

Microsoft hasn’t made Flow official yet, but it did publish a description of the app on a public download page marked “Microsoft Confidential.” Twitter user @h0x0d managed to grab a screenshot before it was taken down.

Microsoft didn't intend for this to be public just yet. Screenshot: h0x0d

It’s still unclear when Flow will be available, then, or whether it will eventually support other platforms. It’s interesting that Microsoft seems to be making the service available on iPhone first, rather than integrating it into its upcoming Windows 10 upgrade. But we can’t complain.

Microsoft announces foldable version of its universal MFi Bluetooth keyboard.

keyboard

A Microsoft product might not seem the most obvious purchase for Apple users, but if you switch between platforms, the latest version of Microsoft’s universal keyboard may appeal. Designed to allow you to switch easily between iOS, Android and Windows devices, the Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard is a more portable version, folding in half down the middle. (If you like a smaller vertical fold made for smartphones, Zagg makes an excellent product)

folded

There’s no word yet on pricing or availability, but the original version retailed at $80 (and is available on Amazon for $65), so something in the same ballpark or a little higher seems likely.

Microsoft Offers 100GB Free OneDrive Storage Free for 2 Years.

If you’re looking for a little more free cloud storage, Microsoft has a great offer. They’ll give you 100GB of OneDrive cloud storage free for two years, and all you have to do is join the company’s Bing Rewards program.

Microsoft Offers 100GB Free OneDrive Storage Free for Two Years

If you’ve already registered, you’re still eligible to take advantage of the offer.

Signing up for Bing Rewards will subject you to the occasional email from Microsoft. I belong to the program already, and I only see emails from Bing on the odd occasion.

Bing Rewards is a Microsoft program that gives you “credits” for using Bing or MSN to do web searches. The credits to used toward gift cards, sweepstakes entries, or even charitable donations.

Or, you can simply sign up for Bing Rewards, get the free OneDrive storage, send the Bing emails to your Spam folder, and ignore it from then on. It’s your call, bunkie.

Users worldwide can get the free 100GB OneDrive storage offer by signing up for Bing Rewards at the Bing Rewards website. (If you already belong to Bing Rewards, just sign in, and you should automatically receive the extra free storage.)

Microsoft Outlook now available for iOS.

Microsoft Outlook for iOS
Just in time for TUAW parent company Aol to migrate all of its employees from Microsoft Outlook to Gmail this weekend, Microsoft today launched Outlook for iOS (free). The universal app is essentially a scaled-down version of the desktop Outlook application, providing compatibility with Exchange servers, Outlook.com and Office 365 services. If you have other mail accounts, such as iCloud, Gmail and Yahoo Mail, you’ll be happy to know that the Outlook app also supports those services.

Of course, Outlook has always been more than just email. The app makes it simple to view or organize the email inbox, check and update calendars, handle attachments, and more — all in one app. The Outlook app is an outcome of December’s acquisition of email startup Accompli, which had previously created email apps for iOS and Android. Microsoft has been aggressively developing mobile versions of its flagship applications for the two popular mobile platforms, with the Office suite making it to iOS last March followed by updates to add printing and third-party font support.

And now, for the details, straight from Microsoft’s App Store description:

Why use Outlook?

Manage your inbox
• Outlook automatically triages your inbox for you, surfacing your most important email. Less relevant email is placed in your “Other” inbox.
• Swipe to quickly delete, archive, or schedule messages.
• Schedule emails and they will return to your inbox at a later time.

Your calendar built-in
• Switching between your email and calendar apps is a thing of the past. Outlook includes your calendar and notifies you with appointment reminders.
• Find available meeting times and share them in email or schedule a meeting.

Attachments made easy
• View and attach any file from your email, OneDrive, Dropbox, and other accounts with just a few taps.
• Send large files even if you haven’t downloaded them to your phone.

Find anything fast
• Filter your inbox to only show messages that are unread, flagged, or have attachments, with a single tap.
• Quickly find the right messages, people and files by typing just a few letters.
• Outlook shows people you communicate with most often, and lets you conveniently drill down to see all related emails, meetings and files.

YubiKey wants to be like Touch ID for your Internet life.

YubiKey opens the way to online security. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

LAS VEGAS — Nobody wants to get hacked like Jennifer Lawrence’s iCloud account. Everyone, including Apple, is pushing two-factor authentication in the wake of the high-profile hack that exposed dozens of celebrities nude selfies, but verifying an account login with a code sent to your phone is a total pain.

In the not-so-distant future, we might all be storing two-factor authentication on our keychains.

Yubico is already providing eight out of 10 Silicon Valley companies with a tiny USB dongle called YubiKey that securely verifies an employee’s online identity. You just plug it into a computer and tap it when it’s time to log in. Now that Gmail has started supporting YubiKey on the front end, anyone can use it as the second verification step for getting into their inbox.

In a demo at International CES, Yubico was quick to point out that many big tech companies (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Dropbox, etc.) supply their employees with YubiKeys to use internally. But that doesn’t mean they’ve been able to offer any value for average users like you and me. That won’t happen till everyone supports Yubico’s open-source security standard, like Google already does with Gmail.

Here’s the scenario: You’re logging in to Dropbox on your Mac with two-factor verification enabled. Instead of Dropbox sending a temporary passcode to your phone as the second step, you pop the YubiKey in and gently tap it. The key supplies a one-time password string that Dropbox verifies and uses to log you in. Easy enough.

The YubiKey is designed to work on any computer, and while it doesn’t have fancy biometric scanning like Touch ID, ubiquity could propel it forward. Or not. Most people don’t worry too much about their passwords until something nasty happens.

CNN anchor caught on-air using a Microsoft Surface tablet as an iPad stand.

Try as they might, Microsoft’s effort to get its Surface tablets out and in front of as many people as possible keeps backfiring in hilarious ways. Most recently, a CNN anchor during Tuesday night’s election coverage was spotted using his Microsoft Surface tablet as a shield and kickstand for his tablet of choice — an iPad.Now normally that may not be a big deal, save for the fact that Microsoft supplied the Surface tablets to CNN as part of an election night partnership.As alluded to earlier, this isn’t the first time paid airtime for the Microsoft Surface has backfired. You might remember that NFL announcers earlier this season accidentally called Microsoft Surface tablets “iPads” a few times. Clearly, $400 million in promotional advertising just doesn’t buy what it used to.

Siri might ditch Nuance so it can finally understand what you’re saying.

Apple-Siri
For many people, Siri has been more of a nuisance than an empowering personal assistant since debuting on the iPhone 4s in 2011. Sure, she’s received some upgrades and is getting even more in iOS 8, but fancy new features mean nothing if she can’t understand what you’re saying.

Siri’s favoriting line, “Sorry I didn’t get that,” might soon be a thing of the past though as a report from Wired says the time is ripe for Apple to unleash a neural-net-boosted Siri.

Despite using Nuance technology for years, Apple might be looking to move away from licensing the voice recognition technology in favor of its own neural network engine built by Apple’s team of speech recognition experts.

Over the last three years of development, Apple has turned Siri into its own search of sorts. Drawing on third-party sources like Wolfram Alpha, Yelp, Wikipedia, and Shazam. Siri can help with your math homework, find new songs and buy them, tell you sports scores, but understanding what you’re saying could be the biggest upgrade of all.

According to the report, Apple hired Alex Acero to be the senior director in Apple’s Siri group after researching speech technology for 20 years at Microsoft. Apple has also poached top speech recognition talent from Nuance.

“Apple is not hiring only in the managerial level, but hiring also people on the team-leading level and the researcher level,” says Abdel-rahman Mohamed, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto, who was courted by Apple. “They’re building a very strong team for speech recognition research.

Microsoft, Google have been using neural network algorithms to power Skype and Android Voice Search with noticeably better results. Apple is the only major tech company that hasn’t adopted the technology. Nothing was mentioned at WWDC, but if Microsoft’s head of research is right, Siri could get its new neural network super powers within six months.