2 experimental apps from Microsoft Garage you need to test drive

Microsoft Garage is a division of the software maker that lets its interns, employees and groups of staffers experiment with ideas and tinker with apps -- some of which don't even run on Windows devices. Send (iOS only) and InstaNote (Windows Phone only) are two recent, and free, Garage apps that are worth a look.

Send and Microsoft Outlook

Send is an "in-and-out email" app for exchanging quick messages with colleagues and then syncing them with your Outlook account. The app has a nice, streamlined interface, which helps you focus on your messages. You can also send messages to people who don't use the app, and they can respond.

Send is interesting, but it has limitations. For example, it only works with Office 365 Work or School accounts (as opposed to Office 365 Home subscriptions). It's only available for iPhone. And it doesn't support Gmail, Outlook.com or Yahoo email accounts.

InstaNote records audio from the past ... sort of

InstaNote is a unique Windows Phone app that retroactively captures 30 seconds of audio.

Imagine you're in a meeting, smiling and nodding but secretly pondering a choice of chicken or meatloaf for dinner. Suddenly, you realize your boss is talking about something important. You can tap one of InstaNote's big capture buttons, and the app records the last half-minute of audio. Microsoft's Bing transcription services do a decent job (in my experience) of transcribing the recording, too.

You can share audio "notes" via email or send them to Microsoft's OneNote. InstaNote also lets you tag and search your notes. However, it's not designed to record anything longer than 30 seconds, and that limits its functionality. The app is a nice OneNote companion, though, and I hope Microsoft pushes it out to Android and iOS.

If you're interested in more Garage apps, give Next Lock Screen for Android a try. It's a valuable, lock screen replacement that lets you segment your most-used apps by work, home, or on the go.


James A. Martin

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