Microsoft's Bing Mobile team introduces new app first for Android phones

Microsoft's Bing Mobile team introduces new app first for Android phones

Summary: A beta of a new phone-programming app known as on{X} is available only for Android phones (at least for now).


Members of the Bing Mobile team at Microsoft's Israel R&D Center have launched a new beta app and Web site for remotely programming their phones.

The unusual element here? The app is for Android phones only (at least at this point). The stated reason? Android's "less strict security model" makes it more friendly to early-stage tech previews.

on{X} -- pronounced On-Ex -- is a new kind of app that is "orthogonal to the classic 'app from a marketplace' model we're all used to," said Eran Yariv Group manager at Bing Mobile in Microsoft Israel R&D Center, via a Bing Community blog post on June 5.

on{X} allows developers and tech enthusiasts to program their phones using JavaScript programming interfaces and pre-made "recipes," or templates, so that they will respond automatically to certain triggering events.

Example: When someone steps into their office at work, his/her phone can be programmed to automatically show them that day's schedule. Or when someone leaves work, her/his phone can be programmed to automatically remind them to check a grocery list.

The app takes advantage of the many sensors built into modern smartphones. To make it easier to take advantage of built-in cameras, speakers, GPS mechanisms, accelerometers, etc., Microsoft is experimenting with the idea of making the phone easier to program with functions that won't annoy users and/or drain phone batteries.

The on{X} app, available for download from the Google Play store, isn't the first app from the Microsoft for Android phones. (OneNote Mobile, Lync 2010 and a Bing Search app are already there.) But on{x} isn't available for Windows or Windows Phones, though it sounds like it might be at some point from today's post.

Most entertaining write-up about on{X}, hands-down, goes to TechCrunch. Old Spice guy fans: Don't miss it.

Topic: Apps


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Sounds like a cool app.

    Like a basic visual programming tool.
  • Windows phone?

    So this beta app is not released on windows phone??
    Casper Hansen
    • Automation app

      The WP7 system CAN NOT run this type of automation background apps. It's not a part of the architecture. Same goes for iOS. But Android can. It's a part of why so many tech people prefer Android, it can do things others can't.
  • It's on Windows Phone?

    Isn't this essentially the same thing as TouchDevelop, created by Microsoft Research for Windows Phone?
  • Incredibly Cool

    This might be a bit of a stretch, but I think this system is what MS is really about. I, like millions of people came to "programming" from VB--an effort to make control of a computer accessible to the "non-programmer". I even stopped there unlike countless thousands of others, and still just do VBA. This is essentially VBA for a phone, a scripting language or rather an accessible interface to a scripting language. It seems to be an easy to use tool to get the computer/phone to do things you want it to do. The reason MS dominated the world for so long was the fact they-at least Bill Gates-really did understand that the key was to unleash the power of its users to be able to get the computer to do what they wanted to do. I know, I know, there were others. And I know, they might have lost their vision. But I remember buying my first version of VB and the excitement of simply dragging a button onto a form and have it do something. I mean, simple old me, could actually get it to do what I wanted it to do. My 13 year old son and I 21 years ago wrote a little program that was a little history game that taught the 100 counties of the state. For the time, kind of cool and was cool enough that it ran in the history museum for 7 years on a $3000 computer that they bought and put in a custom made cabinet. It was incredibly popular. Unbeliveable in today's jaded world. Times have changed a lot. This program very well might be the VB or VBA for the mobile market. Soon I am sure will have a Macro Recorder like in Excel or Word so that you could simply do what you want to do on a phone (or virtual one) and then save the Macro. You could get it to open up the appropriate app, do something, and based on that open up another app and do something else. Much like you can do with Office. Perhaps this is a return to a simpler era where it was really possible for the user to take control of the device instead of the device dictating what the user could do. Now the apps are going to be like active x controls but with security? It does seem like the contracts functionality in Metro apps would open up even more possibilities for this once it gets onto Window 8.

    Above comments just fodder for discussion, but I really think something like this is awfully powerful and enabling.