Continuing its efforts to become more of a mobile ecosystem player, Microsoft today has released a suite of MSN-branded mobile applications that run on iOS, Android and Amazon devices. The free apps, previously created under the awkward Bing label, were originally built for Windows 8 and Windows Phone devices. The lineup includes MSN apps for News, Weather, Sports, Food & Drink, Healthy & Fitness, and Money. The apps are available as of this morning on iTunes, Google Play and the Amazon Appstore.
Microsoft said back in September that it would bring the then rebranded mobile apps to other platforms in the “coming months,” ZDNet reminds us this morning.
The MSN brand, though dated, still has over 400 million users visiting its internet portal today. It’s a familiar name, and one that makes more sense perhaps for a suite of apps that have more to do with getting news and information and other content, rather than performing web searches, as the Bing branding would have suggested.
What’s also interesting about the new apps is that they’re not all just simple ports – some apps have been customized to take advantage of the various platforms’ unique features. For example, the Health & Fitness app on iOS, which allows users to count their steps, runs, diets and cardio training, ties into Apple’s HealthKit platform. Other times, Microsoft missed an opportunity to cater to the mobile platform’s feature set and audience preferences – as it did on Android, when it failed to ship a weather widget to accompany the MSN Weather app, for instance, as many reviewers have now pointed out.
Additionally, Microsoft says the apps can be personalized by end users, in order to “customize and organize the information you want according to your interests.” Meaning, you can track your favorite teams, stocks or news sources. (Disclosure, apparently: TechCrunch is one of the news sources you can follow in the the new MSN News app.)
As you use the apps between your different devices, your preferences will remain synced no matter which platform you’re currently on.
The apps’ release follows that of the recently made-over MSN.com portal site, which was also updated this fall and features many of the same topics as those covered by the apps themselves, and points users to other Microsoft services like Outlook.com, Skype, and Bing.
Microsoft now has a number of apps that run on competing mobile operating systems, including its Office apps, OneDrive, Bing, Xbox apps, and more, as well as the various experiments released by its Microsoft Garage division which has put out things like an Android lockscreen app, a social trip log app, and, most recently an Android app that’s an alternative to Google’s “OK Google” called Torque.