Microsoft describes its Garage program as a way to foster “grassroots innovation” within the company. It’s all the little side projects, hackathons, and coding Microsoft staff have been doing in their spare time. This week, Garage spawned not one but four new Android apps, most of which seem to be limited to users in the United States.
Next Lock Screen is a lock screen app that shows you pertinent notifications and calendar events, and also allows you to dial and launch apps from right on the lock screen. Journey & Notes is a social app that is geared at filling up the time you spend traveling from a to b. You’re supposed to “check in” to your journeys. CityZen connects you to your local municipality and facilitates the reporting of issues or concerns relating to civic infrastructure.
The only app we’ve actually been able to try so far is Torque, which is an Android Wear application that hopes to eliminate the “OK Google” from your everyday life. It is a Cortana-like assistant that is activated with a twist of the wrist and is capable of answering questions about the weather and news as well as offering general information (like the height of the CN Tower) via Bing. Though there were some issues with consistency, when the application worked, it was pretty impressive.