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Microsoft crowd-sources next Win Phone apps using Android

on{X} outsources dev to punters

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The world just got stranger: not only is Microsoft trying to write cool software again, it’s decided that Android is the ideal beta platform, in spite of its bitter worldwide spat with Google over patents.

The app is called on{X}: users can set up custom recipes to get their Android phones responding to events, or if you want to fool around with your own triggers, there’s a JavaScript API. The name is designed to explain the capability: “on X, do Y”.

Triggers include, but aren’t limited to, time, location, news, weather, the availability of a WiFi network, battery condition, and so on. Some of the examples Microsoft provides are mundane enough – “When I leave work, text my wife” – others look worryingly exploitable. For example: “When my boyfriend asks me ‘where?’ respond with my location” offers any number of possibilities outside the intended “fun and cool” of on{X}.

According to TechCrunch, Microsoft says the “less strict security model of the Android platform is well suited for deploying early technology previews”.

So what’s the crowdsource angle? It’s this: to modify Microsoft’s existing recipes, or create your own, you configure the rules on the on{X} site and push them to the target device.

While the rules are tied to your account and therefore private, if on{X} takes off, Microsoft will assemble a large dataset of what users want their phones to do, before it tries to create a similar product for Windows Mobile. ®

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