Microsoft gives Android users a taste of the Windows Phone experience

Microsoft on your Android device?
Microsoft on your Android device?
Image: AP Photo/Microsoft Office
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HoloLens was so two weeks ago. Microsoft has just released its newest product, and it’s a lock-screen customization app for Android.

Microsoft fans wielding Android devices might comprise a narrow market, but with Picturesque, they can modify their Google devices with Bing background images, Bing search, Bing news, and a host of other features—giving Android users a taste of what the Windows Phone lock screen is like.

But there hasn’t been much demand for customization apps overall. Both Yahoo and Facebook have released similar apps customizing the home screen of Android phones with limited success. Mobile users have installed Aviate and Facebook Home somewhere between 1 million and 5 million times apiece, according to Google Play—not quite the blockbuster status of Yahoo Weather (10 million to 50 million installations) or Facebook Messenger (500 million to 1 billion installations).

Picturesque isn’t even Microsoft’s first Android customization app. That would be Next Lock Screen. Since its release last fall, that app has only been installed between 100,000 and 500,000 times. Both Picturesque and Next Lock Screen came out of an initiative called Microsoft Garage, which incubates experimental apps from employees. Ultimately, Microsoft will evaluate whether to support, iterate, or incorporate these apps as features into its products, a company spokesperson tells Quartz.

Taking a step back, the release of Microsoft apps for other platforms represents the company’s desire to “be everywhere“—a recognition that it’s not enough to be a giant in the PC industry anymore. We’ve seen this with the immensely successful release of Office apps for iPad. Picturesque is yet another attempt by Microsoft to stay relevant in the mobile world.