Microsoft's Torque Wearable App Heads to Android Phones

In an interesting twist, Microsoft brings Torque, its Bing-powered wearable app, to Android smartphones. The app also includes new features.

Microsoft App for Android

In the mobile waters, Microsoft is swimming against the current somewhat. The Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant announced on Dec. 5 that its Torque app is making the leap from wrist-worn Android Wear devices to Android smartphones.

Since Torque's debut in October, Android smartphone users have been clamoring for the ability to shake and search, according to Microsoft. Today, the company is honoring their request.

"We have incorporated that feedback into Torque 2.0 and added support for Torque on Android phones," said Microsoft's Torque Team in a blog post. The update also offers "new answers including local events and flight status, a way to launch applications with the twist gesture, and more reliable gesture and voice recognition."

Torque joins OneNote for Android Wear as an early foray into the wearables software market for Microsoft. The app, from the Office Labs offshoot dubbed Microsoft Garage, is part of a new wave of fast-tracked consumer apps. Developed as a side project by Xuedong Huang, distinguished engineer at Microsoft, and his colleagues, Torque enables users to ask questions of Bing with a twist of the wrist—a gesture that is faster than turning on the microphone with the customary "OK, Google" trigger phrase, Microsoft said.

The latest version adds the same functionality to Android 4.3 "Jelly Bean" and newer-generation smartphones.

"One of the big things that we heard from people who don't have an Android Wear watch is that they would love to be able to search Bing just by shaking their phone," stated the Torque Team. "Now, you can do just that. After you've installed Torque on your phone, just shake and say what you want to search for."

On the smartwatch front, Torque 2.0 has been tested to work on Asus ZenWatch, LG G watch and Samsung Gear Live. Interestingly, Microsoft has run into some trouble with Motorola Mobility's entry into the smartwatch market.

Torque's Google Play listing warns that "Moto 360 may not work well due to its unreliable sensors." Sony Smartwatch 3 is also a no-go, as its "current sensor drivers do not support Torque," informed Microsoft.

Microsoft isn't the only software company eyeing the young wearable apps market.

On June 10, San Francisco-based Salesforce announce a new initiative to spur the development of compatible apps for wearables called Salesforce Wear. Last month, at its annual SAP TechEd event in Berlin, the German business software maker announced that it had teamed up with Samsung to expand its SAP Mobile Platform to Samsung devices, including wearables.

"The applications that match the current trends in mobility must work to create a seamless experience as the work modality embraces mobile devices, wearables, Internet of things and other alternative forms of mobile computing," Steve Lucas, president of SAP's Platform Solutions Group, said in a Nov.11 statement. "Through our partnership with Samsung, we are working on plans to offer a premium mobile enterprise experience for customers."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...