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Seems as if Microsoft, Nokia and Google are racing to cram in as many product announcements and leaks as possible ahead of tomorrow's Apple media event. Nokia's news will come a bit later, while Redmond has already unleashed its big Windows 8.1 update and free Remote Desktop apps (more on that in a moment) and Google just can't seem to keep the Nexus 5 from leaking at nearly every turn. Here's a quick look at what else made headlines this weekend...
While Google remains largely silent on the fate of Google Voice, users may get a glimpse into its future with the version 1.3 update of the universal Hangouts on Friday. Tucked away among other welcome additions, such as the ability to see which friends are currently using the service and to send or receive animated GIFs, the update allows Google Voice users to make and receive phone calls from their device, and such calls to the United States and Canada are absolutely free. Last but not least, Hangouts 1.3 temporarily turns down any music the user is playing during an incoming call, rather than cutting it off completely. Still no iOS 7-style update for the official Google Voice app yet, so users may want to start getting used to Hangouts or a third-party option...
While we can't condone the thought of an iPhone user switching to The Dark Side, Google's Motorola Mobility division is making its latest Moto X handset just a little bit more enticing thanks to a migration tool that promises to transfers contacts and calendars from an iCloud account to a Google account as part of the customization process. A help topic on the Moto X website explains the process in detail, including which fields get mapped to which and how to locate the migrated data on your new handset. It all seems pretty straightforward, which makes us wonder why Google doesn't make it easier to share such data for those who own both kind of devices — say, an iPhone and a Nexus 7 tablet. (We're sure a few such users exist… right?)
The folks in Redmond continue to expand their horizons onto Apple's mobile and desktop platforms with the release of free Microsoft Remote Desktop apps for iOS and OS X, now available in their respective App Stores. You know the drill: The apps allow PC users to remotely access their Windows boxes from anywhere there's an internet connection using the remote desktop protocol (RDP), and the iOS app is universal, so it works equally well on the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad — which is more than we can say for the company's currently iPhone-only Office 365 app.
Speaking of Windows, Parallels released a new Parallels Desktop for Mac build 9.0.23136 late last week with a host of stability and performance tweaks. The update most notably brings full OS X Mavericks support ahead of the presumed release later this week, including the ability to install and use Mavericks as a virtual machine, multiple display support and more. The update also promises increased battery life for MacBooks and stomps out a few issues with external storage devices, specifically Thunderbolt, FireWire or SD/MMC cards. To grab the update, run Check for Updates from the Parallels Desktop for Mac 9 menu.
Not to sound like WindowsLife.com or anything, but the weekend brought one final Microsoft-related tidbit on the company's community forums. Users found the Windows RT 8.1 update suddenly unavailable on their Surface tablets, and a support tech named Reagan_L confirmed that the update has been pulled while the company investigates "a situation affecting a limited number of users updating their Windows RT devices to Windows RT 8.1." Windows RT, as you may recall, uses ARM-based processors and therefore can't run the full gamut of Intel-powered Windows applications, and that full-featured Windows 8.1 update continues to be available while Microsoft works to fix the RT version. (Update: ZDNet is reporting that Microsoft has now posted a Surface RT revcovery image to help users whose tablets were bricked by the botched Windows RT 8.1 update — but still no word on a return of the actual update itself.)
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