It's been a little longer than usual since Microsoft released a significant update to the beta version of its Launcher for Android, but testers are now receiving the update to version 4.13. This release doesn't bring any groundbreaking new features, but it does include some enhancements to existing ones.
Cortana will now be able to read incoming SMS messages aloud, and language support has been added for English (India). Microsoft is also expanding on the family safety features introduced in June so you can now ask its digital assistant to tell you where your children are. A few other improvements are on board for this release, so here's the full changelog from the Play Store:
- Now you can drag and drop widgets to and from the Launcher Feed. Widgets also no longer have card headers when placed in the Feed.
- Updates to the calendar card let you add a new event with one click when you no longer have any more events for the day.
- Tuning fixes for new app drawer animation.
- Parents can now ask Cortana for the location of their kids via voice (ex. "Where are my kids?").
- Cortana can now read incoming SMS messages aloud and supports en-IN.
The fixes to the app drawer animations are quite noticeable, as the troublesome behavior we reported with version 4.12 seems to be gone and the drawer opens much more consistently.
This isn't a tremendously exciting update, as we're still expecting the Launcher to integrate with some of Microsoft's services, such as Timeline and Your Phone. Nonetheless, these small improvements should make the overall experience more pleasant. As usual, you can download Microsoft Launcher from the Play Store, where you can also sign up for the beta program.