SaaSGenius News Digest October 14, 2022

Microsoft launches graphic design app, Designer

Designer app

Microsoft indeed owns the top news for this week, and top on the list is that the software company has announced that it is launching a simple graphic design app called Designer.

According to the announcement, the new app will be available for free and as part of Office productivity software subscriptions. The software represents an alternative to Canva, a design app boasting more than 100 million monthly active users.

Microsoft has sought to demonstrate the value of Office subscriptions by adding new capabilities, and earlier this year, it raised the prices of some bundles aimed at businesses. Office controls the market, and companies are constantly attempting to topple the leader in the category.

According to Microsoft, the company is aiming at consumers with its Designer app. However, the application could also prove useful to workers in companies, government agencies, and schools, where Microsoft has a larger base of users. Microsoft could expand Designer to additional markets, including enterprises if it perceives sufficient interest.

For now, people can join a waiting list for the free preview of Designer online. Once the app becomes generally available, Microsoft will maintain a free tier and a premium version for those with Microsoft 365 Personal and Microsoft 365 Family subscriptions.

Quick Tip
Is the design tool Canva right for your company? Read our Canva review to learn more about what they have to offer.

Microsoft brings animated avatars to Teams in metaverse push

avatars in video chat

Again on Microsoft, the software giant has announced that digital avatar will be introduced to its video conferencing software ‘Teams’.

With the new update, the company will bring ‘animated avatars’ to Teams in its premium section ‘Microsoft Teams Premium’ with features like AI-generated tasks and meeting guides. The update is set to arrive in December, and the cost is expected to be $10 per user per month, said the company during its ‘Ignite 2022′ event.

“We are introducing Teams Premium meeting offering that includes Intelligent Recap, a powerful new AI experience, like a virtual assistant during meetings even in your absence. It creates tasks, automatically generates chapters from the meeting, and shares personalized highlights from the recording,” the tech giant added.

Mesh avatars for Teams lets users create custom avatars to represent themselves so they can take a break from the camera but still have a physical presence in Teams meetings.

Microsoft’s GitHub is now relying more on Azure

Lastly on the Microsoft news this week, the company has been making its GitHub subsidiary more dependent on the company’s own Azure public cloud.

That lines up with Microsoft’s desire to increase the use of Azure, whose revenue was growing 40% in the second quarter, faster than any other major product category the company discloses every three months.

Rather than pushing developers to run their code on Azure, GitHub has simply introduced new products and features, many of which are built on Azure. So when developers use GitHub, Azure is increasingly the backbone.

IBM and AWS partnership accelerates cloud modernization

In other news, IBM and AWS are partnering to create strategic planning and development expertise to help create cloud-native apps that can deliver cost advantages.

IBM can help organizations navigate the journey while leveraging tools and expertise from its AWS partnership. IBM guides organizations through the assessment stage, garnering a thorough understanding of the state of the application portfolio through the rationalization of existing systems and tailoring app modernization strategies that add value in phases.

With help from the AWS/IBM Alliance team, organizations can gain access to best-of-breed resources and accelerators designed to simplify and optimize app modernization while helping navigate the twists and turns of the transformation journey.

Google Cloud introduces new AI tools for business users

The tech giant released new tools this week that are aimed at business users, a computer vision feature for the Vertex AI platform, and the OpenXLA Project open source initiative.

On the first day of its Google Cloud Next ’22, the tech giant released Translation Hub, an AI agent that provides users with self-service document translation, new features for its Document AI system, and a new computer vision tool for the Vertex AI automated machine learning platform.

The product releases are designed to help customers accelerate value capture from AI through the Google Cloud ecosystem.

Google discreetly acquires Edtech analytics company Brightbytes

In another Google-related news, it appears that the tech giant has silently acquired a widely-used K-12 data and analytics company, Bightbytes.

The tech giant confirmed, in an email to EdSurge, that it acquired BrightBytes for an undisclosed amount. However, it also appears that the acquisition has not been publicly announced. Even when probed for further details, Google declined to provide any more details.

Irrespective, it has been deduced that the acquisition will help Google to transform school district data into actionable intelligence to improve the academic and overall well-being of all students. Google might also have updated the policy and privacy terms of use after the acquisition.

New Hapi Salesforce apps accelerate value delivery for hotel companies

Hapi, the hospitality industry’s leading platform for fast and cost-effective connectivity between technology systems, has launched two new applications available this week on the Salesforce AppExchange – Hapi Guest For Marketing Cloud and Hapi Guest Analytics.

In addition to the core application, Hapi Guest for Salesforce, hoteliers now have additional out-of-the-box functionality to provide more insight into their data and the ability to create 360-degree marketing campaigns to convert more demand.

With Hapi Guest for Salesforce, hoteliers have one centralized location to access all of their portfolio-level customer data, including customized dashboards and reports for each department across hotel operations.

Now teams can build marketing campaigns that convert at a higher rate and then track performance through eye-catching trend charts.

Diagrid launches its fully managed Dapr service for Kubernetes

Lastly on the top news this week, with $24.2M in funding, Diagrid has stealthily launched Dapr.

Microsoft launched Dapr in 2019 as an open-source project that aimed to make it easier for developers to build microservices on top of Kubernetes.

Dapr, which stands for “distributed application runtime,” handles a lot of the primitives for building distributed applications, allowing developers to focus on the business logic of their distributed applications.

Dapr, built by Diagrid, strikes at the heart of the problem of imposed costs and provides a set of developer-friendly tools and APIs that abstract away much of the distributed system complexity, thereby allowing engineering teams to focus on what matters: their business applications.