In a week short on Apple news, we did hear quite a bit from Microsoft and Google. The following are just a few of the stories that made news this week.

On The Surface, Microsoft’s Tablets Look Pretty Compelling

Microsoft's Surface

The biggest new product announcement this week wasn’t something cooked up in Cupertino, California but rather something unveiled by the folks that usually reside in Redmond, Washington.

At a press event in Los Angeles, California, Microsoft unveiled Surface, a new tablet they hope could someday become an iPad killer.

Should Apple worry about Surface? Our own A.T. Faust III seems to think so, stating this week:

I haven’t been this intrigued by an Apple-competing tablet since, well, ever. And it’s not just the operating system here, either. Sure, Windows Phone 7 (and by extension Windows RT) has long been my second choice of mobile OS, but there’s something else that feels right about the Surface family. Whether it’s the fact that Microsoft actually avoided going the blatant iPad ripoff route with these tablets’ clean-cut industrial designs (see Samsung, itis possible!) or just the promise of some real (well, not really, but you know what I mean) iPad competition for a change, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the awesome, appropriately adapted Windows logo sitting front and center on the tablet’s dark bezel (and rear kickstand). Maybe it’s the Surface’s Smart Cover-like keyboard accessories. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because Microsoft is finally figuring out that Apple’s approach — that is, building for and marketing a product’s look, feel, and general usability over its (often meaningless) component benchmarks — is actually worth emulating.

Also this week, Microsoft showed the world the most complete preview of their Windows Phone 8 platform to date. Strangely, this upcoming OS release won’t be compatible with Windows Phone 7 devices such as the Nokia Lumia 900, laughingly advertised as the cell phone that ended “the smartphone beta test.” That sound you hear is Nokia’s long term prospects going down the drain.

Flipboard Now In Love With Google+, YouTube

Flipboard and Google+

Flipboard and Google+

Flipboard, the popular news delivery app for iOS, is now showing some love for Google’s struggling social networking service, Google+. The announcement of Google+ integration with Flipboard was announced by Google’s Bradley Horowitz at LeWeb in London.

Launched on June 28, 2011, Google+ does not currently offer a public API. That hasn’t stopped Google from signing “trusted” partner agreements. However, the Flipboard agreement seems to be the most significant to date. The only other partner agreements for Google+ include those with Buddy Media, Hootsuite, Context Optional, Hearsay Social, Involver, and Vitrue.

Flipboard now also includes YouTube integration.

Dear Mail, Isn’t It About Time You Grew Up?

Dear Mail

In our first Dear X column, we suggested ways Apple could make their native mail app better. Among the ways is for Apple to take a look at Sparrow, a third-party app many feel is superior to Apple’s own app.

The letter starts:

Dear Mail,

It’s nearly 100 degrees here today, which seems appropriate, since I’m pretty steamed. You’re 5-years-old now and I’m starting to think it’s time for you to finally grow up and give me the mobile mail experience I deserve.

Your developers at Apple are saying they’re about to deliver to me an “even better email experience.” Unfortunately, I’ve heard this before. In 2011 and in 2010 too.

And don’t get me started on those modest updates from 2008 and 2009. Copy and paste? So kind of you to give me that feature, which should have arrived much earlier.

Last year, you finally gave me the ability to use rich formatting when composing an email. And yes, I was pretty impressed with the ability to flag emails.

Click here to read the entire letter.

Recommended Reading

Apple and Censorship

Apple and Censorship

Finally,

Here’s a very dated video for your viewing enjoyment.

The AppAdvice Week In Review is published each weekend.