Microsoft has been firing all cylinders lately when it comes to advertisements. The past six months we’ve seen the ads steadily getting better and better. Who can forget the wedding video with iPhone users pitted against Android folks? Lately they’ve had a series of videos that directly compare the iPad head-to-head against a variety of machines running Windows. Here’s one with the Lenovo Yoga.
Update: Only a few days after we posted this and it looks like Twitter plugged the hole...so if you have an animated GIF, keep it. If you wanted one for Twitter, you're out of luck!
Yesterday we reported on the new update for Tile Me! that now allows you to create an animated GIF in addition to a static Me Tile image. The purpose of the app is so that you can use the generated image for your social network profiles, spreading the Windows Phone love.
While the animated GIF addition was the second most requested feature from users, quite a few of you were asking where could you actually use it? As it turns out, you can use it on Twitter, though there’s a unique trick to it.
For one, the generating GIF must be less than 700kb. The other caveat is you need to use a special Twitter link to change your profile photo. So without further ado, here are the steps on how you can get a bouncing Me Tile for your Twitter profile.
Nokia is slowly rolling out its Amber firmware bundled with Microsoft's GDR2 update, but it's no fun having to keep checking your phone every few hours, seeing whether or not you've got a notification to update. Nokia has decided to whip up a solution and has released a page for consumers residing in Europe to receive a hint as to when their Lumia Windows Phones will be bumped to the latest version.
A few days ago, BGR reported that the AT&T Nokia Lumia 1020 has had a temporary reduction in price to $199 (from $299) in few, select markets. The price drop is certainly significant but the vagueness of the report, which did not name any of markets specifically, was of little help. Plus, there’s no indication that this is going national at the moment, though we suppose at some point the Lumia 1020’s price has to drop.
Now, a reader has sent us an image from an AT&T in Huntsville, Alabama that gives visual proof of the price reduction for the first time. We’ve also learned that Gainesville, Florida is another market where this offer is evidently available. It should be noted that the free camera grip is only after a mail-in-rebate, which is slightly less enticing if you’re less inclined to hit the post office.
As the Windows Phone ecosystem grows, manufacturers will continually look for ways to expand and differentiate amongst themselves. One easy way for them to do so is with custom OEM Stores like the Nokia Collection or Samsung Zone.
The problem is with Windows Phone, you can’t force check for app updates, even for “system apps” like Samsung’s call blocker or Nokia’s Display + Touch. Sure you can wait the 24 hours for the Store tile to display an update, and that’s fine for most users, but let’s face it: if you’re reading this site, you want the latest and greatest now. This is especially true for Lumia owners since Nokia’s updates are known for enabling new, unannounced features making their occasional updates more like little birthday presents.
That's why SysApp Pusher is our must-have app this week.
Microsoft has announced the company will be shutting down its Tag service in 2015. If you're not familiar with the name, it's Microsoft's attempt to compete with QR codes by providing a more advanced alternative. Redmond has been working on this form of High Capacity Colour Barcode (HCCB) technology since 2009, but it has failed to really take off leading to the company taking action (despite surpassing 5 billion tags back in 2011).
It's not the end of the road for Tag, however.
Track My Life is nifty Windows Phone app that records your travels to give you an idea where you spend your life. The app went from a rather broad tracking app to a more refined accounting of where you've been.
The Windows Phone 8 version of Track My Life was recently updated to version 18.104.22.168. The update includes a handful of bug fixes and user interface improvements as well as the ability to add more information to your stops. It allows you to not only see where you've been but add a description to that location, associate any photos taken with your Windows Phone at that location and categorize it as a pleasure or work stop.
Nokia has sent out invites to a few Russian Windows Phone sites, including WP7Forum.ru for an August 28th event. The invite, always a good source for clues, simply shows a piano keyboard along with the “world premier” and date written across.
Recently, Microsoft announced some further changes to the Zune Marketplace motivated by the company’s move away from the Points system for payments. The modifications mean that any purchases through Zune for video or music will begin to end in just a few days (though Zune Pass subscribers can still stream or use their credits, thankfully).
Interestingly, a little footnote about Xbox Video went unnoticed by many including ourselves, which has some widespread implications for current customers. It notes that “Starting later this year you will be able to access Xbox Video on Xbox One, Windows Phone 8, and any web browser”.
A few weeks ago we mentioned the NFC Ring project that was looking for funding on Kickstarter. While there are always tons of similar projects out there, this one received quite a bit of attention including some BBC coverage. However, what was more relevant was that the company was willing to make a Windows Phone app if they reached £110,000 in funding.
Today, the company’s Kickstarter has just concluded and they managed to surpass that £110,000 by nailing a whopping £241,947 in funds. And yes, that means a Windows Phone app will be made (and not a Windows Mobile one that some of you were concerned about).
Mozilla is looking to launch Firefox on Windows 8 with a Modern UI (Metro to you and I). Think of Internet Explorer, but a browser made by Mozilla and you get the idea. If you're a huge fan of the popular web browser and have been using the desktop version (or own a Windows RT tablet), fear not as you'll soon be able to enjoy all the features and functionality with Microsoft's simple look and feel. ETA? December 10th.
The Verge is reporting that sources have told them that Nokia will be releasing a phone with a 6-inch screen by the end of the year. The device, which is currently being tested by AT&T under the moniker "Bandit," will be the first Windows Phone-powered phablet, a device that bridges the gap between a phone and a tablet. Back in July, we saw a leaked photo of a 6-inch digitizer for such a device, so this isn't completely shocking, but some more details have been revealed.
Feed Me is a popular Windows Phone news reader that's used and loved by many (including some of us here), but we've been informed by the developer that YouTube video playback has ceased to function correctly. This is due to utilising unsupported and unofficial endpoints to achieve the playback and connectivity being hampered by changes made by Google. The good news is an update is in the works.
Nokia has released a short film to show off some of the new features included in the Amber update which is currently rolling out to customers. Bundled with Windows Phone 8 GDR2 from Microsoft, Nokia has been able to add numerous enhancements and improvements to features and functionality boasted by Lumia hardware.
Here's a sweet deal if you're looking for a charging plate for a Windows Phone (or other compatible Qi wireless charging devices). Daily Steals has the DT-900 wireless charging plate by Nokia on sale for just $25. It's the official accessory and one that has experienced numerous price drops in the past. Be sure to act quickly though, you've only got 14 hours left.
If you happen to be in Houston, Texas and Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Gainesville, Florida, you may want to take a peep at this AIO Wireless deal for the Nokia Lumia 620. The Windows Phone 8 device with a 3.8-inch display is fetching for a low $99.
We’ve covered Tile Me! a few times in the last few weeks as the simple idea as transformed into a more feature rich application. For those who aren’t familiar, Tile Me! allows the creation of a JPG or PNG image that replicates the Me Tile on Windows Phone. The idea is to then use that image for your profile on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. to give your photo a little Windows Phone flare.
Now, the $0.99 version of the app has another notch under its belt: GIF animation. Quite a few people wanted a non-static Windows Phone image and now with version 2.5 on the Store, users can generate an in-motion photo of themselves, replicating their Me Tile. While GIF support for profile images is limited to certain networks, for posting to blogs and forums, the animated version adds a neat twist to the application.
The app has gone through a remarkable 22 beta versions during that time, with multiple updates per day adding many new features during the process. The app was submitted late last night to the Windows Phone Store and should it clear, 6tagram could be live within the next 24 to 72 hours.
6tagram will reportedly be the first 100% API compliant Instagram app for Windows Phone (due to reverse engineering), ensuring that users of the photo service shouldn’t run into any immediate problems, including hashtag shenanigans. The app is loaded with features for a version 1.0 and it should make quite a splash on the scene once it goes live.
We’re nearly done with our Casual Connect gaming coverage. At the San Francisco-based gaming industry event, I interviewed a number of Windows Phone and Windows 8 developers. One of the largest of those developers is Advanced Mobile Applications (AMA). Founded in 2004 and based in London, AMA is a sister company to Ubisoft, who publishes some of their games.
During the event, AMA’s VP of Sales Jean-François Denis took the time to show us several of AMA’s Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 titles. Today we look at two of those: the recently-released Hills of Glory 3D (also available for Windows 8) and the upcoming Babel Rising 3D. Yep, a new Windows Phone 8 version of Babel Rising 3D is coming. Learn more and see both games in action after the break!
We’ve been seeing more and more previously 1GB-only apps and games head south to the 512MB zone and today it’s Nokia’s Video Upload app (previously known as YouTube Upload). The app was released a few weeks ago with the Lumia 1020, giving those users a quick and easy way to upload their videos to their YouTube account, including title and privacy restrictions.
Halo: Spartan Assault is Microsoft's attempt to bring the popular IP to the mobile device. Selling millions of copies on consoles and the PC, the Halo series has accumulated many fans and we're set to see that base number grow as more titles are released.
Available on Windows Phone 8, the game has been restricted in the US to just Verizon Wireless customers through a 30-day exclusivity deal. This has now ended.
Earlier this week we brought you a hands-on look at Autodesk’s FBX Review app for Windows 8, which we shot at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco. While there I also took in a demonstration of Sketchbook Express, a much more consumer-oriented Windows 8 app. Like FBX Review, it’s completely free.
Renée Busse, Autodesk’s Sketchbook Community Manager, used Sketchbook Express and a Surface Pro to whip up a lovely little drawing in no time at all. Head past the break to see the full video and learn more about what Sketchbook Express and its big brother Sketchbook Pro can do on Windows 8!
It’s hard to find a single person who isn’t super stoked when they finally get 4G on their network. Vodafone New Zealand started rolling out their 4G network this past February. It started in Auckland and Christchurch, but has slowly been expanding. It’s now launching in Palmerston North. As part of that launch, customers on Vodafone NZ can soon pick up a new Nokia Lumia 925 to enjoy that high-speed connectivity.
Here’s a good tip for you if you’re a fan of the endless runner Jetpack Joyride. On the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 versions, just about everything in the Stash (the game’s store) is free today.
Bug or giveaway? We’re not sure but it’s worth checking out.