The Seattle Times interviewed CEO Steve Ballmer recently and the man behind Microsoft is sounding quite confident about this year’s upcoming launches.
During the interview, Ballmer gave his impression of how momentous this year’s launch line-up will be for Microsoft and he even pulled out two Lumia 920 phones from his pockets. Many have speculated wildly on this interview in relation to Surface pricing, so we thought it was time we looked at what exactly was said…
Our inbox has been inundated for the last five hours or so with ‘tips’ on the alleged HTC Elation. The device was reported on Ubuntu Life early this morning and the image and details reportedly came from HTC’s own site—in essence, a URL popped up that revealed the device in all its glory.
In just under 72 hours, HTC will be showing off numerous new devices featuring Windows Phone 8, so seeing things “leak” early is to be expected, not to mention the ‘Elation’ somewhat matches the specs of the alleged ‘Zenith’ WP8 device that HTC has reportedly been working on.
Good to go, right? Not so fast…
There are some red flags that have caused us to consider this not real...
Out of the four key partners announced by Microsoft, Huawei looks to be last to announce its Windows Phone 8 devices. The rumour is they are looking at September 25th to let us know what they have in store. Granted, we haven't heard anything official from Huawei so we'll use a pencil to mark the date just in case things change.
Most of the conversation and media focus has been on the more well-known partners, Nokia, Samsung and HTC so it’s of great interest to us to see what the newcomer will bring to the Windows Phone 8 party.
It’s a difficult question to answer, “Which Windows Phone would you buy next?” It's especially difficult when we only have three announced Windows Phones for Apollo. We’ve seen what both Samsung and Nokia have to offer in terms of hardware for the next version of Microsoft’s mobile operating system, but there’s one major partner that has still to take the floor. Yes, I’m talking about HTC. I would very much like to purchase the upcoming HTC 8X.
I hear the shouts and screams. "Why?!" Well, the Taiwanese manufacturer has supported Windows Phone since the beginning (as well as Windows Mobile) with a number of devices. I've always liked their first generation Windows Phones. I’ve made my opinions clear in the past how the company could have taken the platform by storm through actively promoting their hardware. HTC then brought us the Radar and my favourite Windows Phone – the massive TITAN. Sporting a thin design, comfortable body and being fairly light-weight made it a no brainer for me.
We saw the 820 revealed not so long ago, I even have it pegged as My Next Windows Phone. The folks over at Nokia Conversations have gone into a little more detail about the options we'll be seeing for the replaceable cases.
As the Lumia 820 has a replaceable shell design, the options for changing the dynamic of the phone are plentiful, with Nokia will offering glossy, matte and even 'ruggedised' designs. With such a flexible array of case designs, we’re sure that the 820 will prove a popular option for those who like a bit of mix and matching. We’re left wondering if the Lumia 820 might end up being the smartphone choice for builders or other professions based in high impact environments.
The Chinese smartphone market has been growing at a shocking speed, overtaking almost every other country so far. However, the country has traditionally been very low in the gadget launching echelon.
Even Apple, who is making a very large share of its profit from China these days, has been putting the country in the 2nd or 3rd batch. Microsoft and its Windows Phone OEMs have been doing worse. Windows Phone 7 first launced in Europe back in October 2010, in the US in November 2012, and in China... March 2012.
This is about to change, says Chinese tech site WPDang. Windows Phone 8 is said to be launched in China as soon as the 3rd week of December, this year. Only one month after the US. A thousand times better than last time.
Recently-hired Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, has kicked off a new endeavor at Yahoo in which all employees will receive their choice of a free smartphone, including the Nokia Lumia 920. The program called "Yahoo! Smart Phones, Smart Fun!" is intended to get workers using the same technologies as their customers and was announced to Yahoo employees across 22 countries in a memo, part of which said:
"We'd like our employees to have devices similar to our users, so we can think and work as the majority of our users do."
Yahoo workers will get to choose from the Nokia Lumia 920, iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC One X, and HTC EVO 4G LTE and will cover the corresponding monthly voice and data plans as well. In a blow to RIM, Yahoo has made it part of their IT policy to no longer support Blackberries.
MetroSpec, the ZX Spectrum emulator for Windows Phone, is now available on the Marketplace. We've been following the developments of the app itself from when it was pitched to us as an idea at a previous developer meetup, went through beta recently, and now being published. It's a superb app that's well worth checking out, even if you've never heard of the old-skool console.
USA Today has consistently been one of the better designed and thought-out apps available on Windows Phone. It's fast, minimalist and the developers update the app quite consistently. Well, almost. The last update was back in October 2011.
Version 1.7 just went live in the Store and brings with it a new logo for the popular news source. The new design is a tad, dare we say, Metro? It’s flat, simple and less gaudy then the previous look and we approve 100% of the new change. Interestingly, the official Web site has yet to reflect the new design.
The developer of Weather Smiles has made the app available for free for a limited time, according to the Marketplace listing. The app enables Windows Phone owners to keep up-to-date on weather forecasts and has the unique feature of sporting two locations on a single tile - as opposed to one weather reading seen in most weather apps. It's a unique twist with smilies being deployed to add humour to condition reports.
Ah, it’s Sunday so let’s get the smartphone jousting out of the way for this week.
Recently Samsung has taken to the printing press to drive home the fact that the Galaxy S3 is arguably more equipped than the latest iPhone set to hit store shelves within weeks. The ad, brilliant in its simplicity simply says “It doesn’t take a Genius” with a picture of both phones and the self-selected listing of hardware specs.
The jab was at Apple’s expense, teasing them about their ‘Genius bar’ nomenclature and it clearly demonstrates Samsung’s intent to not lay down, even after being accused and found guilty of copying Cupertino.
AirFrance, the flag carrier for France, has released an official app for Windows Phone. This may sound familiar as the company already has a mobile app available on the platform, which they released last year. Unfortunately this was a version of their mobile website, so what we're seeing with this new app is a fully featured Metro experience.
An eagle-eyed viewer started the controversy seeing what looked like an Instagram-like Live Tile pop up during a Nokia promo video. Later, the Verge backtracked noting that instead it may be Vimeo (who do have an updated, Nokia-focused version on the way).
Nokia appears to be in an update mood lately as this weekend we’ve noticed two of their big apps get some small updates.
Update: City Lens update was just a re-submission to fix an error with the Chinese Windows Phone Store
First up is City Lens, which is being bumped to version 1.10.1632. That’s a fairly low number change, so we’re going to assume that these are minor bug fixes and code optimizations to make it all run buttery smooth. In fact it does feel faster for us to load and calibrate but that could be placebo too.
We don’t think this is the ‘big’ new update that Nokia talked about last week—that one includes 3D icons and the ability filter items out of the line of site.
Nokia will get into the tablet business. We’re pretty sure of that as higher ups at Nokia have said as much in the past and even CEO Stephen Elop mentioned about the “opportunity” being there just a few weeks ago here in New York.
The only questions that remain are when and what it will look like, to which we have no leads or even guesses.
That hasn't stopped the folks at ProductShowroom from taking a stab at the concept with their recent device render (translation: this is all completely 'made up'). They’ve decided that Nokia should go the ‘phablet’ route, a new mixed term for really big phones that are basically mini-tablets e.g. Samsung Galaxy Note.
If you’re a user of any 3rd party YouTube apps that also sport high-definition (HD) or high-quality (HQ) streaming, you may have noticed that function has stopped working recently.
Long story short is YouTube changed their access method for those streams and basically borked those apps. The changed occurred on September 14th and since Supertube and MetroTube use unorthodox methods for access (read: not officially sanctioned by YouTube), it broke on the apps’ end too, resulting in only LQ playback abilities. Interestingly, this isn't the first (nor the last) time that this has happened, as nearly a year ago, the same situation occured.
We’ve heard from the Supertube developers that a fix has already been submitted to the Windows Phone Store, meaning service will be restored when the update goes live. Although we haven’t heard from the MetroTube team, we’re just going to assume the same for them as well. That means this isn’t a permanent change but rather just a temporary glitch, so dear YouTube streamers, standby for a few days and all will return when those apps update.
Zane Lowe has announced an array of dates for his UK university tour, which kicks off in Lincoln tomorrow. The established DJ, who also currently hosts the BBC Radio 1 Evening Show, has partnered with Nokia to "connect" the tour. This is an opportunity for Nokia to work on promotion while we wait until recently announced hardware is available to consumers.
The manufacturer has made it a strategic focus to tackle the issue with younger consumers turning away from Nokia. To aid this effort, the company has released (and continues to do so) Windows Phones with multiple themes available for more choice.
To the left, Twitter and to the right, reportedly Facebook notifications
Looks like Nokia’s New York City announcement is the gift that keeps on giving. Such is the case from the newly observed Twitter and Facebook notifications on the Lock screen during the introduction of the wireless charging part of the presentation. (Although Twitter is clear as day for us, we're still not sure about the Facebook one--it's quite hard to tell.)
Update (1pm ET): TheWindows Phone Store link is now active
For those of you who commute or find yourself traveling a lot, you’ll soon be able to make your life a lot more interesting as 121Cast's SoundGecko app has finally landed for Windows Phone. We wrote on SoundGecko earlier in anticipation of the app and that day is just about upon us.
The app has passed Windows Phone certification and is just waiting to be “pushed” to the Store. Windows Phone Central managed to get our hands on it slightly early and we’re more than glad to give you the tour in the video above.
The service, found at www.soundgecko.com, is free for the basic level and it allows you to convert 30 articles a month into audio format. The service works by finding a web link of a story you want to listen to later and sending it to SoundGecko (you can even use the nifty Chrome plugin to automate the process).
The Lumia 920 should be the phone of the year. Nokia has pushed innovation with their hardware design and their customer care. Nokia did not make any specific announcements about what carrier’s will get which phones. Which brings me to my problem. I do not want to switch to ATT because I can’t afford it. I am pretty positive that the Lumia 920 might be an ATT exclusive, no official announcements have been made.
The Lumia 820, which is a great phone but doesn’t have the new Pure View camera. I like the 820 because I feel that a 4.3” screen is a perfect size for me personally, and the removable back covers are a nice touch. I was hoping for a larger battery, but 1650mAH is pretty good and the screen isn’t as good as the 920 but still pretty classy.
We've just broke word that Microsoft has indeed released Windows Phone 8 to manufacturers (RTM) for testing and further development, which means we're not too far off from a platform launch. Nokia has revealed its lineup with the Lumia 820 and 920, and Samsung announced the ATIV S. We've got the HTC event just around the corner, but which Windows Phones will be heading to Canadian carrier Bell?
Manager of the Windows Phone Program, Joe Belfiore in NYC
Tonight we can confirm via two known sources that Windows Phone 8 has RTM’d. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, RTM stands for Release to Manufacturing (aka “going gold") and is one of the final steps in getting the software to market.
We're also told that this RTM date was planned and that Windows Phone 8 is "on time".
Windows Phone 8 codenamed ‘Apollo’ has been in development since 2011. The previous major branch of Windows Phone codenamed ‘Mango’ RTM’d in July 26th, just over one year ago. Bringing along a new core architecture built upon the NT kernel, the Windows Phone 8 OS will allow Microsoft to adopt cutting edge technology and heavily compete with Android and iOS in terms of features and hardware flexibility.
What a way to round off the working week with a humorous patent that has been filed by Microsoft. If implemented into Windows Phone, we'll be looking to "whack off" our phones should they start ringing. Depending on what the term "whack" means in the society you belong to, it usually involves utmost satisfaction followed by intense drowsiness, or crying children - but please attempt to stay with us without chuckling while we check out how Microsoft will allow us to whack our phones.