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WP Central

Microsoft today announced the expansion of voice over telephony (VOIP) for Windows Phone 8, enabling the integration of Skype into the phone OS in addition to any other 3rd party VOIP applications.

Come this fall users will be able to have Skype as well as any 3rd party VOIP clients fully integrated into the Windows Phone dialer and contacts, giving a near seamless user experience. Background tasks and notifications will be handled by the OS allowing VOIP apps to manage calls across cellular and data connections. In addition, Bluetooth connectivity will also "just work" with Skype and other VOIP apps.

Developers will appreciate the array of new APIs that allow them to “plug in” to the Windows Phone 8 VOIP system while maintaining application and system stability.

The announcement comes on the heels of the Windows Phone 7 app update and should alleviate current user cmplaints about Skype's limitations on the platform, which we've detailed in the past.

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WP Central

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.8

The question of what Microsoft would do for those current Windows Phone users who have generation 1 and generation 1.5 devices like the HTC Titan or the highly popular Nokia Lumia 900 for Windows Phone 8 has finally been answered.

Windows Phone 8’s main features involve new hardware like multi-core processors, NFC and higher resolution displays. Phones like the Lumia 900 cannot take advantage of these new features but Windows Phone 8 also brings additional changes to the Start screen which current users can take advantage of.

In able to ensure that current customers have the best and latest from Microsoft, the company is officially offering Windows Phone 7.8 as an OS upgrade. Windows Phone 7.8 will still be based on the CE kernel and won’t enable advanced Windows Phone 8 features like app and games that use native programming, but it will give current users the new Start screen and appearance of Windows Phone 8.

The new Start screen in Windows Phone 8 has three new elements, including

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Nokia Map Technology to Windows Phone 8

As expected, Microsoft today announced Nokia Map Technology as the core navigation of Windows Phone 8.

Featuring offline support,  NAVTEQ map data, map control for developers to integrate into their apps and full turn by turn directions, Windows Phone 8 will finally have a top line navigation system for free use.

As we mentioned previously, this mapping technology will be hardware accelerated giving a great user experience. 

Developing...

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14

Microsoft announces Wallet for Windows Phone 8

Windows Phone Wallet

Today Microsoft has officially unveiled Wallet for the forthcoming Windows Phone 8 OS.  Windows Phone Wallet combines two popular features into one, specifically near-field communication (NFC) support for transaction in addition to an account manager for your frequently used credit cards, frequent flier passes and other personal data.

The Wallet feature will be built into the existing “Hub Model” of Windows Phone giving users quick and seamless access to their personal financial data and enabling wireless near-field communication payments where such systems exist. The storage aspect of Wallet enables users to store payment instructions, deals, and loyalty cards.

Even more impressive is the fact that developers can add and manage items in the wallet, define payment instruments and interact with NFC, giving them yet another opportunity on the WP8 platform. Developers can also link to Wallet for in-app purchases, which is also a new feature for Windows Phone 8.

While Android has NFC payments via Google Wallet and Apple has introduced Passbook to handle and store personal information, only Windows Phone 8 combines both into a single feature accessible to all users with new Windows Phone 8 hardware.

Finally, transaction service Paypal is officially supported in Windows Phone 8 directly through Wallet, enabling users to avoid using credit cards or carrier-billing, giving them yet another option for external payments or new the new in-app payment system introduced in Windows Phone 8.

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Windows Phone 8 Resolutions

Continuing our Windows Phone Summit coverage, we detail the new resolutions announced for Windows Phone 8: In line with earlier leaks and expectations, Microsoft has now confirmed that Windows Phone 8 will ship with 3 supported resolutions (2 additional). Specifically:

  • 480x800 (15:9)
  • 768x1280 (15:9)
  • 720x1280 (16:9)

The last of the resolutions, of course, is most desirable on a device because its full 720p resolution. That means no letterboxing -- you know, those annoying black bars on top and bottom.

Now you're probably thinking: What's with the two aspect ratios? We asked about this and it boils down to part costs and OEM flexibility. Let's be honest, OEMs targeting developing markets don't need or want to have the most expensive screen part. Nor do consumers in that market want to pay for one. So loosening on screen requirements is a win for a lot of folks.

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21

Microsoft officially announces Windows Phone 8

Windows Phone 8 announced

In the smallest kept secret, this morning in San Francisco, CA Microsoft announced details of the upcoming Windows Phone 8 operating system codenamed “Apollo”.

Accelerating what was started with Windows Phone 7, Microsoft is continuing down the path of “Mango” and building for the next generation of hardware.  As detailed by Joe Belfiore during a keynote speech, Windows Phone 8 is due out “this fall” and will contain many new features both for developers and consumers.

As expected, details on new device resolutions, multi-core CPU support, near-field communications (NFC) and native C++ development were given during the Microsoft sponsored Windows Phone Summit. While the software-development kit (SDK) was not released for developers, one is expected to be delivered by the end of summer where more technical guidance will also be granted.

The big focus for this morning is on the new architecture, the NT kernel, for Windows Phone and what it means for developers, OEMs and IT professionals. With Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 desktop based on the same core, developers can more easily leverage their apps by sharing overlapping code between the two platforms. Such a move should great enhance app development on Windows Phone as desktop developers will have to only engage in minor coding fixes to port their app to the new mobile OS.

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103

WPCentral at the Windows Phone Summit - Live Blog

WP Central

We're here at the Marriott Marquis for the Windows Phone Summit where Microsoft is expected to reveal details on Windows Phone 8, including new resolutions, current device upgrades, developer tools and more.

Join Daniel Rubino and Rafael Rivera live as we cover the Keynote speech and any follow up developer sessions.

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7

Xbox 360 - Summer of Arcade 2012 schedule announced

Summer of Arcade

A few times a year, Microsoft calls attention to some of its larger Xbox Live Arcade releases with special promotions. Just a few months ago, the Arcade Next lineup introduced Minecraft: XBLA Edition and several more heavy hitters to the Xbox 360 crowd. Next month, the yearly Summer of Arcade promotion kicks off. The lineup doesn’t have anything quite as big as Minecraft (already the best-selling XBLA game ever), but it still packs great games and a special reward for gamers who buy three or more Summer of Arcade titles: a 400 MS Point rebate.

Head past the break for the full Summer of Arcade schedule, prices, and Sonic the Hedgehog XBLA news!

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Fling late

As Windows Phone gamers know, every Wednesday we get a new Xbox Live release and Deal of the Week to keep us entertained. Microsoft has actually been updating a little early lately – often on Tuesday evenings. But every now and then the Marketplace doesn’t update by Wednesday morning - the last few instances happened in January this year and September last year.

Unfortunately, today looks like one of those days – Fling has yet to show up on the Marketplace. Perhaps not the most hyped Xbox Live title, but it’s set to cost only 99 cents, which pretty much assures it will be a sales success. Likewise, the new Deal of the Week has yet to appear. Both of these problems could be rectified any minute, or it may take several hours yet. We’ll be sure to let you know as soon as Fling and the new sale pop up.

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5

Wordament update addressed connectivity woes

Wordament French

Wordament, Microsoft’s popular Xbox Live exclusive, just received an update a couple of weeks ago. That doesn’t mean the development team at You vs. the Internet has rested on their laurels though. Not only have they recently unlocked the French language dictionary within the game (in beta form as with other non-English languages), but another title update has just gone live.

The Wordament version 2.2 update doesn’t add any new features or options. Instead, its sole purpose is to improve the game’s network connectivity and performance. As a result, errors such as “Can’t connect to Xbox LIVE” and “Can’t connect to Wordament.net” should appear much less frequently. I never encountered those problems myself, but I’ve been up to my neck in newer Xbox Live titles like Final Fantasy and Battleship recently. I still love Wordament with more than nine-tenths of my heart though, so it’s great to see the developers still working to improve the experience for players.

Wordament is a free-ad supported game that requires a constant online connection to play. Check out our review for more details, or get with the program already and download it here from the Marketplace.

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Skype for Windows Phone updated

An update for the Skype has been released taking the Windows Phone app to version 1.2. The update fixes a handful of issues with the previous version and adds the following improvements.

  • All phonebook contacts with at least one number are shown in Skype contact list.
  • Ability to edit phone number in dial-pad before calling.

The update fixes cover issues involving calendar notifications ending Skype calls and instant messaging crashing the app. There still remains issues such as the app requiring a minimum of 512mb of memory on your Windows Phone, no Bluetooth support for audio or video calls, and answering an incoming call will end your Skype call.

The updated version hasn't appeared on the Marketplace just yet and we don't know if the Skype app was released for Marketplace certification or released from Marketplace certification. If the app has cleared certification, look for the update to be pushed out shortly. Otherwise, we're still looking at a few days, barring any issues with the certification process, until we see the v1.2 update.

In the meantime, you can find Skype for Windows Phone here at the Marketplace. It is a free app for your Windows Phone.

Source: Skype Blog; Thanks, Jay, for the tip!

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Windows Phone Summit

A sneak peek of what's beyond the escalator for Windows Phone 8

We're here in lovely (and surprisingly chilly) San Francisco for the other big Microsoft event this week--the Windows Phone Summit

During this one-day event, Microsoft are expected to show off bits of Windows Phone 8 aka Apollo. The big question though is what are they going to talk about specifically and what do we already know? We'll give your our thoughts and expectations below. Some of this we've been revealing over the last few weeks and hopefully you were clever enough to catch it.

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WP Central

This evening at the Turbine Hall in Newtown, South Africa, Nokia and MTN announced the launch of the Nokia Lumia 900 in South Africa.

It will be available on MTN Anytime 200 for R369 per month on a 24 month contract. It also comes with a pitiful 75MB of bandwidth per month that you can use to check your email a couple times. The phone should be in stores across the country around the 28th of this month. Other contracts should be available but MTN is not releasing any details just yet.

We knew about the launch, but something that we hadn't expected was that there are 200 Limited Edition Batman phones available to the first 200 customers at a branch in each main city. So we suggest you get down to any of the following stores when it is available to snap one of those up: Morningside (Johannesburg), Gateway (Durban), Canal Walk (Cape Town) and Port Elizabeth.

Vodacom was the first service provider in South Africa to offer a Lumia device when it launched the Nokia Lumia 800. Since then they have also started offering the Lumia 710, but for some reason will not be stocking the Lumia 900. MTN is on the opposite end of the stick offering only the Lumia 900.

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Nokia 808 with Pure View camera

While Microsoft took center stage yesterday with the Surface tablet, Nokia had an announcement of their own to make. We briefly mentioned this with speculation that Nokia might be a party to Microsoft's event but quickly learned that these were two separate events. Even though it doesn't deal with Windows Phones, we felt the need to come full circle with things.

Yesterday, Nokia announced that the Nokia 808 with 41 megapixel Pure View camera will be released in the U.S., unlocked, through Amazon.com. The 808 will run $699 and will be compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile networks.

There is still some speculation that we'll see the Pure View camera make the jump from the 808 to a Windows Phone later this year but for the time being, Pre-orders for the Symbian phone should begin later this week. You can sign up for notification here at Nokia.com.

Source: Nokia Conversations

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WP Central

We brought you the news, even before it was official, that T-Mobile and Nokia were teaming up here in the US for Batman the Dark Knight Rises promotion. The promo involves specially crafted Lumia 710 Xpress-on covers in cyan, magenta, yellow, black or white and feature the iconic Batman logo.

Nokia has now officially announced the availability and details of the promotion and we like what we hear:

  • The promotion will run exclusively at T-Mobile stores from June 20 – July 31, during which customers can pick up their covers in T-Mobile stores
  • TDKR Xpress-On covers are free to existing Nokia Lumia 710 customers, as well as with the purchase of a new Nokia Lumia 710
  • Learn more about the exciting 4G Nokia Lumia 710 Windows Phone and the TDKR Xpress-On cover offer here:  www.nokiausa.com/us-en/thedarkknightrises

What's more if you tweet the hashtag #Lumia710NYC starting on June 20th, you'll be eligible to win a ticket  to the US World Premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in NYC on July 16.  But really, how cool is it if you already own a Lumia  710 on T-Mobile you can evidently walk in and pick one of these bad boys up for free? 

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Microsoft Surface Tablet

Those nice folk at Carphone Warehouse here in the UK dropped us an email this morning detailing their excitement following on from yesterdays Microsoft Surface tablet announcement.

According to Carphone Warehouse, the Surface will 'trigger a new tablet race' which is quite possibly true. With prices and dates still yet to be announced I hope that Microsoft either rectify that or at least keep up the hype with TV advertising etc.

With Carphone Warehouse being the largest independent mobile phone retailer in the UK, with over 800 stores nationwide, it is sure to push the Suface heavily. In its larger stores they already seem to sell as many tablets and notebooks as they do phones so I see the 'Surface' being a great marketing tool for them.

Graham Stapleton, Chief Commercial Officer at Carphone Warehouse, says,

“Microsoft’s first foray into producing both tablet hardware and software is an exciting addition to the market, which has been relatively quiet over the last few months. Today’s news is really going to shake things up. Microsoft’s Surface is going to appeal beyond the existing tablet community and draw in new tablet users, especially with the new Windows 8 software. Microsoft Office functionality and the dual-purpose cover keyboard should go down well with professionals who may have been put off by touch screen keyboards in the past.”

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Nokia Monster Headset Offer

That keyword that everyone loves so much - FREE.  

Nokia are feeling generous and for the month of June are giving away Purity headphones by Monster when consumers purchase a Lumia handset. 610 and 710 buyers will get the in-ear Purity Headphones where as if you buy the Lumia 800 or 900 you will receive the HD on-ear Purity Headphones.

Considering the price of the devices and the fact that the headphones are worth up to £199 this really is a bargain and may do Lumia sales a world of good. It is just a case of heading over to www.nokiamonsteroffer.co.uk and following the simple instructions. The offer ends June 30th and you must be at least 18 years old and a U.K. resident to be eligible.

Nice idea Nokia.

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25

Is your Windows Phone a health risk?

Is your Windows Phone a health risk?

Could your Windows Phone be a health risk? According to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (London, England) the health risk is a concern.

We've seen concerns over radiation exposure but the Society is more focused on neck and back pain as well as stress related illnesses that develops from poor posture.  Try as we may, we often end up hunched over our Windows Phones which isn't really good for the lower back.

A recent survey of 2,010 office workers conducted by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy which indicates that nearly two thirds of those survey continue to work on smartphones, laptops and tablets outside office hours. Society Chairwomen Dr. Helena Johnson views the results as a huge concern.

"While doing a bit of extra work at home may seem like a good short-term fix, if it becomes a regular part of your evening routine then it can lead to problems such as back and neck pain, as well as stress-related illness. This is especially the case if you're using hand-held devices and not thinking about your posture."

The survey concluded that workers are risking their mental and physical health by working more than two hours extra every night.

While the survey focused on time spend on our mobile devices for work purposes, it doesn't make any reference to time spent for entertainment purposes. Granted the stress of work isn't necessarily present when playing games or watching videos but the posture issues might be.

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41

Netflix App to be available for the Surface Tablets

Microsoft Surface Tablet

We overlooked an interesting feature mentioned last night at the Microsoft Surface tablet event. The Netflix app.

Microsoft showcased the Netflix app during last night's presentation saying it supported semantic zoom and that the Netflix app would be ready when Windows 8 launches later this year.

We're guessing that with SmartGlass you could start a Netflix movie on your Xbox console, pause it and resume watching the movie on your Surface tablet or Windows Phone. With the kickstand feature on the Surface, the tablet sounds ideal for mobile movie watching.

Details are still sketchy on how our Windows Phones will interact with the Surface and hopefully we will be able to shed a little light on things after tomorrow's Windows Phone 8 event. In the meantime, you can catch a brief glimpse of the Netflix app, in the full video of Microsoft's Surface announcement around the 14:25 mark.

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1

Windows Phone App Review: myHealthbox

WP Central

 

Ever given much thought about the medicines you are taking and needed bit more information about them? Well you can easily access all that and more with myHeathbox for Windows Phone.

The application is an extension of the myHealthbox.eu and will allow for not only quick and easy access to medicine information, but in addition several extra cool features.

The application contains the following features:

  • Instant medication search by name and country.
  • eLeaflets
  • Alerts on drug recalls
  • News on new products
  • Instant access to local pharmacies using Bing Maps with the option to telephone the pharmacy from within the application

When opening the application for the first time you will be required to create an account. This is painless as only basic information is required such as an email address and a password. Once completed you will be emailed a link to verify your account. You will then have access to both the application and the myHeathbox service on the web.

myHealthbox

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Although no live recording was allowed during the Microsoft-Ballmer reveal of the now famous Surface tablets, the Redmond company has gone ahead and put it online for your viewing pleasure.

The full video chimes in just under 48 minutes, so grab yourself your favorite beverage of choice and relax as you're shown what looks to be "the next big thing" in mobile computing.

We'll save our thoughts for later tomorrow but for now let's just say we're feeling pretty good about where Microsoft is heading.

Make sure to check out our other coverage on the Surface below:

Source: Microsoft

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Fling for Windows Phone

Actual Windows Phone screenshots free of marketting text!

It’s getting down to the wire, but we do at last have details of this week’s Xbox Live release. This Wednesday, prolific Swiss developer Miniclip’s latest game Fling makes its debut. Fling’s Achievements were first discovered back in early May, along with Battleship and Mirror’s Edge. This will make two down and one to go, won’t it?

Fling is a puzzle game that plays much differently from Miniclip’s previous Xbox live releases. In each level, players must flick furballs into each other with the goal of leaving only one monster on the board. Furballs can only travel horizontally or vertically and they only stop when they hit another furball, so you’ll need to experiment and/or think a few moves in advance to win.

Fling packs metric tonnes of puzzles spread across four game modes. Free-play lets you play at a relaxed pace without time constraints; Arcade challenges players to solve as many puzzles as possible before time runs out; Challenge breaks groups of levels up into timed sets; and Frenzy is a never-ending survival mode. Arcade and Frenzy each have several specific Achievements, while the other modes do not.

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Surface rear facing camera

While we aren't sure what the specs will be on the Surface tablets camera, Microsoft refers to the camera as a LifeCam, the branding for their webcams. This likely means the Surface will be loaded with the typical LifeCam software as well.

But here's an interesting aspect of the camera. It is positioned at a 22 degree angle and when you flip out the kick stand, you basically create a tripod for hands free recording.  This will be a nice feature for recording meetings, your child's birthday party, opening presents at Christmas and all the other situations where you need to have your camera stationary.

Surface front facing camera?

The Surface is also fitted with dual microphones for decent audio for your videos or audio quality for Skype calls. Based on the images we've seen on the Surface, it appears there is a front facing camera to help with those Skype calls as well.

It will be interesting to see if Microsoft goes beyond the typical laptop styled camera on the Surface.  Would it be too much to hope that Microsoft borrows HTC's 16mp BSI sensor from the HTC Titan II?

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18

Surface website for all that is the Surface

Surface Website

The Surface website has... well... surfaced.

It launched shortly after Steve Ballmer introduced the new tablets to the world and is slowly becoming populated with details on the Surface.

You've got a gallery, video and downloadable spec sheet currently on the site. Hopefully, we'll see pricing and availability popping up on the Surface website.  As well as more details of what's in store with the Surface.

Just point your favorite browser to Surface.com for all the details.

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WP Central

One of the biggest decisions some of us are going to have to make is which Surface device to get--the zippy and light RT version or the big Win8 Pro one?

Of course price, of which we have no idea, will certainly come into play as will your needs. We're a bit torn ourselves between the two but are leaning towards the RT for a "play" device while we keep our Lenovo laptop for our hardcore writing and reporting duties.

To help make it easier (or perhaps harder), Microsoft has gone ahead and done a side-by-side of the two devices and their respective specifications in the above image. We'll also repost them below:

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