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Windows Phone 7.8 Update right around the corner?

An interesting tweet from Nokia USA is suggesting that the Windows Phone 7.8 update will be rolling out in the coming weeks. Now we've seen Nokia have short turn arounds with past updates (the connectivity issues) but that mainly dealt with in-house issues.

The Windows Phone 7.8 update is a little different in that it is coming from Microsoft and has more cooks in the kitchen so to speak. We also don't know what changes the 7.8 updates will have beyond the Start Screen modifications.

While we like the customization features Windows Phone 7.8 brings to the table, we're going to be a little skeptical on the "coming weeks" time frame.

Who knows, is it too far of a stretch to think the Tango update could become the Windows Phone 7.8 update?  

Update - Looks like Nokia may have got their messages a bit mixed up. They Tweeted to us a clarification on the whole update:

"The update coming to Lumia owners in the coming weeks will bring Wi-Fi sharing and flip-to-silence. Start screen update is TBD."

Thanks, Alexander, for the tip!

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Windows Phone 7.8, nice touch or not enough?

Windows Phone 7.8 Update

Now that the dust has settled on the Windows Phone Summit and we have a feel for Windows Phone 8 and a definitive answer as to the future of existing Windows Phones, how are you feeling?

There was always an air of uncertainty that existing Windows Phones would be eligible for update to Windows Phone 8. Still we had hoped that these phones would be updateable but with limitations.

While our Nokia Lumias and HTC Titans won't be able to run Windows Phone 8, they will see a Windows Phone 7.8 update. Some may see Windows Phone 7.8 as window dressing by giving Windows Phone 7 the appearance of running the Windows Phone 8. Some may not care for NFC or Windows 8 platform additions but will enjoy the more customizable Start Screen.

But is the Windows Phone 7.8 update a nice touch or not enough?  A bitter pill of sorts.

While some may see today's news as a bitter pill, there is some solace in knowing that Nokia is continuing its support of the Lumia line by releasing new apps and updating current apps. While our existing phones may not be able to make the jump to Windows Phone 8, it's nice to see they aren't being left completely behind. The 7.8 update may not be what everyone wanted to hear but it will add to an already nice Windows Phone system.

So what say you?  Does Windows Phone 7.8 do the trick until you can upgrade to a new Windows Phone or is Microsoft leaving existing devices out in the cold?

 

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AT&T throws its support behind Windows Phone 8

AT&T supporting Windows Phone 8

HTC isn't the only Windows Phone partner throwing their support behind Windows Phone 8. AT&T released a brief statement that leaves no doubt that the wireless carrier will maintain a strong Windows Phone presence in their smartphone lineup. The statement reads,

AT&T plans to carry a new line of Windows Phone 8 smartphones launching later this year. The unmatched leader in Windows Phone –offering the very first 4G LTE Windows Phone smartphones in the U.S. – AT&T is home to the most robust Windows Phone portfolio of any carrier.

AT&T has backed Windows Phones from the start with the Samsung Focus, LG Quantum and HTC Surround.   While this isn't much of a surprise, it is nice to see the wireless provider voicing their continued support for Windows Phones. AT&T currently has five Windows Phone 7 devices in their line up including the Samsung Focus 2, HTC Titan II and Nokia Lumia 900. It will be interesting to see what new devices are in store for AT&T later this year.

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WP Central

We already knew from todays earlier Microsoft event that HTC would be continuing their support with Windows Phone but a press release direct from HTC has just hit my inbox so I thought I had better share.

Note the way that Peter Chou says 'smartphones' and not 'smartphone'. I presume we will see more than one new device then? Super news.

HTC, a global leader in mobile design and innovation, today pledged its ongoing support of Microsoft by backing the new Windows Phone 8 platform. Building on the two companies’ long mobile partnership dating back to 2000 and including more than 40 million phones sold, HTC will be bringing new Windows Phone 8 smartphones to market later this year.

“HTC is committed to Windows Phone more than ever and we are excited to be bringing new Windows Phone 8-enabled smartphones to customers later this year,” said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC Corporation.  “With the introduction of Windows Phone in 2010, Microsoft initiated a new powerful mobile ecosystem with a consumer experience that was both unique and user friendly.”

“We have seen great momentum for Windows Phone since its launch in 2010, with 100,000 apps now in the Marketplace”, said Terry Myerson, Corporate Vice President of Windows Phone at Microsoft. “HTC is one of our closest partners and we share a common goal in driving people-centric innovation, which makes it easy to work together. We can’t wait to see how HTC brings Windows Phone 8 to its product portfolio”.

 

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Windows Phone 8 Start Screen

Microsoft today showed off the new Start screen for Windows Phone 8. The new Start screen in Windows Phone 8 has three new elements, including

  • Variable tile sizes, including user customizable selection between small, medium and so-called “double wide” tiles
  • Removal of the “gutter” aka “the gap” known as the off-centered space to the right of the Start screen. The gutter was a carry-over from the Zune days but now Tiles will be evenly distributed on the Start screen
  • New tile colors – yes, while the 10 + 1 model of Accent colors for Windows Phone carried us for nearly two years, Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.8 will offer a wider selection of colors

The Windows Phone 8 new Start screen offers a more personal experience by being more customizable, giving users greater choice and control. Whle it doesn't match Windows 8 desktop exactly, it's fairly close and should please many users.  

Hit the break for more pics and a video highlighting the new start screen.

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Nokia Lumia Windows Phones getting new apps and updates

Nokia Lumia Windows Phone's new apps on the way

Nokia joined Microsoft today at the Windows Phone 8 Summit to announce a handful of new apps and a few updates to existing apps. The new apps and updates are scheduled to hit the Lumia line of Windows Phones next week.

  • PlayTo is a DLNA app that will let you share music, videos, and photos wirelessly with other DLNA compatible devices.
  • Nokia Counter is an app that will let you monitor data and voice usage.

Updates will also be pushed through to Nokia Maps, Drive, Transport and the camera app.  Here's what we know about the updates.

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WP Central

An easy to miss morsel of information in today's Windows Phone 8 keynote is the news that all future Windows Phone 8 updates will be delivered Over-the-air.

That's right, no longer will you need to dig out the USB cable and hook your phone up to the nearest computer running Zune to pick up any new features. All new hardware running the Windows Phone 8 platform will be able to bring down updates over a data connection.

Such methods of updating phone software are present for many of Windows Phone's competitors, so it's good to see Microsoft taking another step in severing the need to keep your phone tethered to a larger device. That's not to say that we don't expect to see synchronising play a huge part in the Windows 8/Windows Phone 8 relationship, but taking away the dependence on such a connection is a smart move.

Whilst the issue of the update path for existing Windows Phone 7.5 users may be stirring quite a debate, we're sure that this will be welcome news to everyone who's interest in a new device later this year has just piqued. 

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Finally! Words With Friends and DrawSomething for Windows Phone

Gaming news coming out of the Windows Phone Summit is that Zynga's long-anticipated Words With Friends and DrawSomething, by newly-acquired OMGPOP, are finally coming to Windows Phone. The two social games have been loved on iPhone and Android for some time and will make their way to Windows Phone sometime this fall.

There's no exact release date for either, but we're already wasting time at work thinking about it.

Update: See the full Nokia press release after the break

 

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Dropbox reads your files...kinda

Naughty Dropbox

Well, here's an interesting little tidbit for those that use Dropbox to store or share files.

We have all seen documents getting leaked out of large organisations to the public, and invariably said company usually get's the documents removed for legal reasons from wherever they are being hosted. In fact, after the supposed presentation about the XBOX 720 leaking, we saw it being removed from Scridb.com at the request of Covington & Burling LLP which is a firm known to have dealings with Microsoft.

None of that is surprising, but today Windows Phone Centrals Daniel Rubino sent me a certain document via Dropbox so that I could take a look at it. However, trying to download the file just returns the image you can see above. This was not a link shared publically, but yet, it was removed seemingly automatically.

That begs the question, do storage companies analyze your files' content as you upload them? They no doubt have a clause in their terms that allows them to do just that, but it is another thing actually seeing it used.

Moral of the story? Don't use commercial cloud storage to share secret files.

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WP Central

Although we've reported that the Windows Phone Marketplace had 100,000 apps, today Microsoft has put the official stamp on it announcing the figure at the Windows Phone Summit in San Francisco, California.

Certainly a Marketplace should be judged on quality of apps but hitting 100,000 apps has to feel good for Microsoft as it adds some legitimacy to the platform.

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WP Central

Microsoft today announced that HTC, Nokia, Samsung and Huawei will be key launch partners for Windows Phone 8 come this fall.

The new hardware for Windows Phone 8 includes multi-core chips, higher resolution displays including true 720P, NFC and encrypted storage. All four of the announced companies will be providing these high end devices around the world starting this fall.

In addition, Qualcomm (and only Qualcomm) will be providing the chipsets to power the new WP8 phones, which are expected to be dual-core with 1.5Ghz CPUs and feature 720x1280 displays.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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