Articles

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Verizon Relents! GPS to Open Up Next Year!

Ok, we're totally not going to take credit for this, but it looks like people who have joined our campaign to demand Verizon unlock GPS on their Windows Mobile offerings are receiving a stock reply that's looking, well, good! User efudd sends us his reply from the Big V:

Verizon Wireless, like all carriers, orders devices to meet certain specifications inclusive of features. Each of these specs is tested to determine if it meets our performance goals. There are instances when the phone will pass our extensive testing process but a specific feature may not meet the standard. We will often choose to introduce the phone without that feature but ask that the manufacturer come back to us with revised software that has to be tested to make sure the service works the same across our entire wireless footprint --from Maine to Hawaii. In the case of open standalone GPS, we are partnering with the Windows Mobile device manufacturers to provide a software upgrade that will add this capability to the existing assisted GPS capability. This is a complex development project to provide open standalone GPS while maintaining the assisted GPS capability with the level of performance and security that our customers expect. The recently introduced Windows Mobile devices including Omnia, Saga, and Touch Pro are targeted to add open standalone GPS in the 1st half of 2009.


Steve Schwed
Verizon Wireless
HQ Executive Relations Supervisor

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Silverlight Approaching Windows Mobile Release?

We've been waiting for Microsoft's Silverlight since, oh, April of 2007. Since then, we've seen demos, had our expectations raised, brought back to earth, and raised again. Well now it seems that the mobile version isn't too much further off. Turns out it was slipped in sideways inside a Windows Live photo gallery 'Community Technology Preview' that leaked out.

Silverlight seems to have lost some of its initial momentum of late and nobody is claiming that it's going to take down Flash. However, as we said back in June (seriously, a long time we've been following this stuff) when we saw a WeatherBug demo, Silverlight has the potential to bring some whiz-bang UI to WM. Would be nice to see it.

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27

Smartphone Round Robin Extended!

No doubt you've heard from our sister sites, but if you haven't: we're continuing the tradition from last year's Smartphone Round Robin of not being able to get the whole sucker done in the allotted time. So we're extending the Round Robin and the Contest to Win a Fuze and Redfly.

So the new deadline for entering is January 10th. How do you enter? Simple -- every day you make a comment on a Round Robin post (including this one), you're entered for a chance to win. Comments on WMExperts enter you for that Fuze. Naturally, there are plenty of posts already for you to check out, find the full list here.

Yeah, we're the late ones for our G1 full review, but it'll be here on New Year's day, fret not.

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Xperia X1a: Sony Ericsson's White Whale?

This year has flown by rather quickly and it seems like just yesterday Sony Ericsson announced their new Windows Mobile device, the Xperia X1. Way back in February of this year, we reported that Sony had joined the Windows Mobile family by introducing the Xperia during the Mobile World Congress. Since then we've diligently kept on eye on the rumor mill for a release of this device and continue to wait.

During that time we've had countless sightings of the Xperia, a few in-depth looks at the device and even heard that Sony was planning a developer competition for the Xperia's Sliding Panel interface (did that ever happen?). Released dates came and went with no luck in seeing the Xperia hit the shelves. September became November; November became December; and know we all look towards January (almost one year from the announcement) for the long anticipated release. Best Buy teased us by putting the Xperia on their website for pre-order, only to change the ad to "Coming Soon" a few weeks later. You begin to have the feeling that the Xperia X1a (the US version) is Sony's white whale and you're Captain Ahab sailing the seven seas.

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Happy New Year! Top Posts of 2008

Welcome to 2009, everybody. We have some big things planned for this year (you should really really be sure to check in on Saturday, January 4th), but let's take a look back at the year that was rapid-fire style. Here's what y'all liked last year:

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3

Motorola Renew: Nothing to see here

In case you were still wondering, the Motorola Renew that we mentioned the other day in a leak of upcoming T-Mobile releases is decidedly *not* a Windows Mobile phone.

Reports TmoNews:

Details are leaking out on just what new product Motorola is gracing us with, unfortunately nobody is going to care.

T-mobile is jumping on the

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Sony Xperia: All Cracked Up?

Look like cracks are appearing on some Sony Xperia X1 phones. The cracks are appearing on the silver models near the stylus well and in the battery compartment. The cracks seem to be limited to those made in Europe and a production week. A lengthy discussion is on going over at XDA Developers on this issue. In reading the XDA discussion, there doesn't seem to be any consistency in the cracking and the problem may be limited to the production week (08W44-08W46 as indicated on the Xperia's Information Sticker). Sony's response, according to the XDA discussion, ranges from replacing the Xperia to having it inspected at a service center. The response reported seems to be dictated by the user's local laws pertaining to goods and services.

The Xperia isn't alone in having cracks mysteriously appear. The Palm Treo Pro had a similar problem a while ago. Could the cracking of the Xperia be behind the month long delay with the U.S. release of this phone? Could a quality control issue be one of the reasons why Sony and HTC has parted ways? The slider on the Xperia does shift up at a slight angle, could that shift be causing too much stress on the chasis of the phone? Regardless of the "why" these cracks have made a lot of Xperia users unhappy.

[via wmpoweruser]

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Xperia X1 to Come to T-Mobile? Where is it, Anyway?

The Xperia X1a (aka the version with the North American bands) has been wicked difficult to get. Rumor has it that it was being held back for some reason after an initial shipment. Maybe it's the just-mentioned cracks, maybe it's the ROM, maybe it's that any association with Best Buy is a curse. With regard to that last point, Best Buy is cancelling the preorders they took earlier this year (ours included) because they “cannot get stock.”

So yeah, a lot of bad news. Here's some potentially good news, though. We already knew that Canadian carrier Rogers is picking up the Xperia X1 next year, but check out what pocketnow noticed: the bands listed for the X1 are “HSPA 850/1700/1900/2100.” That, friends, is the kind of 3G that T-Mobile users can get jiggy with -- and if any carrier is so retro as to 'get jiggy' with anything, it's T-Mobile.

Anyway, tell us: are you still holding out for the X1a or have you relented and gone for a Touch Pro/Fuze?

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Listen up: Windows Mobile is not Windows

Well, it appears that a copy of Windows 7 has leaked out onto the internet, well in advance of its expected beta next month. In a story at internet news, a couple relevant things came up. First, that Windows 7 is expected to get a big showcase at next month's CES show during CEO Steve Ballmer's keynote speech (WMExperts will be there live, of course).

Second, the article quotes technology consultant Roger Kay, of Endpoint Technologies consultancy, as thinking that the next Windows Mobile version may be a smaller footprint version of Windows 7. Quoting from the article, "Kay thinks Microsoft may actually be looking to take a page from Apple's book and make it's OS small enough to work in a mobile device."

Oh Holy Internet, protect us from consultants and analysis such as this. The idea that Microsoft would abandon the significant amount of work they've put into Windows CE (the core of Windows Mobile) would be difficult to swallow even if Windows CE were a terrible platform. In fact, it's pretty darn good. Perhaps Kay was confused by the the "Windows" part of "Windows Mobile" and for your general consumer, we are honestly sympathetic. Frankly, Microsoft's decision to call it "Windows Mobile" seems custom-designed to foment this kind of confusion (and we agree it's not ideal). For for somebody who might be mistaken as an authority to make such a mixup, well, it's painful to watch.

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Samsung to Develop Own LTE and WiMAX Chips

Samsung apparently isn't fond of dealing with Qualcomm's patent hassles anymore, or perhaps they've been spooked by how difficult it is to write video drivers for Qualcomm's chipsets, or perhaps they just don't like Qualcomm's LTE roadmap, or maybe it's just the stated reason from EETimes [via mobile burn]: they're unhappy with how much the royalties cost.

Whatever the reason, it looks like Samsung is going it alone for the chips that power their phone, opting to develop them in-house instead of using Qualcomm or Broadcom chips. It also appears that LG may follow suit.

While we're generally happy to see more competition, we do have a bit of a concern about compatibility and standards here. Sure, Samsung will likely drive down costs and speed up development of their handsets with this move. We just hope that Samsung, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Infineon, and the other players in this 4G chips space can agree on some common standards that will make life easier for other shops that can't make their own chips and also easier for carriers to approve handsets more quickly. The last thing we want is redux of the all-out patent war we have been witnessing with the 3G chipsets.

What say you? Smart move by Samsung?

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Quick Tip: You May Not Want aGPS On

We've gone to great lengths to explain the differences between GPS and aGPS and also generally celebrated the arrival of full-on aGPS on many a carrier. One thing, though, if you have one of these fancy, aGPS phones, you may not necessarily want to have the thing on, because it could potentially make your GPS acquisition times worse.

The advice comes to us by way of MyTodayScreen and here's the nut of it: if you're using an unlocked device or an otherwise non-carrier-supported device, it's a good bet that turning on aGPS is going to lengthen your acquisition time as the assisted part of it tries (and fails) to get location information from the local tower. They ran into the issue using a TouchHD, where turning off aGPS sped up acquisition time significantly. I've had the same issue on the HTC s740 on AT&T: turning off aGPS made a big difference for me, too.

Yeah, sorry, it's not a simple situation (this stuff never is). Even if you are using a fully-supported device on its proper carrier and aGPS is up and running in your area, it's still one more potential point of failure. Just because things are getting better on the GPS front doesn't mean that Microsoft, manufacturers, and carriers don't have a long way to go to making location hardware simple.

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3

Rogers to Carry a Bootload of WinMo Devices

Canadian GSM carrier Rogers has decided that they like Windows Mobile, apparently, as next year they'll be snapping up pretty much everything that's on the roadmap. What's in store for the first half of 2009? Xperia X1, Check. HTC Diamond and Touch Pro: Check. Heck, they're even snapping up also-rans like the Motorola Q11 (Think Q9 minus 3G plus WiFi), Touch Viva, and Touch 3G.

These and more juicy details at the HoFo thread where the leaked slides of their roadmap appear.

Get some reasonable data rates on the network and, well, we might just consider brushing up on our Canadian accents.

Thanks, Bla1ze!

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Grab Some Free Icons for SBSH Calendars

SBSH Mobile Developers have released three icon packages that are available as free downloads. The new icon packages are the medical, personal and sports packages that are compatible with Calendar Touch for Windows Mobile Professional devices and Calendar for Windows Mobile Standard devices. The icons can be used with appointments and agendas within these two calendar applications.

Here are the links for each icon package.

SBSH Medical: Windows Pro or Windows Mobile Standard

SBSH Personal: Windows Mobile Pro or Windows Mobile Standard

SBSH Sports: Windows Mobile Pro or Windows Mobile Standard

The three icon packages include eighty-four icons ranging from basketballs to a band-aid to power drill. All destined to add a little more flair to your SBSH calendar.

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Qik Adds Yet More WM Phones for Live Video Streaming

Qik, an awfully good live video streaming service, has added over 20 Windows Mobile phones to their compatibility list. The latest Treos from Palm, the Epix and Omnia from Samsung, and a slew of HTC devices from the Touch Pro to the Vodafone PDA 9600 have all been added.

Add this to their last round of updates and there's a better than average chance that Qik will support your Windows Mobile Smartphone at this point.

[via MobileAppsToday

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Sony to drop HTC as ODM, OMGBBQ

Digitimes reports [via the Unwired View] that Sony has selected Taiwanese Original Device Manufacturer Mobinnova to produce future WinMo devices for them, dropping HTC. Mobinnova was new to our ears, but it turns out it's just a subsidiary of Foxconn, so the grand tradition of only having a half-dozen or so big WinMo manufacturers continues.

It's not uncommon for a company to bounce around their ODMs between devices (Exhibit A: Palm), but we're seriously wondering if this was really a good idea for S-E. Sure, Mobinnova might have given them a better price -- and given the price and lack of availability of the Xperia X1, it's tough to blame Sony Ericsson for looking elsewhere. On the other hand, Sony Ericsson is still pretty new at this WinMo thing, you'd think that having HTC's experience for at least another device or two would be helpful.

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3

It's Not the Specs, It's the Experience

mystery-phone.jpg

So tell us, how does this sound for a dream WM phone?

  • 800x400 Tetra-VGA resolution
  • 3.9 inch Projected Capacitance Touch technology with 95 SVI
  • WCDMA / HSPA: 900/2100MHz. HSDPA 7.2 Mbps + LTE
  • Scaled integrated WM architecture
  • WLAN: 802.11b/g + WiMax
  • Dynamic distributed 4mb cache
  • Optimized multimedia protocol (RiGB, Tif, Xled)
  • Connectivity: Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz + CDMA 1x
  • An integrated object-oriented protocol
  • 624mhz Snapdragon main processor; 412mhz Xtel Preprocessor
  • BlueTooth 2.1 (EDR, GAP, GOEP, SPP, HSP, HFP 1.5, PAN, BPP, AVRCP)
  • 1GB Pseudostatic RAM (PSRAM)

...all for running the yet unannounced "WM6.5 MultiMedia Ultimate" set for a Q2 wide release.

If you are like most people who read this and other tech sites, your jaws should be on the floor upon reading those specs. You may now lift your cracked chins, my little Guinea Pigs. Not only is that phone made up, but so are some of those "specifications". Why the cruel joke? As it turns out, you fell in line just like a bunch of nerdy researchers predicted you would.

Read on to find out why spec hounds like, ahem, us have skewed perceptions of device reality.

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Unlock GPS For Verizon: Touch Pro (Not Omnia or Saga)

gps-6.jpg

No surprises here if you've been following the ROM modding community, but it looks like lllboredlll over at ppcgeeks has figured out how unlock the standalone GPS on that odd Verizon Touch Pro. This is of course before Verizon "officially" does it sometime next year.

The method is old hat for many and is unfortunately not as easy as installing a simple .cab. but it's not too bad either. Basically you have to copy a .dll to your card, install a .cab, navigate to find ppst.exe, run it and follow the prompts.

There is also an updated hack to fix the banner (as it changes with this hack) and to enable aGPS, but this one is more tricky as it involves running QPST (Qualcomm Product Support Tool), which is a pretty serious program for modifying core radio properties--so be careful!

What about you Verizon Omnia and Saga users? Sorry, no luck so far on those ends but people are trying (and Verizon is promising).

We'll keep you posted.

ppcgeeks via BGR

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LIVE Tonight: Smartphone Round Robin Round Table

Tonight at 8pm Eastern, get yourself away from your families and point your browser at http://www.imore.com/live. As we did two weeks ago, we're recording another Smartphone Round Robin Roundtable podcast. This time, though, we'll be LIVE. We'll be rounding out our smartphone discussion, focusing on the T-Mobile G1 and the Fuze, then talking about the Round Robin overall.

Best part, though, is we'll have a chat going where you can chime in, talk to each other, and ask us questions -- which we'll answer LIVE towards the end of the show. We've let UStream know that we'll be hitting their service hard, so head on over and take a listen!

Again, that's 8pm Eastern tonight at http://www.imore.com/live.

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