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Here's a brief look at a new Windows Mobile user interface that's currently in development. The Infinity UI is widget-based, and it very much has an Android-type feel to it. Want a clock? Add a clock. Want program shortcuts? Add program shortcuts. As we said, it's still in the very early stages, so things are a bit unfinished. But this is one we're going to keep our eyes on. Find out more and download the alpha here. And peep video of the Infinity UI after the break. [via XDA]

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Sometimes you look so hard in the back alleys for leaks on something that you miss it when it's right in front of you.

In this case, lets flash back to October 2009 at the Microsoft San Francisco Dev Camp (we covered it here).  A traveling, nerdy roadshow, the Dev Camp was meant to get developers to attend presentations on programming and working with WM6.5 as well as a chance to meet with and ask questions members of the WinMo development team.

In other words, pretty technical and dry.  Unless some questions on Windows Mobile 7 and prospects of Zune phones get brought up...and answered.

Thanks to forum member Interframe, who watched the nearly 3 hr video, he caught some major gems that we all missed.

For example, at the 2hr mark, we get this exchange:

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Well, speak of the devil.  We were just lamenting how devices like the Ozone have seemingly been left out of the Windows Mobile 6.5 upgrade fest, without even a release-window scheduled.

And soon after that we get word that XDA member udK has posted the shipping upgrade ROM for the Ozone (v2.16.605.15)  How convenient! (See our full review of the Ozone here)

Running WM6.5 build 21845 and with about 67MB of RAM/64MB ROM, it sure seems zippy enough when we loaded it up on our phone.  Overall, it looks exactly the same as the WM6.1 version, but it does have some little graphic enhancements (Outlook), is snappy as all heck, has MyPhone/Marketplace and even features a new home-screen customizer (see below) which is quite nice. The customizer allows you to enable/disable panels and even move them up/down to your liking.

Then there's all the internal stuff: new kernel, better battery life, performance enhancements, better Exchange support, etc.

While not as drastic as a change from WM6.1 to WM6.5 Professional, we do think the Ozone (one of our favorite devices in 2009) definitely deserves this update.

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Update: The Tweet you see above has been deleted. Validation!?!?! (Good eye, Mxx!)

We're really not fans of seeing "official" sources break news on Twitter, but so be it. Here you see a translation of a Tweet from @HTC_Ru, HTC's Russian Twitter account. And it clearly says that of the Windows phones currently available, only the HD2 is slated to get an upgrade to Windows Mobile 7. That's something we've been quietly expecting for a while now, especially given the supposed WM7 chassis specs. The HD2 has the 1GHz Snapdragon processor. It's got a capacitive screen. And it's hulking size means I wouldn't want to tell it it'd be stuck with Windows Mobile 6.5 forever.

As for other devices getting an upgrade to Windows Mobile 7? We'll go ahead and say that the bunch we saw recently in that HTC leak are a pretty good bet, assuming they're not actually launched with Windows Mobile 7.

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A big question many of us have been wondering is this: if Windows Mobile 7 is this huge overhaul of the OS (and it is), what will become of HTC's Sense UI?

One the one hand, we have strong reason to believe that WM7's UI will be very compelling--possibly Zune HD like, with a Silverlight base for transparencies and advanced GUI features.

On the other, you have HTC and its now corporate-branded UI: Sense. Sense appears on Windows Mobile and now Android devices and has come to represent their identity in the marketplace.

But how will these two work together in WM7?  Is HTC really going to push forward? Evidently yes.

XDA member CookieMonster found this bit of code in the latest Sense 2.5 (1922):

if HomeMachineStatus.WM7Device.Value then 
  IsWindowsMobile7Device = true 
  PredefineItem = 1 
  HomeItemCollection = HomeManager:GetHomeCollection(1) 
else 
  IsWindowsMobile7Device = false 
  PredefineItem = 0 
  HomeItemCollection = HomeManager:GetHomeCollection() 
end

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Heads up, folks. I'll be invading The iPhone Blog's live podcast tonight to talk up Windows Mobile, talk about the Smartphone Round Robin and maybe (just maybe) get Rene Ritchie & Co. to admit that the iPhone isn't the coolest thing since the Newton. Here are the deets:

 

  • Time: 8 p.m. EDT tonight. (That's 5 p.m. for you guys on the West Coast.)
  • Topic: Windows Mobile, Windows Mobile, Windows Mobile. (And maybe some iPhone.)
  • Where: Click here.

I expect to see each and every one of you in the chatroom.

 

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Looks like the Samsung Epix (see full review), a phone that is now well over a year old, is slated to get its official Windows Mobile 6.5 bump sometime in February, at least according to Microsoft's updated list. (Though all the cool kids have been running it since September)

We suppose one convenient aspect of that list is the ability to keep shifting dates around and we have to admit, we're getting quite far out now from that October Windows Mobile 6.5 announcement.

Still, better late than never, and it sure beats the Ozone/Snap duo, which are still listed as "Date Not Available" -- luckily both of those have custom ROMs too. Guess we know where WM Standard is sitting on the priority list.

[thanks Akshay!]

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See those hands up there? Those are the 10 talented fingers of one Matthew Miller of NokiaExperts. And in Week 3 of the third annual Smartphone Round Robin, he's taking a look at Windows Mobile, and specifically the HTC Touch Pro 2 and HD2.

If you haven't already, check out his hands-on video with yours truly. And then head over to the thread he's started in the WMExperts Forums, discussing his take on Windows Mobile. Remember that anytime you post in an official Round Robin thread, you're entered to win a smartphone (worth up to $1,000) from that site. So get to it!

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Seeing Windows Mobile and the Xbox 360 coming together really shouldn't be a surprise to anybody -- we've seen evidence to that effect before. But there's a new job posting out that points directly to the future of WinMo. From the listing: 

We're connecting players via the LIVE services on new devices beyond the console. We need a Principle Program Manager who can help drive the platform and bring Xbox LIVE enabled games to Windows Mobile. This person will focus specifically on what makes gaming experiences "LIVE Enabled" through aspects such as avatar integration, social interactions, and multi-screen experiences.

That's just vague enough to make us wonder if we'll actually be playing games on Windows phones, or if they'll become some soft of ancillary device in the Xbox experience. Either way, it's something we're looking forward to. [Mobile Tech World via Engadget]

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MSDN Outs Windows Mobile 6.5.3

We’ve known (unofficially) for some time now that Microsoft has been working on various follow-ups to Windows Mobile 6.5. ROMs based off of 6.5.x builds of Windows Mobile have been floating around XDA and other similar sites for months, but we hadn’t seen anything official from Microsoft (or even semi-official) ... until now.

MSDN (the Microsoft Developer Network) Web site is where developers go for documentation on various APIs and methods for creating applications for Microsoft products. The documentation for the Widget Engine in Windows Mobile 6.5 makes reference to the changes that we’ve seen with the softkeys and menus in 6.5.x ROMs. The quote states: “Beginning with the Windows Mobile 6.5.3 release, touchable tiles replace soft keys. For developers, the change from soft keys to touchable tiles is automatic starting with Windows Mobile 6.5.3. All of the following applies to touchable tiles and to soft keys.”

This may not seem like much of a mention, but the timing of this discovery may be significant. With Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer scheduled for the opening Keynote at CES next week, might we get some details on where Windows Mobile is headed? We’ll be there to keep you posted.

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HD2 Compass Mod: Use it in all GPS programs

One neat feature that often gets left out of discussion on the HD2 (see review) is the built in digital compass.

Although occasionally useful, one major downside is it can't be used by third-party apps e.g. iGO, Google Maps, etc.  Well, that is until XDA member Mach2003 decided to play with and alter the GPSModDriver.

Stressing that this is still beta, the .cab file will allow interaction of the compass with those GPS apps, though each one will vary in terms of action.

For instance, Google Maps won't rotate the map for you  (shame) but it will give you a constant blue arrow for direction status (sort of like when you a driving, but now it will work at all times and be more sensitive).  iGO8 in 3D mode will "...rotate with the entire screen according to your compass heading, as long as you have a GPS fix"

Of course this is the tip of the iceberg and we're sure digital compasses and GPS on Windows phones is just starting.

[thanks you know who for the tip!]

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Add some color to those Manila 2.5 clouds

Growing tired of the white, fluffy clouds on HTC's Sense/Manila 2.5? (The way God and HTC intended, of course.)  If so, XDA Developers member Hubie has created something you might find useful -- a plug-in that will give your clouds a blue highlight.

The plug-in is compatible with WVGA/VGA/QVGA screens and can be found here. If the blue tint isn't for you, simply uninstall the plug-in, soft reset and you back to plain old white clouds. No word as of yet if Hubie will add orange, pink, yellow or other color options to this plug-in.

Via Pocketnow

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China Telecom getting Philips D908

Philips is bringing its D908 to China Telecom, according to Microsoft’s China website. Feature-wise, this device pushes the boundaries that we’ve come to expect from a Windows phone. The most eye-popping part of the spec sheet is the fact that this device will reportedly feature 1GB of RAM and 2GB of ROM. We’ve seen devices like Samsung’s Omnia II with copious amounts of onboard storage, but even the Omnia II with its 8GB of storage only offers 208MB RAM.

The D908 also features a 3.2-inch WVGA display, is a world phone with GSM and CDMA/EVDO, a 5MP camera, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 2.1, and MicroSD support.

[Unwired View via WMPoweruser]

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Nokia hands-on video, Smartphone Round Robin-style!

We're back with Week 3 of the third annual Smartphone Round Robin, and this time we'll be looking at the mysterious world of Nokia, with help from our pal Matthew Miller at NokiaExperts. Turns out these are some serious (if under appreciated) phones.

So, peep the hands-on video after the break. And to get things rolling, I've got some questions for the NokiaExperts faithful. Hit up this link to see how that's going.

And remember: Anytime you post in an official Smartphone Round Robin forum thread (or NokiaExperts post), you're eligible to win a free smartphone (worth up to $1,000) from that particular site. So get to it!

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Top 10 list nearly Shuts Out Windows Phones

In the ultimate comparison of apples, oranges and kiwi; PCWorld has released its list of Top 10 Cell Phones. Not coincidentally, all of its selections are smartphones of some flavor. One thing that is interesting is that the top two devices on the list are probably the two most heavily marketed mobile devices in recent years, but Apple’s iPhone was ranked second, not first. The Motorola Droid came in at the top of the list, which is void of any explanation on what the rating criteria was.

The only Windows Phone that garnered a top 10 ranking was the Samsung Omnia II. Without knowing the criteria for this rating it is hard to determine why solid devices like HTC’s HD2 and Touch Pro2 were left off of the list.

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We know two things about HTC

  1. They know how popular Sense 2.5 has become
  2. They move pretty fast

We know this because a new build of Sense 2.5 (1922; last leak was 1921) officially supports landscape now.  Of course the excitement has lead to it being cooked into some GSM ROMs and it looks to be making its way to CDMA Touch Pro 2's in the next 24-48hrs.

So what does this mean?  Is HTC doing this for an eventual HD2 with a slider keyboard?  Or are they just doing the obvious: updating their UI for various future devices, including ones with slide-out QWERTYs?  We'll go with the latter for now as this seems like an obvious progression of the TouchFLO/Sense paradigm.

[via HTCPedia]

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Tip: Speed up the auto-focus on the Imagio camera

It's pretty well known that the HTC HD2 (Leo) had a wee camera problem with some odd colors showing up in the center.

That has been addressed via a patch, which is available now.

Of course, what would be the fun of having a patch for one device and not trying it out on another?  Not very much.

Turns out if you apply the .cab'd version to the Verizon Imagio (see review) it greatly speeds up the auto-focus -- as in cuts the time in half as well as just general quickness of the camera app. Image quality is said to be the same and no one is reporting any negatives, so if you've done a fresh backup give it a go.

And for the record, we did try this on our Sprint Touch Pro 2 and saw no difference ;-)

Download the .cab here.

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Best of Smartphone Experts, 27 Dec 2009

The end of the year and the holidays aren't stopping us from keeping an eye out for smartphone news and continuing to bring you comparative reviews in the Smartphone Round Robin. Be sure to check out the latest updates page to see what's new, or you can follow via Facebook, Twitter, and of course RSS. This week, you can listen to us discuss the iPhone on The Cell Phone Junkie Podcast, so don't go missing that either. On to the big news of the week!

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Next Wave of Acer Handsets Teased

Acer is continuing to make a push to be one of the more prolific manufacturers of Windows Phones. According to a report from Digitimes, Acer is preparing three or four Windows Mobile phones for release in 2010. Apparently some of these devices will be low end devices with development outsourced to Inventec Appliances. Acer will continue in-house development of their higher-end models (the word Snapdragon was mentioned).

In a less encouraging note for Windows Mobile purists, Acer plans include more emphasis on Google’s Android platform, with 5 or 6 devices being targeted.

[via WMPoweruser]

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Safe! Police need a search warrant for your phone

If there is one thing Windows phone users know, it's that their little device can hold a whole lot of information. Whether it's e-mail, personal finances, PIN codes, documents, or naked drunk pictures of yourself at that office holiday party, these mini computers can contain a vast resource of information about our personal lives (and those around you).

While a lot of security issues on smartphones revolves around potential thievery, e.g. remote wiping or spyware, one area up till now has been gray: Do the police have a right to search your phone, even when arrested?

At least according to a recent Ohio Supreme Court ruling, no the police cannot search your phone. Like other areas such as car and home searches, police are required to get a search warrant first.  To quote the NY Times:

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled this month, by a 4-to-3 vote, that the search violated the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Rather than seeing a cellphone as a simple closed container, the majority noted that modern cellphones — especially ones that permit Internet access — are “capable of storing a wealth of digitized information.”

Expanding upon that notion, there is no need to distinguish between "smartphones" and "dumbphones" either as all phones will be covered, ruling out potential areas of dispute in court.

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What could we possibly have to say about Apple and the iPhone that hasn't been said countless times already? Plenty. Given that Apple has spent the past year largely consolidating its power in the mobile space, and Microsoft has spent the past year making many wonder if they're going to continue in the mobile space, it's fitting that we take a look at the two here in the second week of the third annual Smartphone Round Robin.

There will be no talk of iPhone killers.

There will be no talk of the death of Windows Mobile.

OK, there may be a little. Keep reading for more.

Update: Addendum

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Mobile Heist is back with holiday deals

One day of Christmas just isn't enough. The Mobile Heist is back, bringing you some of your favorite Windows Mobile applications, most at a whopping 50 percent off through Jan. 1. Check in after the break to see the monstrous savings.

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SBSH updates PhoneWeaver

SBSH, makers of Facade, continues its upgrade march through the product line. PhoneWeaver, which is a "profile and phone management solution," has been updated to version 2.0. PhoneWeaver can be used to customize a number of settings and create a profile. This gives you the ability to manipulate a number of settings in just a few simple clicks.

New features include a much-improved touch-friendly interface featuring sliding panels. PhoneWeaver supports automatically changing profiles based on your time, location, agenda (Outlook Calendar), or sync/charge status. Support for various new features in Windows Mobile 6.5 and various performance enhancements are included as well. Visit SBSH for the full version history.

SBSH PhoneWeaver can be purchased from the WMExperts store. New purchases of PhoneWeaver are $14.95, with an upgrade price of $6.95; a 12-day trial is also available.

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