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Pinger For All

Pinger, the neat little service that lets you send really quick voice mail messages to people (think of it like a combination of SMS and voicemail), announced at CTIA that they've upgraded their service so that you can send these quick little notes to anybody in the US. Previously, if you sent a message to a non-member, they had to muddle through the signup process -- which was my biggest roadblock to using it.

They also showed off a neat little Blackberry app that allowed you to browse through and send Pinger messages - and also said that they're working on a WM version. Neat.

Pinger, Inc. today expanded its service to tens of millions of Blackberry and US mobile phone users. Pinger, which provides text messaging for your voice, released a mobile application to optimize the Pinger experience for Blackberry users. In addition, Pinger expanded general support for mobile phones on nearly every US mobile carrier

Read: Pinger Press

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Get Amp'd in Canada

amp'd mobile is probably the only MVNO that I respect, they seem to be doing well and offering more features to more folks than anybody else these days. Add "Canadians" to those folks, as amp'd has gotten itself attached to Telus's CDMA/EVDO network up north. That's one thing MVNO's have going for them -- you can launch services for an entire country without having to build all those pesky towers, eh?

With the partnership of TELUS and Amp'd Mobile, Inc. ("Amp'd Mobile"), Amp'd Mobile Canada is setting a new bar for mobile entertainment in the Canadian market.

Read: Amp'd Mobile launches in Canada - SlashPhone.com

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GPS Nav. for the Blind

This should have existed, oh, the moment GPS was commercially available. Nevertheless, I'm happy to hear that an Italian company is currently testing a GPS app written specifically for the blind. It's Symbian-only right now, but I have an extremely difficult time believing a similar app couldn't be written for Windows Mobile:

It requires just two dedicated keys on the mobile phone - one which, when pressed, tells the user their exact location including the house or building number and the other one alerts the call centre that the person needs assistance with navigation.

The next stage, the call from the call center, involved being given step by step directions from a human being in real time. Funny how my initial reaction to that is distrust (how many times have you been given bad directions?) - but not being blind means you can visually look around a map to see if something's accurate. So all in all, let's hope we see this sort of thing here.

Read: BBC NEWS | Technology | GPS navigation plan to help blind

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The Circle is Complete: T-Mobile Raises SMS Rates

Verizon did it, Sprint did it, and Cingular did it, now T-Mobile has too: raised the per-message cost of SMS messages. I guess they were just feeling left out. I'm still bothered by the fact that as the infrastructure costs of this data goes does that the price is going up, but oh well. I recently switched to an unlimited text plan, so I'm not sure I'll be able to use this technical breach of contract to break my contract, but if you're itching to leave T-Mo, here's your chance.

As has been the case when other carriers have made similar moves, this constitutes a material breach of contract on T-Mobile's part, allowing customers to jump ship without paying the hefty $200-per line ETF

Read: T-Mobile increasing SMS rates, get out while you still can : The Boy Genius Report

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HTC Kaiser: Flip Up Slider

Chinese site mobilelife (via Engadget mobile via HoFo) shows us some photos of the new flip-action HTC slider device. Details from Engadget:

Besides the wacky flip-up action, the Kaiser ups the camera to a full 3 megapixels (an extra million pixels over its predecessor), adds HSUPA support for crazy fast uploads, GPS, and the now-obligatory Windows Mobile 6 Professional.

Normally I try to limit these rumor postings to stuff I'm sure we'll see in the USA - otherwise WMExperts would be nothing but. On the other hand, even if we don't know at all whether or not the Kaiser will grace these shores, it's impossible to ignore this neat little form-factor innovation.

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Video Review: WM6 on Treo 750

Mobility Today got a hold of one of the many WM6 on 750 test units that have been floating around lately, and so they kindly provide a video of it in action. Sadly: no exciting details on how Palm will give us this promised update and no exciting details in the OS itself: It's WM6. It's a Treo 750.

In other Palm news, I had been planning on skipping Palm's financial results conference call tomorrow. But now I gotta listen in, as it's the rumored deadline for a buyout by Moto or Nokia or whoever.

In any case, head on over to Mobility Today for the video.

Read: Video Review: Palm Treo 750 & Windows Mobile 6 @ Mobility Today

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WinAmp Teams with Orb for PC-to-Mobile Music

Here's a blast from my past, WinAmp, the media player that really whips the llama's ass. It used to be my media player of choice back in the day. Maybe it should be again, as they're just announced that they'll soon be offering WinAmp -> Mobile streaming. It looks like they're offering the service via Orb (see https://winamp.orb.com/orb/html/login.html), which is a smart move IMO.

You know, being a Mac + WM5 user is really starting to chafe a bit. There are so many great Windows-Only apps that connect your phone up to your PC.

Dulles, VA – March 22, 2007 – Winamp has announced a mobile extension to its “Winamp Remote” PC-to-PC streaming service, currently in Beta. Starting March 26, Winamp Remote users will be able to access their home music library through streaming mobile devices. This new mobile service will offer users a playback-focused experience where content will stream at the appropriate bitrate for the data connection and format for streaming players. Current Winamp Remote users can access the service at http://winamp.orb.com from their phone. No new installation or client software is required. New users will need to download the Winamp Remote client on to their home PC at http://www.winamp.com/remote.

Winamp Remote on Mobile will work on handsets with a data plan, Web browser, and any kind of streaming media player: 3gp, RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, or Flash. Winamp Remote does not support the streaming of DRM protected music.

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So Motorola isn't doing so hot - they're saying that "returning the business to acceptable performance will take more time and greater effort." Which makes the fact that today's the supposed day for Palm's buyout rumors to finally materialize (because Palm is announcing financial results this afternoon) all the more interesting. Moto needs help bringing back profit margins and Palm has them due to the premium that Treos still command. Stay tuned, folks, we'll be covering Palm's conference call this afternoon with our blogging client at the ready.

Motorola sharply scaled back its first-quarter earnings estimate, named a new president and chief operating officer, and announced the retirement of its current chief financial officer.

Meanwhile, a major Palm shareholder told CNBC he expects Motorola to announce as soon as Thursday a deal to acquire Palm for roughly $2 billion.

Read: Motorola Slashes Guidance; Financial Chief to Retire - News - CNBC.com

Update: Here's a zinger from Paul Kederosky (via /Message):

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Asus P526 (Pegasus) Announced

We caught a brief glimpse of the P526 in our 3GSM Mega-Roundup 2, and now Asus has made it official. Their press release keeps using the word "trendy" to describe it, which I find a touch odd, but that's their prerogative.

The P526 stands a decent chance (for an Asus device, at least) of making its way here to the states, as it sports a quad-band GSM Radio (EDGE only, though). It also has GPS integrated. I'm telling you, my next "main brain" phone will have GPS built-in. Oh, and it'll rock WM6 when it comes out - signs point to May.

"The P526 is the perfect trendy PDA phone for users who want to utilize the user-friendly and "Live" functions of Windows Live," said H C Hung, Head of ASUSTeK's Handheld Business Unit.

Read: ASUS P526 PDA / Cell Phone Announced

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Microsoft to Purchase Tellme

It looks like future versions of Voice Command on WM are going to be a whole lot smarter after this acquisition. Tellme Networks does voice recognition and has also been running the voice search service at 1-800-555-TELL (8355). A quick check of the service just now tells me (cough) that Tellme seems to do a better job at voice prompt recognition than most of those annoying call centers I have to use (How many times have you said "Operator. Operator! Shut up and let me talk to a human!"?).

Microsoft Corp. today announced it will acquire Tellme Networks, Inc., a leading provider of voice services for everyday life, including nationwide directory assistance, enterprise customer service and voice-enabled mobile search.

Read: Microsoft to Acquire Tellme - via Backstage at MED

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WMExperts Prize-A-Day, 4th Batch-O-Winners

Here we go, the last batch of winners of our Prize-A-Day contest (the Grand Prize winner will be announced on Monday). Congrats to all - emails with details will be forthcoming shortly.

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This is probably bad news for most of us, though potentially good news if you don't like, uh, the continuation of the species. Textually.org posts up a big list of studies showing a linkage between cell phone use and male fertility. The evidence for this seems to be a bit clearer than the evidence for brain damage from cell phones, but I Am Not A Scientist, so what do I know?

Apparently the effects come for men who "used their cell phone for more than 4 hours per day." Here's the Windows Mobile connection for me: WM's mulitasking makes it so freaking simple for me to be downloading emails, surfing the web, letting my weather app auto-update, check traffic, etc etc.. Add all that time up and my device is probably getting information from the interwebs for over 4 hours a day easy. I expect that data usage puts out a similar amount of radiation, so are we data-centric power users just as much at risk as the gabbers? ....eek.

One third of infertility cases go unexplained and in the coming weeks, a leading infertility journal, "Fertility and Sterility", will be publishing a full report by Cleveland Clinic researchers, that blames cell phones for the problem.

Read: textually.org: Cell Phones May Lead To Lower Fertility In Males

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GrandCentral's Nice, but I want SMS too.

GrandCentral is a "Single Number" service that's been making a pretty big splash on the web today due to David' Pogue's recent review. I like the idea of Grand Central (which is currently free and in Beta, but they claim the basic features will remain free after the beta) and their feature list is impressive. But I have two qualms about signing up for a service like this:

  1. The company damn well better not go belly up in the next, oh, five years.
  2. Text Messaging. Come on, world, it's 2007. I communicate much more often over SMS than I do with voice. A centralized number to call me is all well and good, but if it can't redirect texts to whatever gadget I'm currently using, then count me out.

For #2, the geek in my almost wants to just buy a 2nd WM phone, plug it in at home, install PhoneAlarm, and then use that as my very own personal GrandCentral.

Actually, what I really want is something like OpenID - no phone numbers, IM nicks, email addresses, etc etc. Just one unique identifier (that's basically under my control and therefore completely portable) for all vectors of communication.

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MobiTV Scores Again: NBC Shows

I've always had a soft spot for MobiTV because, in addition to powering several carrier's mobile TV solution, they - you know - don't do it exclusively through one carrier or another. All you need is a supported phone and an internet connection.

So this new deal they've recently announced makes me smile a little - kudos to NBC for recognizing that making is possible for more people to get your content means that more people are likely to get your content. Seems simple, doesn't it?

NBC has partnered with MobiTV to bring full-length prime-time TV shows to mobile phones. TV shows such as The Office and Heroes will be available for streaming for US$1.99 for a 24-hour period after the show has aired on traditional TV.

Read: NBC and MobiTV Bring Prime-Time Shows to Handsets (MobileBurn)

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CeBIT Yawn-Up, er, Round-Up

I didn't go to 3GSM, which made me weep. I didn't go to CeBIT in Germany either, which I'm not too sad about, as MobileBurn points out:

In case you haven't noticed, and I wouldn't blame you for not noticing, CeBIT is taking place right now in Hannover, Germany. As you might have guessed, the mobile phone industry has all but abandoned that show in favor of last month's 3GSM show in Barcelona.

Nevertheless, I suppose it's worth noting that a couple WM devices poked their head out at CeBIT. I'm not very sure these'll make their way to the US, but if you're an importing and unlocking fiend, you may want to take a look at the new E-Ten Glofish X800 that Engadget caught a nice photo of (a whole gallery, actually).

Sure, I said before that I thought the Asus P526 stood a chance of gracing these shores. But I'm not holding my breath for official carrier support.

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WMExperts Prize-A-Day Grand Prize Winners!

We've had a bunch of entries (a bunch I say) and it's been fun, but the Prize-A-Day Contest, like all good things, has come to an end. What else is there to say? Heck, even Engadget's Contest sponsored by the WMExperts Store has come to an end. A big thank you to everyone who entered! So without further ado, our winners:

Grand Prize: Snowman

Snowman wins his choice of any Windows Mobile Smartphone that's currently available in the United States...

...Plus $300 to spend on accessories in the WMExperts store.


Second Prizes: Kevin W and Joe K

These two lucky winners will receive a Slingbox Pro!

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MS's Craig Mundie Throws Down

Bill Gates is retiring soon and it sort of makes sense that he'll need two people to replace him. One of those people is Craig Mundie, who recently talked about all things Microsoft with CNN. His discussion of Windows Mobile (compared to the iPhone) is short but interesting: MS is about creating an ecosystem while Apple is about vertical integration. Sure, it's a standard MS line, but it's also accurate. Mundie also notes that he expects some high end "fashion and function phones" coming out this year to compete nicely with the iPhone. Time will tell.

Well, Microsoft has been in the phone business for years. What do you think that thing is (pointing to a cell phone on the table)? That does more than an iPhone does today and it's our 7th generation.

Read: Microsoft's Mundie: Consumers driving tech trends - CNN.com

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Command Line on Your Phone?

Dave Beers of Pikesoft is apparently working on his own little cross platform command-line interface for mobile devices. To which I say "Yes Please." Basically the idea is that we're doing too much drilling down and menu selecting to do what we want, when most of what we want to do is generally just a simple "Noun, Verb" sort of action. WM's voice command actually goes a long way towards achieving this with audible commands, but I'm imagining something more like the Mac's OS's Quicksilver, but on a phone. So is Beers, apparently:

You: "cj"
Device: "Call Jane Doe or Call Jim Beam?"

You: "a" (second letter of Jane's name) or "d" (last name initial)
Device: "Calling Jane Doe... 719-555-1234"

The entire essay is worth the read, especially if you're skeptical about this. I am not - I want it now.

Read: Software Everywhere » The return of the command line interface

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Moto Q9 Coming to AT&T - (Obviously)

Engadget has a pretty pretty picture of the upcoming Motorola Q9 decked out in AT&T livery. They're not sure if it's a fake or not and neither am I, but like Engadget I don't think it matters much - this device is coming and I hope it's coming soon.

Is this depiction of the redundantly-named Moto Q q9 in AT&T livery utterly Photoshoppable? Yes; but is the idea of the q9 coming to AT&T completely believable, too? Yeah, we'd say so.

Read: Motorola Q q9 coming to AT&T? - Engadget

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WMExperts Prize-A-Day, Day 19

...And we're back! Sorry for the hiatus on Friday, hopefully you managed without your daily Prize-A-Day fix. Perhaps it was good preparation, though as the last Prize-A-Day Contest is tomorrow.

The prize for the penultimate (I'll take any excuse to use that word) Prize-A-Day is a free copy of Spb Backup, which is far and away my favorite backup app for WM.

How to Win

Ever lost data on your mobile device? On your computer itself? Failed to backup? Haven't we all? Comment on this entry with your horror stories and your advice: how do you back up your critical data?

Don't Forget: every entry doubles as an entry for the Grand Prize and the two Second Prizes - A Smartphone of your choice plus $300 to spend in the WMExperts store and a couple of Slingbox Pros. Since there are only two days left in the Prize-A-Day contest, be sure to get your entries in!

(Full contest rules are here)

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WM6 Flash Demo

If you're trying to see the boss on upgrading to one of the plethora of Windows Mobile 6 devices that are coming out this year, you're in luck. Microsoft has kindly posted a Flash demo of the new OS and it's new capabilities - a Flash demo you have to download and then play on a laptop, but nice nonetheless.

The demo walks through our three pillars; Advanced Mobile Communications, Increased Mobile Productivity, and Integrated Mobile Business Performance. It is targeted at customers who would like to learn more about our native capabilities, mobile messaging, security and device management.

Download details: Windows Mobile 6 Demo via Jason Landridge

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Carriers Looking to Limit Number of OSes They Support

Here's more bad news for the PalmOS (Until it moved to a Linux base): Carriers are tired of supporting multiple OSes. Vodafone specifically wants WM, Symbian, and Linux only (though it's likely they won't be turning away the iPhone when given the chance). The "Linux" is sort of amusing to me, though, as I suspect that's going to be an awfully big umbrella in the near future.

Vodafone, the world’s largest mobile phone company in terms of revenue, has been leading a push to limit the number of operating systems, declaring in November that it would eventually sell only phones that ran on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, Symbian Series 60 or Linux. For more than a year, NTT DoCoMo of Japan has concentrated on Symbian, a privately held British-based company in which Nokia of Finland has a nearly 50 percent stake, and Linux.

Read: New York Times, via mocoNews. There's also some discussion at Slashdot.

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WM6 devices with WiFi: Dramatically Better Battery Life?

Are the days of WiFi chewing through our batteries like a beaver through soft wood over? ZDNet seems to think so, based on an interview with truphone's CEO James Tagg. Now Tagg obviously has an interest in convincing people that WiFi on their phone is a good thing, since he's running a VOIP company. Nevertheless, his claim that, with WM6:

"A lot of work [has been done] with the manufacturers of the Wi-Fi chips [together with] some proper thought around the software stack," Tagg told ZDNet UK on Monday.

...makes me wonder if we won't see other little surprises when WM6 becomes widely available.

Read: Mobile Wi-Fi battery issues 'solved' - ZDNet UK

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InterDigital Communications: Patent Heroes or Villains?

Thanks to Dave for pointing out this Kiplinger Article about InterDigital Communications - a company that's been getting anywhere from one to three percent of the wholesale price of many modern cell phones based on their patent enforcements.

Founded more than 30 years ago, it has pocketed more than $1 billion in royalties, primarily from the sale of cell phones. Owning intellectual property is a marvelous business because there is no manufacturing cost and no inventory.

You may remember the (sadly) successful legal hijinks of push-email patent holders NTP, who forced Research in Motion into a settlement almost exactly a year ago. InterDigital isn't as nefarious as all that, though, as it appears they're working on augmenting their "growing base of 3G patent licensees" with actual hardware design. (Their CFO has recently resigned, for whatever that's worth.)

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MS Release Device Emulator 2.0

If you're running Vista and interested in developing for Windows Mobile 6, it's worth the download I'm sure. It'll also work on XP (and heck, Win2000sp4), if you're not bleeding edge. Then again, if you're a WM6 developer, you probably are. :)

Looks like the WM6 SDK and Adaptation Kit are included in this release. One neat feature, the "device" you're emulating can be "cradled" within Windows Vista's Mobile Device Center so you can test syncing. Snazzy.

Yesterday our team released the Device Emulator v2.0.   This version of the Emulator has upgraded performance and some new features

Read: Jason Langridge's WebLog - MR Mobile! : Microsoft device emulator v2.0 released

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