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MS to Offer EMI's Non-DRM Tracks

To be fair, this quote from the MS spokeswoman is surely accurate, in that Microsoft was working on getting non-DRM tracks before Apple's announcement:

"The EMI announcement on Monday was not exclusive to Apple," said Katy Asher, a Microsoft spokeswoman on the Zune team, in an e-mail to the IDG News Service today. She said Microsoft has been talking with EMI and other record labels "for some time now" about offering unprotected music on its Zune players in an effort to meet the needs of its customers.

Strangely, Microsoft offering Non-DRM tracks isn't much more exciting to the Windows Mobile ecosystem than Apple doing it - mainly because it's tied to the Zune marketplace. It's a safe bet, however, that with these non-DRM tracks spreading (legally) around, we'll see them pop-up on some WM compatible stores soon enough.

Read: Microsoft changes tune on selling DRM-free songs

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MDA Vanishes from T-Mo's Website

Not to be mean, or anything, but I've found the Dash to be snappier and more powerful than the old warhorse slider, the T-Mobile MDA. The MDA was my first slider, its big screen is nice and all, but the processor always felt underpowered. It's still a pretty good WM5 device because it has so many freaking buttons that you can customize to do what you'd like. Set it next to an 8525, though, and you'll start to see why T-Mobile suddenly isn't selling the MDA on its site anymore.

alas, the time has come to kiss the MDA goodbye it seems. As such, the handset has completely disappeared from T-Mobile's website. Is this just a short-term omission or is the MDA gone for good? Is this a sign that a replacement is near?

Read: MDA gone from T-Mobile's website - Engadget Mobile

And now, an open letter:

Dearest T-Mobile,

You're really hurting us power users. First you faddle around instead of bringing us a proper 3G network (but I hold out hope they'll have something within 6 months), now you're killing off your high-end PPC phone. Great customer service will only get you so far, my back-of-the-carrier-pack friend. Quit giving all the joy to Germans and give the Americans some. Those Germans are too dour to properly appreciate it, anyway.

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I <3 Mobile Secretary

Following up on my last post about T-Mobile, here's a quick software tip: The Mobile Secretary, which is a great little piece of software developed by Brian Cross as a sort of proof-of-concept for what you can do with the .net framework.

It's main feature is to auto-send text messages to people whose call you can't answer, because you're in a meeting or whatnot. However, it has another great feature that I'm using now:

Just enter in the phone number in which to forward to, and all text messages sent to your device will be resent to the other device. There is also the option of appending the sender info to the message so that you know who it originally came from as well.

Last month I complained that "Single Number services" like GrandCentral will forward calls but not texts. Now, however, I have a great service that forwards both calls and texts: a Windows Mobile phone. That's why this is a followup to my complaint about T-Mobile - I had to switch carriers due to T-Mo's poor signal in my soon-to-be-neighborhood and I had to get a new number. The Mobile Secretary lets me hang on to my old # for a little while longer - everything that goes into that phone gets forwarded on to my new #.

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T-Mobile Wing

Well slap me! Hot on the heels of talking about putting the MDA out to pasture, Gadgets on the Go points out this neat little rumor of a replacement: the T-Mobile Wing.

Specs are fairly similar to the MDA, actually, but the Wing speeds up that same OMAP processor a bit. It also has OK and Start menu buttons (thank you!) and a rubberized finish. Any doubts that this is coming to T-Mobile can be taken care of handily by pointing out the "MyFaves" icon on the back of the phone - plus, you know, the T-Mobile logo on the front.

Here's my only question: will it be 3G and therefore a harbinger of network upgrades for T-Mobile?

T-Mobile Wing (HTC Atlas) which scheduled to release in Aug, 2007.

Read: MyMobile911 Homepage - Exclusive News: New PDA Phone from T-Mobile coming in August 2007

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Palm Developing Linux OS, Still Keeping WM

Microsoft's job of offering the best mobile OS in the market just got a little more interesting, as Palm announced today that they're working on a Linux-based PalmOS. The current PalmOS is, to put it gently, a dog. It's user-friendly, sure, but it can't multitask and is, in my humble opinion, ugly. In any case, by the end of the year the number of players in the smartphone space with modern OSes wil be much larger than it is now: Microsoft, Apple, Palm, Symbian, and heck, probably some other random Linux platforms from the likes of Access and LiMo.

  • PalmOS 5 devices (currently the latest version) will still be released later this year
  • Devices based on the Linux kernel should be released by the end of the year.
  • The OS is separate from the Access Linux Platform, it is Palm's own homegrown OS.
  • Palm will not license the OS to other manufacturers
  • It is highly likely that the new OS will use Opera as its default browser, given the recent agreement between Palm and Opera.

Palm, by the way, has no intention of dropping Windows Mobile. They'll still be releasing WM Treos.

Read: treocentral.com >> Stories >> Business >> Palm Developing New Linux Powered PalmOS

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1st WM6 Device Released (in the UK, Sadly)

I'm not surprised, just disappointed, that Europe is getting the first WM6 device to be actually sold to the public. I'm happy to see that it's the SPV e650 (aka the HTC Vox). It's not showing up on their site yet, but the linked press release shows its coming. The Vox is probably my most-anticipated device this year, so I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Orange Business Services today launches the first MicrosoftWindows Mobile 6.0-powered smartphone on the UK market. Available exclusively from Orange until the beginning of May, the compact SPV E650 combinespowerful functionality with sleek design and the ability to connect withWi-Fi, EDGE and GPRS networks, making mobile messaging easier than everbefore.

Read: Orange Launches First Windows Mobile 6.0 Device for Business Users

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MotoQ on Ampd Released

No surprise here, but it's nice to see it officially: Amp'd (yes, we're sweet on them) now offers the MotoQ. One interesting bit: they've customized the wazoo out of it, including a snazzy interface:

Amp’d is the first US carrier to utilize Adobe’s Flash Lite technology as the main user interface. With this technology, consumers will experience Amp’d Live’s robust broadband content and programming lineup to its fullest potential, including streaming TV, Amp’d Original programs, music, viral videos, 3D multiplayer games, ringtones, wallpapers and more.

(Thanks to InfoSync World for the image, full images here)

Read: Motorola Media Center - Press Releases

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No Palm Buyout, Thank You Very Much

I just finished listening in on Palm's financial results conference call (liveblogged over at TreoCentral) and here's my quick analysis:

  1. Not only did they refuse to address the buyout rumors, they smacked down buyout rumor questions hard. They're going to have a "financial analyst meeting" next month in New York, so the rumors may continue to swirl, though. In any case, they're happy being independent.
  2. It doesn't look like Palm is going to be ditching Windows Mobile anytime soon. They plan on developing "hardware platforms" which they'll slap an OS on afterwards - meaning that whatever work they do hardware-wise these days will likely result in both Windows Mobile and PalmOS devices.
  3. Since the rest of the planet doesn't seem to like PalmOS much, Windows Mobile has been a big factor in Palm's international growth. Can't say I blame the rest of the world, I'm so done with the PalmOS (until they fix it, at least. got multitask?).

(In related news, Palm got a stay in the NTP case. RIM may have caved, but Palm has not (yet)).

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CNet Smackdown, Blackjack Pwns Blackberry 8800

Yes, I'm giving away the ending, no, I don't care. The Blackjack absolutely decimated the Blackberry 8800 in a head to head, and rightly so. If Cingular/AT&T (Can I stop calling them Cingular yet?) would just get off their duff and put up 3G in my area I'd switch to the Blackjack in a heartbeat. As it is, I'm mostly a Dash man right now. Hurry up AT&T!

With its slim profile, a plethora of wireless and multimedia options, and solid call quality, the BlackJack simply overpowered the camera-less, 3G-deficient BlackBerry 8800. One can only hope that RIM comes back stronger with the rumored BlackBerry 8820. Until then, the BlackJack retains its crown.

Read: CNET Prizefight: Samsung BlackJack vs. RIM BlackBerry 8800 - CNET reviews via Smartphone Thoughts

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WMExperts at CTIA

One of those good news / bad news posts. Bad news first: Expect light posting tomorrow through Wednesday. Good news: when we do post, it'll be good stuff, because WMExperts is heading to the CTIA Wireless conference.

More good news / bad news. Bad news first (it should always be first): I'm not expecting anything epically groundbreaking this year, though I could be (read: hope I am) wrong. Good news: George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton are speaking at the conference. Former presidents talking at a gadget-related conference? I don't know why, but I do know it'll be fun to watch. Stay tuned.

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CTIA: Palm to Provide WM6 Update for all Treo 750s

Been traveling all day, but here's some early CTIA news:

Palm today announced that an update to the Windows Mobile 6 Professional operating system will be available for Treo 750 smartphone customers around the world.

As a Treo 750v owner, all I can say is W00T. Sure, the earlier rumor about free WM6 updates for vendors was false, but that didn't mean that updates wouldn't happen for us WM5 users. It was confirmed for the Dash, now it (finally) for the Treo 750. Who's next? I don't know yet, but I'm looking at you, Cingular. WM6 on the Blackjack and the 8525 sounds pretty tasty to me. Update: Ask and ye shall receive - Engadget reports that the very devices I was wishing for in the preceding sentence are also getting WM6 treatment.

In any case, if you're hot and bothered about the particular phone you have in your pocket, this MSDN blog entry may offer some hope:

CTIA is next week. It's the biggest industry event for the cellular industry in the US, and a great opportunity for other operators to announce upgrades ;-) I promise to post them on my blog as soon as they are announced....er, if anyone were to annoucne anything :-)

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Blackjack ROM Update

The update will prettify some icons, improve roaming capabilities, and erase all the data on your device (standard for a ROM update), so be sure you're confident that your data is backed up before applying the update.

Samsung has released a update for the system software on the BlackJack, a Windows Mobile Smartphone exclusively offered by Cingular Wireless.

Read: Samsung BlackJack System Software Update Now Available

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HTC Advantage (Athena) Coming to the US

Two bits of good news about this UMPC/PocketPC hybrid device. One: Engadget reports we'll see it here in the US under HTC's own brand name:

Another from HTC we saw coming, but that's still a pleasant surprise: HTC's Advantage (codename Athena) will in fact be making it Stateside! Noice, but even better, HTC will be releasing the Advantage (now camera-free) under its own brand.

Read: HTC Advantage coming to US... under the HTC brand - Engadget Mobile

Two: Coolsmartphone reports that it's going to rock Windows Mobile 6.

What do you get if you add Windows Mobile 6 to the HTC Advantage X7500 ? Well, you get the... err.. HTC Advantage X7501.

Read: CoolSmartPhone.com - Windows Mobile 6 + HTC X7500 = HTX 7501!

You know what I'm excited about: not having to report that WM6 is installed, because no more WM5 devices are coming anymore. That day is coming very, very soon, perhaps it's today?

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CTIA Day 1: Device Ogling

Day One-Half, technically, where we go to a press-only event that preceded CTIA proper. What happened at this pre-show show? Lots of fun ogling some of the latest and greatest coming out soon. Read on for impressions of the HTC Vox, the Samsung i760, and the Motorola Q9.

HTC Vox

First things first: the HTC Vox is as hot as you've imagined. It's tiny, it's actually smaller overall than a lot of high end feature phones (Like the Sony Ericsson W810, just barely), with a great bright screen that has very high density.

Sadly, the keyboard was just a little disappointing, but that's mainly because I wasn't used to it. It's off-center from the screen (which is obvious if you click on the thumbnails above), which is a disconcerting. I could get used to it, though. Sincerely, I could get very used to it. I want this phone. More good news - although there aren't any official carrier announcements in the US (yet!), it is being released in a CDMA/EVDO version on Telus in Canada. This means there's at least a chance this little wonder could be available on every major carrier in the US.

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CTIA Day 2: Living Proof

Day two consisted of walking the show floor to see what we could see. Sadly, there's wasn't anything earth shattering. Here's the first bit of non-earth-shattering rumor confirmation: LG is indeed a new manufacturer of Windows Mobile phones. The proof is in the image on the right - a simple prototype of a WM6 device that we weren't allowed to touch. The casing: surely not what will finally come to be. In fact, pretty much all we've learned from this is that LG is capable of slapping together a WM prototype.

Whatever the final product is, let's hope it's as sexy as the Prada:

More images and CTIA news (including our thoughts on Microsoft's part of today's Keynote speech) after the jump.

More Living Proof: WM6 on Cingular phones

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CTIA Day 3: Ubiquio and Randomness

The surprise of the day was stumbling upon the UBiQUiO (Seriously, that's how they want you to do the capitalized and non-capitalized letters) devices. They're full Pocket-PC smartphone (touchscreen and all) available in unlocked GSM versions from Mobile Planet and originally made by a unnamed Taiwanese manufacturer. But if all those sketchy details don't bother you, the price for the upcoming Ubiquio 503 might: $650 for the unlocked version, available in June.

The 503 has some great specs, though: WM6, a 520mhz Intel processor, 256 megs of ROM, 64mb of RAM, quad-band HSDPA/GSM radio, WiFi, and two cameras. Dang. They just had a dummy model of the 503 at the booth, but they did have a live 501 there for me to play with. More details on that one (currently available) after the jump, along with some other random CTIA newsbits.

Ubiquio 501

The Ubiquio 501 is a quad-band GSM PocketPC Windows Mobile 5 device. The thumbboard on it is actually pretty nice, it reminds me of the thumbboard on the MotoQ9 (which is perhaps not a coincidence - "keepin' it real fake" as Engadget would say). It sports a very nice 320x240 touchscreen and otherwise pretty standard specs for a GSM/EDGE PocketPC device: Triband GSM, Bluetooth 1.2, WiFi, and a 2 megapixel camera.

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ZenZui = Smartphone GUI + Mobile Content

Ever since Pieter Knook mentioned it in his keynote, the WM Community has been all atwitter about ZenZui. Near as I can tell, it's a combination of two major things: a fancy thumbable interface (that's also friendly to T9 phones) combined with a unique way to provide and cache mobile content.

With ZenZui, your phone screen is a portal into your own customized Zoomspace, an information landscape of personalized, cached content in the form of Tiles that directly reflect your lifestyle. Using a single thumb, you fly in and out of your Zoomspace – two simple taps get you directly to any Tile.

The "Tiles" allow you to zoom in and out of the content you're looking for relatively quickly and easily - it's actually a really smart way to build an interface. Take a look at the embedded YouTube Video after the break. The content comes from two directions, apparently: tiles created by companies and tiles created by independent developers - the users pick their favorites and share them with each other "virally." Basically it looks like ZenZui is trying to get money to folks without making us users crazy with ads and spammy content and whatnot.

In any case, it makes a little more sense when you watch the video. It'll probably make even more sense when we use it. I'd say this is a good idea without a future, but it's a Microsoft spin-off, so I'll say it's a good idea with a good chance.

Read: ZenZui

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We mentioned Deepfish way back before WMExperts was really really live, but it looks like it's making the rounds again. Deepfish is a new browser for Windows Mobile that has some really nice zooming features (ala iPhone). Sadly, it appears that they're not allowing for any more downloads of the current Beta. Bottom line: it's really clear that Microsoft has been giving thought to alternative and innovative mobile user interfaces lately.

Deepfish is a new type of mobile information browsing experience, aimed at preserving the rich layout and full form of documents on mobile devices while providing novel ways of effectively navigating that content on small screens.

Read: Microsoft Live Labs - Take Deepfish for a Swim

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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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