Editorials

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Wrist-First: This is Pebble

"The smartwatch kind of snuck up on us." I'm sitting with Eric Migicovsky in his office in Palo Alto. Even seated he towers over me, which might help explain his extraordinary vision. Or maybe he’s just that far ahead of the rest of us.

Earlier attempts at making watches smarter, everything from the classic Casio calculator watch to the Sony Ericsson MBW series, didn't do it for Migicovsky. They simply didn't do enough. Inspired by pen computers like the Newton, Psion, and the Palm Pilot, and their eventual convergence with smartphones, Migicovsky felt there was a place for a device that was even more convenient.

He wanted something that could take on a subset of tasks and make them available to you at glance, on your wrist, while in a meeting or on a run. After early attempts to hack extra radios onto the iPhone 3G, Migicovsky, a Canadian, switched his focus to the (at the time) far more accessible BlackBerry platform.

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Windows Phone Central Best of 2013 Awards

2013 was a break-out year for Windows Phone and Windows. Not only did more Windows-powered smartphones and tablets end up in the hands of eager users, but developers big and small jumped on board. Not just that, but we saw a whole range of new hardware, from smartphones packed with more megapixels than a mighty DSLR to handsets so affordable they almost seem like they could be bought with the change in your pocket. It was quite a year, that 2013.

So we asked you to help us recognize the best if the best for the year in Windows Phone. We took your nominations, and you voted on the finalists, and with more than 110,00 votes logged, it's time to reveal the winners.

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Mobile Nations Community Update, December 2013

So here we are, we made it... to the very first Mobile Nations Community Update. I'm James Falconer, Community Manager for Mobile Nations. If you've seen me around the forums on Android Central, CrackBerry, iMore or Windows Phone Central, it's good to see you again. If this is the first time we've met: Howdy!

This is the first of what will be a monthly series of Community Updates spanning the Mobile Nations network. Each month we will highlight the most exciting things happening in our forums, stand-outs among the forum membership, moderators and our community ambassadors, plus a lot more.

Many of us run with one primary smartphone or tablet, but these devices do NOT exist in isolation. There's not just iPad or just BlackBerry or Android or Surface - they coexist. The communities likewise aren't islands - there are bridges, there's crossover, and comingling. This Community Update aims to strengthen those bridges and highlight the very best across all of Mobile Nations Communities. So let's get to it!

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Below 10,000 feet: gadgets on planes

It’s not often the rules change, especially when it comes to aviation. Since the Wright brothers first propelled their wood-and-fabric plane into the sky in 1903 we’ve been banned from using electronic devices below 10,000 feet. (They had iPods back then, right?) Of course, there was reasoning behind the ban, or at least reasonable fear. Electronics by their very nature emit electromagnetic radiation, which has the potential to interfere with the ostensibly sensitive instruments of an aircraft. Takeoff and landing are the most dangerous phases of any flight, the points where those instruments need to be their most accurate. So in the early days of portable electronics, when they were more electromagnetically leaky and the instruments in the cockpit weren’t as protected as they are today, an abundance of caution led to portable electronics being banned during takeoff and landing.

But in the years since that ban was instituted, our gadgets have become less leaky. Copious research has been applied to determining just how much interference these devices might actually cause (the answer is minimal to none). And the electronics that control these planes have been hardened, but to protect against much more nefarious interferences such as electromagnetic pulse bombs or terrorist hacking intended to knock planes out of the sky.

Our gadgets and our planes today are safe together. And so the government aviation authorities have decided that it’s time to lift the ban. You’re not yet free to move about the cabin during that initial ascent and final approach, but you can keep tapping away at your tablet and smartphone. So beyond having your possible usage time extended from the time you sit down to the time you get up, what else do these new rules mean for airborne travelers?

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This morning, the Windows Phone Central inbox was flooded with tips about one Eldar Murtazin, who has taken to Twitter to make some comments about the future of Windows Phone and its UI design. Specifically, he claims that Microsoft will have “another UI” with the Live Tile system going away, replaced instead with a UI inspired by Android.

The future design of Windows Phone is certainly of concern, especially to our readers. Microsoft has bet a lot of the design language of Modern UI, making it the corner piece in Windows 8 and the Xbox One. Could they really be re-thinking everything?

Furthermore, who is Murtazin and why should you care? We take a look at the latest rumors and show why they are baseless.

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Microsoft has spent a great deal of time designing Windows 8 from the ground up in terms of making it a great operating system for both tablet and traditional non-touch screen notebook style machines. There are a few companies, who do not believe that is enough. Whether it be that they feel Windows 8 is not efficient enough as a touch operating system or they simply believe it does not have enough of a robust application store, they have turned to what they believe could be a possible savior – Android.

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Comparing the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One side by side makes Microsoft’s unit look a bit… chunky. But Microsoft has its reasoning for making its next generation system the size of a large concrete brick – ventilation. While Sony has decided to go for the sleek racing car style approach, Microsoft has longevity and stability on their list.

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Halloween 2013 Contest Winners

The judges worked long and hard going through the hundreds of submissions in this year's Halloween Photo Contests, and they have finally narrowed it down and chosen the winners! There were so many incredible entries, from funny to scary with everything in between, and all of them were super creative, so this was a really hard contest to judge! It took a little bit longer than we had hoped, but prizes are worth waiting for, no? We appreciate all the pictures that were submitted, and hope that you all had as much fun entering as we did getting to see everyone. Click on through to see all the awesome!

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Remember Microsoft’s Zune line of multimedia players? I haven’t forgotten, and to this day, the Zune 120 GB Black "Brick" remains as one of my favorite pieces of hardware from the past. To help everyone relax, while bringing back some Microsoft nostalgia, below is a short video list of some of the rocking (and mellow) tunes used in the original commercials.

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Since Steve Ballmer declared his retirement from Microsoft as CEO, speculations on who will be the next big boss have been tossed around. One of the top candidates who appears on every list is the former CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop; he supposedly had the heart to run Microsoft, but recent information that we reported on this morning has shown that he may do more damage than good.

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Today Nokia reported its most recent quarterly results. Lumia volumes were up 19% sequentially, hitting a new record of 8.8 million shipments.  As Daniel pointed out earlier, these aren’t anywhere near iPhone volumes.  Apple shipped almost 38 million iPhones, or 4.3x more phone than Nokia Lumia this past quarter.  But that shouldn’t take away from Nokia’s accomplishment. They are single-handedly responsible for making Windows Phone a viable competitor in the marketplace.

Make no mistake, there is still a lot of work to be done, and we can only hope that the integration of the handset business with Microsoft goes smoothly, but Windows Phone stands a chance.  Anytime a platform posts double digit sequential growth in shipments we’re bound to see more developers take it seriously, not less.

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Last month, Microsoft pulled 11 Xbox games from the Windows Phone Store, 10 of which had used Microsoft Points as the payment method for their In-App Purchases. At the time, we speculated that only a few games would return at all, and mostly stripped of their Xbox features.

Today the first of those delisted games has returned: Chickens Can’t Fly. Unfortunately, it has indeed returned as an indie game. But hey, at least Windows Phone gamers can play it again – if they repurchase. We can’t place the blame for this on developer Amused Sloth, though. They’ve just posted a lengthy explanation for change on their blog. As you might expect, stripping the game of its Xbox features came from a higher power...

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Although the Microsoft / Nokia agreement announced early last month caused shockwaves in the industry, many analysts have rightly been cautious about the acquisition of Nokia’s hardware division. That’s because the deal has not been finalized nor approved, by anyone, and the process is not expected to be completed until early 2014.

The question on many minds though, including our own, is what are things like now between the two companies? One stream of thought is that Microsoft and Nokia are going forward, working on devices, and that they have begun to merge divisions, knocking down those barriers that Belfiore referred to in an interview with CNET. Better phones, more exciting software, right?

However, Hal Berenson, a retired Distinguished Engineer and General Manager at Microsoft, says it is just the opposite. In an insightful blog post he notes that Microsoft is having little to no influence on anything Nokia is doing right now—in fact, it probably has less power than before the deal was announced.

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With Mobile You, the final week of Talk Mobile 2013 done, it's time for another survey, because we just love quantifiable data here. These surveys have helped us learn more about you and how you use your devices, as well as giving us the data to build awesome infographics for gaming and keyboards. Bringing together everything we from across all of Talk Mobile, Mobile You week was just full of awesome - from how to pick your device, what's best for you, what they can do for you, and how we truly make these devices our own.

So here is the Mobile You week survey - it's only a few dozen questions so it shouldn't take too long. Plus they're all multiple choice questions, and being a survey there's no "right" answer (so we better not catch you cheating off your neighbor). And because we love you, completing the survey will enter you for a chance to win a $100 Best Buy gift card. Bribery, incentive, cash-for-data, call it what you want, it's potentially gadget money you didn't have before, so that's cool, right?

Click here to take the Talk Mobile - Mobile You Survey!

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It really shouldn’t come as a surprise, but PlayStation 4 is beating down the Xbox One in consumer polling. Reuters asked 1,297 people how likely they were to purchase an Xbox One or PS4 – and the results for die hard Microsoft fans – are disappointing.

According to the poll, 26% of individuals reported that they are likely to purchase a PlayStation 4 from Sony; this is in contrast to the 15% of individuals who reported that they are likely to purchase an Xbox One from Microsoft.

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Yesterday, we reported on a collection of special holiday deals for consumers looking to pick up an Xbox 360 in India.

Today, the official Xbox 360 Holiday Value Bundles have been announced by Microsoft and are said to be available “around the world”. In addition purchasers in the United States will receive $50 off their purchase.

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Our interview with Microsoft Behavioral Scientist Matt Wallaert to set the record straight on the Bing versus Google controversy

Yesterday, we published an editorial questioning whether or not Microsoft’s “Bing It On” campaign and its claims are a sham or fair play.

Yale law professor, Ian Ayres, conducted a study with a collection of 1,000 people who were asked to take the “Bing It On” challenge and report their results. The outcome of Ayres’ experiment was nowhere near Microsoft’s claim that people prefer Bing 2 to 1 causing a media storm of accusations and negative press.

We spoke with Bing Behavioral Scientist, Matt Wallaert, to help clear up the situation.

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UPDATE: Please see our interview with Bing scientist, Matt Wallaert, here.

Recently, a law professor from Yale claimed that Microsoft’s famous “Bing It On” campaign is no more than a collection of lies. Ian Ayres, stated in Freakonomics that the company’s Bing ads are misleading and deceptive. To prove his point, Ayres set out on a “Bing It On” challenge using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk marketplace.

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Today it seems everywhere you turn in the financial media, there is a story about how Nokia’s chairman screwed up in disclosing information about Stephen Elop’s bonus package to the media. Some of the reporting on it is a bit wonky, so I thought I’d clear things up.

Long story short, Nokia’s chairman was initially quoted as saying Elop’s contract was essentially the same as that of the prior CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo. When a Finnish newspaper, “Helsingin Sanomat”, dug into his employment contract, which is published to the SEC website, they discovered one important major difference. Elop stands to have his stock compensation vested in an accelerated manner should he resign following a change of control. The prior Finnish CEO didn’t have this clause. The difference amounts to about $25 million, according to various other folks who did the math (I didn’t, and I’m assuming their math is correct).

People love to complain about these things. A Forbes article even went so far as to say that Elop gets paid specifically because he managed to get the stock to go down, and then sharply up again on a takeover bid from Microsoft. The Forbes piece made it seem like this roller coaster action was a requirement to trigger the bonus.

That’s not true. Here’s what is true:

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