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Creators Update comin' at ya

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Windows Phone News

Ben ("The PC Guy") Rudolph has continued to take the Smoked by Windows Phone marketing campaign across the states, and he's showing no signs of easing back with more videos being published to the Windows Phone YouTube account. We previously looked at a handful of new videos being added to the account and commented on how we enjoyed the new style, so it's pleasing to see the company continuing to refine and push the platform using this successful campaign.

With the active "Dare to Live" tour in the UK, which is focusing heavily on the number of wins the platform achieves, the Smoked campaign is relaxed to put more emphasis on how Windows Phone can make participant lives easier through a series of challenges. Check out two more videos after the break.

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It seems that if you’re a Windows Phone fan you got to have merchandise to prove it—rock stars have it, sports teams have so why not smartphones?

If you’ve been looking to part with your money to prove your dedication then you’ll want to swing by the official Windows Phone Gear store powered by Café Press.  The store launched last month and since then it has received a new merchandise design—"100,000 apps and counting"—which features a myriad of little Windows Phone app tiles.

The new option is short, simple and is available in a coffee mug, water bottle, sticker and magnet. We’d opt for the coffee mug personally as we think that looks the coolest.

Interestingly, we remember this design was picked up and modified by Microsoft’s KC Lemson (who’s hilarious on Twitter--you should totally follow her) from SharePoint specialist Leon Zandman, which goes to show you that neat designs can come from anywhere.

Head to the Windows Phone Gear store to see if there’s anything that piques your interest. Thanks, marco300, for the heads up

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Continuing on our regular From the Forums feature, where we bring you the latest hot threads from our community, there have been a number of discussions that have caught our eye. One of the more debated topics were the Nokia Lumia US sales figures that were circling the web. It was originally believed that the manufacturer has only managed to push out 330,000 Windows Phones since it launched in the states. Head on past the break for the full run through of 'fluff'.

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Microsoft today blogged about their strategy for Skydrive and how its going to fit in with Office 2013. Skydrive is already the backbone for many MS services, everything from Xbox Cloud-saved games to providing a space to upload photos when sending from Hotmail. In this little preview, we get a look at how Office may look on WP8, complete with new style Windows logo.

This year will see Office 2013 released, as long as you're signed into your PC with your Live ID it will automatically save your documents to Skydrive as the default option. The post then goes on talk about the new feature of Office 2013 where it will remember the exact paragraph you were last reading so that when you pick up your next device you’ll be right where you left off.

Whilst a mockup - its showing off that new Windows Logo

The post goes on to state that those features will extend to the mobile device also. Synchronised reading position for a document being worked on certainly sounds very useful. What more can we speculate will be rolled into Windows Phone 8? If WP8 is going to be much more business friendly than Windows Phone 7 then I am expecting a good deal of features baked in.

We know that Skype is going to be first class citizen with Office 2013 but I would expect to see Lync thrown in here for good measure. If they are talking about synced reading views then I would expect the same form of touch based reading experience that is offered in Office 2013. Currently Windows Phone already has some nice touches in the Office Hub, recent documents  already exists but Office 2013 takes that slightly further by showing documents from all applications the the various storage locations you have been using.

What else might we expect? Well Word 2013 can now edit PDF documents. Perhaps WP8 will be able to dispense with a PDF viewer completely in favour of Word in reading mode. Presence is a huge thing in the corporate world so seeing who’s online for live document collaboration or chat using Lync or Skype? I don’t see why the already excellent Windows Phone version of Office can’t go on to be a real star in the Windows 8 story.

I’d love to know what you would like to see in Office 2013 on Windows Phone 8.

Source: Microsoft

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Although news on or about Windows Phone may be slow coming out today there’s still plenty going on in the tech world that’s tied to Microsoft with some residual effects for our favorite mobile OS. Instead of spamming our own site with tangential news, we figured we would just summarize in a digest. Cool?

Today’s new stories that we've found interesting are the following—

  • Motorola import ban for violating Microsoft’s patent goes into effect tomorrow
  • Office 2013 has an app store + hidden Metro site
  • Forbes Online says Nokia stock is worth holding on to

So head past the break to catch up on some of these interesting stories making the rounds today...

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The Mobile Nations team is celebrating the first birthday of the Monday Brief, and we want to hook a lucky winner up with their dream device. We're not just going to have a regular old "post a comment and win" type giveaway this time. Instead, we're recruiting YOU to help us revamp and refresh the Monday Brief intro. Have you been lusting after the Samsung Galaxy S III? How about the new iPad? Or perhaps you've been anxiously awaiting the next round of Windows Phone 8 devices or are holding out for BlackBerry 10? Well this is your chance to win one of those dream devices!

Over the years we've seen some pretty crazy entries for video contests here at Mobile Nations (Kevin often brings up a certain Pudding Wrestling in Time Square CrackBerry video), but we want to top them all, so we're gonna make this the best video contest Mobile Nations has ever had! Seriously, we want to you see you all get creative, get crazy and show us your passion to help. Let's have a look at what you could win:

  • GRAND PRIZE: One (1) phone, tablet, or gadget you've read about on Mobile Nations websites, valued at up to $600 USD
  • Runners Up: We'll hook you up with some awesome stuff. Either a coupon to one of the stores, some swag or something else you'll love. Don't worry, if we use your intro on a Monday Brief, we'll give you recognition and a nice little reward.

Once again, this is a video contest -- you'll have to get creative and assemble your most creative, funny, or just plain insane version of Ashley's weekly introduction to the Monday Brief. If you're not sure what part that is, watch the beginning of the show. Jump below to get the full details on how to enter and check out the rules, you'll need to follow them accordingly.

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A few days ago a fairly major bug has been found in the latest Skype update—the client app on your computer can crash upon sending an IM and what’s more, it may even send the IM to the wrong contact (Skype tries to re-send it but it may have logged you in under a secondary account, should you have one). From Skype:

“Skype client crashes during a Skype IM session, which may in some cases result in the last IM entered or sent prior to the crash being delivered to a different IM contact after the Skype client is rebooted or logged in as a new user.”

Personally, we haven’t seen this bug but it has made some headlines as it’s a quite major and can obviously have some dire privacy issues. The Skype team is on it getting ready to roll out a hotfix very soon.

The odd part is Skype is reporting that this bug is also found on Windows Phone (in addition to Windows, Mac and Linux). We haven’t had any reports of users complaining of crashing—our bet is most of you use Skype for the VOIP part and not so much the IM half which may be biasing feedback.

Regardless, if we see an update to the Skype client for Windows Phone in the next few days, you can be certain it is tied to this situation and there probably won’t be any new features.

Source: Skype; Thanks, Tagliaerbe, for the tip

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Microsoft continues to flesh out their Xbox live app for those of us that have iPads. The latest update brings more of the once exclusive features of the Windows Phone Companion App to iOS users. Unlike Windows Phone, which has a combination of apps to take care of Xbox live business, the iPad rolls all the functions into one. Personally, I like it all integrated into one whole and have been a little confused as to why the Windows Phone has essentially stuck with the Xbox Hub plus the two addition apps called Xbox Companion app and Xbox LIVE Extras App.

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The European Commission announced plans today to open an investigation to determine whether or not Microsoft has failed to comply with its browser choice commitment, which was applied in 2009. The commitment saw the software giant presenting customers of its Windows operating system with a screen listing available alternatives to Internet Explorer (see above). This was put in place due to Microsoft being found guilty of abusing its dominant position with IE in the browser market.

Joaquín Almunia, Vice President of the Commission in charge of competition policy, had the following to comment.

"We take compliance with our decisions very seriously. And I trusted the company's reports were accurate. But it seems that was not the case, so we have immediately taken action. If following our investigation, the infringement is confirmed, Microsoft should expect sanctions"

Competing browsers have previously spoken publicly about the potential antitrust violations Microsoft is dancing around by preventing third party browsers access to the same APIs IE uses in Windows 8. With the down-spiral of IE and the massive increase in users for both Firefox and Chrome, is it worth penalising Microsoft heavily for a ballot box screen, which arguably adds little value to the user experience? 

According to the announcement, the EC believes that Microsoft may have failed to implement the browser choice screen from February 2011 onwards with the release of Windows 7 SP1. It'll be interesting to see the outcome of this investigation, especially from a financial standpoint, with a possible fine of up to 10% of Microsoft's total annual turnover, should it be found guilty of breaching the commitment.

How do you feel about the bundling of software in Windows 8? Do you believe Microsoft still has a duty to provide such choice to customers regarding web browsers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Source: European Commission, via: The Verge

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Nokia have just announced an update on how they are progressing with their Destination Maps product. The aim with the initiative is to provide an additional layer of mapping data where it makes sense. In this case Nokia are essentially aiming for Shopping Malls, Airports and other large scale public spaces. The rate at which they are adding these internal spaces is impressive, now boasting 4605 venues in 38 countries. 

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Last we reported that Compal was seeing a reduction in orders of Lumia smartphones from Nokia, fueling some speculation that either Nokia was winding down production in general or they were transferring production to their own shops.

It looks like the latter may now be the case as some of the Lumia 900s coming onto the market are now coming from Argentina. Nokia opened a factory there some time in 2011 and it now looks to have completed its transition to producing Lumia 900 phones albeit as a savings from making it directly in Finland.

Nokia is also set to launch the 900 in Argentina presumably in a few weeks, corroborating earlier reports that the device was to launch their “second half” of the year.

Source: Celularis; Thanks, Esteban T., for the link!

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It's pretty but do you use it?

We’re not going to deny that in today’s smartphone world, if you’re going to sell a high-end Windows Phone (or even mid-range) a front-facing camera is a must. Presumably used for face-to-face video call, the technology has been around for years but is only becoming mainstream since 2011.

In Windows Phone 8, users will have Skype and other VOIP options built seamlessly into the OS, offering a fluid experience akin to making “regular” phone calls. And with 4G LTE finally gaining ground nationally here in the US, data bandwidth seems more than adequate for video conferencing.

While all of that sounds good the question for us to you who currently have a front-facing camera is do you use it?

It seems silly to ask but we never use ours except for a few times to test Tango Video or Skype. Other than that we can’t be bothered with the technology. But we’ve often seen those with children using FaceTime on the iPhone to keep in touch, so perhaps we’re in the minority here. The view seems to be that everyone wants a front-facing camera and it's a must-have feature but few of us are actually using it. Are we wrong?

So go forth people, be honest and take our poll. If you do use it, tell us in comments how often. If you don't, let us know why you don't. Too awkward, not enough data speed? Will widespread adoption of Windows Phone 8 and Skype across Microsoft change things?

 

Do you use your front facing camera on your Windows Phone?
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Microsoft has made the customer preview of the upcoming Office 2013 suite available for download. Being cloud based, Microsoft has decided to integrate both SkyDrive and Skype into the suite and offer more social functionality to end-users. Signing into your Live / Microsoft Account, you'll be able to store and access documents on the cloud from any supported platform, including Windows Phone.

As well as more optimisation, Office 2013 has also gone 'Metro' with emphasis on simplicity to create an immersive experience. We've installed Office 2013 on our machines and boy does it install promptly. We didn't even have time to make a second cup of tea before it was all set up and ready to go. The suite includes Access, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher and Word.

Be sure to head on over to Microsoft's website to check out the Office 2013 Customer Preview.

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A new video purporedly shows limited NFC functionality on the Lumia 800

A video has appeared today (which we have been unable to verify for legitimacy) that reportedly shows a Nokia Lumia 800 making brief near-field communication (NFC) contact with a Nokia Play 360 (which supports NFC pairing). The phenomenon happens when toggling WiFi on and off, suggesting the powering of the NFC is connected somehow to WiFi.

The question naturally presents itself: does the Nokia Lumia 800 in fact support NFC? And will it get an update to enable this if so? The answer is a bit messy but we’ll just be brief here and say “no” and “no”.

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According to a job listing, Amazon is looking to develop a Windows Phone app for their Amazon Cloud Player service, which enables customers to stream stored music to multiple devices, much like iTunes Match. Using the Amazon cloud storage solution Cloud Drive (amazon.com/clouddrive), the music service enables customers to upload and access their library.

The interesting part about the music streaming functionality is that unaltered Amazon MP3 purchases don't contribute to the free 5GB allowance (paid plans available should more space be required). Music can be streamed via Amazon Cloud Player on the web and on supported platforms. 

What the successful applicant will be tasked with:-

  • Lead the development and launch of Cloud Player client software on Windows Phone.
    • Manage and grow a team of developers with responsibilities across the software stack.
    • Own the operational excellence of software used by millions of users.
    • Collaborate with other development teams at A2Z . and affiliated companies.
    • Adept at communicating with both technical and non-technical people, both local and remote.
  • Passionate about creating great consumer applications.
  • Help build the best digital music customer experience

If this sounds right up your street then be sure to head on over to the job posting for more information and to apply. It'll be great to see such a solution available in the Marketplace for those who enjoy using Amazon's MP3 Store. We'll be sure to update you with any information that comes to light. Developing. Literally.

Source: Amazon, via: Insideris

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Pictures Lab is a very nice photo editing app for your Windows Phone. The app offers a wide selection of editing tools that includes filters, borders, exposure adjustments and more. The app is in the top five photography apps on the Marketplace and has recently had it's price cropped. The original $1.99 price tag on Pictures Lab is dropped to $.99 making the app a steal of a deal.

Pictures Lab has Facebook and Twitter integration to make social sharing of your photos easier. Settings allow you to set the image quality on images you share and save. Plus you can add an artist name (e.g. copyright) to the image's EXIF file. plus you can set the image quality in the app's settings.

If you're not sure about Pictures Hub, there is a free trial version available to let you try before you buy. The full version is running $.99 and you can find Pictures Lab here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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It's estimated that with each Lumia 900 sold in the US for $49, $450 is used to market the Windows Phone for the consumer to actually make the purchase. So we're looking at a fairly expensive US launch should reports be accurate. Is it really all doom and gloom for the platform and Nokia?

Blogger Horace Dediu suggests the push in the States has had negligible impact on the market so far, which we'd agree with. It has been pretty poor. The Lumia 900 received "hero status" from AT&T and is the largest marketing effort by the carrier to-date. But according to recent marketshare numbers, the Windows Phone platform is still struggling in the up-hill battle. We can't just look at the Lumia 900, we have to really look at the perception of Windows Phone as a platform.

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Microsoft already told you WP8 supports USB mass storage

When it comes to Windows Phone 8, there is much more information coming than has been revealed—Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore stresses this at the beginning of the WP Summit a few weeks ago. However, there are things we do know--either things we’ve leaked are or the more direct method like what Microsoft announced during the Summit.

A “rumor” going around today is that Windows Phone 8 supports “USB Mass Storage” i.e. the ability to plug your phone into your computer to transfer files.

Folks, this isn’t a rumor nor is it news. For one, we can tell you 100% that this is the case as Microsoft spoke about this on and off the record with us and a few other news outlets pre-Summit. Second, you can just watch it for yourself when Joe Belfiore briefly discusses this feature at the 14 minute mark in the Summit video:

“We introducing removal micro SD support as a core part of the platform and this core micro SD card support spans both the PC and the phone. The scenarios are both valuable to consumers but also to developers and even hardware vendors.

What this enables that’s different than what Windows Phone 7.5 has today is that an end user can add a micro SD card months after they buy the phone expanding their storage and then they can use it to transfer contents between their PC to their phone, from phone to phone, it can be used a distribution vehicle for apps and it supports all of things in a very natural, integrated way in the Metro experience.

We didn’t want to deliver this feature until we could do it in a way that would be easy to use, predictable and high performant [sic] and we think we’ve got that nailed in Windows Phone 8”

We admit that this announced feature didn’t include a big, splashy graphic but this technically isn’t a rumor and Belfiore is telling you nearly all you need to know about this upcoming ability to Windows Phone 8. Regarding the other half of the rumor today--that Microsoft getting rid of the Zune Desktop client and allowing native syncing with Windows--this too is old information as it was reported in February and should be obvious by now. If it's not, consider this your confirmation. 

And let’s be clear: this mass storage support gives you a PC mountable experience for the micro SD but not access to the phone’s internal memory for security reasons. But the ability to add media, files, etc. via a presumably drag-n-drop method for expandable storage is what many people have wanted for a long time and it makes sense. So there is nothing to see here but hey, if this is news to you, then we're glad we made you a bit more happy for Windows Phone 8 this fall.

See the video of the Summit cued up after the break...

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Tesco’s in the past were perhaps a little confused about Windows Phone. That is all set to change as they are now kindly offering the Nokia Lumia 710 and the Lumia 800 for use on their pay monthly tariffs. The Lumia 800 is being offered free of charge provided you are willing to commit to a two-year contract at £22.50 per month, available here.

The Lumia 800 is not alone in its fight for the hearts and minds of the UK’s grocery buying punters, the 710 is here too. The Lumia 710 sports the same internals as the Lumia 800 but is a little more budget friendly due to its construction techniques. Tesco are offering that on a similar 24 month contract for £20.00 a month.

If you are someone that prefers to have his or her phone without the contract shackles, Tesco offer the Lumia 800 to purchase on Pay as you go for a hefty £359.97. I will note that you can buy the device cheaper on sites such as Expansys.

Tesco mobile stocking Windows Phones is great news for the platform. Lumia handsets have proven to be popular with the phone buying public. From a recent article, it would seem that the Lumia brand has in fact overtaken Windows Phone in terms of brand awareness.

An interesting theme is emerging in that retailers are not stocking HTC, Samsung or ZTE devices. I think this has to do with the scale of advertising the Lumia devices have received. Nokia have solid relations with retailers and they seem to be capable of leveraging that advantage to push Windows Phone to places it has not been before. I wonder if Microsoft’s other partners had been more active in pushing Windows Phone earlier, instead of their Android offerings would we have seen more traction today?

Tesco as a company have a good relationship with Microsoft, so one has to wonder why it’s taken them so long to get to Windows Phone. After all, they have been offering a Tescos shopping app in the marketplace almost from the start.

So, will any of you be popping in to your local Tesco’s to buy some milk and a Lumia in the near future? Do you think the recent Hollyoaks tie up is getting retailers excited about taking on Windows Phones? Why do you think Tesco are offering this now with Windows Phone 8 around the proverbial corner? I am always keen to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Source : Tesco

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