Windows Phone News

The Nokia Lumia 710 made an appearance at the Oscars. Courtesy of Kelly Ripa. The Windows Phone was taken backstage to snap photos and hob-nob with all the Hollywood hot-shots.

Kelly showed off the Lumia 710 on her Live! with Kelly morning show and as an added bonus gave each of her studio audience members a free 710. As if that wasn't enough, each audience member received a 6 month T-Mobile service plan.  Based on the reaction of the audience it appears they liked this Windows Phone promotion.  

Looks like another successful Windows Promotion that joins Ellen Degenre's HTC Radar giveaway event that took place last December.

source: LIVE! with Kelly

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Nokia has updated the colour palette for their mapping service and this change has been reflected through Microsoft's Bing with the partnership between the two companies. The alterations are to make the browsing experience easier and more aesthetically pleasing with improved typography, colours and less obstructive icons. The above image illustrates the change with the new version of Bing Maps on the left.

While these changes are present on the web versions of both Nokia and Bing Maps, Windows Phone owners will be able to witness the improvements in the official apps. Note that Nokia Drive wont be updated with the new look for a week or two.

What do you make of said changes?

Source: Nokia Conversations

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Windows Phone Hacker, the developer behind the Folders homebrew app, has come up with a new concept to add small tiles to the lock screen that can display app information, much like you'd expect on the home screen live tiles. Data could be pulled from apps such as weather, RSS readers, image sharing, etc. 

Another idea is to have the wallpaper dynamically change to fit the Bing background. The bad news is you'll require root access to be able to use this app, should it become reality of course. Be sure to head over to Windows Phone Hacker to spark interest in the concept.

Source: Windows Phone Hacker

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Security firm CrowdStrike has identified a vulnerability that could allow attackers to seize complete control over a smartphone.  The hole could allow an attacker to gain access via Webkit-based browsers, which makes up the bulk of mobile web browsers.  The good news for Windows Phone users is that they are in the clear because Microsoft designed Internet Explorer themselves, opting not to use the Webkit platform.

George Kurtz, CEO of CrowdStrike, has tested this theory and has confirmed that Windows Phone, unlike iOS, Android and Blackberry, is immune to this threat.  Kurtz has not revealed the details of the vulnerability, but will be holding a demonstration tomorrow at a TSA conference.  For the time being, there is little that users can do to protect themselves.  Any fixes must come from the OS developers first, and then get pushed out to consumers.

Source: Zunited

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Should you wish to get some extra exposure for your Windows Phone app, how does a chance with Nokia at this year's SXSW (South by Southwest) sound? If you're heading to the event, you could have the opportunity for Nokia to showcase your work inside the Nokia Lab, a free-standing structure that will be erected near the convention centre for SXSW Interactive.

How does one get the chance to take part, you ask? It's simple. You tell the handset maker about your work, if it's unique and downright awesome they'll showcase it along with other app demos that will be live at the Lab on March 12th. How to enter your app:

  • Have an app that works on a Nokia Lumia Windows Phone device
  • Send the following brief details via e-mail to nokiadeveloper@thelucidway.com:
    • Your name, company and contact information (include email and phone)
    • A link to your app in Windows Phone Marketplace, or link to the private
    • beta of your app in Windows Phone Marketplace
    • A brief description and any screenshots of your app
    • Why your app is amazing, cool, or unique

Chosen developers will be contacted prior to the event. Visitors to the Nokia Lab at SXSW will experience Nokia's latest Windows Phone handsets, including the Lumia 900, and will get hands-on experience with winning apps. The app demos in the Nokia Lab will run from 11am up until 8pm on March 12th, which provides some solid exposure for both the apps and the Windows Phone platform.

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Can we have a drum roll? Because GroupMe is back! The group-texting app for Windows Phone (which is also available on Blackberry, iOS and Android) went MIA late last year and not much has been officially said surrounding the app since, until a callout was published on the Twitter account looking for Windows Phone users who reside in New York.

Today we have an article announcing the app's return on the official GroupMe blog. So what's new in version 3? With the company being purchased by Skype (Microsoft), the team has been working closely with the software giant to revamp the app. As well as a visual (and code) overhaul, which looks much more fluent with the Metro UI, GroupMe also supports deep-link live tiles (with notifications) to chats and groups, photo sharing, contacts integration, and more.

A few issues are present though: no landscape support for writing and notifications aren't working yet for us. Still, from keeping in touch with colleagues, to sharing photos, GroupMe will enable you to keep up to date with your favourite groups of contacts. Overall, a great comeback for the app and we look forward to see how Skype and GroupMe can integrate in the future. You can download GroupMe from the Marketplace for free.

Source: GroupMe Blog

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We reported a few weeks ago the site Carphone Warehouse was taking pre-registrations for the Nokia Lumia 900 with an expected June release. Now the site has quietly update that to May signaling perhaps an accelerated schedule or newer, more detailed information.

Either way that's good news for those of you looking to get this phone sooner than later. While this isn't a pre-order and no money is exchanged it's a relatively safe way to register your interest in the monster Nokia phone.

Source: Carphone Warehouse; Thanks, Robert M., for the tip

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Unlocked Mobiles has listed the Nokia Lumia 610 Windows Phone as available for pre-order. The 3.7" devices is being offered for 164.98 pounds (inc VAT).  The Windows Phone will be offered SIM free and unlocked.

The Lumia 610 is expected in stock on May 14, 2012 and available for next day delivery.

You can find the Lumia 610's product page here with all the details on ordering.  Oh and remember if a larger screen is more your style, the wireless phone vendor is also taking pre-orders for the Lumia 900.

Thanks, James, for the tip!

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Although Microsoft didn't have any big press conferences or news releases regarding the future of Windows Phone at Mobile World Congress that hasn't stopped them from throwing a little thank you party to all of their supporters (and if you remember we gave away some ticket to the exclusive event).

Held at the famous El Molino, the event was suppose to have 400 attendees but Microsoft was expecting many more and indeed as the night went on it was certainly packed (especially on the roof). With free drinks, thumping dance music, delicious h'orderves and contests, the night was quite a blast.

Speaking of contests, Microsoft had a few last night including a Twitter/Speed contest where you had to type and post a catch phrase with hashtag as fast as you can. The fastest 10 all won a Windows Phone and even had a choice between an HTC Titan, Radar or Nokia Lumia 800. There was also the favorite "Fruit Ninja" contest where users can play the game on numerous Windows Phones with the top scorer winning a new device.

All in all it was a great time and below we have a few photos of the event just in case you couldn't make it. (Oh and we even briefly ran into one of our readers there, which was very cool).

Remember, keep track of all of our Mobile World Congress'12 news here: wpcentral.com/tags/mwc12

Head past the break for some pics...

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The European Lumia 900, which was announced at MWC earlier today (or yesterday for those GMT and beyond), is now available for interest registration at the Carphone Warehouse. The Lumia 900 is also going to be stocked at other retailers including Unlocked Mobiles, and sports a 4.3" AMOLED (with ClearBlack technology) display, 16GB storage, 8MP camera (with FF), 512MB RAM and a 1.4Ghz chip.

No word on the pricing as of yet, but we suspect it'll be competitive and will look to be around the £450 mark. According to the registration page, they are looking at a June 2012 launch.

Source: Carphone Warehousethanks, Richard, for the tip!

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It's Fitness Month here at WPCentral and Mobile Nations, as you all already know, so we thought we'd take a look at some health-related apps for your Windows Phone that can be used to keep on top of those pesky New Year resolutions you may have made for 2012. I've personally been using runtastic for Windows Phone, a fitness tracking app / service that's also available for Blackberry, iOS and Android. So, just how can this app help keep owners fit?

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Earlier today we called attention to new changes being brought about with the release of Windows Phone SDK 7.1.1, the release supporting 'Tango' in all it's low-end/budget glory.

We also mentioned in that article that only 5% of apps wouldn't run in the new hardware configuration, which is down to the amount of memory they utilise whilst active. However looking over this msdn page we wanted to make it crystal clear to our community that in fact there is a limitation for our new friend the Lumia 610: it won't run Background Tasks.

Specifically, generic background tasks are not supported for devices with 256MB of memory. A perfect example would be the background task used to update the live tile and cache in our own app. These types of tasks are known to developers as Periodic tasks and Resource Intensive tasks (if you want to understand the difference I recommend reading this overview). The potentially good news is that some types of background task, such as the background Audio agent which is used for playing music or podcasts after the app has been de-activated, look to be supported still.

A question therefore which I put to our readers, is this the first sign of platform fragmentation? Can we still state that "you get the same great Windows Phone experience on any handset"? Or is this a reasonable omission for the sweeter price spot?

Update: A quick clarification as some of our commenters aren't too sure, this does not affect fast app switching (part of the multitasking functionality) and nor does it affect push notifications which generate live tiles or toast messages. I'd also like to state that if apps make use of Background tasks Microsoft have provided methods for developers to identify when a "mid-tier" device is being used before trying to enable the task, thus allowing users to continue using all other features of the app in question.

Update 2: Justin Angel argues (very well) that this is not mobile fragmentation, as technically developers will write code once which can then be run on any Windows Phone platform, although developers may still be required to test for these mid-tier devices and run functions of their apps in accordance. Instead Justin suggests that this classifies as 'device differentiation', in the same way as not having a gyroscope or front facing camera in your device.

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Although overshadowed a bit by Nokia today, ZTE who earlier released the Tania has also put out the Orbit which was announced early this morning. The Orbit is yet another low-cost phone presumably for emerging markets and East Asia though the company has expressed interest in coming to the US and Europe as well.

The Orbit features a new Qualcomm processor to Windows Phone: the Qualcomm MSM7227A-1 which is described as a "low cost, low voltage" CPU for sub-$150 devices. In addition, here are the other specs just released:

  • EDGE 900/1800/1900
  • HSDPA 900/2100, DPA 7.2Mbps
  • RAM 256MB, User 4GB
  • 4-inch, WVGA (800x480), 65K colour, TFT, capacitive
  • 5MP AF/flash camera
  • GPS, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth 2.1 + A2DP
  • Accelerator, compass, proximity light
  • DLNA, NFC, FOTA, HD Voice, Dual Mic, FM Radio

Interestingly the press release from ZTE notes that it has 512MB of RAM but we confirmed that this is a 256MB device as seen in our pics below. The phone has the same nice feel as the Tania including a slick chrome finish. The screen is a little washed for our liking but we're a bit spoiled with Nokia ClearBlack, Samsung Super AMOLED+ and HTC's S-LCD.

The unit we played with clearly has some work yet to be done on it, including some issues with the touch-capacitive buttons and camera (which didn't work) but we'll chalk that up to early prototype problems. Overall the Orbit is a unique phone with a custom-OEM pink Accent color. No other "custom UI" changes were noted with this review unit nor any NFC apps to take advantage of the NFC hardware that this supposedly sports.

The OS was an interesting build 8755 which probably classifies as "Tango" though from what we understand there is no Tango-proper build of the OS yet and OEMs aren't even referring to it with that name. Either way, clearly ZTE is betting that Windows Phone has a chance and we're impressed with their design even if the hardware is a little on the low side--we think they're a company to watch.

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Call it low-end but don't call it cheap. That's how we feel about the Nokia Lumia 610 which in our opinion is a buttery smooth and elegant little number (see our hands on), despite being a bit neutered to keep costs down.

One area though Nokia is not skimping on is the use of Corning's Gorilla Glass which according to the device specs is on board. Sure, it may not have ClearBlack screen technology (it's a straight TFT instead) but that Gorilla Glass is a good thing to keep some light scratches away as you throw this in your pants or purse. Some other notable specs:

  • Quad band: GSM 1800, 1900, 850, 900; data 1900, 2100, 850, 900
  • HSPA - But no "+" on board so it's limited to 7.2Mbps
  • 2 Microphones
  • No compass
  • Talk time: 10.5 hours
  • 120g/4.2 ounces
  • 1300mAh battery

Not a bad little number and we think Nokia can do well with this phone, especially in those emerging markets. The build quality on this device is better than most mid-range offerings available today, which says something about Nokia and their ability.

Source: Developer Nokia

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Besides all of the new phone goodness today, Nokia also showed off a few new apps heading down the pike for their Windows Phone users. One of those is Nokia Transport, an app dedicated to public transportation including bus and train schedules for more than 500 cities--something us urban folk desperately need. The app nails down your position and shows you the nearest stops and schedules around you, allowing you to save and even pin to your Start screen a route of you choices. That Live Tile can then flip around showing you the next train or bus always keeping you in the loop.

Nokia Reading is an eBook app that also supports audio books. It turns out it runs through Nokia's store where you can browse for new books, including a lot of free ones, save and basically use it as solid eReader. The selection of books looks decent enough but we'll have to see more when it is closer to launch.

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Of all the big news that came out today, one little nugget that slipped by was the announcement of the all-white Lumia 900. "Leaked" accidentally a few weeks ago by Nokia themselves on their Facebook page, the glossy white beast had been expected to launch here at Mobile World Congress and sure enough it has shown up here on the floor.

The phone is what you expect it to be: a big ol' white whale of a phone, similar to the Lumia 800 but obviously more grand. Now the White Lumia 900 will launch internationally in a few weeks to join its Cyan, Black and Magenta siblings. AT&T is currently only offering the Cyan and Black versions but we're told Nokia has given AT&T the choice for the white version, but it is up to them to offer another SKU for the device.

In practical terms that means don't expect a white AT&T Lumia 900 but should the glossy version sell well and gain momentum the option is certainly there for them. Likewise with Magenta which could see a roll out on AT&T with a "refresh" of the phone later in the year.

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Rogers expands LTE Network

On the heels of Nokia announcing that the Lumia 900 Windows Phone would be headed to Rogers, the Canadian wireless provider announced a bit of news themselves. Rogers launched their LTE Network to St. John's being the first to provide LTE speeds to Newfoundland.

John Boynton, Rogers Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer stated,

"We are proud to be the first carrier to bring our LTE network to St. John's. With Rogers LTE wireless network coverage, customers have access to speeds similar to broadband connections, making it easier for people to use their mobile devices to download apps, stream HD videos and music or play on-line games, with virtually no delays or buffering."

Rogers was the first to launch an LTE Network in Canada last summer in Ottawa followed closely by Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver last fall. LTE expansion doesn't stop with St. Johns. Rogers plans to double its LTE coverage later this year expanding to more than twenty five cities including Atlantic Canada and Halifax.

LTE Network expansion and the Lumia 900. Sounds like good times are in store for Rogers' customers.  You can catch the full presser after the break.

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Now that we know the European Lumia 900 is on its way to Europe (and beyond), will you be getting your paws on one? Unlocked Mobiles, a UK retailer specialising in unlocked mobile phones, has published a Lumia 900 product page with the price tag of £445.98. They expect to stock the SIM-free handset and have it available for delivery by May 21st.

The Lumia 900 sports a 4.3" AMOLED display (with ClearBlack technology), 512MB RAM, 1.4Ghz chip, 8MP camera (with FF), and 16GB storage. The handset will -of course- support the usual GSM Quad band 850/900/1800/1900 3G & HSDPA.

Source: Unlocked Mobiles

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