Windows Phone News

AT&T caught a lot of flak over the weekend regarding their semi-public announcement to not support the 8107 OS update for their current Windows Phone lineup. That update, as many of you know, is critical for security fixes as much as for fixing the famed disappearing keyboard bug.

We just spoke with AT&T on the situation and we can confirm and clarify a few things on the record. First, it is true that they have passed on 8107 or what they referred to as "Windows Phone Mango Commercial Refresh 1" or just CR1. They've also passed on CR2, which is what the Lumia 900 and Titan II are running (that's build 8112). That update brings LTE and Visual Voicemail support for AT&T with the first aspect obviously being pointless for current Mango phones.

So that's the bad news.

The good news is they have not shut the door on OS updates for their current lineup including the Samsung Focus S, Focus Flash and HTC Titan.  Stacey Harth, a spokeswoman for AT&T, told us this morning "AT&T plans for a Windows Phone update that will contain the improvements in the 8107 update and more" with no commitment to a time-frame.

So what does that mean exactly? It means "Tango", which goes by the alternate name CR3, is something that they are looking to evaluate for an OS update. While they did not want give any time-frames they are definitely committed to updating those devices with a post-8107 OS update from Microsoft. "Tango" (or a build post-Tango) is certainly the most viable candidate for such an update.

Of course what you want to know is why are they passing on 8107? It's a bit complicated and you don't have to agree with their position but they do have a rationale (and it's not to get you to buy a new phone). In short, each update comes with a corresponding OEM firmware update which also fixes hardware bugs and/or optimizes the software (these are often at the request of AT&T). Those updates need to be scheduled with the "bits" from Microsoft and it does take a bit of coordination to get that to happen. Moreover, while 8107 does fix a pretty annoying bug, the updates in CR3 (aka "Tango") brings that fix and even more . For example, AT&T very much likes the idea of multiple-photos in MMS, voice notes, etc. that Tango brings to the table.

And that's the crux of the matter: AT&T is admittedly conservative on OS updates and would prefer to not certify every single one that Microsoft releases for evaluation. Instead, they prefer the method where you can pack numerous bug fixes and new features into a single, bigger update. It's similar to the "do I buy this phone now or wait 3 months for a better one?" scenario that many of you face when you follow technology. For AT&T, the question is do we push this update or do we wait for that even better one just a few weeks away?

That does raise a larger, ongoing issue, which is why can't Microsoft just push out mini-bug fixes to the OS without interference by AT&T, especially if it does not touch the radio firmware? It's certainly a very valid point and the reason seems to be a combo of "this is how carriers operate" and Microsoft has not made "patching" as easy (or perhaps they've just conceded too much power to the carriers).

Regardless, the take away point is that AT&T is planning to update your phones and that update will be a larger, post-8107 update which will include that keyboard fix and even more features. We can disagree on what makes an update imperative and yes, we consider the keyboard fix to fall into that, but that is the current situation.

In the end, it may not be the answer you want to hear but we think it is a lot more palatable than the perception left from this weekend.

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Canadian carriers have been pleased with how the Lumia Windows Phones have been selling, according to a report by MobileSyrup. While carriers aren't known to reveal negative sales publicly often, TELUS and Rogers have both stated that they are happy with their Lumia handsets, and that customers share this satisfaction.

Reade Barber, Senior Director Data Product Management at Rogers, had the following to say:

"Rogers is proud to have the widest selection of choice for our customers. The Lumia 710 is proving to be a customer favourite and has been a great addition to our Smartphone Lite lineup. We're also very excited to be the exclusive carrier of the Lumia 900, Canada’s first Windows Phone LTE smartphone."

Rogers packs the inexpensive, but highly rated Lumia 710. MobileSyrup spoke with a number of sale staff from Rogers and the majority were pleased with how the Windows Phone sold in-store. The carrier has the device priced at $29.99 on a 3-year contract, or $255 SIM-free.

Brent Johnston, VP of Mobility Solutions at TELUS, mentioned the Lumia 800 (currently on sale for $25) has met the company's expectations:

"We are very pleased with the sales performance thus far, with Lumia sales meeting our expectations."

Unfortunately, it's impossible to judge how positive this response is due to not knowing how high / low expectations were to begin with. Then again, should the handset be exceeding low expectations would also be on the right path with TELUS then able to be more confident with future Nokia handsets.

With how competitively Nokia is pricing the Lumia handsets, and how dissatisfied many Android users are with low-end hardware, it should be comfortable to assume the Lumia 710 will start to pick up speed while the 800 is available at a reasonable price for those requiring that little bit more (or an award winning design).

Good news is good news, nonetheless.

Source: MobileSyrup; thanks bilzkh for the heads up!

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A few days ago, it was announced that Microsoft was upping the stakes in their "Smoked by Windows Phone Challenge," giving away bigger prizes to winners and offering losers the opportunity to trade in their device for a new Windows Phone.  It turns out that anyone can trade in just about any non-WP smartphone.  Just bring a working smartphone to a participating Microsoft store and tell them you want to take the challenge.  You will then be asked to fill out a recycling form and given your choice of the following devices:

ATT: HTC Titan, Samsung Focus S
T-Mobile: HTC Radar, Nokia 710
Verizon: HTC Trophy

This offer is only valid through tomorrow, March 29, so get a move on. 

Some people have reported that you don't even need to take the challenge, but why not give it a go anyway?  If you've been able to swap out your old, out dated smartphone for a new Windows Phone through this deal, let us know in the comments.

Source: Microsoft; Via: SlickDeals

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Ah, we always loves these cool little projects for Windows Phone enthusiasts.

Take this case where, as our title says, 28 separate Windows Phones were linked together and controlled by one phone using Bing Maps. As a result, when you scroll at the one Windows Phone, you'll move the map on those 28 screens at the same time. What's it called? How about "Bi(n)g Maps", eh?

Who was behind such mayhem? Why it's Rudy Huyn, the man behind the super popular Windows Phone apps TVShow, Fuse and MyEncyclopedia, of course.

Useful? Not really. Ingenious and clever? Definitely. (See the similar 144-screens linked together for a world-record here)

Source: Rudy Huyn; Check out another video with a different angle after the break...

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China Telecom and Nokia have launched the first CDMA Windows Phone in China, the Lumia 800c. Following the official launch of the Windows Phone platform itself earlier this month, the 800c will likely be accompanied by an expensive marketing campaign to really provide the device with some steroids in able to throw a heavy punch at competitors.

Stephen Elop explained the company's excitement:

"We're excited to introduce our first Lumia smartphone, the Nokia 800C, to this important market with our exclusive launch partner, China Telecom. Working closely together, we've created a compelling, locally relevant experience on the Nokia 800C especially tailored for people in China."

Wan Xiaochu, Chariman of China Telecom, also expressed enthusiasm:

"This grand launch for China's first CDMA Windows Phone represents our optimism and excitement for the future of Windows Phone and Nokia Lumia in China."

The manufacturer and carrier aren't halting at just the Lumia 800c, as there are plans to introduce the low budget Lumia 610 (also in a CDMA variant) to China Telecom's customer base in Q2 2012. The Lumia "610c" (following the 800c with regards to branding) will be targeting younger audiences - something Nokia intends to achieve on a global scale to rejuvenate the company brand.

The Lumia 800c is available in both black and cyan colouring, and sports a 3.7" AMOLED ClearBlack display, 1.4Ghz processor, 8MP rear-camera (with Carl Ziess optics), and 16GB storage. Consumers who make the purchase will also be able to enjoy the experience with exclusive Nokia apps.

Nokia Maps will be available, with local content support from Fantong, Jiepang, Ctrip, Qunar and Soufun. Nokia Drive is also present for the Chinese market and will sport the same turn-by-turn navigation enjoyed by those in other supported countries. Finally we have Nokia Music, but the service comes limited with 12 months worth of free music, after which it's unclear whether consumers will have to pay a fee to continue using the streaming service.

So what's next on the cards for Nokia and China Telecom now the handset has been officially launched? The two companies are collaborating on a number of plans, including one to feature the Lumia 800c prominently in Tianyi FlyYoung shops, a youth-centred sub-brand of the carrier. Another plan is to bring integrated China Telecom services right to the Lumia 800c home screen, including music, games, videos and integrated reading apps.

Those who purchase the Lumia 800c will be eligible for exclusive apps, including magazines from Trends, and special offers for the free download of popular titles on the Marketplace - 100,000 free downloads of Fuit Ninja and Plants vs Zombies. Speaking of Trends, the provider of fashion magazine apps, the company will be providing Lumia owners with free access to "For Him Magazine" (FHM), Harper's Bazaar and Esquire magazines in the Marketplace.

Microsoft will also be playing a part with the Be Top programme, which is designed to encourage and support developers in creating apps in China. As for availability of the Lumia 800c, the smartphone will be available for purchase through Tianyi FlyYoung shops (China Telecom), Nokia brand stores, China's top chain electronics stores including Suning, Gome, Funtalk, D.Phone, and CentreYou, as well as regional channels and online shops such as 189.cn and hicdma.com. The Windows Phone is sold without contract for 3599 RMB ($570).

Check out some more photos after the break (below photo credit: @Chassit). Source: Nokia

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With Nokia launching the Lumia series all over the world, one area which wasn't mention and we've been asked about is the Philippines. It's no small country either with 94 million people, some of which we know are yearning for a Nokia Windows Phone. The good news is you're finally have your day.

Globe Telecom is set to get their hands on the Lumia 800 on April 16th for "P1,499 a month, bundled with unlimited mobile browsing and call and text “freebies” and will come in both black and cyan colors.

Not a bad deal and we're finally glad to see the Philippines, who received access to the Windows Phone Marketplace in February, will have this top of the line Windows Phone very soon.

Source: Inquire Technology; Thanks, Daniel P., for the tip!

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We don't recall seeing this at the insanity that was Mobile World Congress, but evidently on February 27th, Good Technology, who focuses on enterprise and security (and who used to be owned by Motorola) announced a partnership with Nokia to bring their "FIPS-certified 192 bit AES encryption and end-to-end mobile messaging" service to Lumia Windows Phones.

The service is set to roll out in Q2 2012, which means we should see this very soon. The press release goes on to detail the features coming to the Windows Phone app, which by the sounds of it will be only available in the Nokia Collection through the Marketplace:

"Employees will be able to access corporate email, contacts, and calendars through the Good for Enterprise application on their Nokia Windows Phone smartphones—just as they access Microsoft Outlook® or Lotus Notes® on desktop computers at the office—using the intuitive user interface with panorama and pivot views with which they are already be familiar. IT managers will be able to protect corporate data with data encryption and easy-to-apply policies, such as requiring passwords and preventing 'cut/copy/paste' capabilities from the Good for Enterprise app. They will also be able to establish role-based policies using web-based management tools and perform remote wipe of enterprise information only, leaving music, photos, and other personal data present elsewhere on an employee's mobile device intact in the event the mobile device is compromised, lost or stolen."

A big gap in Windows Phone services is actually in enterprise, specifically the lack of encryption on the device or secure, non-Exchange based messaging. Unfortunately, while many in IT departments want more advanced features on current Windows Phones, there seems to be no plans for an "enterprise update" for Windows Phone 7. Instead, Microsoft is putting off a major refocusing on this area till Windows Phone 8, expected in late 2012 (rollout early 2013) including 128-bit native BitLocker data encryption.

While Windows Phone 8 looks promising, this partnership with Nokia for the Lumia 710, 800 and 900 devices will offer a nice stop-gap for mid 2012 and another reason to "go Nokia". Combined with AT&T's recent secure-messaging software for Windows Phones, Lumia 900 owners will have no less than three enterprise-focused messaging solutions: AT&T's, Good Technology and of course Exchange. We think that's a pretty killer combo for IT departments.

Read the full press release after the break...Thanks, bilzkh, for the tip!

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Have you been able to use voice-to-text or voice search with Bing on your Windows Phone?  If you're having problems you are not alone.  We've been getting several tips that readers are having difficulty using these services today.

There's even a discussion going on over at Microsoft Answers on this (with no answers as of yet). We've also got our own forums discussion started by Bjfcm who has been having problems with voice services for some time now.  Based on the comments in both discussions, the problem appears to be more common in Ohio and Pennsylvania markets.

We've polled our staff and so far we aren't experiencing any issues. So what say ye?

If you're having similar issues with voice commands on your Windows Phone, let us know in the comments.

Thanks everyone for tipping us on this!

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Lawrence Gripper, the developer behind the free BBC News Mobile app, has published an article on his blog detailing issues with the app that result in the inability to read any articles pulled from the news source. Gripper has confirmed the problem and will be submitting an update this evening, which should be published within the next few days / early next week.

"I'm going to look to publish a fixed version this evening and hopefully it will get through the certification process in the next few days. In the meant time please be patient and hopefully the app will be back up and running again soon."

Just a heads up should you be experiencing said problem. In the meantime, you can read all the latest news on the BBC News mobile site beta, which sports a usable Metro look.

Source: Lawrence Gripper

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The Lumia 800 (as well as the Lumia 710) is expected to receive a firmware update sometime soon to enable WiFi tethering on the handset, a feature that was introduced in the Windows Phone "Mango" update. We previously reported that Plaffo has confirmed a tethering update is on the way and all Lumia handset owners will be able to utilize the Internet sharing functionality - dependent on their carrier of course.

It would appear (looking at the photo above) that the feature is already active on some handsets, according to a We Love Windows Phone.hk reader. While it's not yet known when the said update will be pushed out to consumers, it's a positive sign to see Internet sharing actually on a Lumia 800.

Source: WeLoveWP.hk (Translation)

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The BBC Mobile Site is in active public beta, which can be accessed from your Windows Phone via Internet Explorer. This beta makes use of a Metro UI look and feel with simplistic graphics and "live tile" like story headline boxes. The new mobile site design matches the main homepage, which also looks Metro influenced.

Should you prefer a more app-driven experience when reading the BBC News website, be sure to pick up Lawrence Gripper's BBC News Mobile app from the Marketplace. What do you guys make of this new look that BBC seems to have rolled out?

Source: BBC Mobile Site; thanks Ed for the heads up!

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Nokia has teamed up with O2 UK to offer an exciting deal for those who are on the fence with purchasing a Lumia 710 or 800. For this week only (three days remaining) O2 have both Windows Phones priced at £0 when taken out with an 18 or 24 month contract.

Prices start from £16/mo on an 24 month plan, but should you not require mobile Internet access you can walk away with both handsets for just £10/mo. The tariffs available on O2 appear to be relatively expensive when compared to other carriers who stock the same devices. We recommend (as always) to shop around before making the dive. 

Source: Nokia UK Facebook

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Sure we talk a lot about Twitter clients for Windows Phone around these parts, but many of you also need a dedicated one for your PC. For that, there really is only one solution: MetroTwit. Yes, it's Metro inspired and Metro loved, which means you need it.

We've discussed this popular client before and since then, a lot of hard work, spit and polish has gone into the app, making it one of the most popular around. In fact, it just hit version 1.0 a few minutes ago and with it comes a ton of new changes, including:

  • Added multiple account support
  • Added support for filtering
  • Added new out-of-box-experience for first time users
  • Added ability to preview larger user avatars
  • Added undo tweet functionality
  • Added Twitter events support for user follows, list membership and tweet favorites
  • ...and much, much more.

You can download the new free, ad-supported version right here from their site and read the version 1.0 changelog here.

What's more, to celebrate this huge day, we've teamed up with the MetroTwit devs to give away 10 "Plus" licenses ($16 value) which will allow you those multiple accounts and no ads. Ka-ching.

Sound good? All you have to do is comment on this post and tell us why you want MetroTwit Plus. We'll randomly select 10 of you to get the free license.

You have 24 hours....go!

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One of the surprise announcements today by AT&T was the inclusion of the glossy white version of the Nokia Lumia 900, due for release on April 22nd, just a few weeks after its Black and Cyan cousins. Back at Mobile World Congress, Nokia told us they had offered AT&T the white option as well, but at the time they had not taken it. However, it looks like AT&T changed their mind, possibly due to positive word of mouth and are now set to offer that color variant as well.

Anyways what you see above is the first image of the all-white AT&T version, which of course looks identical to the unlocked version except for that logo and AT&T software. We haven't seen this image floated around yet, so it's new to us. 

Personally, we're torn between the Cyan and White version as both offer something different from the tried and tired "black slab" (yes, true #firstworldproblems here). For what it's worth, nearly 500 of you or 11.5% are waiting for the all-white version.

Oh and speaking of color variants, take this with a pinch of salt, but in our comments, WPCentral member mamacita42 had this to say:

"I was told by my local AT&T rep that the magenta/pink Lumia 900 was coming for Mothers day."

Certainly plausible, but we're not ready to believe just yet. But we wouldn't be shocked either. Thanks, anon, for the image

Check our hands on with the White Lumia 900 from Barcelona after the break...

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If you have an unlocked/non-branded HTC Titan, you'll want to go plug her into your Zune Desktop software as HTC has begun pushing out what looks to be a minor software update to the massive device.

This is not an OS update, so you'll see be rocking 8107, but you'll get a new firmware, bootloader and radio software. Here are the new version numbers:

  • Firmware - 1600.2200.20501.401 (New)
  • Bootloader is  - 2.5.160015.3(137079) (New)
  • Radio software - 16.23.06.10_ 16.32.00.23U (New)

Like we said, this may be some subtle fixes here and there and we're not expecting any new features, but if you think you find any, let us know.

Update: Those with AT&T Titans, don't bother as no, this does not apply for your device.

Thanks, Jose S. and Oscar for the tips!

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Which Windows Phone are you getting on April 8th?

With today's announcement of both the HTC TITAN II ($199 on contract, $549 off) and the Nokia Lumia 900 ($99 on contract, $449 off) being available on April 8th (online) and April 9th (stores), the question naturally arises: Which one are you getting?

We have a feeling that due to the hype, the Nokia will win here (and by a large margin) but the HTC TITAN II is no slouch either what with its 4.7" screen, 16MP camera and 4G LTE--heck, the original TITAN is one of our favorite phones -- ever -- so all of those "new" features look to make it a winner.

Anyways, you know the drill: Vote up above and tell us your reasons below. Go!

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We have just received word on the off-contract pricing for the new AT&T Windows Phones and it's not too bad.

Just to recap, the Nokia Lumia 900 will launch on April 8, 2012 for $99 after two year contractual discounts. The HTC Titan II will also launch on April 8, 2012 for $199 after contractual discounts.

Should you choose to get either Windows Phone without the contractual discounts, the Lumia 900 will run you $449.99 and the Titan II will be running $549.99.

The off-contract pricing gives you the option to enjoy a new Windows Phone without worrying with a two year commitment or if you're in the middle of a contract and don't qualify for an early discount.

All the while leaves us with one question. Which to get? Titan II or Lumia 900?

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As to squelch the disappointment (mostly of the tech media who care about such things), Rovio, makers of the popular Angry Birds series announced that they had no plans for the latest installment, Angry Birds Space, for Windows Phone. Later that day, the CEO of Rovio backtracked and said no, they were working on it.

Now even Nokia is getting in on the news by confirming that yes, the latest craze for outer orbit bird craziness is coming to Windows Phone. On their Facebook page this morning, Nokia simply note: "Finnish gaming company Rovio is working on getting its new Angry Birds Space game to Windows Phone platform too". 

So you can rejoice or shrug in indifference at this point, we'll wait.

Our feeling on this is that Rovio probably did not have plans to bring this to our beloved OS, but due to the public pressure (read: tech media flipping out), the company quickly changed gears once Microsoft probably stepped in (and maybe even Nokia). The fact that there's no release date in site tells us that this has probably barely begun to be developed, so while we can look forward to the title, we're not expecting it anytime soon.

Source: Nokia Facebook; via Plaffo

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We've read many complaints (especially in the comments and on our forum) that Windows Phone lacks a central notification centre, Apple's iOS being a good example, and we tend to agree. Toast notifications on Microsoft's platform disappear after a few seconds only to be lost in cyber space with the inability to view what has been missed. Let's face it - we're not glued to our phones 24/7.

Introducing a concept by Kasser Riaz (click the image for larger / better quality version), which looks relatively promising with how it doesn't look as though the simplistic beauty of the OS would be in jeopardy should an implementation such as this be carried out, unlike some concepts we've seen posted around the web.

As one can see when looking at the concept above, Riaz has provided an idea for how Microsoft and the Windows Phone team could create their own notifications centre (or "History") in this case. Keeping everything simple and clutter-free, swiping to the right on the home screen will bring up the app list as usual, while swiping on the left will land you at the notification history list.

As well as system alerts, messages and email notifications, third party app alerts are also displayed with a short description and the time stamp. It's not only a user-friendly way of keeping the UI chrome and clutter free, but enables the user to view their history of notifications in a Metro format. But would this suffice as a solution to a unified notifications centre for Windows Phone, or should we be looking elsewhere?

As a side note: what do you guys make of the wallpaper with transparent tiles and a more Windows 8 feel?

Thanks Kasser for sending the concept in!

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On the heels of officially announcing the Nokia Lumia 900's release date, AT&T has also released a Mobile Minute video on the new Windows Phone. We've already seen the 900's "Beautifully Different" tv ad but this latest video is more of a general over view of the Lumia 900.

Daniel, from AT&T's social media team, walks you around the Lumia 900 highlighting the design, camera and overall experience you should expect from the 900. The video simply affirms that the Lumia 900 is an impressive Windows Phone.  All of which makes the choice between black or cyan all the more difficult.

source: Share AT&T

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