Windows Phone News

Geez, we're wondering if Microsoft was ever going to update that 'Windows Mobile 6.5. upgrade' list on their site, specifically the AT&T Samsung Epix (here for the full review, in case you forgot).

Actually, jokes on us as Microsoft hasn't updated that list since March 4th. C'mon guys...seriously?

Anyways, the real news here is that the Samsung Epix has finally received a proper WM6.5 ROM upgrade. So what if AT&T stopped selling the device months ago, all of those current owners will be pleased to get the update. But we do have to shame AT&T and Samsung here a bit: nine months post-WM6.5 is just a wee bit too little, too late, fellas. Start the Samsung super-complicated WM6.5. update here.

[Thanks, badcat160, for the tip & Wireless_Guru for the pic!]

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Microsoft has been busy updating their Bing service, adding Zune store support, access to social sites like Twitter and overall just making it a real solid competitor to Google's platform.

Recently at that Cannes Lions advertising conference, Bing on Windows Phone 7 was demoed and it brings the same search plus all that new stuff as well. Some of these advanced features are the following, as detailed by 1800PocketPC:

  • Twitter and Facebook Search about the keyword with one click – It looks like you can also drill down to results by your friends only.
  • Share with your Friends
  • Barcode and CoverArt Scan and Bing gives you info on that product

Interestingly, a lot of these same features are already available on another mobile OS--yeah, that one. On June 22nd, Microsoft rolled up a nice update for the iPhone/iPad which included all of the above, including that bar-code scanner feature which rivals Google's Shopper/Bar Code apps on Android.

While we're pretty excited to see Bing and Zune get front and center on Windows Phone 7, we're still hoping that Microsoft hasn't forgotten WM6.x and will update their Bing software soon, you know for the rest of us. If and when it comes, you can bet the above feature set should be included.

Check out the video here, specifically at 9:10 and 14:03.

[Thanks, Saijo]

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8

WP7 Rumors: July Launch?

 

When Microsoft pulled back the curtain on Windows Phone 7 earlier this year at the 2010 Mobile World Congress, expectations called for a Holiday Season 2010 release date. Not too long ago, that projected release date was pulled back to October and now we're seeing signs that it may be pulled back to the end of July 2010.

An AT&T retail signage outline has been discovered identifying two Windows Phone 7 plaques to be set on or about July 24th. We don't expect phones to be on the shelf come July 24th but it's a good indication we might see WP7 phones sooner than expected.

It's not uncommon for retail stores to begin advertising new phones weeks, if not months, before the actual phones hit the shelves. So, the October launch may still ring true if not a September launch. Confidence is high that Microsoft will meet the Holiday Season 2010 deadline, it's now a question of how ahead of schedule Windows Phone 7 will be.

[read: Engadget.com]

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HTC posts Q2 earnings

HTC has released self-assessed financial results for the second quarter of 2010 and things are looking really good for the Taiwanese company.

HTC is reporting a revenue growth of 58% and net profit increase of 33%. This well surpassed the April forecast of a 50% revenue growth. Total revenues reached NT$60,532 million (about $1.88 billion US dollars) during the second quarter. For the month of June alone, the company experienced a 66% revenue growth from June of 2009. 

With HTC's commitment to Windows Phone 7 and their continued commitment to Android Phones, the remainder of 2010 should be just as profitable.

[read: htc.com]

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We haven't been covering too much the ongoing attempts to get Google's Android OS to run on Windows Mobile hardware--it's a moving target with varying results depending on your device--but mtllc555 has gone ahead and shown what a fully-functional Android looks like on a Diamond 2.

Results? Impressive.  

The OS is relatively fast for basic functions (a little sluggish on graphics) and overall seems to be working for every function (call, web, market, etc.).

Unfortunately, to get Android to run on your phone will depend on your hardware and radios (GSM vs CDMA) as each phone requires its own 'team'--some are more ahead than others. For instance on the CDMA Touch Pro 2, sound doesn't work and battery life is not that spectacular.

A good place to get started if you're interested (and have some time) is XDAndroid, which has info on the raphael/fuze, diamond, blackstone, topaz and rhodium. The process is not too difficult, can do no permanent damage and is a great way to kill a few hours.

Full video of Android 2.1 ('Eclair') on the Diamond 2 after the break.

[via Windows Mobile Based Phones]

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BirdieSync 2.0 released

BirdieSync 2.0 has been released which supports synchronization of Pocket Outlook with Thunderbird cards and mails, and Lightning or Sunbird events and tasks.

Birdiesync has it's own synchronization engine and does not rely on ActiveSync. The synchronization engine maintains a history, manages unresolved items, and allows for multiple computer synchronization. The independent sync engine may create an unexpected benefit for those wanting to sync their Windows Phone with a home computer and an Exchange Server.

Reading from the FAQ of BirdieSync's website, "It is possible to synchronize your mobile device with Outlook if it is installed on a different computer (without Thunderbird/Sunbird being synchronized on this machine). So you can synchronize your mobile device with Outlook and Thunderbird if they are installed on 2 different machines. Simply be aware that all the modifications performed on either computer will be replicated on the other one." This may not be possible if you're running Windows XP the drivers for Windows Mobile Device Center (needed to connect your Windows Phone to your computer) are bundled with Activesync.  But if you're running Vista or Windows 7, it might be worth a try.

BirdieSync is compatible with Thunderbird 3.1, Lightning 1.0b2 and Sunbird 1.0b1. It is available for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 (32 and 64 bits). You can download a 21 day trial version of BirdieSync here and it will set you back 19.95 Euros (about $25 USD if my conversion rate is correct).

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Awhile back we reported on Seesmic being one of the first Twitter apps being available for Windows Phone 7 and it turns out also back in March it was demoed on video for us to see.

While nothing spectacular--it is after all just a Twitter app, it does have some nice features like embedded photos and 'Nearby' which shows all Tweets based on your geographic location. Overall it looks pretty smooth.

The speakers in the video are French, so any secret info they are probably not discussing will remain hidden to us, but the demonstration of the app more than speaks for itself.

Watch the video after the break.

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4

Verizon ETF Settlement upheld

Verizon's ETF lawsuit has apparently come to a close with a California Appeals Court upholding a $21 million refund that will go to about 175,000 customers. The lawsuit came about when customers challenged Verizon's Early Termination Fees. The plaintiffs claimed that Verizon violated California consumer protection laws and similar State and Federal laws by imposing flat ETF's.

The class action settlement, originally agreed upon in 2008, was appealed twice by Verizon with the funds being held in escrow until all appeals of the case have been exhausted. Verizon could appeal to the California Supreme Court but a spokesperson for Verizon stated this ruling ended all ETF related litigation.

Scott Bursor, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, stated "Yesterday's ruling by the Court of Appeal confirms that this is a terrific settlement for Verizon Wireless customers, and now more than 175,000 of those customers will get a substantial refund."

There are no reports on how much the attorney fees in this case will be (likely millions) but the settlement breaks down to about $88 per plaintiff. They were challenging a $175 fee, which has increased since the litigation but is now prorated to comply with applicable laws. 

Verizon claims the increase and change in ETF policy is completely unrelated to the litigation.  No word if the Microsoft KIN was ever a part of the settlement agreement.

[read: nasdaq.com]

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Though Windows Phone 7 is primarily aimed at consumers during the initial launch, Microsoft already has a strong focus on enterprise built within the the OS (Office, Sharepoint, Skydrive, remote management, etc.). This enterprise focus will no doubt become even more robust during further revisions to the OS, hopefully giving Microsoft that edge once again over RIM.

One area that is of interest would be security and encryption. Turns out WP7 supports quite a few forms of data protection algorithms, including the following:

  • AES
  • HMACSHA1
  • HMACSHA256
  • Rfc2898DeriveBytes
  • SHA1
  • SHA256

This doesn't mean that encryption is directly supported out-of-the-box for end users, but it does mean that developers have a wide assortment of tools to handle data encryption when writing their own software for the platform. Rob Tiffiany demonstrates this by writing an app to encode some simple data on the fly. His impression is that WP7 has a very solid base for security, which to bring it around again, is not only is good for business but for corporate environments. 

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5

LG Launches New App Store

LG has announced an all-new LG Application Store with more than 3,000 applications consisting of a mixture between feature phone apps and Windows Phone apps. The good news is that the LG App Store is available in 23 countries and will expand to 33 countries by the end of the year.  The bad news is that the U.S. market isn't among them.

In the Press Release, Dr. Skott Ahn, President and CEO of LG's Mobile Communications Division said, "Today, more and more people want mobile devices that make their lives easier and more exciting through the right combination of applications. To meet this growing demand, we've put a great deal of effort into strengthening our application offerings for all types of phone owners"

While research noted in LG's press release indicates that 90% of feature phone owners in the U.S. and United Kingdom are interested in downloading application, neither of these countries are included in the initial 23 Country launch. The U.K. is included in the next group of ten countries but, again, not the U.S. 

You can find a full list of Countries having access to the LG App Store at www.lgapplication.com.

[read: engadget.com]

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LG is re-affirming its commitment to the Windows Phone 7 movement.

Ahn Seung-kwon, LG's Mobile Business Chief, stated:

"We will boost our premium lineup, LG Electronics will concentrate on developing devices that take full advantage of the Android and Windows Mobile 7 systems for the next year or two."

He explained that 10 design-focused and specification-rich smartphones will be marketed with North America and Europe targeted for these new phones.

Asked when we will see a Windows Phone 7 device, Ahn said the schedule to market a Windows Mobile 7 in the second half of the year was underway. This would put LG in line with the "by holiday 2010" statements we've heard from others on the WP7 availability.

We've like what we have seen from LG recently with their Expo and Fathom. It will interesting to see what the company can do with Windows Phone 7.

[via: koreatimes.com]

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27

Microsoft KIN getting the axe

Wasn't it yesterday we heard rumors of a software update for the Microsoft KIN?  Just as we had hopes a software update would breath new life into the KIN, we are now hearing that Microsoft has pulled the plug on the Windows Phone. The official statement from Microsoft reads,

"We have made the decision to focus exclusively on Windows Phone 7 and we will not ship KIN in Europe this fall as planned. Additionally, we are integrating our KIN team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from KIN into future Windows Phone releases. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current KIN phones."

While Microsoft will site the need to focus on Windows Phone 7, poor sales might have played a role in the decision as well. You also had issues of the KIN not having any apps (YouTube would have been nice), no calender, and pricing issues (hardware and data) that didn't help matters.

The one shining feature of the KIN was the KIN Studio. Hopefully, Microsoft will salvage that feature and find a way to incorporate it into the WP7 picture.

[read: engadget.com]

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Skyfire has announced that they will be scaling back operations and development beginning July 1, 2010.

The decision appears to be the result of demand out pacing resources. Skyfire users have grown 400% in the past year and Skyfire has been approached by several vendors and wireless providers to become default browsers for their handsets.

The scale down will call for a stop for all future development on Skyfire 1.0 (only used on Windows Phones and Symbian phones) architecture and focus on Skyfire 2.0 as the flagship product. Additionally, Skyfire 1.x will no longer be supported outside of North America and Western Europe.  Skyfire 1.0 and 1.5 will remain available as a free service in the following countries after July 1st: United States, U.K., Canada, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Korea and Taiwan.

Jeff Glueck, CEO of Skyfire, stated, "We know this decision is an inconvenience to many Skyfire 1.5 users in emerging markets, and while it’s a free service, we appreciate how important and valuable Skyfire has become to people. We have read the many impassioned messages from users in affected countries, and the choice to focus on our flagship product does involve trade-offs which are never easy."  Skyfire will move forward with continued development for Android phones, submit a version to the iPhone App Store and hopefully have a product available for the Windows Phone 7.

You can find the full announcement here.

[via: phonescoop.com]

 

 

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McObject, developer of data management technology, has announced it will be offering support for its Perst object-oriented, open source embedded database on the Windows Phone 7 platform.

The open source software was successfully ported to WP7 by APPA Mundi, a England-based consulting firm. Andy Wigley, from APPA Mundi, stated, "Using Perst for .NET, developers using Silverlight can now include true database management system features in their Silverlight applications, including adding persistence to this data by storing it in a container file in isolated storage."

According to McObject, there was some doubt from developers that WP7's tight memory, CPU size and storage constraints might limit the use of embedded databases. Perst will see it's greatest impact with business applications that require complex databases and hopefully, this announcement will open the door further for WP7 development.

You can read the full release over at mcobject.com.

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AT&T holds WP7 Developer's Webcast

The iPhone 4 may be taking center stage over at AT&T but the wireless carrier has been quietly re-affirming its support for Windows Phone 7.  Last week, AT&T held a webcast seminar for Windows Phone 7 application development.

The webcast was conducted by Hsuan-Hua Chang, AT&T's Sr. Marketing Manager, and Rob Cameron from Microsoft. In looking at the presentation's slide show, the seminar covered the core development issues (hardware requirements, software architecture, etc.) as well as walking participants through the development tools. AT&T also took the opportunity to highlight their Developer Program. Developer.att.com will give developers access to the latest information on building Windows Phone 7 solutions for the AT&T network.

AT&T further re-affirmed its commitment to WP7 during the follow-up Q&A. Question: Will AT&T carry a Windows Phone 7? Answer: Yes. AT&T is our Premiere Launch partner.

It would have been nice to have heard more details on what phone we'll see, when we'll see it, and how much it'll cost. But, that would be asking for too much. Right?

[via: AT&T]

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T-Mobile changing Upgrade Policy

T-Mobile customers wanting to upgrade their phones through Customer Care will have to pony up for the cost up front. Beginning July 1, 2010 customers will no longer be able to bill the upgrade charges to their T-Mobile account. Instead, they will have to use a credit or debit card to cover the costs.

EIP (Equipment Installment Plan) Customers will be required to pay the first installment only in addition to any upgrade and shipping fees. Government and business accounts are exempt from this policy change.

This will bring consistency to T-Mobile's purchase policies in place with FlexPay and Retail purchases. It is anticipated that this move will give T-Mobile a boost in revenue which may be applied to future promotions. Who knows, we may see another "free phone" weekend.

[read: tmonews.com]

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When AT&T changed their data plans and moved away from those pesky unlimited plans, some were upset while some looked forward to the savings. If you're not sure if tiered data plans are a good thing or bad, Fierce Wireless has stumbled upon research that shines a positive light on these plans.

The Nielson Company reviews more than 60,000 wireless bills each month and analyzes them line by line, including data usage. In looking at that information sampling over a one year period, the average data consumption increased from 90mb to 298mb. While the averages consumption increased dramatically, it was discovered that during the first quarter of 2009 more than a third of smartphone users consumed less than 1mb of data per month.  In 2010, this group dropped to a quarter of the smartphone users.  Could this mean that smartphone users are relying more on wifi for their data needs?

Other conclusions from the data usage numbers is that the top six percent of smartphone users consume half of all data and that most users in the Nielson sampling would have be better off with a tiered plan. 

In looking at the charts, about 70% of the smartphone users in the study could stay within AT&T's Dataplus Plan (200mb a month) and save $15 a month. About 99% of the users in the study could easily stay within the DataPro Plan (2gb a month) and save $5 a month.

So, for those who have gone to a tiered data plan, are you staying within your monthly data allocation and enjoying the savings?

[read: boygeniousreport.com]

 

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Microsoft has already sent BING to the iPhone and now it looks as if Office Mobile may be following suit. A recent Microsoft job posting for a Business Division Software Engineer reads, in part, "In addition to the current Windows Mobile 6.5 and upcoming WM7 clients, with the recently announced alliance between Microsoft and Nokia we are working to bring Office Mobile to hundreds of millions of Nokia smartphone owners, followed by other leading Smartphone platforms."

One can only assume that the "other leading smartphone platforms" would include the iPhone 4 or possibly Android phones. While expansion isn't necessarily a bad thing, one has to wonder if Microsoft should keep their focus in-house and get Windows Phone 7 finely tuned before branching outwards.  Then again, Microsoft is a huge company and having more than one pot on the stove shouldn't be an issue.

[read: wmpoweruser.com]

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While rumors of software updates for the Microsoft's KIN, Verizon is busy slashing prices on the Windows Phones.

The KIN One has been reduced to $29.99 (from $49.99) and the KIN Two's price has dropped from $99.99 to $49.99.  These prices reflect an online discount and requires the standard two-year commitment with Verizon.  The pricing also makes the KIN more competitive with similar Feature Phones.  All that is needed now is that software update to give the KIN a little more functionality and a lower priced data plan.

 

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