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For our Windows Phone crowd, GeoHot aka George Hotz was famous for his working on jailbreaking the iPhone a few years ago and more recently for jailbreaking the Sony PS3 (and getting sued for it, no less).

In a brief post on his website, he noted his legal troubles and updates in general but ended with this curious bit:

"perhaps a more appropriate way to deal with jailbreakers

I'm going out to buy a Windows 7 phone"

The "more appropriate way" he's referring to was yesterday's meeting with ChevronWP7 and Watson's team who do take piracy seriously but also see the need for community and appropriate outreach. Plus they made a funny. Indeed, Microsoft's approach is vastly different than Apple's and certainly Sony's.

Whether or not GeoHot was serious about purchasing a Windows Phone or not remains to be seen, but hey...if so, welcome George to the good side.

Update: And Brandon Watson as usual brings the welcome to George:

Source: GeoHot; via: Windows Pone 7 Central

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As with any product Microsoft (or any other developer/company) releases, there are always going to be a few hurdles along the roadmap. On the agenda today is Bluetooth support on Windows Phone 7.

Many phone owners use Bluetooth headsets, while others connect their device(s) to a vehicle, some wirelessly send files between two locations and others just simply enjoy attempting to send random images at an extremely busy airport terminal to unsuspecting victims.

Windows Phone 7, however, seems to be hitting a wall with some cases being reported from users that disconnection occurs without reason, poor audio quality with a paired headset, and some just can't connect to their kettle to make a good cup of tea. In a long and winding thread over at Microsoft HQ, people have voiced their problems publicly since last year; within a few months of the OS release date. It seems until yesterday that a Microsoft has shown a sign of progress. An employee (John Woods) filtered the wide variety of issues into three categories.

1. Users w/ (mostly) HTC devices and Volvo vehicles experiencing Disconnection and Phone reboots

2. Users experiencing Phone/Bluetooth disconnection issues.

3. Users experiencing poor audio quality via Bluetooth either w/ a headset or in car system.

The three distilled categories above also reflect what John has been able to come away with after browsing through the thread. It seems quite oblivious as to why Microsoft has taken so long to respond to the apparent Bluetooth issue. Hopefully we will begin to see some progress on solutions in the near future.

Do you use the Bluetooth on your handset often, if so do you experience any problems?

Source: TNW

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Confession: big word game fan here. Second confession: had no idea about this game until today, even though it came out October 21st.

AlphaJax is  a killer scrabble-type game that allows asynchronus multiplayer turn taking--which basically means you can play other people who also have a Windows Phone. We just took it for a quick spin (playing against our own Rob Alvarado) and left darn impressed with the feature set:

  • Facebook & Twitter integration (for sending out invite challenges)
  • Challenge anyone in your address book, Twitter, FB or random
  • Save screenshot of your game (seriously -->)
  • Push notifications + Live Tile (!)
  • Chat back and forth
  • Can play up to 20 simultaneous games with friends

The game costs $2.99 but we think it's totally worth it so far. Gameplay is smooth, the options are rich and the chat feature is just a bonus. The only downside, we suppose, is that your opponent has to be on a Windows Phone 7 device. We'll try to get a full review up but in the meantime...who wants to play me...

Check out their website for more info here or grab a trial here from the Marketplace.

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GoVoice has had quite the ride lately. For us, the Google Voice client has not worked properly since about v2.0 as we had problems with it crashing and no push notifications. Since then, we've been talking with Nick Yu, GoVoice's developer and watching him work through these many problems, a lot related to how complicated Microsoft's v1.0 Push system can be for developers.

We're happy to finally report that v2.5 is now live in Marketplace and working for us: it's faster, push notifications work and no crashing, in other words: perfect. There is also a new feature: "If your phone didn't receive text for some reason (low battery, Q full), GoVoice will resend up to 10 times."

Our advice? Uninstall your current version, soft reset and then go and re-download from the Marketplace. It may also help to unregister your device with GVMax.com for notifications and then have it re-set up. Grab it here.

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Although last we checked, our Windows Phone Netflix app doesn't currently have the ability to add DVDs to our queue (was it ever there in earlier versions?), we now know that the feature won't be added anytime soon nor for the Xbox 360 either.

Netflix announced yesterday that they're removing "add DVD to queue" for all streaming devices, meaning you'll only be able to add that non-streaming title via their website. They give reasons for doing so, but we can't help but think we're going to forget to add that DVD when we get home later (or we can fire our browser we suppose, but it starts to feel redundant):

We’re removing the “Add to DVD Queue” option from streaming devices. We’re doing this so we can concentrate on offering you the titles that are available to watch instantly. Further, providing the option to add a DVD to your Queue from a streaming device complicates the instant watching experience and ties up resources that are better used to improve the overall streaming functionality.

We could say this would be a great time for a developer to make a Netflix Queue manager app, similar to what is found on Android, so long as it's just not another Mobile IE wrapper app.

Source: Netflix blog; via: Consumerist

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Who would have thought that even on Windows Phone 7, people would be eager to "tweak the registry", an expression all to familiar with Windows Mobile users?

Yes, that's right folks, over at XDA a list of entries are being identified, collected and accumulated for all sorts of little things, even though to us, WP7 feels pretty good without much need for "tweaking". Of course there are caveats--not all Windows Phones can do this yet as they don't have write to registry access and it's not nearly as simple as days past where you just launched a reg-editor. No, this involves having an unlocked device, create a provxml and provision the device--yeah, so early stages.  Here's a list of things so far that have been identified:

  • Increase max number of unsigned apps
  • Enable Wifi 11n
  • Caller ID issue fix (?)
  • Unlock Hidden option in ease of access settings.
  • Set AutoData
  • Prevent Re lock for ChevronWP7 unlocked device
  • Disable System Logs For best performance (useful on HD2)
  • Glyph cache entry (Famous on WM6)
  • Notification & sound volume

Sounds interesting and sounds too difficult for most right now, so we'll leave this to MS. Still, it's interesting to see no matter how good an OS is, people want more.

Source: XDA

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While news of the HTC 7 Pro heading to Sprint has gotten Windows Phone users excited, this next bit of news may be more of a bitter pill to take. Sprint has announced that effective January 30, 2011 they will begin charging a $10 per month Premium Data add-on charge to customers with smartphones.

Sprint is defining smartphones as,

"...devices with robust operating systems that deliver a rich wireless experience by bringing the full function of mobile applications and programs to life, including Blackberry, Android, Windows Mobile, Palm, and the Instinct family of devices."

Bob Johnson, Sprint's President of Consumer Business, explains/justifies the reasoning behind the $10 fee by saying,

“Sprint wants its customers to experience the range of entertainment and productivity possibilities available with today’s wireless technology. While some of our competitors impose overage charges and complex plans, Sprint continues to provide a worry-free, unlimited data experience while on the Sprint network. This is responsible, sustainable and reflects our commitment to simplicity and value.”

Sprint contends that smartphone users consume, on average, ten times more data than users of traditional feature phones. Increased consumption means it becomes more costly for Sprint to maintain the same level of service.  But is it better to charge a Premium Data fee and continue unlimited data or put a cap on the unlimited packages and charge slightly less?

The good news in all this mess is that Sprint will not impose this fee on existing smartphone customers unless they upgrade to or activate another smartphone.  Still, the news of the $10 fee does put a damper on the excitement the 7 Pro was stirring up. 

You can read the full press release from Sprint following the break.

Source: Sprint  via: AndroidCentral

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With a few people reporting issues with excess data being sent by their Windows Phone 7 over 3G (see update) an interesting question came about how to monitor your data traffic coming from your device. The typical method is data sniffing but traditionally this has been beyond the reach of most non-techies.

Eric Law on his MSDN blog has detailed a method using Fiddler to watch your phone's data traffic over WiFi (so this won't help with that 3G issue). Primarily this is a great tool for developers to make sure their app is not using excess data in any way but it can also be useful for those who just want to know what's going on.

For the record, we had some initial trouble getting this to work on our PC but you may have better luck as the process is pretty simple and straightforward--maybe 15 minutes tops and that's including reading. So give it a shot if you're curious and let us know if you learn anything cool.

Source: Eric Law/Fiddler Web Debugger; via Techie-buzz

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One thing that Windows Phones currently lack is a common API for accessing the compass feature, even though all phones require the hardware. As it turns out, some phones have easier access than others. My LG Quantum has the augmented reality app 'ScanSearch' which has a compass in it and evidently the Samsung Focus has driver support for a compass too.

Dave Amenta, responsible for Send to WP7 (Desktop) and Accent Changer has come through again with a compass app, albeit rudimentary, that totally works on the Samsung Focus (and presumably the Omnia 7). As of now, no support for HTC, LG or Dell, but that's probably just a matter of time anyways. We'll keep you posted.

As before, you'll need a developer unlocked device. Source code is available for developers too.

Read more here and thanks Dave for the heads up!

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Germany has got its hands on the HTC 7 Pro, which has flooded stores as an unlocked SIM-free device and on carrier O2 as contract. HTC Germany reports that the smartphone will be tagged at €29 ($39) on a new two year contract at €22.50 ($30) per month, or €599 ($796) on its own.

What's more, it's coming to the UK too on February 10th and you can now pre-order the phone from Clove. Price is heading north of £442.80 including VAT. Ouch.

The phone packs a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, with a 3.6-inch WVGA touchscreen offering coupled with a 5-megapixel camera, also found on other HTC WP7 handsets. Physical keyboard admirers fear not as the HTC 7 Pro comes equipped with a slide-out keyboard. Overall a fantastic purchase for any German or Brit new to WP7.

Source: PhoneSeven, Clove via; SlashGear; wmpoweruser

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Well, that answers that.

In the meeting with Microsoft, the ChevronWP7 team evidently brought up the issue of emulators, specifically the NES one floating around, which we took for a spin a few weeks ago.

The answer from Brandon Watson, Director of Developer Experience for WP7, should have been expected: unless there is a legal way to host and distribute those ROMs, it's a violation of IP law. The answer should be a no-brainer really and Microsoft would be putting themselves in an odd position with Nintendo if they were to allow such an app to be distributed. Heck, Microsoft is hesitant about adding a screen shot tool because of these issues, that should tell you something.

Still, here's to homebrew and sideloading!

Source: @BrandonWatson

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Hooray! One of our favorite "brain games" has made a triumphant return to Windows Phone 7: Brain Evolution 2 by SPB software. SPB said Windows Phone 7 was an option just a few weeks ago. Guess they weren't kiddin'.

It just went live in the Marketplace and fetches for $4.99, which is on the high end for a non-Xbox LIVE game these days. Still, we've always really liked this game so we're gonna give it a thorough trial.

You can grab it here in the Marketplace. Oh and SPB, nice to see your back and can we have Quads next?

Thanks, @paulwillen, for the tip!

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Oh Microsoft, this is why we like you and not say Sony or Apple, who take a different approach to jailbreaking.

Long Zheng and Raphael Rivera of ChevronWP7 met with Microsoft, including Brandon Watson to go over the whole jailbreaking thing, making the Marketplace more secure and discussing the future of Homebrew.

No details on progress was given, but at least the ChevronWP7 team got some t-shirts for their effort. Lulz.

Edit: Chris Walsh, the 3rd member of ChevronWP7, had a visa issue preventing him from physically being at Redmond, but he lets us know that he's there via video conferencing. Touche, Chris!

Source: iStartedSomething

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Developers can have a tough life. They slave over compilers, writing code, trying to come up with that perfect app or game that becomes the next Angry Birds. The rewards can be big but more often than not, most apps never reach that level (e.g. no one thinks that out of 300,000 apps, more than a few thousand are making money in Apple's App Store).

Foundation 42, who make Word Monger, Word Explorer Dictionary and Data Locker for Windows Phone 7, had announced months ago 'Appaloosa' an ambitious game for the new platform. Flash forward a few months and the studio had to cancel the project. Reason? Ultimately it came dow to cost vs. expected return.

It's the same old story: new platform struggles to gain audience, developers struggle too. After the break, you can read Foundation42's side of the story of what happened. From our perspective, we saw their move to heavily invest in a game on such a new platform gutsy if not quite a bit risky. We would have rather seen them try 'Appaloosa' in late 2011 when the platofrm will presumably have more traction and they could recoup their costs, but we think this may have been too early to invest so much.

So check out their side after the break and even see a video clip of what could have been, with an alpha demo of 'Appaloosa'. Thanks, Derek Jenson, for letting us hear your thoughts.

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2011 has an interesting twist separating it from years past: RIM, despite still holding on, clearly is wandering aimlessly in the consumer smartphone market. Their OS is old, not very appealing and despite numerous attempts, they've failed to really 'wow' anyone recently. They sort of reflect Microsoft with Windows Mobile 6.x.

Still, they have killer reach in enterprise and a solid, nearly world standard for email distribution. Considering Microsoft is sitting on $40B in reserves, why not make a bid for RIM to either take them out or integrate their tech? Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer was recently asked this by Maria Bartiromo:

Q: What has stopped you from making really bold bets on technology? You've got more than $40 billion on the balance sheet. If you want to have substantial market share in smartphones, why not just acquire Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry?

A: We've made bold technology bets. We've bet on the Cloud and our Enterprise business; it's going fantastic. We made the bet on Xbox; we made the bet on Kinect. We bet on Bing and are growing like a weed in that business. So I feel pretty good about the bets. When do acquisitions make sense? That's a complicated subject.

Not exactly a specific but when tied into the rest of the interview it begins to make sense: Ballmer really believes in Windows Phone 7 noting

There's a lot of competition, but we've got the best-looking phones on the market. We've got the greatest range of alternatives, the phones, the software, the craftsmanship. It is as good or better than anything out there. We have a lot of work to do. But, we're in the game. We sold 1.5 million into the carriers.

Why acquire RIM when you have a solid product you believe in? That Dell believes in? RIM appears to be slowly relegating themselves to the sidelines for consumers, so no need to aid that, evidently. Going further, the money required to take over RIM, integrate their tech and IP, etc. could take years. Going further still, Microsoft sometimes has a spotty record with acquisitions (see Danger and 'Project Pink'), ahem. Still, we would have loved to take over our sister site, Crackberry.

Source: USA Today; via TechRadar

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Two rumors love persisting in the blogosphere: Nokia wants Windows Phone 7 (despite numerous public denials) and that Sony Ericsson has either  devices planned (despite public denials)

Of course neither are true and that was reiterated today by Sony who in an interview made it clear they are sticking with Android for now. However, they also are clearly leaving the door open for a future with Microsoft but they are evidently being conservative here, waiting to see if it takes off:

We've done a lot of work with Microsoft over the years. We’ve launched a number of 6.xx products, but we made a decision not to bring a product to market in the first wave. We absolutely maintain to keep an open mind towards Windows Phone 7. We continue to engage in a relationship with Microsoft, but we haven’t made any concrete announcement about when and how we would introduce Windows Phone 7 into the portfolio.

We shouldn’t limit ourselves to one opportunity, but we aren’t yet ready to make any specific announcement about products. At this moment in time, there is clearly a galvanizing within the industry around Android as a creditable alternative to what’s out there, and we think that’s a good thing.

We're actually fine with this decision and think it makes sense. Sure, in theory having SE on board with Windows Phone 7 would be a huge sign of support but on the other...it's Sony Ericsson, the company with grand ideas and poor execution of nearly every major smartphone it has released recently.

Source: Pocket-lint

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Liquor Run is a surprisingly neat little app, ported from the iPhone and Android, with a specific purpose: find liquor stores anywhere around you. The thing is, it does it well in a very fast and slick little package. By simply using your location, typing in address or zip code, the app shows all the known liquor stores in your immediate area. On top of that, it gives you turn by turn directions, maps, ability to call and local liquor laws for selling (hours, days, etc.).

Extended features include over 1000 drink recipes separated by category and a list of beers by alcohol content and calories. Did we mention it was free too?  Check out the vid above and if you think you'll want it, grab it here in the Marketplace.

Bonus trivia fact: In Massachusetts, Georgia and Connecticut (where I'm from), liquor stores are called package stores and we go on "packy runs". No joke.

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Google is considered the top search engine in the world, and has held this title for some time since early development. When Microsoft had MSN (later as; Live) deployed as a competitor to Google (and Yahoo! at the time) no one really adapted to the giant’s offering – understandable since the results provided by the index were either slightly off, or just blatently ridiculous.

Requiring a new product (much like Windows Phone 7), Microsoft developed a search engine to create a stronger hold on the search share across the globe. Bing was born. Featuring a new User Interface and supposedly “better related” results, this was the secret weapon to attack Google’s fort.

With continued growth through the redirection of MSN/Live searchers to the new home of Microsoft search, and the acquisition of Yahoo! has had Bing in the spotlight for not only the Search Engine Optimisation world, but for those technologically banded. Not all could remain well for the two competitors however...

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