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Why Huawei's MateBook is still the best Windows 10 tablet

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Dell XPS 27 packs a 4K display and 10 (yes, 10) internal speakers

Many become one

Why an intelligent cloud connecting a family of devices is the 'modern PC'

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Windows Phone News

Just as promised, this morning at 3am Microsoft officially killed KIN Studio--the online media management network--for all active KIN users. The announcement was first made in December and sure enough at 3am we got word the site when offline, making KIN almost useless (though they still do make calls and SMS).

We also heard that the Zune pass, which worked over 3G and WiFi would only work on WiFI afterward, but so far it is still clinging for dear life to cellular--but for how long? Everything else though, whether it was social networking, photo sharing, search near me, posting to photo sites, commenting, etc. are all gone, effectively killing the KIN.

While we never understood the strategy by Microsoft on this one, it's still sad to see it go out like this. However, there are two happy areas: all current KIN owners are eligible for a free new phone from Verizon and the KIN Studio team has been folded into Windows Phone, resulting in some killer media-cloud services---some day. As reported in the Seattle Times, Aaron Woodman, director of the mobile communications business at Microsoft noted that some KIN Studio features will make their way to Windows Phone: "We have a very, very small baby step with Windows Phone Live...It's definitely part of the road map to have enriched services that make the phone more meaningful, and the Web more meaningful."

Thanks, Conflipper, for the heads up

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Australian's can now sleep easy knowing that their Marketplace purchases will no longer be messed up by un-necessary fees. If you recall, through billing errors some Australian Windows Phone users were charged an International Transaction Fee (101% of purchase) on top of the cost of the Marketplace app.

The root of this problem was where the billing was being processed (Singapore) that didn't recognize Marketplace charges as a local purchase. So that $.99 game began to cost Australians $1.99.

To avoid this issue from re-surfacing, Microsoft has established a transaction processing center in Sydney. So to our friends down under, you can now make your Marketplace purchase with confidence that a local purchase will be processed as a local purchase.

Source: iStartedSomething

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Comic books! Everyone has read a comic book at some point in their lives. Comics were a fundamental part of many kids' lives and are still very much a part of some adult lives. I loved comic books as a kid and still do. The format has changed a great deal since I was a kid though. I rarely read a graphic novel on paper anymore. Digital delivery applications across dozens of platforms and superb net-based readers have become the industry standard. Scans (literally meaning a scanner was used to make a digital backup of a comic book) and drm-free fan-produced e-books have become the anti-industry standard.

I have a fairly decent sized digital library of comics and graphic novels but I never get to read them when I'm well and truly bored. Like when I'm stuck on a train with just my phone. You guessed it, "Until Now!" Read on to see the ins and outs of not just reading comics on your WP7 device, but how to get 'em on there.

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It's been whispered about and openly discussed at XDA for some time, but it has now been confirmed that Yahoo! email is the so-called "data hog" culprit on Windows Phone. To refresh, some users were reporting large amounts of data traffic being sent from their phones, resulting in some people approaching or going over their capped data limit. Yet others saw no such behavior. Microsoft finally investigated and found the source themselves but refused to name them publicly, instead they tried to address it behind doors.

Now Raphael Rivera, part of the ChevronWP7 team, has gone ahead and created some sophisticated tests to nail down the offending app.  Yahoo email has been suspected by many for some time (see here and here) but now seemingly concrete proof has been demonstrated. To sum up the technical by Rivera, Yahoo appears to be sending around 25 times the amount of data that it needs to, which is quite an increase. As a result, Rivera recommends the following for Yahoo! mail users:

To workaround this, I strongly recommend Yahoo mail users reconfigure the phone to not transmit data via a cellular connection (Settings –> Cellular –> Data roaming options). As an alternative, you can set your Yahoo account to only Download new content only on manual trigger (Yahoo Mail –> Settings –> Sync Settings).

Sounds like sage advice. Seeing as Yahoo is the culprit here, this seems to explain why some of us did not ever experience such behavior, while others did. This also means that it's not WP7's fault but rather something on Yahoo's end that needs to be addressed. Read more on the nitty-gritty on Rivera's page here.

Update: Microsoft is now officially acknowledging the issue: "Microsoft and Yahoo! have worked together to identify a fix, which will be rolled out in the coming weeks.". There also is a rare problem with Exchange Active Sync (EAS) which should be fixed in a software update.

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Alan Mendelevich, a Windows Phone 7 developer, has carried out a small experiment involving his Tic-Tac-Toe 3D app to see which performs superior in terms of downloads and usage out of a free or paid offering. Before getting into detail with his findings, one would think that the free app would come out on tops with usage compared to the paid version, and one would be correct.

The graphs above (visits) illustrate just how large the difference can be. But what causes this, and why are people more likely to download an app that's free as opposed to a trial? It's psychological. Like any software store or marketplace, or even searching for software through a search engine, majority of people will attempt to find a free (or next to nothing) offering.

Microsoft has implemented a trial system as opposed to Apple's mass Lite invasion. You literally get swarmed with duplicates upon duplicates of apps and games on the app store, which can prove to become a slight annoyance. This is something the Marketplace does not suffer from, but not everyone is fully aware of trials, and look for either a Lite or free version.

If they can, they will avoid venturing down the paid route unless it's an absolute must. What’s more, trials are generally associated with set time allowance until it ends or have some (or major) functionality removed. In Alan's test, he witnessed a whopping 40x increase in stabilised traffic for the free version of the Tic-Tac-Toe 3D app, which aids in proving the theory mentioned earlier. However, although the traffic may be greater, the revenue generated may not reflect the usage statistics.

Alan moved on to explain, "Despite huge difference in usage the economics of both versions could be pretty similar. The paid version sold 22 copies in 7 weeks which is about $15", which isn't too bad for what the app is. In comparison to the above earning, the free version of his app displays adverts that accumulated around 23,000 views in seven weeks. This would earn him "$23 which is comparable to the revenue from the paid version" he concludes.

So even though downloads of a free app may over shadow a paid counterpart fairly effectively, the revenue a developer can potentially earn isn't much different. Does the trial API work, or should we expect more "Lite" apps in the Marketplace?

Source: Ailon; via @AdDuplex

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Netgear CEO tackles Microsoft WP7

Netgear CEO Patrick Lo has shared his opinion on Apple and their closed development environment, as well as taking a dig at Microsoft's mobile platform. Our friends at TiPb have covered the criticism directed at Steve Jobs and his iCompany, so we shall cross over the bridge and highlight the Windows Phone 7 remark.

“Microsoft is over - game over - from my point of view” Patrick goes onto say, suggesting that Microsoft is both late to the monopoly game board and hasn’t got the platform to compete with the likes of Android and iOS.

Voicing a rational blow against WP7 is either a display of short sightedness into the smartphone market, or a sign that companies outside of the mobile industry have their own opinion of WP7 – albeit slightly negative.   It’s interesting to compare the remarks made by LG about how the launch and first few months of life for WP7 has been somewhat disappointing, to the failed-to-elaborate tantrum of a loud-mouthed CEO.

Although Patrick is not representative of the majority views on Windows Phone 7, nor does his opinion really matter, it’s a crushing look at an external view from a respectable company.  Especially since Netgear is behind the networking of companies and online properties (I’ve even used them in a datacentre rack), and a good number of server technicians I know use Android.

One should not listen to Mr Lo however. I mean, how is he to know anything about the mobile platform when all he can comprehensively understand is how to open up ports on his malfunctioning Netgear router. What do you think of his comment about WP7?

Source: Neowin

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We're on Facebook. Again.

Just a small heads up to you social-networking fiends out there: we're back on Facebook. Though the old WMExperts one is still out there, floating around like refuse in the ocean, the new site is up, running and pulling down our RSS feeds of all our latest stories.

So if you would like to friend us, or whatever it's called, you can do so right here. (Next week we'll tackle Friendster. That's still popular, right?)

Oh and if you're a Twitter user, we now have over 6,100 followers--so if you're not one already, you can do so right quick by going to @wpcentral.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Windows-Phone-Central/174138022601372
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The future of Sony in the smartphone market has two major considerations for Windows Phone:

1) Will Sony make a Windows Phone 7 device?

2) Will Sony push their PlayStation platform on other mobile OSs?

The answer to the first is maybe. More specifically, Sony is keeping the door open to make a Windows Phone in the future, but as far as anyone knows, there's nothing immediately on the horizon. One reason for that is that some speculate Sony would not embrace a phone that makes the Xbox 360 its centerpiece. After all, this may seem to downplay Sony's own efforts in mobile gaming.

Sony though seems to be taking a mild mannered approach to the issue, suggesting that they are in fact, hardware/software neutral when it comes to their mobile PlayStation suite (prominently launching on Android). In a press event, SCE CEO Kaz Hirari stated:

We're focusing first on Android... There's also Windows [Phone], iOS and so forth, but we don't have the resources to make it compatible with everything from the start.

The statement is an echo of a recent meeting where Sony previously described the PlayStation suite as "hardware neutral". This seems to take out the argument that Sony won't ever do a Windows Phone either due to fears of competition in mobile gaming. In fact, we could imagine Sony doing a Windows Phone featuring Sony mobile gaming on it. But now the ball is in Microsoft's court: would they allow such a deal and partnership to go forward? This could be an interesting next few months and we'll try to grill Sony on this issue at Mobile World Congress in a few weeks.

Source: PocketGamer

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The big news making the rounds today is in regards to how the smartphone landscape changed in Q4 in terms of market share. New numbers came out from The NPD Group today showing that Windows Phone 7 grabbed as much market share as the nearly two-year old WebOS:

  • Apple iOS: 19 percent (-4%)
  • Android OS: 53 percent (+9%)
  • RIM OS: 19 percent (-2%)
  • Windows Mobile: 4 percent (-3%)
  • Windows Phone 7 OS: 2 percent (-)
  • Palm’s WebOS: 2 percent (-)

But some seem to be taking these numbers is that Windows Mobile outsold Windows Phone 7--yet what is being reported is market share, which includes an established user base. In other words, Windows Mobile has been around for years, there are a lots of users and not everyone suddenly gave up their WM phone for Windows Phone 7 (especially with 2 year contracts binding people). As a result, Windows Mobile still lost three percent and Windows Phone 7 gained two (though no correlation is implied).

What is worth noting is the following: "Windows Phone 7 also entered the market with lower share than either Android or webOS at their debuts, according to NPD's Mobile Phone Track". Of course even those numbers are relative as the smartphone market was certainly thinner and less aggressive two years ago than it is today, especially with Android taking off.

Should we have expected Windows Phone 7, which only went on sale in mid-November, to have made more a splash than it did? Perhaps. But we see this more a problem of message and getting the OS "out there" than anything else.  The numbers are certainly not awe-inspiring, but we also don't see it as greater interest in Windows Mobile either. Sixty days is not much time to prove yourself in such a volatile market--Android and the iPhone are certainly tough competition to make headway with.

Source: NPD Group (PR); via WirelessWeek

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GooNews (see video review) was one our favorite apps on Windows Phone as it not only offered a nice, smooth UI for accessing Google News, but also allowed you to have custom feeds. The app was free, then $0.99 or ad-supported and was really the only one of its kind (as far as we know).

Developer Shawn Wildermuth has reluctantly given up on GooNews, pulling it from the Marketplace, despite very positive user feedback. The reasons come down to frustration with the app approval process, inconsistencies in approval and just plain running out of steam. As Wildermuth explains, GooNews had a major bug in it which he tried to address but he soon found his app stuck in approval hell, eventually being rejected for something it had always had in the past. After paying $40 in fees just to get it approved (later refunded), he just could not get the app through. The story is reminiscent of GVoice and that developer's problems with getting an update through as well.

Wildermuth acknowledges that a lot of this is probably growing pains and he's not giving up on Windows Phone 7:

I think that once they figure out their customer service issues, it'll be a good experience. I know a lot of developers who have had good experiences with the Marketplace. I just don't have enough time to deal with the ineptitudes. I won't be updating my existing applications or submitting new ones until I am satisfied that the Customer Service, Testing and Support issues are solved. Its not worth my time.

Still, sad to see such a fine app disappear. Read about Wildermuth's experiences here, it's a good tale. [Update: When we asked, Shawn said he is considering making GooNews open source for others]

via: @ShawnWildermuth

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If you have a Zune pass, finding some of the big titles and artists just a got a bit easier today as the Zune Marketplace rolled out "Album Galleries".

Broken down by music style, like hip-hop, metal, jazz, Best of 2010, etc. the section features all the best and top recognized artists in their field, giving quick access to their entire catalog for instant downloads. And going by their metal section, we have to agree with their taste so far.

This solves one of those cognitive problems with an unlimited Zune pass: when browsing for music, you basically forget everything you ever wanted to listen to after you fire up Zune. It's like when you used to walk into Record Town and as soon as you passed the door, your mind was erased of what you wanted to buy (personally, I blame those anti-theft scanners at the door--my theory says they obliterated that part of my mind, amiright?)

If you're curious, just follow this link as it opens your Zune desktop to the new section.

via @zune

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Keith Patton aka the man behind AlphaJax (and a few other New Zealand based apps) was interviewed recently where he discussed development on Windows Phone 7 as a platform.

The interview is quite technical, meaning developers (both new and experienced) will get the most out of it as we understand Keith shares some tips on techniques, framework, workarounds and improving performance.  But the takeaway message from Patton is when he says that working on WP7 is “probably one of the most enjoyable phases of my development career" and that it's "fun" to write on WP7 as it should be.

Ben Gracewood conducted the interview and you can read more about his thoughts too on his site.

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One of our favorite games on Windows Phone just got a major update/overhaul: AlphaJax (see review)

First up, for those who don't want to throw down their hard earned money, there's now a free, ad-supported unlimited trial version available. Having all the same features as the paid except for some ads, this free edition should allow a lot more people an opportunity to play the game. Of course a paid, no-ad version will stick around for those of us who don't like them there ads, so no worries on that end.

The second big update are user statistics. While it's no Xbox LIVE support this is clearly the next best thing as now you can keep track of your stats, the top games, the top players and even the top moves in the AlphaJax universe. Oh and starting a few days ago, you can now play up to 30 simultaneous games--which is just pure insanity.

The update is in the Marketplace now and you can grab it here.

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For those of you attending this years MIX11 in Vegas aka the annual conference "...for web developers and designers at which Microsoft showcases upcoming web technologies", you'll be pleased to know you can get the app now for your Windows Phone. MIX11 will be important for Windows Phone developers--we're expecting a big turn out this year and a heavy focus on Microsoft's new mobile OS.

Featuring the full listings of the schedule (eventually), speakers, sessions, maps, extras and even a way to favorite things (for quicker access), the app is beautifully written with a focus on minimalism, speed and has the ability to update over 3g. It should be fun to see everyone walking around with their Windows Phone using this come April.

Grab the app here in the Marketplace.

 

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Gmail WP7 synchronization issue

Windows Phone 7 owners are experiencing an error with synchronizing mail with their Google email accounts. Receiving the error code 85010001, no one seems to have a concrete understanding as to the cause of the problem, or a possible solution.

The error prevents Gmail from synchronizing your mail (whether it be automatic push or regular checks) and for those who leave their phone on during the night to catch emails in the more, this can become extremely frustrating. 

A thread over at the Google Support forums has produced some potential solutions that have reportedly worked for some but not for others. If you experience this problem repeatedly, try the below steps:

  1. Reboot device.
  2. Change your language from English US to English UK; reboot and change back again (US only).
  3. Check if you have any stuck outgoing mail or draft messages.

The team at Google are attempting to reproduce the problem, but are having slight difficulty. I, myself, haven’t hit this issue yet and the problem seems to be not local, but worldwide. If you have a potential fix that has worked for you, head on over to the thread linked above to publish your findings, as well as letting us know of the outcome so we can update this post.

Are you experiencing this problem with your Gmail? Join in the conversation over at our forum. We will – of course – keep you posted with any updates we come across.

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Cloud based SDK for WP7 released

Microsoft has been busy on the researching side of the border for some time with their mobile platform. It has yet ceased to halt at its lightning pace. An interesting update with this path is the release of a Software Development Kit (SDK) for cloud services on WP7, which is designed to aid with Project Hawaii

“Our current platform consists of a Windows Phone 7 smartphone and several cloud services, including existing Microsoft offerings and some prototype services. The existing Microsoft offerings include Windows Azure for computation and data storage, Bing Maps for mapping services, and Windows Live ID for user identification.”

This all sounds quite interesting, and would be great to see how WP7 can interact with Microsoft’s cloud – imagine having the processes and services that take majority of your smartphone resources to be carried out on a remote platform.

The Hawaii team is working on speech-to-text, OCR in the cloud that allows photos to be taken and any text present in any given image will be returned as a Unicode string, and more. You can check out the SDK, which has been released here.

Source: ZDNet

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Say what you want about LG but their custom Windows Phone software is hands down the best of all the OEMs today. Between offering $30 worth of apps for free (including the amazing Weave) and their homemade stuff like Voice to Text, ScanSearch and Metro Scanner (and a bunch of other tools, like panoramic camera), they really offer quite the one-two punch to HTC and Samsung.

ScanSearch and Metro Scanner are great because they are so-called augmented reality apps. Basically they take advantage of the phone's accelerometer, compass and camera to show you things you can't see, like bars, restaurants, or in the case of Metro Scanner, subway stations in your local city.

Metro Scanner works "world wide" and while we couldn't vouch for that it did a swell job in New York City. You launch the app, it grabs a GPS fix (can take a few seconds, though it has a progress bar, natch) and then it shows you where the nearest subway is in relation to you. Holding the phone flat  gives you a map with compass, holding it up uses the camera to show you where it is as if you could see through all the buildings. Tapping the station gives you directions.

Metro Scanner was just updated to v1.2 to fix a compass bug and all we have to say about the app is that it's pretty darn cool, LG. Our next hope? Microsoft releases those camera and compass APIs so 3rd party developers like Layar can join in on the fun.

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Polling and survey data will always be controversial--there are means, averages, sample sizes, how questions are phrased/framed, etc. resulting in multiple ways of interpretation. Recently, Microsoft's Greg Sullivan went on record with some internal survey results on Windows Phone 7 user satisfaction stating that customer satisfaction for Windows Phone 7 is at 93% and brand awareness is increasing, up 22 points to 66%.

This of course sounds real good, but we're going on Sullivan's word here and cannot verify those numbers. Now ChangeWave, an independent survey group, has come out with their own numbers and while Windows Phone is improving in status and satisfaction, they are nowhere near as high as what Microsoft claims. ChangeWave's survey involved 4,050 participants which is a very sizeable number. Here are some of their results (reprinted from NetworkWorld):

  • 5% have their "sights set on Windows Phone"--which is an increase from the previous 1% and is the only smartphone with a boost in demand
  • 44% of Windows Phone 7 owners consider themselves "very satisfied" (big improvement from Windows Mobile's 18%) as of Dec 2010

By way of comparison, Android has a 58% approval rating and the iPhone still tops out at 72% being "very satisfied". NetworkWorld expects those Android numbers to go up with Froyo 2.2 on Android as it "solves" many of the previous problems on that OS. Although, one could also claim the same about Windows Phone after our next few updates scheduled for this year.

Still, the point being that as of now 44% is a stark contrast to Sullivan's claim of 93%. Both sides are a little obscure on their methodology, though we can say that ChangeWave is certainly more transparent with hard numbers than Microsoft is on the matter (plus you can at least purchase ChangeWave's data). But without knowing which questions were asked, it's hard to make a direct comparison. But, reluctantly, we're less believing of Microsoft's stats than ChangeWave's for what should be an obvious difference in biases.

So which is it audience? What we want to believe, what seems more likely or both are wrong for X reason? Share in comments...

Source: ChangeWave (private); via NetworkWorld

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Great news for you Google folk out there--you now have a Document reader for your Windows Phone--best part? It's free*.

Actually, the real best part is how nice the darn thing is--seriously, it's fast, gloriously smooth and just a pleasure to use. Sure, as of now you can only view docs (no editing) but this is v1.0 and the developer seems keen on adding features. But we're just happy with this first attempt as it's really one of the nicer 1.0 apps we've tried around here (and we've tried a lot, thank you). Features include:

  • Viewing documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings and forms.
  • Offline (no internet needed) viewing once downloaded.
  • “Download all” option allows you to have all your files available for offline viewing on the go.
  • Very responsive and intuitive user interface.
  • Your password is encrypted before saving. All communications with Google is over SSL (secure channel)

All we have to say is bravo, Tasbir inc. Combined with Flory and GooNews and we're nearing in on some seriously good Google-focused apps. Now go grab this freebie in the Marketplace here.

* Update: We justgot word from the developer that is is only free for a limited time! So grab it now.

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