Windows Phone News

With the October (or late September) release of Windows Phone 7, we’ve heard very little about what hardware is going to be available before the holidays. We’ve heard from LG, that they will have multiple devices out by the end of the year. Now Samsung has a device jumping through the hoops to get certified.

The Samsung Cetus (SGH-i917) is listed by the Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group) as a Windows Phone 7 device with a 4” WVGA AMOLED screen, 5MP Camera, and a secondary (front facing) VGA camera. Though most of the specs given merely meet the minimums set forth by Microsoft and the given specs have some glaring holes (processor, memory?), it’s still nice to start seeing some real details about what Microsoft’s Partners have in store for us.

[Bluetooth SIG via Engadget]

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Most of us are familiar with Google’s Street View and Bing’s  Streetside. These tools allow you to virtually walk down a street in your browser; jumping between panoramic images and allowing you to get a feel for the street or location you are viewing instead of giving you impersonal lines on a map. While Street View is an amazing technology, the jumps between panoramas can be fairly significant; making the prospect of locating a small shop or building somewhat hit or miss.

Trust Microsoft to push the envelope with their services. Street Slide is Microsoft’s latest effort to make experiencing a location from the street level as seamless as possible. Using multiple perspectives to blend between different images, Microsoft presents a letterboxed view of the street. In the unused space above and below the image of the street, you are presented with street numbers that correspond with the buildings you are viewing, as well as navigation controls and corporate logos for individual businesses.

A YouTube video of the demo is after the break, and though Windows Phone 7 isn’t mentioned (some other smartphone is) it doesn’t take much of a stretch to see this coming to Microsoft’s upcoming mobile platform.

[via Engadget]

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In an interesting twist, it seems that at least for some types of programs written for Windows Phone 7, multitasking or rather, the simulation of multitasking is completely possible.

Over at clr-namespace.com, the author whipped up a stopwatch application which you can start, then "minimize" then return to the app and it appears to have be running the whole time.

Of course in reality, it's not. It's "tombstoning" the application, which is a process by which

...the operating system maintains state information about the application. If the user navigates back to the application, the operating system restarts the application process and passes the state data back to the application, where the user will be able to continue seamlessly from his last interaction point with the application

In this case, the stopwatch does pause, but when restarted it counts back up from the original start time, giving the illusion that it has been "counting" while paused. This all happens without the user even knowing, making it a bit of a kludge, but a good one for this application.

How can this be applied to other programs? We're not really sure but it goes to show with some ingenuity, programmers can get around some of these "limitations".

[clr-namespace via Silverlight Show.net]

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Of course everyone knows LG is named as a launch partner with Microsoft for Windows Phone 7, their 'Panther' has been seen everywhere and LG has been trying to enter the Windows Phone/U.S. market more significantly as of late. But whether we'd actually see a WP7 LG device this year in the U.S. was a question, up untill now. (Another example: Asus--no U.S. presence, yet).

According to Forbes, LG's push into the U.S. market is still pretty limited for their non-smartphones, mobile app store, Android phones and tablets.

The one exception seems to be Windows Phone 7. Like these other bits of good news lately (mostly AT&T related), we're not sure if this means one, single LG phone on "a" carrier or multiple devices with multiple carriers. LG earlier this year tried to 'wow' people with their LG eXpo and pico-projector combo, but while critically it held its own it never made a large splash in the market (but it's still one of our favorite phones of 2010).

We actually like LG and find their Korea-launched phones to be quite compelling. or at the very least, interesting (plus their cameras are actually top-notch, looking at you HTC). Here's hoping to see some more of their offerings in 2010 State-side.

Update: PCWorld has LG on record saying they'll have their first WP7 phone out by the "end of September", which puts us right at that October time frame. They also plan to have "a few" devices by the end of the year.

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Here's an interesting quote from an AT&T spokeswoman to PC World:

"We'll be the premier carrier for Windows Phone 7"

Like the "AT&T is getting 8 million Windows Phone 7 devices" rumor, we're not exactly sure what this means in reality, all we know is we like the sound of it.

Sprint and Verizon had no comment in regards to their Windows Phone 7 plans, outside of being named "partners" which as the article points out, means they could be more committed or less when the actual launch happens.  T-Mobile didn't reply.

The fact that the nation's largest carrier (love 'em or hate 'em) is standing firmly behind Microsoft is a great sign. Probably a good idea for AT&T too since it gets them away from the Apple-collusion controversy, just a tad.

 

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2

AT&T One Cent Sale

Need a Windows Phone cheap?  If so, AT&T is offering their Windows Phone line-up for a penny.  We have no clue how long this fire sale will last but you can pick up a Samsung Jack, HP Glisten, LG Expo or Tilt2 for one penny.  Could AT&T be making room for a rumored Windows Phone 7 launch?

The penny sale doesn't come without a hitch.  You'll have to sign up for a minimum $15 data package and a two year contract.  Still, if you're looking to upgrade that HTC Fuze or Samsung Blackjack these deals are hard to ignore.  You can check out the sale information over at AT&T's website.

Thanks goes out to Cornelius Whitaker for the tip.

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While this isn't a whole lot of 'new' in this video series, it's still quite informative and easily one of the best quality videos we've seen (Hello full HD and multiple angles! Too bad about the audio difficulties...).

In this series shot by www.magnus.de (Weka Media Publishing GmbH, Germany), Greg Sullivan, Senior Product Manager Windows Phone, goes through and gives a tour of Windows Phone 7 while talking up the philosophy behind it quite a bit. It's nearly a half-hour in total length, so it's broken up into four parts:

Part 1: Design, usage, the idea behind hubs
Part 2: The peoples hub, social networking
Part 3: The pictures hub, office hub, games hub
Part 4: Zune, voice command, Bing integration, strategy

At the very least, it certainly qualifies for phone pr0n and if you have time to kill at work today, take a looksy.

All four parts loaded after the break!

[Thanks, Stephen M, for the tip!]

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One of the biggest changes to the Windows Phone 7 ecosystem is the installation of applications: you can only install them via the Marketplace and all programs need to be approved by Microsoft.

A lot of anger was directed against Microsoft for this decision, but we actually see why they would want to do this: consistency (security & performance) and a one-stop place to get software (simplicity). And at least unlike Apple, they promised to be much more transparent during the approval process.

Still, with so called no "side loading" of applications (only available to developers), some users are weary of going down the Apple route, even is Redmond is not as Puritan, well, except for 'suggestive' material.

Yesterday, the U.S. Government added new exemptions to the 'fair use' policy allowed by, the some would say draconian, Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. Amongst these exemptions, the one gaining all the headlines relates to how it is basically now legal to 'jailbreak' your iPhone and install third-party programs. In response, details on how to install 'Cydia' (an unofficial iTunes app store) have been posted on tech-blogs, previously a verboten topic.

What does this mean for Windows Phone 7?

It is safe to assume that Microsoft will go ahead with their current Marketplace plans and to be honest, we're okay with that as we think for most consumers, it will be perfect. For one, it has try-before-you-buy built in, something that the Apple App Store lacks--this missing features does drive some to install Cydia or Installous (the later is even more verboten)--so the necessity to "get around" Microsoft will be attenuated. Second, Microsoft promises to be more transparent and less-restrictive than Apple-ergo less motivation for a 'unofficial' Marketplace.

But, it also means that Microsoft can not legally try and shut down alternative app stores for Windows Phone 7 (and still win in court), but they still can try to block those who try to install third-party software or use their code.

This seems to be  a big victory, in theory, for the open-source and modding crowd e.g. XDA, who presumably could release their own WP7 store. But really, a lot of this will depend on if Microsoft decides to play hardball with the 'fringe' developer community (Apple), embrace them (Android) or take the middle ground as they usually do i.e. don't condone it, but aren't being jerks about it either.

Needless to say, it'll be quite interesting to see how all of this plays out in a few months, but we may be looking at a much more interesting Windows Phone 7 future.

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We've been hearing about the code-names for awhile and now we finally get to see one. We're of course talking about Windows Phone 7 on an HTC device and this one is reportedly for Verizon (and presumably Sprint).

Rocking some current-high end specs, the device features:

  • 3.7" SLCD screen (Sony's 'Super TFT LCD', nothing big)
  • 3 touch-sensitive lower buttons (similar to EVO)
  • 8MP camera (No dual flash, not even a single one!)
  • 1GHz Snapdragon
  • No HTC customizations in sight

Too early to tell if this will be a release device, what it'll be called and where it fits in with HTC's planned offerings (maybe this is an entry level device, not their flagship?)

Our take: it's exactly what we'd expect from HTC and in that regard, it's a bit underwhelming although we think it'll get the job done admirably. Still, we're sort of hoping for 'an HTC EVO moment' where we really go 'wow' instead of 'meh'.

Are our standards and expectations too high? Yup, and we're okay with that as Microsoft needs to wow us.  Your thoughts?  Is that Dell Lightning looking better yet?

Edit: Windows Phone 7 hardware specs require a flash for the camera.  Hmmm...

The other big story is that HTC does plan to offer 'Sense' or something similar to it. Quoting HTC

"Microsoft has taken firmer control of the core experience [in Windows Phone 7], but we can still innovate," Drew Bamford, who heads HTC's user experience design team, told Forbes.

"We won't be able to replace as much of the core Windows Phone experience, but we will augment it," he said

We're down with that. Now lets see what that actually means.

[Via Engadget and FierceWireless; Thanks, Stephen, for the tip!]

 

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16

HP drops Windows Phone 7

Let us flashback to the 2010 Mobile World Congress with Steve Manser, HP's Senior VP, saying, "HP is working even closer with Microsoft to develop signature phones on the Windows Phone 7 Series that offer an entirely new consumer experience.”.

Apparently, times have changed and we've seen indications that HP is no longer on board with Windows Phone 7.  The latest confirmation of such came in a CNBC interview with HP Personal Systems Group VP Todd Bradley. Bradley left no room for doubt when he said, "I think it's clear to say, that we're very focused on the customer, and giving the customer the experience that's important to them. We won't do -- will not do a Linux / Android phone. We won't do a Microsoft phone.".

Instead, HP will concentrate on using WebOS (a.k.a. Palm) for the company's smartphone lineup. With such a strong position on Windows Phone 7 it would appear that the HP Glisten might very well be HP's Windows Phone swan song.

So, does HP's departure from the WP7 represent a great loss or a void easily filled by another company?

[via: Precentral]

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We know Microsoft and TellMe (who Microsoft bought) worked close together on the Samsung Intrepid (awful phone, neat service), but nothing else ever came out from it.

We also know Windows Phone 7 will have some type of voice control (see Dieter hilariously try to activate it back in February) and low and behold, Microsoft has recently demoed it for it us.

The good:

  • Voice dialing
  • Voice search
  • Voice launch of programs

The bad--no voice control for:

  • Reminders
  • Playing music
  • Announcing calls

At least we presume those 'bads' are the case as we don't have 100% confirmation either way yet. Even with the limitations, we like the speed and execution of the voice search feature and can't wait to try it ourselves.

Watch the full video after the break!

[Thanks Tim F. for originally finding this]

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Eck. It was bound to happen. Someone put up an iPhone 3GS up against the prototype Samsung 'Taylor" Windows Phone 7 device in a mini-browser war.

Although a lot of press have been giving Mobile IE a 'not bad as we thought' review, it still pales in comparison to Apple's HTML5 based browser.

Now in fairness, Mobile IE may not be finished yet and in fact, is probably not, so we should expect it to perform better by release. On top of that, we know Mobile IE can be updated independently of the whole OS, allowing, in theory, frequent updates to improve the browsing experience.

Having said all of that, who here would not have liked to see WP7 beat the iPhone 3GS out? It sure would have been a nice ego boost and headline grabber. And without 3rd party browsers being available, at least for awhile (Microsoft has said they may be willing to work with companies to offer browser alternatives, if demand is high enough), we won't have much choice. Come on Mobile IE team!

Watch the full, somewhat painful video, after the break!

[NewsGeek via 1800PocketPC; Thanks Saijo]

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Verizon has posted its 2010 Q2 financial report and while the company reporting an overall revenue decline, not everything was a loss.

Verizon reported $26.8 billion in total operating revenue, .3% decline compared to this time last year.  While the company may have experienced a decline in total operating revenue, the wireless revenue experienced a 3.4% increase.

Verizon ended the quarter with 92.1 million total customers (a 5% increase from last year) and 86.1 million retail customers (a 1.1% increase). That's still about 4 million behind AT&T's 90.1 million wireless subscribers, assuming the full 86.1 million are wireless customers.

As seen in AT&T's quarterly report, Verizon experienced a significant jump in wireless data revenues (23.4%) from last year. Data usage for the quarter is reported to reflect 180 billion text messages, 4.2 billion picture/video messages and 25 million music/video downloads. The data revenue jump makes the 4.2% service revenue increase pale in comparison.  Yet another indicator how important data is to consumers?

You can read the full presser over at Verizon's website as well as view the financial tables here.

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We don’t know about you, but we’ve pretty excited about this Windows Phone 7 thing. The closer we get to that October(ish) release, the more desperate we get for all the juicy details on what to expect from Microsoft’s new mobile OS. Most of the information that we have on Windows Phone 7 up to this point has come from developer resources and documentation. The Microsoft UI Design and Interaction Guide for Windows Phone 7 is an attempt to communicate Microsoft’s design and UI principles to developers in the hopes of maintaining some level of consistency. The full guide is available from Microsoft (PDF link).

We’ve gone through the guide for you and broken out some of the guidelines/specs that we either haven’t heard or at least haven’t had confirmed. Get all of the details after the break and then let us know what you think in the comments.

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After all of those tech-previews of Windows Phone 7, if you're like us you already feel you "know" the new OS in and out. Likewise for Bing on board, which while currently lacking turn-by-turn directions (boo) promises to build off of what looks to be a solid search platform.

Heck, even the Bing folks think so as they posted a few screen shots to gaze at. Credit is due: it sure looks real nice and we're excited to make daily use of it and finally ditch Google-everything.

Other than that, nothing new, just preetty. See more shots here at the Bing blog.

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He may be retiring, but not without a parting shot to HTC. Conflipper has gone ahead and posted some more HTC device codenames, some of which are presumably for Windows Phone 7.

Now, before we get all giddy over these, it should be noted that even CF is not 100% if these will see the light of day, rather all he knows is that they were at least one time planned--whether or not they get through development and production is always up in the air until they are announced.

Some other bits he posts:

Looking at WP7 device Mozart, being a dance, Salsa, Tango, and Swing, are all dances, HTC likes to name devices under same category.

Maestro looks to be Worldphone, (CDMA + GSM), Swing is a GSM, Swing#C CDMA, Salsa is GSM, Salsa#C is CDMA, Vienna and Vienna#C

How do these fit in with those previous WP7 device-codenames e.g. HTC Gold_W (Sprint)/Gold, HTC Mozart/Schubert, Mondrian and HTC Spark_W? Heck if we know. While we're excited HTC evidently has a whole slew of devices coming for WP7, for FSM's sake can we get at least one leaked image of what they'll look like already?

[via Twitter]

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5

Microsoft updates the KIN

Microsoft's KIN may be dead but it keeps on ticking. Microsoft has released an update for the KIN that offers minor functionality changes. Not enough for resuscitation but the update is reported to include the following:

  • Twitter avatars showing up in the KIN Loop
  • Changes to Twitter status appearance
  • Re-tweets by contacts show up in the Loop
  • Twitter contact profiles show up
  • Twitter contacts can now be pinned to Favorites.

Rumors were circulating that Microsoft was working on a KIN update to give it more functionality that included better Twitter integration. This may have been the last item on the KIN Team's "to do" list before they turned off the lights completely.

The software version is 1.0 build 2814.0 and can be accessed through the KIN's Over-the-Air update system.

[read: wmpoweruser.com]

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AT&T has released it's second quarter earning report and life over at the wireless company is looking pretty good. AT&T experienced positive revenue growth during the quarter with consolidated revenues totaling $30.8 billion, up $194 million from last year's second quarter. AT&T can also boast a 25.9% boost in EPS (earnings per share) of $.68 compared to $.54 last year.

Wireless service revenue increased 10.3% and Wireless data revenue experienced a 27.2% growth, up $936 million compared to year-earlier quarter. Apparently the new data plan structures haven't been that bad.

Total wireless subscribers rose to 90.1 million, a 1.6 million net increase, setting a best-ever second quarter mark. The other wireless highlight was, despite "antennagate", AT&T set a company record by activating 3.2 million iPhones.

Confidence is high over at AT&T heading into the second half of the year. As a launch partner for Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, AT&T should be at the forefront this Fall when WP7 hits the shelves. It will be interesting to see what impact the new Windows Phone will have on future earnings.

You can read the full press from AT&T here.

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Windows Phone 7: Calendars

Paul Thurrott does a nice job of breaking down how calendars work on Windows Phone 7, specifically the trade off between simplicity and ability.

Windows Phone 7, via Live and/or Exchange, can sync up your calendar events. You can also add external sources like Google to the mix. All of these can by synced to the phone is a very easy fashion, the problem though is syncing back as you can only have one "source" that gets synced too.

Then there is the issue of multiple, nested calendars that are "subscribed" too within a calendar e.g. 'weather' within Google calendar--those don't get synced.

Granted, this is v1.0 of calendar support in WP7, but obviously some "power users" will have a tough time swallowing those limitations, while for us with not much to do in our lives (ahem, raises hand) it won't be a big deal. As Thurrott notes:

...you can’t be both simple and full-featured. Microsoft has opted with Windows Phone, in v1 form anyway, for simple. This is arguably the right choice, but the limitations of this choice will appear in multiple places all over this system. And this is just one basic example.

Indeed.

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