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We last mentioned Beau Allison's (aka codeJoker) a few weeks back which involved creating a WiFi shortcut on Samsung phones--it basically allowed you to hop from your Today screen right to the WiFi settings to quickly toggle them on or off. It's actually one of the more simple homebrew hacks yet it's the one we use the most, for obvious reasons.

Now he's gone further creating three new shortcuts: Bluetooth, Airplane Mode and Connection Manager. The first two are self-explanatory but the last is really the best. Connection Manager brings you all the previous shortcuts under one screen. Huzzah! As you can see above, it has WiFi, Bluetooth, Mobile Network and flight mode all under one quick access panel. What's more, he's trying to incorporate the status-sliders below each setting for a direct toggle. Once again, this will only work with unlocked Samsung phones (sorry HTC, LG and Dell).

This app is so useful we don't know where to begin outside of saying Microsoft (and or OEMs)--you could do this too!

Source: codeJoker

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We mentioned about the Homebrew Device manager by Schapman which was suppose to be released this week. The application not only offers a new way to interact with the phone to load media but also unlocks the phone so one can sideload applications on it.

Since that time, Microsoft and ChevronWP7 have confirmed that the upcoming update will fix the programming error that the jailbreak exploited.

In turn, Schapman is not too keen on releasing his app only to have MS block it a few weeks later so  he's doing the "cat and mouse" thing--wait for Microsoft to patch, then make sure his Device Manager works around it.  He notes that his app works different than ChevronWP7 but regardless, we don't see any guarantees that he'll still be able to jailbreak the phone himself:

Windows Phone Device Manager release delayed until MS update, as I still haves a lot of cool stuffs to implementation, Also Want to make sure my code will not be broken and my unlock method will pass after the update.

This is all well and good but we're even starting to wonder if waiting for this Device Manager is really worth the hassle and if Schapman, who often promises a lot but tends to under deliver, can really beat Microsoft's new improved security by himself.

Source: TouchXperience Blog ; via Plaffo; Thanks, Antonino Ardizzone.,for the info

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While we have seen AT&T's Windows Phone 7 lineup heavily discounted, even going for free by some 3rd party retailers, the HD7 has remained in the $150-200 range for awhile now (except for Wirefly and a few others).

Now the HD7 is at least temporarily discounted through T-Mobile themselves for a fair $99. Of course the usual rules apply: 2 year contact, etc. But we still dig this phone's 4.3" display even if the camera is kind of lousy & reception is mediocre.

Source: Microsoft; via @windowsphone

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We covered LG complaining last week about the somewhat dissatisfying performance of the Windows Phone 7 platform, which was expected with iPhone and Android absorbing majority of the news. However, the comment made was still received with mixed feelings.

Contradictory feedback - reported by Yahoo! - from German carrier Deutsche Telekom, largest mobile provider in Europe and mother of T-Mobile:

"We are ahead of budget, Microsoft is very pleased."

Which Ingo Hofacker, Head of Consumer Marketing at the mobile giant, provided. It is a good sign that they are witnessing WP7 devices selling off shelves at speed, and one can only predict this trend to continue as updates come this year.

Thanks Philipp for the tip!

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Earlier today we mentioned that Bitbop was available for Windows Phone 7 in Beta form.  Similar to Hulu, Bitbop brings streaming television to your Windows Phone.  Shows are commercial free and can be downloaded to your phone or streamed.

Our first impressions of Bitbop are good.  The app has a polished feel to it, there's a decent selection of shows and movies to choose from and the menu system is nice.  The option to download episodes and movies is nice for those times you know you'll be in a poor reception area or without access to Wifi.

Bitbop has a free 60 day trial and a full subscription is running $9.99 a month.  You can find your copy of the Beta here at the Marketplace.  Keep in mind that this is a beta version and glitches may still be present.

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Last we checked, despite our delusions and self aggrandizement, the world doesn't revolve around English. And while parts of the world await for Microsoft to bless them with native language support, some inspiring lads are taking into their own hands. (Maybe they can fix the T-Mo HD7?)

In the above case, it's Thai, which wins for coolest looking alphabet in our eyes (Korean is really neat too). It's only for Samsung devices at the moment, but it's getting there. This joins Hebrew, which was hacked a few weeks ago at XDA as pointed out by 1800pocketpc and JapaneseGood stuff.

Source: WinPhoClub; Thanks, @TonHor for the tip!

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Viber (website) a VOIP program similar to Skype, is quite popular on the iPhone for its no-frills ability to call any other Viber client in the world for free. The app though is in someways better than Skype since you don't need to sign up or register--you just download the app and use it. The app is quite pouplar on the iPhone and there are Android and BlackBerry versions coming soon.

Well, unfortunately for the same reason as Skype, they too are saying no client from them until Microsoft allows deeper access. WinMobile.SE interviewed Talmon Marco, head of Viber Media and asked him about WP7 directly. He cites three main reasons why, despite them wanting to do one, they can't make a Windows Phone app: (1) no sockets support, (2) no native code access (so can't port audio engine) and (3) no multitasking.

Once again, no surprises here--if Skype can't do it, Viber can't. Still, it seems both parties are interested, so it's just a matter of Microsoft allowing access.

Source: WinMobile.SE; Thanks, Toni, for the heads up

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We might not have Hulu Plus on our phones (yet) but perhaps the next best thing is here: Bitbop (Beta), who is run by Fox Mobile as a competitor to Hulu and is already on BlackBerry and Android (we beat iPhone).

The service costs $9.99 a month, which is not cheap, especially since you can only watch it on your phone--but you can't beat the selection of shows, all of which are commercial free. Bonus feature includes not only the ability to stream over WiFi or 3G but the option to download the show for later--great for those trips where a signal is scarce. There's also a queue for adding shows that you want to line-up for another day. (Side note: too bad WP7 doesn't have HDMI-out support yet).

The Windows Phone 7 version comes with a full 60-day trial, which is quite generous actually and from our brief test run, it's pretty awesome. The UI is done very tastefully and it's fairly easy to navigate--for instance, this is the first app we've seen to take advantage of the "letter square" system like in your contacts, but for finding shows.

Also, if you feel burned by the official Daily Show app, you can watch that and Colbert on here in its entirety (although getting to the latest episode is awkward). App is available here in the Marketplace (free download, free 60-day trial). This is technically a beta (v0.9) so expect some early glitches.

Update: Onlay available in the U.S. Sorry, you know, the rest of the planet. 

Update Part Two: Also, check out our video tour of Bitbop here.

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In what has to be the first, developer David Tepper has created a free app called simply enough iTunes Search and it's actually quite unique.

The app allows you to search both the iTunes Music and the iOS App Stores from your Windows Phone. Of course, you can't actually download anything from those stores but once found, you can then use it to search the Zune Marketplace for something similar--which is kind of crafty. Actually, this thing handles both stores better than either native app--it looks sharp, loads fairly quickly and overall wins points for an elegant UI.

Combined with the Windows Phone ability to sync with a Mac, control your iTunes and now search the Apple App store, we're wondering what other Apple-task could come next?

Grab it here in the Marketplace.

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We've heard a lot of developers in the past speak positively of working on Windows Phone 7 (and some who have not). Fairy Engine, who make Jigsaw Guru and Jigsaw Guru Free, have had an interesting experience so far with their game actually not doing so well, nor getting much attention (sorry!).

Despite the lack of enthusiasm though, they still have high regard for the new OS. In an interview with Electronic Theater, they had the following to say:

"I'm not saying everything is perfect, but Windows Phone 7 is a very pleasant platform to develop for."

Other areas they liked were the submission process and writing in C# and XNA. They also do have plans to bring more titles (unannounced) to our OS in the future including an Xbox 360 version of Jigsaw Guru. (Electronic Theater will post the full interview tomorrow) Goes to show what having a good developer ecosystem can do.

Speaking of that game, while jigsaws are not our "thang" so to speak, it actually is a nifty little gem--especially how you can use any photo on your device that you took as a jigsaw puzzle, ranging from a few pieces to a whole lot. It should keep jigsaw enthusiasts busy for sometime. They also seem to be having more success with the free-but-ad-supported version over the pay, a similar trend we've seen with Impossible Shoota (review) and that developer.

Grab Jigsaw Guru Free here in the Marketplace, for those interested.

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Yesterday we heard that Sprint will begin charging a premium fee for smartphone data and today, it's AT&T's turn to tweak their prices a bit. Leaked policy outlines from AT&T indicate that messaging plans, upgrade discounts and Microcell pricing are all about to change.

In an effort to help "streamline offers for customers and help our (AT&T) reps be more efficient" (AT&T's words not ours) the following changes will become effective January 23, 2011.

Check out all the changes after the break...

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Although we like the weekly Tues/Wed excitement of our 2-fer Xbox LIVE games (like today), sometimes it's nice to peek ahead. Evidently, the site Xbox 360 Achievements is able to pull down "Achievement" info, hence the data here.

We imagine these are games really close to being released which is why their data is flowing around a bit:

  • Deal or No Deal
  • Game Chest - Board Games
  • Centipede (Game Room)
  • Backgammon
  • I Dig It
  • Implode XL
  • Super Monkey Ball 2
  • Zombie Attack 2: Second Wave

Anything there really catch your fancy? Did we miss anything on that list? If our count is correct, that's exactly 1 months worth of titles. Tune in next week to see if this was accurate or not...either way, more games = good.

Source: Xbox360Acheievements; Thanks, Eric A., for the tip!

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We've mentioned the issues concerning abnormal amounts of data being used by Windows Phone 7 devices before. Microsoft has investigated the problem and has come to the conclusion that third party solution is the cause.

In a statement to seattlepi.com, a Microsoft spokesperson reported,

"We have determined that a third-party solution commonly accessed from Windows Phones is configured in a manner that potentially cause larger than expected data downloads. We are in contact with the third party to assist them in making the necessary fixes, and are also pursuing potential workarounds to address the configuration issue in case those are needed. At this point in our investigation, we believe this is responsible for most of the reported incidents."

No comment as to whom or what the third party solution is. It could be an application or a feature/module of WP7 developed by a third party. Early thoughts pointed to the Feedback feature of Windows Phone 7 and it still could be the likely culprit.

Microsoft did state that they would continue to investigate this issue and will offer any guidance and updates as things become available.

Source: seattlepi.com

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Microsoft took a step toward making buying apps in the Marketplace even easier by partnering with hub-based communications provider MACH.  MACH's Direct Billing Gateway (DBG) service works with mobile carriers to bill purchases directly to customers' monthly statements, making transactions easy for the end user.

The resulting system will not only translate into a seamless Marketplace purchasing experience for users, but will also "help [Microsoft] maximize revenue assurance and conversion for its application partners."  Regarding the team-up, which is already in place with Australia's Telstra, Windows Phone Marketplace Senior Director, Todd Brix commented:

“Working with MACH better enables us to offer customers the benefits of a convenient and easy-to-use mobile operator billing option when purchasing their favorite content for Windows Phone 7.” 

With this new instant gratification and over 6000 apps, it will be easy to rack up an end-of-the-month nightmare, so be sure to track your purchases. 

Source: MACH; Via: FierceMobileContent

 

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Acculynk, creators of PaySecure, announced in a press release today that they will be developing a mobile version of their Internet PIN debit platform for Windows Phone 7, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry systems. 

Here's how it works: when a customer makes a debit card purchase at a website that uses PaySecure, they enter their debit card number at checkout.  Then, a encrypted graphical keypad, which is embedded into the vendors website, is used to enter the consumer's PIN.  It eliminates the need to sign up for accounts on vendor websites or get directed to third-party sites, like PayPal.

Acculynk's CEO, Ashish Bahl, said in the statement,

"In 2011, our goal is to expand the channels where PIN debit can be accepted, like a mobile phone and even kiosks." 

They also hope to move beyond eCommerce, by developing methods for online banking and P2P fund transfers.  You can check out a demo of how it works here.

Source: EarthTimes

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While the existence of ASUS' first WP7 phone has been known for some time, Vietnamese website Tinhte has posted a hands-on video of it, along with a few new photos (above).  We also know from the FCC that the E600 boasts a 4-inch LCD, 5 mega-pixel camera and 1300mah battery, all encased in a pretty brushed-metal casing.  Rumor has it that ASUS will officially unveil it at the 2011 MWC.  Until then, enjoy the teaser below.

Source: Pocket-Lint; Via: Unwired

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It's that time of the week again for two more Xbox LIVE titles. This week we have iBlast Mokie, which is "a physics puzzle game where you to have to move cute little Mokis with the help of bombs, balloons, wheels and other crazy items". Its artwork looks inspired by "Loco Roko" from a few years back, so that's cool. Fetching for $2.99 it looks pretty good.

The other title is 3D Brick Breaker Revolution by DHOC also for $2.99--which is what it sounds like, a 3D Brick Breaker game with "24 insane power ups" (whoa there chief! 24? Not sure we can handle the insanity).

Initial impression? 3D Brick Breaker is a great concept and even fun to play, but the graphics are a bit blocky and choppy (it also gives you an Epilepsy warning, no joke). iBlast Moki is actually kind of fun, resumes games properly and looks good too. Of course, both games have trials, so give 'em a go for yourselves. Also, both games are available worldwide, which will make our UK based Rich Edmonds happy.

iBlast Moki is here and 3D Brick Breaker Revolution is here in the Marketplace.

  

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Although GoVoice just hit v2.5, its closest competitor, GVoice has been left in the dust for some time now mostly due to some "issues" (to put it lightly) in Microsoft's app approval process. We mentioned about the fiasco a couple of weeks ago here.

Well, good news for GVoice users and the developer: his app has finally been given the green light after being in limbo for nearly 2 months.

It should go live in the Marketplace anytime now. To see the full change-log, including new features, hit the jump for the list...

Update: V1.2 is now live in the Marketplace, grab it here.

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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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