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Windows Phone News

It started with an open letter from financial analyst Adnaan Ahmad, addressed to CEOs Steve Ballmer (Microsoft) and Stephen Elop (Nokia), explaining the mutual benefits that could arise from the two tech titans teaming up.  What came next was a flurry of rumors that it might happen and show of confidence from stock traders.  In the days since Ahmad posted his letter, Nokia's stock prices have risen more than 4%, a sign that those in the market may be trying to show a vote of confidence in Ahmad's wishful thinking.

Though these rumors have been bubbling ever since Elop left his post at Microsoft to take over as Nokia's CEO, Elop said last week that the phone maker might "create and/or join other ecosystems," lending further credence to possibility.  Spokesmen from both companies have refused to comment on the validity of the rumors, but there is speculation from those in the know that Elop is going to announce the news during an upcoming speech on February 11.

Be it true or not, Nokia needs to do something soon.  They have been steadily declining in market share, and according to some recent analytics, have already lost the number one spot to Android. 

Source: New York Times; Via: Seattle Pi Blogs (Nick Eaton)

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7

Metro UI theme on iPhone

Are you someone who loves Apple products but has envy for Windows Phone 7 owners for the interface they have the privilege in staring at for hours of each day? Or do you already own a WP7 device and wish to expand the deployment?

This has now become reality from just a possibility thanks to wyndwarrior, a theme designer at modmyi.com. Titled OS7, this theme for the iOS platform will transform your grid style Apple interface into a live tile enabled, aesthetically pleasing design that is found on WP7.

Before you begin to wander about the quality of the theme, or if functionality such as pinning (and unpinning) tiles to the main screen is missing, then fear not. Basic functions look and work very well, but the best feature? Live tiles are supported with more support on the way such as Facebook pulling live data etc. Although the theme requires you to mess with your device, which some people don't feel comfortable doing, it really is simple to install and get cracking...

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HTC Mozart launches in Thailand

The HTC Mozart, a swell little device that we look to be getting here in the U.S. soon, received quite the red carpet launch event in Thailand today. Recently we were asked about new hardware launches, specifically the lack of new devices and to that we'll say that Microsoft and partners are more about augmenting that 30 countries/60 carriers figure than the nine different devices.--Thailand and Canada are good examples of that focus.

Oh and the above video is in Thai but it doesn't mean you can't appreciate the fun it looks like they're having. Did we ever mention we want to go there? The place looks awesome.

Source: WinPhoClub; Thanks, Ton Hor, for the heads up

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By now, it's no secret that the data problems some Windows Phone users were experience was the result of Yahoo! email sucking the life out of your data. Yahoo! has apologized for the problem and is working with Microsoft on a fix.  However, in an effort some see as deflecting the blame, Yahoo! released the following statement,

"The issue on the Windows Phones is specific to how Microsoft chose to implement IMAP for Yahoo! Mail and does not impact Yahoo! Mail on these other mobile devices. Yahoo! has offered to provide Microsoft a near-term solution for the implementation they chose, and is encouraging Microsoft to change to a standard way of integrating with Yahoo! Mail, which would result in a permanent fix."

Well... it now appears that this problem isn't as exclusive to Windows Phone 7 as Yahoo! would hope. Within Windows programmer Rafael Rivera, who helped identify the initial problem, has done further testing to see if the problem existed on other platforms.  Rivera  discovered that the standard IMAP protocol Yahoo! that is used with the iPhone (the protocol Yahoo! feels Microsoft should use) also returns excess data.

So much for Windows Phone 7 exclusivity.

Source: WithinWindows  Via: BGR

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MyBookie, the fantasy betting app for your Windows Phone, is getting updated. The update will offer Facebook expansion by adding Office Pools into the mix.

Office Pools are designed to add a competitive spirit to the game allowing you to bet against your Facebook friends as well as betting against the house. The update will allow you to join existing Office Pools or design your own.

For those not familiar with MyBookie, it's a fantasy sports betting game that has you betting virtual currency against real-world sporting events. The game pulls in real-time betting lines for events and covers NFL, NCAA Football, NBA, NCAA Basketball, MLB and NHL games.

The update is expected to be available on Super Bowl Sunday through your Marketplace updating system. You can catch the full press release after the break and you can find MyBookie here (opens Zune) as well as MyBookie Lite (the free version) here at the Marketplace.

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While Windows Phone 7 is doing less than expected with LG, T-Mobile feels that the new Windows Phones are doing well. While no specific numbers were mentioned Josh Lipe, product manager for T-Mobile said,

"We’re continuing to look at options with Microsoft how to move the platform forward. The customers are very satisfied with the experience. We’ve done well with the devices that we sold."

And T-Mobile is planning on building upon that satisfaction. There are rumors that T-Mobile will be adding the HTC Mozart to their Windows Phone 7 lineup. T-Mobile is also planning on installing their Family Room application on their Windows Phone 7 devices. Family Room is a social network for family members that includes a message board, shared calendars and photo spaces.

Source: SeattleTimes via: WindowsPhoneThoughts

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Bubblegum is a new app from two Microsoft employees, Sriram Krishnan (Program Manager for Microsoft’s Windows Azure; also of Browser Plus fame) and Aarthi Ramamurthy (Program Manager for Microsoft’s XNA) which, though we hate to make comparisons, is an Instagram clone. Instagram, for those who don't know, is a very popular photo sharing app/site for the iPhone that allows you share pics with your friends, add effects to the photo and even see it on a map.

While we don't have Instagram on WP7, Bubblegum seeks to fill that gap by offering basically those same features. But with the launch of Flickr for Windows Phone literally on the same day as Bubblegum's, we have to ask, is it necessary? At first blush (and on paper), the answer is no.

But then something happened: we downloaded and tried it. And truth be told, it's an exceptional experience. Smooth transitions, excellent graphics and superb integration with Twitter, Foursqaure and Facebook make it quite compelling and tough to ignore. How it works is you sign up for an account (on the phone, it's very quick) which then logs you in to the network. From there you can add friends (manually search for their name or tap into your Twitter/Facebook contacts). It's that latter part that's really neat: you type in your login info for Facebook or Twitter and it finds just those contacts who are also on Bubblegum (for me it was Manan and Microsoft's Charlie Kindel)--you can then follow them to see their photo uploads in your stream. As for effects, you have Black&White, Woodstock, Frosty, Grunge, Tilt Shift, Cyano, Aurora, History (sepia), Betty (it's better than butter).

The whole thing is like Twitter but without the drama. It's focused on the visual instead of the text.

Oh and there's a Yoda quote in there, which totally wins nerd points. The two developers responsible are a husband and wife team who have a geeky sense of humor and it just gives this app feeling of fun. Sure, in our social-networked lives with 900 services, it's not clear we need another, but Bubblegum at least makes the argument for one more. The app is free in the Marketplace here and we urge you to just take it for a spin--it could be our own homespun next-big-thing on Windows Phone.

ps I'm listed as "malatesta" on there.

via: @ckindel; additional info: MobileCrunch

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Sure, it's a couple days late, but what's that between friends? Yes folks, the official Flickr app from Yahoo! has finally arrived and it is as glorious as you expected it to be.

We won't go into too much detail now, just run and grab it in the Marketplace as we think it was worth the wait.

Bonus: Turns out Flickr was holding out on us as the app has a Live Tile, which seems to update every hour with a new, random pic.

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While Microsoft and their platform are slowly expanding grounds, Nokia is continuing to travel down a negative path with sales plummeting and revenue decreasing. Compared to the glory days when the company’s brand was used to describe mobile phones as much as the term mobile, at present a radical change is required for them to continue within this competitive market. Analysts know this, consumers know this, and more importantly so does Nokia.

Along with countless reports and articles covering a potential join of the hands between Nokia and Microsoft, an investment analyst, who has sent a memo to the CEO of both companies urging them to work together and create Windows Phone 7 handsets, has provided a huge push in a positive direction.

The analyst, Adnaan Ahmad of Berenberg Bank, doesn’t hold back in his note with covering WP7’s (and – to an extent - Nokia’s) competitors and pointing out that he knows both Steve Ballmer and Stephen Elop must be “both sick and tired of hearing how great and innovative Apple and Android (Google) ecosystems are”. Moving onto say that “they have hundreds of thousands of applications, growing revenue at 50%+ per annum and gaining market share globally,” and he is absolutely correct in his referencing – but Microsoft already know this, they are in it for the long haul.

Directing at Nokia, Adnaan continues, “I remember the days when Nokia (with Jorma Olilla at the helm) ruled the roost, European market share was above 50% and US market share was in the 35% range.” While quoting what Stephen said in his recent Q4 earnings release, “Nokia faces some significant challenges in our competitiveness and our execution. In short, the industry changed, and now it’s time for Nokia to change faster,” he agrees that now is the right time for Nokia to change (perhaps from Symbian altogether?) and with WP7 readily available in it’s infant stage, now could prove to be the only time for action.

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App Folders to WP7? Not any time soon.

We've been tipped off about an interesting bit of polling going on at the monsmartphone.net (they're a lot like us, but French!) regarding something that all Windows users are all too familiar with.  Folders!

The question raised, "Would you like to be able to categorize your applications?", has caught some attention from their more organized readers. Users who've downloaded a lot of Apps were quick to remark that they don't like having to scroll so much to find the ones at the bottom of the pile.

Pinning the most frequently used apps to the Start Menu solves the problem easily but not at all if you're the kind of person to keep a lot of frequent contacts up there. Even more so if you're the type to collect applications - the Markteplace reached 7,000 apps not too long ago and like we said, there's no end in sight.  The reasoning is there for some users, certainly. Other users, like myself, don't see the need. Not yet anyway.

Monsmartphone.net's writer, Detsch, had apparently submitted this quandary to Microsoft and from what we've gathered from throwing their site through the make-it-english machine (No, not just google translate! I made a real-live French person read it to me in English!) was that Microsoft does not currently think that this functionality is a priority in the evolution of their OS.

Read more after the break.

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If you recall, G-Alarm was huge on Windows Mobile and now it has been ported to Windows Phone 7. Features of the Windows Phone 7 version include:

  • Monitoring your sleep cycle and Sleep Diary
  • Gentle wake-up modes
  • Access to Zune playlists
  • Task oriented sleep timers (math and maze puzzles so it's not so easy to get the extra five minutes of sleep)
  • Accelerometer interface to let you shake to snooze
  • Themed wallpapers.

We've only spent a little time with G-Alarm and it looks as if it has made the transition with flying colors. G-Alarm does have to be open for the app to work properly but it can run under the lock-screen. So, you'll need to make sure your Windows Phone is plugged in so it can last the night.

There is a trial version available for G-Alarm with the full version running $.99. You can find it here (opens Zune) at the Marketplace.

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Looks like things are a moving in Canada. They're getting the HTC HD7 on Bell in a week or two and now word is that Rogers is getting the Dell Venue Pro in March--no word on pricing though. The 4.1" AMOLED screen device with a sliding keyboard should be a big hit and what is unique is evidently Rogers may be selling the device directly, unlike here on T-Mobile. Such a move should result in higher sales for the already popular phone.

Perhaps making room for the HD7, Bell is reducing the contract-cost of the LG Quantum from $79.95 ($100 at launch) to $29.95 with a 3-year contract. LG has had some problems pushing its Windows Phone choices in the market and perhaps this drop in price is in response.

Source: BGR & Mobile Syrup

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While it has been confirmed that Yahoo! email was the rascal that sucked the data out of your Windows Phone, Yahoo! is now apologizing for their part in the situation.  In a written statement, Yahoo! shares,

"Tens of millions of people check their Yahoo Mail from their mobile device each day, and we know they want their mobile mail experience to be fast, rich, and real-time.  While our default settings on all mobile platforms realize this approach, we have determined that an inefficiency exists in the synchronization of e-mail between Windows Phone Mail clients and Yahoo Mail, which can result in larger than expected data usage for some users."

While Yahoo and Microsoft are working to deliver a fix for this problem, Yahoo! notes that the data issue was not affecting other phone platforms. In a follow up statement to CNET, Yahoo states,

"The issue on the Windows Phones is specific to how Microsoft chose to implement IMAP for Yahoo! Mail and does not impact Yahoo! Mail on these other mobile devices. Yahoo! has offered to provide Microsoft a near-term solution for the implementation they chose, and is encouraging Microsoft to change to a standard way of integrating with Yahoo! Mail, which would result in a permanent fix."

It's nice to see that the problem has been identified and a solution in the works. And while Yahoo! has apologized for the inconvenience, it almost sounds as if they are trying to shift the blame to Microsoft or, is Yahoo! simply re-assuring other platforms that this data issue isn't possible on those phones?

Source: CNET

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Another week, another Xbox LIVE title. Unfortunately, as far as we can tell, we're just getting one this week: I Dig It by InMotion Software.

This is yet-another-iPhone game making its way over to the Xbox side. The graphics look pretty good but we'll reserve judgment till we get our free trial. The game is described as:

Farmer Lewis has dug himself a hole - financially. To get himself out of it he has converted an old bulldozer into a high tech digging machine. Help him out by digging underground to collect items ranging from junk to the rarest of gems in order to raise some money to save the farm.

Manage fuel, temperature, and damage while searching for diggins. Sell ‘em at the farm house to earn cash. Save cash to pay the mortgage, upgrade your digger, or make repairs. Use the on-screen “analog” joystick, or touch-screen to control digger movement. Watch out for rocks and caverns that disrupt your path. Have fun!

  • Save the farm in campaign mode
  • Includes 5 mini-game challenges
  • Open-ended freeplay mode
  • Collect all 60+ unique “diggins”, including junk, fossils, gems, ores, etc
  • Unique “analog” stick control
  • Hours of gameplay

The game will fetch for $2.99 and will be available worldwide around 12am EST.

via: @KarlStricker

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There's s little app in the Marketplace that could be of use to many: Media Volume Settings by Andrea Sabbatini. Version 1.2 just landed and it comes in two versions: trial (fully functional, free but with ads) and paid ($0.99, no ads).

The app is simple enough: on Windows Phone 7, when you go to play music, videos or games, the "media volume" is separate from system volume. That's why in some games, like my favorite Decimation X2, they have a separate slider for "music" which you can lower or raise. This aps gives you global control over that setting, allowing you to choose a default level. This is great in case you want to sneak a game in somewhere but don't want the music to blare through the speaker, announcing your universal boredom with the people around you.

The app has just five settings: Mute, Soft, Middle, Loud or Max plus technically one more--custom, whereby you adjust the slider to your liking. We've tried it on a few devices here and it seems to work quite well. Seeing as you can have it for free, it certainly can't hurt to give it a go. Grab it here in the Marketplace.

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We hate writing posts ripping on Samsung because we're generally big fans of their Windows Phones (who isn't)? So it kind of pains us to write how, at least through the Twitter Canadian support channel, they're telling a customer that his Windows Phone's warranty is now void since he carrier unlocked it. Specifically, Colin B. has an AT&T carrier branded Focus that he wants to work on Fido. He has to have data-roaming enabled even though it is carrier unlocked so he asked Samsung about it...hence their response: "Hi Colin. Your warranty is void. Please contact Fido if you have issues with data usage."

We've actually seen this before with the MMS issue. There, Samsung said there phones are meant for specific networks only and do not support reconfiguration. Of course that was sort of nonsense as they had a semi-working app in their App store for that purpose. They then updated it to fix the MMS configuration error.

Carrier unlocking phones is a pretty standard practice these days, especially with places like Europe considering it a consumer right. So it's odd to see Samsung wiping their hands of the matter with a customer who has an issue. What do you folks think--Samsung being fair and within their rights or just poor customer service?

Source: Twitter; Thanks, Colin, for the info

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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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