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Software

Google today took the lid of an update for its Windows Mobile YouTube app, taking it up to Version 2.4 and bringing a few new features online.

There are now search suggestions (which you see above), along with "My Account" settings and a new homescreen that's redesigned for larger screens.

Head on over to m.youtube.com/app to download the latest version. [Google Mobile]

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Like most modern Windows phones, the LG eXpo (see review) has its share of quirks and niggles.

We addressed the notifications one awhile back and it looks like the fine folks at LG-expo.com have gone even further, making one of those handy all-in-one fixer programs.

Appropriately called Expo/IQ Tweaker, it consists of a large list of fixes and options that you simply check to enable or disable certain features. We'll just highlight the big ones that really make a difference:

  • Improve screen sensitivity and touch response
  • Enable in-call recording
  • Increase IE performance/scrolling
  • Enable tethering
  • Enable auto-rotation in all programs
  • Fix missing sounds and notifications
  • Increase KB backlight time

The most important one is the screen sensitivity/touch response, as the screen is a little laggy compared to traditional devices and is by far the biggest complaint about the eXpo. I'm happy to report that these registry tweaks greatly improve the screen in that regard. Likewise, fixing the sounds and notifications was the other big issue and that too works brilliantly here.

You'll need to have .NET CF 3.5 installed and you'll need to register at LG-Expo.com to grab the file. But if you're and LG eXpo fan like myself, you'll definitely want this program.

Kudos to Woodhole and team for the great work!

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Microsoft is obviously making a massive commitment to Windows Phone 7 Series on a number of different fronts, as we saw announced at Mobile World Congress.

XNA Game Studio 4.0 is the latest iteration of Microsoft’s developer tool set for Windows PCs, Xbox 360 and Zune. With Version 4, XNA Game Studio gains support for Windows Phone 7 Series, but nixes support for the Zune HD. XNA and Silverlight are the two major new development platforms (new to Windows Phones, anyway) that we will be seeing a lot of going forward, and the two platforms are being discussed in-depth at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) this week and MIX10 next week. (Look for more from us on that front from TiPB's Rene Ritchie.)

What this means for Windows Phones is that we can expect 3D gaming to be the rule, not the exception. Yeah, I know, you’ve heard that before; but between the high level minimum specifications mandated by Microsoft’s reference chassis, Xbox Live integration and the introduction of XNA Game Studio 4 early enough that developers can get a jump on the Holiday 2010 release of Windows Phone 7 Series I would say that this is pretty much a sure thing.

Throwing that much firepower at the gaming segment makes you wonder if  Microsoft is not just targeting the iPhone/Android market, but also homing in on the PSP/Nintendo DS segment. If Microsoft is able to get similar 3D performance from a Windows Phone as competing mobile gaming consoles, it would have a major leg up because of the media playback and connectivity with other Microsoft services. One thing is for sure: It’s a good time to be a Windows Phone user. [via ZDNet]

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For those of you who like reading them there book things on yer phones, but don't like installing the latest Manila/Sense from HTC, you can now just install the standalone reader.

Thanks to Mr.X, with a simple .cab file you can be up and reading various books on your WVGA device with a standalone version of HTC's eReader. (Scan the MS Tag below for direct download).

Going further, Patcat007 over at XDA has compiled 300 free books from ePub. Just download the five .zip archives with all the books, extract to your device and use the free indexer to sort and browse your files.

Not too shabby folks, not bad at all!

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Browsing the Internet is one of those things that can be a major draw for people looking to purchase a smartphone, but can be rather hit or miss due to the lack of quality mobile web browsers. For my money, having a choice between which browser you use in different situations can be a deal breaker. Luckily, Windows Mobile has more browser choices than many of its competitors.

Opera has been in the mobile browser game as long as anyone and their browsers are among the best. Opera Mini 5 Beta 2 is the latest and greatest from Opera’s Mini product. Traditionally a Java based application; Opera announced today that Opera Mini 5 is available as a native Windows Mobile application. There are technical reasons why having a native application is preferable over a Java based version. The bottom line is that a native Windows Mobile application should offer better performance, stability, and compatibility across a large array of devices.

My first impression with Opera Mini 5 is that it is FAST, though the rendering engine isn’t perfect. Mini 5 uses server side rendering; meaning that when you request a web page, a server somewhere actually downloads the files and formats it and compresses it before sending it along to your device. This method keeps your data usage to a minimum and doesn’t require as much processing power on your device. The Mini 5 UI is also very similar to what we’ve been playing with on the Opera Mobile 10 betas, which I consider a very clean and usable interface.

More information on the features you can expect from Opera Mini are available from Opera’s site. To download the application, point your mobile browser to http://m.opera.com/next/mini.

 

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Synerge Tech Solutions has released Google Analytics Mobile. As the name implies, Google Analytics Mobile allows you to access your web site's Google Analytic's data directly from your Windows Phone. For those not familiar with Google Analytics, it is a program that tracks your website activity ranging from the number of visits to where your site visitors are located (geographic regions).

Google Analytics Mobile connects directly with Google's servers and offers the data in table, chart or graph forms. The mobile app also has the ability to generate reports from the data in Google Analytics. Synerge Tech Solutions is offering Google Analytics for $4.99 and it is available at the Synerge website.

Read: wmpoweruser.com 

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Elecont Weather updated, adds Weather Clock

Elecont has updated its Windows Mobile weather application, Elecont Weather to version 1.0.1056 which adds a clock face to highlight the hourly forecasts.  The clock is designed to give you a more visual reference on what to expect weather-wise as you plan your day.  Elecont Weather continues to offer a 10-day forecast, weather alerts for UV, ice and severe weather, barometric and temperature trends, "feels like" temperature and sunrise/sunset times.

Since our initial review of Elecont Weather, the application has been updated to include richer graphics and Ice Alerts. Each update improves upon the original.

Elecont Weather is compatible with Windows Phones running either Windows Mobile Professional or Standard (touch and non-touch screens). Elecont Weather is available at the WMExperts.com Software Store for $14.95.

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This is sort of out of left field, but evidently Skype has discontinued and pulled the Skype Mobile software for Windows phones.

Why? They sort of answer in their FAQ, but to be honest it is more of a dodge:

Unfortunately, Skype Lite – a version of Skype for your mobile phone – and Skype for Windows Mobile are no longer available for download from our site.

We’ve chosen to withdraw Skype Lite and Skype for Windows Mobile because we want to offer our new customers an improved mobile experience – much like the version that has proved so popular on the iPhone, and which is now available on Symbian phones. Our focus is on providing a rich user experience that allows you to enjoy free Skype-to-Skype and low cost calls as easily on the move as you do at your desktop.

We felt that Skype Lite and Skype for Windows Mobile were not offering the best possible Skype experience.

Fair enough and we actually agree. Skype for Windows Mobile was really a huge program (~10MB) that ate a lot of resources. Granted, it did offer nearly the "full Skype experience" but at processing cost.

For Skype/VOIP, we here at WMExperts have always found Fring a much better alternative.

Still, Skype is obviously begging the question with their response: are they going to, you know, release a new version that is much more awesome and built better? Or are they just pulling it and wiping their hands altogether of Windows phone?

For the time being, you can still download and use Skype here. Or if on your phone, just scan the MS Tag to the right to direct download (11.7MB!) 

[WMPhone.de via WMPoweruser]

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Every once in awhile we here at WMExperts come across a truly remarkable piece of software: simple, elegant, useful and preferably free.

WiFi Remote Access by Julian Manici meets all of these criteria.

In short, you install the software on your Windows phone (with WiFi, ahem), pick a password and when ready, hit "Enable".

You'll now be shown your device's IP address which you simply type in your Web browser on your Desktop PC.  You are then prompted to enter a password, a pop-up notification on your phone appears and you're connected. 

Once that is done you can browse your pictures, documents, files, storage card, view and compose SMS messages, edit your registry, even listen to music. Best of all it's very fast and has a beautiful UI.

Heck, it now even features a "remote control" function whereby you can view and operate your phone via the web browser. Huzzah.

Of course, your connection is not encrypted (though password protected), so be aware of the security risks. But for home use, it should be of little concern.

What can we say? We're in love.

Give it a shot and let us know in comments your experience!

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Microsoft’s partnership with Facebook keeps getting stronger. Everything from Microsoft’s development tools to Windows Phone 7 Series includes some form of integration with the popular social networking application. Windows Phone users have several different methods of getting to their Facebook accounts from their phones. In addition to their mobile site and SMS integration, the Facebook application for Windows Phones is one of the applications that Microsoft has been pushing hard as a demonstration of what is capable with Windows Mobile 6 based devices.

Facebook 1.2 is now available from the Windows Marketplace for Mobile. If you haven’t played with it before, Facebook for Windows Phones allows you to perform most of the tasks that you are familiar with. Updating your status, sending and receiving messages, and managing and viewing pictures and videos are all simple to do within the application. Also new in the 1.2 update are the ability to comment and "like" posts.

If you haven’t given Facebook for Windows Phones a try, head over to the Marketplace for Mobile and have a look-see.

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For the longest time SPB Mobile Shell was easily the best choice to customize the look and feel of your touchscreen Windows Mobile device. Our review of the most recent version of Mobile Shell (version 3.5) touted SPB’s penchant for putting so much functionality at your fingertips.

Somewhat lost in the shuffle of Microsoft’s big Windows Phone Seven Series announcement at Mobile World Congress, SPB announced version 5.0 of SPB Mobile Shell. Mobile Shell 5.0 introduces a number of new features such as a 3D engine which allows for a number of 3 dimensional graphical effects  and 3d widgets. Improved support for social networks such as Facebook and Twitter will allow for status updates as well as contact and photo synchronization. One innovative feature that SPB is introducing is their Natural Interaction Engine which will provide support for technologies for Multitouch and G-sensors.

SPB has made a significant investment in the developer/hardware manufacturer segments with Mobile Shell 5.0. SPB UI Builder 2.0 is a set of tools that allow for customization of Mobile Shell and includes access to a number of APIs and includes a skin builder and plugins for integration for industry tools such as 3DMAX and Microsoft Expression Blend.

We have hands-on video coming. Stay tuned, folks.

 

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For those fed up with the glacial movement of Pandora on the Windows phone platform, a new alternative has hit the streets: Slacker Radio.

Showing up on various forums, the .cab and service is actually very, very polished. It is the official version, but SlackerRadio themselves have not published it on their site yet.

No compromises here as you get album images, lyrics, band bio, reviews and a wide selection of music to choose from.  Audio quality is also extremely good, trouncing Pandora's 64kb stream. Plus they got that whole "let me power off the screen without disrupting the stream" thing. 

Two negative's we've noticed: landscape support is not there and we've had a few songs cut out towards the end for some reason (not uncommon with Pandora either). 

Of course, there is the free "basic" version which limits you to something like 6-skips per hour while the program steers you towards the "full" version with upgrade notices in parts.  Likewise, you don't get all those lyric bonuses in the free version.

If you want the subscription, it's $4.99 per month (on a month-to-month basis) or $3.99 a month on a 12-month plan (billed monthly). You can also try out the subscription for 7 days for free.  We suppose if streaming is your thing it's not a bad deal: the quality of the product is quite top notch. If you just like streaming your own music (as opposed to the jukebox, random streaming), give nanoGroove a shot.

Grab the file at XDA or scan the MS Tag below to automatically download it.

Edit: Whoops!  And just as fast Slacker Radio has remotely pulled the plug. The app currently doesn't work and we have to wait for the fine folks at Slacker Radio to drop this app "officially".  Sigh. [Here's their official reasoning]

   

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This is some pretty big news: it appears that HTC is getting in on the e-Book business. Watch out Apple iPad?

The latest version of Manila/Sense 2.5 (2012) features a tab dedicated to reading e-Books that can be purchased by Boarders or, evidently, though Adobe. No word on Amazon.com at this time.

HTC Reader 1.0 is the name of the program that will render the e-Books and overall it looks pretty great. It follows the usual UI/UX that HTC has laid out with their other tabs, which includes a directory for browsing, book art, and of course reading the book. There does seem to be some scrolling action needed, in addition.

The other big news is that this latest ROM comes from a Chinese Rhodium Shipped ROM.  To translate and as we mentioned in the last podcast, this is coming from a Touch Pro 2 ROM that is ready to market. That HTC, they never rest.

Does this mean the reason for the Sprint WM6.5 ROM update is taking so long is so they can get their hands on this version? We have no idea and zero indication that is the case, but that notion has at least entered the realm of plausible. Keep your fingers crossed.

In the mean time, you can expect some custom ROM action to start including this latest build as it spreads through out the community.

[Big thanks to tek818 for the screenshots & info!]

   

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In case you haven’t heard, there is a huge event happening this month; an event that people around the world will be watching. No, I’m not talking about Mobile World Congress; though we (Dieter and Phil) will be there. I’m referring of course to the Winter Olympics.

Several Windows Mobile heavyweights are listed as sponsors of Vancouver 2010; one of them, Samsung, has a free application available to allow you to follow the games easily from your Windows Phone. Weather Updates, Medal Tracker, Schedule, and News are just some of the features that Samsung puts at your fingertips.

Head on over to the Samsung Vancouver 2010 site for the application (you’re looking for the “Download Wow” button in the bottom right corner).

[via Tilt Mobility]

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HTC Releases Stock Tilt 2 ROM

The essence of this site is our enthusiasm for all things Windows Mobile. A common thread among WinMo enthusiasts is the unending desire to tweak and improve the devices that use. One technique that we have mentioned multiple times, and is a very popular solution for many hard core Windows Mobile junkies is the use of custom ROMs.

The hazards of flashing your device have been documented elsewhere, but HTC has assisted in alleviating one of those dangers with the official release of the stock ROM for the AT&T Tilt 2. This ROM enables you to re-flash your hardware back to using the standard (and more importantly, supported) ROM in the event of a need of hardware or software support.

Hit up HTC’s Tilt 2 download page to get your copy.

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Today, Google announced its new service called Google Buzz. Think of combining Twitter, Google Latitude and Gmail and you have Buzz.

Actually, if you've been using FourSquare...it's exactly like that. We're not saying it's not nice, just it's not really new. It is certainly an interesting move on Google's part though not unexpected. In fact, Larry Dignan at ZDNet thinks Google's real target here is Microsoft's Sharepoint.

What hath Microsoft to say?

“Busy people don’t want another social network, what they want is the convenience of aggregation. We’ve done that. Hotmail customers have benefitted from Microsoft working with Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and 75 other partners since 2008.”

We're not sure pushing Hotmail (isn't it Live Mail now guys?) is the way to go, but at least they're adamant about it.  We guess.

Regardless, Windows Mobile users are the first to get this with Google Maps 4.0 which was just released this afternoon. Rejoice!

As seen from the screenshots, you can add Buzz as a Layer to your maps. It ties in nicely with Latitude for your location by bringing up popular businesses and locations of interest near you.  You can then simply select the location, write a few comments and even add a picture for others to see.  Still confused? Check out Google's own video tutorial for more info.

Overall, it's quite nice, even if it apes FourSquare and since people would rather not sign up for yet-another-service, we'll place out bets with Google.

And yes, My Location/Latitude appears to be now fixed with CDMA.

Read more on Google Buzz here.  

Download the new Google Maps for Windows Mobile at m.google.com from your Mobile Internet Explorer.

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It seems as if the Twitter-client wars have simmered down a little bit (remember when we had updates like every few weeks?), but the biggies are still dropping some changes.

In this case, TouchTwit has updated to v1.6 (the author has been busy with civil service) and there are some nice new features and fixes:

  • New notification for "new followers"
  • New notification for "unfollows"
  • Some Theme-bugs fixed
  • Lesser memory ussage
  • Lesser cpu ussage
  • Scrolling bugs on 1Ghz processors fixed
  • More->Following was modified
  • And a lot of small bugs are fixed too

Overall it seems to work quite well, although we find the background vs. foreground sync option a bit confusing and limited (only 1 hour in background?).

Still, you can't beat the graphics and that scrolling all for a very fair $1.99.  Updates can be found in the Windows Marketplace.

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Add Amazon to the list of content providers with Windows Mobile compatible offerings. Amazon’s Unbox video service is offering portable versions of their videos that are compatible with Microsoft’s PlaysForSure certification.

The fact that a source as reputable as Amazon is offering content that is compatible with Windows Mobile is a great thing for consumers. Until our dreams come true and Microsoft gives us OTA access to the Zune Marketplace (hey, they apologized for the points system) this is a great alternative. While many people have been doing the video thing for years, the process of encoding video to optimize it for your media player of choice isn’t always as straightforward as one would like.

Is this old news for you guys? Is having video on your phone even something you would bother with? Talk it up in the comments.

[Simple Mobile Review via Windows Phone Thoughts]

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For those who use Verizon's Navigator service, you'll be pleased to know v5.0 comes out today and features some nice updates.

The biggest is allowing you send your location to Facebook, which we suppose is all the rage these days with you social-network kids.

You also get roadside assistance, which seems perhaps more useful with a GPS navigator program.

Finally, you also get these updates, which aren't too shabby:

  • Improved Customer Experience – No need to wait for the entire route to download before starting their voyage because data will now be streamed, causing display screens to populate more quickly
  • Enhanced Points of Interest – Access to premium places of interest with detailed descriptions, clearly branded by Map Icons
  • Traffic Crowd Sourcing – Opt-in to anonymously send real-time location and speed to the VZ Navigator traffic reporting service, allowing quicker notifications and improved accuracy for all VZ Navigator users
  • Alerts for Other Road Attributes – Graphic notifications for tunnels, U-turns, traffic circles and toll plazas
  • “Say it Mode” – Select BlackBerry® smartphones and Windows Mobile® handsets allow customers to verbally search for and update destinations

Touch Pro 2 and Omnia users (no Omnia II?) can update today by downloading "...the service from Get It Now®/Media Center and VZ Start or can add the feature through My Verizon".  The service, like other carriers, is $9.99 a month or $2.99 a day.

Read more from the official Verizon press release here.

[Images via TechCrunch]

 

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