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2 years ago

Windows Phone Summary of the Week: December 05-11, 2011

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2 years ago

Lync Mobile for Windows Phone is now live in the Marketplace

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For all of those business folks out there waiting on the Lync Mobile client, your time is here. You can now download the app for the popular communications platform just in time for Monday morning. From the app description:

Lync 2010 for Windows Phone extends the power of Lync to your mobile device – including rich presence, instant messaging, audio conferencing, and calling features from a single, easy-to-use interface.

Key Features:

  • View colleagues’ availability in real time and select the best way to communicate – initiating an instant message (IM), email, or a phone call.
  • Connect to Lync conference calls with a single touch, without requiring long numeric passcodes or conference numbers.
  • Make and receive calls using your Enterprise Voice (Lync ID) number only, so you can connect with others using a single, consistent identity.
  • Lync 2010 for Windows Phone provides transport layer security (TLS) and perimeter/internal network protection without requiring a VPN, so your communications experience is safer no matter where you are or what network you use.

Update: Reader palaudawg let us know that resetting his MS Outlook Office 365 account on his phone resulted in a prompt to download the app--very cool. Head here to the Marketplace now to get it for your phone. Thanks, Alex B., for the tip!

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2 years ago

Charlie Kindel takes a look at the Samsung Galaxy SII with Android--not impressed

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Former General Manager of the Windows Phone Developer Ecosystem, Charlie Kindel, who recently left Microsoft,  won an Android-based Samsung Galaxy SII--arguably one of the best Android phones out on the market right now in terms of features and availability. In turn, he decided to post his thoughts on the device and perhaps more importantly, the OS itself.

Now lets be clear: Kindel is not pretending to be unbiased here. Working for Microsoft for 21 years and being key to the development of Windows Phone does not leave one impartial. Having said that, the man is no longer with Microsoft, has no vested interest in the success of Windows Phone and can say what he wants. (And anyone familiar with ex-Microsofties know, they often say some unabashedly awful things about the company, rarely pulling punches).  Knowing all of that though, Kindel's assessment is still at least interesting--he does know design, usability and certainly technology.

So what did he think? Well, he tends to really rip Android a lot in terms of UI, stability and battery life aka the usual reasons people get tired of Android. Even if you don't agree with his review, it's a fun read for a Sunday. To tease the piece, we'll just post his summary:

"A typical non-geek consumer would be absolutely-fraking-crazy to pick an Android phone over a Windows Phone. Windows Phone is vastly more refined, cohesive, and easy to use. Period."

"People who enjoy “managing” their phone might enjoy “managing” their Android smartphone. Those folks will probably forget how much fun “managing” a smartphone was after they’ve used Windows Phone for a while. Instead they’ll see how much fun it is to “use” a smartphone."

Read the whole post on his blog here.

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2 years ago

Urban Dictionary 7 & ArkWords get Mango updates

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Urban Dictionary 7 & ArkWords get Mango updates

Afflicted with glossophilia? Fear not word mavens, we have two apps for you that we highly recommend, both of which are now Mango-ready and rich with features. Bonus? Both are free.

ArkWords (see earlier coverage) is a free dictionary app that allows you to look up words, use a thesaurus and translate words/phrases uing Bing. Our favorite feature though is the 'Word of the Day' which allows you see multiple definitions, hear how it sounds, look it up in a thesaurus and share using WP7's social network integration. On top of that, it has a Live Tile that displays the word of the day and the app itself has two color schemes, including all-black for AMOLED devices. The app is not only free but ad-free as well, making it a rare bird. There's nothing to not like here, folks.

Urban Dictionary 7 has been around for awhile and just hit version 2.0. Think of it as a dictionary app but for hot buzz words on the internet--we're talking the cutting edge of slang and colloquialisms, often boarding on the NSFW side. They're also hilarious. While the app is not "official" it might as well be as the developer, Social Ebola, has been churning out regular updates for this app for a long time time.  The Mango version adds some slick animation, fast-app switching, various new options, fixes and a new feature called Urban Zen. Urban Zen pairs terms from Urban Dictionary with related Bing images in an elegant slide-show format--indeed it is very relaxing with the transitions, but you'll be chuckling at the definitions and photos. So stay hip and cool with this little guy.

ArkWords can be found for free in the Marketplace here and Urban Dictionary 7 comes in a free, ad-supported version here or an ad-free edition for $1.99 here. We don't care for ads on our top apps and use this everyday, so we've opted for the $1.99 version, but the choice is yours.

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2 years ago

Microsoft takes over Shinjuku and Akihabara stations in Japan

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Looks like Microsoft in conjunction with Fujitsu and their IS12T have launched a nice little media campaign in Japan. Focusing on two train stations, Shinjuku and Akihabara, with the former being the busiest in the world with 3.5 million travelers a day, they have managed to create a hands-on booth as well as plastering the walls with that familiar red logo. At the booth, you can play with the IS12T in addition to the Kinect, giving the daily commuter a bit of respite in between travels.

Certainly a good sign to see Microsoft stepping up their visibility on that country. See more photos at Nanapho.

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2 years ago

CNet's McCracken: "Microsoft's mobile software is terrific"

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For a second day in a row, we have someone influential in mobile technology heaping some praise on Windows Phone (see yesterday's write-up). In an interesting post on CNet, Harry McCracken discuses what it will take to make Windows Phone not just the de-facto "third-way" but one with solid traction. Most of the reasons will be familiar to our readers: more stand-out hardware (not just a recycled Galaxy SII), more high profile apps (e.g. Hulu, Pandora), more carrier support, including greater handset choices and finally buzz--people talking about it in a positive light.

All of those suggestions we agree with and in fact have been championing for awhile around these parts. But what makes McCracken's piece a good read is his thoughts on the OS itself:

"Recently, I popped the SIM card out of my iPhone 4S, put it in a Lumia 800 handset loaned to me by Nokia, and lived with Windows Phone 7.5 for over a week. I not only lived to tell the tale, but enjoyed doing so. In most respects that matter, Microsoft's mobile software is terrific..."

Later on, he contends that Microsoft stands a good chance of being successful--Microsoft can afford to hang on and yet they can't afford to just give up either--leaving little choice in the matter. And if Microsoft can't succeed, there's little chance for a RIM or webOS comeback. He ends with this:

"More important, Windows Phone 7.5 is a fine operating system that deserves to be successful. Sooner or later, good products usually do okay."

Returning to the notion of positive buzz and Windows Phone needing it, we think McCracken just contributed to that trend.

Source: CNet; Thanks, Gaurav G., for the tip!

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2 years ago

Pandora already blocking MetroRadio?

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We're not exactly sure how all of this works but MetroRadio's login into Pandora is returning an error message. We could pass that off as just a random issue, perhaps a coding bug but we think it's Pandora.

Last night, we received a second unofficial Pandora app (in beta) from another developer. It's a much more polished looking app but alas, we never were able to try it because even that app has the login problem. Normally, not logging into Pandora with a personal accounts bumps you into a anonymous, temporary one so you can stream regardless (you just can't save or personalize)--but even that doesn't work now, making these Pandora apps DOA.

If true, this could set off a mean back and forth between devs and Pandora until the latter relents and you know, just gives us an official app. How hard to we have to poke these guys with a stick before they give us the time of day?

Update: Justin Angel and Den Delimarsky clarify that Pandora did break their own API last night at 2am. Angel has already updated the Metro Pandora SDK to fix this but it will presumably be a few more days before MetroRadio can be fixed. To be clear, this doesn't seem to be Pandora specifically blocking WP users but rather their simply changing their APIs for whatever reason.

Thanks, Kingc513, for the heads up!

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2 years ago

Xbox LIVE services interrupted, Companion app not working

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Not a great sign, but launching the Xbox Companion app will result in you being greated with the "Can't sign in to Xbox LIVE" error message, making the app completely useless this evening.

Microsoft is aware of the problem and are actively working on it, but that's little comfort for those of us on a Saturday night looking to show off this prized technological marvel.  Lets just hope that it gets resolved ASAP.

Thanks, Amir, for the tip!

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2 years ago

Windows Phone gets its own Cydia. Introducing Marketplace alternative 'Bazaar'.

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The idea of an alternative to the Windows Phone Marketplace, one based on homebrew and freeware analogous to the iOS Cydia, has been kicking since Day 1 (see this early attempt). But with the increasingly wide spread availability of official unlocking opportunities e.g. ChevronWP7 Labs, the notion has become more reasonable, mostly due to the increase number of users.

Over at XDA, 'BAZAAR' has launched as an early beta for those interested in taking it for a spin. The alternative Marketplace won't be confined to the strict, seemingly arbitrary rules of the official Marketplace (see Ffffound) but it also won't be a haven for cracked or pirated apps. Instead, this will be a source for developers to distribute their homebrew apps that Microsoft would not approve as well as standard freeware apps.

That's the good news. But here's the bad: you need to have a DFT, NextGen or Deepshining Custom ROM installed on your phone i.e. a ROM that supports XAP-installation by IE9 (yeah, you can do that in a custom ROM). That's a shame and quite a big limitation right now as going the custom ROM route cuts out a huge chunk of potential users, including all Gen 2 devices. Still, it's an initial framework and we can hope that there will be a breakthrough where this will be allowed

The app itself only allows browsing right now as they work on getting permissions for the repository. The developers are looking for user feedback from those with custom ROMs and will be adding the following features in the future:

  • Creating an account within Bazaar
  • Managing favorites applications list and the ability to download and install them as a batch process (very useful after reset/flashing new ROM version)
  • Add ratings and comments for applications
  • Submit new applications via Bazaar web site
  • Online search in Bazaar applications repository
  • And many more…

It is cool looking and we hope the start of something bigger. Maybe Microsoft could land a hand to an unofficial Marketplace?

Source: XDA; Thanks, Carlos, for the tip!

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2 years ago

HP's webOS goes Open Source; Future competition for WP7?

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Yesterday, HP's CEO Meg Whitman made the public announcement about the future of WP7's competitor webOS, and that announcement set the world into a downward spiral of emotional charges, cheerleading, Nostradamus-like predictions and opinionated blog posts (though the only ones you need to read are those at our sister-site PreCentral.net *ahem* WebOSNation.com). Still, we haven't tackled the issue that stands in front of us today as a result of this decision - how will an open sourced webOS affect Microsoft's rising efforts with WP7?

As Derek Kessler has stated,

"Open sourcing is the middle road between killing webOS outright and selling it. In essence they’re giving it to the community that has cared about it and ensured that it continued to exist to this point. But how long webOS will continue to exist and be relevant after this point? That all depends on the almighty hardware."

As of right now, HP's decision to open source webOS has very little affect on WP7, if any at all. The affect that it could have is completely dependent upon the "almighty hardware"; hardware that has yet to be designed and built with OEM's that have yet to decide whether they want to use the platform. Also considering that it will still take time before webOS is actually open sourced (legal issues, you know), WP7 fans should have no worries about what could happen within the next year, or longer.

That said, webOS would be joining Google as one of two major open source operating systems (the term "major" meaning released worldwide to several million users). In some parallel Universe, and possibly this one, webOS will someday make it into all popular manufacturer's hands and dozens of smartphone handset models (which would turn into millions of users worldwide). But there is also the possibility that HP will just let webOS squander in the shadows before finally kicking the bucket without a single care from the world.

Bottom line is, we just don't know what will happen, and saying otherwise is only speculation. Of course, an open sourced webOS could bring some positive things to the WP ecosystem as well; we all know that friendly competition and technological innovation is good for everyone, no matter which side of the court they're playing on.

Read more about Open Source webOS at WebOSNation.com

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2 years ago

Nokia marketing Lumia in India with a flash mob

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Nokia India has been marketing the Lumia 800 at shopping centres in five cities, ZOMGitsCJ was invited to the event, which turned out to be a flash mob performance at the Ambience Mall, Gurgaon. While it's not a live music stream on a tower like the show in London late last month, it's a good show to grab the attention of shoppers passing by. Also, the Nokia Arch is set up.

Check out a video of the flash mob performance after the break. 

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2 years ago

Opera Mini ported to Windows Phone but limitations abound

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In an interesting and unexpected twist, Opera Mini (not to be confused with Opera Mobile) has surprisingly been ported to Windows Phone and posted over at XDA. It comes from the Windows Mobile code but has an extra "layer" to interface/work on Windows Phone 7--that's the good news. The bad news is it can only run on devices with custom ROMs like DFT meaning interop and dev unlocked phones are out, for now.

The file is only 1.13MB in size and Windows Phone Hacker notes that "...the dev obfuscated his code. Thankfully, we already know how it works, which is surprisingly simple. Time to hack ;)" meaning perhaps we'll understand more about what is going on with this and what is not. What we can take from this experience is that Opera Mini could evidently be ported to Windows Phone, if Opera wanted to do so, but due to perhaps Microsoft blocking such an app in the Marketplace, not worth their effort.

We're sure we'll be seeing more on this project soon. Though we do have to wonder: compared to IE9, how good can this be?

Source: XDA; via WPSauce, Windows Phone Hacker

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2 years ago

Windows Phone App Review: Tilt Shift

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Windows Phone App Review: Tilt Shift

Tilt shift lenses have been around for some time and now the effect is available for your Windows Phone camera via the app Tilt Shift. The tilt shift effect can trick your eyes into viewing a photo as a miniature scene but for the most part it gives your images a narrower focal point.

So what is a tilt shift lens? In a nutshell it manipulates plane of focus to change the image's depth of field into a wedge or circular shape. The wedge shape does give landscapes and scenic shots a bit of a miniature look while the circular shape reminds me of looking through a Coke bottle bottom.

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2 years ago

How opinions of Windows Phone are evolving

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Since launch, Windows Phone has been struggling to get into the market at a late point in time. Opinions from owners who are on other platforms were almost identical, "Windows Phone will never take off." Granted, it's been a fairly difficult year for not only the development team, but for consumers and app developers alike. We've all huddled together and can agree on one thing - we've travelled through thick and thin rather successfully thus far.

Now Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) is out and second generation handsets (HTC Titan, Samsung Focus S, Nokia Lumia 800, etc.) are making headlines, we've seen some heads turn to the platform as a viable contender in this competitive mobile market, which the fragmented Android dominates. Rich Trenholm, UK Editor at CNET, is a good example on some well known names moving over from a competitor.

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2 years ago

Halo Waypoint with ATLAS is now live in the Marketplace

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For those yearning for the big v1.3 update to the Halo Waypoint app, your wait is over. As reported the other day, Microsoft delivered on the 10th as promised. Here's quick refresh on the addition of ATLAS:

"Halo ATLAS uses maps (sponsored by Brady Games) to provide valuable multiplayer data to Halo Reach and Anniversary players. When we say Halo Anniversary players, we really mean Reach players because the non-campaign Anniversary multiplayer simply piggybacks off of Reach.

The connectivity with Reach is possible because during multiplayer games, Reach constantly sends out packets of data called heartbeats that contain gameplay status. Halo ATLAS provides a bunch of that information in near-real-time to smartphone users."

Pretty huge deal and probably the second most anticipated update this week (Xbox Companion being number one, of course).  Read the rest of our detailed post for all the changes or just head here to the Marketplace to get the update/new version.

Thanks, Aaron J., for the tip!

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