2 years ago
Microsoft set to close down the Bing 411 service on June 1st
Microsoft is set to close down the Bing 411 service on June 1st, 2012. Bing 411 is a toll-free number for American residents that enables callers to search using voice and Tellme technologies. The free service provides users with local business search, weather and traffic reports, driving directions, sports scores, and stock quotes to name but a few.
Should you attempt to use Bing 411 (1-800-246-4411) you'll be greeted by a message stating the service will cease operations on the provided date. This follows the closure of Google's GOOG-411 back in October, 2010. With Bing services integrating into Windows Phone, will we miss the Bing 411 service?
2 years ago
Nokia Lumia 900 Case Review: Rugged QX Horizontal Case
2 years ago
From the Forums: Games Spotlight for May 5th
It’s time to talk games and our Games Spotlight Forum has them. We all want quality games for our devices and our developers are hard at work getting them ready for us. We are going to take a look at a few that are available in our Spotlight area this week as our developers need your helpful comments to make their games the best around.
Paint Stuff: WP7 Pictionary - Available in the Marketplace for $1.99 with a trial version this is a nice turn based game where you are given a word to draw (sound familiar?). Then your opponent has to guess what you have drawn. There are quite a lot of drawing options including colors, line thickness and even offers screen capture. These and other advanced options are only available in the paid version which also removes the advertisements. This is how baflink describes his game:
“I have tried a few of the pictionary games and they are pretty buggy to say the least. My girlfriend was getting flustered with playing with me because of the bugs. She wanted a simple pictionary game that didn't make random lines in your drawing, that was fast, had colors, took screenshots, could undo/redo and didn't have a time limit. So I sought out to make such a game.”
Rocket Raid (Free) - If you have ever played Defender you will like this arcade style game. You choose how the world will be made then fly your ship trying to drop bombs and shoot rockets to destroy the targets. For a free game, this could be a fun way to burn some time. From the developer dominiauk:
“It's an arcade game where you fly over planets destroying their defenses. Like "Scramble" the arcade game. It has over 20 campaign missions along with an arcade mode. Anyway it's getting good ratings (which I'm glad of!) so please give it a go.”
Number Factory - This game reminds us of Tetris but with a twist: you are given a number and you have to pick the blocks that add up to that number as number blocks fall from above. You choose how to add the blocks and how many blocks you will use. It's a fun, fast paced, and challenging game as the developer spdr870 explains:
“Number Factory is a very addictive game. The goal of is simple: combine numbers to equal the number in the left bottom corner. Clear the playing field before the numbers reach the top of the factory.”
We have these and hundreds more games available for your review in the Games Spotlight forum. What better way to contribute to the Windows Phone community than to play games and help developers at the same time?
2 years ago
Pac-Man Kart Rally now costs two dollars less all of a sudden
Prior to its release, I was enthusiastic about Pac-Man Kart Rally for a number of reasons: it’s a kart racer (fun genre), it features Pac-Man and other Namco characters, and it’s the first mobile Xbox Live game with wireless multiplayer (local Wi-Fi only). Then it launched to mixed reactions – the poor frame rate and repetitive music seem to be major turn offs for many gamers.
Frankly I find the negative reactions largely hyperbolic, as it’s still a competent and accessible racing game, light years ahead of the only other Xbox Live kart racer, Cro Mag Rally in quality. In any case, it seens someone at Microsoft may have noticed the tepid Marketplace ratings and reacted quickly. For whatever reason, Pac-Man Kart Rally has dropped from $4.99 to $2.99 just two or three days after its release.
Is this a price drop, random sale, or simply a marketplace glitch? We won’t know for sure until next week, when Microsoft will hopefully respond to our queries. It’s mostly good news, as gamers who were turned off at the relatively high five dollar price point now have more incentive to snap the game up right away. It’s probably wisest not to price a game with so many rough edges above three dollars, regardless of brand recognition or a novel multiplayer feature.
On the other hand, many gamers like me bought Pac-Man Kart Rally at the original price only to see it costing less a few days later. We’re rather unlikely to receive refunds – heck, I never managed to get refunds for all the delisted games I’ve bought, a far worse situation (and I did try!). The lightning fast price drop, sale, or whatever will surely leave a bad taste in the mouths of early adopters.
In the long run, the increased sales from a more reasonable price point will probably outweigh a bit of temporary negativity. WPCentral has contacted Microsoft for comment on the price change and will update should we receive clarification.
Get Pac-Man Kart Rally here on the Marketplace.
Update: Microsoft has confirmed this is a permanent price drop.
Thanks to Nima Heravi for the tip!
2 years ago
Unofficial list of new Microsoft Store openings
With the announcement of a new Microsoft Store being built for Boston, lots of our readers anxiously await to see if Redmond will be coming to their areas soon. While Microsoft does not pre-announce these stores too far in advance, one way you can easily figure out is by simply looking up where they are hiring.
Yup, on the Microsoft Store Careers site they have many positions open and looking to be filled. What's more, these jobs are in cities not yet announced (but you can bet they will be soon). So, are you lucky?
We are. A store is opening in Huntington Station, NY, most likely at the Walt Whitman Mall. What else is at that shopping center? Why one the busiest Apple stores in New York (besides the Manhattan store). It certainly appears that Microsoft is gunning for Cupertino on their own turf and we'll be there to cover it.
Without further ado, the unofficial Microsoft Store list as compiled by reader Travis:
White Plains, NY
Huntington Station, NY
Overland Park, KS
Bridgewater, NJ (Bridgewater Commons)
Freehold, NJ (Raceway Mall)
Danbury, CT (Danbury Fair Mall)
Great to see the East coast finally getting some stores. Celebrate in comments. Thanks, Travis B., for the list; Image via the Denver Post
2 years ago
Microsoft Store headed to Boston with the Lumia being featured in artwork
Microsoft is slowly expanding their branded "Microsoft Stores" and Boston, MA is the latest city to finally get one (hooray for the East coast!). Currently being built at the Shops at Prudential Center in Copley Square, the store should be ready sometime this summer though no specific dates were given.
Reader erzhik was kind enough to send us some photos of the "box" that surrounds the work space at Copley (Fun fact: I used to do film projection there). It should be of no surprise that the Lumia 900 is featured on the outside artwork along with some Windows PCs.
We've also heard that an Apple Store is right across the street which seems to us like some nice strategic planning. You can read more on the announcement at the Boston Herald. Thanks, erzhik, for the pics (click to enlarge)
2 years ago
Photos of Smartphone Beta Test advertising on New York subway
Nokia has been a relatively busy bee when it comes to promotion, especially when you consider the scale of their global campaign. We've now got some photos of the advertising madness in action at New York subway stations and the promotion material appears to be everywhere. The Smartphone Beta Test is being slapped on walls, pillars and even staircases with the recently launched AT&T Lumia 900 by its side.
As well as this advertising push, we've also had a live performance by Nicki Minaj take over Times Square and the Lumia 710 launch by T-Mobile - you can safely say it has been a blast thus far. We've seen Nokia also take the "Amazing Everyday" to Madrid's Estación de Ópera, a fairly popular train hub in Spain, as well as handing out cupcakes in Belgium.
Taking a look at the photos below (as well as the remaining shots in the SkyDrive album) we can see that the advertising material is certainly eye-catchy and is perfect for those tired travellers who would give anything for their eyes to feast on some colours.
Check out the rest of the photos on Kamal's SkyDrive. Thanks Travis for the heads up!
2 years ago
ProClip now available for the Nokia Lumia 900
ProClip is now offering a vehicle mount for the Nokia Lumia 900. Three models are available starting at $34.99.
ProClip is a vehicle mount designed for those who don't particularly care too much for suction cups and double sided tape. ProClip mounts are self-installed into your dash or console quickly and without damaging anything.
The four models available include a holder with swivel, an adjustable holder with swivel mount, a charging holder with cigarette lighter adapter, and a charging holder with fixed power cord (installed to your vehicle's power system). You will need to purchase a separate mount for the holder/cradle that is designed for your specific vehicle (about $30).
Holders are also available for the Lumia 800, 710 and other popular Windows Phones. If you're looking for a more permanent vehicle mount solution for your Windows Phone, ProClip might do the trick. After the break you can catch a video demo of the ProClip Mount. You can find the full line up of Lumia 900 ProClip models here.
Thanks, anonymous, for the tip!
2 years ago
Investors sue Nokia for fraud surrounding the Lumia 900 and Windows Phone
While Nokia has filed a patent lawsuit against HTC and RIM, the Finnish company is now on the receiving end of litigation. Robert Chmielinski, a Nokia investor, has filed a class action suit in U.S. Federal Court claiming Nokia made false and misleading comments on its Windows Phones and how the new phones would effect the company's position in the market.
The complaint was filed in the Southern District of New York and cites several statements from Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop where he spoke of the company's plans for success with the Lumia Windows Phones. The claim also cites industry experts who claimed Nokia had all the right tools to win the smartphone game. Chmielinski sees these as false statements and fraud because Nokia's market shares have declined and the Lumia 900 had a software glitch which resulted in $100 credit to customers, making the Lumia 900 basically a free phone for most consumers.
"Defendant's statements set forth above were materially false and misleading because Nokia's migration to a Windows platform was not going as well as represented. The Lumia 900 had a glitch which forced Nokia to offer a $100 credit and earlier Lumia offerings were not as well accepted as represented"
Chmielinski feels that due to this fraud, he and the class suffered economic loss that could have been avoided. While the complaint doesn't place a dollar amount, the plaintiffs are asking for damages, interest and costs from Nokia as well as equitable, injunctive or other relief the Court may deem just.
Nokia has issued a very brief response to the litigation saying,
"Nokia is reviewing the allegations contained in the complaint and believes that they are without merit. Nokia will defend itself against the complaint."
So, what do you think? Did Nokia overstep it's bounds and falsely predict the Lumia's success? Or did Nokia simply have a positive outlook and investors knew the risks? Does the term caveat emptor come to mind?
You can find the full complaint against Nokia here.
Source: PCMag; Thanks, Andrew, for the tip!
2 years ago
Nokia losing sales because of Skype? We call shenanigans.
Business Insider is reporting that Skype is causing Microsoft and by extension Nokia problems in terms of sales of their Lumia line. The information comes from the shareholder meeting held yesterday in Finland but since it was not open to the public or recorded, there's a lot of second hand "reporting" going, some of it dubious.
Reportedly a question was raised about Skype from a shareholder. From BI:
"Nokia seems to be having a problem with the distribution channel due to Skype" asking how will Nokia deal with this problem. Elop answered "If the operator doesn't want us, it doesn't want us. We will appeal to them with other arguments. We have more to offer to them. It is a good point to start the discussion from Skype."
Both BI and an awfully written personal blog called 'Communities Dominates Brands' spin this as Nokia having problems selling Lumias because of carrier opposition to Skype.
While we have little doubt that carriers don't like Skype and are concerned about how Microsoft pushes it on them, it seems like flat out ignorance to claim this is why Nokia may be having trouble selling their Lumia line.
As anyone on Windows Phone who has used Skype knows, it's far from a threat to carriers especially at its current stage. Let's go over the reasons why this story is dubious and reeks of shoddy reporting:
Skype on Windows Phone doesn't run in the background and can't receive calls
Skype is widely available on the much more ubiquitous iOS and Android platforms where it can run in the background
Tango Video Call is also now widely available on all platforms and can receive calls in the background on Windows Phone, making it more of a "threat" than Skype
Skype doesn't come pre-installed on any Windows Phone; Tango Video Call does
The carriers are gearing up for Skype by capping data and raising costs as voice-usage starts to decline
Certainly we can see carriers being concerned with how Microsoft integrates Skype into Windows Phone 8 but that seems like something that could be negotiated by the OEMs and carriers on a per-device level. Microsoft has been very, very good at working with carriers (and cable providers) on content delivery and not stepping on their toes. In fact it's a core reason why the Xbox 360 is doing so well as a general entertainment device over Google TV.
The notion that Android and iOS get a pass on Skype with the carriers but Nokia (and only Nokia) are being singled out seems ludicrous, especially since Windows Phone is a drop in the bucket compared to Apple and Google's systems right now. In other words, while Nokia may be having problems getting traction in the smartphone market with Windows Phone, we don't think it's because of Skype.
2 years ago
Nokia Lumia 610 NFC certified for MasterCard's PayPass program
MasterCard announced that seventeen near field communication (NFC) enabled smartphones have been certified to work with their PayPass mobile phone payment system. Among the bunch is the Nokia Lumia 610 NFC. The approval essentially means that the device has been tested by MasterCard and is confirmed to work with PayPass.
In addition to giving the thumbs up to the group of smartphones, MasterCard also unveiled their PayPass Ready identifier, "a way for mobile device manufacturers to differentiate products that have undergone testing for MasterCard PayPass and received a Letter of Approval." Manufacturers will have the option to use the PayPass Ready logo in advertisements, or even as a decal on the devices themselves. Nokia and RIM are the first two phone makers to embrace the new branding.
"Nokia is honored that the Nokia Lumia 610 NFC will be one the world's first smartphones to include MasterCard's PayPass Ready brand mark," said Andrea Bacioccola, NFC Lead Program Manager, Nokia. "This sends a clear message to operators, banks and other service providers that Nokia is able to quickly enable their payment services on this smartphone."
NFC hasn't quite made it into the mainstream, though services like Google Wallet are making a lot of headway. That being said, it's a positive sign that Nokia is jumping on the bandwagon and becoming a player in the game.
You can check out the full press release below for details on the PayPass program and the other companies and devices involved with it.
2 years ago
Customise your Windows Phone home screen with MegaTile
MegaTile is a Windows Phone app by Linknode that enables users to customise their home screen with personalised live tiles. The app allows the user to create live tile grids using a single photo that can then be configured for action calling. Supported grids are 1x2, 2x2, 2x3 or 2x4 with multiple sets of images and each tile with its own function.
MegaTile is perfect for those who wish to add more style to their home screen in favour of vanilla tiles (messaging, calls, etc.), while adding more convenient access to WiFi settings, aeroplane mode, and more. Pictures used for the live tiles can be centered, cropped or stretched to fit accordingly, and are selected from the on-device library.
What actions are available to choose from? Over 15, including the usual wireless setting shortcuts found in other apps. But MegaTile goes further by offering actions to make a call, call a contact, individual or group SMS, take a photo, post a Social Network update, launch a browser, or even start a search. Should the user get carried away with updating multiple tiles within the app and forget to re-pin them to the home screen, MegaTile will show a small alert icon next to the tile that is reportedly out-of-date.
Once "MegaTiles" are created, they're persistent old chaps between app updates, ensuring customisation and time spent getting everything perfect are not lost in the process. Unfortunately, the "launch any app" feature that is frequently requested is protected by Microsoft in Windows Phone, but with developers making good use of live tiles for their own individual apps, this shouldn't prove to be much of a problem.
Check out the below video for a quick demonstration of the app in action.
2 years ago
Best Word Games for your Windows Phone
What's the best word puzzlers on Windows Phone? We rank the best of the best in our new guide!
Keeping the "Best apps for your Windows Phone" series going, today we turn our attention to the best word games available at the Windows Phone Marketplace. We've looked at the best free apps, photography apps, must have games, weather apps and must have apps. Now we take a gander at the games that test your spelling abilities as well as your powers of observation and speed.
Word games are a unique category in that they are great ways to pass long and short bits of time. Plus you might learn something along the way. We've compiled a short list of the Windows Phone word games we think top the charts. As with any of our "best of" lists, there might be one or two titles we overlooked. If so, feel free to speak up in the comments.
2 years ago
Amazon Mobile app for Windows Phone gets social in a new update
One of the top apps for Windows Phone which we always enjoy seeing updates for is Amazon Mobile. The official app for Amazon.com has been a staple on Windows Phone since its initial release. And much like the eBay app, it gets better and better with each update.
Version 1.7 just went live in the Windows Phone Marketplace and it while it's not a major overhaul, we like the select changes in this update which include:
Sharing: Send and share links to products you find on Amazon via e-mail, SMS, Facebook or Twitter.
Recommendations: Manage your recommendations by tapping “I own it” or “Not interested”
We hate bugs as much as you do (so we fixed a bunch)
The social-sharing part is obviously the big seller here and we approve of its addition, after all it's always fun to share your latest purchases via your Twitter or Facebook, right?
If you haven't received the update just yet, hit this link to grab the free app in the Marketplace. So go forth you guilty, late night 1-click shoppers with your Prime accounts and go shopping!
2 years ago
Content Infringement Complaints, Google and the Windows Phone Marketplace
Recently, Microsoft announced some recent changes to the Windows Phone Marketplace for developers that would also affect consumers. The changes were divided into four areas, including trademarks, bulk publishing, keywords and content policy. What concerns us here is the trademarks section.
In short, apps that violate trademarks of other companies are now subject to more restrictive oversight in the Marketplace. Microsoft had this to say on the matter, which is a fair position:
"When a trademark or copyright owner contacts us about a suspected violation, we investigate and pull apps when the complaint is valid. Lately we’ve been doing more of this, especially for trademark misuse. Sometimes the requests come from the owners of big, well-known brands. Other times they come from new brands. Either way, we often find trademark violations are unintentional: some developers just aren’t clear on what constitutes a violation. But these investigations—and the time and money they can cost—can be avoided by doing a little homework before submitting or updating your app."
A few curious examples of this actually do exist in the Windows Phone Marketplace, some of which you'll be familiar with including YouTube Pro, gMaps, YouTube Live and YouTube Downloader.
Did you notice anything in common with those? If you said those sound like Google names, you would be right and evidently Google are rightly flexing their muscle on the matter, sending out copyright infringement complaints to numerous developers over their use of their trademarked names.
The developer of YouTube Live, which we've covered before, just received such a notice which is partially re-printed below:
"This message is to notify you that Microsoft has received Content Infringement Complaint (“Complaint”) regarding your application Youtube Live. A copy of the Complaint is attached for your review.
Remove Application Access Immediately
You must remove access to the application from the Marketplace within one business day. If your application is still available for download after one business day,Microsoft may remove the application without further notice. Please note that under certain circumstances Microsoft may remove your app immediately without providing you the opportunity to remove it."
While this is certainly a blow to many of our favorite developers on the platform, it should not come too much as a surprise that these apps infringe on Google's ownership of those names. Of course, being as we're more of a Microsoft site and Google is not on good terms with Windows Phone this will certainly rub people the wrong way. Especially since Google has not bothered to support Windows Phone at all with their services.
Having said that, Google is technically in the right here and we don't begrudge them for taking action. We also want to let devs know that Microsoft is serious about this copyright stuff so give some thought to your app's name before Marketplace submission, m'kay?
We hope to see these outstanding apps back in the Marketplace soon but under new names.
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