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.
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:
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.
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.
Halo has been previously reported to be coming to the Windows Phone 7 platform, especially around the list of planned releases last year prior release of the OS. At CES, which we were able to cover, Steve Ballmer presented and discussed a number of games coming to the mobile platform. Among these were Fable: Coin Golf and PES 2011 along with many already-confirmed titles, but there was one mention that caught some attention – Halo: Nation.
For any Halo fan, this could mean two things. First (and hopefully correct) there could be a potential Halo title arriving to Xbox Live on WP7 named Halo: Nation. What’s exciting about this prospect is what genre it could be: FPS (probably unlikely), RTS (Halo: Wars on-the-go anyone?) or even a racing alternative (Rocket Race game type on Halo: Reach?). The system and available resources from the devices that run WP7 have enough power to provide the foundations of a truly epic game from Bungie.
A second scenario could be the Halo: Nation podcast is making an appearance on Waypoint that is already available in the Marketplace, and could in-fact not be the extension to the franchise that many of us are hoping for. Although Ballmer was reportedly "confused” with the projects he was discussing, Halo: Nation is noted as being developed separately from Waypoint but a Halo title coming to WP7 is all continued (hopeful) speculation.
Could Halo: Nation be the WP7 title that us Master Chief fans have been waiting for? Or did Ballmer just get the name wrong?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
Confession: big word game fan here. Second confession: had no idea about this game until today, even though it came out October 21st.
AlphaJax is a killer scrabble-type game that allows asynchronus multiplayer turn taking--which basically means you can play other people who also have a Windows Phone. We just took it for a quick spin (playing against our own Rob Alvarado) and left darn impressed with the feature set:
Facebook & Twitter integration (for sending out invite challenges)
Challenge anyone in your address book, Twitter, FB or random
Save screenshot of your game (seriously -->)
Push notifications + Live Tile (!)
Chat back and forth
Can play up to 20 simultaneous games with friends
The game costs $2.99 but we think it's totally worth it so far. Gameplay is smooth, the options are rich and the chat feature is just a bonus. The only downside, we suppose, is that your opponent has to be on a Windows Phone 7 device. We'll try to get a full review up but in the meantime...who wants to play me...
GoVoice has had quite the ride lately. For us, the Google Voice client has not worked properly since about v2.0 as we had problems with it crashing and no push notifications. Since then, we've been talking with Nick Yu, GoVoice's developer and watching him work through these many problems, a lot related to how complicated Microsoft's v1.0 Push system can be for developers.
We're happy to finally report that v2.5 is now live in Marketplace and working for us: it's faster, push notifications work and no crashing, in other words: perfect. There is also a new feature: "If your phone didn't receive text for some reason (low battery, Q full), GoVoice will resend up to 10 times."
Our advice? Uninstall your current version, soft reset and then go and re-download from the Marketplace. It may also help to unregister your device with GVMax.com for notifications and then have it re-set up. Grab it here.
Although last we checked, our Windows Phone Netflix app doesn't currently have the ability to add DVDs to our queue (was it ever there in earlier versions?), we now know that the feature won't be added anytime soon nor for the Xbox 360 either.
Netflix announced yesterday that they're removing "add DVD to queue" for all streaming devices, meaning you'll only be able to add that non-streaming title via their website. They give reasons for doing so, but we can't help but think we're going to forget to add that DVD when we get home later (or we can fire our browser we suppose, but it starts to feel redundant):
We’re removing the “Add to DVD Queue” option from streaming devices. We’re doing this so we can concentrate on offering you the titles that are available to watch instantly. Further, providing the option to add a DVD to your Queue from a streaming device complicates the instant watching experience and ties up resources that are better used to improve the overall streaming functionality.
We could say this would be a great time for a developer to make a Netflix Queue manager app, similar to what is found on Android, so long as it's just not another Mobile IE wrapper app.
Who would have thought that even on Windows Phone 7, people would be eager to "tweak the registry", an expression all to familiar with Windows Mobile users?
Yes, that's right folks, over at XDA a list of entries are being identified, collected and accumulated for all sorts of little things, even though to us, WP7 feels pretty good without much need for "tweaking". Of course there are caveats--not all Windows Phones can do this yet as they don't have write to registry access and it's not nearly as simple as days past where you just launched a reg-editor. No, this involves having an unlocked device, create a provxml and provision the device--yeah, so early stages. Here's a list of things so far that have been identified: