Back a few weeks ago, we detailed a small and unique problem when you tried to stream music from two Zune devices, serially: Basically you would pause music on one device e.g. your phone and then you would try to stream it on your Xbox. While this was supported, it would result in an error only solvable by rebooting your phone.
If you have a Zune Pass, keep in mind that you can play streaming music on only one device at a time. (For example, you can't simultaneously play Zune Marketplace streams on your phone and your PC.) In certain circumstances, Zune Marketplace might think you're still playing a stream on your phone when you've stopped playback and temporarily block you from playing streams on your PC. If you encounter this problem on your PC (sometimes identified as streaming error C101A9CA), go back to your phone and play something that isn't streamed (for example, a song that you ripped from a CD or bought from Zune Marketplace). Then go back to your PC and try playing the stream again.
Seems easy enough to us and according to Steve M who sent us the tip, it works just fine. Thanks, Steve.
Unfortunately, searching for images and just images on Windows Phone 7 is not so easy, despite having Bing built in. Sure, you could fire up the browser and do it the old manual way, but we're looking for a more elegant solution.
Two image viewers are put to the test: Easy Image Collector ($0.99; store link) and ImageSearch ($0.99; store link). Both offer try-before-you-buy options and each has it strenths and quirks, leading to no clear winner but instead two pretty solid performers that greatly enhance image searching.
Now HTC has responded to the charges in a statement to Computer Weekly stating:
Quality in industrial design is of key importance to HTC. To ensure the best possible signal strength, antennas are placed in the area least likely to be covered by a person's face or hands while the phone is in use.
However, it is inevitable that a phone's signal strength will weaken a little when covered in its entirety by a user's palm or fingers. We test all of our phones extensively and are confident that under normal circumstances reception strength and performance will be more than sufficient for the operation of the phone when network coverage is also adequate
While we don't think the HD7's reception issues are nearly as bad as the iPhone 4's, it certainly is demonstrably worse than other handsets available today, including HTC's own Mozart. Still, we'll take them at their word that they do testing and take this seriously but we'll still rank the HD7 has having below-average performance when it comes to reception. And T-Mobile's network doesn't help the situation either.
The popular Browser+ addon for Mobile Internet Explorer (see previous coverage) just got bumped to v1.5 and is now available in the Marketplace, still for $0.99.
Version 1.5 is pretty significant in that it adds Favorites support, a feature that many have been clamoring for since v1.0. Overall, the addition of Favorites works flawlessly, allowing easy access to your bookmarks, adding a new bookmark and seeing browser history.
No other changes are noted but we think the addition of Favorites will go a long way to getting people to use this browser full time now. Oh, and the developer, Sriram Krishnan, lets us know he has some "interesting stuff planned" for future updates.
One of the most popular and universally acclaimed games on the iPhone/iPad, Pocket God by Bolt Creative, is coming to Windows Phone 7 this holiday season.
Basically, you are a god-like figure in the game who rules an island of Pygmies.
Well, I'm sold!
Wielding your powers for either good or evil, the game looks like a ton of fun with a brilliantly warped sense of humor (see Bolt's "From the suggestion box" video). With over 30 free updates delivered as "episodes", the developers have won quite the following amongst fans and at least according to the press release (after the break), even a comic book had been made.
Oh and it's now on Android too, but whatever. Seriously though, the game looks to be quite a lot of fun as we currently don't have any "god" games yet, as far as we know.
Jack Tong, VP of HTC Asia, reportedly spoke with Digitimes on all things mobile and the iPad, specifically how it hasn't had an effect on smartphone sales and that they are still considering launching tablet PCs. He evidently also had some remarks about Windows Phone 7, though nothing too surprising nor significant:
Early sales of WP7 devices look promising, but substantial market penetration will have to wait until the introduction of different language versions. Europe and US sales in the first quarter of 2011 will be a more accurate gauge of WP7's market reception, said Tong.
Well, yeah. We suppose this was the very least he could have said on the issue. Regardless of his motives, the statement is quite true though as more language support, including for China, will be coming in 2011--plus hopefully those non-EFIGS limitations will be addressed. Though it will be interesting to see how Microsoft, HTC and China workout the Facebook thing.
Amazon Wireless is running another hot sale on AT&T smartphones and those new WP7 devices are on board, including the Focus this time. For a new 2-year contract you can grab those phones for a low-low single penny. Not bad if you need to grab some for some gifts, eh?
Although no release date is given (curses!), Channel 9 interviews Justin Robey and John Noonan who both worked on the Crackdown 2 game (one on the console version, the other on Windows Phone 7).
The interview is mostly an overview of both games and the future of Xbox Live services, especially with the advent of mobile gaming on Windows Phone 7. Near the end they discuss how Project Sunburst will feature "asynchronous multiplayer" gaming which basically means that your Xbox friends can jump in on your map and help defend your base while you're say, taking a nap. Sounds like a great way to start that synchronous mobile multiplayer gaming that we know is coming down the road and it's also a great way to gain points and achievements too.
Combined with the Bing maps & Geolocation integration, we have high expectations for Crackdown 2 and we hope the timing of this interview indicates it's near release.
Lyrics by musiXmatch is easily one of my favorite apps so far on Windows Phone 7. Not only does it expand upon Zune in an useful and intuitive way, but it's free and just really cool.
In short, the program looks up lyrics to whatever song you want--either by search, going through your library or by showing you the top artists of today. It pulls down images and bio, just like Zune does as well. But the real big thing is how it integrates into the Zune hub, allowing you to seamlessly look up the lyrics to any song you are currently listening too. The program just "knows"what song is playing and it grabs the lyrics--very nice. Also, if the lyrics are wrong, there's a feedback mechanism to report the issue.
Overall, the program is highly accurate and pulls down all but the rarest of artists. If you enjoy reading the lyrics to some new music and want to do it effortlessly, then this app is for you. It's also completely free, so no reason to try it.
With the holiday shopping season in full swing, Microsoft is pushing hard to make their consumer products and services some of the must-haves for Christmas. As far as Windows Phone goes, we’ve seen product placements and advertising all over the place. The other big area that Microsoft is pushing right now is Xbox.
Microsoft’s recent launch of the Kinect accessory is driving a lot of new Xbox purchases, and with all of those consoles hitting the market, Microsoft is tossing out some incentives for all of those new owners to get their Xbox Live accounts up and running.
The Xbox Live Rewards program offers Microsoft Points in return for things like Xbox Live Gold account setup or renewal, purchases from the Xbox Live Marketplace, and completing monthly surveys. Now you don’t have to pay for the full Gold account to earn points, but there are several more ways to earn the points if you have a Gold account. Microsoft Points are redeemable for items from the Xbox Live Marketplace, and though this doesn’t translate over to the world of Windows Phone 7, we are hoping that Microsoft makes that transition sooner rather than later.
If you’re interested, head on over to the Xbox Live Rewards site and sign up. Rewards are available to those in the US or UK only.
Like to apply special effects to your photos? Want an easy way to go about doing so on your Windows Phone?
Appa Mundi Ltd is offering Photo Magic over at the Marketplace that will let you transform photos on your Windows Phone at the swipe of a finger.
The Windows Phone 7 app can apply six effects to images stored in your media gallery or freshly captured images. The seven effects are:
Pencil - pencil sketch of your photo
Sepia - the brown tonal effect
Twenties -antique feel to the picture
Cartoon - turns your photo into a cartoon drawing
Movie - high contrast
Paint - water color effect
To apply the effects, you simply choose a photo from your media galleries or create a new photo (launches your camera app). Once loaded into the application all five effects are applied and reviewable in the Photo Magic hub. Simply swipe through the pages to preview the altered image.
Once you find a style you like, you can save it to your media gallery as well as share it on Facebook or Twitter. Some of the effects took a little time to be applied and you can choose the image file size (small, medium, large) to either speed things up or create better detail. I found that each effect has a varying degree of success depending on the photo. Sometimes the Cartoon Effect really turns the photo into a cartoon but with some photos it's hard to tell teh Cartoon Effect from the Paint Effect. While some of the effects can be hit or miss, overall I was pleased with Photo Magic.
If you use your Windows Phone to capture or share images, Photo Magic is a simple and easy way to apply special effects to your photos. The full version of Photo Magic will run $1.99 and there is a free trial version available at the Marketplace.
Ease on past the break to see an example of each style.
Software developer Gaia srl is offering an interesting, dare I say unusual, application for Windows Phone 7. "I am a Tenor" is being offered over at the Marketplace for $1.99 and it seems to be a blend of karaoke and voice manipulation.
Need a simple, straight forward translation application? It doesn't get any simpler than Translator from Microsoft.
The Windows Phone 7 application will translate words and phrases to and from English, Italian, Spanish, German and French. Translator will also provide you with a list of commonly used phrases that can be translated to the various languages.
The interface is straight forward and simple. The "from" and "to" languages are shown above two text entry fields. To change the languages, simply tap the language and choose the desired language from the list. If you want to reverse the translation order, tap the "swap button" at the bottom of the screen.
Update: HTC has contacted Jeff directly and corrected themselves. Evidently, it was due to "lack of time" as to why the extra language packs were not included and that they will be added in an update. As interesting, they said "by February this should not be an issue". which gives more credence to that rumored update coming down the road.
It turns out that the choices for keyboard languages (ergo configuration, see Settings --> Keyboard) are an option left up to OEMs and carriers. While most Windows Phones have multiple languages supported (e.g. French, German, Italian, Spanish and English) the HD7 curiously has only English on board.
Why that is remains a mystery, but at least according to HTC, the decision was not theirs:
If your Windows Phone 7 does not contain a display language that you would like to use, there is currently no way to get a new language pack installed on the phone. Microsoft makes language packs available (as they're created) to the device manufacturers (OEMs) at the time of manufacturing and it is up to the device manufacturer and mobile operator to decide which languages to include. In this case, it was T-Mobile’s decision to only include English.
As a result, some Spanish speaking Americans (who make up more than 12% of the population) are a little bit upset. Specifically, when they type in Spanish, it auto-corrects their words since the dictionary is dependent upon language selection. What's more, the HD7 on T-Mobile seems to be alone in this single language support when compared other WP7 devices (as far as we know at the moment).
No response from T-Mobile on the issue, but hopefully they'll make a note of it to include in an update in the future. Till then, you multi-lingual folk may want to steer clear of that phone if you think this matters to you.