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3 years ago

Moody's cuts Nokia's debt rating to lowest investment level

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Today, credit-rating agency Moody's, cut Nokia Oyj's debt rating to the lowest investment-grade level.  This comes on the heels of Nokia's announcement last week that they would be posting a 3 percent loss this quarter and would likely see a loss in Q2 as well.  Citing deteriorating sales of low-end phones, Moody's dropped Nokia's debt rating one step, to Baa3, with a negative outlook, which means that the rating could be lowered even further, if things don't pick up for the Finnish manufacturer.  Moody's decision affects an estimated $5.2 billion in debt and puts their rating more in line with those of Standard & Poor and Fitch, who were much quicker to lower their ratings.

“Moody’s believes that the structural change facing Nokia’s Mobile Phones segment may not be easy to address, such as the market share gains recorded by makers of very low-end phones or new promotions by Chinese carriers,” Moody’s analyst Wolfgang Draack said in the statement.

The change in Nokia's rating has obviously affected the company's stock.  Shares have been trading down 2.4% in Helsinki and credit-default swaps jumped to a record-high 516, up from 354 at the beginning of April.

In a press release that was put out soon after the Moody's announcement, Nokia Executive Vice President and CFO, Timo Ihamuotila, said that “Nokia is quickly taking action. Nokia will continue to increase its focus on lowering the company's cost structure, improving cash flow and maintaining a strong financial position.”  Nokia also tried to reassure people by noting that Nokia has approximately 4.9 billion Euros ($6.4 billion) in cash reserves.

Nokia's Lumia line of Windows Phone devices is selling well, especially the wildly popular Lumia 900, which has seen strong sales.  Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia, has said that he and his mates continues "to increase the clock speed of the company."  Nokia is slated to break ground on a new factory in Vietnam, which is expected to start churning out low-end phones in 2013, a year behind schedule due to stalled negotiations with the Vietnamese government. 

Source: Moody's, Nokia; Via: Bloomberg

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3 years ago

Samsung's ChatON instant messaging service may come to Windows Phone

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As if the world needs yet another instant messaging service, last year Samsung introduced their ChatON app on Android which now boats a few hundred thousand users. The app is nothing too remarkable as it allows group messaging, photo, music and location sharing and the usual other chat tidbits you expect from such a service.

In January, Samsung released a version for iOS and subsequently one for RIM's Blackberry too. There was also mention from a TNW article that a version for "Windows Mobile" (sic) was in the works as well. Later, Samsung somewhat denied this but now it appears that Sammy may indeed have something for Windows Phone.

From the Italian version of the website for ChatON, Samsung now list "Windows Mobile" under app availability with it currently grayed out indicating future support (even if they have the platform name wrong).

Other than that we have very little information as to when it will come and what features it will have (and to be honest, we're finding it a little hard to get excited over this). On the other hand, when every other platform has it and you're the last one who doesn't, it certainly doesn't hurt us to be included too.

Thanks, iMarc90 (Twitter), for the tip!

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3 years ago

Microsoft Translator updated to version 2.0

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Microsoft has recently updated the official Bing Translator app for Windows Phone, which reportedly adds functionality enabling users to translate from speech, via the camera or through keyboard input. With the camera, Translator allows users to simply capture a sign, menu, newspaper or any printed text on their Windows Phone for instant translations.

Language and phrase books can be downloaded within the app for offline usage, especially handy for when traveling abroad in supported countries (voice translations still require data connectivity). A variety of languages are available and results are fairly accurate. The in-app translators can be pinned to the home screen for convenient access when requiring fast results.

The interface is straight forward and functions are available straight from the main menu, there's little clutter in the Translator app. We've not touched on the Translator offering from Microsoft since the Windows Mobile days, but overall, it's not too shabby for a free app.

You can download Microsoft's Translator from the Marketplace for free.

Thanks Alexander for the heads up!

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3 years ago

Viber for Windows Phone coming in the next week or two

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Viber has been busy creating an app for Windows Phone, and we previously looked at an early 2012 release timeframe. Now we're stuck in the middle of early 2012 and it's time for the community to see some light at the end of the tunnel. If you're not familiar with Viber (official website), it's a VoIP service that's used by millions of Android and iPhone owners.

In response to an email inquiry from a Windows Phone enthusiast, Viber had the the following to share:

You will be pleased to know that Viber for WP7 is coming very soon. Please stay tuned within the following week. We will be announcing its publication, system req. and more, at that time.

We'll keep our eyes open and ears tuned for any further details on an imminent release for Viber. It'll be positive to see yet another popular means of communication for Windows Phone.

Via: WMPU; thanks Mark for the tip!

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3 years ago

Angry Birds and six other Xbox Live games on Windows Phone get permanent price drops

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Remember that huge Easter sale on Xbox Live titles we were so enthusiastic about a short time ago? It took a little while to receive confirmation on this, but we’ve learned that the seven featured games have permanently dropped in price to 99 cents. That’s good news to Windows Phone gamers as it means we have a new (and more competitive) price point for games!

The seven games that dropped in price from $2.99 to 99 cents:

Wondering what prompted the change in prices? The obvious answer is that Microsoft timed the drops in accordance with the release of the Nokia Lumia 900 (review). With the much-vaunted handset producing a flood of new Windows Phone owners and potential gamers, the big MS probably thought it important for these new customers to be able to pick up a few Xbox Live games on the cheap. Angry Birds in particular really needed to come down in price due to it being offered for free on a few other platforms already. In case the hubbub over Rovio passing on bringing Angry Birds in Space to Windows Phone (and their subsequent one-eighty) didn’t cue you in, it’s very important that the masses have their Angry Birds.

In Angry Birds’ case, platform equity is most likely reason for a price drop. And certainly most of the seven games cost 99 cents on iPhone as well – but not all. De Blob Revolution actually sells for $2.99 on iTunes at present. Something tells me it simply wasn’t a hot seller on Windows Phone, perhaps due to the weakness of the De Blob brand or the game’s lack of post-release updates. As for Toy Soldiers: Boot Camp, why that’s a Windows Phone exclusive! But the game is a bit content-light, a factor that may have led to its price shedding a few dollars.

Wondering whether the game makers had any say in their titles’ new prices? “We had the opportunity to drop our existing games to the new price point, so we decided to do so and test the water, so to speak,” one Xbox Live developer told WPCentral. The same game maker expects to drop the price of another title in the future.

The new price offers advantages to everyone involved. Developers now have a little more control in the pricing of their games, and gamers can pick up titles more affordably. Of course, for a game to be more profitable in the 99 cent range than $2.99, it needs to sell over three times as many copies. Initially, the Windows Phone user base simply wasn’t large enough to sustain such low prices. Microsoft could have still launched with the sub-dollar price, but games would have been loss leaders until more people picked up handsets. Now that Nokia is fully onboard and actively advertising the Lumia 900, the user base has either grown enough or is expected to grow enough in short order to make lower game prices viable.

How many of these seven games have you picked up since they got cheaper, dear readers?

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3 years ago

Windows Phone Basics: The People Hub

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Windows Phone Basics: The People Hub

WPCentral's Guide to the Windows Phone People Hub

Our next helpful article for those who are new to Windows Phone covers the People Hub - the one stop for all your social requirements when on the go. The People Hub, as the name suggests, is where all your contacts are available to communicate with. Upon launching the hub from the home screen (tile is present by default - a mosaic of randomly generated photos) you'll be presented with your profile summary with latest Facebook status or tweet (if not simply swipe to the right - we'll keep things simple and start from the contacts list).

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3 years ago

London Travel Live for Windows Phone updated with more functionality

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Should you live in (or be simply visiting) London there are a number of useful Windows Phone apps out there to aid you while using public transport. We've covered London Travel before but here's London Travel Live, which has just been updated to version 3.1. London Travel Live goes further than similar apps on the Marketplace by sporting multiple Oyster card support, Barclays Cycle Hire stand statuses, and more.

A London Underground map is available within the app that clearly shows what zone stations are located in, as well as what lines connect to them. Live departure boards as well as live tiles are supported, with majority of information found in the app available offline (perfect for when actually traveling on the underground where signal is a myth). Some of the features present in London Travel Live (prior to the recent update):

  • Tube status live tile updated every 15 mins (not one hour like other apps).
  • Tube status toast notifications.
  • Oyster balance and season ticket details.
  • Live tube departure boards.
  • Tube Station facilities.
  • Tube map and line maps.
  • Most information available offline.

So what's new in version 3.1?

  • Oyster card live tile.
  • Integrated TFL Journey Planner (styling and functionality improvements).
  • Bus routes and bus stop information.
  • Pin your bus route or bus stop to the start.
  • Barclays Cycle Hire information.
  • Pin cycle stations to the start.
  • Live traffic map.
  • Pin the tube map to the start for quick access.
  • Find your nearest tube stations and bus stops.

If you're a frequent "Big Smoke" commuter, or even if you're just visiting for the day to Hamley's, you'll want to check this app out for the latest engineering works / status updates and for navigational aid. You can download London Travel Live from the Marketplace for £0.99.

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3 years ago

Unofficial Dropbox app for Windows Phone now allows automatic camera uploads

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We last wrote about Boxfiles for Dropbox back in December. The app comes into two flavors (a free version and a paid one) and has undergone numerous updates since then.

The latest just hit the Marketplace and it brings a really neat feature that many of you may enjoy: automatic camera uploads to your Dropbox account.

This is very useful and desirable because although Windows Phone can do this for Skydrive, it re-scales images automatically leaving you with a "just good enough for the web" sized memory. That's a problem though if, like us, you want to back up your photos to "the cloud" but at their full resolution. Even more so if you have a device like the Titan II with a 16MP camera and photos averaging around 2MB in size.

Version 3.6 of Boxfiles brings this feature but we should point out that it's not entirely 100% automatic meaning you snap a shot and off it goes. Instead you do need to open the app for a few seconds as it will scan your camera directory on the phone and upload and new pics to your Dropbox account.

But once the queuing takes place (usually just a few seconds) you can close the app as it will upload the photos in the background, so you don't need to babysit the app. It's basically a one-touch app to upload all your latest camera shots.

You can also choose a specific directory (or create a new one) to upload the photos too and pick if you want WiFi-only or both WiFi/Cellular data usage. Our favorite part though is how it allows you to browse your photos via thumbnails in addition to just the obscure files-names. Finally, Boxfiles also integrates with your Skydrive account giving you the choice to manage those files from within the app. A nice bonus.

So far only the paid version has been bumped with this feature though we imagine the free one will get it at some point too. What can we say? Of all the Dropbox apps on the Marketplace, we happen to like this one the most and this new auto-upload features makes backing up and sharing our pics easier.

Pick up Boxfiles for Dropbox here in the Marketplace for $1.29 with a free trial.

Update: For those of you in Europe, the app is currently in certification so you'll have the update within a few days. Sit tight.

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3 years ago

Windows Phone Summary of the Week: April 9 - April 15 2012

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It has been an extremely busy week with Windows Phone so let's jump straight into it with episode 140 of the WPCentral Podcast. Dan and Jay are joined by George Ponder for an in-depth discussion about photography the Lumia 900 and TITAN II. We've kicked off our set of handy tutorials for new Windows Phone owners. You can find articles including a walkthrough of the Pictures Hub over at our tips section. Also, our forum also sports insightful discussions for new owners.

Should you have a few minutes of your time to spare, there are a number of developers who are in need of beta testers for their apps. The WPCentral forum is a perfect place for developers to recruit Windows Phone users who are up for becoming beta testers, so be sure to head on over and sign up to help the community and platform grow.

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3 years ago

Cyan Lumia 900 gets backordered on Amazon Wireless but still holds top spots

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We reported yesterday that AT&T had listed both the black and cyan Lumia 900's as backordered on their site and it was increasingly harder to find them in the stores (though we have heard that certain stores still have stock). However, we were a bit cautious to suggest that it was because the Lumias were selling out due to popularity. After all there was a good chance stock was being pulled to be re-flashed with the new firmware to fix those data-connection issues.

While we're still not prepared to call the Lumia 900 a best-seller without firm numbers, there is seemingly more good news. On Amazon Wireless, the matte-black Lumia 900 has been holding the #1 spot under "AT&T phones with contracts" for one week now with the cyan variant close behind at number two. Just as impressive, the matte-black Lumia 900 has the #1 spot across all carriers. Yowza.

What's more, the cyan version is now listed as back-ordered although the matte-black is listed as still available.

That tells us a couple of things: the backorder business probably really is due to stock shortage and not just phones being pulled for re-flashing of firmware, otherwise we'd expect the matte black variant to also become back-ordered. The second is that the cyan version most likely has less stock available as compared to the matte-black. The cyan version has constantly trailed matte-black in the number two spot (and lower) over the last few days but it's the one listed as backordered.

That's probably not too surprising as the color choices of the Lumias have always caused delays (and last we heard the glossy-white Lumia 900 was an in-store purchase only, it will be curious to see if that holds next Sunday when it is released).

Either way, it at least looks good that the Lumia 900 has been number #1 and #2 on Amazon Wireless for one week. Those stats are updated hourly, not daily, which means it's a fairly good indicator of popularity. Backorder status, while frustrating, only adds to that perception (though for all we know, Nokia only had limited stock anyway).

With both phones holding 5 out of 5 stars from 250 reviews, user-satisfaction seems extraordinarily high as there's not a single device in the top ten that has those stats. Even the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket (4G LTE version) is sitting at #7 (black) and #23 (white) which is fascinating for such a popular line of Android phones.

Sadly, the much-overlooked HTC Titan II, a phone which we love here at WPCentral, is sitting at a lowly #26. An obvious casualty of the Nokia-AT&T media saturation of the Lumia 900.

Source: Amazon Wireless, Top selling; Thanks, Brian 3, for the tip

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3 years ago

Nokia claims "All smartphones don't have to look alike" in latest Beta Test ad for Lumia 900

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Nokia and AT&T have gone forward with another "Beta Test" commercial. The controversial ad campaign started off my mocking the iPhone (those videos have since been pulled) and have now moved on to teasing how all other smartphones look the same.

In their latest TV blip, a smarmy gentleman is seen proclaiming how his phone defines him as an individual. Moments later a nerdy girl runs up squawking how she has the same phone.

It certainly elicited a slight chuckle from us and it goes to the heart of how a lot of us feel about Android and iPhones, specifically that they're not unique anymore due to their domination in the market. Here in New York City having an iPhone is about as original as being a Yankee's fan, so pushing the line that Nokia's are "beautifully different" could work.

Heck, even we've been critical of the Black-Slab™ phenomena going back to 2009 which may be why we're so enamored with Nokia's Cyan and Glossy White Lumia 900's. (Bonus: the Glossy White Lumia 900 peeks out at the end of this new ad for the first time).

Of course attacking your opponent, even without naming them, can be risky. However, we do think this is one safe area for Nokia to spear their competition as the Finnish company has always been ahead on design. And this type of marketing works. Just look at Nokia's "blown away" campaign and the reaction from Samsung. The company is making waves, my friends and that is effective advertising.

By the way, we're not sure why those original Beta Test iPhone videos were pulled, though we imagine it was due to negative feedback. Luckily, you can still view them here, here and here.

Source: YouTube; Thanks, Travis for the new ad link and Yonkit for the old Beta Test commercials

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3 years ago

From the Forums: Hot threads & Not so well known WP7 functionality

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Do you have a Windows Phone in your hand? Do you think you know everything it can do? Wouldn't it be nice to get some helpful hints, some insight in to what functions are available in Windows Phone?

That is exactly what today's hot thread is all about. In his thread "Not so well known WP7 functionality" (started originally on Reddit), WPCentral Forum member saintforlife has summarized a thread for us that covers a lot of these points. With the help from other forum members contributions his thread is quickly filling up with a lot of helpful Windows Phone functionality tips.

Here are a few that forums member Jet Life added to the list.

 "I've got a couple for the Zune player: 

  • When a song is playing in the Zune app you can tap the artists name and go to their albums list. 
  • If your playing music in shuffle mode and add a song to now playing through a tap and hold, it will be the next song to play. Same thing for an album
  • On the now playing screen in Zune you can tap below the song playing and it will list upcoming songs.
  • If you pin an artist to the home screen, you get the double tile."

Do you listen to the FM Radio in your Windows Phone? Forum member Winterfang added this one to the list.

  • Holding down a blank space while listening to radio on the headphones, gives you the option to use the speakers instead.

Do you have a lot of contacts in your contacts list? Having any trouble keeping them organized? We have some tips to help you with just that  posted by forum member VizagDude.

In the address book view, if a person has multiple iterations of their info from Live, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Linkedin, etc. You can combine them all by using the 'Link' icon from within their profile view. WP actually gives you suggestions on the names from your address book. This way, there is only one iteration of their contact which combines all the different profiles of that person.

Within the address book, you can create groups and add add people within those groups. I have Family, Close Friends and Co-Workers. I can view all their social activity at one place. I can also pin these group/s as a home screen tile.

You will find all of these and many more hints in saintforlife's thread  "Not so well known WP7 functionality". This is simply a must read for even the most advanced Windows Phone user. We even learned a thing or two from this as well as just being reminded of a few tips we forgot.

Have a tip to share? Review the list in the original post in saintforlife's thread "Not so well known WP7 functionality"  and if you don't see your tip, post it in his thread and he will add your tip to the list

Remember, the forums are more fun when you register, so sign up today.

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3 years ago

Windows Phone trivia: Samsung Focus S was originally called Haden?

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Way back in September we reported on three new Windows Phones -- the HTC Ultimate, the HTC Radar and the Samsung Haden --  all appearing in the logs of the app "I'm a WP7!".

As it turns out, it was very accurate. The HTC Ultimate became the Titan (but for Brazil), the Radar of course is very well known today being on T-Mobile and in international markets but that Samsung Haden never really came forth.

For awhile, we thought maybe this was that rumored Samsung LTE device or perhaps something for Sprint. But as it turns out the 4G LTE Samsung phone is actually the "Mandel" (which we're starting to think has been nixed from AT&T's lineup) and of course there's nada from Sprint (or Verizon and T-Mobile.).

Site reader Bailey S. recently had some problems with his Samsung Focus S so he sent it to Samsung for repairs. Evidently there was something wrong with the motherboard so Sammy replaced it and sent the phone back to Bailey. Case closed.

But upon booting up the device for the 1st time, he was greeted with the traditional welcome screen for Windows Phone but instead of SGH-i937 or Focus S it said "Welcome to your SAMSUNG Haden". Even more curious, it says as much in the About screen of the device as well.

So what are we to make of this? The AT&T "code name" for the Focus S was "Kupua" but we're starting to think Samsung's internal device name was, you guessed, "Haden". At least that's our hunch. But why does his phone say "Haden"? We actually have no idea, though if anyone wants to add anything in comments, we're all ears.

Another interesting side note is this phone is completely unbranded with no AT&T software on board. That lends credence to the idea that "Haden" was in case Samsung released this phone internationally (something which never happened) or that "Haden" was for internal testing.

Just some weekend trivia to chew on if you happen to track device names that pop up every once in awhile. Thanks, Bailey, for the email and photos!

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3 years ago

Lumia 900 out of stock at AT&T.com, due to callback?

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The Lumia 900 (both black and cyan) has gone out of stock according to the product listing at the online AT&T store. Nokia has recently confirmed a memory management issue with the Lumia 900 running on AT&T that would kill the data connection, rendering the Windows Phone almost useless for owners while on the go. 

Since the announcement was made Nokia has offered $100 on the bill of affected AT&T and Rogers customers and has also begun rolling out the firmware fix for the connectivity bug days early. There have been reports that the U.S. carrier has been pulling handsets from shelves in favour of models with the update already installed. We haven't heard anything official but this could explain why the handset is temporarily "out of stock".

 

The amount of Lumia 900s left for shipping could have been snatched up by a relatively high number of orders. Then again, AT&T has publicly stated that the Lumia 900 has been selling beyond expectations (even the cyan case was listed as out of stock). We'll not know the exact numbers, but for now it'll be an anxious wait for the second batch of handsets to be made available for orders to run through.

Let us know if you've been able to find any Lumia 900 devices locally or if you've seen that the Windows Phones were pulled due to the update issues.

Source: AT&T; thanks everyone who tipped us!

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