By Tim Ferrill, Wednesday, Nov 17, 2010 at 10:06 pm EST
They’re not billing it as a 4G network (like T-Mobile for example), but AT&T says that their network is now 80% HSPA+. For the acronym challenged, HSPA+ (or Evolved HSPA) increases the theoretical peak data rate from HSPA’s 14 Mbit/s to 56 Mbit/s (per Wikipedia).
The caveat here is that AT&T doesn’t currently have any phones that support the speeds that would benefit from HSPA+, and the only phones on T-Mobile run Android. But still, network upgrades benefit everyone.
Persephonae Labs has released Anag7ams, a fast paced word puzzle game, for Windows Phone 7.
As described by the developer,
"anag7ams is available in five different difficulty modes, where players are tasked to find as many 3, 4, 5 & 6 letter words from a scrambled master word in an allotted time. As levels progress, players encounter the dreaded Challenge Mode, an all-or-nothing single six letter word to be unscrambled. Time Bonuses and score multipliers are just a few of the many unique features of anag7ams. With an over 10,000 word dictionary, hours of endless entertainment await the intrepid gamer."
Anag7ams is available over at the Marketplace for an introductory price of $.99 and after December 1, 2010 the price will increase to $2.99. The word puzzle game looks interesting and we'll get a full review up on the site in the coming days.
For the full press release from Persephonae Labs, just follow the break.
We’ll be reviewing both titles in the next several days, so keep an eye out for those. Both games are Xbox Live titles, so trial versions are available. Let us know your first impressions in the comments.
When people talk about smart-phone platforms, the two that stand out to people (for better or worse) are iPhone and Android. There are a lot of reasons for this; usability, ecosystem (apps, services), and just sheer popularity are all factors. It makes you wonder why a brand-spanking-new platform like Windows Phone 7 would get a popular app like NetFlix before one of the two 300 lb gorillas in the room (Android); and if you really think about it, the Windows Phone 7 app was demoed at the Mix conference (March 15-17) before it was available for the iPhone (August 26). So what is it about Windows Phone 7 that makes a company like NetFlix choose a fledgling OS as their starting point for mobile over the more established platforms?
It turns out that the answer comes down to security (ironic, considering this is Microsoft). According to Wired (via @joebelfiore), Android doesn’t offer a secure enough DRM system to make Hollywood happy. With all of the concerns about piracy digital rights, Microsoft has been able to get a leg up on the competition by building Windows Phone as a secure platform.
Now before I start getting hate mail from the Android faithful, I recognize that NetFlix is coming to Android; but the current plans are for limited device support (can you say fragmentation?); not a full-fledged roll out.
So what does this mean to Joe Consumer? Microsoft is making every effort to make app developers happy and successful with Windows Phone 7 as a platform. This will serve to help the Windows Phone ecosystem (apps and services) grow and mature; which is great news for you and me.
If you had any doubt that the Samsung Focus was well built, it has been our understanding that the Focus uses Gorilla glass for it's screen. This has now been confirmed by Samsung (via Twitter) that the screen is indeed Gorilla Glass.
What is Gorilla Glass? As the name implies, it's a thin, light-weight, durable glass that is as tough as a gorilla. As described by Corning,
"Gorilla Glass is an environmentally friendly alkali-aluminosilicate thin sheet glass designed specifically to function as a protective cover glass for high-end display devices such as notebook PCs, televisions and mobile phones."
Now this doesn't mean you can throw caution to the wind and drag your Focus across a bed of nails and not expect to see any scratches. It does mean that the Gorilla glass offers a little more scratch-resistance and durability than your average screen and quit possibly eliminates the need for screen protectors.
This past summer we reported that Skyfire would begin scaling back operations and development on Windows Mobile and Symbian products. While development stopped on this popular mobile web browser, the company continued to offer support for their products in select countries.
Skyfire has now announced a complete phase out of their Legacy 1.0 products for Windows Mobile and Symbian effective December 31, 2010. Skyfire products will no longer be available or supported for Windows Phones.
In the press release, Skyfire's CEO Jeff Glueck stated,
"We do expect to bring Skyfire 2.0 to additional platforms, and have begun discussions with some carriers and OEMs to decide which will be our next OS. Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 and Nokia’s MeeGo platform are both shaping up as platforms with a lot of potential and the recent launch of the new Blackberry OS 6 with a WebKit browser core makes for interesting potential for a future release of Skyfire 2.0."
While Skyfire will quickly become a thing of the past with Windows Mobile, we may see it as a part of Windows Phone 7 in the future.
Here's an interesting conundrum: when you stream music to your Windows Phone 7 device using the Zune Pass (a great feature, by the way), you can't really stop the music--you can pause it, skip or rewind it, but not stop it. While pausing and stopping seem the same, they're not. Here's why:
Example: You want to stream music via your Xbox or Zune desktop software, after you streamed via your phone for awhile. Say, after you got home from a long day at work.
What happens is you get the message you see in the image above. Fair enough. We understand about DRM and why you can't have multiple devices sharing at the same time. But here's the thing, even if you "paused" the stream on your phone (remember, you can't "stop" it), you still get that message above. The phone, evidently, keeps the ping alive to Microsoft's serves for "X" time. The only way out of this Catch-22 is to power-cycle/soft reset the phone. Restarting the desktop software sure doesn't work.
Odd, eh? We can't too hard on Microsoft, after all they did pull together quite a crazy system here. But still, we hope for the sake of you streamers out there, they find a way to fix this. Now pardon me, I have to go power cycle my phone after this post :-/
The Zune Pass ($14.95 a month; $150 a year) allows unlimited music downloads to your computer, which can the be transferred to your phone. But what has been vexing me for the last few weeks of using my Samsung Focus/HTC HD7 is that there was no obvious way to use my Zune Pass on the go.
For example, say I'm in the store, hear a song playing and ID it with Shazam. I can then go to the Zune Marketplace to buy the song or use my Zune "credit" (you get 10 per month)--but no option to just download the song. This meant I would have to go home, fire up the computer and download the song that way. Huge FAIL.
Well, turns out I was wrong: you can use Zune Pass on your WP7 device. Microsoft just completely hid it, making buying/using credit as the only obvious choice. While we hate to speculate the worst, it sure looks like MS is purposefully deceiving us a bit here, steering us towards paying for music.
Anyways, watch the video tutorial to learn how. And if you don't have a Zune Pass, you may see why it's so cool to have one.
In a revealing, if not odd tid-bit out of AsiaOne News, Samsung seems pretty gung-ho about Windows Phone 7. What's interesting is how Samsung went from reportedly cold, to warm to now hot on Microsoft's mobile OS, even in the face of huge sales with Android.
The section of the long article, detailing smartphone growth in Asia and related companies (HTC, LG, Samsung, etc.), this was mentioned:
Next year, Samsung will introduce 15 to 20 new smart-phone models using Android, Windows, and Brada operating systems. For every 50 smart phones using Windows, it will make 24 using Android and five using Brada.
Certainly odd numbering there, though the interpretation for us is that Samsung will be making twice as many WP7 devices over Android. We already know that Sammy is a big player with Microsoft. Perhaps now we're seeing what that means.
Hey, if it means devices like the Samsung Focus (review), we're pretty psyched.
Ballmer and Co. at Microsoft have been pretty coy on the matter about adapting Windows Phone 7 for tablet use. While many of us see it as a no-brainer--it's fast, smooth, elegant, powerful, etc.--Microsoft has said in the past that it won't happen.
While we still don't expect it anytime soon (WP7 is still very early), Ballmer dropped an interesting tidbit in an Ars Technica interview. On the question of tablets and when they would happen, this exchanged occurred:
AT: How long am I going to wait... I don't want to ask you lots of stupid questions about tablets because I know you've been asked them before, so what I'm going to ask you is a very specific question: how long am I gonna have to wait to get a tablet that when I'm on-the-go has a nice touch- and finger-friendly interface, and when I sit down at my desk, I can add a keyboard and mouse and get a nice, full Windows experience. When is that going to come?
SB: I won't give you an answer, because it will all depend on what you want, and we're going to have various things coming at various times coming over the next months and years, and some things, I think you will see things that you will fall [in love with]—I know I'm seeing things that I'll fall in love with, and I know there will be more things that I desire.
The truth of the matter is, look at that device [my Lenovo X300]. It doesn't weigh anything, it just sits there, pretty nice, and very powerful, works pretty well, so you have to say, OK, what is the scenario that we're trying to optimize against? And you're gonna see some things that do a very nice job over the course of the next, let's call it year—you'll see some stuff now, you'll see some stuff after Christmas, you'll see some stuff as we get new Intel chips, you'll see some things as you move Windows Phone along—and which one you'll fall in love with, I can't predict.
Yup. Just 10 words long but 10 words that technically did not need to be there if Windows Phone was wasn't being considered for tablet use.
Dear Microsoft: Wait for WP7 to mature a bit, then just do it.
Back in late October Microsoft had announced that it would be completely rebuilding the Games for Windows Marketplace and updating the Games for Windows LIVE software (and website) to accommodate those changes on November 15th. True to their word, they did.
At first glance, Games for Windows LIVE won't appear to have been changed any more than a slight UI color change from white background to black background. I was fooled by this too - for many of the changes are under the hood. Unexpected news from Redmond came in the form of a standard press release from Microsoft's News Center stating how Microsoft is planning to take another stab at the the casual gaming demographic. Taking a cue from sources like Facebook and Steam and listening to the demands of gamers that simply want to play with other people and users who frequently boast about their new high scores has set Microsoft on their new course of action.
I like puzzle games and I like things that are expressly cute without overdoing it. I like quirky fun music and the graphic styles of old story books. Forgive me if I'm not just a little bit biased toward Ilomilo. Southend Interactive and Microsoft Game Studios have crafted a heartwarming and fun platform puzzler which was (at launch) an exclusive with AT&T.
We first looked at AP Mobile when it launched for Windows Mobile. The news reader presented today's news and weather in a well laid out fashion. AP Mobile has made the transition to Windows Phone 7 and is a free app over at the Marketplace.
One of the nice design features of Windows Phone 7 is the metro or hub design. It allows applications to lay out information in an easily accessible manner that is easy to navigate around. AP Mobile takes full advantage of this design.
The main hub of AP Mobile consists of:
The Front Page: Here is where your top stories are listed.
Media Pages: This is a gallery of images from the day's stories.
Category Page: Here is the break down of the broad headline categories. They include such items as your local news, weather showbiz, and technology. Your search command and settings menu also rests on this page.
To see what type impression AP Mobile for Windows Phone 7 left with us, ease on past the break.
We ran across an interesting game for Windows Phone 7 over at the Marketplace. Plex is a 3D puzzle game where you try to match tiles to destroy blocks that are arranged on a multi-layered sphere.
When you drop a tile on top of a matching tile, the two are destroyed and points accumulated. Destroy all the tiles and you advance to the next level. The game has twenty-four levels and two game modes (Adventure and Survival) to keep things interesting.
Game play was a little challenging but you quickly get the hang of it. You rotate the sphere around to highlight a place to set your game tile (which appears in the upper right corner). Once the right spot is highlighted, then you tap the screen to drop the tile. Tiles are eliminated by stacking tiles of the same color/symbol on top of one another.
The more I tinkered with Plex, the more addictive it became. The sound effects and graphic quality are above par and the application itself was very stable.
You can find Plex (link opens your Zune browser) over at the Marketplace for $1.99. There is a trial version available that will let you play just enough of the game to decide if it's worth purchasing. Just don't be surprised if it doesn't take too long before you tap the "buy" button.