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.
The lack of Cut and Paste in Windows Phone 7 has been tossed around quite a bit, and Microsoft's response was that they wanted to try and create shortcuts that minimize the need for such a workaround. Features such as being able to tap on a phone number or address in a web page or email are obvious ways that they've accomplished their goal, but we've come accross another shortcut that may help you out.
Often times, you can select a word or phrase in an app. For example in Internet Explorer or Word, you can select a word or words. It turns out that there is a quick and easy way to do a search in the Bing app on the selected text. Simply tap the hardware search button and the Bing app opens, with your text already being searched. Sweet yes?
Bonus Tip: This one is courtesy of Paul Thurrott. You can quickly and easily dismiss toast notifications (Text Messages, WeatherBug Alerts, etc.) by swiping accross them from left to right.
By Tim Ferrill, Wednesday, Nov 17, 2010 at 12:07 am EST
Microsoft is one of the most diverse technology companies in the world. Search, Gaming, enterprise class Mail and Storage solutions, and of course Mobile; Microsoft is among the world leaders in all of these areas.
Microsoft Office is one of the most popular software suites ever. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint have been used by millions of people throughout the world. As such a popular set of tools, the Office products are also the de facto standard for document portability. Because of the sheer popularity of Office, even competing products are forced to offer as much support for Office documents as possible.
Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft’s attempt to put their best foot forward in the mobile market. But how does the Office Hub live up to the high standards that Microsoft has set for itself? Read the review for my opinion.
Very Usable, Syncs with SkyDrive and SharePoint
Not yet a full featured product, lack of Cut & Paste hurts
Last night in the Marketplace, a new app launched called Browser+ for $0.99. The app runs a modified shell over Mobile Internet Explorer adding new functionality to the browser not yet seen in the native app. That's a pretty significant addition as up to this point, it was unclear if this could be done in WP7.
Browser+ adds tabbed browsing like your desktop, in addition to an incognito mode for hiding web history and also quick access to the search bar (though with a dedicated search button, this seems less necessary). Overall the tabbed browser works just great--it's simple and intuitive as well as the incognito mode. Only downside is no landscape support, which is a serious drawback for some and hopefully something the developer may add in the future.
There is no try-before-you-buy here, so you have to drop $0.99 on it try give it a spin, but at that price, we think it's worth it.
Now the aforementioned rumors are starting to gain volume (and perhaps credibility) as we have some YouTube video with what appears to be a slide presentation containing specifications and some basic renderings of both an X7 and X7 mini handset. The X7 is rumored to boast a 4.3" screen, 1.2GHz processor, and an 8.1 megapixel camera. The X7 mini supposedly sports a 3.5" screen, 1GHz processor, and a whopping 10.1 megapixel camera with a 3x optical zoom and a Xenon flash.
My biggest hurdle to believing these rumors is the simple fact that every Windows Phone 7 devices is an extension of Xbox Live. I would think that Sony would have to be pretty desperate to be in the smart-phone game to bite that particular bullet. Couple that with the rumors over at our frenemy site Android Central about the "PSP Phone" and the waters aren’t as clear as we would like.
What do you think? Would Sony-Ericsson actually put out a Windows Phone 7 device? Which of these would you go for? Let us know in the comments. YouTube video after the break.