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3 years ago

LockWidgets 2 released by Windows Phone Hacker [Homebrew]

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We've previously looked at the Locked Screen Widgets concept over at Windows Phone Hacker throughout it's development. We're now excited to report that LockWidgets 2 has been released and is now available to all (should you own an eligible Windows Phone of course).

What's all the fuss about? LockWidgets 2 is a complete rewrite of the original LockWidgets app, which enabled users to add widgets to their lock screen. The successor adds more functionality to the list with more opportunities present in the framework. Some highlighted features:

  • SMS widget
  • Weather widget
  • Battery widget
  • Runs in the background
  • Should run side-by-side with other homebrew apps, such as Folders, Battery Status, etc.

Features that are still in development, but are well on their way include an RSS widget, improved forecast info, more notification data, and a RAM widget. Check out the following video for more information and a quick run through.

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3 years ago

Microsoft exec says budget Windows Phone 8 devices a possibility

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Senior product manager for Windows Phone, Greg Sullivan

Since the announcement of Windows Phone 8 and some its new functionality, it's been unclear whether or not we would see some budget devices (256MB of RAM) sporting the new OS, or if the 7.8 update would be the only option (currently, Microsoft's answer to this problem are Tango phones like the Lumia 610). The question was posed by KnowYourMobile to senior product manager for Windows Phone, Greg Sullivan, who hinted that economical Apollo devices are a distinct possibility:

"I would argue those are not mutually exclusive strategies and that is in fact is our approach. We will continue to support the current platform with the 256MB footprint in devices like the Lumia 610. And one of the points about the new architecture is that it will scale both up and down," and then added, 'In fact, having support for removable SD storage will enable OEMs to build devices with less storage initially that is user expandable, so the bill of materials is potentially even lower for the handsets."

Sullivan also went on to explain Microsoft's reasoning on limiting earlier Windows Phone devices to the 7.8 update, despite major disappointment amongst consumers.

"We’ve really tried to do the right thing for all audiences and that means making Windows Phone 8 the best possible release we can. Therefore we targeted the latest generation of hardware by building what are effectively primarily hardware-dependent capabilities that we achieve with this new [shared] core. 'It made more sense to focus on making Windows Phone 8 as good as we possibly could, fully exploiting this new generation of hardware."

Sure, nobody wants Apollo to be limited because of outdated hardware standards, but with Microsoft knowing ahead of time that Windows Phone 7 was going to be superceded before its release, they have a bit of a public relations fight on their hands. But that's technology for you. As you as you have the latest and greatest, it's already being replaced. Hopefully, we will see some wallet-friendly Windows Phone 8 handsets so even the most price-conscious techies can keep up with the times.

Source: KnowYourMobile; Image credit: Mashables

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3 years ago

Nokia Lumia 800 & 900 capture Gold IDEA Awards for Design

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The Lumia 900 - Winner of the 2012 IDEA Award for Design

At this point, it’s little surprise to see Nokia continuing to win awards for its Lumia line of smartphones, specifically the Lumia 800 and its offshoot the 900. Earlier this year it won 4 awards at CES 2012.  But it’s still nice to see them getting the recognition and let’s face it they’re the only Windows Phone OEM in town winning design awards. Heck, they’re pretty much the only smartphone maker to win design awards, regardless of platform.

This year they won gold at the International Design Excellence Awards, sponsored by the Henry Ford Museum, official home of American ideas and innovation. The jury had some fairly nice words for Nokia:

“In a market in which it is difficult to stand out, the Nokia Lumia brings a fresh perspective. The iconic form is personal and inviting without sacrificing precision, and the construction is modern, efficient and well-crafted down to the smallest details. It’s a bold, gold-worthy effort, and I’m glad to see Nokia reclaim its design swagger.” Jonah Becker, Principal and Creative Director, One & Co.

From the Lumia 900 page:

"The Lumia 900 was designed to feel human and to fit beautifully in the hand. At first glance, it looks advanced and feels progressive. The sleek form of the polycarbonate unibody flows seamlessly into the curved Gorilla glass display. This blurs the boundary between physical and digital, and accentuates the tactile experience of the swiping gesture that is core to the user interface. Laminating the display module directly to the 3D glass gives the appearance that the content is swimming on the surface. It brings simplicity and a quiet intrigue that is beautiful to the eye, but complex to achieve."

Indeed, the Lumia 900 and especially the Lumia 800 really are stand out products. We would actually say the 800 feels the best due to its more rounded screen and smaller size, but clearly the 900 is no rehash of current design trends either.

As Windows Phone enthusiasts, it’s great to see Nokia taking these top prizes for design and we can only imagine what they have in store for us later this year with Windows Phone 8.

Interestingly, in 2011, the Windows Phone OS won the People's Choice award at the same show.

Source: IDSA (main), Lumia 800, Lumia 900; via Nokia Conversations

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3 years ago

Review - Official Encyclopedia Britannica app for Windows Phone

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Yesterday we saw the release of the official Encyclopedia Britannica app for Windows Phone. The issue we had with the app was twofold: it fetches for $4.99 and there is no trial. On top of that, it looks like you have to pay that $4.99 a year to renew the app.

The question for many would be Is it worth it? Well, we ponied up for the app and show you what we think.

In essence, the official Encyclopedia Britannica app is well done. It’s fast, smooth and has a lot of features. In short, if you pay the $4.99 for this app you’ll get a fairly solid and reliable encyclopedia with offline saving abilities, pinnable entries to your Start screen, sharing options and a well done (but not totally Metro) UI.

But you know where this is going…with free services like Wikipedia out there, it’s hard to justify the $5 a year for this app when you can get the free and superbly done MyEncyclopedia (currently not available for some reason) app with no risk. Of course Britannica has been around forever, are considered more of an authority on issues and we understand they’re trying to redefine themselves in 2012 (the company just recently stopped printing actual encyclopedias).

So for $5 you get a solid app and are supporting a legacy company but for many of you, you’ll probably want to skip over this one as there is nothing exactly remarkable about it either except the quality of the content.

Pick up Encyclopedia Britannica here for $4.99 (no trial) in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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3 years ago

Verious partnering with Deutsche Telekom to expand tools for app development

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It wasn't long ago that Verious Inc., a leader in connecting developers with components and services for mobile app development, partnered with Microsoft to add Windows Phone development to their catalog. Verious already had a strong presence in the iOS and Android development community and the addition of the Windows Phone platform was seen as a plus. Verious is able to provide hundreds of pre-built mobile app components, open source projects, SDKs, and other tools to Windows Phone developers.

Today, Verious has announced a new partnership with Deutsche Telekom which enables Deutsche Telekom to launch the Developer Garden Component Marketplace for developers across Europe. This partnership will add significantly to the number of developer tools available for mobile application development. Deutsche Telekom previously announced plans to develop and promote tools that will help developers using Microsoft Visual Studio to mash up Deutsche Telekom's world-class network services with applications built for Microsoft Corp.'s device and cloud technology platforms. The partnership between Verious and Deutsche Telekom, coupled with the Deutsche Telekom partnership with Microsoft is expected to boost Windows Phone development significantly...

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3 years ago

Aviary's Photo Genius application lands on the Windows Phone Marketplace [Video]

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A few weeks ago we reported on Aviary releasing their SDK for Windows Phone, allowing developers with little effort to plug in the company’s photo editing suite into any application out there. Rowi was one of the first to do this, allowing its users to quickly do sophisticated photo edits without ever leaving the popular Twitter app.

Today, Aviary has released Photo Genius, a standalone version of those tools for all Windows Phone users. The app is a “demonstration” one meaning it’s meant to show off what Aviary can do but for you all that means is you get an awesome, full featured photo editing program for your phone.

The app behaves like the “Auto Fix” feature built into Windows Phone. It analyzes a selected photo and then recommends a sweeping set of changes which you can enable with a quick “checkmark”. You can then compare the before and after images with a simple toggle, allowing you to see if you like the modifications.

If you don’t like the alterations or want to do more, you can hit the “Edit” button and load up Aviary’s full set of photo manipulation tools. Such tools include controls for brightness, contrast, sharpness, cropping, rotation, red-eye fix, filters, stickers and more—it really has it all.

Once you’re done you can just hit the “Save” icon and that’s it and you have your fully edited photo.

Overall, Aviary Photo Genius is a great little app. It’s “smart” and has a ton of features on board, allowing you to really control every aspect of how your photo looks. It is a big sluggish on loading photos initially (in the gallery) but once you’re up, it works just like any other app.

Pick up Aviary Photo Genius for all Windows Phones here in the Marketplace for free. And read more on the app release here on Aviary's blog.

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3 years ago

Windows Phone App Review: Photo Light

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Nope. The Windows Phone app Photo Light isn't a flashlight app to use when taking pictures. It's a lite photo editor for your Windows Phone that isn't too shabby.

The main menu of Photo Light has five tiles that give you options to load an existing image from your Pictures Hub, launch your camera to capture a new image to edit, display the EXIF file information on images, access the app's settings and view the About screen.

Just a quick note about the EXIF information is that not only will Photo Light display the data contained in the image's EXIF file but it will also map it out if GPS data is present. For those not familiar, the EXIF file is short for Exchangeable Image File that is a metadata file that contains all the information your camera collects as it takes a picture. The amount of information varies from camera to camera but in general, the EXIF will contain camera settings, image size, date/time taken, and more.

Now back to Photo Light.

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3 years ago

Xbox Live - Pool Pro Online 3 exclusive preview

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Namco Bandai may be best known for their Pac-Man and Katamari Damacy titles on Windows Phone, but the publisher does dip into other genres from time to time. Case in point, their next game centers on the sport of pool. Pool Pro Online 3 comes to Xbox Live very soon, and Windows Phone Central has exclusive first screenshots to prove it.

Head past the break for our full preview and more screens!

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3 years ago

Did Microsoft know Windows Phone 7 would be superceded prior to its launch?

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Not great news today from the Windows Phone camp. It would appear that CNET have been chatting with Greg Sullivan from Microsoft and what he has said isn't what Windows Phone users wanted to hear.

It seems that Microsoft has know for a long time that Windows Phone 7 would be replaced by Windows Phone 8.

"It was right after Windows Phone 7," Sullivan said, speaking in an interview with CNET UK. The team that developed the 7.5 release actually was working in parallel with the core team that was already beginning [Windows Phone 8]. In fact some of that work was already initiated before Windows Phone 7 was even available -- so this goes back a little bit."

"It is true that this is a generational shift -- that is a rare occurrence, but it's something we don't expect to have happen again in the foreseeable future because of the headspace that the new architecture gives us."

While I would imagine that the majority of blogs that write about this will just complain about Microsoft keeping us in the dark, I on the other hand am looking at this realistically. How many operating systems are there that get a big software upgrade that will then work on all older hardware? As far as I can see there is only one that seems to have nailed it and that is iOS. While Android tries to update as many devices from the past 18 months or so they are quite often at the mercy of the carriers and manufacturers. At least Apple seem to have a good track record of keeping older hardware up to date. RIM has been guilty of the same. Many OS 5.0 handsets were not upgradable to BlackBerry 6 and none of those were ever going to see BlackBerry 7.

What I am getting at here is that this is just the way the mobile industry works. Sure, if you have bought a Windows Phone in the last 6 months or so it may have been nice to know an update was coming and the hardware would not be compatible. But that is never going to happen as manufactures need to sell phones.

At least it is encouraging to know that we shouldn't see this scenario again for some time with Windows Phone.

The whole thing isn't ideal but ideal but that's how the business seems to work.

Source: CNET

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3 years ago

Vodafone Germany pushing out Samsung Omnia 7 Windows Phone Tango update

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With all the Windows Phone "Tango" update madness that's currently underway, whether you're forcing the upgrade or receiving it from the carrier, there's a number of networks pushing out the latest version of Microsoft's operating system. Vodafone Germany has joined this list with Windows Phone Central reader EvilEls sending in a screenshot of the Zune update process.

The updates are for the first generation Samsung Omnia 7 smartphone. The first being a firmware update, with the follow-up presumably the Tango upgrade. Device changes reported are as follows:

  • OS: 7.10.7720.68 => 7.10.8773.98
  • Firmware: 2424.11.8.5 => 2424.11.11.2
  • Radio Software: 2424.11.7.2 => 2424.11.9.1
  • Bootloader: 5.8.1.9 => 5.11.1.8

Have you been Tango'd yet? Let us know in the comments if you've received the update or have forced it through Zune.

Thanks EvilEls for the tip!

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3 years ago

Dell shocks the world (again), Tango update pushed out to the Venue Pro

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While the Dell Venue Pro has been discontinued, we were surprised to see the Windows Phone receive the 8107 update pushed out to the phone.  It was equally surprising today to see the Tango update hit the unlocked Venue Pro. While forcing the Tango update on the Samsung Focus S, we connected the Dell Venue Pro up to the computer and sure enough, the update notices appeared on the screen.

There was no need to force the Venue Pro to recognize the update and the previous updates to Tango (7740, 8107, etc) were installed first. Needless to say, it has been a while since my Venue Pro had seen the light of day...

When all was said and done the OS version on the Dell Windows Phone is 7.10.8773.98 and the firmware version is 2250.1800.7720.219. Because the process dealt with several updates, for me, the entire process ran about ninety minutes. If you have been using your Dell Venue Pro more regularly than I, the process may be shorter.

The Dell Venue Pro is a decent Windows Phone (still can't get used to the buttons) and it's nice to see the Venue Pro getting a little update attention.

Thanks, everyone, for the tip!

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3 years ago

Igneous Software looking to develop a BBC iPlayer Radio Windows Phone app

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The folks at Igneous Software, the wizards behind some superbly crafted Windows Phone apps, have been busy working on updates for the popular (and highly rated) BBC Podcast Lounge. In an official blog post, Richard Castle goes into depth about what the team has been up to, namely adding auto-subscribing and downloading for favourite programmes in BBC Podcast Lounge 1.4, which is just about to go into testing.

There's more though. The team have also been looking at new project ideas, one that they've lightly touched on in the article. Many of us (who reside in the UK) deeply desire iPlayer streaming functionality on Windows Phone from the BBC, but we're still yet to see anything. Before you get overexcited and imagine Igneous Software developing an actual iPlayer on-demandTV app, unfortunately this is still not yet possible. 

Instead the team have been busy looking at a potential BBC iPlayer Radio app. A working prototype is currently being played with that enables the user to reliably stream the previous seven days worth of programming on any BBC national (and regional) radio station. Want to know something more amazing? This functionality is one step further than what's present on both the iPhone and Android, which offer only national stations. It's that much sweeter indeed.

So we've got the BBC Radio Player and BBC Podcast Lounge app maturing nicely with frequent updates and more functionality being introduced, and now we've got a potential BBC iPlayer Radio app on the horizon. Once they're content with how the BBC Podcast Lounge is heading, the team will look at turning this concept into a feasible app to launch on the Marketplace.

Keep posted for more updates and be sure to check out Igneous Software apps that are already available. We also interviewed Richard Castle, which is well worth the read.

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3 years ago

AT&T sitting on Samsung Tango updates for Windows Phone. Here's how to get it now.

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Samsung has the Tango update but AT&T is not pushing it

Although AT&T itself is not pushing out any Tango-8773 updates for its current Windows Phones, the OEMs evidently have it on tap, or at least Samsung does.

We’ve had isolated reports that the Focus S was getting two OS updates (some are reporting new firmware, we’re still at 2103.11.10.1). However, whenever George Ponder or I would plug in our Focus S devices, it was always reported back to us that we had the latest update (7740).

The trick is to rig the system—basically use the same trick many of you did for Mango where you put your phone into Airplane mode (disable all radios), plug into Zune and check for an update. You then navigate away and go back to “Check for update” but as soon as it starts to look (about 2 seconds) you kill your internet on your PC. Now you wait about 30 seconds and an update will be shown. For more info on how that works, read our tutorial here.

You need to do that at least twice—once for 8112 and again for 8773 (Tango)—but yes, it does work and it’s officially from Samsung. We manually installed 8107 back in the day, so our phone was already on that OS version. The majority of you will need to upgrade to 8107, then presumably it will go to 8112 or 8773.

The changelog for Windows Phone 8112/8773 on the Focus S

So why is this happening? We can only speculate that Samsung has delivered the update to AT&T but the carrier is either holding it, still evaluating it, not releasing it or maybe they’re waiting on HTC and Nokia to do a universal roll out. Honestly, your guess is as good as ours.

We also have heard this works for the Focus Flash and possibly the Focus 2 (we manually installed Tango on our Focus 2 so can’t really verify). In other words, for all of you Samsung users who are on AT&T (and even non-branded versions), feel free to try this method to grab some updates.

We’ll keep you posted if anything official happens in the meantime.

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3 years ago

Price tag for Windows 8 Pro upgrade is just $39.99

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With the anticipation and impatient wait for Windows 8, many have been wondering what the fee will be for upgrading from a previous version of Microsoft's operating system. The team have announced on the Windows blog that the cost to consumers who wish to take advantage of Metro, among other Windows 8 Pro features, is just $39.99. 

Competitive pricing that follows Apple's approach with the latest Lion instalment, Microsoft is set to open up Windows 8 Pro to a larger audience. Those who are running Windows XP, Vista, or 7 installations will be eligible for the upgrade discount. What's more is that you get Windows Media Center for absolutely nothing at all. Good job, big M.

By buying the upgrade through Microsoft's website, the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant will walk the consumer through the process step-by-step, making it as user friendly as possible. From detailed compatibility reporting (hardware and applications) to actually downloading and installing Windows 8, the assistant will make the consumer's life easier.

Items that can be carried through the process include settings, personal files and apps (depending on what system you're upgrading from). Of course, as well as the upgrade option, one can always choose a fresh installation. Once the Windows 8 Pro upgrade has been purchased, it can be transferred to external media, and Microsoft also offers an option for a DVD to be posted (for a fee).

Who can upgrade? Microsoft is planning to support 100 countries and 37 languages. The full price of the Windows 8 Pro upgrade at local stores will be $69.99 during this promotion, which lasts through January 31st, 2013. But if you're like us and are building your own PC, or are trying Windows 8 out in a virtual machine / on a separate partition, you can purchase and install the Windows 8 / Pro System Builder product.

Source: Windows Blog

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3 years ago

A quick look at the Xbox 360's Windows Phone Theme featuring the Lumia 900

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Although some users complain that Nokia, Microsoft and AT&T aren’t doing enough for the Lumia 900, we can say we do like the presence of the flagship phone on our Xbox 360.

Many of you have noticed the occasional Windows Phone ad the pops up in one of the Xbox 360’s Home screen Tiles. When you click on it, you’re greeted with the image, which you see above, promoting the Lumia 900. What’s more, if you click on it and follow the directions, you can download and unlock a free Lumia 900 theme and Gamer Pic.

The Xbox 360 Windows Phone Theme feat. the Lumia 900

The theme is fairly basic—white with a Lumia 900 dropping in the background and “Windows Phone” emblazoned—but it’s effective and we like it quite a lot. The Gamer Pic is a lot more basic with just a black box and “Windows Phone” being displayed. At least it sticks out.

Combined with some of those free Windows Phone avatar props, our Xbox 360 is all about the Lumia 900 and Windows Phone, which is a pretty neat combo. Not bad Microsoft, not bad at all. As to how you can get these freebies, you'll just have to check your Xbox 360 and grab it when you see it (US residents only since it's an AT&T tie in).

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