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3 years ago

Patents show Microsoft planned to enable users to plug Zune into headphones

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The human race enjoys shoving plastic and metal into (or around) the ear, but a new patent shows just what Microsoft had in mind to make this more enjoyable for those who listen to music while on the go. Think headphones, think Zune, now think of both of those connected as one, slapped on top of your skull.

As one can see in the above image, the headphones enable the user to connect a Zune music player to the side, while the opposite connector is free for rechargeable battery packs, storage extensions, WiFi adapters, and more. The Zune device looks to be a fairly minute music player, presumably along the dimensions of the Apple iPod Nano.

According to the documentation, the headphones could also house controls to operate peripherals, not to mention an optional microphone and even USB ports. It's an interesting concept that allows the consumer to personalise the headphones to suit the individual needs.

The only downside is this patent was filled back in 2008 and we know that Zune hardware is no longer with us. Who knows, perhaps Microsoft also planned to include voice control - "Beam me up Ballmer!"

Source: Engadget, via: Being Manan

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3 years ago

The Dark Knight Rises Nokia Windows Phones heading to India?

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According to a press release sent out by Nokia for a press event in New Delhi on July 6th, we could well be seeing the Dark Knight Windows Phones heading to India. BGR India reports that multiple sources have confirmed Nokia could be looking to launch the Lumia 900 in the country, which could sport a Dark Knight version if the above invite is anything to go by. 

BGR also reports that Nokia could also be releasing the Lumia 610, the low-end Windows Phone "Tango" smartphone. As well as new hardware, the manufacturer is expected to be unveiling the Nokia Music Store in India for Lumia Windows Phones, including the already available Lumia 710 and 800. To finish off, speculation also suggest a Mix Radio app could well be on the way.

Source: BGR, via: WMPU

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3 years ago

Match gems for less with Bejeweled Live, the Xbox Live Deal of the Week

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Yes, our DOTW images are getting more and more obscure.

Last week Gerbil Physics - a game that had never been on sale before - became the Xbox Live Deal of the Week. That must’ve been an aberration, as this week we get another repeat deal. Bejeweled Live is on sale again for $2.99, down from $4.99.

Bejeweled is the classic match-3 puzzle game that has enchanted casual gamers across a variety of platforms. If you’re hungry for a simple puzzle game to play whenever a spare moment pops up, Bejeweled is a good place to look. As our review indicates, the Windows Phone version has three ways to play: Classic, Race the Clock, and Endless. It’s also got some tough and grindy Achievements despite being a casual title, but that’s PopCap games for you.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m ready for either the enhanced iOS version of Bejeweled (based on Bejeweled 3) or Zuma’s Revenge to come to Windows Phone. In the meantime, Bejeweled Live could use a permanent price drop, and it wouldn’t hurt to put Plants vs. Zombies on sale at last. Come on PopCap, make our dreams come true!

Bejeweled Live is on sale for $2.99 for one week only. Grab it here  on the Marketplace.

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3 years ago

Chrync, syncing Chrome bookmarks to your Windows Phone

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3 years ago

Mozilla enters the smartphone wars with Firefox OS, takes on Windows Phone and Android

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For the last few years, Mozilla, makers of the king of indie browsers Firefox, have been working on a new mobile OS called Boot2Gekko. The OS was built around HTML5 and CSS coding tools and it tended to look very much like Android and iOS—that is it was a collection of icons laid out in a grid with some notifications.

Today, in a somewhat surprising move they announced the re-naming of the OS to Firefox OS and they intend to put it on phones next year. In a press release, the company noted that it had deals with TCL Communication Technology (Alcatel) and ZTE to make the hardware for new devices with carrier partners Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Telenor are all backing the initiative.

What caught our eye though was Sprint. The company who has the HTC Arrive, who claimed sales are miserable and were “thinking about” Windows Phone 8 but who were the only major US carrier to not publicly endorse it after the recent Summit.  This is the same company now throwing their hat in with Firefox OS which no one has even seen yet let alone knows what’s unique about it. Yet they can’t sign on with Microsoft and their one-two punch of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8? Yeesh

In fairness, Firefox OS looks to be aiming for low cost handsets, the same market that Windows Phone Tango wants to grab but can't. Even Android evidently can't go as low as Firefox OS though OEMs are certainly trying (don't forget, Android licensees have to pay Microsoft to use Android). Both Google and Microsoft have publicly commented about the "$99" smartphone--referring to the cost to manufacture, not sell. Just today Microsoft reiterated the flexibility of WP8 and its ability scale up as well as down for low-cost hardware.

Early screenshots of Firefox OS

Although we have a soft-spot for the Mozilla Foundation and we think they have made the internet world a better place, we can’t help but wonder if this will go anywhere. Microsoft, with all of their money, large ecosystem, media tie-ins and strong partnership with Nokia are barely making waves. Most people have already written off RIM with Blackberry 10 and that’s a company with an established track record and valuable IP—what chance does Mozilla have with Firefox OS?

So 2013 will be an interesting year of the giants, Android and iOS with the juggernaut-in-waiting Microsoft dominating the smartphone market, while Blackberry 10, Firefox OS and Bada all fight for fourth place.

We’ll let the free market decide this one but we know where to place our bets. As for Sprint, if they don’t say something soon about Windows Phone 8 or we don’t start to hear rumblings of new WP8 devices, we seriously suggest you ditch them and look at T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T or US Cellular for your next-gen handset.

Does Mozilla have a chance for the prepaid/pay-as-you-go market or will Android and Windows Phone get there first? Should Microsoft be worried? Let us know in comments.

Source: Mozilla

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3 years ago

Microsoft wins "Xbox 8" domain names in dispute

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Microsoft has obtained a handful of Xbox-related domain names after filing two disputes with the National Arbitration Forum. The domains were originally held by a Chinese resident by the name of Cheng Juan and included XboxPhone.com, XboxTablet.com, XboxLiveTV.com, XboxCompanion.com, Xbox8.us and Xbox8.org.

What's most notable here is are the two "Xbox 8" domain names. It's been known (speculated) for some time that the newest iteration of Xbox would be called Xbox 720. This was confirmed in a recently-leaked roadmap. However, that roadmap was 2 years old. Despite the fact that the latest Xbox will not be the eighth version Microsoft has put out, it's completely plausible that Microsoft would re-brand the new gaming console to fall in step with its Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 operating systems, with whom it shares the same basic kernel. Keep in mind that the name "Xbox 720" really doesn't hold much significance either, nor does it have a nice ring to it.

Microsoft issued a statement to Kotaku addressing (to use the word loosely) the recent domain name acquisitions:

"Microsoft often acquires various domain names as part of its ongoing business strategy, but beyond that we have no comment."

Other similar complaints have been filed with the National Arbitration Forum for Xboxliverewards.com, Xboxsports.com, Xboxsmartglass.com, and Xboxmusic.com.

Source: National Arbitration Forum, Via: ShackNews, Fusible, Kotaku

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3 years ago

Audible for Windows Phone gets second update but remains a mystery

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What's in version 1.2? Only the Shadow knows...

Although it has taken a very long time to get Audible on Windows Phone, the app has received two updates since its initial release just a few weeks ago. That’s some fast response time to what are presumably bug fixes and optimizations.

Version 1.2 just hit the Marketplace for Windows Phone with v1.1 happening sometime last week when it also popped up in the UK.

Unfortunately, the Audible folks don’t seem too keen on sharing release notes, so we’ll have to wing this one and just say “it got better, somehow”. We don’t use the app enough to figure out ourselves (we fall asleep to story narrations, we blame it on childhood) so we’ll rely on you to point out any new features or bug fixes.

Grab the free official Audible app for Windows Phone, now on mysterious version 1.2, here in the Marketplace. Thanks,  James M., for the heads up

Update: Reader Jack let us know that the app was also made available in Germany last week and this latest update fixes some translations issues for their language.

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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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