It's not really news when Microsoft says they think their technology can take on or beat Android or the iPhone--it's the same PR spin you'd expect from any company that is about to enter some heavy competition. So it's a bit odd that this story is getting so much clout, but he were go...
Overall it's quite nice, but dare we say in its current form, hardly revolutionary. In fact, Android's voice control is leaps and bounds beyond what WP7 will be able to do when finally launched e.g. 'Edwin' is pretty ridiculous (see a YouTube demonstration and witness the power of this completely free app). 'Edwin' is so far ahead right now, we're not sure how TellMe is going to catch up, but hey, we're all for a good race.
Recently, TellMe and Windows Phone 7 were demoed and discussed at the SpeechTEK conference. There, MS boasted how TellMe is the largest speech-based natural language processing system in use today. But really, the big news is that Microsoft is planning to really leverage TellMe in Windows Phone 7, expanding its capabilities significantly...over time. For at launch, it will only do some basic things (dial contacts, launch apps and search Bing), but it will go "global" on the phone in the future, allowing widespread control of just about everything.
It's nice to see Microsoft taking voice-control seriously--after all, they did buy a whole company for the tech.
Finally, the last bit of juicy info was talking about Xbox and Kinect, which you can interpret how you want (to us, it sounds like these ideas, remember that rumor?):
"Speech is the core of NUI," he said. Part of the demonstration showed how Microsoft's Kinnect XBox technology could interpret hand gestures to trigger actions on the computer. This technology will be used in Microsoft products beyond the XBox, Bukshteyn said in a subsequent interview with IDG.
On Microsoft's own Channel 9 yesterday, they showed off some of the free apps in the new Marketplace for Windows Phone 7.
Now these are hardly "killer" apps, in fact they are more demo apps with the source-code available for developers to build off of and incorporate into their own programs.
The programs demoed were pretty basic, much like the ones you find on Samsung phones:
2D game based on SilverLight: 'Unite'
The 2D game 'Unite' was kind of neat--it's just meant as brief time killer and is similar to 'Teeter' from HTC except instead of getting the ball in the hole, you need to combine two or more balls. Looks kind of fun actually.
But the real big thing was the demonstration of Bing Translator, which seems to be an expansion of this new service shown off back in May. Basically, you type in what you want to say and it will translate it for you in text; hit the speaker button and it will speak the phrase for you, even with an authentic accent.
The service is a hybrid one: it uses your data connection for new phrases, but stores old ones on the device. This will enable quick playback of phrases without having to constantly reach into the cloud (Android is 100% cloud based with translation, making Microsoft's solution more preferable). The app also already comes with an impressive list of canned phrases which you can quickly access and supports five-languages on launch:
What's neat is like the other apps, Microsoft is making the source-code of this program available to developers, meaning anyone can incorporate and expand upon what they've already offered. This combined with their emphasis on voice could potentially give Android a run for their money (and leave Apple far behind).
Check out the video after the break. It's only 18 minutes of your time.
One thing that keeps surprising us is how good Microsoft's Bing service is and how much better it is becoming (Anyone notice how Google now has similar themes and even re-vamped their image search to look just like Bing?).
Evidently this week, Microsoft did some more upgrades, changing some of the fonts, making the colors "warmer", improving the layouts and even traffic color.
The other cool addition is the ability to calculate your cab fare based on the trip you enter. While not exactly useful for non-city folk on a daily basis, it sure could be useful for when you travel and need to know how to plan your trip. You can try it out by going right here (you need Silverlight installed, shocker).
Of course the not so great news is that none of these features are yet available on the mobile version, something which is not too unexpected unfortunately these days. Still, we can't help but think that things like the cab fare calculator would be awesome on Windows Phone 7--so lets just hope they figure out a way to do that before October.
Verizon Wireless has announced a promotional offer for eligible Texas and Louisiana consumers that will provide unlimited calling to any mobile telephone number in the United States, regardless of the service provider. The "Unlimited Any Mobile" plans will be available for select cities in Louisiana with the 318 area code and select cities in Texas with area codes of 210, 214, 254, 325, 361, 430, 432, 439, 469, 512, 682, 806, 817, 830, 903, 915, 940, 956 and 972.
The new plans will be available from July 30th through October 31, 2010 and will include unlimited text message and Friends/Family options. Monthly rates for single line, Nationwide Unlimited Talk plans range from $59.99 to $79.99. Nationwide Family Share Plans with the unlimited option will range from $99.99 to $129.99 monthly. The plans are broken down as follows:
Single Line Plans:
450 minutes for $59.99
900 minutes for $79.99
Family Share Plans:
700 minutes for $99.99
1400 minutes for $119.99
2000 minutes for $129.99
To find out if you're eligible for these new plans, you can visit your local Verizon Wireless Store or contact Verizon's Customer Support at 1-888-800-6006.
Sigh. We hate to bring this info, but for those who hate the "feature" in Windows Mobile HTML email, whereby images have placeholders until you "agree" to download won't be pleased.
Evidently Windows Phone 7 uses the same approach, requiring an extra step and unsightly image placeholders until you sync up again. For those curious, this unique method is not present on the iPhone nor Android (Edit: Actually, you do have to hit "Show Pictures" on Android), both of which automatically just show the images.
The reason Microsoft chooses this system is security: opening an HTML email with inline images that is potentially malicious can send back information to the originating servers, hence the extra step.
We get that and totally like this ability as we understand the needs of enterprise can run pretty high. But we want it as AN OPTION not a default/you have no choice in the matter feature. Fact is, Windows Phone 7 is a consumer phone at this point and should therefore make email as transparent as possible--why not just give a simple initial warning sigh and give the use choice?
In short, throwing in his AT&T SIM card along with a travel plan, the phone switched to roaming with no problem as evidenced by the traditional roam triangle. Even better, data roaming is off by default--you have to go into settings to enable. While that seems like a not a big deal, Thurrrott compares it to the older iPhone experience, which according to him was far from ideal (it's now fixed).
Now the interesting question is how much data does WP7 consume, especially with automatic syncing to the cloud for email, contacts, backups, photos and social networking?
The T1 is the latest Bluetooth headset offering from BlueAnt. Billed as a durable, reliable device to give high quality audio in the most challenging condition, the T1 is sure to turn heads.
The T1 headset ($79.95) is the first to feature BlueAnt's Wind Armour Technology that boasts clear audio in wind speeds up to 22mph. The BlueAnt T1 also features voice commands similar to the BlueAnt Q1 headset. Instead of pressing a button to answer calls, you simply have to say "Answer" or "Ignore" to handle things. Other voice commands may be available dependent on your Windows Phone.
We had the opportunity to take the T1 out for a test drive and ease on past the break to see how it measured up.
We've been a little reluctant to post every since "demo" app that people are making for Windows Phone 7 for a few reasons, one of which is that there are almost too many to showcase (the other being we are still far from release and they are far from being complete).
But there have been quite a few games floating by lately and the folks at 1800PocketPC has compiled a nice montage video to serve as eye candy, to wet your appetite, if you will. It's a little brief, but hey, our OS is not even out yet!
We're still anxious to see what some of the traditional gaming studios have to offer (they have been pretty quiet so far), but independent developers seem to be having a blast.
A leaked ROM update for the AT&T Tilt2 surfaced the other day and we've had a few days to tinker with it. The ROM is based on the 21887 build of Windows Mobile 6.5 and runs HTC Sense 2.5. It also has an updated radio (184.108.40.206).
Compared to the original shipped ROM for the Tilt2, the updated ROM is noticeably more responsive. Sense 2.5 flows smoothly and apps are pulled up with little or no delay. ROM Chefs, such as NRGZ28, have already begun to incorporate parts of this build into their cooking. The ROM has potential but as is, still has a ways to go before it can be stamped "official" ROM.
As is, it's a nice building foundation but you will need to install or update a few items. Net CF is an older version (v2.1) and to run more current apps and modifiers, you'll need to install a more current version (v3.5). Neither BING nor Google Maps is preloaded. Office Mobile is an older release but the 2010 release is free over at the Marketplace. Nothing critical but you'll need to spend some time loading some additional apps or updated versions.
To address the bloatware, you can use Crud Scraper (requires .NET CF 3.5) to free up to 39mb of memory. I choose BSB Tweaks to help optimize the Tilt2 but other tweaks are available to help boost performance. I also installed Brian's Taskbar (requires SdkCerts installed) to help add some color to my notification icons.
Remember, a ROM update will wipe your device clean so a data back-up is highly encouraged. Also, read up on any modifiers you install. Check and make sure there aren't any required .cab files (e.g. .NET CF , SdkCerts, etc.) because without them you can crash your Windows Phone.
All in all, I like the direction AT&T has taken with this update. Just remember all is not lost if you update and don't like what you see. The original Tilt2 ROM is still available over at HTC's Support Site.
While we know a lot of developer units for Windows Phone 7 would be sent out in the last few weeks, we didn't know exactly how many.
Turns out it's just above 3,000. That's a lot of non-production prototypes if you think about it. Then again, it's a drop in the bucket in terms of developers who still want a device and who are needed to beat back the Android craze.
The number comes by looking at the official Windows Phone 7 Facebook app that comes with the device. The logic being that 3,000+ users have installed this app on their phones, hence the correlation.
Then there's probably the ten or twelve people like myself who don't have Facebook, natch. So more like 3,088.
While we all were getting excited about an October launch for Windows Phone 7, it appears the excitement will be over seas.
Microsoft's COO Kevin Turner recently gave a presentation on the new phone and in talking about release time frames stated, "October likely across Europe, November likely across the U.S.".
No explanation on why the U.S. markets will play second chair for the release. Maybe the wireless carriers need more time to "brand" their Windows Phone 7 device. But as closed the WP7 system is supposed to be, should this be an issue?
Regardless of the reasoning, one can't help but be a little disappointed with this news. We can only hope that with the extra month Microsoft will have, they will be able to release a more complete Windows Phone 7 package to the U.S. markets.
Namco Games has released the popular game Flight Control for Windows Phone.
Flight Control has players guide planes, jets and helicopters safely to their landing zones. Flight Control is easy to play—just select an aircraft and direct it to its landing zone. Flight Control has five different airfields and ten types of aircraft. As time passes, more aircraft start to fill the friendly skies, making Flight Control a game of strategy.
Flight Control is available over at Namco's website for $5.99. Currently it's only available for T-Mobile and AT&T customers (game billed through your wireless account) and slowly but surely Namco is populating the list of compatible devices. If you have trouble accessing the download link that is sent to your phone from Namco, check for the app in your wireless provider's app store/mall.
We hope to get a review up on Flight Control shortly but in the meantime, check out what our friends over at TiPb thinks of this gaming app.
The other day, Microsoft held and hour long video-chat on Windows Phone 7 and photography.
Not a whole 'lotta interesting info was gleaned, though it's still worth a watch for your diehards.
Video recording had a brief focus at the beginning where it was noted VGA recording is the minimum but OEMs can boost that up to HD and the device can handle it with no problem.
There seems to be some confusion over this last part at MobileTech World (who did a nice summary) where it was implied that it could record HD but not play it back. In fact, the question was convoluted: it assumed you had HD content from your DSLR camera and wanted to transfer it to your Phone--this is done through the Zune software. But if the phone has an HD camera, it can record and playback content with no problem.
Other aspects covered were:
no touch focus (use hardware button); no face detection
no in-depth video editing e.g. red-eye correction; MS is relying on 3rd parties to fill that gap
Automatic syncing/resizing to Facebook, SkyDrive (25GB free space) and Live services
Full size for emailing
GPS tagging supported
no HDMI out in the chassis spec
5MP in minimum; emphasis on quality sensors/hardware