It’s been a good week for those had concerns about how much effort Microsoft was going to put into their "legacy" Windows Mobile OS. First we get an update to Bing, which includes a fairly significant feature upgrade in voice assisted navigation. Today, Microsoft announced Office Mobile 2010 in conjunction with the release of the desktop and web versions of their flagship product.
According to the press release, users of Windows Mobile 6.5 that have a previous version of Office Mobile will be able to upgrade for free through the Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Office Mobile 2010 adds support for Microsoft SharePoint 2010 as well as updated versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
If you haven’t already, head over to the Marketplace for your free copy. Let us know what you think!
As we move into the future of cloud computing, online storage and retrieval is becoming more and more important.
Dropbox is a popular free file hosting site which offers 2gb of storage (and up to 100gb for paying customers). Like other services e.g. SugarSync, they offer a desktop client which allows drag-n-drop from your computer to the cloud.
The iPhone, Android, BlackBerry (soon) and even the iPad all have "official" clients from Dropbox themselves but alas Windows Mobile and WebOS are absent. Luckily Ruttensoft has stepped up to the plate to make their own client and truth be told, we're 90% sure they did a better job than what Dropbox could have managed.
If you're looking for a solution to cloud-based storage and management on your Windows phone, look no further. Read more after the jump for our review of CloudFiles.
The technology combined voice recognition with typing to allow very fast and accurate typing on Windows Mobile devices. Some wonder why would you use both speech and text and the reason is sort of obvious: while speech recognition/data entry sounds very convenient, the truth is with background nose and current algorithms, the accuracy of such technology is not as high as users demand. When you "help" the speech recognition part with minimal text entry (usually the first letter), you improve the accuracy up to nearly 100%. In fact, it seems faster than HTC's soft keyboard/text prediction.
We've actually been beta testing this program for a few months already and have high hopes for it. Like all new data entry methods (think Swype), it's awkward at first as you have to think about your next move. But as you use it more and more, you'll see the increase in speed for writing emails, text messages, Facebook or Twitter entries makes up for it. The program has an easy tutorial to teach you the basics and you'll be up and running within minutes.
Overall we're quite impressed with this technology and really hope Traveling Wave has plans to bring this to Windows Phone 7. You can download it via Windows Marketplace (first 100 downloads are free, not sure about the price afterwards) right here.
Sound off in comments on your experience with it: future of typing or gimmick?
We mentioned a few weeks ago that Sony was accepting pre-orders for the new Sony Xperia X2a. The ship date was marked as "on or about" April 29, 2010.
While Sony is still accepting orders for the Windows Phone (at a healthy $599.99) the anticipated ship date seems to be moving backwards. Today the ship date is estimated at May 12, 2010 and yesterday, it was May 11, 2010; both a little off the mark from "on or about" April 29, 2010.
Could we be seeing a repeat of the X2a's predecessor the X1a? So far Sony has only missed the original date by a few weeks which really isn't a reason to panic. However, if the delay continues for months (as it did with the X1a) the X2a may be competing with the Windows Phone 7 release. And at $599, that could result in disaster for what appears to be a quality Windows Phone.
The Federal Communications Commission has announced that it is seeking public comment on a plan that would require wireless carriers to notify customers when they begin to run up unusually high charges for data, roaming or other uses beyond what is covered by regular monthly fees.
If you have teenagers with phones, you know how quickly these bills can get out of hand and how quickly they can raise your blood pressure. How a teenager can generate so many text messages in one month is a mystery.
F.C.C.'s Chief, Joel Gurin, said the initiative was intended to help consumers avoid what the Commission calls "bill shock". Wireless carriers in Europe are required by law to send text messages to consumers when they begin to run up roaming charges or inch closer to a set limit for data usage.
“We’re issuing a Public Notice to see if there’s any reason that American carriers can’t use similar automatic alerts to inform consumers when they are at risk of running up a high bill,” Gurin said. “This is an avoidable problem. Avoiding bill shock is good for consumers and ultimately good business for wireless carriers as well.”
If successful, such an early warning system should make life a little less stressful. Comments to the Public Notice are due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register. Reply comments are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. If you're interested in weighing in on this subject, you can find out how to go about it here.
HTC's chopped down version of the HD, the HD Mini, has made its way to India. HTC has announced the availability of the Mini at a selling price of Rs 23,490 ($520 US).
The Mini was recently sited passing through the FCC and there is still hope that a U.S. carrier will pick up this Windows Phone. There is also an outside chance it will become available in the U.S. as an unlocked phone.
If the latter is true, maybe the pricing point will come down just a little before reaching the States.
We’ve been keeping an eye on Google Visual Voicemail (GVV) for the last week or so. Now that XDA user Sl4sher has gotten some of the kinks worked out, we’re comfortable putting it out there for our readers.
The concept behind GVV is to give you quick and easy access to your Google Voice Voicemail. Messages can be downloaded and cached to allow playback on your device. After you are done with your message it can be deleted or marked as read. The transcript of your message is also available, allowing you to quickly and easily triage your messages. GVV also uses your phone’s Contact List to display who placed the call.
Vodaphone has added an HTC Mini promotional video over at their YouTube channel. It really doesn't reveal anything new about the Windows Phone but does remind us how nice this Windows Phone looks.
There is one oddity about the video in that the Mini is referred to as the Photon. The model name is likely an association with Vodaphone much like Tilt2 and Dash are associated with AT&T and T-Mobile. Regardless of the name, it's still an HTC Mini.
Ever take a trip with friends and when all is said and done, you can't remember who paid for what? How about a party you're planning with friends and you need to track individual expenses and figure out who owes what? More times than not, you likely kept track of things with pencil and paper and more times than not, someone disputes the numbers.
Clevlab.com has developed a Windows Phone app that might help avoid disputes over accounting and do away with the pencil/paper method.Friendly Budget allows you to create events, track expenses and calculate reimbursements.
Friendly Budget takes into account what everyone contributes to the event, divides the cost evenly, subtracts each member's expense from their portion of the budget, and then reports who owes who to balance things out. Expense, event and party entries are straight forward while navigation takes a little getting used to. Friendly Budget does allow for you to add expense categories but there's no way to export the data to a spread sheet or other report (although these features may appear in future releases of the app).
If you need a fairly easy way to track expenses and divide things equally, Friendly Budget is worth considering. The app is available through Marketplace Mobile for $1.99 and you can find more information on the app here. After the break, you can see a video demonstration of Friendly Budget that may rival the World's Record for texting.
It's no secret that T-Mobile is enjoying a lot of success with the HTC HD2. The HD2 is a fantastic Windows Phone and it's surprising that other carriers haven't followed T-Mobile's lead.
Unfortunately, with this success comes supply issues. Supply so thin that T-Mobile had been restricting the HD2 to new customers only and limiting that to only one per customer.
Comments such as "I would think that since loyal customers like me who want to (re)commit for another 2 years that such loyal customers would be at the top of their priority list. I would be wrong." were surfacing over at the T-Mobile Community Site. In response, T-Mobile has offered the following.
"T-Mobile understands the inventory challenges for the HTC HD2 and continues to work diligently in order to supply our customers with this highly popular product. As we receive additional inventory of the HTC HD2, we are giving priority to our existing customers. However, the demand for the device is still exceeding our supply."
"Depending on the location, some T-Mobile retail stores may still have some HTC HD2 inventory available. We suggest that interested customers contact their local T-Mobile store via phone before visiting to see if they have the HTC HD2 available. If they do not have the HTC HD2 available, some stores are taking names and contact information, and will be able to notify customers once that location has product available."
Not exactly a firm commitment to existing customers but it is a start.
Microsoft is having a busy week at the Web 2.0 Expo and TechFest, showing off new UIs, developing technology and things we can hopefully look forward to actually using one day (Microsoft has a reputation of not delivering on some cool stuff, if you recall).
Of interest to mobile users is two fold. First is the ability for live language translation via some new software. The program combines speech recognition, machine translation, and text-to-speech technology into one package, allowing two users speaking different languages to converse in real-time. While occasionally making an error or two, overall the program does a pretty knock up job of acting like a real translator. Watch the video demo from CNet here.
While no time-frame or release schedule was mentioned, it looks to be integrated into Microsoft's Office Communicator, of which there is a mobile version. So hopefully we'll see some of this trickle into our WP7 devices sometime in the future.
The second venture by Microsoft is once again into social networking, but luckily for us they are not "inventing" another new service but rather a smart aggregator. Called 'Spindex' it will take in all your feeds from Facebook, Twitter, etc. and consolidate said streams into an easier read and used service. More interestingly, it does personalized "trending topics" and automatically prefetches articles related to said topics via Bing. It even takes advantage of the popular 'EverNote' (see review here):
Make sense of your social overload, open your personalized Spindex page, and find out at a glance what topics are hot in your social world. You can also keep track of the things you are remembering via Evernote--right inside of your Spindex page. Spindex is not just a social reader--as you browse your friends' updates, Spindex continually suggests related content from Bing--giving you better insight into the topics and trends spinning around you.
Of course between Kin and Windows Phone 7, you can already see some of this social networking consolidation/ease of access in action. No doubt we'll see more of this as Spindex rolls out and works its way onto our devices.