In an open letter to customers, AT&T has announced they will be increasing Early Termination Fees (ETF) on smartphones and decreasing them slightly on other phones. AT&T will raise the fee from $175 to $325 on contracts for smartphones as well as netbooks. The ETF will be reduced for non-smartphones to $150 from $175.
These changes will only take effect for new and renewing customers. The ETF will be prorated $10 a month for each month ($4 for non-smartphones) that passes in the two year agreement.
AT&T is stating this increase had no relation to any specific phone and instead states the modifications are in response to the overall cost of smartphones that require a larger subsidy.
Heads up, folks: We're going to take the week off to rest up and flash a ROM or three. We'll be back next week to tackle what's left in Windows Mobile, what's new in Windows Phone 7, and, of course, your e-mails and voice mails. See you then.
We gave a brief review of CloudFiles, the first Dropbox client for Windows Mobile, a few days ago. Bottom line: we're impressed, very impressed.
As we mentioned, we expected it to "1.0" any day now and sure enough, that day is upon us. The app is priced less than $10, which is fair. In fact it is normally priced at $6.99 but till at least May 25th, you can grab it for 20% off at $5.49.
Too much? Too little? All depends on how much you rely on Dropbox. For some, it's a requisite and that $5.49 is well worth the cost. They accept (thankfully) PayPal and you can grab it right here.
Paul Thurrott (SuperSite for Windows) is busy writing a book on Windows Phone 7, specifically its deepest, darkest secrets. Actually, it's not so much a dirty exposé as a thorough treatment of the fledgling OS. In doing so, he's spending some time in Redmond, toying with the new OS and gathering data for his book. It's there he was able to sit down and talk with Microsoft partner group program manager Charlie Kindel and senior product manager Greg Sullivan.
When those folks talk, you listen. And truth be told, they actually give some solid answers to plaguing questions like copy and paste, Mozilla and Skype skipping the initial release and even tablets with WP7 (see our resolution/DPI discussion).
We won't spoil all the answers as they're actually quite thorough, so you should read the whole thing. However, in response to all the naysayers and those lodging a lot of complaints, we will leave you with the main gist of Microsoft's position on such criticisms:
We have to have focus. And we made a decision around what we would focus on for this turn of the crank, for the first version. We knew this would create difficulties for certain third parties to build on. It's impossible to build a high performance race car on a mountain bike frame. They're good for certain things only. But we made the decision to focus on things we will do really, really well. For those that we didn't, we feel that we're better off waiting until we can do them really, really well.
Apple took the same approach: nail the basics, don't take shortcuts and build off of a solid core. Sure, when Apple did it, the marketplace was vastly different--they had time to kill. Then again, Android took the exact same approach and it paid off too. Will the market be as forgiving towards Microsoft and Windows Phone 7? We're not sure, but to be honest, we rather like this slow, deliberate approach that they are taking. Lets just hope it pays off.
Pharos is showing off their newest Windows phone, the Pharos 565. It's a ruggedized Windows phone that meets Industrial IP54 standards (can survive drops from 4-5 feet).
The Pharos 565 claims to be the first rugged Windows Mobile 6.5 phone (the iMate 810 runs WM6.1) and sports a 3.5" 240x320 TFT touchscreen, 624mhz processor, 512mb ROM/256mb SDRAM as well as GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. The 565 measures 5.7" (L) x 3.1" (W) x 1" (D) and is powered by a 1880mah battery. No word on how hefty this phone is but it does have a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The tough Windows phone is listed for $529.95 (MSRP) on Pharos website.
The other day we mentioned how beneficial it will be for programmers to be able to write Windows Phone 7 applications in Silverlight (see "DroppyPop"), specifically we can run them in a web browser to demo them first or as an expansion.
Today we have a few more apps to show from the blog by Sigurd Snørteland. Even the code is provided in case others are curious about writing apps Silverlight. Sigurd weighs in on the whole process by stating thus:
To make it clear right away: Silverlight development of WP7 is incredibly easy and fun. If you have coded a little silver light before you are productive from the start. Virtually the only difference from the normal Silverlight development is that you use any other visual studio templates, and that you get access to some new APIs such. gps, accelerometer, camera, etc.
Gartner Inc., a technology and research advisory company, has released it's first quarter 2010 numbers on smartphone sales and the numbers on Windows Mobile have declined a bit.
Compared to Q1 2009, Windows Phone sales dipped slightly from 3,738 units to 3,706 units (units in thousands). While Symbian has the largest percentage of the market at 44.3%, Microsoft is fifth on the list at 6.8%. Symbian also tops the list in units sold with 24,069 units (again, in thousands).
In a similar report from IDC, another technology research center, has Nokia leading the market in smartphone vendors for Q1 2010 with 21.5 million units shipped. The only Windows Phone vendor in the top five was HTC who placed fourth moving 2.6 million units. There was no break down on how many of these units were Windows Phones or Android.
The decline in Windows Phone sales isn't all that surprising since new releases have been at a virtual stand still. We've seen only a handful of new phones, led by HTC's HD2 and Mini, while the Windows Phone transition builds up to the release of the Windows Phone 7.
All is not lost. We are seeing more interesting news coming from the Windows Phone 7 development and the jury is still out on how successful the KIN will be. It will be interesting to see how these two Windows Phones will affect these numbers.
One question has been bugging me ever since the Windows Phone 7 reveal back a few months ago and the revolves around screen resolution and quality.
We know that the preferred resolution is 800x480, which today is considered on the high end but within a few months will be closer to the norm in smartphones. This raises the question: what resolutions will WP7 support say in 12 months or 24 months out? Surely 800x480 won't be the bees-knees in two years from now. Heck, the 4th generation iPhone ("iPhone HD") is dropping this summer with an expected resolution of 960x640.
We're pretty positive that Microsoft have some sort of upscaling plan in the works and the first hint of this may have just been found from one of the recent WP7 ROM dumps.
Specifically mention of a DPI 262 (DPI= dots per inch). Historically, Windows Mobile has supported DPI 192, 120 and 96. Windows Phone 7 supports 96, 131, 192, 262 and according to Da_G, WP7 resolution is scalable to just about anything.
Now DPI isn't resolution, but rather effects how dense the image is--the larger the screen, the less dense the pixels, you up those and your screen image is smoother looking. With DPI 262, Windows Phone 7 can (a) look better on current screens if enabled (b) work on larger screens e.g. 5" tablets and up. (c) be easier to read, think fonts/text and smoothness.
They note some dramatic improvements over the last version a few months ago, stating:
We’re much more excited seeing that unusual homescreen bursting with info this time round (in an amusing, if impractical touch, a smiley faces turns to a frown the more unread texts you have) and we have to say, it’s certainly much nippier now, with a working calendar that can detect addresses in text and proffer up speedy Bing maps, and frankly astounding looking Office support that puts Google Docs access on mobiles to shame.
The screen on the LG Windows Phone 7 model is also a vast improvement on the poor display on the original Windows Phone 7 prototype shown at Barcelona, and it really felt like a finished product on the outside at least, with a sturdy sliding mechanism and decent landscape keyboard.
XdaRoms.com has added a membership system to their website. XdaRoms is a relatively new website repository for custom or cooked Roms. As the inventory of roms build, it may very well become a one stop shop to satisfy your cooked rom appetite.
XdaRoms membership gives you the ability to post roms and news. We have also been told by the website creator, bowpay, that in the very near future XdaRoms will have a few more new features.
The features include Rom Favorites which will alert members when an update to your favorite rom is posted; Rom Reviews which will give those shopping for roms a feel for what's out there; and Carrier Integration which will tie each rom to the various carriers. It is hopeful that these new features will give romaholics (or the casual flasher) more resources to choose a compatible rom and avoid bricking your Windows Phone.
Sometimes, when you post all of these stories you miss the obvious...
Luckily there is someone else out there to do just that and in this case, David K at Mobility Digest did by asking what's the deal with WP7 and landscape?
Case in point, a few shots of the not-sexy-but-functional LG Panther were featured yesterday, including at least two with the keyboard extended. Funny thing though, neither picture shows the orientation changing with the landscape out.
Come to think of it, have we ever seen WP7 in landscape orientation? So what's going on here: early beta/feature not available; or, no it does not support orientation switching (but it does in the emulator)?
We're betting, nay hoping that since the emulator clearly allows landscape switching for certain apps, we'll see this in the final release. Actually, from our Zune HD experience, orientation switching is only allowed when
the program purposefully calls for it e.g. a game when you are "forced" switched
a text-entry field is present and you rotate the device (optional)
However, this may mean that you cannot just willy-nilly switch orientation, like we do now in WM6.x for every app just because you want too. In the above shots, there are no text-entry fields and the programs clearly don't call for -landscape=on, ergo, no landscape.
Here's a bit of surprise, Seesmic, developers of one of the most popular desktop Twitter clients, has just demoed their upcoming app for Windows Phone 7.
Now considered to be a launch-partner by Microsoft (see also Foursquare and Netflix), Seesmic's Twitter app look quite classy. In addition, they have a Sliverlight plugin-platform/SDK which will allow external applications easy integration e.g. Bing maps and encourages 3rd parties to interact with their program with ease. That means we should see tight integration with Seesmic and other apps like RSS readers to quickly share links; smart idea.
This will be the first Windows Phone client from Seesmic who already have ones for Android and Blackberry. Between Seesmic and Twikini, looks like early-adopters will have their Twitter needs covered by the best in the biz.
Edit: turns out this was actually posted two months ago and we missed it, so not exactly breaking but still it was news to us at least ;-)
We have received review units for the KIN One and Two and over the next few days we'll be taking them out for a test drive to see what these new Windows Phones are all about.
In the meantime, we put together a brief video overview on the two KIN phones. The initial impression of the KIN series is that if your a heavy Facebook or Twitter user, the KIN might be right up your ally. I wouldn't consider it a replacement for your Windows Mobile Phone running Windows Mobile but rather an alternative for those who don't need as much.
Note: In the video it is mentioned that the KIN doesn't have any Function Keys. The KIN does have a function key (the green key) that will allow you to key in numbers and characters. What it doesn't have is function key shortcuts to launch apps such as the browser or email.
For the handful of you who are using the Zune HD (myself and Phil are diehard fans), you'll be pleased to know of a few updates to the Zune Marketplace.
For one, Twitter gets a landscape keyboard in v1.2, which makes it that much more useful (or useless, depending on your view). You must enable "keyboard tilt" under the settings in Twitter, it's off by default. Facebook gets bumped to v1.1--not sure what the difference is there and yours truly is MIA on that social network.
In addition, a few new card games including Hearts and Spades, which we suppose look fun (see below).
Load up your the Zune Marketplace to download these freebies.