Conflipper recently posted some info about two HTC devices slated for 2010: Huashan and Hengshan, named after mountains in China.
Sinces these reference-names are Chinese and not very Western e.g. Mondrian, Rhodium, Whitestone, it's a pretty good indication that these are devices that we'll never see here in the U.S. or Europe for that matter. Well that and they're on Dopod's release schedule.
In case you forgot, this is Internet Explorer Mobile 6 (5.2), the same one that debuted with WM6.1.4 and is in WM6.5. That browser is quite at odds with the Windows Phone 7 browser based on the IE7 and IE8 Trident rendering engines. Just going by screen resolution (480x800 and 320x480) tells you nothing meaningful to differentiate between the two OSes.
So here's the deal: HTC and other lower-tier manufacturers will continue to churn out WM6.5 "Classic" devices in certain markets, namely Eastern as a low-cost alternative to the high-end Windows Phone 7 experience. Sure, both of these new HTC devices could be bumped to Windows Phone 7, but right now there is zero evidence that they are currently planning it. In fact the 320x480 device is probably just a HTC HD Mini spin off.
In other words HTC Huashan and HTC Hengshan: nothing to see here
Not only do they show more images of the phone, but they have some of the not-yet-finalized packing and even a sample shot from the camera. Their brief hands on is repeated verbatim below. Needless to say, developers must be getting excited at the prospect of using actual WP7 hardware. We know we can't wait.
This is definitely still a prototype device, and there are still quite a few rough edges to be fixed. The device OS is still being updated with new builds almost every other day.
Even the packaging and box is expected to be different before the final product ships. For example, the current box is not even using the correct Windows Phone 7 logo.
Despite it’s prototype status, the phone appears to be more or less feature complete and incredibly responsive and fast. The animations are all very smooth.
For the time being, you need a special build of the desktop Zune software (Dorado) to sync with the device; the current released version of desktop Zune software won’t work.
The camera works pretty well, and the resulting photo is sharp, as you can see below:
Verizon today announced the LG Fathom, a 3.2-inch horizontal slider running Windows Mobile 6.5.3. The Fathom will be available at business channels on May 27 and in stores June 3. It will cost $149.99 after the usual two-year contract and $100 mail-in rebate. Monthly plans begin at $39.99 for voice and $29.99 for unlimited data.
Bitstream has recently updated it's Windows Phone browser, Bolt, to version 2.1. The update adds support for HTML 5 Video and throws in a little Facebook integration. The Facebook integration in Bolt 2.1 allows users to paste links directly to Facebook accounts and work the Facebook's instant messaging.
Bolt 2.1 continues to utilize the server-side rendering of pages to speed things up. Version 2.1 has a little more zip to it than previous versions. The first 25% of pages does take a few seconds to load, then the remaining portions load in a flash. Also, remember that Bolt is a Java App and will be installed within your Java program.
The layout still needs some work (fonts still a little on the small size even when set to XXLarge) but the speed is definitely present. You can download your free copy of Bolt 2.1 by going to http://boltbrowser.com/bolts2.jad from your mobile browser. Additional installation instructions can be found at the Bolt Browser website.
T-Mobile has pulled the ROM update due to complaints, one of which is that touch-sensitivity starts out very high but then degrades to the point where you have to mash the screen to get it respond. Another is dialing 611 reportedly screws up the speakerphone till you soft reset. Others complain of freezing and general instability (see this thread at HTC.com)
It is unclear when T-Mobile will release an updated version or what they plan on fixing, but most of seems to focus around Sense 2.5 and areas of customization. We'll keep you posted on any changes.
One area that is crucial for Microsoft's success with Windows Phone 7 is in the browser. As the iPhone has demonstrated and Opera fans know, if you have a good browsing experience, you'll have a dedicated following.
Mobile IE has never really been great and while it's better on WP7 e.g. containing
...four-point multitouch fully enabled, zooming in and out by a pinching finger gesture on the screen, so-called "deep zoom" for extreme, high fidelity closeups, a remarkably clear typography, and very smooth, fast operation
...well, it doesn't inspire that much confidence. In fact, with greater enthusiasm for the desktop IE9, the mobile version (based on IE7, little bit of 8) seems like last-year's technology (and that's being generous).
Q:Will the browser in Windows 7 get more updates more frequently than only with full firmware updates?
Yes, we are building in the ability to update the browser independently of firmware.
While we knew OTA updates for the OS were a big deal, selectively upgrading just the browser can give Microsoft more flexibility in getting Mobile IE current. Of course that doesn't guarantee that those updates will give us a killer browser, but hey...options are good.
Yesterday at IndyTechFest, William Steele of Microsoft held a session on "Building Applications on Windows Phone 7 with XNA" which was recorded on UStream for all to watch.
While geared for developers, there were a few nuggets of information made available that many of you may find interesting. And once again, we'll save you the hour with a summary of the new information:
Regarding orientation, Silverlight is portrait by default; XNA is landscape, though of course they can be altered
XNA games are limited to 30 FPS, but that's also the limit on the physical screen's refresh rate
Only Silverlight can use on-screen keyboard; not yet available for XNA but you can write your own custom keyboard in XNA
Games built on XNA 4.0 will NOT run on the Zune (there's a "real reason" and one they're telling us publicly. Hmmm...)
Silverlight app shows up in the Apps Menu; XNA apps shows up in the Games Menu or some special hub
XNA is obviously geared towards gaming; Silverlight is "user event driven", but both can basically do the same things
For buying software, Windows Phone Marketplace will be in dollars; Xbox Marketplace will be Points ("funny money")
Two separate markets (Xbox and Windows Phone Marketplace), meaning you'll have to buy the same game/different platform twice, no way to link (?)
"Featured" area of Marketplace = paid promotion of application by developer
Trial-ware will provide link to buy, pause game, hop to marketplace to buy and then continue game (like Xbox)
No in-game purchasing yet (e.g. bonus levels, avatars, etc.), but definitely something they are looking at
Some revealing tidbits there.
We're not at all thrilled with the purported fragmentation of the Marketplace between Xbox and Windows Phone. While developers will only have to write the software once for PC, Xbox and Phone (the first two go to one market, the latter to another) there seems to be no way to connect purchases for the consumer. That seems like a bad idea. It's also baffling as to how you can't purchase the two together but they can interact across platforms (we suppose it has to do with the backbone "cloud services"). We suggest one solution would be for developers to offer "redemption codes" to consumer who buy on one platform, to "purchase" on the other. That system already exists on Xbox, though it could be a hassle.
We also now have confirmation that the Zune HD appears to be locked out of all of future development, despite being able to run XNA 2D (and unofficially 3D with some tricks). Evidently Microsoft has a real reason, which they are not telling the public--we speculate that it's because the Zune hardware has an expiration date.
The questions were mostly geared for developers, but even you non-programmer types will be able to make heads and tales of the conversation. We have to say, Brandon seems to be a stand up guy and he was more than honest in answering questions, not using typical PR language. Plus he was pretty darn entertaining (watch for his "joke" 46 mins in).
For those who want the gist, we've summed up the 60 minute talk below:
Final version of developer tools will be available "months" before final release of hardware. Plenty of time for developers to feel comfortable.
New builds of WP7 developer tools every month or two
Developers: Do expect access to WP7 phones! More info coming soon...
Hundreds of thousands of downloads of WP7 dev tools already
2 million C# developers in the US --> all potential WP7 developers
If you're a competent Silverlight developer, you should be able to build WP7 apps in just a few hours. (But read this -Mal)
3rd party apps won't be able to use email attachments
No support for in-browser Silverlight at this time, didn't make the cut
Business experience was not "main concern" with this initial release; consumer UX was (Translation: business focus coming later -Mal)
Rejection of apps will feature a bullet list of things to fix to get it in, no vagaries (Clear shot at Apple's policies -Mal)
OEM applications can't multitask either
No restriction on programming tools as long it compiles down to their common language runtime (C# only, more languages later)
We've been hearing rumors about Dell working on a Windows Phone 7 device, the Lightning, for a while now. During a recent earnings conference call, Dell CEO Michael Dell kept hopes alive that Dell hasn't given up on the Lightning.
Dell stated, "We're very much working with Android and Windows Mobile 7 and we see those platforms as more attractive alternatives to other suggestions that you may have offered." The alternative he is referring to is likely the option for Dell to buy or develop their own OS.
It's rumored that Dell's Android phone is likely headed to AT&T later this summer and if the renderings do the Lightning any justice, it would be a nice addition to the Windows Phone 7 lineup this Fall.
Primarily he was responsible for Zune and a lot of aspects of the Xbox platform, including Live, various add ons and the overall direction of the system. Most recently he was heavily associated with the wildly-popular "in incubation" product known as the Courier. If Microsoft has a 'Steve Jobs', i.e. someone who put as much effort on design as well as functionality, it would be Allard.
But if Allard has left Microsoft (for whatever reason), dare we say we're pretty crushed as his role and influence in Microsoft, at least from our perspective, seemed like a breath of fresh air. His indirect influence on Windows Phone should be evident from WP7. Lets hope cooler heads prevail and something positive comes from this situation.
A lot of hay has been made of Sprint and their new 4G network based off of WiMax, especially with the imminent launch of the HTC EVO.
But the fact remains, in terms of 4g technologies, WiMax may be the first but it's far from the default choice by many carriers in the U.S., let alone world-wide. Some feel this may be a dead-end for Sprint in the long run and if it's one thing Sprint doesn't need, it's another dud (cough, Palm Pre, cough).
Thankfully, Sprint was smart enough to leave options on the table.
To the point, Sprint has "...issued a "next generation network" request for proposal (RFP)" on their current fiber and they're looking at LTE:
"There's nothing that prevents us from... moving to LTE," said Kevin Packingham, senior VP of product and technology development at Sprint, speaking at the LTE event here. "We're doing a technology evaluation and making a decision on our core network and how we want to evolve that going forward."
And what about ol' WiMax? Looks like Sprint could have its cake and eat it too as they don't consider the two technologies "mutually exclusive". One could envision WiMax being deployed as a "hotspot" technology where LTE more ubiquitous. Of course, timing is everything and that could snag them a bit. But options are always good and at least Sprint didn't totally paint themselves into a corner. We hope.
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.