Ever since Microsoft showed off Windows Phone 7 Series at Mobile World Congress, one of the major questions has been what kind of hardware can we expect from the device manufacturers. All we saw in Barcelona was a developer device.
But today on The Engadget Show, Microsoft’s Aaron Woodman brought a new toy. It was a prototype LG device, with the Windows Phone 7 Series OS, a sliding QWERTY keyboard -- which was a bit of a surprise -- all of the hardware buttons that we’ve been told to expect, a 5-megapixel camera with flash, and a 3.5mm audio jack.
Let's reiterate that this was a prototype, and we'd kind of like to see a production unit with a little more sophistication. An new OS of this caliber deserves something that at least looks like more than the hardware the old Windows Mobile (sorry, but it is) runs on.
Oh, and the fact that Paul and Nilay posted their hands-on with the LG device as The Engadget Show was taping live was more than a little sick. [Engadget]
Some quick details about Windows Phone 6 Starter edition:
Will be offered in multi-language versions
Versions with and without Microsoft Office Mobile will be offered. (Office Mobile 2010 will be made available to OEMs when it ships.)
Supports 2G (GSM), 2.5G (CDMA2000 xRTT, EDGE, GPRS), CDMA (Rev A, EV-DO Revision A), and TD-SCDMA radios. Engadget postulates that the conspicuous absence of HSDPA 3G is an attempt to encourage adoption of Windows Phone 7 Series devices internationally where 3G networks are substantial enough.
What are your thoughts on Starter Edition? [via ZDNet]
Adobe may have let it slip on its forums that it will no longer pursue development of Flash 10.1 for Windows Mobile 6.5. The question was asked about the availability of Adobe Flash 10.1 and a forum member, that some are identifying as a Adobe representative replied, "As for WinMo, we have made the tough decision to defer support for that platform until WinMo7. This is due to the fact that WinMo6.5 does not support some of the critical APIs that we need." The same representative also mentions that the HD2 will be first Windows Phone to support Flash.
If Adobe doesn't plan on continuing development towards WM 6.5, instead will focus on WP7S and the first Windows Phone to run Flash will be the HTC HD2 ... could this add more credence to the thought that the HD2 might be upgradeable to Windows Phone 7 Series? Or are we stretching things a wee bit too much?
What feels as though it was a lifetime ago, AT&T started testing it's 3G Microcell in very limited fashion a little over a year ago. The 3G Microcell test market was extended shortly thereafter and AT&T is now extending the Microcell's availability again.
In response to one of our reader's inquiries into the Microcell, AT&T replied informing them that the Microcell availability has been extended to the following States and Metropolitan areas; Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, San Diego, and Las Vegas.
If you are lucky enough to live in these areas, all you need to do is visit AT&T's 3G Microcell website and enter your specific zip code to see if the Microcell is available. If you are in one of these trial areas, you will be provided with a list of retail locations where you can purchase the Microcell. There was no mention on the pricing for the Microcell itself but it appears, in reading the fine print, the service will run $19.99 per month. There are still rumors that bundled discounts will be available to lower the monthly cost.
The 3G Microcell uses your existing broadband internet service to connect to the AT&T Network. The result is you get five bars of reception when you otherwise would have to suffer with one (or fewer) bars. The Microcell will provide up to 5,000 square feet of coverage.
There is no indication from AT&T when (or if) the Microcell will be available nationwide but for those in poor signal areas, it can't get here any quicker. Thanks goes out to jaffec for the tip.
During the unveiling of the Windows Phone 7 Series, Microsoft recognized that one size doesn't fit all. Some Windows Phone users prefer sliding keyboards, some prefer front facing keyboards, and some would rather see a larger screen and no keyboards. Some hope Microsoft keeps the door open for such design variations and a recent podcast from Australia is suggesting these options may be more than just a possibility.
In a recent "Frankly Speaking" podcast, hosts Michael Kordahi and Andrew Coates suggest that Microsoft may cut back the number of Windows phone designs to three styles or chassis.
Basically, Tracy and Matt asked Microsoft's Alex Reeve (Director of the company's UK Mobile Business Group) on Twitter about the upgrade possibility and he tweeted back with
It's early days yet, and that's really for our hardware partners to think about.
So there you go, 100% definitive proof that OEMs can think about doing something with certain devices. Whether it actually happens? That's a whole 'nother ball of wax. Try not too loose any sleep over it tonight. [Updated to fix source]
So what exactly is going on here? One would like to believe that the phone is selling so well AT&T simply cannot keep them in stock. But for those who frequent the various smartphone forums may notice that the eXpo crowd is quite tiny compared to other devices. So, yeah, probably not.
The issue appears to be on LG's end or whomever is actually handling the manufacturing. Unfortunately (and not surprisingly) no one is stating specifics, though we imagine there could be quite a few possibilities:
Chinese New Year: this time of the year, it is not uncommon for manufacturing plants to shut down, halting production.
The Chinese New Year issue is common with electronic OEMs and not a surprise. In turn, many companies prepare for the temporary downward production by increasing production before the holiday. So not likely.
Supply issues with the Authen Tec's AES1711 sensor is a possible, being so new to market. Likewise, HTC could be gobbling up all the Snapdragon's they can for their hugely popular HTC HD2 (probably being massed produced now for T-Mobile U.S.).
AT&T told WMExperts this in response to the eXpo's shortage:
While AT&T and LG continue to work together to ensure a quality product is available to customers, we are currently facing limited quantity of stock on hand. AT&T is working to complete backfill orders and the remaining stock will soon become available for new customer orders for a limited time.
Why a "limited time" only? And why not for regular, non-business consumers? (Business & Premier users can order it here).
We're not sure but hope this situation doesn't last as the eXpo is quite the Windows phone and has, at least for the time being, supplanted my Touch Pro 2 as my favorite device (Hint: 1Ghz matters...a lot). Stay tuned.
Elecont has updated its Windows Mobile weather application, Elecont Weather to version 1.0.1056 which adds a clock face to highlight the hourly forecasts. The clock is designed to give you a more visual reference on what to expect weather-wise as you plan your day. Elecont Weather continues to offer a 10-day forecast, weather alerts for UV, ice and severe weather, barometric and temperature trends, "feels like" temperature and sunrise/sunset times.
Elecont Weather is compatible with Windows Phones running either Windows Mobile Professional or Standard (touch and non-touch screens). Elecont Weather is available at the WMExperts.com Software Store for $14.95.
This is sort of out of left field, but evidently Skype has discontinued and pulled the Skype Mobile software for Windows phones.
Why? They sort of answer in their FAQ, but to be honest it is more of a dodge:
Unfortunately, Skype Lite – a version of Skype for your mobile phone – and Skype for Windows Mobile are no longer available for download from our site.
We’ve chosen to withdraw Skype Lite and Skype for Windows Mobile because we want to offer our new customers an improved mobile experience – much like the version that has proved so popular on the iPhone, and which is now available on Symbian phones. Our focus is on providing a rich user experience that allows you to enjoy free Skype-to-Skype and low cost calls as easily on the move as you do at your desktop.
We felt that Skype Lite and Skype for Windows Mobile were not offering the best possible Skype experience.
Fair enough and we actually agree. Skype for Windows Mobile was really a huge program (~10MB) that ate a lot of resources. Granted, it did offer nearly the "full Skype experience" but at processing cost.
Still, Skype is obviously begging the question with their response: are they going to, you know, release a new version that is much more awesome and built better? Or are they just pulling it and wiping their hands altogether of Windows phone?
For the few of those with the hard-to-find LG eXpo (more on that later), there are three interesting applications hidden within \Windows that may be of interest:
GPSViewer/GPS Utility is a simple app that shows you the number of satellites found and their strength, all in a nice graph form. (Of note is excellent GPS reception and accuracy on the eXpo). It also gives your current speed, albeit in km/h. Still, not a bad diagnostic tool.
"WifiEngMenu" is an advanced WiFi diagnostic tool that gives a ton of information related to your current network, including transmission rate test, WWM PS test, signal strength, etc.
Finally there is Tascal Registry Editor, a common (and ancient) freeware registry application. While nothing special, it's nice to have it readily available.
To access these apps, the first two (GPS Viewer, WifiEngMenu) require you to find them under \Windows and create a shortcut to the Start Menu. To make that easier for folks, we'll include the shortcuts for you to download directly: just unzip to \Windows\Start Menu and you should be all set. For the Registry editor, find "TascalRegEdit.cab" under \Windows and simply run and install. A shortcut will be created for you to use directly.
In short, you install the software on your Windows phone (with WiFi, ahem), pick a password and when ready, hit "Enable".
You'll now be shown your device's IP address which you simply type in your Web browser on your Desktop PC. You are then prompted to enter a password, a pop-up notification on your phone appears and you're connected.
Once that is done you can browse your pictures, documents, files, storage card, view and compose SMS messages, edit your registry, even listen to music. Best of all it's very fast and has a beautiful UI.
Heck, it now even features a "remote control" function whereby you can view and operate your phone via the web browser. Huzzah.
Of course, your connection is not encrypted (though password protected), so be aware of the security risks. But for home use, it should be of little concern.
Windows Marketplace for mobile has been around for a few months now and developers small and large have contributed to help stock the Marketplace's shelves. The Auri Group, one such developer, offers two apps in the Marketplace that focus on SMS or text messages. Mobliza 1.2 and Buzzword Baby are two utilities that may come in handy if you rely on text messages on a daily basis or are at a loss for words.
Mobliza is an automated texting tool that comes in handy when your busy or just don't want to deal with texting. Buzzword Baby is a simple app that generates buzz words or phrases.
Follow the break for more on these two apps and what they have to offer.
In this never ending quest to find the ultimate mobile device that meets all of our needs while still being portable enough to still be considered a mobile device, one feature that is constantly mentioned as a weak link is the size (or complete lack) of the hardware keyboard. While many people (myself included) hate on the lack of hardware keyboards in different devices, the truth is that it is purely a matter of preference. Obviously though, no software keyboard (or mobile phone based hardware keyboard) can duplicate the usability of a full sized keyboard.
We’ve played with a number of Freedom’s products on this site. Though everything from Keychain GPS receivers to portable Battery Chargers are available from Freedom, their line of Bluetooth Keyboards is their primary niche. The Freedom Pro Bluetooth Keyboard could be considered Freedom’s flagship product. The keyboard folds in half to make it as portable as possible while still giving you as much keyboard real estate as possible.