blocking

Did you know that on your Nokia Windows Phone (since GDR2 and Amber) you're able to block unwanted contact from numbers through SMS and call filtering? It's a neat settings area, providing you with some power to prevent people from contacting you who you wish not to do so. Today, we've been alerted to a small update being pushed to the store.

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We've already covered what's been included in GDR2 from Microsoft as well as the Amber firmware update from Nokia, but there appears to be more pieces to the jigsaw puzzle. An update for Extras + Info has been fired out into the wild that enables Lumia Windows Phone owners who are rocking GDR2 to start blocking numbers and unwanted contact. Yep, this is huge, folks.

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We’re not sure if this is just a temporary error or something more nefarious but Google appears to have changed something whereby Windows Phone users are now blocked when trying to access maps.google.com.

Granted, it’s not clear why you would want to use Google’s less-than-awesome mapping service through a browser, but humor us for a second. The move appears to be a continued approach to lockout all Google services from those who adopted Windows Phones. Or it’s just poor service.

We were able to verify on our Windows Phones that when going to maps.google.com we are redirected to www.google.com/m for mobile, regardless of IE10’s settings i.e. Desktop mode. Reports suggest that maps.google.co.uk still works for some folks but for us that too redirects, making this an in-motion change that is evidently occurring worldwide.

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Do you use MetroRadio and/or RadioControlled for your Pandora interaction on Windows Phone? Then you may (or may not) have noticed that those apps have stopped working...again.

Reason? Simple, really. These apps use undocumented APIs to access the Pandora service. Pandora, for whatever reason, changes them on occasion breaking app functionality. Are they doing it on purpose to disrupt these apps? Who knows, maybe or maybe not. What we do know is that it means you'll have to wait till both developers update their apps to fix it and from what we've heard, both devs are hard at work on fixing it.

Until then, MetroRadio is "hidden" from the Marketplace and RadioControlled has submitted their fix (and "future proofed" it against this type of situation occurs again).  Stay tuned though, we'll give you a tour of the new working Radio Controlled soon enough.

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We're not exactly sure how all of this works but MetroRadio's login into Pandora is returning an error message. We could pass that off as just a random issue, perhaps a coding bug but we think it's Pandora.

Last night, we received a second unofficial Pandora app (in beta) from another developer. It's a much more polished looking app but alas, we never were able to try it because even that app has the login problem. Normally, not logging into Pandora with a personal accounts bumps you into a anonymous, temporary one so you can stream regardless (you just can't save or personalize)--but even that doesn't work now, making these Pandora apps DOA.

If true, this could set off a mean back and forth between devs and Pandora until the latter relents and you know, just gives us an official app. How hard to we have to poke these guys with a stick before they give us the time of day?

Update: Justin Angel and Den Delimarsky clarify that Pandora did break their own API last night at 2am. Angel has already updated the Metro Pandora SDK to fix this but it will presumably be a few more days before MetroRadio can be fixed. To be clear, this doesn't seem to be Pandora specifically blocking WP users but rather their simply changing their APIs for whatever reason.

Thanks, Kingc513, for the heads up!

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We all know how...unimpressive...the "native" YouTube app is on Windows Phone 7--it's basically just a browser for the site and pales in comparison to Android and even the iPhone. Why that is has always bothered users, but it looks like we may have an answer, or at least one-side of it.

In a blog post by Brad Smith, Senior Vice President & General Counsel at Microsoft, he blames Google directly for the Windows Phone situation. There's no if's and's or but's about it, according to Smith ergo Microsoft:

...in 2010 and again more recently, Google blocked Microsoft’s new Windows Phones from operating properly with YouTube. Google has enabled its own Android phones to access YouTube so that users can search for video categories, find favorites, see ratings, and so forth in the rich user interfaces offered by those phones. It’s done the same thing for the iPhones offered by Apple, which doesn’t offer a competing search service.

Unfortunately, Google has refused to allow Microsoft’s new Windows Phones to access this YouTube metadata in the same way that Android phones and iPhones do. As a result, Microsoft’s YouTube “app” on Windows Phones is basically just a browser displaying YouTube’s mobile Web site, without the rich functionality offered on competing phones. Microsoft is ready to release a high quality YouTube app for Windows Phone. We just need permission to access YouTube in the way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide.

Microsoft, in response, is ready to fight against Google, ironically in Europe:

Microsoft is filing a formal complaint with the European Commission as part of the Commission’s ongoing investigation into whether Google has violated European competition law. We thought it important to be transparent and provide some information on what we’re doing and why.

This raises all sorts of questions for us, non-legal types who don't understand everything going on behind the scenes, for instance why can HTC and 3rd-parties create superior apps but Microsoft cannot? For example, SuperTube is quite impressive and adds all sorts of advanced features, including streaming in HD and saving files. Then again, in a personal note from developer Atta Elayyan, involved with LazyTube (which just hit 2.0), SuperTube evidently violates several of YouTube's Terms of Service, but Microsoft seems to have looked the other way during the app's Marketplace approval (get out tinfoil hats...now).

Whatever the exact details, gauntlet meet ground, as Microsoft has just thrown down some serious charges against Google. This could get interesting...

Source: Microsoft on the Issues; via I Love Windows Phone!

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