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Amazon & Android. New competition or just hype?

Amazon, the online retailer we all know and love, are testing a smartphone. According to reports, sources within companies who supply hardware for Amazon's upcoming handset have confirmed that testing of said device is already underway, with production set to take place later this year or early 2013.

With what we've seen with the Kindle Fire tablet, it's a strong possibility that the online giant could well be using Google's Android OS to power their new hardware, which could then be sold under the Kindle brand. What's interesting to note, probably only from a Windows Phone point-of-view, is that Brandon Watson is currently at Amazon working away on the Kindle. Could he be collaborating with the company on a new smartphone after leaving Microsoft?

The WSJ reports that Amazon's smartphone has a display size sitting in the region between 4 and 5 inches - a perfect size to compete with the likes of the TITAN II and Galaxy S 3. It'll be interesting should Amazon choose to go with Android and launch a smartphone, since the platform is pack full of competitive companies, not to mention the established iPhone, BlackBerries, Windows Phones, etc. 

But what if they didn't choose Android? Let's not forget about Mozilla's Firefox OS. A 2013 smartphone release would fit in with Mozilla's plans for world domination kicking off next year. Then again, as we've asked before, will Firefox OS actually take off? It wouldn't make sense for Amazon to put eggs in a basket that's yet to prove itself.

We'll be sure to keep a close eye on the online retailer. What do you guys think of Amazon's plans? Let us know in the comments.

Source: WSJ, via: ITProPortal

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We're getting word in that Brandon Watson, no stranger around here at WPCentral, will be leaving Redmond for greener pastures.  In a recent Tweet he made (and a confirmation we received), he notes:

"The rumors are true. The team is in great hands. I'll miss working on #wpdev. I will the community, but won't be a stranger."

In a way, this should not be a surprise as his old Twitter profile even proclaimed "Entrepreneur on loan to Microsoft focused on getting our developer mojo back." That statement already read to us that this was a temporary job for him with a finite mission, one that looks to have finally succeeded.

No doubt, he'll leave quite a hole to fill as Watson had quite the presence in getting Windows Phone back on the map, working tirelessly to get the recognition it deserved and making devs happy.

Update: Watson is leaving for Amazon. In an email to ZDnet he mentions he'll be taking on the responsibility as Director of the Kindle Cross Platform team and “it was a hard decision, but the opportunity placed in front of me that was too big to pass up.”


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In response to circulating rumors regarding Windows Phone 8's lack of application backwards compatibility, Microsoft's Brandon Watson -- Director of Developer Experience -- confirmed today that the upcoming OS revision will run older Windows Phone 7 applications. Yep, that means Sally's Salon will port over just fine.

But from a technical perspective, how existing apps will work unmodified is fuzzy. For example, if the new resolution rumors pan out, should we expect some sort of zooming functionality akin to Apple's iPad (running iPhone applications)? And what about those awesome premium apps (e.g. Youtube, Tango, Navigon) with native hooks into the underlying OS? We presume everyone using native code is on Windows Phone for the long haul, but it's worth asking.

Anyway, stay tuned. We expect both Windows Phone "Tango" and "Apollo" to be detailed at Mobile World Congress next month. Rest assured we'll have feet -- at least Daniel Rubino's -- on the ground providing updates.

Source: WinSuperSite

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Good news for those of you like Viber (see site), the mobile VOIP solution that millions are using on the iPhone and Android these days, as the app is set to come to Windows Phone in early 2012.

Viber has an interesting history with Windows Phone. They lamented the "closed" system very early on, noting that they would not bring their app over simply because they could not due to the lack of codec support. In turn, they were quite public with their dissatisfaction with the Windows Phone development process.

Fast forward and guess who got involved? Yup, Brandon Watson. Back in July, Watson stepped into the Twitter conversation with Talmon Marco, founder of Viber. Watson simply asked "...Have you had a conversation with anyone on #wp7dev phone team yet? Can we start one?" which from what we understand, go the ball rolling.

Since the, the Viber team has worked with Microsoft and got the native access they needed for their codecs. In turn, with the increased market share for Windows Phone, means we should see a Viber client in the next few months, according to their Facebook page. Sounds like another win for Windows Phone and with Kik Messenger and WhatsApp, should bring some new folks over. It also demonstrates how Microsoft is flexible and willing to work with devs, who ask.

Source: Twitter, Facebook; Additional info via Gizmo Digit; Windows Phone Daily

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Today on Windows Weekly (ep 227), Brandon Watson joined Paul Thurrott, ZDnet's Mary Jo Foley and co-host Leo Laporte for an interesting and frank discussion on Windows Phone and the Mango update.

Laporte, who is an admitted Android devotee, was offered by Brandon to step up and take the Windows Phone challenge--essentially using nothing but a Windows Phone running 7.5 Mango for two-weeks to see if it changes his opinion. Laporte agreed to the challenge, leaving a little wiggle room for the iPhone 5, as obviously he has his reviewer duties first.

Although it would be great to see Laporte completely change over to Windows Phone, even Watson knows that can be difficult--so just having positive feedback would be a win for him and his team (see Molly Wood's response to the Challenge, a result Watson was happy with due to her admitted Android allegiance).

Will Laporte be convinced? He's a pretty level-headed guy and even if he's not 100% sold on Windows Phone, we think his opinion would certainly be informative and interesting. On the other hand, maybe he'll pull a Scott Adams and be more than impressed. Stay tuned...

Source: Windows Weekly (

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Oh, so now we know Brandon Watson is using the just announced Samsung Focus S, sporting an 8MP camera, 4.3" Super AMOLED Plus screen and rocking 4G connectivity. He mentioned the phone, indirectly, before but now we have evidence.

In a photo just uploaded to TwitPic, the EXIF info reveals all, as can be seen above. The SGH-i937 aka "Kapua" aka Samsung Focus S shows up in the EXIF data along with it weighing in at 8MP. (Note: we busted Bill Gates before using this method)

Congrats, Mr. Watson. Clearly your job has perks.

Thanks, @Nin_jy, for the tip!

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Looks like Microsoft's Brandon Watson got more than he expected when he Tweeted about webOS devs switching to Windows Phone. In a follow up Tweet, he notes the overwhelming response:

"...I have >500 emails in just the last 22 hours. Had to rethink the algorithm for responding to all."

Watson goes into more detail in the letter to soon-to-be-former webOS devs who expressed interest in the Windows Phone developer system:

"First things first. Thank you so much for reaching out to the Windows Phone team to signal your interest in bringing your talents to our platform. To be honest, we didn’t expect this level of response, so we were caught a bit flatfooted. It took a few days (on the weekend) to pull all the mails together into one place to allow me to respond in a smart way and not retype every mail by hand. Consider this a first step in building a relationship with the Windows Phone team. We are psyched to have you aboard and to see what your imagination can do on the Windows Phone canvas."

As the news and ramifications of HP dropping hardware development for webOS sinks in, it will be interesting to see where webOS customers and developers head--Android, Windows Phone or the iPhone. So far, it seems like many have expressed interest in Windows Phone due to its elegance and lets face it, superior developer support. Either way, good job on Watson for seizing the moment and giving hope to devs who may need some work ASAP.

Related: see our guide for consumers switching from webOS to WP7

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While the aftershocks from HP showing webOS hardware the door continue to ripple throughout the smartphone industry, Microsoft is extending a hand to webOS developers. Brandon Watson has extended an offer to any published webOS developer to provide them what they need to successfully transition to Windows Phone.

According to the tweet that includes phones, development tools and training. At last check the tweet has been re-tweeted 100+ times and has received several positive replies and interest from webOS developers.

Personally, I hope webOS finds a way to survive for sentimental reasons. But it's nice to see Microsoft extending a hand to the webOS community to give developers options.

source: @brandonwatson via: thenextweb

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Microsoft's Brandon Watson challenged several to give Windows Phone a chance and if it failed to impress, he's donate $1,000 to their favorite charity. Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, took Brandon up on the challenge and deemed the Windows Phone a winner over his iPhone and the EVO 3D Android phone.

Molly Wood, Executive Director over at CNET, took up the challenge to see if the Windows Phone could lure her away from Android. She posted the above video rendering her verdict as a push. Molly felt that Android gave her more power and Windows Phone was more on the "friendship ladder" where she likes it but doesn't love it.

Molly found Mango to be an easy to use, attractive system.  She found Zune Pass to be be "fine" and like the Skydrive concept (but not the implementation).  However, the two most important features Molly is looking for in a phone is speech to text and mapping. She was disappointed to see that speech to text wasn't integrated throughout out Windows Phone and wasn't a fan of Bing's turn-by-turn directions.

While we'd love for it to be different, not everyone is going to be a Windows Phone fan.  For those keeping score, Brandon's challenge has produced one winner and one push.

In viewing Molly Wood's verdict, I couldn't help but think that her Windows Phone was fighting an uphill battle. In the end, she acknowledged that some will find Windows Phones appealing but in her case, she'll stick with Android. Not because Windows Phones suck but because Android fits her needs best. And we can respect that.

Oh and if Molly is looking for someone to send her Windows Phone to, I'll be happy to get my mailing address to her.

Source: Cnet and thanks to everyone who tipped us on this!

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If you recall, Scott Adams of Dilbert fame was lamenting his iPhone and EVO 3D on Twitter and thus fell in to Brandon Watson's clutches. Watson famously offered Adams a $1,000 donation to his favorite charity if he would take Windows Phone for a spin and didn't like it.

Well, Adams received the phone and has written up a decent little review of it compared to his iPhone 3GS and HTC EVO 3D (Android). We'll just cut to the chase:

"The Windows phone has the best user interface experience, although the onscreen keyboard is problematic just as it is with the other phones I used. The Windows interface is intuitive, simple, and has a liveliness that I find appealing. Voice call quality was good, and battery life seemed good too. I declare it the winner compared to my iPhone 3GS with AT&T and my HTC EVO 3D with Android on the Sprint network."

..."If you want a smartphone that is easy to use, performs well, has a good battery life, and doesn't frustrate you, the Windows phone is the best choice of the three options I tested. All you give up is some hipster credibility and access to lesser-used apps."


Now, having said that, it wasn't all gushing either. Adams did a neat breakdown of major features and gave pass/fail grades to all three devices. He confesses he's not a professional reviewer, nor a gadget geek like we in his write up, which we think is a good thing sometimes. Areas he didn't care for on the AT&T Samsung Focus running Mango:

  • On-screen keyboard - yeah, he actually didn't like it. In fairness, he didn't like the iPhone's or EVO's either, so he's being consistent. Fact is, he just doesn't like soft-keyboards and you can't fault a guy too much for that (there's a reason why we like the Quantum, Arrive and Dell Venue Pro around here).
  • "Intangible coolness factor" - this is pretty arbitrary but hints at a larger problem for Microsoft, namely they're just not cool. Yeah, we know, kind of a lame thing to judge the phone on, but lets face it, Microsoft has an image problem. It's getting better but they're still no Apple and that matters to consumers.
  • Apps - "okay-ish". This has been the Achilles heel so far in reviews and while he notices the lack of some big name apps, he doesn't consider the whole phone a fail because of it.

Overall though, Adams seems impressed with Windows Phone, slamming the EVO on its clunky UI and terrible battery life (no argument there) and the iPhone 3GS gets bad remarks for reception and okay results for UI. So Watson, mission accomplished.

Source:; Thanks, Paul, for the heads up!

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This is just one of those tease posts since we don't have much to go on, but earlier today, Microsoft's Brandon Watson was able to play with some new Windows Phone. His impression was quite enthusiastic, to say the least, especially in regards to the screen. The worse part about his job is of course he can't share details with us, just yet:

"You know what I hate? Holding a phone I want, but cannot buy and cannot talk about. The worst part about not being able to talk about this #windowsphone is I can't talk about how amazing the screen is. Holy mamma jamma"

Our first guess would be the rumored Samsung Galaxy SII device, shown off by Microsoft a few weeks ago and seen above. That phone, if the specs remain the same, will sport a 4.3" Super AMOLED Plus screen aka the latest screen tech from Sammy. We've actually played with one of those phones back in Barcelona and indeed, it's very impressive. Then again, it may be something else. Twitter'r @ShakeWhyBake asked "4.3 inch OLED? at least give us the size!!!..." to which Watson responded "@ShakeWhyBake If size were all that mattered, then we wouldn't be having this conversation. "

We're still leaning towards the Super AMOLED Plus story here, but Professeur Thibault believes it may be a new screen resolution, speculating on his blog that it's a Super AMOLED HD (1280x720). While that would certainly be awesome, we've heard Microsoft specifically state that 800x480 is all there will be for sometime and we're inclined to believe them. But hey, we like a little mystery too.

Source: @BrandonWatson; via Professeur Thibault

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We recently covered Brandon Watson offering Scott Adams with a free Windows Phone handset to try out and to get his opinion. Scott has been having issues with both iOS and Android, so Brandon offered $1,000 to charity of Scott's choice if he doesn't enjoy the WP7 experience. All he's looking for in the OS is to perform like a dumbphone (calls not dropping etc.), easy email management and good battery.

Scott Adams has taken up this offer and will provide his critique opinion in a few weeks time. This is perfect for both Microsoft and the platform with more exposure and some strong feedback, whether it be positive or negative. Using the recent satisfaction survey as base that put WP7 above Android, here's hoping Scott enjoys the Metro UI experience. He joins Molly Wood, who also accepted Brandon's offer.

Source: Scott Adams' Blog

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We’ve discussed at length Microsoft’s commitment to bringing developers to the Windows Phone 7 ecosystem. Microsoft has long been a friend to developers, from making world class tools to educating devs on the platforms that they’re building upon; Microsoft is the company that others emulate.

With Windows Phone 7 Microsoft is going over and above even for them, as exemplified by a recent chain of events that played out on Twitter. In response to a recent blog post by a developer in regards to a competing platform, Brandon Watson reached out to the dev via Twitter. Through the ensuing conversation, Mr. Watson was able to facilitate getting that dev started building apps for Windows Phone.

The fact that the largest software company in the world is willing to work with individual developers is unprecedented, and speaks well of Microsoft’s chances of making Windows Phone 7 relevant in the long term.

Source: Many Niches (Brandon Watson’s Blog)

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We’ve been covering the exploits of the ChevronWP7 team for a couple of months. From the original release and the various applications released for unlocked devices, to Microsoft having a heart-to-heart with the team and the subsequent discontinuation of the unlocker, it’s been a busy couple of months.

The stated reason for ChevronWP7 development being discontinued was that Microsoft was interested in officially facilitating the homebrew community, saying that this is an important area for consumers. It looks like Microsoft is putting action to their words. In a couple of tweets Microsoft’s Brandon Watson states that he is looking forward to hosting the ChevronWP7 team next week. Brandon also confirms that the hole that ChevronWP7 found has been closed, and recommends that any ideas or questions on the subject of homebrew development on Windows Phone 7 be directed to the ChevronWP7 team to be discussed next week.

What are your thoughts on the homebrew situation? Have you been using ChevronWP7? Is it good that Microsoft is being proactive? Talk it up in the comments.

Source @BrandonWatson (Tweet 1, Tweet 2)

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And by haircut we mean had his head shaved by a bunch of fellow Microsoft employees.

Watson should be a familiar name  by now. He's the Director of Developer Experience at Microsoft, overseeing the roll-out of the tools and ecosystem that developers rely on to make our new software.

Long story short: in a bet on how many applications would be in the Marketplace on launch, he under-estimated. In turn, he lost his hair in a public event. Which he should have. Who under estimates? While you don't have to watch the whole video (nearly 13 mins), you can skip to the end for the good part.  What can we say? We love seeing the dorky/geeky side of Microsoft and them having some fun. So should you.

Source: E's PhoneBlog

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For some reason on Monday, the keynote on Windows Phone 7 at 2pm during WPC10 never aired--presumably "technical difficulties" but alas the video is now available to watch in its entirety right here or just click the 'Read the rest of this entry' below.

Some interesting tidbits of the nearly hour long video focus in on Office, Outlook, pictures, contacts, maps and basically the core aspects of the phone. What's real interesting is how much is done on the phone without "launching" any applications--so much of the foundational programs are just built in, linked to each other in an--to borrow their phrase-intelligent way.

Overall Windows Phone 7 looks incredibly easy to use without any fuss--just to the point productivity. Below are also a few screen grabs of their slides, nothing huge but still interesting.

Watch the full video after the break...

[Phone 7 via Reddit]

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Back a few weeks ago we mentioned how Microsoft's Brandon Watson would answer your questions--well a few of your questions, depending if you made the cut or not.

Weeks passed and we're worried if we would ever hear back and finally we did. Some good info in here but alas, my fellow Expert-tiers, you seemed to have gone for the gold and asked him a few questions that were met with the traditional terse no comment or similar canned responses.

Hey, we can't blame you for asking and can't blame Brandon for not risking his job, so golf claps all around.

The big news is probably the idea that Microsoft still has a "set of consumer features" that they have not yet announced, but will be doing so soon. (Putting pipe in the mouth): Interesting....any guesses?

Finally, no doubt some of his responses will set off some heated discussions, so flame on and sound off in the comments.  Hit the link for the full set of questions and answers!

Special thanks to MobilityDigest for organizing this event & Brandon Watson for his time. Follow Brandon Watson on Twitter and his blog here: blog: | twitter: @brandonwatson

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If you folks recall, a few weeks ago we summarized an interview with Brandon Watson, Microsoft's Director of Developer Experience. The video itself was very informative as Brandon was especially forthright in answering questions about Windows Phone 7. No PR spin here, just answers from someone who knows software development on the inside and what WP7 can and can't do.

Mobility Digest has graciously organized a Q&A with Brandon with various supporting sites, including our own.

How this works is simple: post your question about Windows Phone 7 in the comments of this post by Friday, 5pm EST.

Out of all of the questions, a total of 20 will be chosen from the participating sites to be answered by Brandon (since he can't possibly answer them all, plus there will no doubt be redundancy). In about a week, the results will be posted.

Now what we're going for here is new stuff--not the usual why no copy-paste or why is the OS the way it is kind of thing, but rather advanced, detailed questions that we haven't heard yet. So put on those thinking caps! As a good primer, maybe go watch/re-watch the interview with Brandon to get some ideas.

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Brandon Watson, Microsoft's Director of Developer Experience hosted an online question and answer "backstage" event on the official Windows Phone 7 site yesterday.

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)
  • Socket support for WP7 will come later but is not in initial release. (Hint: those are need for Skype -Mal)
  • Markets of availability have not yet been announced (i.e. U.S. release vs. Europe)

Watch the whole thing here, it's good stuff. (Registration required)

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