iOS

The Smartphone Beta Test has been running since the birth of the smartphone, well technically it hasn't but it's a pretty neat marketing campaign from Nokia for the U.S. We witnessed a website (www.smartphonebetatest.com) being created with a bunch of videos published to poke fun at some competitor handset issues.

Now the Smartphone Beta Test website has been updated with more interactive content, videos and information on the AT&T Lumia 900, which is launching across the U.S. Cue "Operation Rolling Thunder", Nokia's plan of a attack for the states, which will see the manufacturer driving forward advertising not only for the Lumia handsets, but for Windows Phone too.

Prepare yourselves for some effective Nokia marketing. For a taster, check out the beauty of social integration and live tiles in Windows Phone in the humorous commercial below. Nokia is clearly on the attack here at other smartphones as well as how they can negatively impact our lives by being unreliable - something the manufacturer looks to change with Windows Phone.

Source: Smartphone Beta Test; thanks Hiiiiiiiii for the heads up!

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Elan Feingold, co-founder of Plex, has shared his thoughts on the experience the company has had with development on the platform thus far. Plex recently released the official app for Windows Phone, which enables the user to stream movies, music and photos to their device(s) on the go.

Feingold is a longtime iPhone user who has never had any interest in Android, due to the mess of the system itself, fragmentation and how much work is involved into personalising the experience to suit the user's needs. He was introduced to Windows Phone ("Mango") by his brother, and explains his initial reaction:

"When Windows Phone 7 was released, I was intrigued by the design and typography [...] my initial impression (this was pre-Mango) was lukewarm, and I was obsessed with the iPhone at that point anyway, so I just went all fanboy on his ass and mostly ignored it."

Feingold moves onto talk about how he returned to Windows Phone in January and ordered himself a second-hand Samsung handset to aid with development. He was surprised by how impressed the operating system left him after initial use.

"Windows Phone felt original, well designed, and fun to use. The performance was great, really smooth in a way iOS is and Android isn’t even in ICS. The 'pivot' and 'panorama' UI concepts were fresh and a great way of making good use of a small screen in portrait mode. The typography was clean and brazen. The integration of Facebook and Twitter made them feel like first class citizens, not an afterthought. The live tiles on the home screen were a great way to make the phone feel alive."

The features of the OS were so appealing during and after use that it actually made Feingold almost dislike using his beloved iPhone. How was the development of the Plex app though, and does it stand up to competitor platforms? The icing on the cake is the below comment on how the development on Windows Phone compares to both iOS and Android:

"So how is the Windows Phone development environment? It’s scary good. C# is a great language, .NET is a solid framework, XAML is a really nice way to design user interfaces, and the edit-build-deploy cycle is fast. It still has a bit of growing up to do, but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding: we were able to write the app from start to finish in two months, between two engineers working part time, which is almost an order of magnitude faster than it took for the iOS and Android app."

Be sure to read the full blog post over at Elan's blog on Plex's website (see source link), and of course the official Plex app which can be found on the Marketplace.

Source: Plex

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There is little doubt that Nokia has the deep pockets, ingenuity and cleverness to make an effective advertising campaign for the AT&T Lumia 900. The question is, when will "Operation Rolling Thunder", their nickname for their advertising bombardment of the US begin and what will it entail?

Part of that question is now answered with the site 'Smartphone Beta Test' (www.smartphonebetatest.com) which is a bold and humorous attempt on taking on Apple's iPhone. The site features a countdown clock that expires on April 6th and a video of a man who looks a whole lot like ex-Saturday Night Live alum Chris Parnell sitting in a chair, being bored as he waits for the countdown to expire.

Below that section we see three videos that directly take on the iPhone: Exhibit A "Outside", Exhibit B "Sick Golfer" and Exhibit C "Death Grip". All three videos feature marketing people sitting around a conference room discussing a blurred out, un-named device that is clearly an iPhone. One of the members raises a problem with the device e.g. the famed iPhone death-grip while the other two mercilessly mock him for even caring.

From here we can see one of Nokia's angles for selling the Lumia 900: they will directly be picking a fight with AT&T's former 'hero' device, Apple's iPhone (in addition to possibly any other "beta" phones, which for us brings to mind Google's Android). It is certainly a risky move but if any company can do this, it would be Nokia.

What's interesting is the site currently has the Nokia name crossed out and there is no mention of the Lumia 900 just yet, but we know it's them. For one, the colors of the site are very much a part of the Nokia "Amazing Everyday" campaign and the whole design screams Nokia. And while their domain lookup tells us little (it was registered by proxy, so no information), there is some solid proof it is them behind the site. By looking at the source code for the web page we can see a single Java script link-back to Nokia.com (see above image), which seals the deal for us.

We look forward to see what happens with the site in 5 days and the following Tweets (#BetaPhone) that go with it. Currently those hashtag tweets are done by just a few people, notably from Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners an ad agency which is probably behind this whole Nokia project.

Update: As noted in comments by wp7rocks, going to the site's images directory reveals AT&T and Nokia items. The most curious is this one, calling every other smartphone in "the last 5 year years" a "tester".

Update 2: Reports have come in noting that a teaser ad of this has shown on TV during some NBA games today. You can watch it here.

Source: Smartphone Beta Test; Thanks, cmunic8r99, for the link

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We're just going to come out and say it: Zero, the new to-do list app from tomzorz labs, borrows heavily in inspiration from an iPhone app called Clear (see the iMore review). What makes that funny is Clear is understood as borrowing heavily from Microsoft's Metro UI design language meaning we're finally coming full circle with Clear Zero coming back to Windows Phone.

The to-do list/task manager app is very minimalist in design with zero chrome, ahem. It is primarily gesture based forgoing the traditional bottom-bar method found in most Windows Phone apps--in that sense, it actually deviates against Metro UI but only because it's going more minimalist instead of less. Gestures are simple and universal: up/down to create, left to delete, right to check off, pinch in to go back, pinch out to re-order lists. Because of the gestures, you'll need to tap through a brief (but well done) tutorial at first but you'll lean the system quick enough.

The app itself is clean, fast and to the point and because of that we like it a lot. The Live Tile adds a nice counter though it could perhaps be augmented with a rear tile for more info (space permitting though). Likewise, tying into the Toast notification system could be a good idea in the future to make this a true "reminder" app. We are looking forward though to the back-up feature which we presume will be based on SkyDrive.

You can pick up Zero with a free trial here in the Marketplace for $0.99.

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NetMarketShare has published marketshare data for the month for February and we've got some positive news for those who have missed the above image somehow. According to the data provided, Windows Phone is still on the rise - and it's a fairly steady climb from 0.29% up to 0.41%. 

While this is still fairly small when compared to the continued growth of both Android and iOS, it's good news that Nokia is having an impact on brand awareness. With the announcement (and public preview release) of Windows 8, which sports Metro UI elements, we can only expect the situation to improve for Microsoft's mobile platform.

Source: NetMarketShare, via: StreetInsider, thanks Mustafa for the tip!

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It's been awhie since we've talked about Ask Ziggy, the Siri-like app from developer Shai Leib. Powered by Nuance for voice-search and some backend tweaks to customize how things work, the app is a great example of developer ingenuity.

Since the app went viral, Leib has gone back to the drawing board and reworked a lot of the app in response to user feedback. For instance in the new version expected in a few days, it's much more Metro influenced with the SMS chat bubble. But more importantly, the feature list has greatly expanded to include using your geo-location ability to pinpoint weather/time/search requests. You can even set reminders (it will create a Live Tile and alarm), call people, pull up calendar information for any day upon request and much more. (You can see some more screenshots here)

The app should be hitting the Marketplace in a few days and it is still free as far as we know. This is also just the beginning as Leib has much more planned for new and unique features. For now, you can watch out video though to get an idea of what's coming and you can download the old verison here in the Marketplace.

We'll keep you posted when version 2.0 goes live probably next week, so stay tuned.

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HeyTell, a popular cross-platform voice messaging service, has released an app for Windows Phone. HeyTell allows one to send and receive voice recorded messages, which can prove more efficient than standard SMS. The service requires no account to be created, just add an email and/or phone number and you're good to go.

Some highlighted features:

  • Send/Receive messages to and from contacts on Android and iOS.
  • Low data usage.
  • Toast notifications.
  • Messages can be saved and played offline.
  • Send/Receive current GPS location.

You can download HeyTell from the Marketplace for free. Note you may occur charges from your carrier from usage.

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IHS iSuppli Mobile & Wireless Communications Service is inclined to believe that Windows Phone will overtake Apple's share of the smartphone market by 2015.  Their projections show Microsoft's market share taking a huge leap from 2011's 1.9% to 9% by the end of this year.  From there, they predict another jump in 2013, where things will level off to slow and steady growth, eventually overtaking Apple's iOS by one tenth of one percent.

IHS gives credit for this rise almost entirely to Nokia, who garnered huge praise for their Lumia 900 at CES and announced their line of 4G phones for the US. 

“One of the hottest new products unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show was the Lumia 900, a Windows Phone-based smartphone sporting a flashy set of features that makes it competitive with the best alternatives offered by the Android camp,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS. “This hot product represents Nokia’s first step to reclaim its market share. Combined with Nokia’s efforts to drive the development of the Windows Phone ecosystem, the Lumia 900 and its successors will help Microsoft to reclaim its No. 2 ranking in smartphone operating system market share in 2015.”

We've heard this kind of prediction before and remain skeptical, as always.  While it looks like Windows Phone will indeed catch on and become a force in the smartphone market, claims like this should always be taken with a grain of salt.

Source: iSuppli; Thanks, damthman, for the tip yesterday

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According to the Q4 2011 U.S. data released by Nielsen, Microsoft has caught 1.3% of the "current smartphone consumer" market, whereas they've attracted 1.4% of recent smartphone acquires (within the 3 months). Windows Mobile is set at 4.6% with Blackberry holding 14.9%. Windows Mobile is still being pumped out (more being sold than Windows Phone) but Blackberry is struggling to attract smartphone upgrades.

iOS saw an increase with the recent iPhone 4S launch, which has been relatively successful, while Android storms ahead taking almost half the market (46.4%) and attracting 51.7% of the recent smartphone acquires. For 2012, Microsoft (as well as the platform OEMs) have a task to win the minds of consumers and catch the majority of new adopters. With the beginning of the U.S. push, and marketing still ongoing across Europe and beyond, we should hopefully see some results in the Q1 2012 report.

Source: Nielsen, via: WMPU

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E.D. Kain, a contributor over at Forbes, has published an interesting article about why he believes Windows Phone will do well in the competitive smartphone market. The post is perfect to put every reader in a positive mood with CES 2012 coming up shortly. Kain provides five reasons why the platform has the potential to do well, should more hardware compliment the OS, and the future be maintained at a "bright" level:

  1. Windows Phone Has A Totally Unique UI
  2. Originality Means Fewer Forays Into The Patent Wars
  3. Uniformity Across All Devices and Carriers
  4. Zune Is Baked Right Into the Operating System
  5. Xbox Live Gaming Support

While none of the above will be anything new to majority of platform veterans, it does paint a clear picture of what path Microsoft is traveling down, not just with Windows Phone but other product lines too. Kain's verdict is 2012 will see the platform enter a three-way race against the iPhone and Android (which we can all agree with).

CES 2012 will house Nokia's Lumia 900 announcement, which will kick off the aggressive marketing campaign in the U.S. and join the media tsunami that has been witnessed across Europe and beyond. Be sure to check out the full read at Forbes (link below).

Source: Forbes

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Microsoft has already released Kinectimals and the Xbox Live app for the iPhone and the company may be looking to continue that expansion.

In a recent jobs posting over at Microsoft Careers, there is a listing for a Software Development Engineer for Xbox Live Mobile. What has caught the attention of several is this part of the job description.

"...we work closely with console software team and Xbox LIVE services team to bring the latest and greatest gaming and entertainment experience to mobile platforms including Windows Phone, iOS and other mobile platforms."

The job description also notes in the qualifications,

"Experience of Windows Phone, iOS or Android development is a big plus."

We can only speculate what's up Microsoft's sleeve as far as the future of Xbox Live mobile games is concerned but the listing does look like expansion is up for consideration.

From a purely business point of view, if Microsoft can tap into the iOS and Android markets it could be a good business decision by increasing their customer base.  It not only has the potential of generating more revenue from the games but also attract more customers to the Xbox Live console.

From a Windows Phone perspective, such a move has a little sting to it. While Xbox Live games are not the sole benefit or attraction of a Windows Phone, it is a center piece feature.  If expansion is in the works, hopefully Microsoft will keep some Xbox Live titles (or features) exclusive to the Windows Phone. Otherwise they may lose a key marketing point.

So what do our reader's think? Is Xbox Live expansion good or bad for our Windows Phone?

via: LiveSide, Thanks to everyone who tipped us on this.

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Just like they did with the Xbox Live and Halo ATLAS apps, Microsoft has brought over Kinectimals to iOS, where players can enjoy interacting with their cute, cuddly e-animals. The title was only released a few months ago on Windows Phone, but features Xbox Live achievements and connectivity with the Xbox 360 version. The question on many minds is -- of course -- why is Microsoft releasing these apps on other platforms?

For the Xbox Live app, Microsoft provided iPhone/iPad/iPod owners with limited functionality for the online gaming service. It still comes nowhere close to what Windows Phone provides with achievements and true integration. As well as this, the app gives iPad users an insight as to how a Windows 8 tablet app could look like, with the Metro UI being implemented. For ATLAS and Kinectimals, the former is again providing functionality to other platforms (so the software giant doesn't come across as creating a monopoly) at a fee while the WP version is free, while the latter is to not only earn revenue from the fairly large iOS market, but it could be that Microsoft is almost attempting to re-brand itself. The only downer is Kinectimals was supposed to be exclusive for us Windows Phone owners. What do Apple followers think of the big M? Excel, Word and Powerpoint.

Perhaps we are seeing the company attempting to change that perception? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Kinectimals can be downloaded from the AppStore for $2.99 for those with iDevices.

Thanks to everyone who sent in the tip!

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Xbox Live app released for iOS

This will either please you or make you extremely upset that you'd enjoy smashing up an iDevice without a second thought, but Microsoft has released an Xbox Live app for iOS (available for free). The app will allow users to keep track of their Xbox Live account and check out what their friends are up to. To be honest, it's a smart move. It shows Microsoft is not attempting to create a monopoly with Windows, but allow other platforms to have some kind of connectivity with the software giant's product line and services. Sure, Apple fans will now have an app that will allow them to perform tasks that we can accomplish on our Windows Phones, but can they play Xbox Live titles? No. Do they have integration with the OS? No. Do they have as many features as we do altogether? Certainly not.

Features include:

  • Read and send messages to friends
  • Manage your friends list, invite new friends
  • Read and Edit your full LIVE profile (name, bio, motto)
  • Change your avatar features/items with the avatar closet
  • View and compare your achievement progress with friends

Should iOS users want the full experience, they can come to Windows Phone, but should they be avid Xbox gamers, then there's no harm in Microsoft allowing them to use the service while on the go (but with limits of course). An interesting feature is beacons, which will alert friends that you wish them to join you on an activity. Don't forget that we have the Xbox Companion app in our arsenal too. Even on my iPad 2, Metro UI looks sweet. You can download the free app from the App Store.

Source: Major Nelson, thanks to everyone who tipped us!

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We like single case studies. You get exceptional detail and that personal touch. We also know you can't extrapolate the result to every similar situation, but they are useful for drawing some conclusions. For example, a few months ago, we wrote about about a Mortal Kombat guide for Windows Phone versus its Android version (Part 1, Part 2), with the former having a higher return in ad-revenue. Now we turn to a case with iOS.

The story is told by Anlock, who specialize in child-learning apps for mobile platforms. They make the same apps for both iOS and Windows Phone except that the iOS version is "more enhanced". They were making only iOS apps but were persuaded to try their hand at Windows Phone--since they had all the content, porting was easy. On both platforms their apps received the same 4 and 5 star reviews and both were even featured at some point in the Marketplace and App Store. The only difference between the two, really, was Anlock tried an "extensive advertising campaign" with iOS (that failed) whereas on WP7, they had no out-of-pocket advertising program. So what was the outcome?

"In terms of ranking, our WP7 app has been number 1 in the US in the Kids + Family category for the past three months in the Marketplace. As for the iPhone app, it has been ranked in the top 400 in Games\Educational for more than 2/3 of the entire time frame, reaching the top 100.

The end result? As said, FIVE time more sales of our WP7 app vs. our iPhone app."

The next question of course is, why the difference?

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Look, we're not going to make a mountain of a mole hill here: we know this video technically doesn't mean much and the developers (the folks behind CarbonWP) also know it's not a real test, but still...it's cool to see.

All it is a push notification sent to both the iPhone and a Windows Phone. Lo and behold, they tie for receiving the message at the same time. Does that make one phone better than the other? Certainly not. But does it make Windows Phone look pretty decent for being able to hold its own against Apple (in this one test)? Sure does. Plus, it makes CarbonWP look pretty sweet too, we suppose.

Anyone else have experiences with the iPhone and Windows Phone receiving notifications? Sound off in comments with your thoughts. Thanks, TechJunky79, for the link!

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Windows Phone has been top of the charts when it comes to advertisement CTR (click-through rate) for some time. Smaato has provided Q3 data and the trend remains the same with Windows Phone heading the way and Symbian close behind. iOS has moved from 3rd to 4th place however, with RIM moving up. This is comparing numbers and placement with Q1 data.

While the average user may not understand nor care for CTR, for developers it's key when using advertising over app purchases for revenue. The question of CPM or upfront payments has always been a tricky one to answer, but should your app be popular with adverts being displayed, the above data would suggest you should rake in some clicks. Interesting to see Android still trailing behind.

Source: Smaato, via: TechCrunch

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Microsoft has set up a demo for iPhone and Android owners to hit up on their mobile web browsers. This demo will allow the visitor to witness what Windows Phone has to offer. The above screenshots were taken on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus and as you can see the demo looks as it should on a mobile browser, taking up the screen and showcasing the Metro UI. There are also visual guides that show where to swipe and tap.

Windows Phone isn't supported (along with Safari on the Mac), which is no surprise as those who already own a handset shouldn't need to run through a demo. Check out the demo at the source link below.

Source: Microsoft WP Demo, thanks for everyone who tipped us, and to Richard for the pics!

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Yves Maitre, senior vice president of devices and mobile multimedia at Orange, has told CNET in an interview this week that Windows Phone is the worst-selling platform in Orange's market (behind Android, iOS and Blackberry) in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

"Honestly, it hasn't been as successful as we expected."

I'm not sure if every Windows Phone owner shares the same view as Maitre, since we've already covered problems with carriers not displaying working demo units in stores and promoting the platform in the media. Do you see Orange adverts for Windows Phone on TV, online, on billboards, in newspapers or in stores? If the overall response is "no", then how can Orange expect the platform to sell well against competitors that get more reach to their customer base?

"By Barcelona [the site of February's Mobile World Congress conference], we'll know for sure if Microsoft is in the game or not. If Nokia/Microsoft is not successful in Europe then it will be tough in other countries"

He does remain cautiously optimistic that the Nokia brand will push forward the platform and will force other OEMs to compete with one another through advertising. Maitre views Nokia as an expensive vehicle, "it's like you're driving a Mercedes Benz". With smartphones counting for 50% of sales for Orange, the carrier is going to have to work hard, as well as Microsoft, if they want the OS to compete with Android, Blackberry and the iPhone.

Nokia is set to unveil a "bunch" of handsets at Nokia World next week. Microsoft is banking big on this event and top names will be present as speakers. We'll be there too, so be sure to say hello should you be attending.

Source: CNET

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This is really interesting. In Walter Isaacson's authorised biography of Steve Jobs, the latest excerpt from the book explained that the Apple co-founder and technology genius was "livid" with HTC's entry with Android.

"I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong," Jobs said. "I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this."

It did seem strange as to why Apple was relentlessly attacking HTC, Samsung and Android in general, simply because Apple doesn't need the revenue or extra coverage since their products do sell. It all boiled down to Jobs closely guarding Apple's innovation against app-grid-layout copying Android. Jobs also reportedly told Eric Schmidt, Google CEO and former Apple board member:

"I don’t want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, I won’t want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that’s all I want."

Good job... Jobs. Apple continues to attack Android OEMs to keep the pressure on. It makes me wonder if Microsoft should be on the offensive too with Metro UI and how Android has obviously taken some elements from the platform in the past with the recent People app in Ice Cream Sandwich to name one example.

Via: TiPb

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Google's User Experience Director for Android, Matias Duarte, said about Windows Phone being too forceful everything into a constrained look and feel. While he says that he offers the web, there's no denying that Metro is a beutiful UI and effectively provides content with no pixels wasted to chrome. Even Android took some pointers from Windows Phone (as well as other platforms).

Steve Ballmer, being the legend that he is (see the above image), has lashed back at Android but praises the iPhone to keep it from being a targeted attack. Ballmer mentioned that Android is simply difficult for the user to get into from the off.

"You don’t need to be a computer scientist to use a Windows phone and you do to use and Android phone ... it is hard for me to be excited about the Android phones."

Android fans have taken what he said the wrong way, which is easy to do with words used. Ballmer is talking about the lack of a central design or theme across apps and the system as a whole. It looks like a giant jigsaw puzzle that is built with odd pieces. iOS has a fluid, chrome rich, interface while Windows Phone is the opposite with content, content, and more content wrapped in Metro lingerie.

This sums it up perfectly:

"Both [an iPhone and a Windows phone] are going to feel very good in your hand and both going to look very beautiful physically, but when you grab a Windows phone and use it your information is front and centre and you don’t have to scroll through seas of icons and blah blah blah."

Ballmer goes on to say that the team understands the launch of more competitively priced handsets is a must, but with the Omnia W pricing announced and Nokia coming up shortly, there might be a short wait. Good on you Ballmer, good on you sir.

Source: The Telegraph

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