social

Is the Bing Social sidebar finally coming to the UK?

It seems that the Bing UK team are beginning to (or are testing a potential) rollout of the design refresh we've seen in the US. Unfortunately, while we can clearly see a familiar login element, we are not receiving the actual sidebar itself. Once Bing UK was loaded, we could login via Windows Live and subsequently connect to Facebook.

After logging in was achieved, and Facebook accounts were connected, once loading search results we were presented with a new look, as well as our name (with drop down arrow for menu options) accompanied by a settings icon. Rewind back to the release of the Bing US design refresh and you'll see something similar (see below screencap) to what we currently have with Bing UK.

We could well be on the verge of an identical design refresh with further social integration, which the US has enjoyed for some time. Have you noticed anything changing on Bing UK? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks, Louis, for the heads up!

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Nokia is back to updating a lot of their core apps one of which we completely forgot about: Pulse.

We last covered Nokia Pulse when it was announced at Nokia World back in fall 2011. It’s Nokia’s social-app and at the time we had little use for it—there were no Lumias on the market and Nokia’s service wasn’t exactly all that feature-rich.

Today, Nokia announced that Pulse Beta (yup, it’s still not ready for official release) is going to version 0.9 within in the next day or two (ours is still at 0.8 in the Marketplace). The good news is there are plenty of new features coming with 0.9 that are making us reconsider using this app:

  • You can now sign-in on Nokia Pulse with your Facebook account
  • You can start a new conversation as soon as you open Nokia Pulse
  • The Nokia Pulse live tile now shows more information about unread messages
  • The overall performance of Nokia Pulse has been improved
  • You can now consolidate multiple email addresses for a person…
  • …and more easily correct a misspelled email address
  • Your friend who aren’t using Nokia Pulse just yet will get a direct link to the mobile client for their specific phone for a mobile Nokia Pulse experience

Nokia Pulse is kind of powerful. It’s basically a messaging app on steroids. For instance it allows you to send mapping information (via Nokia Maps) to a contact for a meet-up, you can create groups for mass messaging, add in notes, reviews, phone numbers all with a few taps.

Back last year, Nokia introducing a messaging service was akin to when Samsung announced ChatOn—it’s kind of cool but there are alternatives out there.  Flash-forward today though and it’s a bit different—Nokia now means something and we’re much more inclined to jump on their ship as opposed to Samsung’s (then again, ChatOn is multi-platform, Pulse currently is not. However, Nokia Pulse is going to Android and iOS presumably after it is feature-complete on Windows Phone).

You can download Nokia’s Pulse here in the Marketplace. Being a beta, it is not yet restricted to Lumia phones. Let’s repeat that: currently ALL Windows Phones users can try this out but our bet is with v1.0 it will land in the Nokia Collection, so grab it and try it now. Also remember, you're looking for version 0.9 as the latest which may show up in 12-48 hours (we're still on the old v0.8).

Take a look at the video demo and announcement after the break along with the QR code...

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This week in our Windows Phone developer interview series we're joined by David Hamilton, CTO and Co-Founder of Pepper. We took a quick look at Pepper from a recent Windows Phone User Group meet-up and were intrigued by both the idea behind the app and the vision for future cross-platform development.

So what's the deal with Pepper and how did it come to be? We threw Hamilton a set of questions for an insight into not only app-specific development, but how the team views Windows Phone against competitors. Head on past the break for the full interview.

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Windows Phone App Review: Social Mints

Windows Phone features deep social integration, whether it be the People Hub or popular social networks, there are a number of ways to communicate with the world requiring little effort. But what if you wanted to monitor what was being shared across the social sphere? Should you be heading up a brand and are interested in what the general sentiment is on social networks, or if you simply wish to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, you'll want to check out Social Mints for Windows Phone.

Just what is Social Mints? It's a free app by Techark Solutions, the developer behind Windows Phone apps including Mood Swing, Dress Pal, Smart Goals Pro and RedMinder, that enable users to keep up with trending topics as well view insightful data on searchable interests. Data is pulled down from Facebook, Twitter, blogs / comments (Digg, etc.), and news (Google, Yahoo, etc.) sources that is then displayed in a number of broken down formats. The best way to think of Social Mints is a light social media analytics client.

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Wouldn't it be useful if you were able to join a music-focused community on your Windows Phone, which would enable you to search, filter and attend music events? An app and service called Pepper aims to provide such functionality. Launching on Windows Phone (iOS, Blackberry and Android ports on the way), Pepper brings a new social network to the platform.

Finding live music events near your location has now been made a whole lot easier. Once an account has been created (takes two minutes through the app itself) users are able to follow venues and artists to find out where and when the next interesting event is. Any gigs or club nights that are to be attended can then be shared with friends to bring a number of people together for the evening. Best of all - it's free.

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Windows Phone Basics: The People Hub

WPCentral's Guide to the Windows Phone People Hub

Our next helpful article for those who are new to Windows Phone covers the People Hub - the one stop for all your social requirements when on the go. The People Hub, as the name suggests, is where all your contacts are available to communicate with. Upon launching the hub from the home screen (tile is present by default - a mosaic of randomly generated photos) you'll be presented with your profile summary with latest Facebook status or tweet (if not simply swipe to the right - we'll keep things simple and start from the contacts list).

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Pinsation, a Pinterest client for Windows Phone, has recently been updated and is now available in Marketplaces outside the U.S. Pinsation enables the user, once logged into their Pinterest account, to upload pins, re-pin, like pins, create boards, delete pins, comment on pins, and more.

Although Pinsation was released to the U.S. marketplace only, Windows Phone owners (and those with Pinterest accounts) who reside in Europe (and the UK), Australia, Canada, and South America will now be able to download the app. As well as the increased market support, Pinsation received a number of improvements and bug fixes in versions 1.2 and 1.3:

  • Added about page
  • Added globalization support
  • Added Spanish and German languages
  • Redesigned user page
  • User page now shows about, location, and website
  • Autoloads more following items on home screen

You can download Pinsation from the Marketplace for free.

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Flud, a popular social RSS client on iOS, has been released for Windows Phone. We previously looked at Flud when it appeared at the Mobile Acceleration Week in New York back in November. With Flud you'll be able to know what your friends (fellow "Fluders") are reading, and vice-versa. This appears to be the norm with every social app now - to see exactly what your friends are up to.

The app itself is nicely designed with a clean Metro UI and features some interesting functionality, including Google Reader integration. Be sure to add "WPCentral.com" as a news source to get the latest from our feed. A quick run down of the features available in Flud:

  • Find Fluders who share your interests in news, blogs, and topics
  • Flud articles you love and share them with your followers
  • See what your followers are reading with the Activity Feed
  • Access your Reading List wherever you are, no Internet required
  • Easily add, reorder, or remove feeds
  • Connect to Google Reader, Twitter, and Facebook

You can download Flud from the Marketplace for free.

Via: GoWindowsGo; Thanks to everyone who tipped us on this.

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Chris Finlay, web developer at PokerStars, has created something special for those Windows Phone users who are avid Facebook fans. The Timeline cover photo is a perfect way to show off some interesting photos, but why don't we take it a step further with a personalised "I love Windows Phone" graphic?

Finlay has provided the tools and means to do just that, should you have the right software for the job of course. We've got a .PSD template, which will enable anyone (regardless of photo editing skills) to create an images similar to the above. So how do you go about achieving the above result? 

  1. Download the .PSD template (we'll use Photoshop as the software of choice for this walkthrough).
  2. Edit the network placeholder text and add your own image for the "Pictures" tile, using the red rectangle as a guide for dimensions.
  3. Change / personalise other aspects of the template as you see fit.
  4. Hide the "Guides" group to remove Facebook template and disable the guide lines (View > Show > Guides). 
  5. Select "cover" from the Load Selection dialogue (Select > Load Selection).
  6. "Copy Merged" (Edit > Copy Merged) and then paste into a new document.
  7. Save and upload to Facebook.

Remember that this is just a template, only your imagination is the limit. Take the design and add your own touches. Do let us know in the comments should you take a few minutes to create your own cover photo to further promote Windows Phone. As for Chris Finlay, be sure to follow him on Twitter.

Thanks Chris for sending in the .PSD!

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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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Team Lifelens, United States. Team members (not in order): Tristan Gibeau, Cy Khormaee, Wilson To, Jason Wakizaka and Helena Xu.

We've mentioned Team LifeLens before way back in April 2011. The student group won the Microsoft Imagine Cup back in July for Windows Phone with their app for detecting Malaria. The app itself is part of a package that includes the software, hardware lens and computer vision analysis tools and can literally be used for live-Malaria testing on individuals. The data can then be sent "to the cloud" for data banking and further statistical analysis--great for tracking epidemics and the like.

Now, Microsoft is going further with the Imagine Cup project by committing $3 million dollars to the newly created "...three-year...competitive grant program for student technology and social entrepreneurs". Each of the winning teams were given $75 thousand dollars to help get their project to market in addition to

" ...software, cloud computing services, solution provider support, premium Microsoft BizSpark account benefits and access to local resources such as the Microsoft Innovation Centers. Microsoft will also connect grant recipients with its network of investors, nongovernmental organization partners and business partners.

You can watch the video to get an idea of how the app works. It does truly seem useful and it's great to see students (and Microsoft) working towards such a worthy cause using Windows Phones. Check out the other team winners announced yesterday at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland with Bill Gates at the Imagine Cup site.

A big congratulations to Team LifeLens and all the Imagine Cup Grant winners!

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Torchbear bumped to version 1.3

Torchbear, a mobile geolocation based social network game, which went live on the Marketplace a few months ago, has been updated to version 1.3. The update is pretty big with more features and improvements being applied to the app. A quick walkthrough on what's included:

  • Added Search for player and torches to the main page
  • Added World News and Local News
  • Added auto exchanges for pending torches longer than 3 days
  • Added instant exchanges for players who have stopped playing
  • Exchange distance has been increased
  • Added support for Miles or Kilometers
  • New Player Points system
  • Improved loading performance
  • New Leaderboards (World, Nearby, and Following)
  • Ability to save any photo to your phone (including profile pics)
  • Can now exchange torches with a person who has held the torch before

You can download Torchbear for free from the Marketplace. Be sure to check out the official website too.

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Microsoft has launched a new website "I love you guys", which highlights the social functionality and integration of Windows Phone. This marketing effort is a follow up on their recent launch in India last month. Visitors are able to connect to their Facebook account to pull down friends and organise parties among other events.

The above intro video provides a humorous look on how friends can be terrible liars, via a HTC Radar. Anyone else notice a slight confusion in terms of UI?

via: WinRumors

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Joe Marini, Windows Phone principle manager at Microsoft, was in the social media spotlight with three tweets that caught the eye of not only his followers, but news sites and readers all around. Geekwire reports that a Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed the news this morning that Marini had left the company he'd joined in 2003, but failed to elaborate on the reasons why.

The first tweet of three in question Joe published was detailing that he was was using a Nokia Windows Phone handset. A fellow Twitter user asked him what he'd rate the device out of 10 and Joe answered with the second tweet, scoring the mysterious handset an 8 and praising the solid feel, good camera, responsive UI, and nice little touches on the body construction. The last tweet posted by Joe was stating what he'd like to see improved, namely the screen size. 

Microsoft calls on its employees, according to its social media and blogging policy (PDF), to "be smart" and not to share any details that would otherwise be disclosed as confidential. Hopefully more information will be made available soon as to what the actual reasons for his departure were.

Source: Geekwire, via: TNW

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Update: Sorry folks, appears to be U.S. (and Israel) only for now :-/

We've always wondered whether Microsoft would launch a Google Latitude service--after all, they have Bing, a nice aGPS/WiFi location finder and a solid mobile OS. So it comes as a nice surprise to see them launching "We're In" today:

"We’re In makes organizing get-togethers, carpooling and trying to find people in a crowd a breeze. Any time you want to see where your friends are—We're In can help you. It's simple, invite your friends, and when they join, they'll see your location and you'll see theirs. When the invite expires, so does the shared location – no complicated process to worry about.

We’re In is a great way to save time and frustration when planning your road trip or meeting your friend at the mall – helping you connect with your friend faster."

The best way to describe the service is it's like Latitude combined with Glympse--the former because it allows you to see where your friends are, the latter because these events "expire" meaning you're not tracking people (or being tracked yourself) for eternity. The app allows you to

  • Create a get-together invite for a group of friends
  • See where your friends are
  • Share your location with your friends in real time
  • Control your privacy - your location is only shared with the group of invitees, only for a short time slot

Interestingly, you don't use LiveID to sign up but instead your phone number. Microsoft is looking to make this platform agnostic (it's coming to other mobile OSs) and by keeping LiveID out, Microsoft seems to be keeping the entry-barrier low. That's good news if the system is to grow and catch on.

Oh and the code didn't work with our Google Voice number, just FYI.  If you want the app, here you go: link to the Marketplace.

Source: Bing Community; Thanks, Michael, for the link!

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Here's an odd little number: Dotastic hit the Marketplace sometime today and it's yet another official app from Microsoft, specifically their FUSE Labs, which specialize in social networking technology (see the WP7 'Project Emporia'). If you're not familiar with them here's their mission statement:

"FUSE Labs works in partnership with product and research teams to ideate, develop, and deliver new social, real-time, and media-rich experiences for home and work."

Dotastic is an app that mixes a to-do list with the fun and pressure of social networking--its motto is "Achieve Together". Think of it as broadcasting things to get done to your friends, where you then compete against each other by collecting points upon task completion. It's a method of using social pressure but in a positive way, which we think is pretty ingenious (so long as your task isn't too private, ahem). From the app description:

"Dotastic is a fun way to challenge your friends and help each other get things done. Earn points for completing tasks and compete with your friends to be at the top of the leaderboard. Incentives and social pressure helps you stay motivated as you complete your tasks and share your achievements with everyone."

It's like Twitter, but with a point. The app seems to coincide with the website www.dotastic.com, which is not yet live. We imagine that website will allow you to access your account (which is done via Facebook) and use it as primary interface, whereas the mobile app is for...well, when you're on the go.

You can downland the app by clicking this link, but understand at this time it's currently not working. The app needs to communicate with the Dotastic server, which is that aforementioned website. Until that goes live, you won't be able to complete the setup. One thing is for certain, Microsoft is having fun playing around with social networks, apps and technologies akin to Google (but nicer looking).

via: WindowsPhoneMetro

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Tiinx - App Spotlight

Tiinx is a social news portal that allows users to aggregate content from several parts and report them directly to the Tiinx community.  Tiinx the Windows Phone 7 application, brings this portal to your Windows Phone and as an added bonus, included a car finder utility.

Tiinx offers the following functions:

  • "Social News" allows you to write or report items of your interest to share with the community, vote and comment on them
  • "Find my car" allows you to store your car's GPS position and review it later through Bing Maps. The location can be stored on Tiinx Social and displayed on the web with Bing Maps on Tinx.com.

Registration with Tiinx is required and free. The Windows Phone app is free and you can download it here (opens Zune) at the Marketplace.

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Twitter, the social network that has skyrocketed out of control, has been bombarded with API connections and tweets being published and re-tweeted through exceptional growth. Ryan Sarver, who is a member of the Platform Team at Twitter, announced that they've updated their Terms of Service to help mainstream the Twitter experience and ensure users are connecting to (and using the) service in the same way.

With more people joining Twitter and accessing the service in multiple ways, a consistent user experience is more crucial than ever. As we talked about last April, this was our motivation for buying Tweetie and developing our own official iPhone app. It is the reason why we have developed official apps for the Mac, iPad, Android and Windows Phone, and worked with RIM on their Twitter for Blackberry app. As a result, the top five ways that people access Twitter are official Twitter apps. 

Still, our user research shows that consumers continue to be confused by the different ways that a fractured landscape of third-party Twitter clients display tweets and let users interact with core Twitter functions. For example, people get confused by websites or clients that display tweets in a way that doesn’t follow our design guidelines, or when services put their own verbs on tweets instead of the ones used on Twitter. Similarly, a number of third-party consumer clients use their own versions of suggested users, trends, and other data streams, confusing users in our network even more. Users should be able to view, retweet, and reply to @nytimes’ tweets the same way; see the same profile information about @whitehouse; and be able to join in the discussion around the same trending topics as everyone else across Twitter. 

More after the break.

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Sharing images and web pages [How To]

Everyone loves to share, which is why there is a huge part of Windows Phone 7 that is focused on social connections and platforms. As well as engaging with your friends while on the go, you may find yourself browsing the web within Internet Explorer an feel the need to share an image you see on a website, or the web page itself.

While offline and browsing through our photo albums there is fantastic social integration with the ability to share images to your online profiles and through other services, but what about while online? Via email, you can send any image or web page straight from your browser to a recipient of your choice, which can come in handy should you be the sharing type and wish to save a good number of clicks (or in our case – presses) when sending some useful content to your contact(s).

Sending an image from a current web page is simple enough, simply press and hold on the picture you wish to share and a menu will pop up with a “share” option. Then select your desired email account to send from and an email composition window will then slide into view. If you wish to send the entire web page as opposed to just an image, press on the “…” at the bottom left of the browser and select “share”. Again, an email account selection will appear and then a composition window. 

Windows Phone 7 makes simple tasks easier and faster for people to complete and communicating in more complex ways is possible, rivaling with competing platforms. What do you share while browsing around; do you use this feature regularly?

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