windows phone

If you just tuned in to our latest podcast, you probably heard Jay and myself discussing when we expect Windows Phone 8 to actually come out—especially since we now know that Windows 8 Desktop will be here October 26th.

Going on simple history, the last two release cycles for Windows Phone have occurred in the October/November timeframe and we expect that to repeat again this year. Throw in the October 26th street date for Win 8 and it should be obvious what Microsoft’s overarching strategy will be—a dual launch where two of their main products dominate headlines. Or what lame business folk call “synergy”.

Over at ZDNet, Mary Jo Foley is hearing from a trusted source the following dates for Microsoft:

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Today Nokia revealed its interim financial results for Q2 2012.  Nothing too shocking, really.  Keep in mind that this is a company that was once the largest phone manufacturer in the world, driven by Symbian and feature phones. Nokia now has to find its place in the smartphone market, and this position will really depend upon the market success of Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform. 

With that in mind, Nokia shipped 4 million Lumia phones during Q2.  It may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to iPhone or Samsung (Android) numbers, but when you compare it against RIM’s latest quarter (the shipped 7.8 million BlackBerry phones), it shows some forward momentum. 

Overall, Nokia sold 73 million phones. That’s 69 million non-Lumia phones. The company’s huge challenge is to hang onto the low end of the feature phone market (under attack from Android) while also converting many of its Symbian smartphone users onto Nokia-branded Windows Phone products in the future.  It’s a tall order, but Nokia has a pretty good fighting chance...

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SoundGecko is coming to Windows Phone soon

With today's busy world, sometimes finding time to read you favorite article or keep up with the news can be difficult. Luckily, there may be a solution for some of you on the horizon. 

SoundGecko is a new, amazing service where you find any article, email it to them, and they will send you back an MP3 file of that article. The service can connect up with your SkyDrive or DropBox service to automatically deposit audio files of new articles, allowing to you to pull them down on-the-go. The smartphone app is simply a method to flag articles for the service for conversion.

Currently, the app is only available on the iPhone and Chrome browser (via an extension) but fear not, a Windows Phone version is in the works and we'll have some information on that coming soon...

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Microsoft is rolling out another update to its SkyDrive Windows Phone client today. Not a huge amount has changed in the latest version but it does bring some welcome graphical changes.

The logo has been updated to now fall in line with that seen on the web and on the desktop version  of the client, gone is the swish and onwards with the ‘flattening’. It is also adhering more to the Metro feel, dropping the rather dull skeuomorphic yellow folder icons and replacing them with their authentically digital counterparts. Yes, that means blue squares to you and me.

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Although we cheered at Nokia dropping the price of the AT&T Lumia 900 a few days ago, many detractors in the tech media looked for a negative angle to the story, resulting in some damning headlines this past week.

What was the other tale they were spinning? That the Lumia 900 must not be doing well—after all, why would Nokia (and AT&T) cut the price “so soon” after launch? Forgetting the fact that “so soon” is exactly 3 months or we’ve seen price drops after launches before. That didn’t stop various media outlets like this example which boasts

“Finnish phone maker Nokia has been forced to cut the price of its Lumia 900 by half, just weeks after launching it”.

Forced? Just weeks? That story went over the ANI wire to a lot of news outlets. One problem though: they were wrong.

Read more after the break..

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You can run, but you can't hide on Xbox LIVE

Although Contract Killer was known to be coming to Xbox LIVE today (and sure enough, it’s out) it looks like Microsoft slipped in a 2nd title—Lode Runner Classic.

The game fetches for $2.99 and is a throwback to the old school arcade games from the 1980s. In fact, many of you will have childhood flashbacks with this one as it was quite popular with home PC systems which include the Apple II series, the Atari 8-bit family, the VIC-20, the Commodore 64 and the IBM PC and it’s known to be the first game with a level editor.

Gameplay is straightforward—run through mazes and do things. Okay, we’re way oversimplifying as this game actually has a lot going on for it (just see the tutorials). There are an included 150 levels which should keep people busy for a long time and it seems like a fair amount of gameplay versus what you’re paying for it.

Check our video hands on and more details after the break...

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[+] Lock Screen is a stellar app and a must-have

Looks like it’s a good week in the Windows Phone Marketplace for deals as we just got tipped that Snack Studios have made their pay-apps free for an undisclosed time.

The developers have numerous apps in the Marketplace and in our opinion, all are top notch with an elegant design and useful functionality.  Those are apps are the following:

  • [+] Lock Screen – This app comes with a surprising array of gorgeous wallpapers for your Start screen but you can also add a physical calendar and other graphics on top before you save. A must-have app, trust us.
  • [+] Lomo Cam – A standard camera app that has pre-set filters including Lomo, Black and White and others giving your photos a unique look. Also very well done.
  • [+] Note Plus – A unique note taking app with elegant backgrounds, this app uses AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) and has SkyDrive backup. Huzzah!
  • [+] Moments – This app merges photos with notes to allow you to save your memories
  • [+] Emoji – A helper app that allows you to easily insert emoji into text messages

All of those apps are normally $0.99 but dropped to free on July 7th. There are ‘lite’ versions for some of these apps but you can evidently have the full ones for zero—so hop to it as these are some seriously nice programs.

Hit the links above which take you to the Marketplace or just search for ‘Snack Studio’ to find all of their apps. Thanks, Nettwerk, for the tip! 

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A few days ago a fairly major bug has been found in the latest Skype update—the client app on your computer can crash upon sending an IM and what’s more, it may even send the IM to the wrong contact (Skype tries to re-send it but it may have logged you in under a secondary account, should you have one). From Skype:

“Skype client crashes during a Skype IM session, which may in some cases result in the last IM entered or sent prior to the crash being delivered to a different IM contact after the Skype client is rebooted or logged in as a new user.”

Personally, we haven’t seen this bug but it has made some headlines as it’s a quite major and can obviously have some dire privacy issues. The Skype team is on it getting ready to roll out a hotfix very soon.

The odd part is Skype is reporting that this bug is also found on Windows Phone (in addition to Windows, Mac and Linux). We haven’t had any reports of users complaining of crashing—our bet is most of you use Skype for the VOIP part and not so much the IM half which may be biasing feedback.

Regardless, if we see an update to the Skype client for Windows Phone in the next few days, you can be certain it is tied to this situation and there probably won’t be any new features.

Source: Skype; Thanks, Tagliaerbe, for the tip

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Microsoft continues to flesh out their Xbox live app for those of us that have iPads. The latest update brings more of the once exclusive features of the Windows Phone Companion App to iOS users. Unlike Windows Phone, which has a combination of apps to take care of Xbox live business, the iPad rolls all the functions into one. Personally, I like it all integrated into one whole and have been a little confused as to why the Windows Phone has essentially stuck with the Xbox Hub plus the two addition apps called Xbox Companion app and Xbox LIVE Extras App.

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Last we reported that Compal was seeing a reduction in orders of Lumia smartphones from Nokia, fueling some speculation that either Nokia was winding down production in general or they were transferring production to their own shops.

It looks like the latter may now be the case as some of the Lumia 900s coming onto the market are now coming from Argentina. Nokia opened a factory there some time in 2011 and it now looks to have completed its transition to producing Lumia 900 phones albeit as a savings from making it directly in Finland.

Nokia is also set to launch the 900 in Argentina presumably in a few weeks, corroborating earlier reports that the device was to launch their “second half” of the year.

Source: Celularis; Thanks, Esteban T., for the link!

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It's pretty but do you use it?

We’re not going to deny that in today’s smartphone world, if you’re going to sell a high-end Windows Phone (or even mid-range) a front-facing camera is a must. Presumably used for face-to-face video call, the technology has been around for years but is only becoming mainstream since 2011.

In Windows Phone 8, users will have Skype and other VOIP options built seamlessly into the OS, offering a fluid experience akin to making “regular” phone calls. And with 4G LTE finally gaining ground nationally here in the US, data bandwidth seems more than adequate for video conferencing.

While all of that sounds good the question for us to you who currently have a front-facing camera is do you use it?

It seems silly to ask but we never use ours except for a few times to test Tango Video or Skype. Other than that we can’t be bothered with the technology. But we’ve often seen those with children using FaceTime on the iPhone to keep in touch, so perhaps we’re in the minority here. The view seems to be that everyone wants a front-facing camera and it's a must-have feature but few of us are actually using it. Are we wrong?

So go forth people, be honest and take our poll. If you do use it, tell us in comments how often. If you don't, let us know why you don't. Too awkward, not enough data speed? Will widespread adoption of Windows Phone 8 and Skype across Microsoft change things?

 

Do you use your front facing camera on your Windows Phone?
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It's estimated that with each Lumia 900 sold in the US for $49, $450 is used to market the Windows Phone for the consumer to actually make the purchase. So we're looking at a fairly expensive US launch should reports be accurate. Is it really all doom and gloom for the platform and Nokia?

Blogger Horace Dediu suggests the push in the States has had negligible impact on the market so far, which we'd agree with. It has been pretty poor. The Lumia 900 received "hero status" from AT&T and is the largest marketing effort by the carrier to-date. But according to recent marketshare numbers, the Windows Phone platform is still struggling in the up-hill battle. We can't just look at the Lumia 900, we have to really look at the perception of Windows Phone as a platform.

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Great news for you instant messaging fans; Nimbuzz is now available to download in the Windows Marketplace. The popular cross platform app was a personal favorite of mine back in the Windows Mobile days and has also been a success on other operating systems. Now it is our turn on Windows Phone and the it will not cost you a penny to download. It is free.

Nimbuzz offers the following features:

  • Free messaging - Replaces SMS with unlimited free chat.
  • IM Community - Connect with multiple IM accounts and have them all in one list. Nimbuzz supports Facebook, Yahoo Messenger, MSN/Windows Live Messenger and Gtalk.
  • Picture sharing - Click and share you favorite pictures with friends and family.
  • Chat history - Keep your conversations handy for use later.
  • Chat Buddies - Use popular chat buddies for Twitter, Cricket, Astrology etc.
  • And much more - Guided tour, contact management, Presence management, Message typing indicator, N-Word, Free avatars and much more.

 

More information/Download Nimbuzz for Windows Phone  via: WMPoweruser

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Yes, dear reader it's summer, to celebrate the fact, those nice people at the Carphone Warehouse are generously running a Windows Phone flavoured prize draw. Included in the prize is the chance to win a Lumia 900 and a couple festival tickets to a major unnamed UK based festival. I am personally waiting for summer to start here in London, but am lead to believe its in full swing around the UK presently.

Carphone Warehouse excitedly describes the Lumia 900 like this:

  • A dazzling 4.3" touchscreen
  • An amazing 8MP Carl Zeiss lens camera
  • Crystal clear video calling
  • A super long lasting battery life

Nokia are offering the festival tickets as part of their July Music Promotion. Currently new purchases of the Lumia 610, 800 and the 900 are eligible to receive Music vouchers from Nokia on standard purchases. Whatever the reasons for the promotion it’s good to see both Nokia and the Carphone Warehouse working together to raise awareness of Windows Phone. Interestingly CPW are only offering Windows Phones from Nokia at this point.

Unlike O2 Carphone Warehouse seem to have a good knowledge of the platform and correctly name it as Windows Phone 7.5 on their website. They have also moved to dispel myths about Microsoft’s current mobile OS.  Offers like these are only going to increase awareness of the brand and with the addition of the festival tickets appeal to the hipster demographic amongst us. Not sure I’d take my Lumia 900 along to a muddy festival mind..

Source: Carphone Warehouse

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Nielson has released their second quarter numbers for 2012 and while 54.9% of U.S. mobile subscribers opted for smartphones, 1.3% opted for Windows Phones. This is a jump from Q1 2012 for smartphones (50.4%)and a slight decline for Windows Phones (1.7%).

Android still has the lion share of the market with 51.8% and Apple is a distant second with 34.3%. RIM is holding steady at 9% with Windows Mobile pulling in 3% of the market.

Nielson's 1.7% is somewhat less of a market share than we saw last month from Comscore who has Microsoft holding on to 4% of the market. Then again, Comscore's numbers combine both Windows Phone and Windows Mobile shares in the market.

Regardless, both reports show that Microsoft still has some work ahead of them. The slight decline in the Nielson report could be from consumers holding off on the platform until Windows Phone 8 is released later this year. It will be interesting to see how these numbers change once the new devices hit the store shelves.

Source: Nielson

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2012, Microsoft’s Epic Year?

Steve Ballmer took to the stage yesterday at Microsoft’s annual powwow, the Worldwide Partners Conference. Steve was as bullish as ever calling 2012 an “EPIC!” year for Microsoft. Steve is always excited but this time Microsoft does have it ‘going on’. Why is Steve so pumped, and what makes 2012 a year of “epic”?

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In addition to announcing the availability of the new Pink Lumia 900, AT&T today have also confirmed that the Tango update (either build 8773 or the slightly newer 8779) will also be coming to the Lumia 900. From the AT&T blog:

“Nokia is also bringing a lot of new enhancements to the Lumia 900. Nokia Lumia users will begin to see software updates for Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh in the coming weeks, which will add several new capabilities to their devices including flip-to-silence.”

We detail some of those new capabilities here in a previous post--in short, enhancements to MMS including multiple messages, voice notes and some minor fixes are included. In addition, AT&T reiterated that Nokia will be bringing a usage tracking counter and a new contact sharing feature in the near future as well, continuing Nokia’s trend to “fill the gaps” in Windows Phone for its customers.

Finally, it has been confirmed that those super popular Zynga games—Draw Something and Words with Friends—will be coming this fall exclusively to Nokia Lumia phones for the first 60 days. While these exclusivity agreements often annoy non-Lumia owners, the 60 day wait should not be too bad of a wait and seems fair to us (assuming Nokia was vital to the deal and assisted Zynga financially).

Overall, not bad news at all and it at least the Lumia 900 is continuing to get direct support from Nokia. 

There’s no word if other AT&T Windows Phones will be getting Tango as well but seeing as the Focus S, Focus Flash and unlocked Dell Venue Pro already are we’re confident that the HTC Titan II and Titan I will as well. If you haven't received an update for your Samsung device, you can try our guide here to get it now.

Source: AT&T; Thanks, Alexander, for the tip

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The overwhelming majority of Lumia 900 users are loving their phone

We know from personal experience that owners of the Lumia 900 (review) have a lot of pride in their device and that feeling has now been quantified in a new study commissioned by Nokia. Nokia hired Nielsen’s back in April to survey US buyers of their flagship Windows Phone to see how happy they were with their purchase decision. The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 96 per cent of owners are extremely satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their Lumia 900
  • 95 per cent of owners are willing to recommend the Lumia 900
  • 83 per cent say that their expectations are better or much better than expected
  • 85 per cent say they would repurchase the Lumia 900
  • 91 per cent think their phone is better than other mobiles out on the market
  • 95 per cent thought downloading an app from the Marketplace was easy to do

The survey was the online one we reported back in May and consisted of 810 people averaging 18 minutes to complete the questionnaire. Of course we wonder now how many of you skewed the results lending a sampling bias to Nielsen by not necessarily representing the average consumer (as opposed to “enthusiasts”). Ahem.

Results from the Nokia-Nielsen study (April 27, 2012 and on May 18, 2012)

Interestingly, nearly two-thirds of the people sampled had purchased their Lumia 900 through AT&T in a store as opposed to an online dealer like Amazon Wireless. We don’t have any numbers for comparison but it’s clear that in-store purchases are still king even when heavy-discounts are offered online (Amazon Wireless is routinely cheaper than AT&T direct).

Having said all of that we don’t doubt that many Lumia 900 users, either average or enthusiast, are very happy with their purchase. Nokia tends to garner brand loyalty and we’ve already seen how “Lumia” trends higher than “Windows Phone” reinforcing that notion. Today’s results are just as impressive.

Source: Nokia Conversations/Nielsen

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In last decade there have been many great rivaleries: Tyson Vs. Hollifield, Baggy pants vs Skinny Jeans, Alien VS. Predator - the list just goes on and on. Now a new fight is brewing: Google's Nexus Q and Microsoft's Xbox 360.

Google has recently announced their new form of media consumption for their users. It's small, round, glows like Tron, and  looks a bit like the Death Star. This sphere will go head to head with the Xbox 360. Microsoft has been rebranding the Xbox 360 for the last few years, turning it from an exclusive gaming system to your main media device. More and more people have been using the console to watch movies, stream music, and to video chat. With Smart Glass coming out hopefully in the fall, Microsoft will be integrating your phone or tablet as both a second screen and remote control.

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Co-found of Apple Steve Wozniak thinks Windows Phone is a convergence of "art and technology"

Speaking at a press conference after his talk at the Entel Summit (Entel is Chile's leading telecommunications operator), co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak gave his thoughts on Microsoft, Surface and their new Metro UI. Having previously spoken positively of the Lumia 900 and what Microsoft was up to with their refocus on usability and visual appeal, "the Woz" continues to give praise to the company and what appears to be their new direction, noting that he wants a Surface tablet.

During the Q&A session, Wozniak gave his thoughts on how the Lumia line of smartphones and Windows Phone 7 have such a "...strikingly good visual appearance which is a lot of what Steve Jobs always looked for, the art and technology, the convergence of art and technology." Back in April, the technology guru famously heaped praise on the Lumia 900 and Windows Phone and evidently he continues to like it.

Regarding Surface, Wozniak says he wants to "own one, to use one" so he can see for himself how good it is and not have to rely on what he's read—a fair and respectable stance to have on an un-released product.

The video Q&A where Wozniak responds to a Microsoft question during the Entel Summit '12

As far as Microsoft, he had some interesting observations that seem to be aligning with a lot of people's thoughts today on the company: Microsoft has changed and are entering a new era.

"But I'm glad that Microsoft is starting to show maybe they're a different company than before, I don't remember this sort of thing happening in a long, long time with Microsoft, so I'm very happy."

Of course Wozniak has always been quite "technology neutral" and he used whatever device that he thought was the best, without any allegiances. This is why he's respected amongst many as he brings true insight from an engineer's perspective as opposed to a partisan with a product to sell. Either way, it's good press for Microsoft.

Source: TechNews; Thanks, Eric, for the tip!

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