windows phone

This morning, Nokia has announced that it has acquired imaging firm Scalado for an undisclosed price. Nokia will be picking up everything including their specialists, intellectual property and technology from the company and will be incorporating them into the company sometime in Q3 2012.

Scalado has been working with Nokia for the last 10 years but they've also done work with HTC and most recently RIM on their upcoming BlackBerry 10 and it's new camera functions. That is certainly interesting because RIM itself is in dire straits and they just lost what many considered to be a key partner for re-igniting their brand. Of course what RIM already had in motion with Scalado will probably remain but the Waterloo company should start looking elsewhere for future camera development.

The good news here of course is that Nokia is clearly aiming to get some of the best camera functions on Windows Phone. Currently, HTC is in a bit of a renaissance with their ONE series which focuses heavily on cameras and media capabilities, giving Nokia and others a run for their money.

Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how Scalado's know-how pays off on future Windows Phone 8 devices.

Read the full press release after the break.

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Another rumor we want to squish is that there will be a new version of Windows Phone for "low-end" devices called "Neon".

The information first popped up on TWiT's Windows Weekly with Paul Thurrott, Mary Jo Foley and Leo Laporte.  On Episode 264 (June 7th) at around 1:47:45, Thurrott brings up some developer documentation pertaining to Windows Phone 8 with four main points:

  • Avoid free for all multitasking, aka Android and Windows Mobile
  • Allow Mango customers to upgrade to Apollo (later mis-reported as "A lot of Mango customers won’t get upgraded to Apollo")
  • Allow Mango apps to support Apollo resolutions
  • Lower end devices support for Neon

The site Insideris then received an "anonymous tip" on the 13th with the same list and they reported that "Neon" may be the next version of Windows Phone for non-Apollo devices. This resulted in numerous emails here at Windows Phone Central and various people contacting us to comment on it.

So true or false?

False. For one, the current code-name schemes for Windows Phone all have the milestones ending in "O": NoDo, Mango, Tango, Apollo, etc. So "Neon" does not fit with that history. Second, Neon here is referring to ARM® NEON™ a "general-purpose SIMD engine" for ARM chipsets. 

Let's head back to MIX 2011. Back then, Microsoft pre-announced support for ARM NEON for Windows Phone Mango. NEON is basically high-end multimedia support or in technical jargon it can  "...accelerate multimedia and signal processing algorithms such as video encode/decode, 2D/3D graphics, gaming, audio and speech processing, image processing, telephony, and sound synthesis". 

Funny thing though--it never happened (evidently NEON is there, though it is unclear if it works in Tango or early builds of WP8). A smart reading is that Neon support is coming for "low end" devices which is a good thing. That's actually very interesting news. But it is not a code-name for a new version of Windows Phone, sorry.

As a side note, Insideris reported the second point as "A lot of Mango customers won’t get upgraded to Apollo" but if you listen to Thurrott, he says "Allow Mango customers to upgrade to Apollo" and that seems more credible.

To paraphrase Ned Stark: "Brace yourselves, silly season is coming"

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We're getting a flood of emails from users noting that on Yahoo! News, specifically the "Upgrade your life" segment, Becky Worley is stating that current Windows Phones with Mango won't be able to get Windows Phone 8 "Apollo".

So did Yahoo! News just spill the beans on Microsoft's plans?

Not quite. For one, very few if anyone in the media knows what Microsoft has planned for current phone. More on that later. So the notion that someone from Yahoo! got the scoop is a bit funny.

Second, pay attention to her wording in the video segment: "...and Mango phones won't be able to upgrade to Apollo's new features"

Well, technically that is true. Windows Phone 8 is confirmed as supporting two new high resolution displays--768x1280 and 720x1280--in addition to the current 480x800 (Microsoft recently dropped support for 480x640--you heard it hear first). In addition, things like multi-core and NFC support will also be included. All of those features are new and no current Windows Phones will support them, obviously.

So technically what Yahoo! is saying is accurate and we're confident that is what they meant too. Is that a reason to hold off on a purchase? For some, perhaps. But it doesn't mean that current phones won't get Apollo. For that, we're at the mercy of Microsoft and the OEMs for a decision and we still don't know their plans there (scout's honor).

And regarding that "late summer" release, we're still hearing that Apollo will be finalized by late summer but devices won't be ready till the fall. Microsoft for the last two years has had launches and refreshes in October/November, so that's a safe bet as to when you can actually have a Windows Phone 8 device in your hands.

Source: Yahoo! News; Thanks for everyone who sent this in

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Official CNN app now available for all Windows Phones

"This is CNN...on all Windows Phones"

Well look at that, it looks like Nokia's 90 day exclusive on the official CNN app has finally expired--certainly a rare sight to see. The CNN app, which was developed in conjunction with Nokia and announced back at CES 2012, embraces the Metro design with unique features like the iReporter function for reporting news on your own.

For many on Windows Phones, the stranglehold on "exclusive" apps by Nokia was a thorn in the side--well, at least for those without a Nokia Lumia. But now you can download the exact same app with push notifications and local news to your non-Nokia device, resulting in what we imagine to be a loud cheer.

The CNN app ranks up there with the USA Today app as far as elegance and functionality. It's great to see it displayed on other Windows Phones for all. 

Pick up the official CNN app for Windows Phone here in the Marketplace. Thanks, Scott H., for the tip!

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What is a Windows Phone VIP?

Very Important People. That is what VIP means to everyone, but what is a Windows Phone VIP Ambassador?

Microsoft created a training website called Expertzone, where Retail Sales Professionals could log in and take training courses on selling Microsoft products. In 2010, Microsoft created the Windows Phone VIP program and BIll Bush was at the helm building a new Windows Phone community. The program has grown to over 13,000 VIP's and nearly 100 Windows Phone Ambassadors.

Retail sales professionals can join  this exclusive site to get first hand knowledge, special events, contests, and fellow windows phone users to bond with. With a small amount of users of Windows Phone, there was an even smaller amount of sales associates that actually knew anything about the OS. With the Expertzone site, new employee's train to learn about  key features and talk to real windows phone users for advice on problems they were having, how to demo properly, and enter some really cool exclusive contests. The whole point of the program is to reward those individuals who really love windows phones by giving them more knowledge, exclusive meetups, rewards like t-shirts, pins, and phones. Their community is growing strong and keeps growing.

Microsoft is now upgrading the program to Windows Phone Advisors, where a current WP VIP's can refer other associates who want to become an Advisor.

The role of a Windows Phone Advisor is being the go-to guy/girl for Windows Phone at their work. They are the "experts" because of their knowledge and have gone above and beyond to represent Windows Phone. They also train their fellow sales associates on windows phone and customers.  

This program is something special because they are getting dedicated, passionate fans of Windows Phones who sell them excited about Windows Phone. Knowing you belong to a larger community where you can talk to about the various devices and have the other people completely understand what you are talking about is a great feeling.

Microsoft understands they are the low-man on the totem pole,and this program gives them an amazing opportunity to get direct feedback from the people who sell their phones. They get insight to what customers are saying, what they like, don't like, have trouble with, etc... and they have time to react to their thoughts. Maybe that is why Windows Phone 8 might be taking longer, they are listening and changing things for the better!

If you sell phones, go check out Expertzone, and join the VIP Advisor program! Help spread the Windows Phone love!

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Here's a quick reminder for the June 22, 2012 St. Louis Windows Phone Development Workshop. Nokia Developer Ambassador Rich Dunbar will be leading the workshop. If you're interested in developing for Windows Phone, it sounds like a great opportunity to network with other developers and get some help building your app.

The workshop will run from 5:30 p.m. until around 9:00 p.m. and will be held at the Microsoft Offices in St. Louis.

The goal of the workshop is to help developers get started on their first Windows Phone app. Nokia will be sponsoring the event and will provide pizza and beverages.  No guarantees but Nokia may also provide a few door prizes as well.  Attendees will need to bring their own laptop and have the necessary development tools installed. You can find a full list of the tools that you'll need here in the Windows Phone Central Forums discussion.

Registration is required (so enough pizza is ordered) for the workshop and you can find that easy process here at GroupSpaces.

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We ran a story a few days ago showing the Dark Knight Rises logo on the Xpress colored backs for the Lumia 710.  We now have an update to that story with the details. T-Mobile will be giving these out for free with a special new promotion starting June 13-July 10th when you sign up on a new two-year contract, either as an upgrade or a new customer.

New customers will get a colored back for free in the store at time of purchase, there is no mail in special for the colored Batman backs. These backs are limited, so be sure to go get them quickly before they run out. The Lumia 710 will also be free with a mail-in-rebate for Classic voice plans. Not only is getting a Batman colored back amazing, but you get the phone for free.

Nokia knows how to sell their devices by giving customers a solid and great experience at a affordable cost. This new cross promotion will sell more 710's, not that they needed any help, and get more windows phones in peoples hands. Although AT&T has the largest variety of Windows Phones, T-Mobile is doing a great job with only 2 that are currently being sold in stores (the Lumia 710 and HTC Radar).

Get your Batman on starting June 13th, the sooner the better. That way you can be one of the few rocking that sweet Windows Phone with a colored back showing off your love for the Dark Knight!

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Microsoft has finally answered the call and opened up a Cafe Press store for Windows Phone stuff. Tee shirts, coffee mugs, a Thermos, glasses, you name it the Windows Phone Gear store has it.

You can head over to the site http://www.cafepress.com/windowsphone now and start ordering yourself or loved ones wares splashed with the "I Heart Windows Phone" logo. Oddly enough, it's the old logos with the non-Mango looking icons.

The prices are not exactly cheap being Cafe Press but hey, if you want to look the part you have to pay up, we suppose. 

Thanks, Rodney, for the tip!

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Microsoft's booth at E3 was massive

Now that we're home from the fray of E3 2012 and seeing as we now have working internet (shakes fist), we figured we would show you some of our photos from Microsoft's presence at the giant gaming and entertainment conference.

Needless to say, Microsoft had one of the largest and most busy sections at of the whole conference. For instance had you wanted to try the Halo 4 demo you would have had to wait 2.5 hours in line just to get a shot. Yowza.

 

Life size replica of the Halo Warthog

And yes as you can see after the break in our photo gallery, Windows Phone was there too. No, it didn't dominate but it was certainly there and people were playing with the Xbox LIVE games and seemed to enjoy the experience. Mobile in general at E3 is still a very tiny percentage of the conference, regardless of platform. But every year it grows a bit more and so far, the majority of those games are on iOS.

Here's hoping to Windows Phone 8 and E3 2013!

Check out our complete photo gallery after the break. (Maybe later we'll post some non-Microsoft shots as there were some very cool displays)

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For those developers with App Hub accounts can now register (unlocked) a Windows Phone to their App Hub account even if it was unlocked by another account. For those not familiar, a registered Windows Phone basically allows developers to side load apps that are in the works to their Windows Phone for testing.  This gives developers a lot more flexibility such as borrowing/sharing various Windows Phones for compatibility testing.

Additionally, the registration of the device expires annually and used to require re-registration from the original account. Now, all developers need to do is re-register the Windows Phone from an active App Hub account.  For more information on starting an App Hub Account, you can find all the details here at the App Hub Website.

Source: App Hub Forum

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Good news for those on AT&T with the Lumia 900, Nokia in conjunction with Microsoft are now pushing out a firmware update to fix numerous lingering issues with the premier phone. 

The following are the main changes:

  • Fixes purple display issue - In short, when the screen would dim down to "low" greys would become purple across the whole display, including on graphics and photos
  • Proximity sensor - minor adjustments to the sensitivity of the proximity sensor should make phone calls more pleasant when the user puts the phone to their face
  • Others - We're still getting details but there are also a multitude of other smaller fixes that will greatly enhance the user experience

The update went live 10 am PDT and users should be able to plug their devices into their computers (Desktop Zune) and pick up the new firmware. Note, this is NOT an OS upgrade and it does not contain "Tango"--this is simply a maintenance release for firmware. However, Nokia does note:

"...we’ll be rolling out new updates and surprises in the near future to all Lumia 900 users, so stay tuned!"

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Hey look at that! Mush is finally here, at least here in Los Angeles at E3. We've talked about Mush before as the game looks to fill the gap for "super cute, slow paced, causal game" on Windows Phone, one that appeals to mom, your kid and heck, even ourselves.  From our earlier description of the game:

"A puzzle platformer that gives you control over how your character feels. Change their emotions by drawing smiles and sad faces, and by rotating or shaking the Windows Phone. Mush will be a Windows Phone exclusive."

Mush was announced last August as one of 14 new Xbox LIVE titles coming to Windows Phone. While we don't have a release date, seeing as we have a solid working demo being displayed, our bet is "within weeks". 

We really like this game from what we've seen. It has well done graphics and unique character controls which should appeal to a lot of people. Seeing as it's a Windows Phone exclusive, we're excited for this release.

Check the demo video of the game after the break for another look...

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If you're on the cutting edge of Windows Phone hacking and homebrew then you probably have a fully unlocked device with a custom ROM running "Tango" 8773. If so, then you may want to take a look at this latest creation from Zealson over at XDA.

The simple XAP file will launch a mini-app to allow you to change the battery meter to a custom version. The meters have four options available: default, horizontal, vertical and circular with the latter three having a percentage number for a semi-accurate reading of your remaining battery life.

We say semi-accurate as the percentage doesn't get down to the 1% range and instead looks to be at 10% increments. Such a limitation is due to the API though who knows what magic these devs can whip up, so there may be hope for 1% changes too.

Of course as we mentioned at the beginning, only fully-unlocked ROMs can install this and luckily the Titan and Radar are now in that camp too

Source: XDA Forums

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Although many of us are now hardcore SkyDrive users, some people still rely on or need Sugar Sync (www.sugarsync.com) for their file sharing and storing needs. And while Sugar Sync is working on a Windows Phone client, we have no ETA on when that app will arrive. So it's with great pleasure for us to see Sweet Sync on the Marketplace fulfilling that role.

The client offers most of what you would expect a mobile Sugar Sync client to offer:

  • Allows the creation, modification and deletion of any file or folder in your account, including received shares
  • Upload, Download and View Images
  • Create public links for your files and share them with friends
  • Open documents with public links directly on your phone (Not all filetypes can be opened)

We just took the app for a spin and it's hella-nice. Bold graphics (which are not Metro but still look nice), ease of use, plenty of options. Heck, we're impressed with it and while it may not replace our SkyDrive, we're not against adding extra storage when and where we can either.

Sugar Sync fetches for a fair $1.29 with a limited trial (read-only access). Our recommendation: if you use Sugar Sync, give it a shot. Even if the official app comes out, we tend to go with third-party devs for better support and more functionality. But that's us.

Pick up Sweet Sync here in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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Does your color preference in Windows Phones uncover a personality trait? Whether it is a white Samsung Focus 2 or a cyan Nokia Lumia 900, does your choice of colors reflect more than a fashion statement? There is some school of thought that the choice of color isn't a conscious effort but rather a sub-conscious choice. Color psychologist Angela Wright states,

“Every time you make a color choice, you’re making a statement about what’s going on in your head, even though most you the time you don’t know it. Around 80 percent of our color choices are sub-conscious.”

So how do the color choices break down? Here's what the color psychologist has to say.

Cyan - The Thinker: The cyan blue is a happy color that conveys an intellectual and considered nature. It is a balanced color that is inspiring. The blue helps to focus your thoughts and clear your mind.

White - The Sophisticate: White gives off an impression of a sophisticated smartphone aficionado with high standards.

Fuchsia - The Angry Lady: Fuchsia leans towards the sensitivities of female owners. According to Wright, “It’s a very strong statement on the aggressive side of femininity. So this phone is one for the ladies, the sympathizers and perhaps those who’re a bit scared of feminists and want to integrate themselves.”

Black - The Protector: Black comes across as confident and sophisticated but experts say it is more often used as a security blanket. Black is all colors totally absorbed so it creates protection. It's not a reflection of a dark personality but may represent a safe choice for smartphone users.

So is the expert hitting close to the mark? Do you choose the color of your Windows Phone to suit your tastes or is it a sub-conscious decision that is driven by our personalities and character? I'm partial to black because of its conservative appearance and I guess in many ways, its a safe choice.

Who knows... maybe the color psychologists are right?

Source: Conversations Nokia Via: Windows Team Blog

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The Windows Phone UK team held an exciting event in Camden last night. The Into Live Event saw live performances from local bands, and even the popular Noisettes. As well as the music, a steady flow of food and alcohol were on the table with each attendee receiving two free drink tokens (much like the HTC launch event for the TITAN and Radar). I went along with Robert Brand from Glance and Go Radio and also managed to meet up with Tom Warren from The Verge. So what was down at Proud Camden?

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The Windows Phone UK team has been busy taking the Dare to Live challenge on tour throughout the UK. They first began the challenge marathon at Westfield in London and has since arrived in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Newcastle and Sheffield, challenging the public to see if their smartphone can beat a Windows Phone at common tasks. From uploading a photo to Facebook to publishing a status update to social networks.

The team were also present at the Into live music event, which took place at Proud Camden last night in London. So, how about some statistics? According to the team, they've enjoyed a 98% win rate with 22,782 wins under the belt, accompanied by 568 losses (similar to the Smoked By Windows Phone competition's). A week breakdown is also available under the graph.

Not too shabby, eh? Check out the calendar for details as to where the team will be next, we'll revisit the Dare to Live campaign once it's finished in July.

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It's no secret that there will be compatibility issues with some Marketplace apps running on Windows Phones with only 256mb of RAM (like the Nokia Lumia 610). Up until now, finding out which app is or isn't compatible with the 256mb Windows Phones was done by word of mouth.

Not sure when the switch was thrown but now Microsoft has added an asterisks under system requirements in the Marketplace (website) listing for any incompatible app or game. Any app or game that won't run on 256mb devices will have "*Not available for all phones" listed beneath the required operating system.

There will be a link for more information that explains,

Some processor-intensive apps have memory requirements, and won't work on phones with 256 MB of RAM.

Some developers (such as Rovio and Angry Birds) are working on updates that will optimize these apps and games for use with the 256mb devices. Hopefully the number of asterisks on the Marketplace will start to decline.

Still the notation is nice and may prevent a little frustration when shopping for apps and games.

Thanks, Alex, for the tip!

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We were just mentioning how Microsoft was teasing Photosynth for Windows Phone and sure enough, the popular and creative photo stitching app is now available!

"Photosynth for Windows Phone is the panorama app that makes it easy and fun to capture and share interactive panoramas of the places, people, and events that are important to you. Using the latest in computer vision techniques, Photosynth is the acknowledged leader in mobile panorama creation. It is the only app available on any mobile platform that allows you to capture 360 degrees horizontally and vertically, making a perfect “sphere."

Once you’ve created a Photosynth, you can share it as an interactive panorama experience on Facebook and Twitter (using the free Photosynth.net service) or as a simple image. You can also publish your panoramas to Bing where millions of people will see your panoramas, on Bing Maps and in Bing search results for the places you've captured. And check out our featured list, where we show off the best of what you and your fellow users create and share."

The app seems very fluid on our Focus 2 and we'll be sure to share some test shots as soon. But for now, go forth and enjoy the latest creation from Microsoft, we're sure you'll be impressed. Leave comments on your thoughts below.

Update: We should note that Windows Phones without a compass or gyroscope (e.g. the HTC Radar) can still use the app but it won't work as fluidly. You'll receive a message informing you as much but you can still download and use the app.

Update 2: Photosynth won't run on Tango hardware like the Lumia 610 as it needs at least 512MB of RAM for processing.

Pick up Photosynth for Windows Phone here in the Marketplace.

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Update: Photosynth for Windows Phone is now on the Marketplace. Read here for more info and download link.

It was about two weeks ago we demonstrated that Microsoft had bumped Photosynth (photosynth.net) to version 1.0 seemingly making the release imminent for Windows Phone. The popular photo stitching app has been in the works for well over a year as we had to watch iOS users take advantage of Microsoft's panoramic software.

At the time, we speculated that the app was coming out of beta hence the 1.0 designation and now we believe that to be accurate. The Twitter account for Windows Phone just tweeeted this little bit of info in the last hour:

"If only there were a great new way to stitch your photos to create a panoramic image. If only we had something to announce soon. IF ONLY :)"

Indeed. We can't think of many apps that would be worthy of such an announcement except for Photosynth and when combined with the v1.0 status from two weeks ago, dare we say we really think it's about to happen.

Hopefully we'll hear more from Microsoft within the next few days on the release. From our experience, companies announce releases only under one condition: when the app has cleared certification in the Marketplace. That could mean less than 24 hours before we get our hands on the app.

Stay tuned.

Source: Microsoft (Windows Phone); Thanks, parthp90, for the tip

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