windows phone

Two days ago we ran a fun little piece on a Nokia Lumia 900 ad showing up on some sites. The ad featured a rendered 900, spinning around with Live Tiles in motion. Nothing odd there except that two of the Live Tiles had new and very specific behavior:

  1. Contacts - The tiles flip and it says "Meet up with Sarah"
  2. Photo Hub - Flips and splits into two tiles, one with the latest photo, the other with a count

The contacts/People Hub behavior was a tad redundant but also not a bad idea. The Photo Hub count confused people as knowing how many pictures you had didn't seem very useful. We guessed at the time that instead that count was for non-viewed photos from contacts i.e. new Facebook uploads, etc which seemed plausible.

Of course the ad was Photoshopped--in fact the whole thing was. The question wasn't the means but rather the intent (if there was any).

Nokia PR got back to us yesterday on the matter though and perhaps not too surprisingly, deny that what we see is anything more than a marketing error:

"Just to clarify and remove any questions, I want to let you know that this was a change that was made in in the advertisement process and is not an indication of what may or may not come in future iterations of the Windows Phone software. Perhaps someone got a little carried away tinkering in the photo and video editing process, as it did not come from engineering or product management in any way.

Basically, you shouldn’t take that image to mean that the product might change."

Of course we weren't exactly expecting Nokia to give us a slow-clap and congratulations on figuring our an unintentional leak. But having them go on record denying any accidental reveals of slight OS upgrades should put the matter to rest.

Still, we think they're pretty decent ideas. We should note for Windows Phone 8 we're not expecting a major UI revisions but rather slight changes and additions. So we'll what happens in June and come back to this.

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There seems to be a fascination with baking cakes that look like Windows Phones. So much so that Microsoft is hosting a cake contest where you could bake your way into a new Windows Phone.

Entering is simple. Create a Windows Phone inspired cake, take a picture of your culinary delight and submit it at the Windows Phone Cake Contest page over on Facebook. The three cakes with the most "likes" will win a Windows Phone.

Entries must be received by Wednesday, May 30, 2012 and voting ends on June 6, 2012. You can find all the fine print of the official rules here on SkyDrive. This is definitely one contest that could go straight to your hips.

Good luck and happy baking.

Source: Windows Team Blog

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We've chatted up TalkBox for Windows Phone now for a few weeks. The popular messaging app is already on iOS and Android and now thanks to an excellent beta program, the tried and tested version for Windows Phone is here.

What's TalkBox? It's more than a messaging app because it sends short voice clips in addition to straight text messaging to your contacts, making it a virtually hands free experience. Here are a few other key features that may interest you:

  • Push to talk - The signature PTT feature arrives Windows Phone. No more typing hassle; no more uploading and downloading voice notes. TalkBox saves your time.
  • Group Chat - TalkBox is now bringing the collaborative experience to Windows Phone users. Experience the power group chat to engage up to 9 people in a single conversation.
  • Geo-location and photo sharing - Want to share your current location with your friends when you are heading to a party or to share a snapshot after party? Now you can do it easily through TalkBox!
  • Text Integration - What if I can’t talk at the moment? You can easily switch to text mode by 1 click and connect with your friend quietly.
  • Mark as favorite - In Windows Phone, you can mark any important TalkBox message as favorite by 1 click so you will be able to view the important messages faster.
  • Customized Live Tile - The customized TalkBox Live Tile allows users to preview any unread messages and contact information without launching the app. It is real live and instant.
  • Change layout color - You might have seen different Windows Phone handsets displaying different colored tiles. For instance, TalkBox comes with 12 theme colors that you can use to match with your phone background.

We're big fans of the app due to the care in its design--it's very Metro and well thought out for Windows Phone instead of just another port. Will it be as good as Kik or WhatsApp? As far as features go, we'd say this is in many ways better but really, the big determinant is whether or not your friends use TalkBox. Seeing as it's a popular app on iOS and Android, you stand a good chance of getting friend-parity.

At the very least though, you should give it a whirl. Heck, if you like it enough no reason you can't get others to switch around you.

Pick up TalkBox on Windows Phone for free in the Marketplace right here. Hit us up in comments and let us know what you think. [We have at least one report that German users may have issues with this app]

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Since Windows Phone users can't spend a lot of time customizing their OS (instead we live our lives), there's much focus on the lock-screen. We know we change ours every few days (we use Ffffound for inspiration).

Today, Microsoft has announced a partnership with London based graphic designer Levi Freeman and as a result, they've released eight "officially sanctioned" wallpapers to spiffy up your Windows Phone.

The eight images are nature focused so they may not appeal to everyone (we're more into abstract art here). Still, the designs are nice and they're meant to look perfect on your phone. What's more, the images all have a corresponding QR code for easy download (see, not even Microsoft uses Tag). Plus Microsoft notes that they hope more of these collaborations will happen with Levi, meaning we can probably expect different themes in the future--we like that idea. Levi also plans to release desktop versions too.

There's some interesting tidbits about the inspiration for each image and details about Freeman at his site, so hop on over to grab those images and learn a little bit about their origins.

Source: Windows Phone Blog, Levi Freeman's blog

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File this under "vague but encouraging". T-Mobile's CEO Philipp Humm gave an interview with the Seattle Times where he talked about the transitions that company is going through including their future plans.

Humm was asked about Microsoft and Windows Phone in particular and while no firm numbers or details were given, the message was at least positive:

Q: T-Mobile made a commitment to push Windows Phone this year. How is that working out?

A: I think we have a very good relationship with Microsoft, and we discovered that, in particular, for customers who are new to smartphones, they really enjoy the simplicity of the Microsoft [user interface], so they like the design and the ease of it.

Q: Are Windows phones selling as well as you hoped?

A: We are so far quite pleased and I think Microsoft, if you talk to them, [is] quite pleased with T-Mobile.

Indeed, T-Mobile has been the 2nd most important carrier in the US for Windows Phone. They launched with the popular HD7, had the Dell Venue Pro and recently exclusively acquired the HTC Radar (review) and Nokia Lumia 710 (review). While those latter two phones won't woo those who want a high-end, large screen device, both phones have exceptionally high user satisfaction ratings (and they're amongst our favorite devices here at Windows Phone Central).

The comments above, while vague, do echo what Nokia CEO Stephen Elop noted back in Mobile World Congress. There in regards to the T-Mobile Lumia 710, Elop noted that sales were "exceeding expectations" which we'll take as a positive sign as well. (Currently, the Lumia 710 is #4 under best-selling smartphones on T-Mobile, while the Radar is #19.  Amazon Wireless has the Luma 710 at #6 and Radar at #7, respectively.)

Still, Windows Phone has a long away ahead and it's not clear that non-flagship devices like the Lumia 710 and HTC Radar can turn T-Mobile into the "must have" carrier for Windows Phone. Here's to hoping that T-Mobile still has a few Windows Phone tricks up their sleeve.

Source: Seattle Times

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6

Official SmugMug app now available for Windows Phone

Looks like that push for more official apps on Microsoft's mobile OS is still rolling forth which is good news for all of us. SmugMug (www.smugmug.com) is where those too good for Flickr flock and is one of the biggest and most interesting photography sites on the 'net. Possibly only rivaled by 500PX, it's a spot where the more "serious" shutterbugs amongst us post their work (meaning our array of cat photos are probably not welcomed. Booo.).

Having an official app for Windows Phone is a welcomed gesture as many of our users will surely take advantage of the new app. So what do you get?

"Explore and be inspired by stunning images shot by passionate photographers around the world. Browse the day's most popular images on SmugMug's global photo community, or view the most beautiful photos of all time.

And if you already have a website on SmugMug, there's more: Log in to see your galleries and share your photos with anyone, anytime. You can even take pictures on your phone, edit and upload them on the go."

In other words for a version 1.0, SmugMug covered all the basics including that valuable upload ability. Combine your SmugMug account with our Lumia 710 photo contest and you have yourself an interesting combo!

Pick up the official SmugMug app for Windows Phone here in the Marketplace. Big thanks to Sabita M., for the heads up!

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On an interesting podcast over at Platform Biased, Daniel Smith who's a CX-XBLA Producer at Microsoft, reveals some interesting numbers about those first generation handsets. Out of the three that came out (putting the Dell Venue Pro to the side), the Samsung Focus (see our review) reportedly accounted for about 90% of the sales while the LG Quantum (review) had about 8% and the HTC Surround (review) only garnered a meager 2%.

Smith doesn't mention AT&T directly nor does AnythingbutiPhone (where we grabbed this story from) but obviously that can't be the whole tale. T-Mobile launched the HTC HD7, Sprint followed months later with the HTC Arrive and Verizon even later with the HTC Trophy. T-Mobile and AT&T also both had the Dell Venue Pro, though that was an unofficial as it was never available in stores. Likewise, AT&T eventually picked up the HD7s (review) late in the game.

So there weren't three Windows Phones but rather nine for the first generation and the three mentioned were AT&T specific.

Reported percentage of AT&T 1st Gen Windows Phone sales

Still, it was quite obvious that the Samsung Focus, which is getting a sequel this weekend, was always the big seller on the platform early on and for good reason. It also explains why we'll probably never see an HTC follow-up to the Surround and why LG became gun shy on Windows Phone.

Source: Platform Biased; via AnythingbutiPhone

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In our latest how-to guide, we show you how to make the most of your Windows Phone and SkyDrive cloud storage

We've touched on the basics with Microsoft's SkyDrive services and the SkyDrive App for your Windows Phone. But how does all that translate into every day use?

The obvious every day use for SkyDrive and your Windows Phone is to free up storage space and make content easily available. Why bog down your Windows Phone with documents, pictures, and music files when you can store them in the Cloud and access them at your leisure? But did you know that several quality apps utilize SkyDrive? Of course you did... and we'll try to cover a few along the way as we look at every day uses for your SkyDrive account.

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Early this morning we reported on the mini song "Metro" by Matt Oglesby created on nothing but free Windows Phones apps. The tune has a chill yet vibrant feel to it and as a few of you noticed in comments, it would make a solid ringtone on your device.

While there are browser plugins that will easily rip YouTube audio and convert it to an MP3, there is a much easier way to do it directly on Windows Phone. The free app YouRang by Red Pegasus Media allows you to search YouTube, bring up the video in a small window and then by using pre-selected arrows, you can edit the section you want for a ringtone on your phone.

The app is free, beautiful and super simple to use. It maintains the full audio quality, volume and lets you "max out" the length of the ringtone according to Microsoft's specifications. In short, there's no reason not to get it even if you just want "Metro" for your ringer (just search for 'Metro' - Track Created...).

Pick up YouRang for free here in the Windows Phone Marketplace. [Edit: For those outside certain regions, stay tuned. The developer has submitted an update for other regions and it should be available soon]

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The Windows Phone UK team are set to host a memorable evening in London at the end of the month. The into Live Session is a planned music event, which will feature artist performances including the popular Noisettes. The evening is expected to be a fairly packed house at the Proud in Camden.

There will also be a number of surprises to be explored. Room-to-room Skype chats, the Nokia Amazing Collective room and getting dared by Windows Phone to name but a few. If that wasn't enough, the team will be supplying two free drinks on the night to attendees. If you remember Pepper, the live music social networking app / service, the team have partnered with Windows Phone UK to host a "Battle of the Bands" contest, where you get to decide which of the four available artists will kick-start the evening. Simply head to the YouTube playlist and "like" any one video. 

The event will take place at Proud, Camden on 30th May. You can sign up for free entry at EventBrite (limited number of tickets available). Windows Phone Central will, as usual and as you'd expect by now, be showing our faces to cover the event should you not be able to attend it. If you do so happen to come along, be sure to keep an eye on my Twitter (@RichEdmonds) for info of our exact location on the night.

Source: Windows Phone UK, Into Live Session (Facebook)

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One of the main reasons so many of us like Windows Phone is because the UI design is not only unique but equally mesmerizing. From Windows Media Center to Zune HD to Windows Phone, the Metro UI lineage is as clear as the subway signs it's based on.

The popular and influential business magazine Fast Company has named the Design Lead for Windows Phone, Jeff Fong, #81 in their 100 Most Creative People in Business for 2012. Not only is that a heck of an honor it's a telltale sign of the continued influence Metro is having on the mainstream, something that we'll see a lot more of when Windows 8 drops this fall. From the Fast Company entry for Fong:

"Airports may be frustrating, but give them this: "The signage is so clean, pure, and direct, it helps you navigate a very complicated environment," Jeff Fong says. "I wondered, Can we apply that same approach to designing our user interface?" His team culled photos from London's Heathrow and designed the smartphone's software--with its animated, colored tiles, and straightforward imagery--based on the signs' typography and simplicity."

Over at the Windows Phone Blog, they get behind the scenes with Fong and ask quite a few questions on design and what he sees as the future. Quite the interesting read both for his insight and for the fact that we get to put a face on one of the team that has brought us the fresh UI experience to our mobile phones.

A hearty congratulations to Mr. Fong!

Source: Fast Company and the Windows Phone Blog

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Canada has sort of been slow on getting into Windows Phone not due of course to the consumers but rather carrier reluctance. While the Lumia 900 is available on Rogers there hasn't been too much love for Nokia on Mobilicity until today.

The Lumia 710 (also on WIND), one of our favorite Windows Phones, is now available for $249.99 which seems to be a fairly good deal to us (though we'll let you weigh in in comments).

The Lumia 710 (see our review) features a 3.7" ClearBlack LCD screen, 5MP camera and physical front keys making it quite the unique bird amongst Windows Phones these days. It also features 8GB of storage, a zippy 1.4GHz CPU and a moderate 1300mAh battery.

While many think the 710 is not as fancy as the 800 or 900 (a fair point) it still has amazing ergonomics, great audio and is quite stylish with swappable back covers. In short, we often use it over the just as solid HTC Radar.

Read the full presser after the break or head to Mobilicity to check it out.

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We ran across something interesting this afternoon where Romit Mehta over at Techie-Buzz noticed a Visual Voicemail prompt appear on his Nokia Lumia 800. Keep in mind that Visual Voicemail is supposed to be limited to AT&T's 4G LTE phones.

After entering the password, sure enough the Visual Voicemail page appeared on the Lumia 800's call screen. While it seemed promising, the voicemail page was stuck syncing new voicemail messages with no real functionality.

We tried this out on a Samsung Focus, Samsung Focus S and an HTC Titan and could not replicate Mehta's results. It could be a case where AT&T is testing the waters in select markets to offer Visual Voice Mail to non-LTE phones.  Then there's always the possibility a technician over at AT&T hit the wrong switch.

We really like Visual Voicemail and wouldn't complain a bit if AT&T did throw the switch and let non-4G LTE Windows Phones have this feature. Let us know below in the comments if you've seen Visual Voicemail pop up on your non-4G LTE Windows Phone.

Source: Techie Buzz; Thanks, Romit, for the tip!

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Here's a funny problem we all have with smartphones regardless of OS choice: how to quickly share websites and inks between phones.

Sure, you can email, text or type out the address but it's a waste of email on both ends and if it's a long sub-link for an article, typing it out is a pain  This problem also bothered Faisal Iqbal so he decided to do something about it and thus QR Coder was born.

Faisal created a Java Script that you save as a favorite on your Windows Phone. While on the web page you want to share, you simply go to the favorites and select QR Coder. That Java Script will then dynamically generate a QR code based on the site you're viewing and display as an overlay on the screen. Your fellow pal can use their Android, iPhone, Symbian or Windows Phone to scan it and they now instantly have the link on their phone.

Brilliant.

It's actually really easy to setup too, literally 30 seconds. Go to Faisal's site and watch his video on how to get it going on your phone. Feel free to share it with your non-Windows Phone users for maximum convenience.

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8

The Daily Beast gets official for Windows Phone

For those of you who like Tina Brown (and now Newsweek) in mobile form, you'll want to check out the official The Daily Beast app based off of the popular news/opinion site www.thedailybeast.com. From the app description:

"The Daily Beast app is the quickest way to get breaking news from across the Web on your phone. The Daily Beast offers instant summaries of the Web's must-read stories, plus original news reporting, opinion, and photos."

The app itself is laid out very nicely with high contrast and bold graphics, smooth loading and nice transitions. Though it features an ad in the articles themselves (near the bottom) it's not too intrusive.

It also has nice integration with the Windows Phone "sharing" options  including the Social option (Twitter, Facebook, Live, etc.) and a swanky Live Tile that flips to show the latest headline.

Overall, a nice free app and great to see another official app on the Windows Phone. If it sounds good, go pick it up here in the Marketplace.

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Nokia has made moves to gain some big titles (and leverage) for their hardware. Who does it hurt? Who does it benefit and is it a good thing?

With yesterday’s announcement from Nokia describing a planned set of “exclusive” apps and even more games for their Lumia line of Windows Phones (and presumably anything else they have up their sleeve), Nokia has won both praise and some scorn for their bold move.

The concern, as echoed by some in the tech press, is that Nokia’s move will cause that dreaded “F word” to happen. No, no that one, the other one – fragmentation.

Fragmentation is the boogey word of the year due almost entirely to Google and their Android OS. But as ex-Microsoftie Charlie Kindel astutely pointed out, there isn’t just one type of fragmentation.  Rather, there’s at least six ways you can divide up the terms with some of it being positive and some of it negative, affecting consumers or developers. Point is, they're not the same and what is causing problems for Android is not the same as what Nokia is doing.

The real question is, will Nokia’s strategy to get these apps and games on their hardware hurt Windows Phone?  We say “no” and here’s why.

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Microsoft's Smoked by Windows Phone began way back in January at the 2012 CES conference. Since, it's grown by leaps and bounds traveling to various Microsoft Stores across the nation and world wide.  We've even seen the Smoke by Windows Phone challenges held by former Miss World, Priyanka Chopra.

Ben Rudolph, who started all this, has released some numbers associated with the Smoked by Windows Phone.

  • 95%: Windows Phone's global winning percentage
  • 36: The number of countries running Smoked by Windows Phone promotions
  • 50,000+: The number of phones that have been smoked by a Windows Phone
  • 8,000,000+: The total number of views the Smoked by Windows Phone has generated since it launched in January.
  • 100,000,000+: The estimated number of people who have seen, participated in or read about Smoked by Windows Phone. 

The Smoked by Windows Phone campaign will continue with a new set of internet ads hitting the web today. The ads are also available over at the Windows Phone YouTube Channel. While the Smoked by Windows Phone has had its moments of controversy, the campaign has brought a lot of attention to how well our Windows Phones measures up against the competition.

Source: Windows Team Blog

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First out of the gate from CTIA 2012 in New Orleans is the Samsung Focus 2. The follow-up to the (wait for it ...) Samsung Focus brings a 4-inch Super AMOLED display with a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, 8GB of internal storage and it's rocking a 1.4 GHz processor. And as was confirmed by the official specs earlier today, it's got a 1750 mAh battery. 

The Focus 2 actually is a tad heavier than its predecessor, but it's in a slightly smaller form factor. It feels decent enough in the hand. It's definitely got a plastic feel to it, which you'd expect from a Samsung phone. But, indeed, for an entry-level device, you're not going to be ashamed to pull this one out of your pocket. And it's always nice to see a dedicated camera button on the side of a phone.

Other items of note: It'll be available May 20 for $49.99 on contract ($19.99 on upgrade). We've got more pics and hands-on video after the break.

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Early today AT&T announced the latest 4G LTE Windows Phone to their line-up, the Samsung Focus 2. There wasn't much on specs available with the announcement but the Focus 2 is now up on Samsung.com with a full specs list.

The entry level Windows Phone measures 4.79 x 2.47 x .43 inches and weighs only 4.3 ounces. Comparatively, this is a smidgen smaller, thicker and heavier than the original Focus (4.84x2.56x.39 inches and 4.1 ounces).

The Focus 2 has a 4" Super AMOLED screen, 5 megapixel rear camera, VGA front, 8 gigabytes of storage, and a 1.4ghz processor. Everything is powered by a 1750mah battery.  On paper, the Focus 2 makes for a nice entry level Windows Phone.

The Focus 2 will be available in glossy white and will run $49.99 after contractual discounts. Look for it at AT&T on May 20, 2012 and you can sign up for email notifications over at AT&T's Focus 2 site.

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Want to get a whole new Live ID and start fresh with Microsoft? Here's how to transfer your account.

Microsoft's Live ID (soon to be renamed "Microsoft Account") is the key to all things from Redmond these days. Whether it’s your Xbox 360, SkyDrive, Live Mail, Zune Pass, App Hub account, Messenger or Windows Phone, your Live ID is at the heart.

The question is what if you want to change your Live ID?

Here we don't mean switching just on the phone, which unfortunately requires a hard-reset (and no, we don't have a work around for that, sorry). Instead, we're talking about what if you have an old Hotmail.com email account and you want a new Live.com one instead? Maybe you're not happy with your current user name or like us, you have used your Hotmail account since 2002 as a glorified spam experiment.

We'll walk you through the process of getting a new Live ID and making sure all your other services back-propagate to reflect the change keeping all of your services intact.

Read on after the break for our guide...

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