Mobile Nations Weekly: Launching, relaunching, unlaunching

As the holiday season kicks into full gear, things are getting hectic as last minute launches flow out the door. Microsoft's long-awaited new Windows Mobile flagship finally arrived in the form of the Lumia 950, a 5.2-inch Quad HD hexa-core 20MP beast of a phone. And it's even beastlier brother, the 5.7-inch Lumia 950 XL is due a week later.

While Microsoft had a successful launch, things have been a little more hinky on the Android side of things, where LG unlaunched the Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, a surpise move that saw the first cellular-equipped Android Wear watch getting pulled back from retail. That said, it's been a weird story for that watch since the very beginning.

In other news, Apple Pay launched into Australia and Canada (so long as you've got an American Express account), NVIDIA announced the new Shield Tablet K1, and even T-Mobile's notoriously unfiltered CEO thinks BlackBerry is 'on a comeback'.

Looking for the perfect tech gift? Check out our 2015 holiday gift guide!

Windows Central — Lumia landing

It's been two years since the last true 'high-end' Windows Phone and that all ended this week as the AT&T Microsoft Lumia 950 went on sale. Also, the bigger Lumia 950 XL and the unlocked versions go on sale next week. We reviewed the Lumia 950 in exasperating detail and while we saw a lot of good things, there are a few holes too.

Windows 10 Mobile build 10586, which is also the same version as the shipping one, also went out to Insiders this week heralding a new age of Windows Phone. Microsoft is done yet, however. More Insider builds are going to continue through 2016 as Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile continues to evolve.

Android Central — Good launches, bad launches

This week the Android world was pulled in several different directions, and there wasn't just one story stealing the show. In terms of news, we had ASUS finally launch its stick-like Chromebit computer, and NVIDIA took the wraps off of its refreshed Shield Tablet K1. Sprint (re)launched a promotion that'll cut your current phone bill in half, and announced a new "LTE Plus" network in 77 markets. Oh yeah, and LG abruptly decided to cancel the launch of the Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE.

As for apps, Pushbullet decided to finally start charging users (but did so with some odd phrasing), while Google made a pretty substational change to Google+ on both Android and the web.

For our own part here at Android Central, we put up three "second opinion" pieces for a fresh look at previously-reviewed devices — the BlackBerry Priv, the Nexus 5X and the Amazon Echo. And of course we had another edition of our Android History series — this time about Samsung's growth in 2012.

Read the latest entry in our epic 8-part Android History series

CrackBerry — BlackBerry on the rebound

As the Priv continues to make its way into customers hands, we've continued with all of our help content as well to get folks familiar with their device. Aside from that, this week we also saw BlackBerry ramp up their Priv marketing efforts, John Chen discuss what the device means to BlackBerry's future success and finally, we heard T-Mobile CEO John Legere say BlackBerry is 'on a comeback'.

iMore — Apple Apple Apple

So. Much. Apple. Stuff. We've got our international Apple TV review up finally, but we've also been going hard at the iPad Pro all week. Sure, Apple threw us an Apple Watch charging dock curveball, launched Apple Pay in Canada and Australia, and the list goes on and on. So let's get to it!

Kicked — Roll it up

This week on Kicked Weekly we show you the best way to roll your cords with The Cord Roll, talk about eating bugs with the Eat Grub Bar, and look at a campaign that wants to bring back the cult classic TV show Mystery Science Theatre 3000. And unsurprisingly, Dan's sweater choice is again mocked by Kim.

For the coolest crowd funding projects you need to know about (along with a few weekly antics) be sure to subscribe to the Kicked TV YouTube Channel and follow us on social media. We're active on Twitter, Facebook and of course Instagram.

Connectedly — Chromes, switches, and good ideas gone awry

This week we took featured some in-depth reviews of a few great tech devices. The Asus Chromebit gets mixed reviews. The Philips Hue dimmer switch is easy to use. The Amazon Echo gets rave reviews. The Nextbook Ares 11 is well priced, but not ideal. We took a look at a new security camera that offers free cloud storage. Battery charging technology is improving with the HyperCharge Hub and Huawei shows that quick charging can keep pace.

Derek Kessler

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

  • Under radar launches like the LG Windows Phone 8.1 for Verizon...
  • What's a blackberry?
  • A fruit.
  • That apparently is on the rebound.
  • Its climbing back to be the third Mobile ecosystem following the continued decline of Windows Mobile.
  • Blackberry has been borged by Android, so what ecosystem are we talking about here? Something like the solar system, but without a sun?
  • The Lumia launch was absolutely bungled. Accurate information was muddled and sparse. There's absolutely zero reason why people who want to PREORDER phones are not given a ready option to PAY FOR THEM. Coming soon? Sold out?? Seriously???
  • ^ true. Launch was total fail from their customer service/sales representative/ online orders point of view. 950 unlocked backordered at launch? Seriously?? Its not oversold, s o did they make just some hundred phones to sell it worldwide? Even backordered/ out of stock before you can actually place an order ???
  • Even Jolla did it better than this.
  • ......resuming
  • .......... Coming soon
  • Lol marketshare is not 1.7% correct it
  • I'm seeing this mistake all over the place. The 1.7 % is purely for Q3 sales.
  • Yes. The windows most read site that throws sh*t at its own platform. Very sad.
  • Windows phone comes under the category of "things that are not working" but it is Microsoft's own doing.
  • I went to see the 950 at at&t. I decided somehow, I'm going to get the 950xl. It was ok, but I'm ready for a phablet.
  • Agreed 950 looked good, but I have at 1520. Getting the XL
  • I went to see the 950 at at&t today. They had the display dock on display, and signage and a price tag for the 950, but haven't put the phone on display yet.
  • What's with american carriers always slapping their logo on phones? Talk about making a device ugly.
  • It lets those who see the device know that AT&T carries it. So, if you see it out in the wild, you know where it's at. Unbranded, someone might go to Verizon and be confused that it's not there.
  • Windows Phones are at Verizon?
  • No, that was my point. If you see a stranger with a 950 and an AT&T logo, you know it's not a Verizon phone that way. He asked why carrier branding exists on phones. It's for visibility to the masses.
  • Kind of a mute point as most people use a case or swap out the back cover. So really it's only for the carrier's vanity.
  • What's a "mute point?"
  • A logo on a phone with a case.
  • He's giving a valid reason why there's a carrier logo on a phone.  And you are making assumptions that everyone puts a case on their phones.  Because of the replacable case, I will forgo a case on my 950 when I get it.
  • What can I say... smh.  I visited several AT&T stores today and spent some (not as much as I would have liked) today with the L950.  I came away saddened.  I can't believe what happened to Windows most favorite apps.  Let's take Groove music for example.  I've read on many articles how Groove music is much better than Xbox Music so I was looking for something wonderful.  What I found was a shadow of Xbox Music.  The beautiful pivots are gone.  No more album art could be seen.  So, next I went to the people app.  Even though you could build groups it's not that beautiful folder with the photo's of the Group members scrolling.  It's just plain.  And that's putting it mildly.  Went to the Mail app.  It gets even worse.  Yes, the pivots are gone too.  The ease to read "unread", "flagged" are gone!  And no "Urgent" messages that I could find.  The feeling I got in the pit of my stomach is what the hell is this?  I could hardly contain the raw sickining feeling knowing that Windows Phone really ready to close shop.  What was so remarkable I was discussing these points with the AT&T sales person.  I was showing him the difference in the OS while comparing the 640XL vs. L950.  Believe me when I say he was very unfamiliar with Windows Phone.  As we went through the 950 he recognized the format because it was familiar to him has he pulled out his Android phone.  He even complained about he didn't like always reaching for the hamburger menu on his phone.  When I showed him the difference in the 640XL with the pivots.  He was amazed.  (And this is no hyperbole).  He was amazed how simple and "efficient" it was to find and move to the next part of the screen with "ONE HAND" and not have to continually reach accross the phone.  I think I almost sold him on WP.  :)   But for me the only thing I could think at that moment is how can I get a Lumia 830 that works with TMobile?  Or any decent Windows 8.1 phone that I can purchase at a reasonable price.  Windows 10 feels to me, like a HUGE step backwards!  Huge.  Some people can be fooled easily, but this isn't progress.  It's a regression.  I realize there are many who have drunk the kool aid and believe the hype about version 10.  I'm just not falling for it. 
  • It's a shame but very few people bought into the old Windows Phone concepts and were afraid to give it a fair share. Even though 10 isn't as user friendly, it's mote familiar and able to possibly win over people from other camos because it's not too different. I know so many people who sae WP8 and wouldn't look any more calling it strange, weird, or too different. Things would have different if WP was first but everyone is programmed now much like thr weird ways we drive cars.
  • It wasn't the concepts. The problem was the apps. The problem is STILL the apps. They didn't have to copy the Android menu/navigation design to get attention. They needed hardware and apps. I bought my 920 based on the UI of Windows Phone. Now, everything is so Android-like within apps that there is even less to make the W10M OS a compelling offering one could switch to. You're not gaining that UI convenience.
  • I was taken aback when I saw how the main Windows Phone apps had deteriorated in W10.  It's almost criminal what has happened.  I realize that's my opinion.  But WP use to look special now it looks like an also ran.  I was shocked how different (but not in a good way) WP has fallen in style and appeal.  But maybe they'll (MS) get what they want in Android users.  I was so fired up to get a 950 now I don't know if I can bring myself to go backwards.
    You know what it reminds me of... A beautiful starlet who gets plastic surgery because they think they are just not pretty enough (even though they are very beautiful).  And then they end up looking hideous after the surgery.  But they pretend they still look beautiful.  That's how I see Windows Mobile 10.
  • I got into the Insider Preview a while ago, so I have mostly gotten used to it. I still hatr that Song view is not available within individual artists anymore. The pop-out menu styles wouldn't be AS bad if the menu buttons weren't in the top-left. That's the WORST place for one-hand use, especially on larger devices. I want to get a 950 XL, but even with reasonably large hands, I'm almsot certain one-handed navigation of the music app will become impossible.
  • Some idiot voted you down so I voted you up. Because really Windows 10 mobile is garbage. I was hoping they'd bring pivot back before launch like they did with the Photos app, but they didn't. Now SOME apps have pivots, some dont. Its a mess. Its garbage. I loved WP7 and bought into the WP7 craze because of how polished, premium, gorgeous, and intuitive the UI was. I absolutely loved it. Still do. But Windows 10... you're right. Its garbage. And if this is the way Windows is heading on mobile then I've no reason to stick to it anymore. Because all the other Mobile OSs have the same garbage, inconsistent UIs. With the exception of iOS which Apple does try to keep consistent. I miss my iPhone 4 now. But I miss my Focus Flash even more..
  • Thanks! Totally agree!!! Damn WP7 was so fresh and classic. I still use it on my HTC Radar 4G. That was one beautiful OS iteration.
  • I feel what u r feeling but the original decision to bring hamburger menus was that most Android developers were probably not ready to change the UI of their apps to match with the Windows Phone 8.1 and I think Microsoft thought that they tried to dictate their WP 8.1 design but alot of developers did not follow so Microsoft had to change the design of Windows 10 Mobile to give those developers some freedom to bring their Android apps to Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile with minimum changes. And I am sure once Windows 10 ecosystem gets big enough to dictate terms that all developers will be willing to follow just like iOS then we can have the UI of our own liking.
  • I'm using WP 8.1 on my 1020 now yet I have apps with hamburger menus. Microsoft didn't have to gut the OS to accommodate a certain UI, devs can freely design whatever UI they want, what they needed was a mature OS with the relevant api's for them to add the functionality they wanted. That's where Microsoft failed so completely, they let the OS stagnate instead of advancing it. Changing the UI wont make a difference if devs still cant create the powerful apps they want.
  • I miss that focus flash :tears:
  • I still have mine, such a good phone.
  • I've many friends I introduced to windows mobile back at 8.1 and truly most people out there are conservative and believe me my friends love the 10586 build more than 8.1 update 2.
    So I can say Microsoft did this to create a familiar UX for those switching and ease the process of porting apps since most have a context menu up there which I don't think would have fitted in an ellipsis menu.
    Although they could have made it easier by allowing swiping from the left..
  • Every platform is converging anyway. Apple takes cues from Android, and vice versa, Microsoft is simply harmonising the UI so the OS is less jarring to new users, who complained that Windows 8 is too much. Unfortunately, being different is not always going to sell...
  • When I look at 10 after being on 8.1 I wish the concept of the people hub was broadened. It is very nice to remember a name and search that and have ALL interactions with that person organized under their name rather than searching in different accounts. When I search a name in Outlook 2016, I'll never find it unless I'm looking in the correct account address book.
  • "Microsoft is done yet, however." Microsoft isn't done yet, however you mean...
  • Oh, I'd say Microsoft IS done in the phone market, and I've been a fan from day 1. And Skype, my god what they've done to Skype, wow....terrible...
  • Went to mediamarkt here in Sweden today and they don't even sell Windows phones anymore. I asked for a Lumia 950 XL and they haven't even ordered it. To low demand...... Good move by Microsoft to only have focus on the states. So what now? What should I by as my next phone?
  • Microsoft pulled Astoria, one of the Bridges announced at Build 2015, just six months ago.
    Microsoft also pulled support to IoT Galileo cards.
    So its pretty rough in Windows developers land as well. Zig Zag strategy.