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In addition to the developer programme announced today, Microsoft has also revealed secrets behind the keyboard in Windows Phone 8. The keyboard in Windows Phone has been praised by consumers and critics alike since the platform launched back in 2010, and it has gone through heavy usage and development to further improve the user experience.

So what's the secret to Microsoft's success?

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Microsoft Surface RT Touch Cover issues

We've heard rumblings about the Microsoft Surface RT Touch Cover coming un-raveled along the connector. The plastic shell on the keyboard separates and exposes the connecting wires. Not a really good situation.

The separation looks as if it is caused when you fold the keyboard over behind the Surface and the plastic shell is stretched too far and comes loose. If you're having problems with the Surface Touch Cover, while a roll of duct tape could fix the problem, there's a better solutions.  Here's what you need to do.

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A number of Windows Phone Central readers, who happen to be incredibly observant, have noticed a small change in Windows Phone 8. As one can see in the image above, the Windows Phone keyboard now shows the selected letters in the accent colours, as opposed to black or white.

Readers noticed a fresh look for the keyboard in a HTC 8X video tour, which shows off some features in Windows Phone 8 - something that was disallowed by Microsoft and OEMs in the past. 

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How would you like one of these running Apollo?

My Nokia Blog have received a photo collection of an N9 successor, codenamed 'Lauta'. If it were released, it's reported to have been the immediate successor to the N9 and would have been launched soon after, but was subsequently scrapped due to Nokia's decision to support Windows Phone and drop MeeGo.

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Yet another day, yet another roundup of somewhat exciting news involving Microsoft.  We’ll summarize the stories for you to keep you abreast of what’s going on in the world of Redmond. Today’s stories we found interesting:

  • Intel CEO remarks that 20 Windows 8 Tablets are coming this fall
  • Microsoft is back with a new keyboard dubbed ‘the Wedge’ (and mouse)
  • Windows Phone will grab 4% market share in the US in 2012?

Head on past the break to get all the info…

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A curved 'Arc' keyboard for Windows Phone?

I must say I am not overly keen on the above. It just looks weird to me but that maybe just because it is a new concept. WMPoweruser has managed to get hold of the image of the Arc keyboard and it is suggested that this may well be something that Microsoft are looking to introduce to Windows Phone in the future.

Apparantly this picture has come from a leaked Microsoft Research presentation. Will we see this in the future? Who knows, but what we can be certain of is that all operating system providers will experiment with altenative keyboards from time to time.

In my opinion I am not sure this one is needed and if it will even be a selling point for Windows Phone. If we are given a choice of which keyboard we use on a device could work. That wouldnt do any harm for sure.

What do you think? Please let us have your opinions in the comments.

Source: WMPoweruser; Thanks, Gordon, for the tip!

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We broke the news the other night that Verizon Wireless was set to roll out the latest (or nearly the latest) Windows Phone OS update, version 8107, to HTC Trophy users on its network. That update not only fixes security issues but addresses the disappearing keyboard bug that has driven many mad for the last few months.

We've now received a flood of tips that the update is currently live and if you plug in your Trophy to Zune Desktop you'll be greeted with an update notification. Actually, you'll eventually have three updates to install as it's cumulative:

  • OS 7740
  • OS 8107
  • HTC Firmware

So sit tight as the backup process will vary from device device and will depend on how much "stuff" you have on your phone. Let us know in comments if all has gone well.

Thanks to all who tipped us! Thanks, Vance, for the image.

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Samsung Focus S keyboard oddity

There is a discussion going on in the's forums on an oddity with the Samsung Focus S's keyboard. Apparently if you get to typing really fast a lag time is created between the tapping of the key and hearing the "tap" sound.

I don't doubt that such a lag time is happening but my typing skills aren't fast enough to notice any lag time at all. The keystrokes register as you type so I'm left to ask, does such a lag time matter?

Most will be concentrating on what is being typed instead of whether or not the "tapping" sound is in sync with the keyboard strokes.  I can't say that this is a major issue or even a bug because not everyone will type fast enough to notice.  So... is this a bug the will slow down your typing or just an oddity with the Samsung Focus S?

If you've experienced this lag time or simply want to chime in on the discussion, head on over to this Forums discussion and let us know what you think?

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We recently covered a growing thread over at the XDA Developers forum with Windows Phone owners reporting an issue with the on-screen keyboard disappearing from view without accidentally pressing the "back" capacitive button. We were told that Microsoft is currently looking into the problem.

Greg Fonta, a French Windows Phone developer, has investigated the root of the problem. It appears to be related to a Mango feature (as seen in the above video), Background Agents. These agents allow apps to run tasks when currently inactive and not running in the foreground. 

According to the report at WMPU, disabling Background Agents appears to rectify the issue. This can be accomplished by navigating to Settings > applications > background tasks and disabling Background Agents on a per application basis.

Does this workaround work for you? If not, which handset do you own that experiences the problem?

Source: WMPU

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A number of Windows Phone users running Mango have complained about their keyboards performing a disappearing act and I can confirm that mine too vanishes on the rare occasion. An active thread is accumulating posts over at the XDA Developer forum with experiences and complaints. Microsoft has since confirmed that they are looking into the reports with a reply to a Twitter user who tweeted about the issue. Mary Jo Foley, of ZDNet, received a statement from the software giant:

Customer support is working with the individuals reporting changes to their experience. We are investigating these reports to determine the root cause of any issues users are having.

Have you come across this problem?

Source: Twitter, ZDNetXDA Developer forum, via: WinRumors

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I'm not really sure what to make of this, it's as though Microsoft plans to not only provide you with a powerful, simplistic handset, but to throw in some Nintendo Wii Remote-type accessories as well if this patent is anything to go by. Should this indeed turn out to be the case, that all future Windows Phone handsets will have a slide-out accessory expansion slot, then it could open up a whole new realm of opportunity.

From the trusty external keyboard that aids typing to a battery extension to a game pad that gives the user an edge in gaming, I'm sure Microsoft has bags of imagination (as anyone would) surrounding this idea. As for me I'm not one to fuss about moving/interchangeable parts as I'm fully aware that hardware wears out. It's one of the reasons why I adore my Samsung Omnia7 - it's just a block with no moving parts (sliding keyboard etc.).

"A mobile communication device comprises a first device with a first display and multiple second devices. The second devices are releasably attachable to the first device and are interchangeable with each other. The mobile device can operate as a mobile cell phone with one or more second devices operable as a mobile phone hand set. The second devices can comprise one or more game controllers, batteries, physical keyboards and/or mobile phone handsets with a display. In a detached configuration, the first device is separated from the second devices and can wirelessly communicate with one or more of the detached second devices. In a three device configuration, the first device can send commands, control signals or content to one or more external devices in addition to the second devices."

It's interesting to note that the secondary devices (accessories for the smartphones) will be able to work wirelessly without being connected to a handset. Still, I remain skeptical. Let us not forget the integration with Kinect we could be experiencing in the future.

Source: Patent, via: BGR, Unwired

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Sliding Keyboard updated to v1.8

First off, we recommend turning your light on and off continuously throughout the above YouTube video. Extra bass helps too. Anyway, the above demo is of Sliding Keyboard for Windows Phone 7, version 1.8. We recently covered the app at verson 1.7, a day before the update was submitted.

What's changed? The major improvement is speed of rendering text after you've swiped your heart out on-screen.  Smaller relevant dictionaries, better localization support (with multiple keyboard layouts) and an option to translate text has been thrown in.

You can download Sliding Keyboard from the Marketplace for 79p ($.99). For those who already use the app, keep an eye out for an available update.


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While we previously wrote about how Swype could look to move onto the Windows Phone platrform with Nokia heading up the show, this is some pretty interesting development by Invoke IT. The above demo of the app Sliding Keyboard is performed by YouTube user hermitd31.

This app is standalone and allows the user to swipe instead of type. The keyboard is a slight shade of blue to differentiate between the stock keyboard and should the user tap in the text area while Sliding Keyboard is active WP7 will take over with the default popping up. One is able to swipe and save to the clipboard for import in other apps.

You can download Sliding Keyboard from the Marketplace for a mere 79p and while the majority of reviews are somewhat negative, it's good to see a Swype alternative that's readily available.

Via: WPSauce

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Swype coming to WP7 via Nokia?

Swype, a virtual keyboard maker, is said to be pinning hopes on Nokia diving into Windows Phone 7 development so they can possibly move to Microsoft's mobile platform as well as covering tablets running Windows. We recently covered how Swype made entry with WinMo and shifted a good 90% of its business to Android.

For those who aren't familiar with the technology behind Swype, it allows you to swipe your finger across a virtual keyboard to create words instead of typing. Earlier this year Swype secured a $3.5 million investment from Ignition Partners and while they've turned profitable in recent quarters, CEO Mike McSherry explains the funding will help further development and deploy on other platforms.

Do you want to see Swype on your WP7 handset, or a future Windows tablet for that matter? Check out a short video of Swype (on a tablet) after the break.

Source: Examiner

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A Better OS, a Better Keyboard

If you’ve used a competitive OS to Windows Phone 7 that features an on-screen keyboard (notably Android and iOS) you will surely agree with me when I say that the keyboard present on our WP7 devices blows everything else out the water. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s close.

Microsoft Research has published an article that provides a fantastic insight into the keyboard and how it has been developed to adapt to users with how the habit of typing isn’t entirely accurate (for some key presses we may place our finger on the top-right of a key almost touching a neigh-borough key). Read on after the break.

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Everyone hates un-finished products, but to have a smartphone only limited to one language? If you aren't familiar with what I mean, back in December we covered how the HTC HD7 on T-Mobile was the only device which was limited to having English as the only available language setting. As one would expect, many have been relatively annoyed by the lack of multi-lingual support - in this case, Spanish speaking Americans.

As well as explaining the problem and why it occurred (due to "lack of time"), HTC also stated to Jeff (he got in touch with HTC about the problem and tipped us originally) that "by February this should not be an issue", meaning the NoDo update should see more languages supported by the device.

It seems HTC (or T-Mobile) hasn't lived up to their promise and Jeff has now reported to us that multi-lingual keyboard support is still missing. Bizarre, more than anything. On one side of the wall you have Microsoft being beaten to death by an angry mob while desperately attempting to apologize for previous mistakes, and on the opposite side you have HTC making promises they don't seem able to keep.

Looking at the same thread at the T-Mobile forums that Jeff brought to our attention months ago, a few recent, post-update, concerns have been voiced.

Alternative explanation? With Samsung and Dell shipping firmware updates in addition to the February/March updates, perhaps, just perhaps, the HD7 will also be getting a separate firmware update that will fix this as well as other "issues". We'll keep an eye out.

Thanks for the tip, Jeff!

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Last we checked, despite our delusions and self aggrandizement, the world doesn't revolve around English. And while parts of the world await for Microsoft to bless them with native language support, some inspiring lads are taking into their own hands. (Maybe they can fix the T-Mo HD7?)

In the above case, it's Thai, which wins for coolest looking alphabet in our eyes (Korean is really neat too). It's only for Samsung devices at the moment, but it's getting there. This joins Hebrew, which was hacked a few weeks ago at XDA as pointed out by 1800pocketpc and JapaneseGood stuff.

Source: WinPhoClub; Thanks, @TonHor for the tip!

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Update: HTC has contacted Jeff directly and corrected themselves. Evidently, it was due to "lack of time" as to why the extra language packs were not included and that they will be added in an update. As interesting, they said "by February this should not be an issue". which gives more credence to that rumored update coming down the road.

It turns out that the choices for keyboard languages (ergo configuration, see Settings --> Keyboard) are an option left up to OEMs and carriers. While most Windows Phones have multiple languages supported (e.g. French, German, Italian, Spanish and English) the HD7 curiously has only English on board.

Why that is remains a mystery, but at least according to HTC, the decision was not theirs:

If your Windows Phone 7 does not contain a display language that you would like to use, there is currently no way to get a new language pack installed on the phone. Microsoft makes language packs available (as they're created) to the device manufacturers (OEMs) at the time of manufacturing and it is up to the device manufacturer and mobile operator to decide which languages to include. In this case, it was T-Mobile’s decision to only include English.

As a result, some Spanish speaking Americans (who make up more than 12% of the population) are a little bit upset. Specifically, when they type in Spanish, it auto-corrects their words since the dictionary is dependent upon language selection. What's more, the HD7 on T-Mobile seems to be alone in this single language support when compared other WP7 devices (as far as we know at the moment).

No response from T-Mobile on the issue, but hopefully they'll make a note of it to include in an update in the future. Till then, you multi-lingual folk may want to steer clear of that phone if you think this matters to you.

[See also possible reception and magenta camera issues]

Source: T-Mobile Support Forums; Thanks, Jeff G., for the link

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Review: SlideIT

Dasur software has recently released SlideIT for Windows Phone as an alternative to the traditional on-screen keyboard. SlideIT will not only allow you to use the keyboard in a traditional manner (pressing one key at a time) or you can slide your finger across the letters to create words.

Sounds a lot like Swype, right? There are a few differences with SlideIT that separates it a little from Swype. After the jump, we'll give you a quick low-down on this new keyboard alternative.

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