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We're back this week with special guest, Nokia's Justin Angel who joins Editor-in-chief Daniel Rubino and developer Jay Bennett for an interesting and exciting discussion of Windows Phone "Tango" and what it means both for fragmentation, developers and consumers. What's more crazy than that? The fact that Justin called in via his Lumia 610 on Skype.

We also go through some news, apps and take your questions.

Listen in or watch the HD video after the break!

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Just a few weeks before it officially hits, Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh aka "Tango" (build 8773) has managed to be dumped onto XDA for the world to see (and use). Wasting no time, some chefs have already cooked up some custom ROMs for the HD2 (which will evidently live until the year 2031 with updates) and the Samsung Omnia7.

More ROMs will be expected to follow soon for first generation devices, notably HTC ones and the Samsung Focus. Since there are no custom ROMs for Gen 2 devices (due to a locked bootloader), we're not expecting this Tango ROM to help too much though perhaps some folks at XDA will find a way.

Tango is thought to a "refresh" of Windows Phone 7.5 with only minor, under the hood changes including support for lower-spec'd devices (256MB of RAM) as well as some MMS improvements and a fix for the SMS bug. Like all previous updates, this is expected to trickle out for current phones but only at the discretion of the carrier.

Source: HD2, Omnia 7; via XDA

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Microsoft China has been sending out invitations (see above) to the media for their upcoming Windows Phone "Tango" launch event. The launch event, set to be held in Beijing on March 21st, will mark the introduction of the emerging markets version of the mobile OS.

HTC has already launched the HTC Triumph (TITAN MK I), which reportedly runs the latest version of Tango. This also slots in nicely with Stephen Elop's announcement that the first batch of Nokia Windows Phones will be available in China on March 28th, not to mention the upcoming China Telecom CDMA "Lumia 800c" also uses a later version of Tango with newer firmware.

The Marketplace is still closed but developers can submit apps through AppHub. We expect it to be available to consumers soon after the official launch from Microsoft. What's next? The burning question as to when will "Mango" users receive all the improvements found in "Tango"?

Source: LiveSide

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Stefania Duico, head of the Windows Phone division in Italy, was interviewed by an Italian fan blog, revealing some interesting details surrounding platform updates - namely the official title of upcoming Windows Phone "Tango". This OS update, which will target emerging mobile markets, will be referred to as "Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh".

Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh will help Microsoft and OEMs produce devices for said markets with lower specifications. There will be some resource intensive features (such as multitasking, Live Tiles, etc.) disabled, no background tasks running, as well as some apps not being able to be installed (depending on the developer), but the experience should be silky smooth as one would expect with a high-end device on the platform.

Source: Windows Phone Italy

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According to a MWC12 announcement made by Nokia India’s marketing director, Viral Oza, Nokia "will be launching Lumia 610 soon in the Indian market and at an affordable price.” It turns out that the price for the affordable Tango-equipped handset will be Rs 11,000 (about $220), which is almost a third cheaper than its current Windows Phone brethren, the Samsung Omnia W and Nokia Lumia 710 and about half as much as most Android phones.  Though the Lumia 610 will be running Tango, a less feature-rich version of Windows Phone, it is still nothing to sneeze at, sporting a 3.7-inch screen, 8GB memory, and a 5 megapixel camera.

India has historically been a huge market for Nokia, so it makes a whole lot of sense for them to offer a sensibly-priced Windows Phone option in order to hold on to that.  Of course, it's just one front in the battle for Nokia to regain its one-time dominance, since lost to competitors like Samsung.

Source: MobileIndian.com; Via: WMPUTechin5; Thanks for the tip, jubbing!

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In a small post on his MSDN blog, Microsoft's Mike Battista let us know about the recently updated Weather app which hit version 2.0 yesterday. Your response to it has been overwhelmingly supportive of the new version with many giving it high praise.

What's interesting though is how the app was redesigned from "the ground up" to take advantage of the new Tango guidelines:

"In addition to having new features, this version was architected from the ground up for performance following many of the guidelines I call out in my recent blog post Optimizing Apps for Lower Cost Devices.

I encourage you to follow the same performance/UX principles demonstrated by this new Weather update.  Following these principles will ensure your apps perform great regardless of the device."

Lead by example. Granted the app is hardly pulling a lot of info but it's still very fast. And it's nice to know that those on Tango will get the same experience. So devs, heed Mike's advice and take a second look at your app and performance using those guidelines. For those curious, here is a listing of Tango limiations

Source: Mike Battista's Blog

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Microsoft has been busy updating the official Windows Phone website to include details surrounding new features and limitations that will be introduced with Windows Phone "Tango". LiveSide has rounded up all the restrictions that will be placed on handsets that sport 256MB RAM - the revised system requirement which will introduce low-end budget devices.

  • Windows Phone Marketplace app restrictions – Some processor-intensive apps have memory requirements, and will not work on phones with 256 MB of RAM.
  • Podcast Subscriptions and Video Podcasts – You won't be able to manage podcast subscriptions on your phone or watch video podcasts.
  • Local Scout – You won't be able to use Bing Local Scout services.
  • Fast app switching – Fast app switching (multitasking) will be disabled.
  • SkyDrive automatic photo upload – SkyDrive photo automatic uploading will be disabled.
  • HD video playback – Inability to play video compressed with some of the listed codecs.
  • Background agents – To free up RAM for the foreground on 256MB devices, generic background agents (PeriodicTasks / ResourceIntensiveTasks) are disabled.

As well as the above limitations, there have been a number of improvements seen in previously leaked photos of "Tango" that include multiple file attachments in SMS, ability to record and send voice / video clips, and the recently revealed location services alert icon.

Microsoft has also published a new blog entry for developers, which goes into some detail surrounding the issue of optimising apps for the lower system specifications. From improving startup time and lowering memory usage to handling feature reductions. Mike Battista, who wrote the blog article, also recommends developers make use of the 256MB emulator in the SDK to test the app with identical runtime behaviour as a 256MB sporting device.

Source: Windows Phone Team Blog, via: LiveSide

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Good old Jaxbot from Windows Phone Hacker has managed to get his hands on a pre-release version of the Windows Phone "Tango" emulator (build 8731, which is earlier than the shipping 8757).

In addition, he's gone an unlocked the whole thing making it available for others to download and use. But for those of us who don't want to bother they can just watch the above video walkthrough demonstrating the few changes that are present in "Tango" (most of the changes are under the hood). Things like voice-notes in MMS or the location-icon detailed earlier though are nice little changes.

All in all, not too much to get excited about but if you want the emulator, head to Windows Phone Hacker for more info and the download links.

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Microsoft has updated the how-to section of the official Windows Phone website to include a small tip regarding when location based services are currently active. A small indicator (see above image) will be included in a future update, which be displayed with the other disappearing status indicators that will alert the user as to when apps are using the phone's location.

Microsoft informed The Verge that the update will be included with handsets shipping with Windows Phone "Tango" with existing devices receiving the update once the company has finalised the update with carriers.

"After the new devices are out, we’ll start the process of working with mobile operators to bring an update to current customers. It’ll be a few months before we have specifics on that roll out,

Just how long existing consumers will have to wait for the update hasn't been specified, but it's a positive move to fight privacy concerns. We could well see the update including this location indicator being bundled with the new features in "Tango" for Mango users.

Source: Microsoft, via: The Verge@WPUG

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With the upcoming "Tango" update to Windows Phone, OEMs will have the ability to make phones with just 256 MB of RAM, shaving off a few precious dollars from their bottom line. Of course in doing so, about 5% of the apps currently on the Marketplace (including ours) won't work unless the developer re-works aspects to make it more efficient on memory usage. Such phones include the Nokia Lumia 610 and possibly the ZTE Orbit. Those devices display a similar notification in their "About" section too:

Of course there are instances where developers may not want to adjust their app--either they don't want to compromise performance/esthetics or they use periodicTask or a ResourceIntensiveTask. In that case, developers can actually opt-out of making their app compatible and instead a message will appear alerting users that this app won't work on their phone.

Nokia has now published details on both how devs can enable this feature as well as what the user experience will be like. The latter part involves a message noting that the app cannot be installed and when tapped a pop-up window will notify them that they need a phone with more RAM.

Source: Nokia Developer; Thanks, anon, for the tip

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Earlier today we called attention to new changes being brought about with the release of Windows Phone SDK 7.1.1, the release supporting 'Tango' in all it's low-end/budget glory.

We also mentioned in that article that only 5% of apps wouldn't run in the new hardware configuration, which is down to the amount of memory they utilise whilst active. However looking over this msdn page we wanted to make it crystal clear to our community that in fact there is a limitation for our new friend the Lumia 610: it won't run Background Tasks.

Specifically, generic background tasks are not supported for devices with 256MB of memory. A perfect example would be the background task used to update the live tile and cache in our own app. These types of tasks are known to developers as Periodic tasks and Resource Intensive tasks (if you want to understand the difference I recommend reading this overview). The potentially good news is that some types of background task, such as the background Audio agent which is used for playing music or podcasts after the app has been de-activated, look to be supported still.

A question therefore which I put to our readers, is this the first sign of platform fragmentation? Can we still state that "you get the same great Windows Phone experience on any handset"? Or is this a reasonable omission for the sweeter price spot?

Update: A quick clarification as some of our commenters aren't too sure, this does not affect fast app switching (part of the multitasking functionality) and nor does it affect push notifications which generate live tiles or toast messages. I'd also like to state that if apps make use of Background tasks Microsoft have provided methods for developers to identify when a "mid-tier" device is being used before trying to enable the task, thus allowing users to continue using all other features of the app in question.

Update 2: Justin Angel argues (very well) that this is not mobile fragmentation, as technically developers will write code once which can then be run on any Windows Phone platform, although developers may still be required to test for these mid-tier devices and run functions of their apps in accordance. Instead Justin suggests that this classifies as 'device differentiation', in the same way as not having a gyroscope or front facing camera in your device.

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Nokia has reached an agreement with Tencent, China's top online social portal / network, for the company to provide their multiplayer gaming service QQ Game Hall for Windows Phone "Tango" handsets, according to a report by the Shanghai Daily. This service will replace Microsoft's Xbox LIVE, enabling access for consumers to connect with friends and play online titles (think: Apple's Game Center).

"It will allow users to log in through their QQ accounts and find their QQ friends immediately."

The above quote is according to an unidentified source. Tencent's gaming platform, has recently surpassed 200 million registered users, but Microsoft hasn't released much information detailing "Tango", which makes MWC 2012 an event to look out for. While Chinese consumers aren't able to download apps and games from the Marketplace, developers are able (and encouraged) to submit content. 

Via: Eastday

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We've touched on the Lumia 610 (or 601 as it was referred to) previously, which is set to be announced at the upcoming Mobile World Congress 2012 and will be powered by Windows Phone "Tango". LiveSide has received confirmation that the Nokia handset has passed through certification in Indonesia (as shown above).

Although not much detail is displayed, we do know that this device does indeed exist, which will make MWC fairly exciting with the unveiling of Microsoft's next Windows Phone update "Tango". As well as featuring the usual Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, the Lumia 610 will support GSM 900/1800 and WCDMA 2100 bands.

Source: LiveSide

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Tango has been in the spotlight for some time - the upcoming version of Windows Phone for emerging markets. We've already heard that Tango will lower the minimum RAM requirements to just 256MB, as well as a few tips detailing a few feature implementations. Now wp7forum.ru has leaked some screenshots of a Tango Windows Phone, and as well as some improvements being displayed, we can also see some drawbacks (see above shots).

wp7forum.ru reports that camera hardware will be dropped to just 3MP, while the lower RAM requirements may see users being greeted with potential Marketplace warnings due to not enough system resources being available. This could lead to some degree of fragmentation and will prevent users on low-end hardware being able to run certain apps, with the possibility of 3rd party Live Tiles not updating automatically. 

On the bright side, there were a few new features present. In the above shots we can see more functionality added to messaging, including the ability to record voice, attach videos as well as multiple photos to a single MMS. Microsoft will also be increasing the allowance for OEM/carrier installed applications from 16 to 40.

As we previously covered, Tango is set to be an update targeted at emerging markets. This could potentially mean the rest of the Windows Phone user base may not be receiving Tango as an update, and may experience a longer wait until Apollo is rolled out. 

Source: wp7forum.ru, via: WMPU, thanks to those who sent tips in!

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Tango, the cross-platform video calling application, appears to following in the footsteps of iPhone's Path application when it comes to the poor management of private account data. (Not to be confused with the Windows Phone update, codenamed Tango.) Today, a reader wrote in detailing how the PC client (version 1.6.14117 at time of writing) allows one armed with simply a mobile number access to any Tango user's contact data -- and account -- by simply using the application in a specific manner. While we won't share exact details, we must admit it's not hard to figure out. And just a few months ago, Tango was discovered to be downloading contact details without permission.

Using the steps provided, we were able to download a colleague's Tango contact data, make Tango calls, and manage account details with ease. This possibly indicates that Tango's security code-based account validation is simply an arbitrary client-side check -- a big no-no.

Update: Tango let us know the issue has been fixed and an update has been pushed out to users. Kudos to the Tango team for the quick response.

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As some of our readers may already know, Windows Phone allows for the execution of both managed and unmanaged code, with the latter requiring special sign off by Microsoft. (Or an unlocked phone.) It's always interesting, however, to keep track of who gets permission to publish apps onto the Marketplace with native code in place from both a security and enthusiast perspective.

Windows Phone blogger @tezawaly wrote us today, letting us know he ran a count of all the applications on the Marketplace containing a copy of the WMInteropManifest.xml file. (He did this, presumably, by downloading every single XAP and inspecting the contents of each.) This file is special in that, if present, acts as a flag to the operating system letting it know you're okay to use APIs on the phone that would otherwise be blocked. He counted 48 native applications ranging from carrier applications such as the HTC Hub to high visibility ISV applications such as NAVIGON USA.

You can check out the full app list on his blog.

Source: Nanapho.jp

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In response to circulating rumors regarding Windows Phone 8's lack of application backwards compatibility, Microsoft's Brandon Watson -- Director of Developer Experience -- confirmed today that the upcoming OS revision will run older Windows Phone 7 applications. Yep, that means Sally's Salon will port over just fine.

But from a technical perspective, how existing apps will work unmodified is fuzzy. For example, if the new resolution rumors pan out, should we expect some sort of zooming functionality akin to Apple's iPad (running iPhone applications)? And what about those awesome premium apps (e.g. Youtube, Tango, Navigon) with native hooks into the underlying OS? We presume everyone using native code is on Windows Phone for the long haul, but it's worth asking.

Anyway, stay tuned. We expect both Windows Phone "Tango" and "Apollo" to be detailed at Mobile World Congress next month. Rest assured we'll have feet -- at least Daniel Rubino's -- on the ground providing updates.

Source: WinSuperSite

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File this under rumor, folks, as these screenshots can easily be faked, but PocketPC.ch is reporting that Windows Phone "Tango" will be known as Windows Phone 7.6 and has the build number starting at 7.20.1050.5. More importantly, they allege that it will include Google+ in addition to Skype. Via Bing Translator:

"In this early beta phase, the implementation of Skype and G + is still rather experimental. Telephoning via Skype seems to work not as yet, but it is prepared. G + chat and Skype chat work but already well. The front camera, which will be the next generation of Windows phones standard, is included in the Skype video calling. It is thus possible to receive video calls and to make, but in the pre beta with some problems and crashes. That Google Hangout, the video calling G +, will also follow, is likely, but the timing is still unclear, given that the API of G + is still not so far advanced, to make this possible."

In other words, the reason we have not yet seen an app for Windows Phone is because Microsoft has evidently pushed up the integration from Apollo (Windows Phone 8) to Tango (Windows Phone 7.6), making this update much more significant. In addition, Microsoft is also evidently pushing out Google+ into the mix which makes sense from a "cover the market" perspective, but should be surprising to many including those on Android, assuming it is true.

Hopefully we'll find out more in the coming weeks as to the validity of this leaked image and the content therein. But if accurate, "Tango" looks to be quite major, indeed.

Edit: As pointed out in comments by J45PER, the font for the o's in "Google" look and are spaced differently than "Facebook", calling into question the validity of the image. However, it's not clear if PocketPC.ch is claiming the screenshot is real or were just using it for illustrative purposes.

Edit 2: The source, PocketPC.ch, is denying that they faked the story or image. We of course have doubts like you, but we'll find out soon enough. Link to the "new" watermarked image, for what it's worth.

Source: PocketPC.ch; Thanks, Benjamin, for the tip!

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Michael Gillett, MVP in Windows Live and Senior UK Microsoft Student Partner, has published an interesting tip that he's received from a "trustworthy" source. The tip includes two changes which will be applied in the coming Tango update; the media controls for manipulating playback will take up less space on-screen, and users will be able to create folders for tiles on the home screen.

Take the above with a pinch of salt like any rumour, but we could be onto something here. The media controls are pretty darn massive, and one can get into a pickle with having a good number of Live Tiles dancing the night away. So the changes would make sense to many. Although, instead of creating folders (as you would in iOS), we would prefer to think that Microsoft would bring across grouping, which is present in Windows 8 and is available in the Homebrew community with the Folders app.

What do you make of these two changes? Let us know in the comments.

Source: My Microsoft Life, via: Plaffothanks Antonino for the tip!

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