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LockWidgets 2

We've previously looked at the Locked Screen Widgets concept over at Windows Phone Hacker throughout it's development. We're now excited to report that LockWidgets 2 has been released and is now available to all (should you own an eligible Windows Phone of course).

What's all the fuss about? LockWidgets 2 is a complete rewrite of the original LockWidgets app, which enabled users to add widgets to their lock screen. The successor adds more functionality to the list with more opportunities present in the framework. Some highlighted features:

  • SMS widget
  • Weather widget
  • Battery widget
  • Runs in the background
  • Should run side-by-side with other homebrew apps, such as Folders, Battery Status, etc.

Features that are still in development, but are well on their way include an RSS widget, improved forecast info, more notification data, and a RAM widget. Check out the following video for more information and a quick run through.

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WP Central

Senior product manager for Windows Phone, Greg Sullivan

Since the announcement of Windows Phone 8 and some its new functionality, it's been unclear whether or not we would see some budget devices (256MB of RAM) sporting the new OS, or if the 7.8 update would be the only option (currently, Microsoft's answer to this problem are Tango phones like the Lumia 610). The question was posed by KnowYourMobile to senior product manager for Windows Phone, Greg Sullivan, who hinted that economical Apollo devices are a distinct possibility:

"I would argue those are not mutually exclusive strategies and that is in fact is our approach. We will continue to support the current platform with the 256MB footprint in devices like the Lumia 610. And one of the points about the new architecture is that it will scale both up and down," and then added, 'In fact, having support for removable SD storage will enable OEMs to build devices with less storage initially that is user expandable, so the bill of materials is potentially even lower for the handsets."

Sullivan also went on to explain Microsoft's reasoning on limiting earlier Windows Phone devices to the 7.8 update, despite major disappointment amongst consumers.

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The Lumia 900 - Winner of the 2012 IDEA Award for Design

At this point, it’s little surprise to see Nokia continuing to win awards for its Lumia line of smartphones, specifically the Lumia 800 and its offshoot the 900. Earlier this year it won 4 awards at CES 2012.  But it’s still nice to see them getting the recognition and let’s face it they’re the only Windows Phone OEM in town winning design awards. Heck, they’re pretty much the only smartphone maker to win design awards, regardless of platform.

This year they won gold at the International Design Excellence Awards, sponsored by the Henry Ford Museum, official home of American ideas and innovation. The jury had some fairly nice words for Nokia:

“In a market in which it is difficult to stand out, the Nokia Lumia brings a fresh perspective. The iconic form is personal and inviting without sacrificing precision, and the construction is modern, efficient and well-crafted down to the smallest details. It’s a bold, gold-worthy effort, and I’m glad to see Nokia reclaim its design swagger.” Jonah Becker, Principal and Creative Director, One & Co.

From the Lumia 900 page:

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Yesterday we saw the release of the official Encyclopedia Britannica app for Windows Phone. The issue we had with the app was twofold: it fetches for $4.99 and there is no trial. On top of that, it looks like you have to pay that $4.99 a year to renew the app.

The question for many would be Is it worth it? Well, we ponied up for the app and show you what we think.

In essence, the official Encyclopedia Britannica app is well done. It’s fast, smooth and has a lot of features. In short, if you pay the $4.99 for this app you’ll get a fairly solid and reliable encyclopedia with offline saving abilities, pinnable entries to your Start screen, sharing options and a well done (but not totally Metro) UI.

WP Central

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Verious partnering with Deutsche Telekom

It wasn't long ago that Verious Inc., a leader in connecting developers with components and services for mobile app development, partnered with Microsoft to add Windows Phone development to their catalog. Verious already had a strong presence in the iOS and Android development community and the addition of the Windows Phone platform was seen as a plus. Verious is able to provide hundreds of pre-built mobile app components, open source projects, SDKs, and other tools to Windows Phone developers.

Today, Verious has announced a new partnership with Deutsche Telekom which enables Deutsche Telekom to launch the Developer Garden Component Marketplace for developers across Europe. This partnership will add significantly to the number of developer tools available for mobile application development. Deutsche Telekom previously announced plans to develop and promote tools that will help developers using Microsoft Visual Studio to mash up Deutsche Telekom's world-class network services with applications built for Microsoft Corp.'s device and cloud technology platforms. The partnership between Verious and Deutsche Telekom, coupled with the Deutsche Telekom partnership with Microsoft is expected to boost Windows Phone development significantly...

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A few weeks ago we reported on Aviary releasing their SDK for Windows Phone, allowing developers with little effort to plug in the company’s photo editing suite into any application out there. Rowi was one of the first to do this, allowing its users to quickly do sophisticated photo edits without ever leaving the popular Twitter app.

Today, Aviary has released Photo Genius, a standalone version of those tools for all Windows Phone users. The app is a “demonstration” one meaning it’s meant to show off what Aviary can do but for you all that means is you get an awesome, full featured photo editing program for your phone.

The app behaves like the “Auto Fix” feature built into Windows Phone. It analyzes a selected photo and then recommends a sweeping set of changes which you can enable with a quick “checkmark”. You can then compare the before and after images with a simple toggle, allowing you to see if you like the modifications.

WP Central

If you don’t like the alterations or want to do more, you can hit the “Edit” button and load up Aviary’s full set of photo manipulation tools. Such tools include controls for brightness, contrast, sharpness, cropping, rotation, red-eye fix, filters, stickers and more—it really has it all.

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Xbox Live - Pool Pro Online 3 exclusive preview

Pool Pro Online 3

Namco Bandai may be best known for their Pac-Man and Katamari Damacy titles on Windows Phone, but the publisher does dip into other genres from time to time. Case in point, their next game centers on the sport of pool. Pool Pro Online 3 comes to Xbox Live very soon, and Windows Phone Central has exclusive first screenshots to prove it.

Head past the break for our full preview and more screens!

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WP Central

Not great news today from the Windows Phone camp. It would appear that CNET have been chatting with Greg Sullivan from Microsoft and what he has said isn't what Windows Phone users wanted to hear.

It seems that Microsoft has know for a long time that Windows Phone 7 would be replaced by Windows Phone 8.

"It was right after Windows Phone 7," Sullivan said, speaking in an interview with CNET UK. The team that developed the 7.5 release actually was working in parallel with the core team that was already beginning [Windows Phone 8]. In fact some of that work was already initiated before Windows Phone 7 was even available -- so this goes back a little bit."

"It is true that this is a generational shift -- that is a rare occurrence, but it's something we don't expect to have happen again in the foreseeable future because of the headspace that the new architecture gives us."

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WP Central

With all the Windows Phone "Tango" update madness that's currently underway, whether you're forcing the upgrade or receiving it from the carrier, there's a number of networks pushing out the latest version of Microsoft's operating system. Vodafone Germany has joined this list with Windows Phone Central reader EvilEls sending in a screenshot of the Zune update process.

The updates are for the first generation Samsung Omnia 7 smartphone. The first being a firmware update, with the follow-up presumably the Tango upgrade. Device changes reported are as follows:

  • OS: 7.10.7720.68 => 7.10.8773.98
  • Firmware: 2424.11.8.5 => 2424.11.11.2
  • Radio Software: 2424.11.7.2 => 2424.11.9.1
  • Bootloader: 5.8.1.9 => 5.11.1.8

Omnia 7 Tango

Have you been Tango'd yet? Let us know in the comments if you've received the update or have forced it through Zune.

Thanks EvilEls for the tip!

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Dell Venue Pro doing the Tango

While the Dell Venue Pro has been discontinued, we were surprised to see the Windows Phone receive the 8107 update pushed out to the phone.  It was equally surprising today to see the Tango update hit the unlocked Venue Pro. While forcing the Tango update on the Samsung Focus S, we connected the Dell Venue Pro up to the computer and sure enough, the update notices appeared on the screen.

There was no need to force the Venue Pro to recognize the update and the previous updates to Tango (7740, 8107, etc) were installed first. Needless to say, it has been a while since my Venue Pro had seen the light of day...

When all was said and done the OS version on the Dell Windows Phone is 7.10.8773.98 and the firmware version is 2250.1800.7720.219. Because the process dealt with several updates, for me, the entire process ran about ninety minutes. If you have been using your Dell Venue Pro more regularly than I, the process may be shorter.

The Dell Venue Pro is a decent Windows Phone (still can't get used to the buttons) and it's nice to see the Venue Pro getting a little update attention.

Thanks, everyone, for the tip!

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The folks at Igneous Software, the wizards behind some superbly crafted Windows Phone apps, have been busy working on updates for the popular (and highly rated) BBC Podcast Lounge. In an official blog post, Richard Castle goes into depth about what the team has been up to, namely adding auto-subscribing and downloading for favourite programmes in BBC Podcast Lounge 1.4, which is just about to go into testing.

There's more though. The team have also been looking at new project ideas, one that they've lightly touched on in the article. Many of us (who reside in the UK) deeply desire iPlayer streaming functionality on Windows Phone from the BBC, but we're still yet to see anything. Before you get overexcited and imagine Igneous Software developing an actual iPlayer on-demandTV app, unfortunately this is still not yet possible. 

Instead the team have been busy looking at a potential BBC iPlayer Radio app. A working prototype is currently being played with that enables the user to reliably stream the previous seven days worth of programming on any BBC national (and regional) radio station. Want to know something more amazing? This functionality is one step further than what's present on both the iPhone and Android, which offer only national stations. It's that much sweeter indeed.

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Samsung has the Tango update but AT&T is not pushing it

Although AT&T itself is not pushing out any Tango-8773 updates for its current Windows Phones, the OEMs evidently have it on tap, or at least Samsung does.

We’ve had isolated reports that the Focus S was getting two OS updates (some are reporting new firmware, we’re still at 2103.11.10.1). However, whenever George Ponder or I would plug in our Focus S devices, it was always reported back to us that we had the latest update (7740).

The trick is to rig the system—basically use the same trick many of you did for Mango where you put your phone into Airplane mode (disable all radios), plug into Zune and check for an update. You then navigate away and go back to “Check for update” but as soon as it starts to look (about 2 seconds) you kill your internet on your PC. Now you wait about 30 seconds and an update will be shown. For more info on how that works, read our tutorial here.

You need to do that at least twice—once for 8112 and again for 8773 (Tango)—but yes, it does work and it’s officially from Samsung. We manually installed 8107 back in the day, so our phone was already on that OS version. The majority of you will need to upgrade to 8107, then presumably it will go to 8112 or 8773.

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Price tag for Windows 8 Pro upgrade is just $39.99

WP Central

With the anticipation and impatient wait for Windows 8, many have been wondering what the fee will be for upgrading from a previous version of Microsoft's operating system. The team have announced on the Windows blog that the cost to consumers who wish to take advantage of Metro, among other Windows 8 Pro features, is just $39.99. 

Competitive pricing that follows Apple's approach with the latest Lion instalment, Microsoft is set to open up Windows 8 Pro to a larger audience. Those who are running Windows XP, Vista, or 7 installations will be eligible for the upgrade discount. What's more is that you get Windows Media Center for absolutely nothing at all. Good job, big M.

By buying the upgrade through Microsoft's website, the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant will walk the consumer through the process step-by-step, making it as user friendly as possible. From detailed compatibility reporting (hardware and applications) to actually downloading and installing Windows 8, the assistant will make the consumer's life easier.

Items that can be carried through the process include settings, personal files and apps (depending on what system you're upgrading from). Of course, as well as the upgrade option, one can always choose a fresh installation. Once the Windows 8 Pro upgrade has been purchased, it can be transferred to external media, and Microsoft also offers an option for a DVD to be posted (for a fee).

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Although some users complain that Nokia, Microsoft and AT&T aren’t doing enough for the Lumia 900, we can say we do like the presence of the flagship phone on our Xbox 360.

Many of you have noticed the occasional Windows Phone ad the pops up in one of the Xbox 360’s Home screen Tiles. When you click on it, you’re greeted with the image, which you see above, promoting the Lumia 900. What’s more, if you click on it and follow the directions, you can download and unlock a free Lumia 900 theme and Gamer Pic.

WP Central

The Xbox 360 Windows Phone Theme feat. the Lumia 900

The theme is fairly basic—white with a Lumia 900 dropping in the background and “Windows Phone” emblazoned—but it’s effective and we like it quite a lot. The Gamer Pic is a lot more basic with just a black box and “Windows Phone” being displayed. At least it sticks out.

WP Central

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Nokia has Windows Phone "contingency plan"

Nokia has Windows Phone

Many have speculated that if Windows Phone 8 should somehow flop, then Nokia's goose is cooked. Not so says Nokia board chairman, Risto Siilasmaa. In his first television interview on Thursday, Siilasmaa said that Nokia has a "contingency plan" in place just in case Microsoft's mobile OS "fails to live up to expectations." That being said, he stressed that the company was confident that it would be a success, describing Windows Phone 8 as "a technological first, providing users with a seamless user experience across multiple platforms, from PCs to tablets and smartphones."

He defended Nokia's decision to ditch their own operating system after “Symbian’s market share has come down close to zero,” since it began to decline in 2008. Siilasmaa also stood by CEO, Stephen Elop, who "came in at a tough time." Nokia's stock has plummeted since making the move to Windows Phone and the Finnish manufacturer has announced that it will be cutting 10,000 jobs.

Contingency plan or not, Nokia's fate seems to be closely tied to the success of Windows Phone. They took a huge hit after the change in strategy, and it's hard to believe that they could survive a second one in such a short time.

Source: Yle Uutiset; Via: CNET; Thanks, everyone, for the tip!

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Microsoft, Nokia & AT&T had high hopes for the Lumia 900 back in January

Microsoft with the help of Nokia has stemmed the bleeding of market share over the last two years as the new comScore number just published reveal.

The number of mobile subscribers is up 0.1% to 4.0% ending at the end of May, 2012. That means those numbers include the launch of Nokia’s much hyped Lumia 900 on AT&T and softer launches of the admirable Samsung Focus 2 and HTC Titan 2.

That’s the good news because Microsoft has been losing market share to Android and the iPhone for a very long time now. If we look back to the same period in May 2011, you can see Microsoft had 5.8% of the market and continued to slide up until the end of May this year.

The bad news is multifaceted. For one, these numbers include Microsoft’s legacy Windows Mobile devices, which presumably have now mostly died off. Number two should be obvious. Although stopping the hemorrhage and gaining some market share for the first time in years, a 0.1% increase is hardly anything to be excited about—especially if you’re Nokia.

WP Central

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While it is very rare for any Windows Phone to crash or freeze, we have on a few occasions seen it happen. It's rare because 3rd party apps don't have access to the core of the OS and therefore it's very difficult to cause the system to become unstable. Still, the problem may pop up and we figured we would cover you for the Lumia 800 & 900.

Why these two Nokia devices? With their unibody design, there's no physical way to access and therefore pull the battery. That puts users in a pickle if they need to soft-reset a stuck device. So without further ado, here's how you do it:

Lumia 900

  • Press and hold the volume keys, power button and camera together for 3-5 seconds
  • The phone should soft-reset (although some say you should feel 3 vibrations, ours never has)

Lumia 800

  • Press and hold the volume keys and power button together for 3-5 seconds
  • The phone should soft-reset

That's it. So although you will probably never need this it's good to know if you're in a pinch.

Edit: Some are saying in comments that just holding the power button for 10 seconds works too.

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WP Central

Are you into absorbing knowledge and facts? Would you like 80,000 articles in your Windows Phone to browse at your leisure? Well you can, with Encyclopaedia which is a Encyclopedia Britannica application now available in the Windows Marketplace.

The only downside I can see here is its price. At $4.99 and without a trial it isn't the cheapest app but it would appear you do get a lot for your money.

Features of the application include:

  • 80,000 articles in a fully searchable database
  • Tens of thousands of images, diagrams and charts
  • Ability to download articles for offline viewing, store your favorites and access your search history
  • Research noteworthy events and birthdates from 'This day' in history
  • An A-Z browse allows users to browse the entire contents of the Encyclopedia Britannica

You can pick up the official Encyclopedia Britannica app for Windows Phone here in the Marketplace.

via: WPSauce

QR: Britannica

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Update: As pointed out in comments, these could be Nokia's Asha phones (305 and 306) which are just hitting the market. The smaller battery and dual-SIMs give credence to that notion, although Nokia often recycles a lot, including battery types to reduce costs.

Despite Windows Phone 7.x devices looking all but DOA for new launches, a few phones have popped up on the FCC that has caught our attention. At this point, we can’t really believe that (a) these are still WP7.x devices or (b) they will launch anytime soon. That means we may be looking at some Windows Phone 8 devices or these are formalities for other reasons (lots of phones get FCC certs without ever being picked up).

First up is of course Nokia (you can read about ZTE’s phone here). They have two devices, RM-844 and RM-852, which are making their way through the FCC. Both devices look to be the same model but RM-852 appears to be destined for Canada with dual-SIMs while RM-844 looks to be for, wait for it, T-Mobile. We're assuming they are Windows Phones due to Nokia's commitment to the platform but there's nothing conclusive in the documents.

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ZTE N859 passes FCC running Mango

Recent FCC documentation shows that a new Windows Phone device made by Chinese manufacturer ZTE has passed certification. There are not many details on the N859, as it is called, other than that it is CDMA-only and will be running Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango). One N859 has popped up on Occasional Gamer's gaming stats page, so we know there is at least one out there being tested in the wild.

It's a little odd that ZTE would be looking to release a WP7.5 device so close to the launch of Windows Phone 8 (Apollo), as many consumers will likely just hold off on buying a new phone so they can get the latest and greatest. However, ZTE tends to target emerging markets and cost-conscious consumers, so perhaps they are betting on demand for a more economical device with fewer bells and whistles.

Source: FCC, OccasionalGamer; Via: WindowsPhoneDaily, Engadget

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A curved 'Arc' keyboard for Windows Phone?

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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As many of you may have noticed, two somewhat major apps for Windows Phone received updates in the last 24 hours, so we’ll pass on the news in case you missed it.

First up is Facebook, which has been receiving quite a few updates lately, generally a good sign…unless you consider everything so broke that it needs even more fixing. The last update was just a week ago for version 2.6 and now version 2.7  has landed in the Marketplace bringing with it some new fixes though no new features:

  • Notifications now show updated time instead of created time
  • Corrected thumbnail display on likes
  • Now respecting except clause on posts with custom privacy settings

That’s nothing terribly exciting though if you were experiencing any of those issues, hopefully you’ll be a bit pleased with the update.

WP Central

Next up is Amazon’s Kindle ebook app. That app is now on version 1.2 which shows you how often that one gets updated (seriously, it has had one update in the last year). The good news here is this update is more significant:

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Windows Phone 8773 still has a few hidden things in it

While users around the world are slowly getting the Windows Phone Tango 8773 update, a few under-the-hood changes are being noticed by users. We forced manually installed the update onto our Focus 2, Titan II and Lumia 900 with the Focus 2 (review) being our main device these days. As a result, we have had some experience running Tango and noticed a few little nuggets which we'll share below.

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WP Central

Should you be an avid Sainsbury's supermarket shopper and love earning the ol' Nectar points, you'll want to check out the Sainsbury's app for Windows Phone. The app, which is available for free, is a portal of information accompanied by quick access to the mobile version of the online store.

Unfortunately you'll not be able to do the weekly shop through the app, but Nectar details, special (and some exclusive) offers and a store locator is included. While more functionality would complete the experience, it's good to have such an app available on the platform.

Should you wish to order groceries online, you'll be taken to the mobile version of the supermarket's website in Internet Explorer, which will require a separate store login.

WP Central

You can download the Sainsbury's app from the Marketplace for free. Thanks, Dan J., for the tip!

WP Central

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