Articles

A lot has been discussed about what the Google-Motorola deal means to the smaller Android OEMs on the market. Om Malik of GigaOm has noted that several "mobile industry insiders" have expressed concern over the deal and relying too heavily on Google for Android. Now, one small handset maker, INQ who came up with the Skype and Facebook phone, is taking a serious look at Windows Phone 7 and saying so publicly. The owner of INQ Hutchison Whampoa, went on record saying:

“We see a number of major vendors very seriously considering Windows Mobile as a core platform and therefore we are following their lead and examining it as well to complement our work in Android to date...The advantages with Windows Mobile is that the legal issues and resulting costs seem to be much less." (Note: he uses "Windows Mobile" here accidentally)

He notes that due to Android's success, it has become a big target for litigation and perhaps if Windows Phone were that big, the same thing could happen. (While a possibility, we'd suggest that Microsoft is in much better shape with IP and patents than Google.) Finally, after discussing Windows Phone he knocks Motorola down a notch stating

“It is telling that the Motorola Board decided that they could get more value out of 15-20 year old patents rather than use their huge R&D to create new exciting technologies over the next 10 years which is what Motorola used to do very well.”

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We know that developers will be able to start submitting their Mango-versions of their app to the Marketplace begging this week, but what's not clear is if OEMs would have the same limitations. A reason to ask that is because OEMs always seem to get a little lead time and also deeper access to the OS than regular 3rd party devs.

A few tips have come in noting that LG's catalog of apps have been quietly getting version bumps in the last few days, specifically ScanSearch which is their feature-rich augmented reality app. Sure enough, we fired up our LG Quantum with Mango 7720 on board and downloaded v1.9 of the app and noticed two things:

  • We get a compatibility warning stating that our phone doesn't have a compass
  • Fast app switching/resume now works with the app

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The official GroupMe app was just released for Windows Phone not too long ago and while nice, it seems a bit redundant with Mango's groups feature. Still, it's a neat service and was one growing very quickly even though it's just over a year old. For those of you who don't remember, GroupMe's gives you the ability to create a group and then text or conference call that group with one number. What's neat is that you can use your data connection for texting the group, which can save some people money in addition to creating a unique conference call number which anyone in the group could use. Although the deal between Skype and Microsoft has been approved, it's still technically in motion, hence Skype buying GroupMe.

The Windows Phone app was still not feature-complete at the time, but it's still looking promising. What does this mean for Windows Phone users now that Microsoft (via Skype) owns the technology? We'll hope to see that conference call feature perhaps built in as well as the data-messaging system integrated into Mango's Group feature--that is, we expect GroupMe's tech to augment and enhance what's already there. We're okay with that. We can also see Skype getting some group features as well, which could also greatly enhance that service for more robust functionality.

For at least now though, the company and brand will remain separate with integration points coming down the line. Negotiations between Skype and GroupMe started around the same time as Skype and Microsoft, hence the overlap of deals.

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Good news for Microsoft as their patent for the Metro UI, filed under "Visual motion for user interface feedback", has been approved by the USPTO. The patent was originally filed in early 2010 but finally approved on August 18th. We're still waiting on the official patent number to appear, which we're told usually takes a few days to be generated and listed--for now we have the issue date within the application itself. From the application abstract comes a very abstract description of the UI:

"Aspects of a user interface that provides visual feedback in response to user input. For example, boundary effects are presented to provide visual cues to a user to indicate that a boundary in a movable user interface element (e.g., the end of a scrollable list) has been reached. As another example, parallax effects are presented in which multiple parallel or substantially parallel layers in a multi-layer user interface move at different rates, in response to user input. As another example, simulated inertia motion of UI elements is used to provide a more natural feel for touch input. Various combinations of features are described. For example, simulated inertia motion can be used in combination with parallax effects, boundary effects, or other types of visual feedback. "

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It's another Sunday, so what time is it? That's right folks, prepare yourselves for the Windows Phone Summary of the Week! This week we've been briefed with our weekly Mobile Nations, but no podcast unfortunately (although one was published not-so-long ago). But we have been blessed with episode 122 of the WPCentral podcast, featuring guest Travis Lowdermilk from the Windows Phone Dev Podcast.

Dave Blake has got the latest from our forums, while one of our readers, Dalton Carl, submitted an interview he managed to run with Levi Fussell who has developed a number of apps (apologies for the absence of WPCentral interviews due to a much-needed vocation). Check out the rest of our highlights from the week after the break. 

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Trine's Hangman gets updated and then some

If you like the game of hangman, Trine's Hangman is a must have game for your Windows Phone. Fantastic graphics, challenging play, Wikipedia integration to look up words and a global leaderboard that is constantly being updated helps make Trine's an appealing game. The Epic Trailer (fantastic soundtrack) above is a good illustration of the commitment Gydar Industries has made to find a way to constantly improve Trine's Hangman.

The most recent update, version 1.11.0, also reflects this commitment. The biggest change is that the Lite version and Trial version are now free, ad-supported version that are identical to the paid version.  No more limitations in game play.  The developers made every effort to avoid having the game affected by the ad-banner and in doing so, the clock bar is hidden in the ad supported versions to avoid any drastic layout changes.

If you don't want ads, another bit of good news is that paid version has been reduced from $2.99 to $1.99. The current update also has the customary performance tweaks, bug fixes and design changes to improve the overall gaming experience.

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Microsoft didn’t provide many screenshots or details about Toy Soldiers: Boot Camp at Gamescom last week. We do know that it will contain at least four minigames taken from the recent Xbox 360 release, Toy Soldiers: Cold War.

The enterprising lads at WP7Connect have done a little digging and found YouTube videos of the Xbox 360 version’s minigames that will also be included in the Windows Phone game. Of course the WP7 versions will look much simpler and control differently, but the videos should at least give gamers an idea of what to expect from Boot Camp.

Follow the break for two additional video trailers for Toy Soldiers.

source: via: wp7connect

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A fix has surfaced for those having trouble sending or receiving MMS messages on the Dell Venue Pro using the AT&T Network. As one would suspect, it's a settings issue but you first have to pull up the diagnostic screen.

While we've haven't heard of any horror stories in tweaking these settings, please keep in mind that you proceed at your own risk. Here are the steps.

  • From your Dell Venue Pro, bring up the dial pad and enter ##634# to bring up the diagnostic screen.
  • Tap on MMS Settings.
  • Scroll to the MMS Settings section.
  • The settings should be Name: ATT MMS (all caps), APN: wap.cingular, MMSC: http://mmsc.cingular.com, MMS Proxy: wireless.cingular.com, MMS Port: 80, Username: (leave blank), Password: (leave blank).
  • Scroll up to the Auth Type, tap CHAP, and then Apply.

You should then get a "Success, Setting is Done!" message. Tap OK, then tap HOME and you should now be able to send and receive MMS messages from your Dell Venue Pro. There have been some reports that you need to restart the phone to get the settings changes to take hold.

source: 1800pocketpc

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For our developer friends out there looking to learn all the new things in "Mango" will want to take this free webinar, coming on August 23rd and the 24th from 8am-4pm PDT. Via the AppHub:

"Join Rob Miles and Andy Wigley, two of the most sought-after Microsoft mobile development MVPs on the planet, as they lead you through a fast-paced, demo-rich online course. Best of all, it's free!

Windows Phone codename Mango is an important leap forward in Microsoft’s overall mobile strategy and the developer community has taken notice. Now is the time to embrace the “tile-and-app” UI and reap the rewards Mango provides your development team and user community.This webinar will teach you the ins and outs of developing for Mango."

Sounds like a good deal as Microsoft always does things right. Register here if interested!

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HTC to hold public event on September 1st

HTC is planning a public event for September 1, 2011 in London to show everyone what's next. They spilled the beans over on their Facebook page and we're all wondering if a new Windows Phone will take center stage.

This isn't exactly out of the ordinary for HTC to hold such events. Last year, around the same time frame, HTC held a similar event in London to announce two Android phones. Could this year be Windows Phone's turn?

With the rumor of Mango being released on September 1st, speculation that this could be a Windows Phone event isn't that far of a reach. Maybe we'll see a Beats by Dre Windows Phone running Mango! We'll keep an eye out to see what develops. Heck, we might even unleash Rich on the event.

source: Facebook via: 1800pocketpc

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Microsoft extending a hand to webOS developers

While the aftershocks from HP showing webOS hardware the door continue to ripple throughout the smartphone industry, Microsoft is extending a hand to webOS developers. Brandon Watson has extended an offer to any published webOS developer to provide them what they need to successfully transition to Windows Phone.

According to the tweet that includes phones, development tools and training. At last check the tweet has been re-tweeted 100+ times and has received several positive replies and interest from webOS developers.

Personally, I hope webOS finds a way to survive for sentimental reasons. But it's nice to see Microsoft extending a hand to the webOS community to give developers options.

source: @brandonwatson via: thenextweb

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Windows Phone a push with CNET's Molly Wood

Microsoft's Brandon Watson challenged several to give Windows Phone a chance and if it failed to impress, he's donate $1,000 to their favorite charity. Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, took Brandon up on the challenge and deemed the Windows Phone a winner over his iPhone and the EVO 3D Android phone.

Molly Wood, Executive Director over at CNET, took up the challenge to see if the Windows Phone could lure her away from Android. She posted the above video rendering her verdict as a push. Molly felt that Android gave her more power and Windows Phone was more on the "friendship ladder" where she likes it but doesn't love it.

Molly found Mango to be an easy to use, attractive system.  She found Zune Pass to be be "fine" and like the Skydrive concept (but not the implementation).  However, the two most important features Molly is looking for in a phone is speech to text and mapping. She was disappointed to see that speech to text wasn't integrated throughout out Windows Phone and wasn't a fan of Bing's turn-by-turn directions.

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Air Dagger soars into the Marketplace

Elbert Perez over at Occassional Gamer is at it again. He's released yet another fast paced, challenging, free game over at the Windows Phone Marketplace. Air Dagger joins his portfolio of popular Windows Phone games such as Traffic Cop, Impossible Shoota, and Armored Drive.

Air Dagger is an air combat game that has you flying for one of three corporations. When you first begin the game you've got to pledge allegiance to either the Rinko Group, Black Air Tech or the AeroSpek Union. This is your team as you work your way through the different missions or levels.

Flight controls are simple in that you tilt your phone to steer the plane left, right, forward or backwards. Tapping the screen will fire your main guns and tapping a enemy plane will launch missiles. You do have upgrades (40 in all) that can be purchased before and after missions to help you tackle your enemies.

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There's been a lot of speculation on when exactly Windows Phone "Mango" will launch--or even what that means exactly. The reason it is a questions is because there are device upgrades, there are device launches and there's no reason to think the two are tied together. Hence we've seen September 1st, August 25th and the vague "this fall" all thrown around and in fact, they're most likely all true for specific situations.

Microsoft's marketing chief for Scandinavia, Peter Wissinger has taken to Facebook to clarify the "Mango" launch. In short he tells WinMobile.se that it is completely up to the OEMs to decide the timeline for launch of the next-generation of Mango devices. In fact, as has been speculated, Microsoft came out ahead of schedule this time with "Mango' which is why OEMs, who just received the RTM version, may seem a little behind--perhaps they weren't prepared to have it all ready this early (although Fujitsu seems prepared).

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Russian Windows Phone dev podcast launches

Dobroye utro! Sure we're biased towards English around these parts, sorry about that. But that doesn't mean we can't give some love to our non-English speakers, after all we're pretty sure there's more of you than us. So we're pretty excited to mention that a new podcast in 100% Russian is now available for your pleasure (assuming we have some Russian readers, of course).

The podcast seems to focus on the developers perspective (so, it sounds analogous to the WP Dev Podcast here in the States) and hopefully it'll be a regular thing. Good lucks guys!

Head over to Windows Phone 7 Rocks #1 to give it a listen; Thanks, Alex K, for the heads up

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There's been a lot of talk about when the Fujitsu IS12T is launching exactly in Japan. There was mention of "end of August" and the "After September".  And to be clear, we're still not 100% sure. But what we do know is that the carrier, AU, who has the big exclusive deal to sell the phone, is taking reservations now for delivery on August 25th.

Japanese Windows Phone news site NanaPho reports on one AU shop in Nishikasai, Tokyo taking such reservations. Going further, one of our readers, Chris Loguidice, let us know that he too was able to place an order:

"Just reserved my Toshiba IS12T at AU yesterday arrives next week on the 25th. So I guess that's the official drop date for mango."

Indeed, translated from the AU Shop page:

"This title will be released in stores August 25, we accepted from today pre-ordered!"

So either one of two things: come August 25th there will be a lot of thrilled new IS12T owners, or conversely a lot of disappointed ones. We should note that the official site for the phone still lists "after September 2011", so who knows--it's not like we've never experienced Best Buy report a false sale date, amirite?

Update: Tezawaly from NanaPho sent the above shot (and a few others) showing the phone stocking up and ready to sell, so August 25th now seems like a go!

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After yesterday's news that HP is discontinuing all webOS mobile devices, many members of the very passionate and loyal webOS community, including myself, have been shocked into wondering what we are supposed to do next. While I'm not saying that I've already jumped ship to Windows Phone 7 from webOS already (I still love my devices and the community behind them), it's not uncommon to see that many of you are already planning your trip to the store to pick up a new smartphone to replace the soon-to-be-antiquated HP Veer, Pre 2 or even the original Sprint Palm Pre (what we back at PreCentral call the Pre-Minus). Let's get this straight, because I know how loyal you guys are to your platform, switching to a WP7 device is not abandoning the webOS platform - but HP has made it very clear that they're not making phones anymore, so what else are you supposed to do? 

I've been using WP7 on my Dell Venue Pro for a little while now, and even though it's not a shiny new HP Pre 3 running webOS 3.0, it does have a whole lot going for it. If I absolutely had to make the decision tomorrow (which I don't and I'm not... yet), it would be very easy for me to make Windows Phone 7, and WPCentral.com, my new home in the smartphone universe. Let me put it to you this way: If you're thinking about switching to another platform from webOS, WP7 is one of the best options, if not the best, out there for you to choose today.

It's easy to say all of that, though without backing it up; but that's why I've come to WPCentral today to help ease the pain and make things a little more comfortable for those of you joining this community. The webOS platform had a whole lot going for it as an operating system built on mobile devices. Synergy, Just Type, Multitasking, Touchstone Charging, Exhibition Mode, non-interrupt notifications system and other great features (just to name a few) made webOS wholly unique and intuitive - but to say that WP7 isn't already pushing forward with many of these concepts (and even jumping ahead in a few) is to be ignorant of the facts.

To be quite frank - WP7 over any other platform is probably the most similar to webOS as being intuitive and market-changing, and even though many of you might choose this platform simply because it isn't iOS, Android of Blackberry, you should also be choosing it simply because it's a great operating system to use.

Here, by popular request, is a guide to help your transition from whatever webOS smartphone you might be using over to a Windows Phone 7 device. Written by someone who has loved webOS since the day it was announced and will stick with it until the day that it is finally put to rest. 

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geoDefense, the Xbox Live tower defense game with Geometry Wars-inspired visuals, has been a bit buggy since its release. Chief among those bugs is the dreaded save data bug, which we reported on in June. This bug caused some gamers to lose all of their progress when replaying levels, and nobody likes that.

Thankfully today’s version 1.6 patch fixes the save data bug at last. No longer should anyone fear playing geoDefense and trying for higher scores. We’re glad to see Critical Thought Games continuing to hone its enjoyable strategy title.

If for some reason you want a more traditional tower defense experience than the exceptional Plants vs. Zombies, geoDefense is the place to look. It costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Get it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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File this under: very interesting

For those of you who used Windows Mobile 6.x, you'll remember a neat little Chinese browser called UCWeb. It was similar to Opera where it used servers to compress and reformat websites that were then passed to the phone. The design was pretty sharp, offering an all "black" theme that was great for reading and photos looked great on it. Plus it was free.

Surprisingly, in their help forum, the company has announced plans for a closed beta testing. They're taking applications via the forum, but since it's Chinese you may have a tough time registering and getting a spot. From the Google-translated post:

UC browser Wp7 platform closed beta began recruiting friends

"The UC long-awaited platform for closed beta browser Wp7 recruit friends, are welcome to join closed beta.

The recruitment only accept Windows Phone 7 platform Friends of Friends applications for Friends of Friends in the following format for replies, we will follow all mobile phone technology in the customer service area and the level of activity in the sector assessment, the results we will be a forum SMS notification to you.

Application requirements: Be sure the phone is unlocked, the deployment process on their own Friends of Friends"

This raises all sorts of interesting questions, like will this be allowed in the Marketplace? Will they localize the language for English (they've done it before, obviously)? When can we see it? We'll try to find out more and we'll keep an eye out for this one.

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The HTC Omega showed up on Elbert Perez's game stats page--there's only one, but there only needs to be one, right? Perez gets his data from the ton of high quality and popular games that he has on the platform. (See the Nokia 800 referenced just a few days ago).

Device information such as make and model are commonly collected and it's turning out to be a great source to know what may be coming next.

So. Omega. That sounds pretty epic and we've seen it referenced just a few weeks ago with a basic 1.5Ghz CPU, 800x480 screen and 16GB of storage.

Source: Occasional Gamer, via @elbertperez

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IM+ v1.4 is now live - reminder!

For those who use IM+, you'll be happy to know that v1.4 is now available. The big new features are faster loading/connecting (confirmed) and advanced push settings, including a sweet auto-responder and message forwarder:

  • Significantly improved contact list scrolling and overall application performance
  • Push-to-Email option allows incoming messages to be forwarded to your email
  • Autoreply feature will instantly notify your contacts that your are in Push mode
  • ICQ / AIM / AOL / iChat group chats
  • ICQ contacts can now be added into your AOL/AIM/iChat contact lists and vice versa
  • VKontakte and Yandex IM services are now supported

But, we must also remember that MSN/Live Messenger is also now gone, so you are warned--don't upgrade if you need that! Anyways, besides the loss of Live Messenger, we like the improvements and additions. Grab IM+ here in the Marketplace (if update doesn't show, just back out and head back in to the Marketplace to refresh).

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Hyper Defence XT - Preview

Hyper Defence XT is an upcoming gaming title headed to the Windows Phone Marketplace. We were fortunate enough to get a sneak peak at the game and found it to be an entertaining, slightly addictive tower defense game.

The premise is that you are defending Outpost 26 from invading aliens. Hyper Defence has 15 levels of play, 7 fully upgradeable turret defenses, collectable Hyper Energy power boosts, and an unlockable Survival Mode.

Game play is not unlike any other tower defense game in that you have to survive a certain number of waves in each level to advance. As you take out enemy forces, you earn credits to buy or upgrade your defenses.

Defensive placement is key (as it is with any tower defense game) and to purchase a weapon you tap, hold and drag the turret to the desired location. A green halo around the weapon indicates the location is suitable for placement. Weapons fire automatically when the enemy comes into range and to upgrade, simply tap on the weapon to pull up the upgrade menu.

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HP shutting down webOS device operations

HP made their quarterly fiscal report today and announced that they planned to discontinue operations for webOS devices including their TouchPad and webOS (formerly Palm) phones.  Wow.

In the press release, HP did leave the door open stating they will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward. What this means is anyone's guess. As our friends at PreCentral note, HP is discontinuing operations for webOS devices, not the OS itself.

Could we see HP follow suit and license out webOS to, say, HTC? Could HP take advantage of all the headaches/litigation Android is creating and offer manufacturers an alternative? Personally, I just don't see HP giving up on webOS after, only a year ago, spending $1.2 billion to acquire the system. On the other hand, who is interested in licensing an OS that has failed to catch on? Twice.

What does this mean for everyone else? I'm not sure if it will really impact Microsoft, Google, Apple or RIM. While webOS devices have a strong following, they were on a downhill slide when HP acquired Palm and never took off. With Mango just around the corner, Microsoft may be able to attract Pre customers with webOS's future being uncertain.

As a former Palm user (still have my first Palm Pilot) I hope HP finds a way to keep webOS as a viable system. One thing is for certain though, it seems these days the smartphone industry is constantly changing.

You can read HP's full press release on their quarterly report after the break.

Update: The Verge confirms that HP is not killling WebOS as a platform and they are looking for partners and options. In short, they're killing HP's attempt at hardware noting that they need to stop putting under-performing hardware in the market. Still, WebOS's future, even as an OS, obviously remains in dire straits.

via: PreCentral

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