Articles

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Bing Maps to be stamped with Nokia branding

WP Central

Pocket-lint has learned from an interview with Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, that the manufacturer will be having its branding stamped on Bing Maps in the near future. It doesn't matter what device you're accessing the maps from, you'll see "Nokia" on-screen. RIM has stated they'll be using Bing Maps on their Blackberry smartphones, so it's some free competitor exposure for the Windows Phone OEM.

"You'll starting seeing the word 'Nokia' on a map that you get from Microsoft properties over a period of time. Even if you are on a BlackBerry device, who recently said they were going to start using Bing Maps."

The partnership between Nokia and Microsoft is set to go deeper with the Finnish handset maker carrying out more work for the software giant, as Elop explains:

"In the time ahead, what you will see is, across all the Microsoft properties including Bing maps, more and more work will be done by Nokia. We did that for important reasons as we had the better mapping assets so it made sense. But it also creates some balance in the relationship with Microsoft."

Nokia has already been busy helping Microsoft with Bing Streetside (analogous to Google Street View), so it'll be interesting to see what 2012 brings for the two companies in terms of product collaboration - like possibly helping keep pedestrians safe while walking?

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WP7applist updated for Mango, still quite handy

WP7applist Dark theme

Our awesomely named fried Luigi Violin recently published a couple of updates for his WP7applist app. The first, version 1.3, added Mango support but had a few kinks which version 1.4 irons out.

WP7applist version 1.3 release notes:

  • Added Fast App Switching support
  • Graphical makeover
  • Improved UX
  • Infinite scrolling lists
  • Performance improvements

WP7applist version 1.4 release notes:

  • Revised graphics
  • Dark theme added
  • Various graphical improvements
  • Better ad placement
  • Fixed UI lagging introduced in v1.3

The new theme really does look much slicker and more in tune with the general Metro theme – just check out this comparison shot versus the original:

WP7applist Comparison

As for the ads, they appear at the top of the screen when browsing the app’s various subsections (Games, Price Drops, etc.) but not on the main menu. This keeps the main area attractive and clutter free – a nice compromise between the user experience and needs of the developer.

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WP Tango Update

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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Vodafone has always been creative when it comes to television advertising, whether we have bees walking into shop windows, or someone taking photos of himself and a sleeping lady on a flight and getting caught in the act. In the above video, we have a couple preparing to enjoy a meal and are joined by Yoda (a powerful Jedi from Star Wars). He offers to transfer the man's contacts from the old mobile phone to the new Lumia 800 Windows Phone, using the force.

The advert's message is covering contact transferring that Vodafone can do in-store for customers (RED Box service), but it's good to see a Windows Phone being used as prop.

Source: Youtube; thanks Relief for the heads up!

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Browser Share France

Windows Phone is on the rise in France, as can be seen in the above browser share chart. The OS is almost hitting Blackberry, which appears to be still in decline (is there ever any good news when it comes to Blackberry?). This goes on top of the French developer who saw a noticeable increase in Lumia 800 activity using his apps on the Marketplace. If we remember the chart that the developer provided, no other Windows Phone dropped to make way for Nokia's handset so one would assume we've had a number of French platform adopters.

Although it's not all roses in the garden, prior to what seems to be the end-of-2011 surge (thanks to Nokia's marketing frenzy), the graph doesn't show the kind of growth we'd hope to see. But if the sharp increase continues with more Nokia and Microsoft marketing, we should see some positive results indeed.

Source: StatCounter, via WMPU

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Windows Phone Ghost Hotel caught on tape

We mentioned the Windows Phone "Ghost Hotel" publicity stunt back on December. At the time, we were a little unclear what exactly the event was, though we surmised it had to do with regular people being a part of some live role-playing/mystery event. Turns out, we were pretty spot on as WP7App.de confirmed with us at the time:

"That windows phone hotel was a PR event where you had to chase ghosts (ghostbusters-style) with an app on a Lumia."

In fact it was more than that as they were basically recreating the classic 1984 movie 'Ghostbusters' but with a Windows Phone twist. The teaser video was fun but now we have a longer video posted by Microsoft Germany that sheds light on the whole Windows Phone-Ghostbuster media event. And it looks like it was a lot of fun.

Well, it is in German and features a lot of QR codes, but you'll get this gist. Once again, kudos to Microsoft and Nokia for another ingenious show.

Source: Microsoft.DE; Thanks, Andrea M., for the link--sounds like you had a great time!

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Rdio

We haven't covered Rdio around these parts too much, partly because there are plenty of other alternatives that we're more familiar with (e.g. iHeartRadio, Last.FM, etc.). Still, we imagine for a few people in Australia and New Zealand who may want to try it, so good news for them as they now have access to the music streaming app.

That's the good news. Well that and there's been a Rdio app in the Marketplace for quite some time, meaning you can now also stream it to your Windows Phone. Which is all great except for the fact that the Rdio Windows Phone app is pretty awful, judging by the reviews in the Marketplace. The consensus seems to be that it barely works and is coded terribly, despite being updated numerous times.

So congrats on the new service and our condolences on the app which can be found here...if you dare.

Source: Rdio Blog; Thanks, KustomAU, for the tip

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Vodafone Australia rolling out 8107 in next 24 hours

Vodalove

Looks like our friends Down Under are in for a treat, like a nice serving of OS 8107. Vodafone just tweeted that the update will be rolling out within the next day, which means you can start plugging your phone into Zune Desktop and hitting refresh as fast as you can.

The changelog contains the following:

  • If a user’s email is hosted in an Exchange Server 2003 server, in some instances, original email messages are blank (or not included) when the user replies to or forwards an email message
  • When a new voice mail is received, and the user already has one voice mail waiting in their voice mail queue, the OS does not provide the user with notice of the new voice mail via Live Tile, SMS message or other notifications
  • When typing using the on-screen keyboard, the keyboard periodically disappears.
  • On occasion, Gmail contacts would not fully synchronize.
  • If Local Scout was launched from the Search home screen, it would not correctly identify the user’s current location
  • Background Transfer Service improvements

Pretty run of the mill for 8107, though we now have a better understanding of that "Gmail issue" which evidently had to do with contacts not fully syncing. Big news though, especially from Vodafone and Australia which have yet to see any big device launches of late.

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Nokia.ca

We just saw Telus begin promoting the Lumia 800 and now Nokia Canada themselves are showing that phone and Roger's Lumia 710 off on their front page. Canada: your time has come!

Regarding Rogers, they have a "In stores this February" which gives you a pretty good idea of when to expect that. For Telus, they just have "coming soon" which is a bit too vague for our likes, but we're thinking that too is just a few weeks.

In fact, we have a tip stating that in Canada, February 6th is the day for a launch party for so-called "Generation 2" devices, which includes Nokia's and who knows what else at this point. We can't verify that date ourselves, but the tipster said they confirmed it with their local Bell and Rogers stores--so take that as you will. Seeing as Nokia is listing the 710 as February, it seems to coincide nicely. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Source: Nokia.ca; Thanks, Ryan L. and Juan C., for the tips!

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AT&T makes alterations to data plans

WP Central

AT&T has announced changes that will be applied for data (smartphone and tablet) users. The alterations are to bring more cost effective choice to customers, and the changes can be seen in the breakdown below. Current smartphone and tablet customers will have the choice to stick with their current plan or move to one of the new plans. Check out the previous AT&T data plan changes for details on what's being altered.

For smartphone owners:

  • AT&T Data Plus 300MB: $20 for 300MB (up from $15 for 200MB)
  • AT&T Data Pro 3GB: $30 for 3GB (up from $25 for 2GB)
  • AT&T Data Pro 5GB: $50 for 5GB, with mobile hotspot / tethering

For tablet owners:

  • AT&T DataConnect 3GB: $30 for 3GB
  • AT&T DataConnect 5GB: $50 for 5GB

David Christopher, chief marketing officer AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, explains the above changes for data users:

"Our new plans are driven by this increasing demand in a highly competitive environment, and continue to deliver a great value to customers, especially as we continue our 4G LTE deployment."

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Instogram Windows Phone

Although we have wait on the fate of Metrogram, the unofficial Instagram client for Windows Phone announced this past weekend, FastCompany is citing an unnamed source that Microsoft may have worked out a deal with the developers behind Instagram for an official, certified Windows Phone version. For those not familiar, Instagram is a extremely popular photo sharing app with kitsch filters on iOS. Instagram have acknowledged that they're working on an Android version, but now we're learning that Windows Phone may get it first.

Windows Phone boasts Metro UI which has been positively received by most and is a unique experience available on a mobile platform. This, added with the quick camera functionality and consistent quality across hardware, will ensure that an Instagram app would look (and feel) fantastic. Even though Windows Phone is still picking up steam with market share, Android suffers from fragmentation which could have a negative impact on the user experience.

Instagram would be a worthy addition to the Marketplace, a popular app that many smartphone owners on a competitive platform use, and the software giant is looking to spend to get the apps people want.

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eBuddy XMS now available in the Marketplace

eBuddy XMS

We've seen the eBuddy XMS app in beta a few weeks ago and the we're happy to see the app is now live in the Marketplace. The popular messaging service brings yet another feather in the cap of Windows Phone, especially for those who don't want to rely on or pay for SMS.

The app is free and looks way better than it it did when we last saw it with a more Metro design and better layout. We haven't taken it for a it a spin yet, but if you have, hit us up in comments with your thoughts. Pick up eBuddy XMS here in the Marketplace.

via: Mi Movil Windows; Thanks, Alex, for the tip

QR: eBuddy

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Nokia Lumia Update

An article has been published over at Nokia Conversations detailing the 1600.2483.8106.11500 firmware update for the Lumia 800, which is in the process of rolling out. The update is being pushed out gradually using Zune software and contains two benefits; battery performance (making use of the capacity too) and WiFi connectivity improvements. This is update number two of two that were announced at the end of last year.

"The update will not be delivered to every Lumia 800 simultaneously, but rather will be staggered over the next two weeks through Microsoft’s standard update process. This helps each owner gets the update without any hitches. Around half of owners will get the update in the next seven days, with the remainder over the following seven days."

Unfortunately, we've received reports that users have encountered issues with soft key lighting and battery performance after updating, but we've yet to confirm this on our models. Let us know in the comments when you get the update.

Source: Nokia Conversations

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Telus

Good news for those up north, as Telus is finally listing the Lumia 800 as "coming soon" on the site. We heard they were getting the 800 back on the 10th and now that's looks to be coming together. That's certainly good news as it implies an impending launch. What's more, users can expect the device in the three main colors of black, cyan and magenta.

Not much on pricing but we're sure to hear more in the coming weeks. So get saving! Usual press release after the break...

Source: Telus; Thanks, JG, for the tip!

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Metro Photoshop Swatches

Metro Swatches

I spend a lot of my day designing Metro stuff for Windows Phone. And the majority of that time is spent creating mockups of each area of whatever app I am doing, along with testing it with each accent color.

Embarrassingly however, every few days I head over to Bing and search for the accent colors. I've gotten so used to this that I forgot how silly it is.

I almost hit myself tonight when I saw this really simple, but awesome little swatch file for Photoshop that I should have made for myself months ago. So if you're a designer, or a dev that does design, or have PS installed for no conceivable reason at all, head over to the source and download and run the swatch file.

Source: timmykokke

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Number of FB users on WP7 rockets to 1.3 million

If Facebook is any indicator, it looks like Windows Phone has seen a significant boost recently.  Since Christmas, the number of Facebook users connecting via WP7 has increased by 200 thousand.  The figure now stands at 1.3 million users total.  While Windows Phone Facebook usage has steadily increased since WP7's launch, this bump looks to be the most dramatic yet.

WMPoweruser has used the numbers to make a shaky estimate of 8-9 million Windows Phones devices out there in the ether.  We're not sure how accurate that number actually is, but it would be swell if that were indeed the case.

Source: Windows Phone Facebook; Via: WMPU

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Nokia running Lumia 800 'battery fix' update [Updated]

Nokia Update

Nokia announced at the end of last year that two updates would be hitting the Lumia 800 to fix a number of issues that were present. We've already received the first firmware update, but it's time for those who suffer from 800s that aren't using the battery capacity in its entirety to receive some love.

Operators in France have started to push out the second update, so we should see some movement across the board soon. For reference, the firmware version changes are found below, including the first update.

Firmware version: 1600.2475.7720.11414 -> UPDATE 1: 1600.2479.7740.11451 -> UPDATE 2: 1600.2483.8106.11500

We haven't yet got the notification on any of our Lumia 800s. Let us know in the comments if you're also receiving this update for your handset.

EDIT: Nokia UK has confirmed the start of the rollout on their Facebook page, check out a video walkthrough after the break on updating should you be new to the platform.

UPDATE: We've received reports from readers who have updated to the latest version that the lighting of their soft keys are acting up should medium or high brightness be set. If you're also experiencing this issue after updating let us know in the comments.

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Windows Phone 8107 rolling out for unlocked and beyond

8107 Update

According to a number of sources the Windows Phone 8107 update, which contains the much needed keyboard fix (among others), is starting to gain momentum in the roll out. We've already caught wind of the update heading to Bell, and we have word that unlocked owners in South Africa and Italy are receiving the update on a number of handsets, as well as O2 UK announcing the start of the release on Twitter. 

It's still not clear what's happening with the update in terms of who will be receiving it (who aren't unlocked), but we would expect most carriers will be rolling out an update that addresses some OS annoyances. Let us know in the comments should you receive the 8107 update notification (as well as whether you're unlocked or not).

Source: Plaffo, O2 UK, thanks everyone who sent in tips!

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Flight Control

For a while there it looked like we might not get a Deal of the Week this time around. Thankfully, the clouds finally cleared away and Flight Control emerged from the storm of Marketplace delays. It’s now on sale for $1.99, down from the regular price of $2.99.

Flight Control is the progenitor of the line-drawing genre of casual games. Created in 2009 by Australia-based Firemint (now owned by EA), it became an instant sales phenomenon. The Windows Phone version lags behind the iOS and other versions in terms of features (no HD makeover and only six maps here), but remains a fun and addicting title.

Achievement hunters, prepare for lots of grinding to reach 10,000 planes landed. I’m about 7,000 short on that one… Then again, Harbor Master, another developer’s nautical take on the same concept, has even more grueling Achievements.

Flight Control is on sale for $1.99 for one week only. Pick it up here on the Marketplace.

QR: Flight Control

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Text Twist 2

After a few hours delay, it’s here! The 100th Xbox Live release for Windows Phone, TextTwist 2 from GameHouse, is now on the Marketplace.

TextTwist 2 is a word-finding game that plays a lot like Boggle. The game presents a random assortment of letters which players then use to create as many words as possible. A dictionary with tens of thousands of words means just about any word you can think of should be accepted (no naughty ones though). Multiple game modes include Unlimited (no time limit), Standard (timed), Daily Word (try to find the longest word possible once daily), Lightning (find preselected words under a strict time limit), and Letter Mania (fill an anagram grid before time runs out).

So far, Text Twist 2 seems to be just as good as anticipated. Making selections on the main menu is a bit wonky as you have to highlight a selection before picking it - not sure why they didn't just use words with large hitboxes like practically every other mobile game. But selecting and deselecting letters in-game is completely painless, and that's what counts. The Achievements pop pretty quickly, too. We can always rely on GameHouse for easy GamerScore - except for Doodle Jump.

TextTwist 2 costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Scoop it up here on the Marketplace.

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TextTwist 2 not available yet

As you may have noticed by now, this week’s Xbox Live release, TextTwist 2, hasn’t shown up on the Marketplace. Nor has an older game’s price dropped as the Xbox Live Deal of the Week. It’s frustrating for folks like me who want to grab TextTwist and get their spelling on.

A little background info: the Windows Phone Marketplace usually updates during the wee hours of Wednesday morning in the US, though the actual update time is far more erratic than the Xbox 360 Marketplace. I’ve stopped staying up for it. Occasionally – maybe three or four times a year – the mobile Marketplace doesn’t update until later in the day (most recently in September). But it has always updated by Wednesday night, so we shouldn’t have to wait too terribly long for the new game and sale game to appear.

Speaking of the sale game, Microsoft didn’t announce it in advance like they usually do. Rumor has it that Flight Control may be the Deal of the Week, but nobody knows for sure. Keep checking back at WPCentral and we’ll let you know as soon as the Marketplace update goes live!

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Microsoft Windows Phone catching 1.4% of the U.S. market

Nielsen OS Breakdown

According to the Q4 2011 U.S. data released by Nielsen, Microsoft has caught 1.3% of the "current smartphone consumer" market, whereas they've attracted 1.4% of recent smartphone acquires (within the 3 months). Windows Mobile is set at 4.6% with Blackberry holding 14.9%. Windows Mobile is still being pumped out (more being sold than Windows Phone) but Blackberry is struggling to attract smartphone upgrades.

iOS saw an increase with the recent iPhone 4S launch, which has been relatively successful, while Android storms ahead taking almost half the market (46.4%) and attracting 51.7% of the recent smartphone acquires. For 2012, Microsoft (as well as the platform OEMs) have a task to win the minds of consumers and catch the majority of new adopters. With the beginning of the U.S. push, and marketing still ongoing across Europe and beyond, we should hopefully see some results in the Q1 2012 report.

Source: Nielsen, via: WMPU

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From the WPCentral Developer Forums

 

It's me!

If you haven't checked it out already, then you should head over to our developer forum. It is one of the newer sections in the growth of the forums. And it's not just for developers!

The default Metro look on Windows Phone 7 is certainly beautiful, but is not for everyone. So if you're looking to change the look of your device, then go take a look through all the different themes that our users have created, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Starcraft theme

Next up, would you like to beta test some applications/games? You will not need an unlocked phone, and it's a good chance to try out new products before the rest of the world. Also, if you are a developer why not request some testers in the forum. It always helps getting a second pair of eyes on your work.

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Costco stores also getting Nokia Lumia 710 for $269.99

Coston

The other day we covered Costco selling the Lumia 710 (review) for a pretty great price, specifically $0.01 on contract. The fine print also revealed at the time that the "retail price" was $269.99, which is a lot cheaper than the $350 most other places are offering it for.

Now we have an inventory screen shot showing that the 710 will be sold at select Costco brick-n-mortar stores (your guess is as good as ours as to which ones) for that very low price of $269.99. That's a heck of  a deal for an off-contract phone, especially for that Nokia-quality. In addition, you can expect a free carrying case and a car charger.

Downside? Well, besides limited store-availability, you can only get black. And while black is kewl, we prefer the white one ourselves just to be a bit different.  Hopefully if you're in the market for a new phone, you'll be able to find one of these stores offering this deal.

Thanks, Peter M., for the info!

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Nokia Lumia 800 Available in South Africa 7th Feb

Welcome to amazing

This is a small update for those of you from South Africa that have been following the previous Nokia Lumia posts.

Previously we received a tip that the Nokia Lumia 800 would be available in South Africa sometime during the first quarter of 2012. Now Nokia has announced it officially and given a fixed date via their Facebook page. So how long do we need to wait? Well, not long at all. The Nokia Lumia 800 will be launching in South Africa on the 7th of February 2012!

I don't know how Nokia/Microsoft managed to make this possible, as South Africa is more often than not way behind the rest of the world (in terms of phone releases). But I know a lot of South Africans will be extremely excited to be able to get their hands on a Windows Phone 7, especially the Lumia 800. The official launch party is taking place on the 25'th of this month, and we will be there to report back!

Source: Nokia SA's Facebook page; Thanks, Japie, for the tip!

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