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PC World Most Anticipated

PCWorld hasn't failed us by publishing their top '10 Tech Wins of 2011' and including Windows Phone. While these lists should not be taken too seriously, it's good to see the brand getting some recognition and being considered a "win" of 2011. We haven't halted with one list from the magazine though, as Microsoft's mobile platform has found itself in the "20 Most Anticipated Tech Products of 2012".

This could be viewed as relatively strange since Windows Phone was out in 2010, so it's not really anything new for 2012. But for argument sake we will be seeing software updates (with Mango still settling in) and new hardware, which is all good. While Windows Phone is located on slide 13 (behind Android 4.0), it should be noted that there doesn't appear to be any order for the listed entries.

Source: PCWorld; Thanks, D-Burrs, for the tip!

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Andy Lees

Interesting news coming out of All Things D--Andy Lees, who's the Windows Phone division President is being replaced by Terry Myerson, Corporate Vice President of Windows Phone Engineering, but alas he won't be retaining the President title. From an internal memo from Steve Ballmer on the matter:

“I have asked Andy Lees to move to a new role working for me on a time-critical opportunity focused on driving maximum impact in 2012 with Windows Phone and Windows 8. We have tremendous potential with Windows Phone and Windows 8, and this move sets us up to really deliver against that potential.”

The move is suspected to be in response to the slow adoption rate of Windows Phone in the consumer market, despite recent critical approval of the OS. As expected when things aren't going the way they should, corporate shake-ups are necessary. Lets just hope Myerson can take the Windows Phone division to new heights, whcih it certainly deserves.

Source: All Things D

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WP Central

While our recent review of Press Play’s Xbox Live title Tentacles may have sparked some debate (despite being written by an all-around terrific guy), many gamers don’t have strong feelings one way or the other because they haven’t played it yet. A certain subset of those gamers will likely leave their dangerous neutrality behind when Tentacles becomes the Xbox Live Deal of the Week this Wednesday. It will cost $2.99, down from $4.99.

Tentacles is the tale of Lemmy, a small tentacled creature who ends up inside the body of his mad scientist creator. Unique touch controls allow Lemmy to move one tentacle at a time, navigating dangerous levels and eating eyeballs for health. With 40 levels, beautiful 3D graphics and 2D story sequences, and an atmospheric soundtrack, Tentacles could be a game you’ll fall in love with. Just keep in mind that its difficulty is so high in later levels that it can be quite frustrating. Depending on your patience and constitution, your experience may be different.

Starting Wednesday, Tentacles will be on sale for one week only. You’ll find it here on the Marketplace.

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Audible.com app coming in March for Windows Phone?

Audible.com app coming in March?

Windows Phone and Audible.com have not had the best track record together.  Over a year ago, we thought an Audible.com app may be close to hitting the Marketplace, only to find out it was for WinMo 6.X.  Then we found out this summer that one was en route, but no ETA was given.  Well, hopefully, that is all water under the bridge, as one of our readers reports that the long lost ETA may be March 2012. 

An email received by said reader (who chooses to remain anonymous) says:

Dear ,

An Audible app has been in the work for quite sometime. It was not until recently that we were given a tentative release date. If everything goes as scheduled, the app should be making its debut on Windows phones near the end of March 2012.

Sincerely,

Audible Customer Support

While we always take such matters with a grain of salt, we remain hopeful that this is indeed true.  Audible remains one of the few marquee apps to remain absent for Windows Phone.

(Thanks for the tip, Unamed Reader!)

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'Extra Settings'

Though we were a bit critical of the Samsung Focus S's screen, specifically its auto-brightness setting, we'll admit that since version 1.5 of 'Extra Settings' (see our closer look), things have improved dramatically.

Now the app has hit version 1.6 and of course, there is no changelog to report on. But we can assume that things like screen brightness, how white backgrounds are handled and perhaps even haptic feedback have all been improved and tweaked a tad.

We don't have a direct link here since it is hidden, so just watch your Marketplace app for the update.

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Xbox 360 version trailer

Last week we said that two Xbox Live games would hit the Marketplace this Wednesday the 14th. It turns out that wasn’t quite accurate… But don’t worry, it’s good news! Joining Battlewagon and Doodle God will be Breeze, for a total of three Xbox Live releases in one week!

What’s Breeze, you ask? We’ve got exclusive early details. The goal of Breeze is to navigate a flower through 60 maze-like outdoor levels. Each level has a goal that must be unlocked by collecting Sunshine orbs, plus dangerous obstacles like tree branches that can snag the fragile flower.

Instead of directly moving the flower around those hazards, you’ll control the wind that blows the flower – hence the name.  The game offers two control types: Touch and Tilt. Touch mode uses multi-touch controls; whatever points you touch acting as the source of the breeze. Tilt controls work as you’d expect, allowing players to control the breeze by moving their phones to and fro.

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Carrier IQ being used by the FBI?

Carrier IQ

If you were glad that Windows Phone doesn't have Carrier IQ on board before, you may be even happier now.The software, found on Android phones, has come under scrutiny for allegedly collecting data on users, including keystrokes, URLs and messages. Microsoft has recently denied using CIQ on any of its Windows Phones. 

Now, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request was put onto the FBI regarding what information it has on Carrier IQ and the response is a bit troubling but not exactly defining either.  In essence, the FOI request was denied on grounds that it would interfere with ongoing investigations and that it is currently being used for law enforcement purposes--the question arises though, who's being investigated Carrier IQ or citizens?

FOI

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Forums

In case you needed another reason to join our forums here at WPCentral, we'll give you two:

  • Custom Themes Forum - Here you can post your custom theme creations based on the Windows Phone Hacker customizer tool--share them, post screenshots, get feedback or make requests. We have a feeling this will become the new rage for the Homebrew scene, so if you've created a theme and want to share it, here's where you go
  • Beta Testing Forum - Developers, developers developers! Do you have an app that you need beta testers for? Looking for a place to interact with some of the best and brightest Windows Phone users? Then post your beta announcements here and get some feedback from our users on what features they want and how things can be improved before you submit to the Marketplace

All in all, we're thinking both of these new areas should start attracting a lot of new submissions and heck, we'll even feature a few of those custom themes on the front page, if they're good enough.

So get creating, you devs and artists, we want to see your work! And don't forget to spread the word--the more of you, the richer the offerings.

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Core77 App Contest

Core77, an industrial design and development magazine out of New York City, announced their "Fast Track to the Mobile App" contest back in October. Pairing up with the Windows Phone 7 team, the contest was aimed at young developers who could benefit from not only the prizes, but the exposure and portfolio content. After a number of finalists, the judging panel (including Brandon Watson) have selected the following winners:

the winrars

Bridge - "an integrated mobile tool for small team collaboration across time zones."

Blackbelt - "a level-up based business app aimed at improving company productivity and employee self awareness through objectives, incentives and competition."

Social Mints - "easily track and measure what people are saying about a company, brand or new product across the social media landscape."

Rhythmatic - "an easy to use and powerful business cash-flow management mobile app."

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Omnia W available for pre-order in India

Samsung Omnia W pre-order in India

The Samsung Omnia W is one step closer to becoming the first second generation Windows Phone in India. The 3.7" Super AMOLED Windows Phone is available for pre-order through Flipkart.com.

The Omnia W is priced at Rs 20,900 (about $395 US) and sports a 5mp rear camera, front facing VGA camera, 1.4ghz processor and 8gb of storage.  The estimated release/ship date is the 4th week of December.

source: Flipkart Thanks goes out to Kumar for the tip!

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Nokia Lumia 710 coming to Brazil, passes Anatel

Lumia 710

Good news for those in Brazil, you can add the Nokia Lumia 710 to your Samsung Omnia W and HTC Ultimate (aka Titan). The news comes from WinPhone Blog (fan site) who noticed that the mid-range phone passed Anatel, that country's equivalent of the FCC. While no release date is specified, the rest of the filings info is confidential till January 1st, 2012 but from previous experience, WPB expects a mid-January release.

ANATEL Certification

The Lumia 710 should be a popular phone with it mid-level specs and solid design. No word on pricing or carrier, so we'll keep an ear out.

via: WinPhone Blog

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Nokia Lumia 800 getting DLNA support?

DLNA

File this under rumor, but a reasonable one.

The Lumia 800 lacks a lot of things: front facing camera, gyroscope and DLNA support. That latter one though is something that can be added after the fact as we've seen Samsung and HTC do in the past. In that regard, there's no solid reason we know of why the Lumia 800 can't do DLNA if Nokia did some fiddling with the system files.

Over at MobileTechWorld, they did some sleuthing around the ROM and found some files that look necessary for DLNA support in the future. Italian Windows Phone site Plaffo then posted an email from one of their readers that came from Nokia Care. In that email, they basically confirm that Lumia 800 will get DLNA support like other Windows Phone devices, via the Marketplace.

Now word of caution: Customer care is hardly every a reliable source but Nokia rushing some DLNA support via a Marketplace app is the same method that the other OEMs use, so why not? We'll just have to wait and see.

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Amazon Focus S Titan Backorder

The smooth Samsung Focus S (our review) has found itself joining the giant HTC Titan (our review) with being backordered on Amazon Wireless. Both handsets have proved to be popular along with the Nokia Lumia 800, and this news follows what happened on AT&T not so long ago. The Titan is shipping in 8 or 9 days, whereas the Focus S is 1 to 2 weeks, bad news for those who wished to definitely receive one before Christmas from Amazon. This should be of no surprise with the prices being $99.99 and $19.99 respectively.

Source: Amazon Wireless HTC Titan / Samsung Focus S, thanks pwachleman for the heads up!

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Themes

Last week we mentioned how Windows Phone Hacker was working on a homebrew hack to allow you to customize your Start Tiles on your phone. The trick only requires a developer unlocked device (no interop-unlock) and some patience to get your phone to look the way you want. Overall the trick looks simple enough and could be a great way to kill afternoon. Features include:

  • Customize any tile (system or third party, including Marketplace)
  • Use your image as a background for the tiles
  • Use an accent color for overlay transparency
  • Import themes
  • Export themes
  • A bundle of joy with easy personalization ;)

There's even a tutorial video to get you started on your project. Head over to Windows Phone Hacker for the file and more information and maybe jump into our forums to start sharing your creations!

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lte

We know that Nokia is looking to enter the US market and sooner than later. In fact, Nokia is expected to start with the mid-range Lumia 710 on T-Mobile this week. While a decent device, it's not considered to be their 'flagship' phone that will make a big splash. Instead, that phone was speculated to be the Nokia 900--a device that is more rumor than fact at this point.

CNet is now stating confidently that AT&T and Verizon are both testing a Lumia 800 with LTE on board, backing up an earlier story by the Verge:

"...Nokia has been running an 4G LTE version of the Lumia 800 in an effort to get the ball rolling on carrier approval, according to several people familiar with the situation."

Perhaps this is the 'Champagne' we reported on earlier? In a way it makes sense, time is of the essence. Many people here have been yearning for a Lumia 800 release and so why not put LTE in it, make the carriers happy and get some serious presence in the US? Of course as CNet points out, lots of devices get tested but never released here in the US and carriers could be lukewarm to a non-exclusive device that by the time of release, is six months old.

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White label ZTE Windows Phone now available on SFR

Windows Phone Internet 7

We previously covered the upcoming white label SFR "Windows Phone Internet 7" low-end handset last month, but it's now available for purchase from the SFR online store. The suspected ZTE Tania will set the buyer back €269.90 (from €9.90 when purchased with a package) and features a 4.3" screen, 5MP camera, 1Ghz chip and 3GB available storage. Perfect for those who require a smartphone that's both affordable and can perform usual tasks.

Head on over to the SFR store to make the purchase.

Source: SFR, via: MonWindowsPhone

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Another week, another cool video montage from Nokia on the little 'amazing' things in life. This one focuses on 'night', specifically in London and even features footage from the Deadmau5 event. The theme here is about making the most out of the night and not worrying about tomorrow--we can get behind that.

Overall, we like this series and where Nokia is going with these. Catch the previous episode here:

Thanks, hasona, for the tip!

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AT&T Ratings

It's only fair that since we mentioned the HTC Radar 4G at T-Mobile getting high reviews, we talk about AT&Ts to flagship Windows Phones, the HTC Titan and Samsung Focus S.

Interestingly, the HTC Titan is at number one with five stars and 27 reviews. The Focus S, meanwhile has 49 reviews and an average of 4.8 stars--not too shabby at all. Not only are both rated highly, but the written reviews speak very highly of both devices in glowing terms.

Now in fairness, while the ratings are high, statistically they are small when compared to the 1,500 reviews of Samsung Captivate--so perhaps they are skewed a bit towards the high. But lets not kid ourselves--the admittedly small amount of people who have bought both phones are extremely happy with them. We're hoping AT&T (and T-Mobile) take notice of these reviews and at least for AT&T, start pushing these devices more.

Source: AT&T; Thanks, konaitor, for the tip

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HTC Radar 4G second highest rated phone at T-Mobile

Hello, Carly..

We've heaped praise on the HTC Radar 4G (review) for awhile now--yes, it's a "mid-range" Windows Phone but it's a darn good mid-range phone, one that we use daily. So it's nice to see we're not alone as the Radar, a relatively new phone on the TMo network, is the second highest rated phone on their site. With 76 reviews in it averages at a nice 4.7 average rating (out of 5), only following the myTouch Q (which has a 4.9 average but only 14 reviews).

We're number 2!

Unfortunately, that has not turned into sales as the phone is not even in the top ten. But one thing that is clear, the Radar 4G has some dedicated users who felt strong enough to rate it that high--that's a good sign and hopefully it will translate into more users adopting the phone.

Source: T-Mobile; Thanks, Jonathan D., for the tip!

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Nokia takes over Central Station, Milan [Video]

Ah, Nokia. If there's one thing you have to love about them is their advertising and promotion--they know how to do it, as we're reminded time and time again. Now, they're headed to Italy putting up a giant (and we mean giant) banner in Milano Centrale railway station. With 24 tracks and 320,00 daily passengers, we're sure Nokia will catch a lot of eyeballs and interest in their phone.

Interestingly, this is the second time Nokia has done this--that last being for the N97. Hey, stick with what you know, right?

Source: ZOMGItsCJ

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AT&T Samsung Focus receiving OS 7740 update?

7740 for the Focus

We just received word from a reader that his AT&T Focus v1.3 managed to get the coveted 7740 OS update--an odd occurrence as we're not expecting US devices/carriers to roll this out.

Couple of caveats here: Justin's Focus was a developer version that he won via a Windows Phone contest and we've interacted with him before on this site, so we're confident that this is legit. However, when we plugged our Focus in to check Zune, we're met with the "You're on the latest..." screen with us stuck at 7720.

What to make of this? Perhaps some developer phones had special firmware that allows them to get the latest update--makes sense especially for developers. On the other hand, maybe AT&T is planning on some updates? So, anyone else with a Focus seeing this update coming through--if so, let us know in comments.

Thanks, Justin A., for the screen shot!

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Lync Mobile 2010

For all of those business folks out there waiting on the Lync Mobile client, your time is here. You can now download the app for the popular communications platform just in time for Monday morning. From the app description:

Lync 2010 for Windows Phone extends the power of Lync to your mobile device – including rich presence, instant messaging, audio conferencing, and calling features from a single, easy-to-use interface.

Key Features:

  • View colleagues’ availability in real time and select the best way to communicate – initiating an instant message (IM), email, or a phone call.
  • Connect to Lync conference calls with a single touch, without requiring long numeric passcodes or conference numbers.
  • Make and receive calls using your Enterprise Voice (Lync ID) number only, so you can connect with others using a single, consistent identity.
  • Lync 2010 for Windows Phone provides transport layer security (TLS) and perimeter/internal network protection without requiring a VPN, so your communications experience is safer no matter where you are or what network you use.

Lync Mobile 2010

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What does Kindel think?

Former General Manager of the Windows Phone Developer Ecosystem, Charlie Kindel, who recently left Microsoft,  won an Android-based Samsung Galaxy SII--arguably one of the best Android phones out on the market right now in terms of features and availability. In turn, he decided to post his thoughts on the device and perhaps more importantly, the OS itself.

Now lets be clear: Kindel is not pretending to be unbiased here. Working for Microsoft for 21 years and being key to the development of Windows Phone does not leave one impartial. Having said that, the man is no longer with Microsoft, has no vested interest in the success of Windows Phone and can say what he wants. (And anyone familiar with ex-Microsofties know, they often say some unabashedly awful things about the company, rarely pulling punches).  Knowing all of that though, Kindel's assessment is still at least interesting--he does know design, usability and certainly technology.

So what did he think? Well, he tends to really rip Android a lot in terms of UI, stability and battery life aka the usual reasons people get tired of Android. Even if you don't agree with his review, it's a fun read for a Sunday. To tease the piece, we'll just post his summary:

"A typical non-geek consumer would be absolutely-fraking-crazy to pick an Android phone over a Windows Phone. Windows Phone is vastly more refined, cohesive, and easy to use. Period."

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