Editorials

BlackBerry today unveiled its new family of smartphones, running BlackBerry 10. The Z10 (review) is arguably the flagship device, touted as new innovation and pushing the boundaries of mobile computing. We checked out the presentation today and kept a watchful eye on how everything was progressing. It's impressive to see how RIM (now BlackBerry) has turned things around, but how does the Z10 rank against the Lumia 920?

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Today, as expected the company formerly known as RIM has announced the availability of BlackBerry 10.

With two new devices, the Q10 (traditional qwerty phone) and the Z10 (traditional slab touchscreen) and an early global launch including all 4 US carriers by March, the Waterloo company has done an impressive mini-comeback.

The question is, is it enough?

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The recent extended release drought of Xbox games for Windows Phone has prompted both game developers and players alike to question Microsoft’s commitment to Xbox Live support for its own mobile OS. For their part, Microsoft kinda-sorta reaffirmed their dedication to mobile Xbox games, and the long in-development Skulls of the Shogun finally debuts this week. Perhaps the drought has ended and Xbox Windows Phone games will blossom anew once more.

Still, all those weeks without new games didn’t happen by random chance. There are myriad underlying problems at fault, from outdated policies to poor portfolio management to a combination of apathy and ambivalence from some divisions within the platform holder itself. To anyone with an ounce of understanding of the mobile games industry, it looks bad - and it is bad. But Microsoft can still save Xbox games for Windows Phone.

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This morning we posted Nokia’s brief demonstration of Music+ for Windows Phone, HTML5 and Windows 8. We expect to hear a lot more on this and other Nokia news in the coming weeks at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (we’ll be there in force to cover it), so we forgive their brevity on the new music service. Consider it a tease.

What’s not said though is how significant it is that Nokia is making their first Windows 8 and RT app.

Granted, writing an RT app once you have a Windows Phone compile is supposed to be easier. But writing a native Windows desktop client? That's a little trickier. That raises some interesting questions including just how large is Nokia’s Windows desktop team? Is it a 3 man crew or a whole group including engineers?

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This week the two biggest components of the Windows Phone ecosystem reported financial results.  Microsoft and Nokia both printed decent numbers.

I won’t spend much time on Microsoft.  It was a fairly boring quarter. The Redmond giant came in with results that were in line with analyst results.  They’ve now sold a grand total of 60 million Windows 8 licenses, but this includes licenses sold to Dell and other manufacturers. So it’s hard to pin down exactly how many boxes consumers are actually buying with the latest and greatest Windows OS.

In the land of mobile, Microsoft won’t say how many Surface tablets they’ve sold.  I can’t say I blame them.  If they revealed numbers they’d just be compared to iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab sales. Why would Microsoft want to give people more reason to print negative headlines?

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Over the last couple of months, Windows Phone Central has been highly skeptical and/or critical of Microsoft’s dedication towards Xbox games for Windows Phone. As the weeks without a new Xbox release (excluding Nokia exclusives) have grown, so has our certainty in an underlying problem. This culminated with a game developer stepping forward to explain Microsoft’s reticence towards approving new Xbox projects, not to mention the conspicuous snubbing of Windows Phone in the announcement of the multiplatform WSOP: Full House Pro.

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Things haven’t been looking too good for Xbox games on Windows Phone lately. As our readers probably know, there hasn’t been a new Xbox game released since KenKen on December 19th. Just before that there were two more weeks with no release: one before and one after AlphaJax arrived. Nokia users have a bit more to play thanks to iBomber Defense, but that does not help everyone else. Well, this week the disturbing trend continues: Microsoft has confirmed that there will be no new Xbox Windows Phone game or Deal of the Week this week. Yikes!

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Just recently the BBC released yet more new apps for Apple’s iPhone and announced plans for more support of Google Android devices. The corporation has stated publically the need to make its content available to all in as many ways as possible but has persistently refused to develop a single app for Windows Phone. They now state they have no plans to support a Windows 8 app too.

The BBC have often cited incompatibilities in their chosen media formats with Windows Phone and the relatively small market share for the platform as being reasons not to make an app. In the latest statement from the ‘beeb’ it’s also apparent that market share and file types aren’t the only thing stopping them developing for Microsoft operating systems. Reason and logic don’t seem to come into play.

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Windows Phone Central at CES 2013

We are less than 48 hours away from CES 2013 officially kicking off. In the past anticipation was high for new gadgets when CES was on the horizon. However, this year is a little different for the Windows Phone camp. Last year at CES we got our first look at the Lumia 900, but this year Microsoft will have a significantly smaller presence than it has had in the past, same goes for Nokia. We also aren't really expecting new hardware Windows Phone hardware from HTC or Samsung. So what then can you look forward to?

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This one has been brewing for a while and it seems that the rhetoric is now stepping up as Microsoft and Google prepare to do battle. The stage has been set and much of the coming drama will focus on Windows Phone.

Microsoft has today written publically about Google’s direct refusal to open up YouTube access so that Windows Phone users can easily use the service when mobile, something we first reported back in March 2011. The plot thickens when we learn that Microsoft has a high quality YouTube app ready to release. Don’t be evil, read on past the break to find out more.

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As we’re starting to return to full steam here at Windows Phone Central from the holiday season, we need to evidently begin reporting on the stupid again (thankfully it's not more Android-Nokia rumors). This time Forbes online contributor Tristan Louis is “predicting” that Nokia will exit the hardware business this year and sell off their assets to Microsoft and/or Huawei.

No evidence is provided, mind you. Not a single “unnamed source” or even the tried and tired “people familiar with the matter” go-to device for reporting on irresolute rumors.  And if you’re scratching your head at who Tristan Louis is or why you should care about what he writes, you’re not alone as we’ve never heard of him either (he’s evidently an “entrepreneur”, which we think means something along the lines as “guy with money”).

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Yesterday we went over Windows Phone Central’s picks for the best Xbox Windows Phone games of 2012. It may not have been a stellar year, but we can certainly count 2012 as the best year for Windows Phone gaming so far. Narrowing down the finest games from nearly 50 weekly releases was no mean feat for someone who enjoys nearly every genre and approaches all games with love.

Still, no amount of optimism can overlook the turkeys that sometimes squeeze their way into the Xbox lineup. How do we spot these wretches? Well, broken Achievements, poor controls, and dysfunctional online components are all telltale signs of a game better left unreleased. That makes selecting the bottom of the barrel titles so much easier than choosing the top shelf games.

Head past the break for to learn how a bad game happens and Windows Phone Central’s Worst Xbox Windows Phone games of 2012!

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For many gamers, Xbox Live functionality is one of Windows Phone’s most compelling selling points. Windows Phones allow people who already own an Xbox 360 to log in with their existing Xbox Live/Microsoft ID and receive instant access to their Xbox Live profiles, friends lists, messages. Existing users can customize their Xbox avatars directly from their phones, while new users can create them. The SmartGlass app can even sync with a handful of Xbox 360 games and apps right now, with more titles to support SmartGlass in the future.

Sure, you can many of those features on iOS as well, but they aren’t nearly as integrated as on Windows Phone. Most of the functionality is built right into WP8; WP7 users need the Xbox Live Extras app. The SmartGlass app requires a quick download on both WP7 and WP8. After that, you’ll find it all conveniently located in the Games hub.

Head past the break for more of Windows Phone Central’s Xbox Live primer plus our picks for the best Xbox Windows Phone games of 2012!

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Alright, so Nokia has a good grasp on what the word exclusive means. But Microsoft takes a more liberal stance towards supporting other platforms. We’ve seen the big MS publish previously Xbox Windows Phone exclusive games to iOS before, such as Kinectimals and Tentacles. It always hurt, but we sucked it up and complained only in small doses.

Yesterday, another exclusive turned coat and migrated to iOS: Microsoft’s own Wordament. I had previously speculated that Wordament could function as a killer app, attracting gamers to Windows Phone with its highly addictive gameplay and smart design. That will no longer happen, but here’s the really bad news: Wordament on iOS is an Xbox Live title complete with real Achievements!

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It seems like only last week we were writing a little editorial about Google and its lack of support for Windows Phone and Windows 8. In short they said they didn’t see the audience for these operating systems as being big enough to invest in. Here we are a week on and talking about an update.

Of course they had already invested in the Google search app and this is no sign they will commit to any further projects. Google Search on Windows 8 does actually give you basic access to much of their web offerings and makes us consider if this is perhaps all they need. Read on past the break for the low down.

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In a recent interview Google stated they will not devote any resources to making apps for either Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8. They have also now ceased consumer support for ActiveSync.  Some are calling it ‘war’ while others passionately question if Windows Phone can survive without Google products and services.

The relationship between Google and Microsoft has always been somewhat hostile. In many ways the battle they engage in now can be seen as a kind of echo from a distant technological past. Google have dug in their heels and to some degree shown their true colours by declaring zero support for Microsoft’s newest operating systems, Windows Phone and Windows 8.

But does it matter and has anything really changed?

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If there were one area where Microsoft’s Windows Phone devices should be doing well it is within business. Nokia have just posted a new video extolling the headline features of Windows Phone 8 to the corporate crowd.

Even though Windows Phone has a whole feature set designed to be consumer friendly, it also has arguably the best office friendly apps too, mobile office anyone?

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Last night we broke the story about the international version of the HTC 8X receiving the Windows Phone 8 OS 10211 (Portico) update, which included a fix for the rebooting issue and some new features as well.

Of course the majority of you with Nokia Lumias or branded 8Xs are probably frantically checking to see if your update is ready too. So when should we anticipate it?

Unfortunately, we don’t have any specific dates for you—not yet at least. But past experiences and some common knowledge tell us that this will be a controlled, rolled out procedure. The reasons for that should be obvious but in case it’s not, let us explain.

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We have been reporting on the Samsung ATIV S since it was first announced. Whilst Samsung were the first to announce a Windows Phone 8 handset they have thus far been unable to deliver it to the marketplace.

We are now hearing rumours that the 4.8” hero device could now be set to arrive in January or even as late as February 2013. Online retailers and stores are all geared up to get the device and the last we saw was delivery being due for mid-December. Missing the launch hype of Windows Phone 8 and the essential holiday season buying, what has gone wrong?

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State of the Mobile Nations Survey

With new Apple, Android and Windows Phone 8 devices hitting the market this fall, and new BlackBerry 10 phones just around the corner in early 2013, there have never been so many amazing phones on the market to choose from.

Before the holiday season hits, we wanted to pause for a moment and check in to see where everybody is at. It'll only take a minute or two to fill out this State of the Mobile Nations survey, and we'll love you forever if you do. Thanks for participating!

Take the Survey!

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