Editorials

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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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Total Mobile Nations Network Movember Funds Raised: $14,409 (USD)

December is here which means the month of Movember is over and our moustaches have been shaved off. This is the first time we participated in the event as a network and it was an outstanding success. Together we raised over $14,000 for prostate and men's mental health research... MO-MAZING!!

Be sure to watch the video above to take a gander at the many men who participated in this year's event. And below we give special props to the tremendous fundraising efforts of a few of the team members that went above and beyond the call of duty, and also pay tribute to our favorite moustaches grown this month. We'll be reaching out to these invidividuals to hook them up with some special prizes, courtesy of MObile Nations.

Big congratulations to everyone that participated, and see you all back here next year for Movember at MObile Nations!

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Just to throw some water on some of the ridiculousness that is surrounding a single job call by Nokia this morning, we’re going to address this just once.

Evidently Nokia placed a job posting on the site LinkedIn that called for a “Principal Software Engineer, Embedded Linux Middleware”.  A few tech sites (who should really know better) said that this is “consistent with Nokia making a tentative, exploratory move into Android territory” and another site headlining “Is Nokia Planning an Android Handset? New Job Listing Suggests So”.

No, it does not...

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Earlier this week we were lucky enough to be in attendance at the Electric in Brixton where Nokia promoted the Lumia 920 by showing a recorded version of Deadmau5's performance near tower bridge before bringing the man live into the club for a special free live event.

Of course we weren't content with going just for the beer and electro-house music, so we thought we'd use the opportunity to do another comparison for people still torn between the Lumia 920 and HTC 8X.

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Yesterday another Video appeared on the dedicated Surface YouTube Channel but it dispels with any meaningful message in favour of irritating music and mind bending spins and flips.

The Surface tablet is Microsoft’s first foray into selling its own computer and is designed to go head to head with an army of Android tablets and the seemingly unstoppable Apple iPad. Anticipation for this device amongst many, including staff here at Windows Phone Central has been high and we have written about how much we like it but we aren’t really what you’d call the average consumer. So what is going with the advertising for Surface?

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(Editor's Note: Our Windows Phone Central app developer, Jay Bennett, weighs in on the Lumia 920, the HTC 8X and his experience with both. PS It's his birthday today, so take it easy on him!)

With the release of Windows Phone 8 there is something of a rivalry forming between the HTC 8X, the ‘Signature Windows Phone’, and the Nokia Lumia 920, arguably the flagship Windows Phone in terms of hardware & features.

Whilst many consumers have already made their decision we know that some will still be mulling over the options, or perhaps contemplating one due to unavailability of the other.

It is to those people that I direct this article, we are not interested in fuelling the culture of blindly supporting one device (or even manufacturer) over the other, which honestly I would like to see stop. The simple fact is there are two awesome top end devices available right now and you have the luxury of choice, you lucky consumer you.

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It hasn't been the best of starts for the new UK carrier since it launched the first 4G network in the country. EE holds exclusivity on the Lumia 920, with available handsets at Phones4u locked to the network, forcing consumers with different providers to look online at unlocked prices - which went anywhere up to £550. So why has there been so much outrage at EE and the Lumia 920 launch?

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Nokia have firmly established themselves as a major player in the Windows Phone market. Their devices have been consistently regarded well and their marketing efforts have seen them establish ‘Lumia’ as a powerful and recognisable brand in its own right.

With the advent of Windows Phone 8 we saw Nokia strive to produce the definitive ‘hero’ device of this generation. The Lumia 920 packs some serious specs and for some it’s seen to be the best device of this current crop of phones. It isn’t all about the speeds and feeds, it’s about a cohesive package consisting of exclusive apps, hardware and of course Windows Phone 8.

We've previously reviewed the Lumia 920, which is well worth checking out for the in-depth analysis, but it is from this perspective I’m going to look at how successful it really is.

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Ever since Microsoft first announced to the world their intentions to “re-imagine” Windows it has been a rather wild ride. Their new touch screen user interface, WinRT wasn't just radical for its looks, it ushered in a totally new apps eco system while simultaneously sending the Start Menu to the technology grave yard.

The changes to the OS ran deep and Microsoft had been busy readying Windows 8/RT to run on the highly power efficient ARM processors. Their plans for that became clearer when they shocked the technology world by announcing their own tablet computer, the Surface. With the changes to Windows came a new declaration that Microsoft re-position themselves as a Devices and Services company. They have built their eco system and the next logical step has been to control the hardware that uses it. The culmination of their efforts in re-imagining Windows and becoming a devices and services company can we seen best in one single product, their Surface tablet running Windows RT.

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