Windows Phone News

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PlayPhone adds Windows Phone support

PlayPhone Social Gaming Network announced at Mobile World Congress yesterday that they now support Windows Phone.  And in doing so, it appears to have become the first social gaming service to support all major operating systems.  PlayPhone, which already supports Android, iOS, HTML5, Adobe AIR and Unity, is an online community for multiplayer and social gaming.  It allows its 35+ million users to interact, play games and consume virtual goods in a cross-platform environment.

“Microsoft and its partners have put extensive resources toward the rapid adoption of the Windows Phone 7 platform worldwide” said Anders Evju, SVP and GM of PlayPhone.  “PlayPhone is committed to cross-platform mobile gaming. Gamers on all leading mobile devices – Android, iPhone, iPad, WP7, etc. – can jump into the PlayPhone SGN to play some of the best games out there with their friends.  We call this the PlayPhone advantage."

The PlayPhone Social Gaming Network SDK for Windows Phone is now available to developers.  Visit their website for more info.

Source: Mobile Entertainment

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Mobile World Congress 2012 (Tag: MWC12) is in full swing and the Mobile Nations team is there. Our Mobile World Congress 2012 Events Forum is filling up with all the news and discussions thereof--we have lots to discuss, so jump in the forums and join the fun. We also have new forums up for the Lumia 610 and the ZTE Orbit,  both of which were announced this week.

There is a lot already posted and more to come, so go get the news from our Main Page then jump in the forums for the in depth discussion and community sprit you can only find in the WPCentral forums.

Remember, the forums are more fun when you register, so sign up today.

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This morning at Mobile World Congress, CEO of Nokia Stephen Elop commented on their recent success of announcing four new Windows Phone within one year of their famous partnership with Microsoft. He noted that they were now in 31 different markets and on 50 unique operators with increasing demand in sales everyday.

In just under a year, they've won awards for the Lumia 900, including a "Best of Show" which was a first for them and garnered high praise for the Lumia 800.

So when it came to the Lumia 710, specifically on T-Mobile which Elop pointed out was their return-device to the U.S. market, he reported with great enthusiasm that sales are "exceeding expectations" and that they are "very pleased" with its performance in the market so far. While no specific numbers were given, it appears at least that Nokia has a small hit on their hands with the Lumia 710--a device we gave high praise for--and the increasing visibility of the device e.g. LIVE! with Kelly is certainly helping too.

Quickly checking T-Mobile's page for device information, we can in fact see this being reflected. As of today, the Lumia 710 is T-Mobile's third best selling device--a level we have never seen reached for any Windows Phone in the US. Likewise, the device is in the same spot for user satisfaction with a 4.7 stars (out of 5) from 115 reviews (interestingly, the HTC Radar is number two).

The conclusion seems to be that Nokia is doing quite well with the 710 which we think is a great sign for the impending Lumia 900 on AT&T and their accompanying media campaign.

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During the latest keynote speech at Mobile World Congress, HTC's Peter Chou and Nokia's Stephen Elop had a few fun moments taking shots at each during their talks and later during the question and answer session.  In what was probably the most exciting thing to happen here since Nokia announced a 41MP camera, the two (who insist they are friends and on good terms) clearly have some tension as both compete for market share and the minds of consumers.

One area that was addressed not once but twice was Nokia's 41MP camera versus HTC's 16MP on the Titan II announced last month. Elop started first by retelling the story of Chou announcing the phone back at CES and realizing they had to break out their 41MP camera sooner than later in order to steal back the focus on camera optics. Later, Chou told a similar story of how he asked Elop what he thought about the Titan II's camera and reportedly Elop was "silent" on the matter, clearly flustered. This worried Chou that Nokia were going to hit and hit back hard (indeed they did). What made that moment extremely entertaining though was when Chou insisted on telling his version of the CES story, Elop asked if he could snap Chou's picture (with the Pure View) while doing so--clearly a fun jest and the crowd reacted appropriately with roars of laughter. Point, Nokia.

Later, Chou was asked by the moderator what he thought when Nokia reported a $250 million payment from Microsoft, clearly part of the two's partnership. Chou was fairly diplomatic on the issue saying that he thought Nokia would be help lift everyone in regards to Windows Phone but obviously the payment must have slightly perturbed him, being a Microsoft partner for over 15 years.

Chou was also modest on the chances of Windows Phone success. He thinks there's nothing wrong with the OS and it's a great system but it seemed clear from his responses that he thought Android and iOS would clearly dominate for the foreseeable future. Though he did report that their Windows Phone customsers had extremely high satisfaction ratings for their phones with very few returns, something we've reported on before.

Interestingly, both Chou and Elop agreed that the 16MP versus 41MP competition is really misguided and focused too much on specs versus the customer experience, something both companies are concerned with (Elop more so as he "hopes it's not a spec war").

All in all, watching the two smartphone heavy weights discuss the pros and cons of Windows Phone was exciting both for the tension and humorous jousting between the two companies.

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One of Mobile World Congress's keynote speeches just wrapped up and this one featured three different speakers: Dennis Crowley, founder and CEO of Foursquare, CEO of HTC Peter Chou and CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop. The topic was simple: Mobile OS & Applications, specifically what challenges each CEO is facing and how the mobile OS can transform technology.

Each CEO gave their take on what they do and what they are doing for the future. Crowley is concerned with data aggregation on Foursquare and how to "give that back" to the customer in a useful manner. Chou was interested in the infinite possibilities of smartphones but more importantly how to smartly managed that e.g. HTC Sense. Finally Nokia's Elop focused on three areas:

  1. Ecosystems including big apps versus local apps, with the latter being Nokia's concern. This can be seen in things like App Highlights on their phones.
  2. Location-based services e.g. filling in the "Where? equation" on smartphones. We see this demonstrated with their Drive, Maps and Transport apps
  3. How to monetize this ecosystem for the smaller developers in emerging markets

Elop's discussion was frankly much more interesting as he was laying out, in no uncertain terms, what Nokia's plans were. They see growth in the untapped emerging markets, where 60% of cell phone users do not have a smartphone yet. He reiterated once again how he thought Nokia could be a "disruptive force" in the industry with Windows Phone (versus iOS or Android) and that Nokia had a great symmetry with Microsoft in regards to software/hardware design.

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The Nokia Lumia 710 made an appearance at the Oscars. Courtesy of Kelly Ripa. The Windows Phone was taken backstage to snap photos and hob-nob with all the Hollywood hot-shots.

Kelly showed off the Lumia 710 on her Live! with Kelly morning show and as an added bonus gave each of her studio audience members a free 710. As if that wasn't enough, each audience member received a 6 month T-Mobile service plan.  Based on the reaction of the audience it appears they liked this Windows Phone promotion.  

Looks like another successful Windows Promotion that joins Ellen Degenre's HTC Radar giveaway event that took place last December.

source: LIVE! with Kelly

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Nokia has updated the colour palette for their mapping service and this change has been reflected through Microsoft's Bing with the partnership between the two companies. The alterations are to make the browsing experience easier and more aesthetically pleasing with improved typography, colours and less obstructive icons. The above image illustrates the change with the new version of Bing Maps on the left.

While these changes are present on the web versions of both Nokia and Bing Maps, Windows Phone owners will be able to witness the improvements in the official apps. Note that Nokia Drive wont be updated with the new look for a week or two.

What do you make of said changes?

Source: Nokia Conversations

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Windows Phone Hacker, the developer behind the Folders homebrew app, has come up with a new concept to add small tiles to the lock screen that can display app information, much like you'd expect on the home screen live tiles. Data could be pulled from apps such as weather, RSS readers, image sharing, etc. 

Another idea is to have the wallpaper dynamically change to fit the Bing background. The bad news is you'll require root access to be able to use this app, should it become reality of course. Be sure to head over to Windows Phone Hacker to spark interest in the concept.

Source: Windows Phone Hacker

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Security firm CrowdStrike has identified a vulnerability that could allow attackers to seize complete control over a smartphone.  The hole could allow an attacker to gain access via Webkit-based browsers, which makes up the bulk of mobile web browsers.  The good news for Windows Phone users is that they are in the clear because Microsoft designed Internet Explorer themselves, opting not to use the Webkit platform.

George Kurtz, CEO of CrowdStrike, has tested this theory and has confirmed that Windows Phone, unlike iOS, Android and Blackberry, is immune to this threat.  Kurtz has not revealed the details of the vulnerability, but will be holding a demonstration tomorrow at a TSA conference.  For the time being, there is little that users can do to protect themselves.  Any fixes must come from the OS developers first, and then get pushed out to consumers.

Source: Zunited

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Should you wish to get some extra exposure for your Windows Phone app, how does a chance with Nokia at this year's SXSW (South by Southwest) sound? If you're heading to the event, you could have the opportunity for Nokia to showcase your work inside the Nokia Lab, a free-standing structure that will be erected near the convention centre for SXSW Interactive.

How does one get the chance to take part, you ask? It's simple. You tell the handset maker about your work, if it's unique and downright awesome they'll showcase it along with other app demos that will be live at the Lab on March 12th. How to enter your app:

  • Have an app that works on a Nokia Lumia Windows Phone device
  • Send the following brief details via e-mail to nokiadeveloper@thelucidway.com:
    • Your name, company and contact information (include email and phone)
    • A link to your app in Windows Phone Marketplace, or link to the private
    • beta of your app in Windows Phone Marketplace
    • A brief description and any screenshots of your app
    • Why your app is amazing, cool, or unique

Chosen developers will be contacted prior to the event. Visitors to the Nokia Lab at SXSW will experience Nokia's latest Windows Phone handsets, including the Lumia 900, and will get hands-on experience with winning apps. The app demos in the Nokia Lab will run from 11am up until 8pm on March 12th, which provides some solid exposure for both the apps and the Windows Phone platform.

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Can we have a drum roll? Because GroupMe is back! The group-texting app for Windows Phone (which is also available on Blackberry, iOS and Android) went MIA late last year and not much has been officially said surrounding the app since, until a callout was published on the Twitter account looking for Windows Phone users who reside in New York.

Today we have an article announcing the app's return on the official GroupMe blog. So what's new in version 3? With the company being purchased by Skype (Microsoft), the team has been working closely with the software giant to revamp the app. As well as a visual (and code) overhaul, which looks much more fluent with the Metro UI, GroupMe also supports deep-link live tiles (with notifications) to chats and groups, photo sharing, contacts integration, and more.

A few issues are present though: no landscape support for writing and notifications aren't working yet for us. Still, from keeping in touch with colleagues, to sharing photos, GroupMe will enable you to keep up to date with your favourite groups of contacts. Overall, a great comeback for the app and we look forward to see how Skype and GroupMe can integrate in the future. You can download GroupMe from the Marketplace for free.

Source: GroupMe Blog

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We reported a few weeks ago the site Carphone Warehouse was taking pre-registrations for the Nokia Lumia 900 with an expected June release. Now the site has quietly update that to May signaling perhaps an accelerated schedule or newer, more detailed information.

Either way that's good news for those of you looking to get this phone sooner than later. While this isn't a pre-order and no money is exchanged it's a relatively safe way to register your interest in the monster Nokia phone.

Source: Carphone Warehouse; Thanks, Robert M., for the tip

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Unlocked Mobiles has listed the Nokia Lumia 610 Windows Phone as available for pre-order. The 3.7" devices is being offered for 164.98 pounds (inc VAT).  The Windows Phone will be offered SIM free and unlocked.

The Lumia 610 is expected in stock on May 14, 2012 and available for next day delivery.

You can find the Lumia 610's product page here with all the details on ordering.  Oh and remember if a larger screen is more your style, the wireless phone vendor is also taking pre-orders for the Lumia 900.

Thanks, James, for the tip!

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Although Microsoft didn't have any big press conferences or news releases regarding the future of Windows Phone at Mobile World Congress that hasn't stopped them from throwing a little thank you party to all of their supporters (and if you remember we gave away some ticket to the exclusive event).

Held at the famous El Molino, the event was suppose to have 400 attendees but Microsoft was expecting many more and indeed as the night went on it was certainly packed (especially on the roof). With free drinks, thumping dance music, delicious h'orderves and contests, the night was quite a blast.

Speaking of contests, Microsoft had a few last night including a Twitter/Speed contest where you had to type and post a catch phrase with hashtag as fast as you can. The fastest 10 all won a Windows Phone and even had a choice between an HTC Titan, Radar or Nokia Lumia 800. There was also the favorite "Fruit Ninja" contest where users can play the game on numerous Windows Phones with the top scorer winning a new device.

All in all it was a great time and below we have a few photos of the event just in case you couldn't make it. (Oh and we even briefly ran into one of our readers there, which was very cool).

Remember, keep track of all of our Mobile World Congress'12 news here: wpcentral.com/tags/mwc12

Head past the break for some pics...

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The European Lumia 900, which was announced at MWC earlier today (or yesterday for those GMT and beyond), is now available for interest registration at the Carphone Warehouse. The Lumia 900 is also going to be stocked at other retailers including Unlocked Mobiles, and sports a 4.3" AMOLED (with ClearBlack technology) display, 16GB storage, 8MP camera (with FF), 512MB RAM and a 1.4Ghz chip.

No word on the pricing as of yet, but we suspect it'll be competitive and will look to be around the £450 mark. According to the registration page, they are looking at a June 2012 launch.

Source: Carphone Warehousethanks, Richard, for the tip!

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It's Fitness Month here at WPCentral and Mobile Nations, as you all already know, so we thought we'd take a look at some health-related apps for your Windows Phone that can be used to keep on top of those pesky New Year resolutions you may have made for 2012. I've personally been using runtastic for Windows Phone, a fitness tracking app / service that's also available for Blackberry, iOS and Android. So, just how can this app help keep owners fit?

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Earlier today we called attention to new changes being brought about with the release of Windows Phone SDK 7.1.1, the release supporting 'Tango' in all it's low-end/budget glory.

We also mentioned in that article that only 5% of apps wouldn't run in the new hardware configuration, which is down to the amount of memory they utilise whilst active. However looking over this msdn page we wanted to make it crystal clear to our community that in fact there is a limitation for our new friend the Lumia 610: it won't run Background Tasks.

Specifically, generic background tasks are not supported for devices with 256MB of memory. A perfect example would be the background task used to update the live tile and cache in our own app. These types of tasks are known to developers as Periodic tasks and Resource Intensive tasks (if you want to understand the difference I recommend reading this overview). The potentially good news is that some types of background task, such as the background Audio agent which is used for playing music or podcasts after the app has been de-activated, look to be supported still.

A question therefore which I put to our readers, is this the first sign of platform fragmentation? Can we still state that "you get the same great Windows Phone experience on any handset"? Or is this a reasonable omission for the sweeter price spot?

Update: A quick clarification as some of our commenters aren't too sure, this does not affect fast app switching (part of the multitasking functionality) and nor does it affect push notifications which generate live tiles or toast messages. I'd also like to state that if apps make use of Background tasks Microsoft have provided methods for developers to identify when a "mid-tier" device is being used before trying to enable the task, thus allowing users to continue using all other features of the app in question.

Update 2: Justin Angel argues (very well) that this is not mobile fragmentation, as technically developers will write code once which can then be run on any Windows Phone platform, although developers may still be required to test for these mid-tier devices and run functions of their apps in accordance. Instead Justin suggests that this classifies as 'device differentiation', in the same way as not having a gyroscope or front facing camera in your device.

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We love our communities! Each of our individual sites -- Android Central, CrackBerry.com, iMore, WPCentral and webOSNation -- has its own incredibly passionate and knowledgeable community of forum users. Each has its own strong identity and we never want to compromise that. Which is why we went with Mobile Nations as our community network brand. It allows us to continue to respect the culture of our individual communities while continuing to push all of the sites forward and making it more welcoming for users who switch between platforms to find their way into another Mobile Nations site. All combined, we truly are the United Nations of Mobile!

Help Us Improve Our Forums: We want to continue to make our communities even stronger. We've put together ten quick questions that will help guide us on that mission. Whether you visit the forums often or just casually lurk, we want want to hear from you. The survey will only take a minute or two, tops. Thanks for participating!

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Although overshadowed a bit by Nokia today, ZTE who earlier released the Tania has also put out the Orbit which was announced early this morning. The Orbit is yet another low-cost phone presumably for emerging markets and East Asia though the company has expressed interest in coming to the US and Europe as well.

The Orbit features a new Qualcomm processor to Windows Phone: the Qualcomm MSM7227A-1 which is described as a "low cost, low voltage" CPU for sub-$150 devices. In addition, here are the other specs just released:

  • EDGE 900/1800/1900
  • HSDPA 900/2100, DPA 7.2Mbps
  • RAM 256MB, User 4GB
  • 4-inch, WVGA (800x480), 65K colour, TFT, capacitive
  • 5MP AF/flash camera
  • GPS, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth 2.1 + A2DP
  • Accelerator, compass, proximity light
  • DLNA, NFC, FOTA, HD Voice, Dual Mic, FM Radio

Interestingly the press release from ZTE notes that it has 512MB of RAM but we confirmed that this is a 256MB device as seen in our pics below. The phone has the same nice feel as the Tania including a slick chrome finish. The screen is a little washed for our liking but we're a bit spoiled with Nokia ClearBlack, Samsung Super AMOLED+ and HTC's S-LCD.

The unit we played with clearly has some work yet to be done on it, including some issues with the touch-capacitive buttons and camera (which didn't work) but we'll chalk that up to early prototype problems. Overall the Orbit is a unique phone with a custom-OEM pink Accent color. No other "custom UI" changes were noted with this review unit nor any NFC apps to take advantage of the NFC hardware that this supposedly sports.

The OS was an interesting build 8755 which probably classifies as "Tango" though from what we understand there is no Tango-proper build of the OS yet and OEMs aren't even referring to it with that name. Either way, clearly ZTE is betting that Windows Phone has a chance and we're impressed with their design even if the hardware is a little on the low side--we think they're a company to watch.

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Call it low-end but don't call it cheap. That's how we feel about the Nokia Lumia 610 which in our opinion is a buttery smooth and elegant little number (see our hands on), despite being a bit neutered to keep costs down.

One area though Nokia is not skimping on is the use of Corning's Gorilla Glass which according to the device specs is on board. Sure, it may not have ClearBlack screen technology (it's a straight TFT instead) but that Gorilla Glass is a good thing to keep some light scratches away as you throw this in your pants or purse. Some other notable specs:

  • Quad band: GSM 1800, 1900, 850, 900; data 1900, 2100, 850, 900
  • HSPA - But no "+" on board so it's limited to 7.2Mbps
  • 2 Microphones
  • No compass
  • Talk time: 10.5 hours
  • 120g/4.2 ounces
  • 1300mAh battery

Not a bad little number and we think Nokia can do well with this phone, especially in those emerging markets. The build quality on this device is better than most mid-range offerings available today, which says something about Nokia and their ability.

Source: Developer Nokia

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