Windows Phone News

We covered Ask Ziggy last month and it sure gained a lot of attention. While the Siri-like app itself was a great first start, it certainly lacked the ability to do some basic functions like tell the weather or what time it is. Still, for being done by one guy it did do some neat tricks as our video pointed out (see after the break for a refresher).

Currently though, Ask Ziggy's Nuance engine is on the fritz. It's a temporary problem that has to do with basically too many people using it. The exceeded limits though should be restored soon, so sit tight. And it's fixed already!

But the big news, as you can peep from the screenshots, is the huge overhaul the app is getting for the next version. Ask Ziggy is getting all "Metrofied" as many of you had requested and boy, do we like the look. On top of that it handles a lot more functionality, including:

  • Weather
  • Time
  • Reminders
  • Maps/Geolocation

And we hear there's a lot more in the works. In fact, the developer, Shai Leib, is now working full-time on this project meaning we can expect some serious changes in the coming months.

No word on ETA for the next version but we'll keep you posted with a hands on as soon as we can. Certainly though we're very excited about where this is going. Folks, take our word, you haven't seen anything yet.

You can pick up the current version here in the Marketplace for free, but until Nuance resets their limits, it may not work.

Updated: Added Map/Geolocation pics. Also, Nuance is working again!

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It only takes a few hours to go by before we get a new report of a Nokia launch somewhere. While the info may not be of interest to all of our readers, it's important for the OS to spread as far and wide as possible. And having Windows Phone with Nokia's backing land in Indonesia is nothing to ignore either. With nearly 240 million people, it's a fairly large population yearning for some smartphone technology from the likes of Redmond and Finland.  So it's with great interest to see Indonesian news site Detikinet reporting that the Lumia 710 and 800 are both headed to that country within in weeks:

"Anvid Erdian, Product Manager Nokia Indonesia stated that Nokia is still as planned in the series Lumia brought to Indonesia in Q1 2012. "Approximately in February"...The price is pegged in the range of Rp 5 million to Lumia 800 and Rp 3 million for Lumia 710."

We're also told by reader Rahadyan that Nokia has two events in preparation for the launch that may interest some locals:

  1. Mesin Waktu Nokia (Translation: Nokia Time Machine), a contest in the form of Facebook app where a user can pick his/her favorite classic Nokia phones, then type in his/her memory about using the phone. The prizes are 5 Lumia 800 and 5 Lumia 710. www.mesinwaktunokia.com (redirect to Facebook app)
  2. Nokia Developer Day: Coding 24 hours. This event, collaborating with Microsoft Indonesia, will be held on 4-5 February 2012. Nokia+Microsoft hope to gather 800 developers and challenge them to create 800 apps for Windows Phone in the course of 24 hours. Those apps will then be submitted to the Indonesian Marketplace. A little twist: this event will be monitored by the Indonesian Record Museum (Museum Rekor Indonesia / MURI), the Indonesian equivalent of Guinness World Record, and will be registered as the largest developer coding event in Indonesia if they manage to attract 800 developers. Link.

Sounds like that could be a lot of fun. Hopefully we'll get some on-the-ground feedback once everything starts.

Source: Detikinet; Thanks, Rahadyan, for the info!

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For those of you near China/Hong Kong (or like ourselves, in New York City) Chinese New Year is a pretty big deal and tends to be a lot of fun. So it's very cool to see Microsoft getting into the mix by distributing traditional Chinese "Red Envelopes" to the media as a New Year's gift. In case you're unfamiliar with the ritual, here you go from MIC Gadget:

"Traditionally, the married Chinese will give a red envelope with certain amount of money inside as a monetary gift to children and unmarried adults during the Lunar New Year. The red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and the money was known as “ya sui qian”, meaning “money warding off evil spirits”. It was believed to protect the elderly from sickness and death too. In modern day, the envelopes are not just in red color, some will used gold color. Gold represents good luck and wealthy, that is another favorite color for the Chinese. "

As noted though, there was sadly no money in those envelopes meaning the press had to find other means for cash. We're not going to lie though, we'd like to get our hands on one of these for a souvenir!

Source: ePrice (HK); via MIC Gadget; Thanks, Norman M., for the tip!

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Just in case $39 was too much at a T-Mobile store for the Nokia Lumia 710, you can head to your local (har har) Microsoft Store and pick up that bad boy for the low-low price of FREE. Of course, they're just not throwing free phones at customers as you do have to commit to a 2-year contract. But hey, that's not a bad deal.

And since the chances of you actually living near a MS store are a bit slim (you can check here though), you can also order by phone or online, making this a pretty good deal to share with others.

Source: Microsoft Store Online; Thanks, Justin W., for the tip

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Good news for those in New Zealand--you'll be getting both the Nokia Lumia 710 and the Lumia 800 come March, finally bringing some solid Gen 2 devices your way.

The big winner is Telecom NZ who will be getting both devices with the "exclusive" interestingly on the 710, while Vodafone NZ will be getting the Lumia 800 for their customers. The info comes by way of two sources: Nokia NZ who Tweeted as much earlier today and reader Matt H. who sent us this flyer from his local Telecom store, proudly featuring both Lumias as "coming soon".

Unfortunately, no word on either carrier getting the Lumia 900 although we must say, the chances for New Zealanders is getting better. You can also pre-register on Telecom right here.

Thanks, Tom M. Liam O. and Matt H., for the tip!

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Some time ago Microsoft launched a Windows Phone App Garage tour to select cities across the U.S. to bring developers together to learn more about the Windows Phone operating system and help them with their development efforts. It was also a great networking resource for the development community.

In the same spirit as the original Garage events, a group of local developers in the Birmingham area will be holding a Windows Phone Garage event on February 18th. The local community event will be a free, all day event to help developers but in a less formal manner.

There is no set agenda and the local Windows Phone experts will provide impromptu assistance as requested throughout the day.   You'll need to register for the event in advance and bring a notebook computer to the event. Lunch and a light breakfast will provided.

If you're interested in attending, you can find all the fine details and registration information here at the Birmingham Windows Phone Garage website.

Thanks, Glen, for the tip!

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We've already seen indications that the Nokia Lumia 710 is heading to Rogers Canada sometime in February. It now appears that the Nokia Lumia 900 will be joining the Roger's lineup in May.

No details on pricing but if true, Rogers will have a decent Windows Phone line up with the Lumia line joining the Samsung Focus

Now if we could just get them to start referencing things as "Windows Phone" instead of "Windows Mobile".

via: Mobilesyrup; Thanks to everyone who tipped up on this!

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The Microsoft "Bing Get Me There" app, a helpful tool for anyone who's considering to travel through or/and around London, has been updated to now be able to report live updates for the DLR (Docklands Light Railway), London Overground and London Buses. The app is useful should you also require quick assistance to get home (or to a rail terminal) with a pinned tile opening up directions from your current location to the configured "home" in the settings.

Note that the LiveSide article is incorrect by stating that this is the only service that bundles together London's transport networks with the DLR, Overground and London Buses, as London Travel also sports live updates across the board (and is a must-have good app for anyone residing in/traveling through the big smoke).

One can download Bing Get Me There from the Marketplace for free.

Via: LiveSide

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It was pretty exciting to hear that the Nokia Lumia 710 would be debuting on T-Mobile at a dirt-cheap price of $49.99, but it's even sweeter to hear that it's even cheaper now.  T-Mobile has dropped the 710 down to $39.99 and is also throwing in some free accessories to boot.  If you switch to T-Mobile or add a new line of service, not only will you get the Lumia 710 for forty bucks, but you will receive a black gel skin, car charger and a Motorola Bluetooth headset for free.  If you are looking for a solid 4G phone at a reasonable price, this just might be the deal for you.

Source: T-Mobile; Via: PocketNow

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Sorry folks, the contest is now closed!

Here at WPCentral, we're pretty big fans of Nextgen Reader which is billed as "the fastest Google Reader client around" (we tend to agree). That's why we're excited to team up with the developer, NextGsoft, to give it away to all of you for $0 for the next 36 hours.

That's right, normally this highly rated app fetches for a $1.99, but for the next day and a half you can get it for nothing at all. The app hit v2.0 back in September with Mango support (see our video review) and since then it has received numerous updates, including version 2.4 which just went live in the Marketplace today. That version brings a bunch of new features and fixes to the table:

  • Live tiles now support images.
  • New manage sources hub with search, add, rename and delete feeds/folder.
  • Improved scrolling in article view.
  • Pin tiles easily to start screen from manage sources hub.
  • Added change password/account option.
  • Improved sharing page.
  • Bug fix: save post title in read it later.
  • Bug fix: support for Japanese font.
  • Bug fix: better support for multiple YouTube videos in article.
  • Many other improvements and bug fixes.

So how do you get the app for not a single penny? You just have to do the following steps to get an unlock code:

  1. reTweet this story and/or follow Nextgen Reader on Twitter (or both!)
  2. OR do the "Like" thing on Facebook
  3. THEN Fill out this form for your registration key and you're good to go (the key will be emailed to you within the week which will unlock the Trial)

From WPCentral and NextGsoft, enjoy your free Google RSS client! Grab the trial of Nextgen Reader version 2.4 here in the Marketplace and read more at the Nextgen Reader site for details on the update.

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Dialing numbers listed on websites is supposed to be an easy task on Windows Phone. The OS basically highlights the numbers (like a hyperlink) and when you tap them, you get the standard "Edit phone number" screen and the option to call said number. The system is based on detecting sets of 7,10 or 11 numbers with their appropriate hyphens, periods, etc.

Interestingly, some folks at XDA have discovered that this seemingly only works for US devices. More specifically, devices who's 'Region format' settings under 'Region + language' are set for English (United States). Even folks in Canada evidently have this issue which is odd, to say the least.

We tried the list of numbers found in this post at XDA with our US region settings and they all worked fine except for the last number--just as expected. When we switched to Estonia (and rebooted) those numbers were now un-clickable just as others are reporting.

We're hesitant to call this a 'bug' because for all we know Microsoft did this on purpose for some strange reason. Still, if you want this function, you can head to Settings --> Region + Language --> Region Format and change that to English (United States) to get it to work for now as a workaround. And Microsoft, if this isn't on purpose then you may want to fix it for future updates, kthxbai!  As noted in comments, this is actually advertised as a US-only feature by Microsoft so if you want it, you'll have to use the above trick to get it.

Source: XDA; Thanks, James, for the tip!

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We've seen the headlines, we've heard the pundits (looking at you, Scoble) that tout apps as the "big" thing on smartphones. And while initially this may hold true for new users, the novelty wears off, or so suggests a new study by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.

In that study, 68% of users only use five or fewer apps at least once a week. Furthermore, 17% don't use any apps on a regular basis while only 42% of respondents even have apps on their phones. Those are certainly interesting numbers and what it suggests is people are downloading lots of apps but rarely use them on a regular basis. In fact, we hear this often from developers who don't get many ad-hits in their apps after a few weeks despite seemingly large numbers of downloads. Speaking of, the study also points out that judging an app's popularity by number of downloads alone is probably not a good metric (though app reviews and number of them may be).

In other interesting stats from Nielsen, Android users spend about 90 minutes a day on their phones, two-thirds of that time in apps (probably customizing their UI, just kidding). That suggest that even though few use many apps, the ones they do use, they use often and on a regular basis.

While no numbers are revealed for Windows Phone users, it will be even more interesting for our users since things like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are baked into the OS, reducing the number of popular services that people need to download separate apps for. That will only increase if Microsoft continues, as expected, to bake in other services as the OS grows and updates roll out. This of course makes us ask the question: Do you fit this model or are you folks app-fiends? (We're also pretty sure games don't count as apps for the purposes of this study).

Let us know in comments....

via USA Today; Thanks Mark W. and ZX9, for the tips

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For some the Nokia Collection area of the Marketplace has been featuring all of the OEM apps available for Windows Phone (much like HTC, Samsung, LG, etc. have on their handsets), but for others this collection of apps has been missing since the Lumia handsets have been released. 

We've had the Nokia Collection missing from our European handsets, but our U.S. colleagues have had access to the collection. Our Jay Bennett has just noticed the additional menu entry just above 'applications' (see above screenshots) being made available, but I still can't see anything on the Lumia 710 (unlocked) or 800 (unlocked and carrier locked). Though the Nokia apps can be found via Marketplace search, should a reinstallation be required.

Let us know if you're able to access the Nokia Collection on your Nokia Windows Phone in the comments.

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From the WPCentral Forums...

Who would of thought that one of the most talked about topics of the week in the WPCentral forums would be Google? If you don't know what I am talking about check out this from our front page: Google is watching every step you take. I started this thread: "Google... It's over for me" wanting to know if I was the only one but the answer seams to be that I am not alone. What is it all about? You will just have to read the thread. Once you have absorbed all of that you might want to know how to Switch from Gmail to Hotmail in three steps. What are the advantages? This thread has some helpful information that might answer some of your questions: "Any reason to switch to a live account instead of Gmail?"

Forums member SebLC wants you to know "Metro is not just a pretty face for Microsoft" resulting in an interesting discussion about our favorite design philosophy.

We told you we have a Meta forums for announcements and we made one today "Ranking stars change", so check that out for the latest on forum rankings.

It has been a slow week for Windows Phone--call it the calm before the Mobile World Congress (MWC) storm--but that didn't slow down our developers any. We have a fresh new batch of Apps and Games in our Application and Games Spotlight Forums. Here is a sampling of what has been posted this week:

Applications Spotlight:

Games Spotlight:

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

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Following what looks to be a massive adware outbreak on the Android marketplace, Microsoft's Ben Rudolph is looking to ease the pain of 20 affected users by giving them free Windows phones.  Rudolph asked what may be 5 million victims to share their stories via Twitter today, in hopes that their "Droidrage" might be cured.  Those who have the best stories (or worst, depending on how you look at it), will receive one of the 20 devices.  It's not clear what kind of phone winners will receive, but hey, a free WP7 phone is a free WP7 phone!

Microsoft has been pretty keen on these light-hearted promotions, pitting Windows Phone up against other mobile operating systems.  This is the second time that Android users have received such an offer, the first being back in December, when a smaller malware outbreak occurred.  And at CES, Ben Rudolph was challenging attendees to speed tests in the "Smoked by Windows Phone," which may even become a traveling affair.

Source: Ben Rudolph (Twitter)

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Nokia Austria is attacking the public with effective marketing and dominant advertising with "The Amazing Everyday". From covering trams in Lumia advertisement material, to handing out small packages containing food. The video montage illustrates how the manufacturer is working with retailers to set up stands and ensure the Lumia handsets are getting maximum exposure.

The Nokia Arch also makes a return in a shopping centre, sporting interactive demos. An interesting video that's well worth checking out.

Source: YouTubethanks, Ellis, for the heads up!

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In response to circulating rumors regarding Windows Phone 8's lack of application backwards compatibility, Microsoft's Brandon Watson -- Director of Developer Experience -- confirmed today that the upcoming OS revision will run older Windows Phone 7 applications. Yep, that means Sally's Salon will port over just fine.

But from a technical perspective, how existing apps will work unmodified is fuzzy. For example, if the new resolution rumors pan out, should we expect some sort of zooming functionality akin to Apple's iPad (running iPhone applications)? And what about those awesome premium apps (e.g. Youtube, Tango, Navigon) with native hooks into the underlying OS? We presume everyone using native code is on Windows Phone for the long haul, but it's worth asking.

Anyway, stay tuned. We expect both Windows Phone "Tango" and "Apollo" to be detailed at Mobile World Congress next month. Rest assured we'll have feet -- at least Daniel Rubino's -- on the ground providing updates.

Source: WinSuperSite

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The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) recently launched an initiative to expand their converge to mobile games. Meant as a guide for parents, the system boasts that familiar "Rated E for Everyone" slogan we hear during TV commercials for PC and console games. Whether you agree with it or not, it is a system (albeit arbitrary) that serves as a framework for keeping parents in the know.

Microsoft signed up for the mobile ESRB system while interestingly Google and Apple have both skipped out. Now, we're finally seeing the first rollout as a few games are receiving their "E for everyone" stamp in the Windows Phone Marketplace. Our only concern is that this is one more hoop for Xbox LIVE developers to jump through to get their games approved thereby potentially slowing down the process of publishing. So far, we've seen Angry Birds and the indie game MathZia Free with the ratings being displayed.

So why are Apple and Google eschewing such a system? Mostly because they already have age-restricted controls for parents in the Marketplace that can serve as a cutoff. Devs supply info for "ratings" when their app is submitted and that is what qualifies the app for age requirements. In other words, it's self policing and both companies seem okay with that method. The ESRB is an outside, independent board that "parents can trust" but it too relies on devs filling out "a detailed questionnaire" which then results in an automated rating. The big gaming titles are fully reviewed by the ESRB while smaller titles are left up to self-policing, making it an analogous system to what Apple and Android already have. Granted, if a game receives complaints the ESRB will investigate and review the game in question, but for the most part it is based on the honor system.

Personally, we'd rather see Microsoft implement their own system with age-restrictions so that parents can be best served and adults could get more "mature" games on our platform. Because right now, the ESRB-mobile rating system seems to confirm what we know: Microsoft will only allow "E for Everyone" type games on the Marketplace and that to us is an unnecessary limitation (we're looking at you, "green blood"). [Evidently, Twin Blades is now "T for Teen" though we're not confident that games with red blood and/or "M for Mature" will be allowed on the Marketplace]

Additional ESRB-mobile information via GigaOm; Thanks, jc_agga, for the Angry Birds tip

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Taking note of a number of Lumia 800 launch parties occurring across the world, the Czech Republic has joined in with Nokia putting on a show in Prague on January 26th to celebrate the launch of the 710 and 800 (February 1st). Two hundred journalists, developers and devoted fans were selected for the event, which featured a number of cool presentations and gimmicks.

From Windows Phone cakes to a water-rippling Lumia 800 floor projection, it looked like a unique experience to say the least. Nokia also began advertising the 710 and 800 in Prague (and beyond) as can be seen in the below photo, taken by Martin Suchan in a subway. 

Source: YouTube, @MartinSuchanthanks Thomas for the tip and video!

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