Windows Phone News

Weatherbug has been a popular application for Windows Mobile and now it looks like it is on board for Windows Phone 7. In a recent interview over at Channel 9, Weatherbug developers talked about using Silverlight and Bing Maps with their mobile weather application.

Weatherbug uses both Microsoft products in their website development and is having success moving Weatherbug over to WP7. Developers see using Bing Maps and Silberlight offers them more detailed maps, easier code to transfer to WP7, and takes a lot of the worry out of developing these applications.

This is encouraging news to see a popular Windows Mobile developer transitioning to Windows Phone 7 with such ease.  The only downside to the interview comes when Weatherbug demos their WP7 app and the video abruptly ends without showing anything.

[via: Mobility Digest]

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Windows Phone ownership represents 19% of the market. A recent survey by Nielson still shows Blackberry leading ownership with 35% and Apple firmly in second at 28%.

The survey reflects smartphone ownership for a three month period ending in late March. Overall smartphone ownership increased from 21% to 23% compared to the previous three month period.

The surprise stat in the survey is likely Android's placement. While gaining two points, Android is still well behind Windows Phones with only a 9% share of the market. With the popularity of Android devices and all the doubt surrounding Windows Phone's future, one would think the numbers would be reversed.

I reckon' Windows Phones aren't dead just yet.

[via: wsj.com]

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We'll admit that we're not hip to all those popular Flash games on the internet these days, but evidently one is being ported over to Windows Mobile this month due to its popularity.

"Learn to Fly" is about a hapless penguin who is determined to overcome his flight-challenged biology. Its has bold graphics, silly achievements and it's indeed addicting. In fact we would have written this up sooner but we're playing the online Flash game for the last hour.

We'll keep you posted on the actual release and hopefully it's as smooth as the online one. If you want to waste the rest of your day at work, go here to play the free Flash version. Apologize to your boss in advance for us, thanks!

[Pocket Gamer; thanks, segadc, for the tip!]

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Windows Phone 7 devices can be unlocked by developers. Or so says Tweakers.mobi, a Dutch technology site.

According to a Microsoft spokesperson, developers working on WP7 can unlock and use the phones with no extra cost. While this makes sense, it's surprising in that other phone developers (such as Android and Apple) have to purchase the rights to unlock the phones.

Developers can unlock up to five units and dispose of the phone's security walls, making WP7 a little more attractive to them than perhaps other platforms. In addition, this will include side-loading of applications and running unsigned applications, something which consumers are not allowed to do.

Such methods are required for developers but also lead to advanced system modifications like on the iPhone ("jailbreaking") or flat out custom ROMs like Android ("rooting"). It's not clear what will happen with WP7 at this point, but holes in the system can be exploited--that's just a fact.

[via: WindowsPhoneThoughts & WMPoweruser]

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Not much news here, but it's always fun to see a software developer get a chance to see their work on actual hardware.

As we've been reporting, new Windows Phone 7 developers are stuck using their computers for demonstrations or even paper cut-outs. This will be changing in a few weeks as Microsoft reveals plans for developers to get their hands on actual devices to better gauge performance (currently, the emulator uses your PCs graphics to simulate a phone--not exactly a great metric).

Developer Julien Dollon, who has made a great time-management program "Ahead", recently got a chance to get his app on a phone (Samsung Omnia HD). Although it may have looked a bit boring before, it's always cool to see it on an working phone. Makes it a bit more, you know, real.

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AT&T tapped fastest mobile network

AT&T has been tapped the fastest mobile network in the nation by PC Magazine. The publication took a snapshot of six mobile network providers (AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, Cricket, and Sprint 4G) in eighteen cities. Voice quality, dropped calls and coverage areas did not enter into the equation.

The testing conducted focused on mobile internet performance. Approximately 1,000 rounds of testing was conducted in the test cities totaling more than 10,000 individual tests. The results were totaled to reflect the national leader as well as regional leaders in network speeds.

AT&T led the way nationally as well as in the Southeastern, Central and Western regions. T-Mobile was tops in the Northeast. To see how your carrier ranked in this study, you can find the full report here.

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In the first generation of the Windows Phone 7 development software, access to sockets is not available--that's what is needed for VOIP services to work and why Skype won't (really can't) hop onto the OS just yet.  Microsoft has stated that sockets support is coming, so with one of the OTA updates (fingers crossed), this will be made available.

Until then, a hybrid-approach can be used. Such method is used by companies like iSkoot where instead of using the data connection to make the free call, it re-routes the call to a local call center which then makes the call for you over the internet. It's like Opera Mini vs Opera Mobile--in the former, the "hard work" is done off the phone remotely. However, iSkoot hasn't updated their Windows Mobile software in sometime and they haven't said anything about support for Windows Phone 7.

Step in Voxofon who operates in a similar manner. They seem to be supporting all the new OSs in town, including pushing big into Windows Phone 7. So kudos to them for taking that market seriously. Now unlike Skype-to-Skype calls over true VOIP, you are charged for making calls on Voxofon. This is done like Skype where you can buy credits and they are linked to your account. Luckily, rates are very cheap making it an affordable option for making inter-continental calls: (1.3 cents per minute).

The software looks quite nice--it's a separate dialer app that log ins to your account, displays your balance and tells you the rate per minute before you call. It's no true Skype solution, but at this point we'll take what we can get.

Read more here at Voxofon.

[tipped by Alexey G of Voxofon]

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Oh China, you crack us with your flaunting of copyright law, IP and even just flat out copying hardware.

We're not really sure why you want WM6.5 in a cloned (i.e. fake) Motorola Droid and that's not a knock on WM6.5--have you tried a Droid? They keyboard is awful what's with that d-pad throwing of the centering? Blech.

But say you really wanted this, you should be able to get one out of China for about $220. It features:

  • 533M Huawei Hisilicon K3 chip
  • 3.7 inches 800×480 display
  • 256MB ROM/256MB RAM
  • 2-megapixel camera
  • GPS, Wi-Fi

Good luck with it!

[via Cloned in China]

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8

What "themes" will look like in WP7

One thing we know as of right now with Windows Phone 7 is that customization will be drastically limited. At least until the folks at XDA figure out to root and mess with the OS.

An example of what customizations you can do will be the use of "themes" which is a generous description for changing some font colors and accents. Yeah, basically it's not much. One example is in "Pivot" (below) the other "Panorama" (above) which are two of the formating options for programs by developers.

Still, it's better you know now what you can and can't out of the gate then later. So commence logging your complaints in comments...now.

[via @justingangel]

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One area we have not heard much about in regards to Windows Phone 7 is sound. And why would we? It's a handheld device, usually a single speaker and basically all we care about is how the speakerphone sounds. Everything so far has been about the visual but not the audio.

Well, turns out the audio abilities of XNA for Windows Phone 7 also has some features we didn't know about. In an interview with iTWire, developer Nick Randolph, the CEO of  Built to Roam (aka the same guy that used a Wii remote in his app demo at ReMix Australia), was asked what he thought was "cool and different" about the new OS.

His answer: the high quality of 3D sound

...which could simulate sound coming from behind you, on the side of you, as Windows Phone 7 devices have a concept of audio emitters and audio listeners, and based on where you position those you get different sound.

Randolph said that "you can use that to create different effects" in only "a dozen lines of code, part of the XNA framework and usable by Silverlight."

It's too early to know just how good it will sound in real life, but we're pretty stoked that hardware manufacturers and software developers can at least attempt to exploit this under-appreciated yet essential output for our increasingly busy "phones". Perhaps we'll even seen hardware manufacturers use high-end speakers to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Bose-mobile, anyone?

Check out the rest of the interview for more developer feedback (page 2 and 3) at iTWire.

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The other side of the coin. While it's not a huge surprise that software development for Windows Mobile has dwindled, especially with the clean break of Windows Phone 7 around the corner, it is a bit shocking at how fast it fell. (See the other study today about number of apps users have by mobile OS).

According to iGR, last year Windows Mobile was "by far the most popular" in terms of number of developers writing apps for it. Flash forward one year later and it's now dead last.

The iPhone of course is number one with 53% of developers writing programs for it. Perhaps more telling is that more than half of those who currently aren't making iPhone apps, plan to do so within in the next year. Yowza. 

Blackberry was number two, ahead of Android which was sort of interesting, though we imagine those two will swap positions very soon as Android has received lots of momentum in the last 4 months. No word about Windows Phone 7 and developer plans, though judging by the attendance at the Microsoft ReMix events, it's looking very good.

Unfortunately, we don't have access to the raw numbers which would tell us more.

[FierceMobileContent via AppScout]

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For those who are looking for some "mobile security" or at least the illusion, F-Secure just went ahead and made their Anti-theft for Mobile free for Symbian, Android and even us Windows Mobile users.

The software is a little of 2MBs in size to download and you need .NET CF 2.0, which should be in ROM already. The install was pretty basic and overall, very easy to setup and configure.

The app itself does the following:

  • Remote lock
  • Remote locate
  • Remote wipe
  • SIM control (if SIM swapped, device locks, sends you their #)

Sure, some of this you can do already with Microsoft's MyPhone, but this ain't a half bad solution either. We've been running it on our trusty Treo Pro (yeah, it even does that resolution, go .NET) and it seems to handle like a champ. Maybe we'll even try it sometime to see if it, you know, works.

Go to http://f-secure.mobi on your phone to download directly. Read more here.

Check out a few screenshots of what it looks like after the break!

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Nielsen's has some interesting stats just released regarding mobile OS trends, specifically the average number of applications users have installed on their phones.

Broken down by OS, we see Windows Mobile near dead last, just edging out BlackBerry but far behind the iPhone and Android. Not too shocking but it does exemplify the dire straights Microsoft is in when it comes to the mobile world--we just edge out feature phones!

Average number of apps: Smartphone: 22, Feature phone: 10

  • BlackBerry: 10
  • iPhone:37
  • Android: 22
  • Palm: 14
  • Windows Mobile: 13

Also worth noting is that 21% of the cell phone market is now smartphones, up from that 14% cited so often from 2008. Microsoft, time to update your slide again.

What's your number?  Take the poll!

 

How many apps do you have?online surveys
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Updatesee this post for article correction

One thing about sales predictions, especially in this volatile market with heavy competition, is that they can come back to haunt you.

So in 19 months, as we near the end of 2011, Microsoft have better have sold something upwards of 30 million Windows Phone 7 devices. Otherwise, we'll never hear the end of it, especially from a certain Cupertino place. That 30 million number comes from the ReMix event in France during a presentation by IDC, a large technology forecasting company. (These are the same ReMix events going on around the world and where all this WP7 info is coming from as of late).

To put this into perspective, the iPhone has only sold 51+ million devices total in 3 years.

Now in fairness, currently about 14% of all cell users are smartphone owners and we keep expecting that number to explode in the next few years. Because smartphone owners are such a tiny minority today, we always laugh off these ideas that "the mobile OS war" is already over.

Ninja please, this is still just the beginning and it's anyone's game, even if the competition has a huge leg up. If we recall, Palm too once dominated this industry. Microsoft will also have the advantage of launching on all four US carriers at once, multiple device OEMs and of course launch world-wide. Assuming WP7 is a "hit", they could hit that number.

Still, we would have rather this "30 million" thing stay behind doors as this sort of thing pushes more interesting news out of the way, in place of juvenile OS fanboyism. And we're sure everyone will forget it was IDC and not Microsoft who made this claim.

[via MobileTechWorld]

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This week has been a somewhat exciting one if you've been following the annual Computex show in Taipei.

For one, Asus demonstrated their Eee pad, which sadly won't be out till first quarter 2011. The 12-inch EP121 features Intel's Core 2 Duo CULV processors, Windows Embedded Compact 7 for the UI (and Windows 7 too?), and a supposed 10-hour battery life. The battery here is the killer part if true as that's where the competition, along with 'instant on', is really gaining momentum.  The device is also powered by Nvidia's Tegra video processor, which leads us to...

Despite being featured on an unfinished Windows tablet, Nvidia President and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang had no problem distancing himself from such devices and backing Android, stating

Windows is too big and it's too full featured for smartbooks and tablets

The good news is that we finally have an operating system to unite behind. Android is an operating system that has gained a tremendous amount of momentum all over the world 

Zing. While most of us would agree with such an assessment, it's a bit rough when it comes from one of your featured partners. The issue here is Microsoft's intention to use Windows 7 and only Windows 7 on tablet devices, eschewing a Windows Phone 7 type device which many seem to want. In addition, Google's Chrome OS is finally launching in the fall, which should increase the competition even more with HP/Palm's WEbOS tablet.

So everyone is doing a mobile OS for tablets except Microsoft. This should end well.

Finally, Paul Thurrott recently explained why he thinks the iPad is a consumption-but-not-contribution device, something we've been saying for awhile on our podcasts. This reason is similar to what Microsoft told Engadget on why they want to use a full-fledged OS instead of a mobile one for tablets. While that argument holds true for installing desktop software, it doesn't seem really address how consumers are actually using these devices these days.

We say let the market decide. Microsoft, put out different tablets, one featuring Windows 7 and another featuring Windows Phone 7. No one will confuse them. Seriously, we think you're betting on the wrong horse here and Android, iPad, Chrome and even HP/Palms's WebOS are going to put the hurt on you're tablets by Spring 2011.

[via PC WorldEngadget, WinSuperSite, Raw Story & PreCentral]

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AT&T Changes Data Plans

AT&T has modified their data plans to offer more affordable alternatives to those who might not need an unlimited plan.

President and CEO Ralph de la Vega stated in the press release, "To give more people the opportunity to experience these benefits, we’re breaking free from the traditional ‘one-size-fits-all’ pricing model and making the mobile Internet more affordable to a greater number of people."

Beginning June 7, 2010 AT&T will begin to offer the following plans.

  • Dataplus Plan: 200mb data for $15 per month. Customers exceeding 200mb of use will receive and additional 200mb for $15 to use during the billing cycle.
  • DataPro Plan: 2gb of data for $25 per month. Customers exceeding 2gb of data will receive an additional 1gb for $10 to use during the billing cycle.
  • Tethering Plan: For $20 per month, customers can add tethering to their data plan.

Additionally, AT&T will provide services to help customers monitor their data usage. When customers begin to approach their monthly usage limit, AT&T will send out three text notifications; when customers reach 65%, 90%, and 100% of their plan. Customers can also dial *DATA# to receive a usage summary and there will be an iPhone app to check data usage.

The good news, for now, is that current smartphone customers are not required to switch to the new plans, but can choose to do so without a contract extension. You can check out the full press release at AT&T's website.

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Microsoft KIN at Best Buy

The Microsoft KIN has invaded Best Buy. If you are considering the KIN for yourself or your teenager but the cost isn't that appealing, you may want to check out what Best Buy is offering.

The KIN Two is running $49.99 with a Verizon Wireless two-year contract and the KIN One is free with the two-year commitment. Both will require Verizon's data package which will run you about $30 a month.  While it would be nice for a lower priced data package to surface for the KIN, it looks like the KIN's pricing is slowly coming down to reasonable levels.

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First off, this isn't some "official Microsoft support thing", so don't even go there. 

But evidently one of the developers (Nick Randolph) presenting at ReMix Australia used a Nintendo Wii remote in some fashion with the Windows Phone 7 emulator.

The Wii remote uses Bluetooth to connect to devices and it's been shown to be very hackable, running on everything from a PC to the new iPad. So any trickery to get it to work on WP7 is easily in the realm of plausibility.

What is exactly being used for? We have no idea. Could be just for simulation, could be something more interesting.  Either way, sounds like these developers are liking what they see. I mean, just look at how shocked Stan is in that second Tweet.

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MetroTwit beta goes live

We mentioned last week about MetroTwit, the desktop Twitter client who's UI was influenced by Windows Phone 7. At the time, the software was still too early in development to be released, but alas its creators have allowed the beta our the gate.

First thing you should know is it'll require you to install .NET Framework 4 Client Profile and Extended, which it will do on its own if you allow it. That's a whopping 89MB for that entire framework, so be prepared. Then you'll have to restart your computer and the final install of MetroTwit will take place. The actual MetroTwit program is very tiny at less than 3MB, owing to its .NET coding.

Overall, it's quite a pretty program. With its configurable columns, its very much like Seesmic. You can add/remove those columns (your feed, replies, friends, direct messages) and drag and drop to re-arrange them.

Technically it can do multiple accounts, but we had trouble getting it to do so. Especially noteworthy is the live "badge" on the icon in the Windows Start bar which displays how many new Tweets you have. Other advanced features like delete, map, conversation, show in browsers are missing as of this early build, but we imagine it's just a matter of time.

Remember, this is a beta, so there are some bugs and some of the menu/options are less than intuitive, but overall it's not too bad for such an early start.  

Get it herehttp://www.metrotwit.com/

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Looks like the 'Metro UI' thing is starting to catch on and why not? Much like how the iPhone OS can be all-blowns-up for the iPad, why not influence the desktop or browser with Microsoft's mobile UI.

Turns out Long Zheng of iStartedSomething and some pals have been working on a desktop Twitter app that looks exceptionally clean, minimalist and darn useful.

The app has been in very early stages of development, meaning they're focusing on features, not yet de-bugging and has been circulating amongst a small group of users.

Long story short, website MeuWindows figured out the URL for the download link and even bypassed the authentication...just so they could try it. Luckily Long Zheng took this as flattery and there you go.

Actually, you can now sign up for the actual beta (bottom of the page), which is expected sooner than later. We're down with that!

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