Windows Phone News

No, the Nokia Lumia 930 isn't strapped to a meteor in space, hurtling towards Earth. We're talking about the Windows Phone confirmed to be heading to Irish mobile operator Meteor. According to Ireland's Technology Blog, the operator has recently held a conference call covering handsets planned to be stocked and the Lumia 930 happens to be one of them. Perfect for those who are eagerly awaiting its arrival in Ireland.

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Yesterday we reported on some new features and enhancements that were rolling out to Cortana for some users. Twenty-four hours later and we still aren't seeing the updates on our phones, but other users in our forums are having better luck.

First up, we should mention that there is a user in our forum named 'Talderon' who claims to work for Microsoft with specific knowledge about Cortana. While we have not been able to verify his authenticity, the information he posts is fairly detailed and interesting. None of what he reveals is secret, but rather specific functions of Cortana and status updates on known issues, etc.

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This morning, shortly after Microsoft published an update for its native Windows Phone music app, the Xbox Music service encountered some issues. We received reports from readers stating that they're unable to access their music collection on a Windows Phone, which we were able to confirm with our own access severely hampered. Luckily, Microsoft is well aware of the problem and is actively rolling out a fix as you read this article.

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A few weeks ago, we reported that some modifications to Cortana were occurring for a select few people running the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers. By the time we posted an article the changes had rolled back, signaling that Microsoft was testing the waters with the refresh to their new personal assistant.

Since around midnight last night, a few users in our forums are once again seeing the changes, including the screenshots posted below. In addition, a few tips have rolled in from people noticing the new improvements. Unfortunately, only one of the writers on the Windows Phone Central staff have the updates yet, so it's not clear if this is a slow rollout, testing or something else.

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The Lumia 930 was one of Nokia's last Windows Phone before seeing its handset division pass over to Microsoft in a recently closed deal. According to Windowsteca, the device will be available in Italy from June 20th for €599 and for those who purchase the Windows Phone as soon as it launches, the product will come bundled with a free Nokia DT-900 wireless charging plate, portable mini speaker and Treasure tag.

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Fabien Cousteau and his team of aquanauts are spending 31 days underwater all in the name of science. The Mission 31 project (www.mission-31.com) is a combination of modern scientific exploration, tribute to Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and modern media to get the word out. And while all of that is in and of itself worthy of your attention, it's the fact that the team is using the Lumia 1020 that has our interest piqued.

In partnership with Nokia and Watershot Inc. (www.watershot.com), Cousteau's team can take the Lumia 1020 on their dives through a customized phone housing. That metal case can withstand 100 meters / 328 feet under the sea, which is extraordinarily deep. Watershot is selling a limited quantity of the specialty case, which cost $300 each. While not cheap by consumer standards, this is a specialty case for pros.

I have one, and this is an unboxing and quick tour of this magnificent piece of equipment.

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The Nokia Lumia 630 is starting to hit markets worldwide, and one thing that's worth noting is its processor. We'll be doing a full review of the 630 shortly, but let's just say the bump in hardware does go a long way.

For our assessments we used the cross-platform Basemark OS II app ( Store link), which can evaluate the performance of system (CPU), memory, graphics, web browsing and even camera speed tests. We'll post the results below, with our discussion after.

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Over at the site @evleaks, a report about Nokia's (now Microsoft's) smartphone road map for 2014 has been teased with some device names like 'McLaren,' 'Rock,' 'Tesla' and 'Superman.' While 'Rock' is reported to be an entry-level Lumia 530 for T-Mobile and cricket, 'Tesla' and 'Superman' are described as mid-range devices for AT&T and Verizon, though no specifics are given. The Verge has previously described 'Superman' though as having a 4.7 inch display and a massive 5 MP front-facing camera.

I can add to the story quite a bit, specifically some details around 'McLaren.' But first, I should mention that AT&T is slated to get the new green Lumia 1520 sometime in late June or July as part of the Windows Phone 8.1 launch. I don't know if it'll be 32 GB internal or 16 GB, but with micro SD expansion, the ability to install apps and games to the card and 128 GB support, it doesn't matter anymore.

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Microsoft’s Cortana is certainly a work in progress, even here in the US where it’s officially available. China and the UK are on the immediate horizon for rollouts, with other regions to follow soon. With all of that work ahead, it makes sense that the Cortana team will want to have a regular update schedule, and much like the Xbox Music app, it looks to be bi-monthly.

In an interview over at Engadget with the Cortana team, updates to the Cortana system will evidently happen twice a month with the possibility for off-cycle updates “for things that are timely, urgent or especially badass." The ability to update Cortana dynamically will ensure that her chitchat (small conversations pieces, voiced by Jen Taylor), will be current and relevant, reflecting any significant cultural happenings.

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Microsoft is hinting strongly that HTC may finally be ready to launch a new Windows Phone product, after months of Internet rumors that such a device is in the works. Speaking to reporters after Microsoft's Computex 2014 keynote address earlier today, Nick Parker, the company's vice president of OEM partners, answered a question about manufactoring partners with this response:

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Microsoft today unveiled some new Windows Phones at Computex that newly announced hardware partners have produced, teasing consumers what they'll be able to purchase in the coming months. We've recently looked at some of the manufacturers adapting to the Windows Phone platform, including the likes of Blu and Prestigio, who are likely to offer more affordable smartphones running Microsoft's operating system. Today, we're able to take a glimpse at what we can expect to see.

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The Nokia Lumia 1320 is a great piece of hardware for those wanting a phone that's large, but also affordable. The display measures 6-inches and packs some respectable hardware into a package that's attractive and easy on your wallet. Our friends internationally have been enjoying the Lumia 1320 in places like India and Asia for a handful of months. Now those in the United States on Cricket Wireless are about to get the Lumia 1320.

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ComScore has released data for smartphone industry market share in the United States for April 2014. According to the data, Apple is the leading smartphone manufacturer with command of 41.4 percent of the market share while Google leads the platform market with its Android OS with 52.5 percent of the market. As to the most used smartphone app? Facebook ranks at the top.

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Over the weekend we reported on Fabien Cousteau’s Mission 31 (mission-31.com), where the famed underwater explorer will spend 31 days under the sea (cue the music). While super science stuff is super cool, we were more interested in the custom underwater housing for Cousteau’s Nokia Lumia 1020. The housing will allow Cousteau to take photos 100 meters / 330 feet below the ocean and to Tweet them later, marking a first for Nokia and Windows Phone.

Although we were quite jealous of the housing, Nokia in conjunction with the company Watershot Inc. have a limited supply of those casings for your Lumia 1020. Priced at $299, this is probably the most expensive case you’ll ever buy. On the other hand, if you’re a SCUBA diver, the case and opportunity it presents is hard to resist. 

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