Windows Phone News

The Nokia Lumia 930 has yet to launch and become officially available for purchase, but that hasn't halted retailers from riding the hype train and firing up pre-orders. The latest markets to be included on this ride are Vietnam and Belgium, both retailers following suit with an expected release sometime early July. Microsoft formally unveiled the Lumia 930 at a media event in Vietnam today, noting that the smartphone will cost 12,999,000 VND ($610) off contract (starting July 1), while Cool Blue in Belgium has the device listed at €499,99 ($680).

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Microsoft today confirmed that the Lumia 635 will be available in the UK on July 3. The super-affordable Windows Phone with the latest version of the OS will set consumers back £119.99 and will be available through EE, Vodafone, Three, Phones 4u, O2, Carphone Warehouse, Tesco and Amazon. To lend a hand with personalizing the device, a number of changeable shells will be launched in bright orange, green and yellow, along with matte black and white.

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Last night, T-Mobile US continued their Un-carrier promotion where they look to shake things up by introducing new consumer friendly features. One of the major announcements was in regards to streaming music on their network, which now won't count against your data usage, including no overages, no data caps and unlimited streaming. It's a pretty crazy item for a carrier to give up because as you can imagine, it's easy to go over your data allotment each month if you don't eyeball it too carefully.

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The Lumia 635 from Nokia is available for pre-order in the UK through Unlocked Mobiles. The Windows Phone is identical to the Lumia 630, but sports LTE support for extra boosts in speed. If you're looking for a more affordable choice of smartphone, the Lumia 635 can be yours for £144.98, which isn't a bad deal considering what's contained inside the case.

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While asking Cortana various questions on Windows Phone 8.1 is natural, the way in which one enables the personal voice assistant isn't quite as fluid. Users need to press down on the Search key or press the Live Tile and microphone before Cortana enables, and while it's not difficult there are better solutions available.

One of the solutions is passive-voice activation, which is something users of the Xbox One with Kinect should know. Passive-voice activation allows users to engage the AI or system simply by using their voice. Likewise, the Motorola Moto X with Android can also activated by explicitly stating 'Ok, Google Now.' The phone will then come awake, letting users make appointments, starting their music, or sending a text message without ever touching the phone.

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In an ongoing Q&A from Nokia's camera gurus, Juha Alakarhu and Eero Salmelin, who are now with Microsoft, information regarding what users should expect from the Lumia Cyan update has been revealed. The question answered dealt with photography, and specifically Nokia's latest high end Windows Phones, including the Verizon Lumia Icon, Lumia 930 and Lumia 1520.

Juha Alakarhu took to the query and revealed precisely what would be improved with the forthcoming firmware refresh, bundled with the Windows Phone 8.1 update.

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Fly (www.fly-phone.com) is a smartphone company based out of London, who makes a range of phones, smartphones and tablets for various markets including Russia, Ukraine, India, Southern Europe and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States of the former Soviet Union). Those devices are almost always Android based, but with the recent loosening of restrictions around the Windows Phone hardware requirements and reference design, more manufacturers are supporting Windows Phone. Back in March, Microsoft added nine new hardware partners to its roster, and since that time the number has grown.

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One of the convenient changes in Microsoft purchasing the mobile device division from Nokia is the ability for Microsoft to offer phones direct to consumers at a faster clip. The Nokia Lumia 635, the LTE big brother of the single-SIM Lumia 630, is now joining the ranks in Italy where it is priced for € 179 (free shipping included). To sweeten the deal, if you buy the phone before July 14, you can nab a € 25 gift card to the Windows Phone Store for some new apps.

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It looks like Irish customers have to wait a while longer for the Lumia 930, as Ireland's Technology Blog states that the launch of the device has been pushed back by two weeks. Earlier this month, it was confirmed that Nokia's latest flagship device would be making its way to Ireland's Meteor network in addition to Vodafone and O2.

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In hindsight, Microsoft naming its personal voice assistant after the famous AI character from the Halo game series seems like an obvious choice. The decision was not so easy partially due to an individual studio having initial objections and the usual corporate obstacles potentially thwarting its adoption.

But if not Cortana what would Microsoft have called their feature smart engine for Windows Phone?

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Though Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia’s Devices and Services division was announced late last year and completed in April, the fate of Nokia’s trademark technology brands has still been unknown. Brand names like Lumia smartphones, ClearBlack displays and PureView camera technology have become synonymous with innovation and quality, much like the Nokia name itself.

And though the Nokia name will eventually be disappearing from the faces of Windows phones, it looks like some of the those mainstay Nokia brand names, along with a few surprising ones, will continue on with Microsoft.

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Cortana is certainly the most headline worthy new feature of Windows Phone 8.1, even though the OS update has much more than a personal assistant going for it. With comparisons to Siri and Google Now, the Halo-inspired voice helper garners some needed headlines for Microsoft as they continue their entrenched battle in mobile.

Recently, Marcus Ash, who is the group program manager for Cortana on Windows Phone, was seen on camera explaining the priorities for Cortana, including entertaining the idea of putting it on other operating systems like Android or iOS. That controversial position was later clarified in a follow-up comment on our site, alleviating some concerns of Windows Phone adherents.

Today, in a second video, Ash explains the origins of Cortana's development, and how the team is "shocked by the international reaction."

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While Nokia is set to launch the Lumia 930 shortly, the pre-orders are still ongoing. If you reside in France and are yet to place an order for the new Windows Phone, retailer Darty has the device listed for €549.90, but there's a free wireless charging plate, speaker and Coloud headphones included in the pre-order deal. It's a superb offer for anyone looking to either move to Windows Phone or upgrade from an older handset.

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We've already covered some locations across Europe where consumers can pre-order the Lumia 930, but Finnish mobile operator TeliaSonera has the new Windows Phone available for pre-order, priced at €549 with an expected release date of July 10 (July 3 for Ireland). The new Windows Phone from Nokia, which sold its handset division to Microsoft earlier this year, is the new flagship from Microsoft Mobile and is available in a variety colors.

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Yesterday the Windows Phone community went into a tizzy over the possibility of Cortana making her way to iOS or Android in the future. We then later saw a video with the full response to the question of whether or not Cortana should stay on Windows Phone. The comments come from Marcus Ash, who is the group program manager for Cortana on Windows Phone.

Ash has now taken to Twitter where he left a Tweetstorm giving even more contest to his remarks. Before that Tweetstorm, he left a really big comment on the post from yesterday. A comment worth highlighting and bringing to the forefront of the communities attention. Comment after the break.

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