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3 years ago

We're In from Microsoft brings friend finder to Bing, Windows Phone

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Update: Sorry folks, appears to be U.S. (and Israel) only for now :-/

We've always wondered whether Microsoft would launch a Google Latitude service--after all, they have Bing, a nice aGPS/WiFi location finder and a solid mobile OS. So it comes as a nice surprise to see them launching "We're In" today:

"We’re In makes organizing get-togethers, carpooling and trying to find people in a crowd a breeze. Any time you want to see where your friends are—We're In can help you. It's simple, invite your friends, and when they join, they'll see your location and you'll see theirs. When the invite expires, so does the shared location – no complicated process to worry about.

We’re In is a great way to save time and frustration when planning your road trip or meeting your friend at the mall – helping you connect with your friend faster."

The best way to describe the service is it's like Latitude combined with Glympse--the former because it allows you to see where your friends are, the latter because these events "expire" meaning you're not tracking people (or being tracked yourself) for eternity. The app allows you to

  • Create a get-together invite for a group of friends
  • See where your friends are
  • Share your location with your friends in real time
  • Control your privacy - your location is only shared with the group of invitees, only for a short time slot

Interestingly, you don't use LiveID to sign up but instead your phone number. Microsoft is looking to make this platform agnostic (it's coming to other mobile OSs) and by keeping LiveID out, Microsoft seems to be keeping the entry-barrier low. That's good news if the system is to grow and catch on.

Oh and the code didn't work with our Google Voice number, just FYI.  If you want the app, here you go: link to the Marketplace.

Source: Bing Community; Thanks, Michael, for the link!

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3 years ago

Samsung leaked roadmap includes one Windows Phone (Updated)

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A recently leaked Samsung roadmap is chocked full of Android phones and tablets but it does support the existence of one Windows Phone we've read about.

The i8350 Omnia W isn't new to the rumor mill but the leaked map indicates an October release and gives the phone a 3.7" WVGA (we're still going with AMOLED), 1ghz processor, and running Mango.  All of which we've seen in earlier reports along with the phone having 512mb of RAM and a 5mp camera.

The leak gives credence to our earlier thoughts that the i8350 and the Omnia W are one in the same. Now we just have to figure out how the GT-i8700 fits into the picture?  We still don't know where the i8350 will land and hopefully that will come to light in the next few weeks.

via: gsmarena; Thanks, JustVisiting, for the tip!

Update: In digging a little further, this appears to be old speculation on Samsung's Fall roadmap which was denied by Samsung a few weeks ago. So for the time being we'll re-file this under "extreme rumor". 

It's consistent with other reports but it is still uncertain if the i8530 will see the light of day. In a long shot, it could be an attempt by Samsung to test the waters to see how well such a device would be received. If that's the case, we'd like to see more in their next Windows Phone, such as a Samsung Galaxy S II running Windows Phone Mango!

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3 years ago

Dilbert's Scott Adams declares Windows Phone a "winner" against iPhone 3GS, EVO 3D

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If you recall, Scott Adams of Dilbert fame was lamenting his iPhone and EVO 3D on Twitter and thus fell in to Brandon Watson's clutches. Watson famously offered Adams a $1,000 donation to his favorite charity if he would take Windows Phone for a spin and didn't like it.

Well, Adams received the phone and has written up a decent little review of it compared to his iPhone 3GS and HTC EVO 3D (Android). We'll just cut to the chase:

"The Windows phone has the best user interface experience, although the onscreen keyboard is problematic just as it is with the other phones I used. The Windows interface is intuitive, simple, and has a liveliness that I find appealing. Voice call quality was good, and battery life seemed good too. I declare it the winner compared to my iPhone 3GS with AT&T and my HTC EVO 3D with Android on the Sprint network."

..."If you want a smartphone that is easy to use, performs well, has a good battery life, and doesn't frustrate you, the Windows phone is the best choice of the three options I tested. All you give up is some hipster credibility and access to lesser-used apps."

Bam!

Now, having said that, it wasn't all gushing either. Adams did a neat breakdown of major features and gave pass/fail grades to all three devices. He confesses he's not a professional reviewer, nor a gadget geek like we in his write up, which we think is a good thing sometimes. Areas he didn't care for on the AT&T Samsung Focus running Mango:

  • On-screen keyboard - yeah, he actually didn't like it. In fairness, he didn't like the iPhone's or EVO's either, so he's being consistent. Fact is, he just doesn't like soft-keyboards and you can't fault a guy too much for that (there's a reason why we like the Quantum, Arrive and Dell Venue Pro around here).
  • "Intangible coolness factor" - this is pretty arbitrary but hints at a larger problem for Microsoft, namely they're just not cool. Yeah, we know, kind of a lame thing to judge the phone on, but lets face it, Microsoft has an image problem. It's getting better but they're still no Apple and that matters to consumers.
  • Apps - "okay-ish". This has been the Achilles heel so far in reviews and while he notices the lack of some big name apps, he doesn't consider the whole phone a fail because of it.

Overall though, Adams seems impressed with Windows Phone, slamming the EVO on its clunky UI and terrible battery life (no argument there) and the iPhone 3GS gets bad remarks for reception and okay results for UI. So Watson, mission accomplished.

Source: Dilbert.com; Thanks, Paul, for the heads up!

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3 years ago

Activate Scout & Bing Vision in Mango for Canada, others? [How to]

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We've seen the improvement coming in "Mango" to Bing, which are nothing short of impressive: Vision, Scout, Music, info cards, images, etc. But (and it's a big but) some of those services won't work everywhere in the same fashion. We're talking of course about Scout and Bing Vision. Specifically on the latter, we know it won't do movie posters, books, CDs, barcodes etc only MS Tags and QR codes outside of the US. That's a huge bummer for many as Bing Vision works quite well.

Reader Leon Y. writes in to let us know that these services are not available in Canada--at least on the Mango 7712 ROM. It's actually very simple:

"I currently have the dev build 7712 and I don't know if it works in the RTM build. Also I think this works because I speak English and not another language.

Here's how to do it: Go into the Region+languages in the settings and change the browser & search language to English (United States) and hit the back button to save the changes. The local scout works like a charm and the Bing vision is amazing. I think this will work in other English speaking countries. I don't see a reason for Microsoft disabling this feature for other countries other that the US. I just wanted to share this discovery with everyone"

Anyone else want to confirm and share their experience? It's odd that Local Scout will actually pull info down in countries where it's not available in the OS. We hope for a least a handful of you this will enable these awesome features and that other countries will soon get these services as well.

Update: Works in Germany according to reader @Cyrus1989

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3 years ago

No new Xbox Live game on August 24

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No new Xbox Live game on August 24

While Microsoft recently announced 12-ish new games coming to Xbox Live, it looks like those titles may not be ready for release just yet. Prepare yourselves, Windows Phone gamers: there will be no new Xbox Live release next week.

I can’t remember the last time there wasn’t an Xbox Live release in the US. Sadly, our European readers already know what it’s like to not see a new game on their Marketplace. When Sudoku and Minesweeper came out for free last week, everybody was surprised that they were only released in the US.

I’m just shocked at this hole in the release schedule, as the last two Game Room retro games, Time Pilot and Shao-Lin’s Road, have almost certainly been complete for a long while. Hopefully the negative reaction to previous Game Room games (stemming largely from the ancientness of some of those games and releasing them all in a very short time span) hasn’t resulted in their cancellation. Some of us want those Achievements!

There will, of course, be an Xbox Live Deal of the Week, so many gamers will still have a reason to pick up a game they didn’t own before. Check back here on Wednesday and we’ll let you know what game is on sale.

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3 years ago

More details about Xbox Live's upcoming Fast Async multiplayer feature

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Yesterday we reported on some new features that are coming to Xbox Live when Mango rolls around. One of those was ‘Fast Async,’ Microsoft’s proprietary form of asynchronous multi-player. Geekwire reached out to Microsoft and published this interview with an unnamed representative:

“How will Fast Async work and how does it compare to the current approach for turn-by-turn gaming in WP7? 

Similar to turn-by-turn async gaming, Fast Async, coming this fall with the Mango update will expand on this experience by enabling Xbox LIVE games to manage game data and sessions in a faster and more flexible way. It will also provide a way for games to find players across screens, without having to wait and watch the matching happen, and will prompt players with clear messaging, when it’s their turn to move.

Will Fast Async be implemented by default in all turn-by-turn games, via the OS, or will it only come in some turn-by-turn games, when developers implement it? 

Fast Async will only be included in Xbox LIVE titles if implemented by the game developer.”

The good news we can take away from this is that Xbox Live games will soon have turn-by-turn multi-player, just like indie games have had for a while now. And Fast Async is apparently a little better than regular old async, particularly in the area of matchmaking. One game we know of that will definitely support Fast Aync is Babaroga’s Zombies!!! board game. Oh, and Fast Async isn’t limited to just Windows Phone, which some people are taking to mean that Xbox 360-Windows Phone cross-platform gaming could be happening too.

The potentially bad news though is that real-time multiplayer has not been announced and may not arrive with Mango. If that’s the case, let’s hope it’s not too far off. I doubt Gameloft will port N.O.V.A 2, the popular iPhone Halo clone, until Windows Phone supports real-time multi-player. Insert comment about how Gameloft only seems to be more interested in porting older, much less popular games here.

Sources: Geekwire via WMPUThree Panel Soul

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3 years ago

Judge rules that Microsoft's Android Expert can testify

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As we know, just about everyone in the smartphone industry is suing everyone else. Microsoft is suing Motorola (which has been bought by Google) over patent issues involving Motorola's Android phones. Google stepped in last week and filed a motion to block Microsoft's Android Expert, Mr. Robert Stevenson, from testifying. Google asserted the claim that Microsoft violated confidentiality agreements and disclosed source codes to Mr. Stevenson.  Source codes on an operating system everyone thought was open sourced.

The U.S. International Trade Commission Judge handed down his ruling on Google's motion and Google got the short end of the stick.  However, the ruling may have opened the door for more litigation.

Judge Theodore Essex denied the motion stating that only parties in a complaint are allowed to move for sanctions. The Judge wrote,

"Google has not set forth any legal support for the proposition that a non-party may move for sanctions."

So the expert witness can testify and the wheels of justice can continue to grind.  Still there are two things to watch with this case.

First, will Google file a seperate claim against Microsoft so they can become a "party" and seek sanctions against Microsoft?

Second, if it is ruled that Motorola has infringed on Microsoft patents and Google's Android hardware partners have to pay royalties to Microsoft, would the $12.5 billion deal have been a bust?

source: Computerworld

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3 years ago

WPCentral is giving away a Windows Phone (Reminder)

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The clock is ticking on the WPCentral Windows Phone giveaway.  You've got a week to get your video responses in to have a chance at an AT&T HTC HD7S.  The rules are simple.  Just post a video response to this YouTube Video telling us why we should consider you the biggest Windows Phone fan? What sets the Windows Phone apart from other systems? How does it make your life easier? Even if you don't have a Windows Phone yet, tell us how owning one would make your life easier.

Make it compelling, make it creative, and make it under three minutes. Only one entry per person and we'll give you until Wednesday, August 24th at 5:00pm EST to submit your entry. We will then take a few days to judge everything and pick three winners. The top video gets the HD7S, the first runner up gets a Qmadix Boost Pack and the third runner up get a $25 gift certificate to the WPCentral.com store.

Good luck everyone!

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3 years ago

Android gets some Metro flava with updated Bing client

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Thankfully, Windows Phone "Mango" greatly enhances Bing on our devices (see video review), meaning we can be less jealous of the search service on competitors brands like the iPhone and even Android (with the latter always being more "meh"). Having said that, it's still nice to see Bing getting its due and in this case, Android just received a nicely new minted update to their Bing client.

It's an interesting design--not as polished as the iPhone/iPad version but it still has a certain flare to it. Less Metro, more style. Surprisingly, despite some of the anti-Microsoft pot shots that you would expect, users seem pretty impressed with it which goes to show you that on some level, Android and Windows Phone fans can agree on something.

Check our Phil's AndroidCentral video review of the client to see it in action after the break.

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3 years ago

Microsoft giving out Windows Phones to celebs: Blake Griffin edition

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Brandon Watson is persistent, we all know that. In his continued attempt to woo all potential-converts, especially those of a high celebrity profile, Watson is trying to get Windows Phones in the hands of those who can spread the word.

We've seen this before with CNet's Molly Wood and cartoonist Scott Adams and now basketball's Blake Griffin (of the LA Clippers) is the latest to be swayed. Complaining in a Tweet about his iPhone crashing, Brandon reached out to Griffin and his brother (the two are evidently close) in an attempt to get them to switch. Griffin has accepted the offer so we'll have to wait and see on what he thinks about it in a few weeks.

Our bet? We'll hear about how it doesn't have Words with Friends yet.

Source: Twitter; via Mobility Digest

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3 years ago

Windows Phone logo for Facebook gets a remake

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We've mentioned before that with "Mango", Microsoft is updating their logo for Windows Phone to the square version, enhanced by the various accent colors of the OS. The new logo received mixed reactions from you the last time with most agreeing it makes sense but that you still liked the old one better.

Well, now you can see it even more as Microsoft has changed the lil' icon for when you post to Facebook--you know, that tiny guy that tells you what service you posted from. While seemingly a minor detail, Facebook is a great place to spread the word about new technology and the new icon certainly has some pop to it. Clicking the link of course brings you to the Windows Phone Facebook page to learn more. Not bad.

Thanks, Loopyeyes and Nick L, for the tip

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3 years ago

Number Guru - App Spotlight

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Number Guru - App Spotlight

Number Guru is a reverse phone number search engine for your Windows Phone. Described as the "biggest, baddest, and most handsome callerID and reverse phone service you've ever seen", the app claims to cover about 100% of the landlines and 50% of cell phones (excluding Verizon numbers).  Not sure about the "biggest, baddest, and handsome" claim but Number Guru does cover a lot of territory by tapping into 334 area codes in the U.S. and U.S. territories (including the 1-888 and 1-800 numbers).

So now you have a means to reverse look-up those mysterious numbers that appear on your Windows Phone. The app searches are free and unlimited. You also have the ability to add comments to the phone numbers to help other users identify the type of caller (e.g. telemarketer).

Number Guru also maintains a history of numbers searched for quick reference. The interface is independent of your Windows Phone in that you have to enter the number manually (the ID won't pull up when the phone rings).

Number Guru is a free app that can be downloaded here (opens Zune) at the Marketplace.

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3 years ago

Tetris is the Xbox Live Deal of the Week, comrades

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Tetris is the Xbox Live Deal of the Week, comrades

Anybody remember when Tetris was a killer app that made people want to go out and get a black and white GameBoy to play it on the go? Those days have long since passed; hence even $4.99 seems like a lot for Tetris. Thankfully EA’s Tetris is finally on sale this week for $2.99, which goes down a lot easier.

The Windows Phone version of Tetris is actually quite slick. It’s got great visuals and a fine remix of the classic Tetris theme “Korobeiniki.” There are numerous gameplay variants such as Gravity and Radical that add a bit of variety to the game we’ve all played a million times before. Some people complain about the touch screen controls (swipe left and right to steer, tap to rotate, and swipe down to drop pieces), but I find them to be natural and effective. Our review also praises the game’s stat tracking.

Tetris is on sale for $2.99 for one week only. Puzzle fans can pick it up here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

Fun fact! I almost wrote a book about Tetris before deciding I didn't quite love the game enough to write about it for more than a hundred pages.

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3 years ago

Microsoft gearing up for Windows Phone 8 via job posting

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We barely have "Mango" out, there is sighting of "Tango" and mentions of Windows Phone 8 aka "Apollo" already. Now, in a job description posted by Microsoft, the Windows Phone is looking to add to their Consumer eXperience (ConX) team. From the job description:

"Want to be part of making Windows Phone 8 a reality? Want to work on a strategic and exciting product targeted at the next version of Windows? Then the Consumer eXperience (ConX) team is the place for you! The Windows Phone team is taking on a huge challenge stirring up the out of box experience for Windows Phone 8 and is committed to building/improving a compelling and dynamic high quality look and feel to our end user experience.This promises to be a volatile world churning within the OS, Phone 8 as well as our AUT (Application Under Test) that we’ll ship in the Windows Marketplace! Our test team needs a few more key folks to compliment the talent already onboard. We are looking for experienced and intelligent engineers to join our team! Join us in our mission to bring the most compelling Windows Phone experience to customers to date!"

We like the mention of "stirring up the out of box experience" but really have no idea what that actually means. Sounds ambitious though and so far the WP team hasn't let us down with these updates and roadmap for the platform. Once again, the end-user experience is the focus here and Microsoft seems to have a good thing going with the Metro UI.

Though we probably won't see "Apollo" aka WP8 till mid-2012, it's pretty exciting to see the gears in motion already. Microsoft really seems to have taken the gloves off for this fight in the mobile arena.

Source: Microsoft Careers; via WMPU; Image credit: Jozef Kocúr

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3 years ago

IonBallEX now available in the Marketplace [Xbox LIVE for Windows Phone]

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We've teased about IonballEX for a little while and now you can try it yourself. Yup, IonBallEX, the first indie game gone Xbox LIVE is now available for $2.99 (and a free trial). From the app description:

"IonBallEX is a modern twist on a classic Breakout style game, featuring an XP-based progression system and end-of-level bosses that are going to push you to the extreme, all delivered in a unique SteamPunk style. With 35 challenging levels, mind-bending features and awesome bosses; IonBallEX is the breakout game to "break" all the others. See where you can get on the leaderboards, or unlock achievements like "Record Breaker" or "Wipeout"; the IonBallEX challenge is here"

The game is a modest 35MB download (still need WiFi though) and so far we have to admit, it ain't too shabby. Head on here to the Marketplace for the link and let us know what you think in comments.

See the video preview after the break...

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