Australian's can now sleep easy knowing that their Marketplace purchases will no longer be messed up by un-necessary fees. If you recall, through billing errors some Australian Windows Phone users were charged an International Transaction Fee (101% of purchase) on top of the cost of the Marketplace app.
The root of this problem was where the billing was being processed (Singapore) that didn't recognize Marketplace charges as a local purchase. So that $.99 game began to cost Australians $1.99.
To avoid this issue from re-surfacing, Microsoft has established a transaction processing center in Sydney. So to our friends down under, you can now make your Marketplace purchase with confidence that a local purchase will be processed as a local purchase.
For my money, Body Glove makes some of the best cell phone cases on the market. I’ve owned Body Glove cases for a number of the phones I’ve had over the years, and I’ve always been pleased with the products that they put out. When I got the opportunity to review Body Glove’s Soft Shell Case for the Samsung Focus, I jumped at the chance.
Get the complete review of the Body Glove Soft Shell Case after the break.
Rubber case improves grip and softens impact when dropped
Traditionally noise cancellation and price have been the difference makers when shopping for a Bluetooth headset. High-end headsets like the Plantronics Voyager Pro and various Jawbone headsets have set the bar for business users requiring great sound quality. The average consumer tends to be more comfortable purchasing one of the myriad of headsets in the $30-$50 price range, sacrificing sound quality for value.
Product design in Bluetooth headsets is becoming one of the ways that manufacturers differentiate their products from competitors. Motorola added functionality and usability to the Oasis headset by focusing on the product design, while Jabra added both functionality and style in their Stone headset. With the second version of the Stone Jabra continues to improve on their design, as well as cleaning up some minor flaws with the original model.
For the full review of the Jabra Stone 2, keep reading.
One downside to Microsoft’s business model of licensing the Windows Phone 7 OS to device manufacturers is that you don’t get the quantity of accessories that a device like the iPhone does. Fortunately, the Samsung Focus is starting to get some love in the accessory department, though some of our favorite case-makers are a little slow to get on the bandwagon (looking at you Otter Box).
Body Glove makes some of the best cell phone cases that I’ve ever used. Their Snap-On case for the Focus is a perfect example of what they are capable of. For the full breakdown of what Body Glove’s Snap-On case offers, keep reading.
Belt clip with kick-stand
Relatively expensive, charging port door is hard to get at.
It’s listed as the top game in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace. If you haven’t played it already chances are you’ve heard of it. Fruit Ninja is one of the most talked about mobile games this side of Angry Birds. Ridiculously simple to play and as addicting as all get-out, Fruit Ninja is a favorite of adults and kids alike.
There is a lot of hype around Fruit Ninja, and without a doubt it is one of the best all around games in the Marketplace, but what makes it stand out from the rest? Keep reading for the full review.
Comic books! Everyone has read a comic book at some point in their lives. Comics were a fundamental part of many kids' lives and are still very much a part of some adult lives. I loved comic books as a kid and still do. The format has changed a great deal since I was a kid though. I rarely read a graphic novel on paper anymore. Digital delivery applications across dozens of platforms and superb net-based readers have become the industry standard. Scans (literally meaning a scanner was used to make a digital backup of a comic book) and drm-free fan-produced e-books have become the anti-industry standard.
I have a fairly decent sized digital library of comics and graphic novels but I never get to read them when I'm well and truly bored. Like when I'm stuck on a train with just my phone. You guessed it, "Until Now!" Read on to see the ins and outs of not just reading comics on your WP7 device, but how to get 'em on there.
It's been whispered about and openly discussed at XDA for some time, but it has now been confirmed that Yahoo! email is the so-called "data hog" culprit on Windows Phone. To refresh, some users were reporting large amounts of data traffic being sent from their phones, resulting in some people approaching or going over their capped data limit. Yet others saw no such behavior. Microsoft finally investigated and found the source themselves but refused to name them publicly, instead they tried to address it behind doors.
Now Raphael Rivera, part of the ChevronWP7 team, has gone ahead and created some sophisticated tests to nail down the offending app. Yahoo email has been suspected by many for some time (see here and here) but now seemingly concrete proof has been demonstrated. To sum up the technical by Rivera, Yahoo appears to be sending around 25 times the amount of data that it needs to, which is quite an increase. As a result, Rivera recommends the following for Yahoo! mail users:
To workaround this, I strongly recommend Yahoo mail users reconfigure the phone to not transmit data via a cellular connection (Settings –> Cellular –> Data roaming options). As an alternative, you can set your Yahoo account to only Download new content only on manual trigger (Yahoo Mail –> Settings –> Sync Settings).
Sounds like sage advice. Seeing as Yahoo is the culprit here, this seems to explain why some of us did not ever experience such behavior, while others did. This also means that it's not WP7's fault but rather something on Yahoo's end that needs to be addressed. Read more on the nitty-gritty on Rivera's page here.
Update: Microsoft is now officially acknowledging the issue: "Microsoft and Yahoo! have worked together to identify a fix, which will be rolled out in the coming weeks.". There also is a rare problem with Exchange Active Sync (EAS) which should be fixed in a software update.
Alan Mendelevich, a Windows Phone 7 developer, has carried out a small experiment involving his Tic-Tac-Toe 3D app to see which performs superior in terms of downloads and usage out of a free or paid offering. Before getting into detail with his findings, one would think that the free app would come out on tops with usage compared to the paid version, and one would be correct.
The graphs above (visits) illustrate just how large the difference can be. But what causes this, and why are people more likely to download an app that's free as opposed to a trial? It's psychological. Like any software store or marketplace, or even searching for software through a search engine, majority of people will attempt to find a free (or next to nothing) offering.
Microsoft has implemented a trial system as opposed to Apple's mass Lite invasion. You literally get swarmed with duplicates upon duplicates of apps and games on the app store, which can prove to become a slight annoyance. This is something the Marketplace does not suffer from, but not everyone is fully aware of trials, and look for either a Lite or free version.
If they can, they will avoid venturing down the paid route unless it's an absolute must. What’s more, trials are generally associated with set time allowance until it ends or have some (or major) functionality removed. In Alan's test, he witnessed a whopping 40x increase in stabilised traffic for the free version of the Tic-Tac-Toe 3D app, which aids in proving the theory mentioned earlier. However, although the traffic may be greater, the revenue generated may not reflect the usage statistics.
Alan moved on to explain, "Despite huge difference in usage the economics of both versions could be pretty similar. The paid version sold 22 copies in 7 weeks which is about $15", which isn't too bad for what the app is. In comparison to the above earning, the free version of his app displays adverts that accumulated around 23,000 views in seven weeks. This would earn him "$23 which is comparable to the revenue from the paid version" he concludes.
So even though downloads of a free app may over shadow a paid counterpart fairly effectively, the revenue a developer can potentially earn isn't much different. Does the trial API work, or should we expect more "Lite" apps in the Marketplace?
Do you use LinkedIn for networking with colleagues and co-workers? Would you love to receive updates from this social platform on your phone in PeopleHub, alongside Facebook? Good news – this is easily achievable in just a few steps.
Ensure your Live account is synced to your Windows Phone 7 device before we proceed. To get linked in (get it? heh) on your phone, follow these steps:
From your computer, log-in to your Windows Live account and scroll down to “Messenger Social” on the dashboard/main page, click Add.
Select LinkedIn from the list and fill in your credentials in the newly opened window.
Configure the settings to your preference as to what is to be synchronized between your Live and LinkedIn accounts.
Hit Save, and we’re done!
Simply open PeopleHub on your phone and any status updates from your friends on LinkedIn will now populate the list as well as Facebook. Before you begin experiencing horrid thoughts about your contacts list being imported from the social platform to your phone, fear not, this only synchronizes status updates.
Netgear CEO Patrick Lo has shared his opinion on Apple and their closed development environment, as well as taking a dig at Microsoft's mobile platform. Our friends at TiPb have covered the criticism directed at Steve Jobs and his iCompany, so we shall cross over the bridge and highlight the Windows Phone 7 remark.
“Microsoft is over - game over - from my point of view” Patrick goes onto say, suggesting that Microsoft is both late to the monopoly game board and hasn’t got the platform to compete with the likes of Android and iOS.
Voicing a rational blow against WP7 is either a display of short sightedness into the smartphone market, or a sign that companies outside of the mobile industry have their own opinion of WP7 – albeit slightly negative. It’s interesting to compare the remarks made by LG about how the launch and first few months of life for WP7 has been somewhat disappointing, to the failed-to-elaborate tantrum of a loud-mouthed CEO.
Although Patrick is not representative of the majority views on Windows Phone 7, nor does his opinion really matter, it’s a crushing look at an external view from a respectable company. Especially since Netgear is behind the networking of companies and online properties (I’ve even used them in a datacentre rack), and a good number of server technicians I know use Android.
One should not listen to Mr Lo however. I mean, how is he to know anything about the mobile platform when all he can comprehensively understand is how to open up ports on his malfunctioning Netgear router. What do you think of his comment about WP7?
Just a small heads up to you social-networking fiends out there: we're back on Facebook. Though the old WMExperts one is still out there, floating around like refuse in the ocean, the new site is up, running and pulling down our RSS feeds of all our latest stories.
So if you would like to friend us, or whatever it's called, you can do so right here. (Next week we'll tackle Friendster. That's still popular, right?)
Oh and if you're a Twitter user, we now have over 6,100 followers--so if you're not one already, you can do so right quick by going to @wpcentral.
The future of Sony in the smartphone market has two major considerations for Windows Phone:
1) Will Sony make a Windows Phone 7 device?
2) Will Sony push their PlayStation platform on other mobile OSs?
The answer to the first is maybe. More specifically, Sony is keeping the door open to make a Windows Phone in the future, but as far as anyone knows, there's nothing immediately on the horizon. One reason for that is that some speculate Sony would not embrace a phone that makes the Xbox 360 its centerpiece. After all, this may seem to downplay Sony's own efforts in mobile gaming.
Sony though seems to be taking a mild mannered approach to the issue, suggesting that they are in fact, hardware/software neutral when it comes to their mobile PlayStation suite (prominently launching on Android). In a press event, SCE CEO Kaz Hirari stated:
We're focusing first on Android... There's also Windows [Phone], iOS and so forth, but we don't have the resources to make it compatible with everything from the start.
The statement is an echo of a recent meeting where Sony previously described the PlayStation suite as "hardware neutral". This seems to take out the argument that Sony won't ever do a Windows Phone either due to fears of competition in mobile gaming. In fact, we could imagine Sony doing a Windows Phone featuring Sony mobile gaming on it. But now the ball is in Microsoft's court: would they allow such a deal and partnership to go forward? This could be an interesting next few months and we'll try to grill Sony on this issue at Mobile World Congress in a few weeks.
The big news making the rounds today is in regards to how the smartphone landscape changed in Q4 in terms of market share. New numbers came out from The NPD Group today showing that Windows Phone 7 grabbed as much market share as the nearly two-year old WebOS:
Apple iOS: 19 percent (-4%)
Android OS: 53 percent (+9%)
RIM OS: 19 percent (-2%)
Windows Mobile: 4 percent (-3%)
Windows Phone 7 OS: 2 percent (-)
Palm’s WebOS: 2 percent (-)
But some seem to be taking these numbers is that Windows Mobile outsold Windows Phone 7--yet what is being reported is market share, which includes an established user base. In other words, Windows Mobile has been around for years, there are a lots of users and not everyone suddenly gave up their WM phone for Windows Phone 7 (especially with 2 year contracts binding people). As a result, Windows Mobile still lost three percent and Windows Phone 7 gained two (though no correlation is implied).
What is worth noting is the following: "Windows Phone 7 also entered the market with lower share than either Android or webOS at their debuts, according to NPD's Mobile Phone Track". Of course even those numbers are relative as the smartphone market was certainly thinner and less aggressive two years ago than it is today, especially with Android taking off.
Should we have expected Windows Phone 7, which only went on sale in mid-November, to have made more a splash than it did? Perhaps. But we see this more a problem of message and getting the OS "out there" than anything else. The numbers are certainly not awe-inspiring, but we also don't see it as greater interest in Windows Mobile either. Sixty days is not much time to prove yourself in such a volatile market--Android and the iPhone are certainly tough competition to make headway with.
People were pretty excited when the Dark Forces Team successfully ported WP7 over to the HD2, but it wasn't without its bugs. One of the more annoying of them was that the battery level indicator was inaccurate. Tired of the lies, XDA member, arkatis, decided to do something about it. He has posted a registry hack that seems to resolve the issue. Here's the quick and dirty on how to do it:
1) Charge your phone until the green light shows up 2) Unplug it from A/C and open registry editor 3) Go to the reg path 4) Edit the value from 6 to 20…press ok..Now you will see the battery indicator level has been changed! Again go and edit the value and from 20 go to 80..press ok! Restart and enjoy!
If you want to read the full post with feedback, you can check it out here.
GooNews (see video review) was one our favorite apps on Windows Phone as it not only offered a nice, smooth UI for accessing Google News, but also allowed you to have custom feeds. The app was free, then $0.99 or ad-supported and was really the only one of its kind (as far as we know).
Developer Shawn Wildermuth has reluctantly given up on GooNews, pulling it from the Marketplace, despite very positive user feedback. The reasons come down to frustration with the app approval process, inconsistencies in approval and just plain running out of steam. As Wildermuth explains, GooNews had a major bug in it which he tried to address but he soon found his app stuck in approval hell, eventually being rejected for something it had always had in the past. After paying $40 in fees just to get it approved (later refunded), he just could not get the app through. The story is reminiscent of GVoice and that developer's problems with getting an update through as well.
Wildermuth acknowledges that a lot of this is probably growing pains and he's not giving up on Windows Phone 7:
I think that once they figure out their customer service issues, it'll be a good experience. I know a lot of developers who have had good experiences with the Marketplace. I just don't have enough time to deal with the ineptitudes. I won't be updating my existing applications or submitting new ones until I am satisfied that the Customer Service, Testing and Support issues are solved. Its not worth my time.