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Bing Vision was at one time a very interesting and innovative feature on Windows Phone 7.5 in 2011. The camera tool lets users scan QR codes, barcodes, books, CDs, DVDs, and even the (now) deprecated MS Tags. As creative as it is though, it never seemed to make waves in the tech world. Ironically, in mid-2014 Amazon's Fire Phone is nothing but a super Bing Vision with links to Amazon's massive online store.

Bing Vision gets a demotion in Windows Phone 8.1, at least for those in the US and other regions where Cortana is the primary means of search. This loss of function is because Cortana does not handle scanning items with the camera.

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Marcus Ash and Sandeep Paruchuri reply to your Cortana questions

A few days ago, we presented a rare opportunity to ask the Cortana team – represented by Marcus Ash and Sandeep Paruchuri – direct questions about Cortana's international rollout (Alpha and Beta programs), and the process therein.

After the big announcement in China about Cortana's expansion, the team managed to squeeze time in to pick some of your top questions and provide us the answers late last night. Therefore, without further ado, here is the Cortana team answering your best questions.

If you want insight into the differences between Alpha and Beta Cortana, or why Jen Taylor is not coming to the UK, then you must read on, you do not want to miss this!

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Lumia 530 lands in Vietnam for just $110

Microsoft has launched the Lumia 530 in Vietnam today, with the device set to go on sale officially starting this weekend. The Windows Phone 8.1 toting dual-SIM handset will be available for just 2.349.000 VND, which comes out to around $110.

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Yesterday, we reported that the unlocked Lumia 1520.3 variant started to receive the Lumia Cyan update. That phone works on AT&T and T-Mobile with LTE and is considered a prized win for consumers willing to spend the extra money. As it turns out, many country variants (CV) of the Lumia 1520 are now getting the Lumia Cyan update with Windows Phone 8.1. Unfortunately, many carriers are still listed as 'under testing.'

As usual, we have gone through and accumulated all the countries and regions that are now eligible for the Lumia Cyan update, in addition to updating our tracker page.

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A few days ago, it was widely reported that HTC is repositioning their flagship One M8 as a new Windows Phone dubbed "One (W8) for Windows." The phone may be the same as the hot selling Android phone, but with Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 on board and destined for Verizon.

Windows Phone Central reported the phone could go on sale as early as August 21 and coincidentally enough, HTC has sent out limited press invites for August 19 right in New York City. No clues or themes were present on the invite, though the timing is suspect.

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Cortana heads to UK, China in beta, while India, Canada and Australia get opt-in alpha program

Tonight in Beijing, China, corporate vice president at Microsoft Joe Belfiore announced new Cortana rollout plans for Windows Phone 8.1 users, including a new 'alpha' program to speed up the deployment process. Furthermore, full details about Update 1 for Windows Phone 8.1 were also released, including early access starting next week.

As expected, China and the UK are now getting access to Cortana on a beta status, with substantial customization done for both countries, especially in China where some significant changes to the UI of Cortana have taken place. Additionally, India, Australia, and Canada are now part of an "early adopter program" where users can "opt-in and…try Cortana using English language models from the US and the UK."

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Microsoft unveils Update 1 for Windows Phone 8.1. Here are all the details.

As expected, Microsoft is finally revealing all there is about Update 1 for Windows Phone 8.1. Known internally as GDR1 for 'general distribution release,' this update is one of two for the 8.1 operating system in 2014. The news comes out of Beijing, China where Microsoft's Joe Belfiore announced the release during his keynote, in addition to the expansion of Cortana to the UK and China.

Update 1 is relatively minor in comparison to what 8.1 delivered this spring, but it still contains numerous new features for consumers, and hardware manufacturers. Leaks of these features in Update 1 came over the weekend and were accurate.

Additionally, starting next week, those enrolled in the free Preview for Developers program are slated to get an update to their phones to take advantage of the new OS refresh.

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It's hard to believe it's nearly August. As another month goes by I'll take a look at the Windows Phone landscape thanks to data from cross-promotion network AdDuplex. Every month AdDuplex CEO Alan Mendelevich ( @ailon) gathers data that gives us insight into the Windows Phone ecosystem around the globe. During the month of July, we're looking at an even bigger jump in the percentage of handsets running Windows Phone 8.1. Read on for more details.

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Microsoft's Cortana is one of the hottest topics that we cover these days for Windows Phone. Between the constant updates, improvements and its long-term potential, Microsoft's digital personal assistant is making waves across the globe. This response is even more impressive considering that Cortana is still technically US-based, though talk of imminent launches in China and the UK are heating up, in addition to other countries.

Speaking of expanding Cortana, Marcus Ash, Group Program Manager for Cortana on Windows Phone, recently commented that in expanding Cortana to other regions they "…learned a lot about scaling" and that it has been a "tough project." Ash's responses pose some interesting questions about the process involved, and we are itching to find out.

Marcus Ash and Sandeep Paruchuri, Program Manager at Microsoft, have volunteered their time to try an answer some of your questions about the process of expanding Cortana. Therefore, here is your chance to ask them in comments.

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If there is one Lumia 1520 that is the king of all 1520s it is an unlocked 1520.3 variant, which for those in the US comes with LTE support for AT&T and T-Mobile, in addition to 32 GB of internal memory and Qi wireless charging. Yes, it has everything.

Luckily, if you own that phone, you can now get the Lumia Cyan update, assuming you are not of the Preview for Developers edition of 8.1.

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Earlier this morning we reported on receiving tips – especially from India – that the Lumia Cyan update is deploying for the Nokia Lumia 1320. As it turns out, this is another mass rollout and as usual, we have compiled this list of regions, countries, and carriers for your convenience.

If you see yours listed below, head to Settings > Phone Update and force check the process to get started. However, if you do not see your country or carrier listed, it means yours is still under testing, so sit tight!

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Microsoft has today concluded the Nokia Device Hub and Storage Check beta programs, which allowed Lumia Windows Phones to connect to a variety of wireless accessories and anlayze on-board internal storage.

The apps are now part of the Lumia Cyan update and can be found on any up-to-date Lumia Windows Phone. If you're rocking Windows Phone 8.1 and Lumia Cyan, you'll be able to easily manage all your wireless devices in one place using the commercial release of Device Hub and check what space you have remaining with Storage Sense.

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In case you missed it, Fitbit launched their long awaited tracker app for Windows Phone 8.1 today. The app is already earning a 4.5 (out of 5) rating on the Store, with many customers pleased with the release.

In case you are new to Fitbit, and you need a new Windows Phone, the Microsoft Store is running a stellar deal. Starting at $149, you can grab both the Lumia 635 (AT&T black or T-Mobile white) and a brand new Fitbit Flex (black or slate). Those are no-contract prices too, although the T-Mobile package is priced slightly higher at $178.95.

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Cortana asking for feedback to get better

Cortana isn't a Windows Phone 8.1 feature that stays stagnant. It's one feature that Microsoft can continually update and improve on the backend without the user needing to update any software. Today we see reports of Microsoft soliciting feedback through Cortana.

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Microsoft has released a new video putting Cortana up against the renown virtual assistant from Apple, Siri. The two assistants go head to head in a rather humorous commercial, showing just what Cortana can do to help with day-to-day tasks, offering a more natural experience.

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Although web sites and reporters often spill the secrets of companies, the best-kept ones get published by the companies themselves. Case in point is the revelation that 'folders' are coming to Update 1 (aka GDR1) for Windows Phone 8.1, which was accidentally revealed by Microsoft's website. Details though have been scarce about the forthcoming update, including what it contains. Luckily, Microsoft's Dev Center is filling in the blanks as we reported yesterday.

On Microsoft's website, buried within the Dev Center are two pages dedicated to the minor OS update. One page is 'What's new in the documentation for Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1' and the other just 'Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1.' Now, details from those internal pages is starting to trickle out.

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Windows Phone 8.1 is still in the early stages of rolling out to devices in over-the-air updates, but Microsoft is hard at work at future updates, including general distribution releases also known as GDRs. Those GDR updates, usually called just 'Update' or 'Update 2', bring patches, minor fixes, a few new features and enable additional hardware options for manufacturers (OEMs).

Evidently, references to GDR1 are found on the Windows Phone dev center under the OEM documentation. Unfortunately, if you try to click the links you are asked to log in, making this restricted to just OEM partners.

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