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As many already know, Microsoft’s SkyDrive is the company’s cloud-based storage service.  We use it on our Windows Phone to back-up photos, access documents and other files we keep in the cloud.

Today, Microsoft has announced that they are retiring the SkyDrive branding for this cloud storage and renaming things OneDrive.  The thinking behind the name is that while you have many devices in your life, you only want one place to store your documents, images, videos and other files. 

Microsoft announced back in July of the impending name change due to litigation against them by British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSkyB), who successfully claimed that SkyDrive infringed on the “Sky” trademark.

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Instagram (beta) for Windows Phone is now here

Today, Microsoft and Facebook (Burbn) have announced the arrival of the official Instagram app for Windows Phone. It’s been a long time in the making but this is the moment you have all been waiting for.

Announced a few weeks ago in Abu Dhabi during Nokia World, Instagram for Windows Phone has been one of the most coveted and sought after applications for the rapidly growing platform. Constantly cited as the one big “missing apps” for consumers (and being one of the searched for in the Store), Instagram’s arrival has come at an opportune time, seeing as Windows Phone is gaining market share fervently these days.

The service is simple in concept and execution, but it was the right app at the right time. Users simply take photos from their smartphone (or taken live within the app) and can optionally apply a set of retro-filters, giving it a Polaroid-like effect. Users can then post the photo on their timeline within the app (also visible on the web) along with hashtags. By following and being followed, users can build up an audience around those who want a visual experience. Text is minimal as the focus is to let the image tell the story. Images can be cross-posted to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and more.

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As expected, Verizon Wireless has just pulled the wraps off the Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet, the first Nokia tablet running Windows RT 8.1. The tablet will run at the retail price of $499 but for a “limited time”, users can sign a two-year contract and receive $100 off. We reported on that sale price two weeks ago and sure enough, Verizon is coming through with the deal. 

The device will drop on Thursday, November 21—one day before AT&T.

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Instagram and Nokia have announced that an official app is due for Windows Phone

The day has finally arrived, folks. Instagram is officially heading to Windows Phone in the “coming weeks”. Announced this morning in Abu Dhabi during Nokia World 2013, the longtime thorn in the heel for Microsoft’s struggling platform has finally been pulled.

Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of Instagram had this to say of the announcement:

"Our ultimate goal is to bring Instagram to everyone who wants to use it…We're looking forward to watching the Windows Phone community use Instagram to capture and share beautiful moments in the coming weeks."

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Nokia and O2 (Telefonica) today announced the Lumia 1020 in the UK. Both companies utilised the O2 Arena in London, a fitting choice for the smartphone which enables owners to capture important moments in life, including entertainment and live music. O2 strives to continue being Microsoft's most important partner in the UK, offering multiple Windows Phones for consumers.

So what's new with the Lumia 1020 in the UK? You'll be able to get your hands on one from September 25th.

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AT&T has announced that the Lumia 925 will indeed be launching on the mobile operator mid-September and it comes in a special black, including the back and metal. We recently looked at some rumoured dates provided by trusted sources, but now confirmation has been published in a public announcement. You heard it from us first: $99 is the price on contract and pre-orders kick off on August 28th.

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There has been plenty of information that we presented recently leading up to August 16th as the release date for Sprint and the ATIV S Neo. Now the CDMA carrier has come forth with an official announcement on the device and have confirmed that date.

According to the press statement, the Samsung ATIV S Neo will go on sale Friday, Aug. 16, in direct ship sales channels, including Sprint Stores, Business Sales, Web Sales and Telesales at 1-800-SPRINT1, for $149.99 with a new line or eligible upgrade, two-year service agreement and $50 mail-in rebate via reward card, confirming what we reported earlier.

The rest of the specifications are also in line with what we previously reported, including a dual core 1.4GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage (and up to 64GB expandable), a 4.8-inch TFT LCD display (1280x720) and a removable 2000 mAh battery.

Full press release below…

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Looks like it’ll be a great day for Windows Phone 8 users as the official Hulu Plus app is forthcoming later today.

News of the app’s arrival was predicted by some recent murmurs of an imminent release and indeed, with the app having launched on Windows 8 six months ago, it only seemed liked a matter of time before they brought it over to mobile.

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Well, it’s official. Verizon and Samsung today have announced the ATIV Odyssey Windows Phone coming to the CDMA carrier “in the coming weeks”. The 4” device is expected to fill in the entry-level range for Windows Phone 8 on Verizon and will also be a “global phone”.

The phone will be on display at Samsung’s booth during CES when the floor opens tomorrow, which means of course we’ll get some hands on time with it very soon (we may be even able to sneak in a peek later tonight at PepCom).

Head past the break for the full presser.

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AT&T announcing the Lumia 920 tomorrow? Yup.

Bloomberg just came over the wire with a story citing two sources that AT&T and Nokia plan to unveil the Lumia 920 tomorrow.

Indeed, the story has merit because AT&T is holding a special invite-only event Thursday evening, which will focus on numerous upcoming AT&T phones, not just Windows Phone devices or the Lumia 920.

We only know about this because AT&T has the event annually and yes, we’re going to be there too.

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Achievement unlocked: Xbox LIVE upgrade enabled

Back in January 2011, we posted a rumor noting that the Scrabble-like game AlphaJax, one of our favorite indie games for Windows Phone, may be heading to Xbox LIVE.

Flash forward a mind-numbing 19 months later and we’re happy to report that indeed, AlphaJax will be coming to Xbox LIVE for Windows Phone in the near future.

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The new wireless Purity Pro headset

Along with the new PlayUp mobile speaker from JBL-Nokia, it looks like those Purity headphones (over the ear) from Monster will also be getting a slight makeover.

The new version, which should be available later this year are not cheap: €299 or about $376. Last we checked, that’s a lot of money for some headphones.

The good news is you’re getting some neat technology this time around as Nokia has made these wireless with NFC pairing and Bluetooth streaming (you can also pair via BT).

The headphones come in four colors including black, red, yellow and white. Sadly, no cyan just yet but that yellow color seem to be the big new color for the Lumia line this year.

Source: Nokia Conversations

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Last night we revealed that Nokia had some 8779 OS updates with presumably some new firmware on their servers for the Lumia 710 and Lumia 800. At the time, we didn’t know what the updates included as 8779 is just slightly ahead of the just released 8773. Looks like we got Nokia's attention as they just gave out the details on the forthcoming update.

Technically speaking, we still don’t know what it’s in the OS as far as changes go (they're expected to be minor) but we now know what is coming with the bundled firmware. What’s more, it looks like the Lumia 900 will be getting the update too (although no word about AT&T, specifically). In fact, we’ve heard that the Lumia 900 in Germany already had 8779 on board so this is probably ready to rollout. Also, instead of the Lumia 800 we have info on the Lumia 610 instead.

On the Nokia Connects blog, details about the forthcoming updates were posted and it looks to be quite solid:

  • Lumia 900 version 2175.2101.8779.12201: Enhanced sensitivity for proximity sensor performance and improvement to your phone’s screen colours in low light conditions
  • Lumia 710 version 1600.3031.8779.12180: Internet sharing (Wi-Fi Hotspot) — Share your phone’s internet connection over Wi-Fi with up to five other devices or computers and Flip to silence — Silence incoming calls by turning your phone face down.
  • Lumia 610 version 1066.0000.8779.12201: Enhanced sensitivity for proximity sensor performance and improved sound level for alarm tone during voice calls.

From the sounds of it, these updates are very close to being releases so you’ll have to check for availability (or just watch our site). You can get more info when it’s made available at http://www.nokia.com/support. You do have to give Nokia some credit though, they're on top of these updates.

There was no mention of the post-Tango 8779 for the Lumia 800 though, which is curious because we did see those on Nokia's NaviFirm servers. Perhaps they're not ready for prime time just yet. We'll keep you posted.

Edit: As some users are pointing out, Nokia Connects may have the firmware numbers wrong. The latest firmware looks to be 12221 and not 12201 and some of those 710 new features came out with the 8773 update. So this is still a bit murky.

Thanks, Giovanni, for the heads up and Mark T. for the Germany info

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Perhaps not too surprising, Samsung today has announced the Omnia M, a follow up to the Omnia W and obviously riding the Focus 2's mid-range specs.

The device is a ho-hum 1GHz  CPU with a 4" Super AMOLED screen and a disappointing 4GB of storage on board. It features HSPA at 7.2MBps which is even a low-end data, bypassing the much preferred HSPA+ or HSPA+ DC like on the Lumia 900.

It does have a front-facing camera though and the design, while reminiscent of every other Samsung phone especially the W, still looks svelte and comfortable to use.

Having said that, this is obviously Samsung's "Tango" phone, playing up against Nokia's 610 and the ZTE Tania, meaning most of you will probably want to pass on such a phone and wait for Windows Phone 8.

We're curious though how such low-end devices will sell. In theory, if this phone is offered for next-to-nothing on contract it could be a very desirable phone for those who don't yet have a smartphone. That's an important market and while it doesn't earn headlines, for market share, it's an important demographic to consider.

No word on release though we imagine it will be out in a few weeks. It's planned for Europe and "other regions".

Source: Samsung

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The rumors have been swirling for days but this morning it was official announced by both companies that Nokia will be adopting Windows Phone 7. In a joint open letter, both companies spelled out what the partnership means--let it be clear it's as big as it is deep--this is not just Nokia using Bing but a whole agreement in a virtual merger on smartphone strategy:

The core of the decision is for Nokia to use Windows Phone as its primary smartphone OS, with MeeGo going to the back-burner (but living on). The OVI store will merge with Microsoft's Marketplace, Bing will be on all Nokia services and Nokia wil provide mapping data for Bing.

The combination of Nokia, who's the largest cell phone maker (by volume) and Microsoft should create quite the juggernaut and gives Windows Phone the gravitas it needs to be taken more seriously (by consumers, carriers and the market). Indeed, this changes everything today. Will it pay off? Who knows, but we're happier with this decision than without it.

Why not Android? According to Nokia CEO Elop:

We explored the opportunity with the Google ecosystem. We would have had difficulty differentiating within that ecosystem, and so Microsoft represented the best opportunity to build and lead and fight through with a new ecosystem.

Have they started collaborating on a device yet? From Ballmer:

We’re already working together to create the first Nokia Windows phones and you’ll hear more from us in all of those areas in the next weeks and months.

When? “We’ll be shipping in volume in 2012”, varying price points -Elop (via AllThingsD)

(Quote via via ElectricPig; part 2)

After the break, see the full official strategy between the two companies as outlined in their "open letter" and video...

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