changes

It was just over a week ago that Microsoft announced Update 3 (formerly known as GDR3) for Windows Phone 8. The update, due in the coming weeks for many Windows Phones, features numerous mid to low level fixes and improvements, including new hardware support for devices like the Lumia 1520.

Microsoft glossed over many of the changes in their official blog post, but they have now published the full changelog on the Windows Phone site.

The update refers to OS version 10501 and 10512, both of which are considered Update 3. While there are no surprises in Microsoft’s changelog, it’s still handy to have and to peruse in case you’re curious.

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We already brought you news earlier today that Verizon and Nokia were updating the Lumia 928 with the GDR2 and Amber OS and firmware. While most of those features have been previously reported, Verizon has gone ahead and highlighted the key changes, in case you wanted to know.

The updated info comes via their website where they list the alterations in a PDF file. For your convenience, we’ll republish those key changes below.

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On Friday, we brought you a report of upcoming changes to how Bing works and looks on Windows Phone 8. At the time, we presented a handful of documented alterations and confirmed with Microsoft that these new features were coming to those in the US soon and the rest of the world a bit later.

Today, Microsoft has decided to detail those changes on the Windows Phone Blog, filling in some of the blanks for the search engine overhaul.

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One handy feature on our Windows Phone devices is Internet Sharing. It allows you to share your cellular data connection over Wi-fi with other devices (laptop, tablet, etc.).

The bad thing is that carriers usually charge you for this service or limit the number of devices that can be tethered (which make no sense seeing that it's your data). We've been tipped that AT&T has made a change to the guest or device limit they impose on their Internet Sharing settings.

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In reaction to Windows 8 going official today and Surface RT tablets coming tomorrow, Microsoft has also made some changes to what Bing shows for results.

The adjustment people will notice on their new Windows 8 devices is that searches for general terms like “travel” will now show Windows 8 Store results too with a convenient download button to the Store. Of course those of you with Windows Phones should already know this behavior when you do searches on your phone. Just another neat example of how Microsoft can leverage Bing for a better Windows experience.

Speaking of Windows Phone, some of those earlier announced changes to the Store for searching are also slowly taking effect of which you can read about here. Thanks, Dustin P., for the tip!

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Gamertags—they can be fun but also quite ridiculous. Same with people’s first names but probably less so, which may be the reason why the Windows Phone Store has started to use them.

A few readers told us of the changes and sure enough, when you now look at reviews for apps you’re more likely to see “Pat”, “Sarah” and “Kyle” than “Moonstomper82”.  What’s more, you will no longer see those generic usernames that are left when someone doesn’t have a Gamertag yet, instead you just see “User”.

In our opinion it does make the Store look much more clean and is easier to read, it also doesn’t look quite as juvenile as before (don’t worry, we’re sure your username is the coolest).

What do you folks think? Thumbs up or down and what negatives are there, if any? Thanks, Garret C. and others for the tip

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We just received our email notification from Microsoft about the soon-to-happen changeover from Zune Pass/Zune Music to Xbox Music. While most of the features seem to remain, including being locked in your $10 or $15 a month subscriptions (the latter for old school users), there are some significant changes that we’re not exactly too excited about.

The changes are due to rollout August 31st, leaving little time to adjust to those new adjustments. The features that we will be losing in a few days are the following...

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Twitter has announced some sweeping changes to their all-important application programming interface or just API. This API is essential plumbing to allow application developers access to the “fire hose” of data from twitter. It has been no secret that Twitter wish to tighten their grip ever more over whom can access their system. With their latest set of guidelines, they show they mean business.

As Windows Phone users, we are literally spoilt for choice when it comes to third party twitter apps, with the likes of Rowi, Carbon, glƏƏk!, Mehdoh and Birdsong (to name drop a few). The new API could mean real headaches for those trying to differentiate with their Twitter client...

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Windows Phone 8773 still has a few hidden things in it

While users around the world are slowly getting the Windows Phone Tango 8773 update, a few under-the-hood changes are being noticed by users. We forced manually installed the update onto our Focus 2, Titan II and Lumia 900 with the Focus 2 (review) being our main device these days. As a result, we have had some experience running Tango and noticed a few little nuggets which we'll share below.

  • New wallpapers – We first noticed this on our Tango-fied Lumia 610 but Microsoft is now including those new “nature” themed wallpapers in the Tango ROM
  • Faster numeric PIN response – At least on our 8112 devices (Titan II, Focus 2, Lumia 900), when we would attempt to unlock our PIN on our phone it would sometimes be very slow and not register, requiring you to re-enter the number. While minor, it was annoying. That was fixed by updating all our devices.
  • Send ringtone via MMS – We can now attach and send ringtones to others via MMS. You can only send custom ringtones though and nothing that is “in ROM”. This in addition to the new "send voice note" and attach multiple images in an MMS that's found in Tango too.
  • Letter indexing – On Windows Phone 7.x after a user installs 45 apps, the app list will automatically index, giving you the “letter picker” to jump to find your favorite app. The problem, albeit minor, was if you went below 45, the “letter picker” would not disappear. It was odd behavior and nothing we ever experienced but Tango evidently fixes this. [Forum]
  • More reliable notifications – Many users are reporting better notifications, both Tile and Toast, with the Tango update. To be honest, we feel this has more to do with “flushing the system” than any actual optimizations, though perhaps there are a few.

Users can now share custom ringtones over MMS

Another anecdotal fix may be related to "the Internet Sharing bug" which sometimes causes normal WiFi to stop working, then forces users onto cell data unknowingly. This only occurs if you've enabled internet sharing at some point on the device. We've seen this on our Lumia 900 and so far it seems better to us under Tango, though we're still evaluating. 

Things not available that were thought to be:

  • Static IP for WiFi- We haven’t seen this but you can reportedly enable it via a registry hack. Bad news is you need a rooted phone to do that. Some Nokia users supposedly have this though we assume it’s tied to the firmware [Forum]
  • Location icon – This actually not a part of Tango (8773) despite previous reports, but is part of 8779+, so don’t look for it or expect it
  • Export contacts to SIM – Not available though you can enable it via a registry hack, assuming you have a routed device [Forum]

Did we miss anything—specifically any new features or options? We get a lot of “this is now faster” reports but those are near impossible to verify, so we’re only looking for actual new additions to Tango 8773. If you have some, let us know in comments.

New nature-themed wallpapers are now included in "Tango"

Finally, we have not seen a Tango update for any of our AT&T phones, including the Focus S, despite some isolated and unverified reports. Sorry, folks. Thanks, rockstarzzz, for the forum links

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Please see the latest update to this story: http://www.wpcentral.com/follow-windows-phone-tango-does-not-increase-multitasking-app-limit-eight

Now that the Tango ROM has been leaked onto XDA, those members are going over it with fine comb to find every little change. Guess what? There are more improvements then we knew about in Tango, making us want it even more.

For instance, we know that even devices with 256MB of RAM will have app-switching via the Back button (see our last podcast). But going further, instead of just the last five previous apps being held in memory, we now can have eight apps stored in memory which is sure to make everyone happy. While just adding three more apps does not seem a lot, in practice we imagine such an addition will be very practical for everyday use.

Other additions noted are increased memory efficiency with just 122MB of RAM being used in the 8773 build versus the current 153MB in 8107 found on most devices today. Finally, MMS delivery confirmation/acknowledgement is there as well. While that last part seems kind of "meh", we know from experience that sending MMS is hit or miss depending on your network, so having a confirmation can actually be a good thing here.

Source: XDA Forums; via Windows Phone Daily

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And after ripping on Google for the last two posts, we decided it would be fun and ironic to mention that Google is now allowing multiple calendars to sync to your Windows Phone:

"We launched a few new features on Google Sync for our Windows Phone (7.5+) users. Multiple Calendars is a feature that lets you select which of your Google Calendars are synced to your device. Just navigate to m.google.com/sync on your phone’s browser and configure the calendars you would like to see. From that page, you can also configure which addresses you send mail as if you have custom addresses in Gmail. We’ve also improved search to look beyond the conversations that are stored locally on your device so that you are able to find more of your conversations, faster."

We've playing around with it for the last half hour and despite numerous syncs, we have yet to see our newly created calendar pushed to our phone. File that under "how the hell do you navigate Google Calendar" and/or "it's still rolling out". Your choice.  Let us know in comments if you got it to work.

Either way, it's nice to see Google still paying attention to Windows Phone, even if they still call it Windows Mobile on occasion. Hey, even our "Search server" function seems to be working again!

Source: Gmail (Google+)

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Interesting news coming out of All Things D--Andy Lees, who's the Windows Phone division President is being replaced by Terry Myerson, Corporate Vice President of Windows Phone Engineering, but alas he won't be retaining the President title. From an internal memo from Steve Ballmer on the matter:

“I have asked Andy Lees to move to a new role working for me on a time-critical opportunity focused on driving maximum impact in 2012 with Windows Phone and Windows 8. We have tremendous potential with Windows Phone and Windows 8, and this move sets us up to really deliver against that potential.”

The move is suspected to be in response to the slow adoption rate of Windows Phone in the consumer market, despite recent critical approval of the OS. As expected when things aren't going the way they should, corporate shake-ups are necessary. Lets just hope Myerson can take the Windows Phone division to new heights, whcih it certainly deserves.

Source: All Things D

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Anyone noticed in Mango some slight tweaks to the Accent colors? Specifically the Lime and Magenta colors seem to have become less deep/contrasty? Well, according to @MS_Nerd, indeed those two colors have undergone a slight modification as you can see above.

MS_Nerd also notes that "Fujitsu uses original lime as custom color.", referring to the IS12T. Going further, HTC now has an "HTC" Accent color on the Radar and Titan that is also more closely matches the old lime, which we like.

While on newer screens, the A2C139-Green isn't too bad, it looks completely washed out on some of HTCs older offerings e.g. the Arrive and HD7. In that sense, we understand why HTC is opting for their own green now, giving users no less than three shades.

Source: @MS_Nerd

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Even though AT&T still has a major hurdles to overcome in their move to buy T-Mobile (Justice Department litigation, customer opposition, litigation from States, etc.) they are still doing their best to pitch this acquisition in a positive light. The latest comes in the form of a leaked internal T-Mobile memo that outlines proper responses to customer questions on the acquisition.

The memo addresses what happens, if the purchase goes through, with T-Mobile customers rate plans and it goes something like this.

Scripted question: "Will my service or bill change due to the AT&T announcement?"

Scripted Answer: "No. While AT&T and T-Mobile have agreed to an acquisition, it will not be finalized for an estimated 12 months. Until that time, T-Mobile customers will not see any significant changes to their current T-Mobile experience as a result of the pending transaction."

The scripted reply continues to say, "If the acquisition is approved AT&T will honor the terms of each T-Mobile customer's contract. T-Mobile customers will be able to keep their rate plans. They will be able to do so for as long as they want to, even when their terms end and the service continues on a month-to-month basis."

This is a nice gesture and the right thing to do but what we don't know is what happens if you decide to upgrade phones? Go from that feature phone to a Windows Phone do you get to go to an AT&T plan? One would suspect if you make the purchase and enjoy the contractual discounts, you'd have to enter a new contract.  A new contract that has AT&T rates and scraps your T-Mobile plans. 

But that's only a guess on our part.

source: tmonews

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Here's a cool little update: Microsoft has pushed out, seemingly in addition to the AppHub features, changes in categories to the Marketplace for Windows Phone.

Simply launch your Marketplace and head to Apps. You'll see a few changes including replacing "and" with "+" signs, making things surprisingly easier to read. In addition, we now have a dedicated "Books" and "Business" category (we're not too sure if the latter is new).

We bet this has something to do with the AppHub's "private beta market" launching tonight as well as MS just wanting to further divvy up their 26K apps they have available. Let us know if you find any other little changes that we missed in comments!

Edit: Games too, have new, more detailed categoreis as well, including things like "shooter" "classics", "strategy + simulation", etc. Very nice.

(Thanks, Tahiti Bob, for the heads up!)

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Though you can watch our video tour above of the new Games Hub in Windows Phone "Mango" (see review), you'll want to read all the changes cataloged by Microsoft themselves. From the Windows Phone Blog, you can tell, once again, that Microsoft is listening to consumers by incorporating a lot of changes. Indeed, the Games Hub feel more unified with the whole Xbox ecosystem and the changes are most welcomed.

Here's what's new:

  • Improved Collection View - basically smaller icons for games with a list view, makes it easier to navigate
  • New 3D Avatars with attitude - With XNA/Silverlight in a single app, your 3D Avatar is now "built in" with more functionality and movement
  • Improved Xbox LIVE messaging - Word suggest/complete is now built in, you can communicate with other Xbox  LIVE members on PC, phones or console. "If a message contains certain emoticons (e.g. Smile, Sad smile), you’ll notice your avatar’s expression change to reflect that emotion! (If a sender overloads a message with conflicting emoticons, your avatar will look bewildered."
  • Connect with Xbox LIVE friends
  • Integrated achievements and new comparison views
  • Edit your profile
  • Improved Spotlight content
  • Improved game request notifications: In Mango, you’ll receive notifications for multiplayer game or turn requests and can track them in the Requests section of the Games Hub.

Some of those last few ones are just carry overs from Xbox LIVE Extras, which is now purely for the Avatar Marketplace and to design your Avatar. Overall, a solid list of changes to look forward too.

Source: Windows Phone Blog

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