features

Downloadable Text suggestions in Windows Phone 8

Here is something we clearly missed yesterday but reader black_lion picked up. In the video we showed of some brave souls using forks (yes, the utensil kind) to navigate their Lumia 920s, a little notification popped up that raises some eyebrows: Text Suggestions.

The dialog simply states "You are missing text suggestions for this keyboard. You can download them now or visiting Settings > Keyboard to do this later."

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Custom Hubs & Accent colors for Windows Phone 8? Yes, please.

Earlier in the day we reported that Microsoft was going through the User Voice feedback system and signing off on feature requests from end users.

In short, if a feature is being positioned to be included in Windows Phone 8.x, it gets stamped with a generic “Planned” label from the site Admin for Windows Phone. It is then followed by a comment noting “Just a quick update to let the Windows Phone community know that this feature has been announced for Windows Phone 8”.

Indeed, many of the features such as Arabic language support, NFC and 720P displays have been publicly confirmed back at the June 20th Summit, making this forum cleanup standard practice.

But out of the 22 “Planned” suggestions, three stuck out...

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Windows 8 is done, recently reaching RTM and tomorrow some folks will be lucky enough to get their hands on the final code. Word from a few prominent bloggers is that Microsoft may not quite be finished with WinRT just yet.  Suggestion is that MS maybe moving to update the WinRT environment faster than the current three-year cycle dictates.

If this rumour were true then it would mean a major break with updating policy from Microsoft. WinRT is functionally still a long way from complete, a series of rapid updates could do much to fill in the gaps. Although haven’t we heard the promise of rapid updates somewhere before?

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In a poll conducted this past weekend here at Windows Phone Central, 7,640 participants voted on the top-three features (out of an optional nine choices) they wanted most in Windows Phone 8.

Although the full consumer feature list has yet to be revealed by Microsoft, due to the leaked SDK a few weeks ago a lot of the new options have been detailed already. In turn, we asked users what they thought was missing (or we saw no evidence for) in Microsoft’s next-gen mobile operating system.

The results are certainly interesting and by large margins the top three choices by users are clearly discernable...

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Okay folks, we asked and you answered. Yesterday we posted an open discussion on what you thought were some missing features from Windows Phone 8, knowing what we know so far (which is actually a lot due to the SDK leak). We were curious and Microsoft is curious.

In turn we received over 600 well thought out and detailed comments on the issue and we poured over it, trying to distil the top requests.

Looking over the comments we picked what we thought were the top nine most requested and talked about features that are evidently missing in ‘Apollo’. You can now vote on those nine by choosing the top three features that you want the most come to Windows Phone.

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As the title implies, we’re looking for your input on what is missing from Windows Phone 8.  Yes, it’s a somewhat of an odd question because as you know, Microsoft has not “officially” unveiled the entire consumer features of our waiting-in-the-wings OS. But you do know what we’ve shown you from the leaked SDK. Moreover, we know for a fact that some people back in Redmond want to know your thoughts on what you’ve seen so far—otherwise we wouldn’t be asking.

So consider this an unofficial-official survey of the largest Windows Phone community on the Internet...

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Looks like that Windows Phone 8 SDK preview (leaked on the web a few days ago) is still coughing up many little changes. The latest deals with the Live Tiles of Windows Phone 8 and yes, there are some subtle but welcome changes.

  • New Live Tile counter – instead of a black circle we now have a square which more closely matches the Metro UI
  • Tiles can cycle through images – we’re not sure what this is called but evidently a Live Tile can have multiple images within it, allowing it to run through them.

The first one is well overdue in our opinion as the circle counter really never fit in with the Tiles not to mention they sometimes were jaggy. Going to Square looks much better to us and we bet you’ll agree too...

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Images from the Windows Phone 8 SDK show off updated Office, SMS backup

It’s still technically the same day as the leak of the Windows Phone 8 SDK and now some images are showing up online showcasing some new features of the updated OS (we’re visiting Canada and don’t have access to our Win 8 machine to run the SDK ourselves). The images come via WP7.Hu who has thrown no less than 30 images up on their site.

Images are stronger than words so we’ll keep this one brief. These images show of various new or updates features in Windows Phone 8 which consumers will be more than glad to gander. Here’s what is displayed after the break (and above):

  • Text message backup to SkyDrive
  • Office 2013 for Windows Phone
  • Photo options
  • New Accent colors
  • Lock screen options
  • Phone storage (+ SD card support)
  • App list + setting backup feature
  • Microsoft Account
  • Voice Command options
  • Xbox Music

Needless to say, it’s a lot so head past the break to see it all in its glory. Make sure to "click to enlarge" to get a better look. Thanks, xajuan, for the tip

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We’ve hinted at this before and the leak of the Windows Phone 8 SDK is validating our claim that “Apollo” will allow richer notification support for 3rd party developers.

Developers will now be able to have their app send notifications to the Lock Screen with the content reflecting the app’s Live Tile:

“In Windows Phone, the lock screen contained a handful of notifications such as the number of new Outlook emails and text messages. In Windows Phone 8 Developer Preview, end users can choose to customize this area with any third party apps they choose. As a developer, you can enable your app to be used in this feature. “

An app can provide content for the following four items on the lock screen:

  • The background image. This image is unrelated to lock screen notifications, and is documented at Lock screen background for Windows Phone.
  • An app icon
  • An app count
  • App text
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As we parse our way through the new Windows Phone 8 SDK which was leaked this morning, we’re starting to get an idea of some of the new features.

One of those is Camera Lenses, a method by which developers can add a “mini app” of sorts to within in the camera function. This will allow devs to have much more creative control over the Windows Phone camera app, allowing the creation of unique augmented reality apps and filters to really add a customized experience.

Head past the break to read the excerpts from the SDK…

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Although we’re expecting Microsoft to release the Windows Phone 8 SDK within the coming weeks, this morning the full SDK has managed to leak online via the site WPXAP.

The full SDK is available via two methods—the official Microsoft server with a password or a third party file site (which requires a 3rd party app to install first). We have downloaded the SDK and validated that it is indeed the full package.

Files include the SDK, which can only run on Windows 8 64-bit preview edition meaning many folks won’t be able to run this right now. In fact, we’ve heard that the official SDK will be a Windows 8-only release (both 32 and 64 bit).

The files included are

  • Network Monitoring for Windows Phone Applications V1.pdf    
  • Optimizing Windows Phone Applications for Efficient Battery Consumption V1.pdf          
  • RPALSDK_LKG25.zip
  • Simulation Dashboard for Windows Phone Applications V1.pdf
  • Windows Phone 8 Developer Docs.chm
  • Windows Phone Apollo Release Notes.htm        
  • wpexpress.zip

The Developer docs (CHM) containing all the documentation with the new dev options--screenshots are posted below. We’ll get more up as soon as we can go through the files.

Developing...

Source: WPXAP; Thanks, talan1314, for the tip. More shots after the break...

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We've received notifications that an update is available for the highly rated eBay app for Windows Phone - version 1.18. What's new in this latest release? We're not entirely sure, though our Daniel Rubino experienced issues with logging in on version 1.17, but can achieve this task after updating.

Other than the potential login fix (should you be affected), we're not entirely sure what's included. The previous version of the eBay app introduced auction creation support for Windows Phone, so we could well be seeing some bundled fixes and minor optimisation with 1.18. 

You can download the official eBay app from the Marketplace. Notice anything new which we've overlooked? Let us know in the comments.

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Windows Phone 7.8 will share the same Start screen as Windows Phone 8 but little else

Although Windows Phone 7.8 is months from release, speculation as to what the update may or may not contain has been a hot topic for current Windows Phone users (see our editorial on the subject here).

The site WP7Forum.ru have a mixed reputation when coming to leaks and rumors, so like anything we should take this latest release with a grain of salt.

The data itself contains the supposed feature set of Windows Phone 7.8 and it is what many of us have come to expect—mostly the same with a few new apps. For instance, Skype is still “only an app” so no new system wide integration should be expected. That’s a technical issue and we’re 99% sure the new NT kernel is needed for those advanced VOIP features to keep it “on” all the time without killing your battery.

For the browser, IE9 will remain on Windows Phone 7.8 while WP8 of course gets the shiny new IE10.  Everything else, as far as we can tell, stays the same for Windows Phone 7.8 users if this list is to be believed. Interestingly, users can expect DataSmart to come to Windows Phone 7.8 as an app. DataSmart is Microsoft's answer for keeping track of your data so as to not go over your allocated plan.

Rumored feature set of Windows Phone 7.8 vs Windows Phone 8

Of curious note, Bing Audio is evidently getting TV support on Windows Phone 8. What does that mean? It sounds a lot like Microsoft has a native solution to IntoNow.

The service IntoNow is a lot like Shazam or SoundHound, it takes an audio sample and IDs the content but instead of music, IntoNow works for TV shows. It then allows you to share that info via social networks so the world knows exactly what you're watching. So far, we have nothing similar on Windows Phone as IntoNow is a small startup and WP is not on their radar. If this info is accurate, it looks like Microsoft may have built this into Windows Phone directly. That’s pretty great of consumers who don’t want to sign up for “yet another service”.

Even though this info may be accurate, due to its source we’ll still treat it as rumor until Microsoft tells us otherwise.

Update: See our in-depth follow up article to the Bing Audio + TV feature

Source: WP7Forum.ru; via WMPU

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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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With the announcement of Windows Phone 7.8 and the parallel announcement that current devices won’t get Windows Phone 8 Apollo, many have wondered if the new Start screen with customizable Live Tiles is all it will contain.

In essence, there are two camps on the matter—those who say Microsoft have only promised the new Start screen and those who pin their hopes on the “all we’ve announced so far...” line often touted by Microsoft when asked about the update.

Microsoft recently and directly told a few of us who cover tech media that Windows Phone 7.8 will only be the new Start screen with nothing else hinted at or mentioned. This is why we find many of the big players who cover Microsoft news taking this more conservative position because they are reporting, correctly, what they have been told.

But it is also true that Microsoft constantly uses the “all we have announced” line to cover themselves when certain plans are not solidified yet. And here at Windows Phone Central this is the position we’re taking. Yes, Windows Phone 7.8 is only the new Start screen but there could be more. When you add in the fact that Windows Phone 7.8 won’t come till after Windows Phone 8, you realize that Microsoft has a bit of wiggle room to change how Windows Phone 7.8 will be defined.

That doesn’t mean they can or will add more features but we think clearly Microsoft is leaving themselves the ability to be flexible.

This is backed up a bit further by Senior Product Manager and Windows Phone team member Larry Lieberman who recently gave a talk at TechEd 2012 on Windows Phone App and Game development. The presentation, available on Channel 9, is mostly a rehash of current trends in WP programming but at the end Lieberman takes some questions from the audience and one of them deals with 7.8. He responds to an audience question thusly:

“Will Windows Phone 7.8 get new features as well that you can access as a developer? Maybe. We haven't announced it yet.

All we've announced is the new Start screen at this point. Sorry, nothing new to announce. You're asking me stuff I can't answer."

Lieberman’s answer is interesting only because you can tell he is hedging. Hedging an answer is certainly different then taking a firm position on the matter and we believe this is for a reason. If Microsoft is only planning a new Start screen for 7.8 then they could easily come out and just say so putting an end to the speculation.  That’s not what Microsoft is doing though and we don’t think they’re being coy—we honestly believe that some of these decisions are still being made, hence the grey area on these answers.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: this stuff is complicated. You can’t simply copy and paste a new Windows Phone 8 (NT) app or function into Windows Phone 7 (CE), instead you have to rewrite and re-code that function. It’s work, it’s money, it’s time and it requires appropriate management to make sure what is committed to is what is matched in the final product.

So in the end, we still believe Microsoft has more to show on 7.8 or rather, nothing is final just yet. That doesn’t mean you should assume that more than a new Start screen will come late in 2012 but we have a feeling that Redmond is looking to do what they can, when they can.

In other words, maybe. 

Thanks, Tasos, for the link

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Yesterday's Windows Phone Summit gave us a nice serving of what Windows Phone 8 brings to the table. Joe Belfiore discussed platform changes that will expand the capabilities of our Windows Phones. We also caught a glimpse of Microsoft's Wallet app, a handful of new Nokia apps, and learned of Zynga's new interest in the platform. And then there's the new Start Screen.

Winsupersite posted a nice collection of some of the features we didn't see. Here's a few items that stood out.

  • Windows Phones will support varying screen resolutions which in turn will give consumers more choices to find which Windows Phone fits their needs and budget the best. We're already seeing this with the leaked HTC Windows Phone 8 specs.
  • Data Smart is a feature that is based on the metered broadband connection capabilities in Windows Phone 8. Data Smart will help users get the most out of their data plans by handing off data loads to Wifi whenever possible and by using a cloud based proxy service that limits the amount of data used by IE10 and other apps. The cloud based proxy service compresses web traffic and is reported to save about 30% in bandwith usage.
  • The Games Hub will become the Xbox Live Games app and will be modeled after the same app in Windows 8.
  • We'll also see SkyDrive support music and video storage that can be accessed directly from the Xbox Music and Video apps.
  • The camera app is in store for some under the hood improvements through a Lens app. The Lens app will let third party apps plug into the camera experience by mapping the camera button to an app other than the native camera app.
  • Skype will be more integrated with a Skype option that will be included in your contacts phone numbers and messaging links for those that use Skype. Skype will remain a stand-alone app that can be removed not only by the user but also the carrier or manufacturer. This one sounds like it is still a work deeply in progress.
  • Windows Phone 8 will not only appeal to to the general public but also the business market. Windows Phone 8 will provide always on device encryption, secure boot, Office 2013 based Office apps, device manageability capabilities and side loading of line of business apps.

We are sure that in the months leading up to the launch of Windows Phone 8 will come to light. As it stands now, the improvements and platform changes the Microsoft has shared with us it's hard to see Windows Phone 8 as anything but impressive.

Source: winsupersite

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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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SkyDrive, the Windows Live file hosting/sharing service, is set to receive a fairly major upgrade today, which will introduce a number of requested features. It's now much easier to manage office documents and other files on an account thanks to the ability to set permissions or share individual files within a folder. Not only that, but the team have now made it possible for files to be shared to social networks and for private links to be generated that can be shared with select personnel.

Multiple selections can be made to move, download or delete more than one folder. Folders can be created (and renamed) inline without having to click in multiple locations. Uploading to SkyDrive has also been improved by taking advantage of the HTML5 File API and now users can simply drag files and photos into the web browser window and onto the file listing. A upload overlay will then be display at the bottom right hand corner of the screen allowing the user to continue using the service.

 

As well as the above, support has been added for PDF and RAW file types, the photo slide show has been improved, and signing into SkyDrive is now more efficient (up to 50% faster). Check out more information on the SkyDrive blog (link below) with more screenshots. Unfortunately, still no more word on a Windows Phone app or more integration with the OS.

Source: Windows Live Blog

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We now have WhatsApp on the Marketplace for Mango users as of yesterday, which turned out to be relatively bare in terms of features, but functionality is present. We've now caught word of Simon Luk from WeLoveWP.hk contacting the developers asking whether or not more functionality will be implemented in the future.

In the above image we see Jan Koum from WhatsApp stating that the team is "committed very strongly" to Windows Phone and will be adding many features as well as fixing reported bugs. So sit tight with what we have thus far, the future is looking bright for WhatsApp.

Source: WeLoveWP

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AdDuplex: a look at app capabilities

A while ago Alan Mendelevich, Founder of AdDuplex, published an interesting article about apps in the Marketplace. Much like a previous Marketplace analysis by Justin Angel we take a look at a sample of available apps, but instead of looking at a Marketplace specific breakdown, Alan walks us through app capabilities.

In the image above (click the enlarge) you can see we have nine app capabilities illustrated by percentage of the 50 top apps taken in the Marketplace (July '11). To give a quick run-through, we have owner identity, location-based services, media library, web browser, phone identity, data connection, microphone, sensors and push notifications. As is to be expected, data connectivity is the most used capability within apps, but it's interesting to see owner identity and phone identity on 24% and 26% respectively.

Source: AdDuplex

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