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Google has no immediate plans to release an official Google Voice app for Windows Phone, according to reports. CNET received an official statement from the search giant detailing a development focus on Android and iOS. The statement does note that should sufficient demand spark for a Google Voice client on Windows Phone, the team will look into kick-starting the project.

"We're focusing our Google Voice efforts on Android & iOS and don't have a plan to extend this to the Windows Phone. This may change if we start to see greater demand from Windows Phone users for Google Voice."

Previously we've witnessed what the power of Windows Phone users can achieve by demanding official support from companies, with Draw Something proving to be the best example. For now, until we receive word of an official app in development, those who wish to use the Google service can look at third-party alternatives available on the Marketplace - GoVoice is a free unofficial client, which we've covered previously. 

As CNET rightfully points out, users should always be cautious when downloading apps from the Marketplace. Luckily the developer of GoVoice got in touch and provided the following statement to address any potential concerns:

"We take your privacy seriously and we don't store your password on the device unless if you choose to do so. Even if your device is compromised you can still revoke GoVoice's access. Your password is encrypted on the device and only sent to the Google Voice servers over Secure Sockets Layer (https). We care about your security."

It's a positive sign to say the least. The Windows Phone Marketplace has a number of indie developed apps that boast the functionality missing official apps would feature, which is something many forget when choosing their next smartphone. The only app Google has produced for Windows Phone is the search app, though there are unofficial apps for a number of the search engine's services, including Google Maps.

Are you looking forward to more official support from Google, and do you believe they should start actively developing clients now? Let us know in the comments.

Source: CNET, via: Neowin; Thanks vincentw56 for the tip!

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We always like clever things around these parts at WPCentral. We also like free. So we gave "LaunchPad" a go and happen to think it's worthy enough of your attention.

LaunchPad is a web-app which basically means it is designed for use on Windows Phone's Internet Explore web browser. It's a search tool offering a quick and simple way to find basically whatever you want using specific search engines including:

  • Google
  • Wolfram Alpha
  • YouTube
  • Wikipedia

What's more, you can even pin it to your Start screen as a tile for quick, simple 1-touch access. Sure, it's not revolutionary and there are plenty of apps for searching on the internet, but we like the fluidity and layout of LaunchPad, so we're passing it on.

Simply navigate to http://portal.macpoint.be/wp/ on your phone's browser. Hit the pin in the top right to save it to your Start screen. Thanks, Shad.

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It's been awhile since we've seen GoVoice, an unofficial Google Voice client, get update so it's nice to see the developer Nick Yu still supporting the free app for Windows Phone.

The latest version, 3.4, just hit the Marketplace and brings some great features including:

  • Search! Now you can search all your SMS's and voicemails
  • Message list contact integration - no need to export contacts to Gmail to see contact names
  • Notification setup bug fixed. Now you can set up notification automatically
  • Bug fixes

Combined with the previous v3.3 update which brought Mango features (including the important fast-app switching, better notifications and pinnable new message), GoVoice feels like a pretty complete and solid Google Voice app for those who need it (we do since we have three different cell phone numbers, ahem and like free SMS).

Pick up GoVoice for free in the Marketplace here.

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This news will please those who use the social network, as a PR Spokesperson from Google Germany, Stefan Keuchel, has revealed that an official Google+ app is on the way to Windows Phone. Unfortunately no date or ETA was provided (see above translated tweet). 

While it's great to have an official stance on the status of such an app, which was desired since iOS received their client. It'll be interesting to see how this develops, as well as the possibility of more official Google products arriving on the Marketplace.

Stay tuned if you're a Google+ fan as we'll keep you posted on any further developments.

Source: @dominiksichling, via: WPSauce, MSICC

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For those of you who have Nextgen Reader (quite a few of you won a free license recently), you should be getting your version 2.5 update right about now. If not, you'll want to go check as it has some swanky new features on board, including a new "Featured" area which will be updated daily.

That "Featured" function is part of the new "Manage sources" area which allows you to quickly discover RSS feeds based on topic. So instead of just importing your Google Reader feeds or randomly searching for key terms, the app itself will suggest feeds based on various subjects, including Windows Phone, Microsoft, food, gaming, politics and more. It's really quite smart as it gets you easily started on using Google Reader right from your device by adding new feeds on the go. Other notable updates in v2.5 include:

  • New: Search articles inside all items, read items or starred items.
  • Around 20-30% faster sync.
  • Beautiful reading experience powered by Readability based on app theme.
  • Send multiple articles to read it later service.
  • Share multiple articles via mail.
  • Disabled https by default for downloading articles.
  • Several bug fixes and improvements.

As usual, it's a fairly significant update which brings a lot to the table and is the perfect app for you news junkies out there. Plus it's Metro UI to the extreme--no chrome here. Pick up Nextgen Reader here in the Marketplace for $2.49 or give the free trial a whirl to see what all the hoopla is about (it has 4.5 starts out of 600+ reviews, so it has to be good).

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Google has just published a new post on the official mobile blog detailing a redesigned Google Search app that is available on the Marketplace, which sports the following features:

  • Google Autocomplete: As you type in your search, our autocomplete feature offers search predictions that often match your intended search term making search entry easier and faster.
  • Voice Search: With our voice feature, you can avoid typing all together. Simply press the microphone and begin speaking your query.
  • My Location: With your permission, Google can use your device location to provide nearby results easily and accurately. For instance, a search for “coffee shops” quickly displays the nearest places you can go to for a cup of coffee.

This is available in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German. Although it appears the app is only available in the U.S. You can download the Google Search app from the Marketplace.

Source: Google

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Although we're fans of Zune (or LastFM) on our Windows Phone, on occasion we get the request for a Google Music (music.google.com/) client. While we're not holding our breath for an official app from Google anytime soon, there's no reason why devs can't do it on their own.

For those who don't know, Google allows you to upload your entire music library to the cloud and gives you the ability to stream anywhere. It's not actually a bad idea as it allows you to backup your collection, free up hard disk space and easily download it again when needed. The service is free for your first 20,000 songs which should get your started (though uploading 20K songs may take some time). [Side note: We're really hoping Microsoft takes SkyDrive + Zune in this direction for Windows Phone 8 and the desktop OS].

Today, Gooroovster is now available on the Windows Phone Marketplace. The app goes for $3.99 which is on the high side but there is of course a free trial. The app has been in private beta for weeks though and initial feedback for the app has been very high, making this seemingly a great solution for those with Google Music as their primary music resource. (Beta testers will be getting one final update very soon to match the released version--kudos to the dev for that).

Allowing you stream via the Zune music player under lockscreen/background and access your entire library, the app is exactly what many have asked for as it even has a very Metro UI. For that, we're giving it our seal of approval.

Give Gooroovster a shot here in the Marketplace and submit feedback and requests via the UserVoice forum.

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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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Google is watching every step you take

With the recent news of Google "streamlining" their privacy policies (Translation: data collected from their various Google services will now be pooled together for better advertising), there has been a bit of a backlash. Scratch that, outside of the bubble that is AndroidCentral, many are calling it the "end of do no evil". Why, just check this Bing News search for "Google" and "Privacy" to see what we mean.

So with that as a background, hearing this song parody from Tampa Bay's Q105 radio made us certainly chuckle. Maybe now is a good time to switch from Google to Live Mail? Speaking of, anyone remember Microsoft's 'Gmail Man' satire?

Source: Q105; via FX Shaw; Google image credit: World Under Watch Blogspot

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The Windows Live team have published an article on the official blog that'll help readers who are possibly considering to switch from Gmail to Hotmail for email and other cloud services. Should you be on the fence about leaving Google, and wish to take up Microsoft to host your e-life, there are only three simple steps you're required to take to achieve this goal.

1. Create a Hotmail account. A Hotmail/Live ID is required (name@hotmail.com/name@live.com) to use the web service, but there is no domain restriction. When signing up for an account (should you not already possess one) you are allowed to use your own personal domain for email.

2. Import your old messages from Gmail. Should you not wish to use an email client to do the job, a service such as TrueSwitch will work wonders moving across from Gmail.

3. Connect your Gmail account. You have now successfully set up your Hotmail account, but one more optional step is available. You can have Hotmail actively retrieve any future messages that you receive on your Gmail account by carrying out the following:

  • b. Click Sending/receiving email from other accounts.
  • c. Click Add an email account.
  • d. Provide your Gmail account details.

Rocking out Hotmail is arguably the best way, should you not be using Exchange of course, for Windows Phone email users, since improvements have been made to the service and it integrates seamlessly with all other Microsoft products.

Source: Windows Team Blog

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Google Analytics is now effectively detecting (and reporting) Windows Phone as a separate operating system to Windows. A few months back (August to be exact) we looked into how Google Analytics was ignoring Windows Phone as an individual OS, which was subsequently naming the mobile platform with "(not set)" when displaying reports to the end-user.

Whether the search giant was taking its time with the implementation to fix this issue, or just playing an irritating game of "we wont support it yet", we have no idea. But fast forward to just over a year since the platform was launched and we now have Google's analytics software picking up our beloved Metro platform (as can be seen in the shot above).

While this doesn't really affect consumers, it's a real pain for webmasters who are interested with reading into which mobile OS is most abound with website traffic. 

Via: WPSauce@ailon

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Microsoft is doing a good job when it comes to light promotion with Brandon Watson offering well known names a free Windows Phone to try out. Now Ben Rudolph is giving away 5 free Windows Phones to unhappy Android owners who can provide the best (or worst) experience story. Android has suffered from Malware and other issues, which Microsoft will not be allowing the platform to get off lightly without attempting to attract unhappy consumers.

Source: Twitter (@BenThePCGuy), via: MobilityDigest, thanks thenet for the tip!

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Though we give Google a lot of flak around here, after all, their "apps" for Windows Phone are basically non-existent (save one lame one), we'll give credit where it is due. Evidently, if you go to Google.com in IE9 on Windows Phone, you get the above screens, part of their continuing "make over" for Windows Phone.

The first prompts you to pin Google Search to your start screen. When tapped, it opens a new "blue" page that is properly formatted to be pinned. You simply select "pin to start" in the menu and it creates a tile.

Sure, we want more from Google on Windows Phone, but you have to admit it's a creative use of the "pin to start" feature for our OS. Heck, we'd like to see more sites adopt this little trick for site promotions, why not?

Thanks, abond32, for the tip!

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You may not be aware of Joe Marini and why this article is being published here when the news is he's at Google, but there's a small story behind it all. Marini used to be at Microsoft as Windows Phone principle manager and was fired for tweeting somewhat negatively about the Nokia Lumia 800. According to a tweet from Marini (yeah we thought the same thing) posted yesterday, the ex-Microsoft employee is now starting a role at Google. 

According to his Twitter profile; "Google Dev Advocate. Mobile Apps & Web, Product Management and Strategy, API platforms, Developer Relations, Community Engagement." Sounds interesting, and he's apparently setting up a blog to explain what exactly happened at the software giant.

Source: Twitter, via: Engadget, LiveSide, thanks Darren for the heads up!

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We may occasionally riff on Google around here due to their Android OS, but there's no doubt many use their search services. And while they have not been the most friendly to our OS, it's still news when they do make something a bit more Windows Phone friendly.

So at least according to their Facebook page, the new Google search page has been reformatted for Windows Phone 7.5, which we take to mean has HTML5 elements on board. While not earth shattering, it does seem a lot nicer (see our screen shot to the right).

Notice anything else? Let us know in comments. Thanks, David W., for the tip!

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We know a few things about about Android: they're ubiquitous, have fragmentation, range from super cheaper to top of the line and now evidently they cost carriers a lot of money in service calls and repairs. Up to $2 billion a year, at least according to a white paper by Wireless Dat Service.

The study looked at over 600,000 support calls to carriers over the last 12 months. The results highlight that 14% of support calls dealing with Android related to hardware repairs whereas Windows Phone 7 came in at 11%. By comparison, BlackBerry was at 5.5% and the iPhone at 7%.

The results are clear: the tighter the grip the OS developer has on the hardware, the more reliable it is. RIM and Apple control their hardware in every which way since they literally design the OS and hardware together. Microsoft certainly has more control with their chassis requirements but ultimately it is up to OEMs like Samsung and HTC to make the device. Google is even more lax with Android, allowing anything and everything to go, hence a little more chaotic.

However, Tim Deluca-Smith, vice president of marketing at WDS does point out that it is because of Android's wild and uninhibited nature that it now commands much of the market, albeit at a price to customers--more hardware failures due to rush to market and less frequent OS updates. On that latter point, the report cites a 2010 study which notes "of 18 Android devices from the US, 10 were at least two major versions behind within their two-year contract period."

Microsoft truly has a middle of the road approach which is giving them more stable hardware and consistent user experience across devices. In addition, major OS updates like Mango seem to be going very well with nearly 50% of current phones already upgraded just five weeks after a slowly expanding rollout.

Perhaps the report will get carriers to reconsider betting everything on Android and look for a more cost-effective and reliable OS like Windows Phone.

Source: WDS (registration req); via Fierce Wireless, After Dawn

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gMaps Pro is our go-to app when we want some Google services on our Windows Phone (since Google is evidently too busy fixing Android to make WP7 apps). We've been waiting on a Mango update for a few weeks now and developer Alexy Strakh has not dissapointed.

New features in v1.12 include:

  • Compass support (shows what direction you're facing)
  • Latitude background agent
  • New bicycle layer
  • Ability to hide buttons on the map
  • Public transportation quick access
  • Contact database access--now you can route a contact's address directly

Having Latitude update automatically in the background is a great addition, finally making this a true Google Latitude app. The compass feature makes it that much more useful (why Bing Maps doesn't do this, we have no idea). So overall, this is a great app that keeps getting better.

You can pick up the ad-free "Pro" version for $1.99 (our choice) here or the ad-supported free version here in the Marketplace.

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T-Mobile, for some reason (we bet they signed something), evidently insists on making Google the default search engine for their phones, including the HTC HD7. It's sort of annoying for many because Bing is actually really good at what it does.

In the Mango update for the HD7 for T-Mobile (in the US at least), users have an extra option under the IE9 settings--basically they get to choose Google as default or switch to Bing, which is migh-tee nice of them, no? Of course, you're probably wondering why the rest of us don't have that option to go in reverse, right? Yeah, we don't know either.

But at least for T-Mo users, feel free to switch back to Bing now and take a shower to wash the ick off. Thanks, Prakash G., for the tip and photo!

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It's a war out there. Whether it be Apple relentlessly kicking HTC and Samsung into the ground, Microsoft going after royalty fees or Nokia taking on the half-eaten Apple it's a kill zone and patents are the centre of attention. Because of the recent acquisition of Motorola (for more patents) by Google and the scale of attack from companies outside the Android castle, many OEMs are looking at alternatives to Google's platform.

The search giant has now purchased 1,023 patents from IBM to help strengthen a defence against future lawsuits attacking Android OEMs (this is in addition to an earlier purchase from IBM in July). Google has transferred nine patents to HTC in the last week for use in a new lawsuit against Apple, which will intensify the patent battle further between the two.

And so it continues...

Via: Bloomberg

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Microsoft today secured a deal from Acer and ViewSonic for licensing patents related to Android IP on both companies' phone offerings as well as ViewSonic's Chrome tablets. Continuing the trend of using their industry-wide licensing deal, Microsoft was able to settle peacefully with both companies, avoiding any sort of litigation, unlike with Motorola who are being sued by Microsoft (and vice versa). From Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft

“We are pleased that Acer is taking advantage of our industry wide licensing program established to help companies address Android’s IP issues. This agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercially reasonable arrangements that address intellectual property.”

What's this mean for Windows Phone? In short, we'll have more licensing money coming in from Android, in addition to Windows Phone, which is a bit funny. And Microsoft continues to put the squeeze on Android OEMs, reminding them that Android is far from free, as Google promises.

Source: Microsoft 1, 2; via: Android Central

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