location

Nokia is on an updating roll this morning. The company has pushed out a new version of HERE Drive to the Windows Phone Store, introducing a batch of new features. If you find yourself looking around for your car often, or wish to view a list of turn-by-turn directions from any given route, this update is for you. But wait, there's more.

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LockMapper is an interesting app that allows you work some magic with your current location. The app has been published in India through the Nokia Collection, but for the rest of the world there was a waiting game until we were also able to download. Luckily, the developer has got in touch with us to reveal that an official International version has been published on the Windows Phone Store. 

Found yourself wanting to try out LockMapper? Now's your chance.

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PlaceCam is a photo editing app for your Windows Phone that lets you add a location and hashtag to your images. You have four templates to choose from to overlay your location and hashtag and a handful of font color and font options to help customize your tags.

While PlaceCam lacks any traditional editing tools (brightness, contrast, effects filters, etc.) it is a "no sweat" way to label and tag your images.  I can see it being a handy photography app to have on your Windows Phone.

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Nokia has gone into some detail about how the company uses anonymous data collection from consumers who utilise its location services to help improve the overall HERE experience offered. A number of data sources are relied upon to maintain and update mapping, as well as innovative tools that can detect changes and trigger action points. Sounds like the creation of the Matrix, right?

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The Windows Phone 8 app Location Finder is an simple app to find, save and share your current location.

The app was recently updated to version 2.0 to bring a whole slew of Windows Phone 8 features including enhanced voice commands and fast app resume. We decided to a look at things and found Location Finder to be a handy Windows Phone 8 app to record everything from campsite locations to where you parked your car at the mall to sharing locations with friends/family.

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Nokia have had this one baking in the labs for some time but there still seems no sign that it’s about to leave beta and be made publicly available to all. The app and accompanying service bills itself as “Messaging, now with location”.

Nokia Pulse and its documentation do not seem to have been updated with any changes but essentially it looks as though the bump was to bring it to Windows Phone, as was previously reported.

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Nokia have firmly established themselves as a major player in the Windows Phone market. Their devices have been consistently regarded well and their marketing efforts have seen them establish ‘Lumia’ as a powerful and recognisable brand in its own right.

With the advent of Windows Phone 8 we saw Nokia strive to produce the definitive ‘hero’ device of this generation. The Lumia 920 packs some serious specs and for some it’s seen to be the best device of this current crop of phones. It isn’t all about the speeds and feeds, it’s about a cohesive package consisting of exclusive apps, hardware and of course Windows Phone 8.

We've previously reviewed the Lumia 920, which is well worth checking out for the in-depth analysis, but it is from this perspective I’m going to look at how successful it really is.

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Yesterday we saw a whole heap of information presented by Nokia covering hardware and services, with so much to get through some things were only touched upon. One such area was of Nokia’s plans for maps and directions. We’d previously covered Nokia’s goal to maintain leadership in location so this segment was of great interest.

During the keynote a much clearer insight into their plans for their location based apps coming in Windows Phone 8 was provided, and we think there will be some exciting advances heading to the platform. Indoor Maps, tighter integration of their current mapping apps and augmented reality improvements are all on the way.

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Thrill seekers, rejoice!

Nokia keeps trucking along with their exclusive apps and the latest coming in the form of their exceptionally well done official Six Flags tool.

The update found in version 1.26 just went live in the Nokia Collection and it has some added new features in addition to what appear to be standard performance enhancements (the app feels less sluggish to us now).

The two new additions we saw right away were on the Menu screen near the bottom: day planner and family locator.

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Nokia has announced today a big link up with more than twenty tech firms to create an In-Location Alliance.  The Alliance was created to advance efforts to promotion of a new standard-based short-range wireless technology that will make it possible to locate objects or positions indoors with extremely high accuracy using mobile devices.

Remember our article about Nokia becoming the Where platform? Well, this just shows how serious Nokia is about this technology. Navigation outside has become something we take for granted, the next big step is high accuracy location inside. There are a number of hurdles to overcome and Nokia is doing the right thing here and establishing an alliance to get things moving. The potential applications for this type of location-based services are likely even more far reaching than its outside variant.

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We had a chance to sit down and chat with Thom Brenner, Vice President of Location and Commerce for Nokia and Pino Bonetti who writes about location on the Nokia Conversations blog. We wanted to hear what Nokia are planning for the future with its location services, which the company has touted as its main focus and differentiator for Windows Phone.

Being number one in location and mapping is not anything new to Nokia as they have been at this game for many years, ever since they purchased NAVTEQ back in 2007 for a reported $8.1B. Their services power products from Microsoft, Yahoo, Flickr and four out of five cars on the road today use Nokia mapping technology. Nokia have announced their intention to be the “where” company, making location services the very heart of what they do.

Mapping and location are set to get a big boost from this drive, as Windows Phone users we will be pole position to see some of those fantastic innovations.

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Although the day is winding down, we’re still going through the leaked Windows Phone 8 SDK from early this morning. We’re finding some smaller nuggets which aren’t ‘wow’ worthy in of themselves but they are certainly worth a mention, especially since they do add some significant new features to the Windows Phone experience.

We must stress—these are still not the new ‘consumer’ features for Windows Phone 8 which Microsoft has yet to reveal. These are simply more tools for developers to give them more options and features for their apps. These APIs take a long time to write and document which is why SDKs take time to build before going public.

So what are some of these new options for devs?

  • Background location-tracking for apps
  • More refined search for apps in the Marketplace
  • Custom contact store with cloud sync
  • Media library access for devs
  • Networking enhancements
  • Right to Left (RTL) language support
  • Media codec support and stats

Head past the break for some more details including snippets from the SDK itself…

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Nokia have just announced an update on how they are progressing with their Destination Maps product. The aim with the initiative is to provide an additional layer of mapping data where it makes sense. In this case Nokia are essentially aiming for Shopping Malls, Airports and other large scale public spaces. The rate at which they are adding these internal spaces is impressive, now boasting 4605 venues in 38 countries. 

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It was only late last year that we covered the news of Chaos Created, a UK based studio, asking for volunteers in and around London to dress up as zombies and act out in footage for their upcoming Windows Phone title, Zombies Ate My City. The game has now been released onto the Marketplace and is available for... wait for it... absolutely nothing ($0 / £0).

So what is Zombies Ate My City all about? It's a 'transmedia' title that is part movie, part game, part augmented reality and part location discovery. A real mixup, which is unique to Windows Phone and is also a platform exclusive. You're tasked with heading to different locations using Bing Maps, much like Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst, and defend the area from zombies. Achievements are unlock-able as well as more powerful weaponry.

Windows Phone UK caught up with Ali Maggs, co-creator and programmer of the game:

"It was important to us to take advantage of Windows Phone’s software, weaving the game’s storyline around the capabilities of the platform.  Windows Phone is perfect for us because all the phones out there have the same capabilities.

One of the things we will be doing in the Summer is building out a web based app, built on Bing maps, that will allow users to unlock new locations, such as landmarks, for Windows Phone players to then discover and defend.  We want to make the experience as transmedia as possible, where we tell different parts of the story on different platforms in different ways."

You can download Zombies Ate My City from the Marketplace for absolutely nothing at all. While the game itself is free, should you wish to support further development then be sure to check out the ZAMC Theme Pack app that contains a handful of ringtones and wallpapers for £0.79 ($0.99).

Via: Windows Phone UK

          

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Microsoft has updated the how-to section of the official Windows Phone website to include a small tip regarding when location based services are currently active. A small indicator (see above image) will be included in a future update, which be displayed with the other disappearing status indicators that will alert the user as to when apps are using the phone's location.

Microsoft informed The Verge that the update will be included with handsets shipping with Windows Phone "Tango" with existing devices receiving the update once the company has finalised the update with carriers.

"After the new devices are out, we’ll start the process of working with mobile operators to bring an update to current customers. It’ll be a few months before we have specifics on that roll out,

Just how long existing consumers will have to wait for the update hasn't been specified, but it's a positive move to fight privacy concerns. We could well see the update including this location indicator being bundled with the new features in "Tango" for Mango users.

Source: Microsoft, via: The Verge@WPUG

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Windows Phone App Review: Save my Spot!

If you've ever had trouble remember where you saw something you need Save My Spot! for your Windows Phone. Save My Spot! allows you to record the GPS coordinates of the spot you need help remembering, add tons of descriptive information on the spot, and helps track you back when the need arises.

Save My Spot! is a simple, effective way to tag favorite locations or spots. It is a handy Windows Phone app to record where you've been and help you remember how to get back there again.

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If you've downloaded an app from the Marketplace in the last few hours, you may have received the above pop-up screen before being allowed to continue. The "accept" part is for a new end-user licensing agreements (EULA) that seems to address the user-location tracking controversy that erupted a few weeks ago with a lawsuit. In that filing, it was alleged Microsoft was collecting user data without user consent. Microsoft at first hedged but later admitted that yes, there was a bug which sent user data before they had a chance to accept or opt-out of the location collection.

That bug was of course eliminated with the Mango update but there persisted another bug in the People Hub which is still present. That bug is set to be fixed in a later software refresh, presumably Tango. In the meantime, Microsoft is spelling all of this out in the new updated EULA where they tell us they are not using the data nefariously and how important our information is to them, yadda yadda.

The document is itself nearly 19 pages of text that explains how specific parts of the OS work when collecting data--what is being sent, can you be identified ("no"), why the information is being sent.  They do this for email, internet, Office, Phone Feedback, People Hub, Facebook, Phone Update, Pictures Hub, etc. After explaining, Microsoft then shows you how to opt out or better control what information is being sent out--it's a pretty good guide, albeit a bit dry and lengthy.

What we quickly learn is wow, a lot of info is being sent to Microsoft and it'd take awhile to turn off. But we also learn that information cannot be used to track you, identify you or reveal personal information. In light of the Carrier IQ controversy, Microsoft seems to be showing all of their cards on the matter. Of course, only you know what you are comfortable with so head on over to the new EULA, read through it and you can decide your course of action: Windows Phone Privacy Statement.

Big thanks to Brandon H. for the photo and link!

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Radar - Mango App Spotlight

Ever forget where you parked your car? How about where your hotel is? Radar is a Windows Phone app that is designed to help you find your way back to locations such as where you parked your car. The app taps into your Windows Phone compass and GPS to tag these locations and track you back to them. No data connection is required.

Radar's layout is simple with a page for the radar display and a page to tag your return locations or targets. The Radar Page is basically a compass that will display the return direction to get back to your location.  There are three preset tags available on the Targets Page and all three can be in use at the same time. You have tags for your car, hotel and custom location (can be anything) that will place a corresponding icon on the radar screen.

To set a location, simply tap on the location title on the Target Page. To cancel or reset the location, tap again to stop the tracking service.  As you move away from the tagged location, the distance from that point is displayed on the Radar and Target pages.

Radar is a Mango App that has the fast resume feature and will remember your tagged locations when not running. There is live tile support that will show how many targets are active from the live tile.

In taking Radar out for a brief test drive I found it to be accurate with regards to the distance from and direction to my tagged location. Radar is a very basic track back app and some may prefer having a map overlay to help guide them in the right direction. The advantage of not having a map overlay means you don't need a data connection or a heavy download to store the maps on board.

All in all, Radar isn't a bad choice if you need a simple track back application for your Windows Phone. I can see it coming in handy over the Holiday Season when you go shopping and need to remember where you parked your car at the local mall. Or when traveling and need to remember where you parked your car at the airport.

Radar is running $.99 over at the Windows Phone Marketplace (no trial version available) and you can download it here.

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Facebook's dormant Places service axed

Facebook has finally killed Places, the seemingly dead check in service that's remained fairly inactive for sometime. It's available in the Facebook for Windows Phone app so what happens to users? Well, we have Foursquare of course, but if you don't use the service or another competitor there might be another option.

We recently covered Microsoft's We're In service which resembles Foursquare and this could well become an integrated answer for a large portion of WP7 owners. Unfortunately, for the time being it's only available to the U.S. and Israel.

On a personal note: my girlfriend uses Facebook Places quite a bit (only checking in), especially when she's in the UK. I've still not fully understood the concept behind letting everyone knowing where I am. If I look up nearby places I get the typical teenage act cool entries including "my bed (:", "cinema wiv sexy bf" and "sofa!!!!!". Surely we should be able to moderate entries in some way, I mean who's going to check into someone else's bed, sofa or cinema with the sexy boyfriend?

Via: Gizmodo and thanks to Ghost for the tip!

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Microsoft has recently made changes to its geographic location service, which we reported on not so long ago as having a lack of safeguards and a privacy flaw. Elie Bursztein, a researcher at Stanford University, created a web page that allowed visitors to search the database at Live.com for locations using device MAC addresses.

Reid Kuhn, a Partner Group Program Manager on the Windows Phone engineering team, made the announcement today over at Technet and stated that while it was not possible to track a roaming mobile phone or laptop using its MAC address, they aware of the fine line Microsoft was treading on with regards to privacy issues surrounding geolocation.

"Microsoft's privacy and security team has been in contact with Elie and we will continue the ongoing dialog with experts in the privacy field to improve our service offerings. We thank Elie and his team for working with us on this issue."

Kudos to Microsoft in taking measures to address the issue head on.

Source: Microsoft, via: WinRumors

Microsoft's privacy and security team has been in contact with Elie and we will continue the ongoing dialog with experts in the privacy field to improve our service offerings.  We thank Elie and his team for working with us on this issue.
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