media

We mentioned the Windows Phone "Ghost Hotel" publicity stunt back on December. At the time, we were a little unclear what exactly the event was, though we surmised it had to do with regular people being a part of some live role-playing/mystery event. Turns out, we were pretty spot on as WP7App.de confirmed with us at the time:

"That windows phone hotel was a PR event where you had to chase ghosts (ghostbusters-style) with an app on a Lumia."

In fact it was more than that as they were basically recreating the classic 1984 movie 'Ghostbusters' but with a Windows Phone twist. The teaser video was fun but now we have a longer video posted by Microsoft Germany that sheds light on the whole Windows Phone-Ghostbuster media event. And it looks like it was a lot of fun.

Well, it is in German and features a lot of QR codes, but you'll get this gist. Once again, kudos to Microsoft and Nokia for another ingenious show.

Source: Microsoft.DE; Thanks, Andrea M., for the link--sounds like you had a great time!

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Continuing the ongoing change in tech-media attitudes (see here, here and here) comes a good read from the folks at Lockergnome, run by Chris Pirillo. Pirillo is one of those guys you either find fascinating or extremely annoying--we're actually in the former camp as we appreciate his geeky observations and dedication to the field, but we digress.

The post, written by Robert Glen Fogarty, deals with a novice's experience with Metro UI specifically on the new Xbox 360 dashboard update. While many of us take Metro for granted, reading the perspective of someone new to it can be quite informative.  Fogarty's take on it is from using the new Netflix app and he seems impressed:

"At long last, the little status bar filled and I was surprised at the very different-from-expected interface that greeted me. At first I was puzzled, and hoped that learning to navigate wasn’t going to be a counter-intuitive experience...As it turned out, everything was just as easy to find as it was with the last design; in fact, I think the new interface utilizes space with better efficiency so that features are more easily accessible than they were before. (In my experience so far, it seems that there’s much less aimless scrolling necessary)."

Pirillo takes on the question “What do you think of Microsoft taking Metro to PCs and Xbox? I would love to know how Metro works with a keyboard and a mouse.” and moves on to the benefit of Microsoft bringing over Kinetcimals, Bing and My Xbox Live to iOS--a controversial move that has left many of you furious at Microsoft. For the record and setting ourselves up for some, ahem, negative feedback, we totally agree with Chris here because lets face it, porting over Kinetimals to iOS is not going to damage Windows Phone.

More importantly, spreading the gospel Metro UI seems to be a much more wise endeavor for Microsoft in the long run. With Xbox 360, Windows 8 and Windows Phone, Metro UI really is more than the sum of its parts. Either way, positive tech-media coverage for Metro UI is a great thing for Microsoft and seems to be a growing trend these days.

Source: Lockergnome

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Next Monday is a big day. First off, there's a mini-press event which we'll be going to, meeting with Microsoft's Andy Lees and Joe Belfiore. Segueing into that is this publicity stunt that Microsoft is evidently doing but not revealing too much about just yet:

"If you live in or around New York City, you might want to find an excuse to wander past Herald Square sometime during the day next Monday—noon would be an especially good time—for a fun surprise we’re putting together. All I can say is we’re bringing Windows Phone to life in a big, big, way. Curious? Stay tuned…."

We think we actually know from an insider what (some) of it involves: If you're familiar with Herald Square, there's a certain historically relevant area that is known for, ahem, displays nearby. Hint, hint...

Well anyways, we'll be there all day covering the event, so don't worry--you'll get some photos and video if needed. And don't forget that night is the Windows Phone party where you can get some drinks, food, see a band and play with some new Winodws Phone hardware. We'll see you there as well.

Source: Windows Phone Blog

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HTC continues to roll out the news apps. Today they released two of them, the first up is Locations: "Save your favorite locations with photo, voice and note. Share your favorite locations to your friends"

The app is quite basic and is basically HTC's Footprints from their Sense days on Windows Mobile. In short, you launch it, it finds your location and then you take a photo. With that pic you can add a category, give it a title, address and add a voice memo. You can then share it via email or messaging. Pretty basic, but kind of cool. You can find that app here in the Marketplace. Mango only.

The second app is a little more robust. Connected Media, which we reported on earlier,  allows you to "View photos and play music on video stored on media servers. You can also send media from your device to networked media players, such as TVs or set top boxes"

Unfortunately, this app requires a newer phone like the Radar or Titan as our Arrive doesn't support DLNA, which is what this uses. C'est la vie. If you still want to try, pick it up here in the Marketplace.

Update: Links fixed

Thanks, @JohnnieXu, for the tip!

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The Smart Phone Zone over at Fox 5 D.C. have just covered the Windows Phone 7 with a quick look at what the platform offers. Dave Wolf, Vice President of Strategy at Cynergy, runs Lauren through the multiple hubs, Xbox Live, apps, the Marketplace and more.

Yes, it's painful to watch the continuous stream of "Windows 7 Phone". Funny how he couldn't wake up the iPhone on first attempt. They also mention how the Samsung Focus out-did the iPhone on AT&T, so when the local mainstream media chooses to cover our platform, it's not all dim and negative - good to see.

Source: Fox 5 D.C., thanks Martin for tipping us!

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HTC Hero running WP7 on Smallville

This is pretty impressive to see, a HTC Hero (my previous Android device prior to WP7) has been spotted on Smallville, why is this important? It's not running Eclair (2.1) but Windows Phone 7.

As you can see in the capture above Lois Lane's contact picture with an obvious WP7 home screen in the background. This device was a powerhouse on Android, to see it on WP7 would be exciting indeed. 

Source: Engadget

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icrosoft are bringing out the guns with their advertising campaign. Gone are the days of the simple "quick and easy so you can get back on with life" and here comes the bragging about the speed of Windows Phone 7 when compared against "Your phone" (targeted at any none WP7 owner). WinRumors have in possession a collection of the adverts in a draft variety, displaying superiority against other OSs in a  range of scenario including viewing your Xbox Live profile, informing your colleagues that you'll be late and getting directions home. What make these beauties special is that once task has been completed, the device handler begins carrying out humorous activities. Be sure to keep a sharp eye open for these commercials to air. What do you  think with first impressions from the drafts above?

Microsoft are bringing out the guns with their advertising campaign. Gone are the days of the simple "quick and easy so you can get back on with life", and here comes bragging about the speed of Windows Phone 7 when compared against "Your phone" (targeted at any none WP7 owner). Speaking on behalf of WP7 owners, this bragging is well deserved.

WinRumors have in possession a collection of the adverts in a draft variety, displaying superiority against other OSs in a range of scenarios including viewing your Xbox Live profile, informing your colleagues that you'll be late to a meeting and getting directions home. What make these beauties special is that once a task has been completed, the device handler begins carrying out humorous activities.

Be sure to keep a sharp eye open for these commercials to air. What do you think with first impressions from the drafts above?

Source: WinRumors;- thanks to reader Simon Hossain

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USA Today will incorporate MS Tags

Starting today, USA Today will start using MS Tags in their print edition to help bring their paper and their digital content closer together.  Readers will now be able to scan the tags using MS Tag Reader and be directed to digital content including videos, picture galleries, financial and sports info, etc.  A press release stated that the paper will feature "at least one" MS Tag per issue.

We’re excited that USA TODAY is using Tag to engage with readers in a more interactive way,” said Bill McQuain, director of Tag Product Management at Microsoft Corp. “Microsoft Tag makes the world around you clickable, and now with the scan of Tag, customers will get a richer, more enhanced experience from the pages of the newspaper.

Microsoft has already released over 2 billion of the codes for a multitude of products, publications, studios and networks

Source: USA Today; via: WinRumors

 

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Mediaroom is Microsoft's official IPTV streaming option and it provides a lot of media ability--in fact Mediaroom 2.0 was just announced at CES and offers "...whole-home digital video recording, on-demand capabilities, access to both operator-hosted content and Internet TV, and interactive applications.". It's like AT&T's U-verse but better.

Or Google TV but not full of fail.

As Microsoft slowly but steadily continues to merge all of their properties into one (Xbox 360, Mediaroom, Windows Phone 7, Zune, SkyDrive, Office, LIVE services, etc.) it only makes sense that they would be working on a way to take Mediaroom 2.x and integrate on Windows Phone 7 in some official capacity. Indeed, according to Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet, that is what project 'Rome' is all about.

Supposedly Roz Ho, who worked on "Project Pink" aka KIN is involved on the Mediaroom/Rome project which looks to bring all of Microsoft's media capabilities into one offering: Xbox 360, Mediacenter PC, Windows Phone, etc. hence the name 'Rome' as all roads lead to it.

No word on planned release time frame, but we're thinking that second big update aka 'Mango', later this year, may be a good time.

Source: ZDNet; via electronista; Thanks, Enzo, for the tip

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Although HTC users get to use a pretty solid (and free) mobile YouTube application that even handles HQ videos, the rest of us are left on the sidelines for some 3rd party developer. Luckily, one has come forward: SWFlight and their app called RealTube which fetches for $1.99 in the Marketplace. The app basically converts Flash to Silverlight. Smart.

The app is in some ways better than HTC's since it is not bound just by YouTube, but rather can play all sorts of videos found on the internet: MSN, MySpace, FunnyorDie, CNN, DailyMotion, etc all in HD (when over WiFi). The app also works over 3G for those on go. It does lack full YouTube integration, so managing your account of favorites and sharing seems like a no-go too, plus if someone sends you a link, it won't open RealTube (no file association). Still, despite the obvious limitations, video quality is quite high and the search works pretty well, even allowing filters.[Edit: Although I didn't know how to in the video, to get results from a specific web site, "...add the phrase site: to your search, for example: crazy cats site:funnyordie.com"]

While $1.99 is a bit pricey, the free trial at least lets you take it for a test drive (the trial is fully functional for a generous 15 days) and for you video hounds out there, this seems to be a solid solution, especially for a v1.0.  Grab the app here on your phone or Zune desktop.

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Spotify is now available for Windows Phones running Windows Mobile 6 and higher. The popular European music app allows users to stream music to their device from a music library of 10 million tracks.

Spotify's features include:

  • Listen to millions of tracks with Spotify’s constantly updated catalogue
  • Stream over WiFi or 2.5/3G
  • Listen to tracks and albums in their entirety. Rewind, fast-forward, pause, skip and shuffle
  • Continue to run Spotify in the background while texting, making calls, web browsing etc
  • Playlists can be downloaded and played in offline mode when you have no connection, are on a plane or underground, or abroad
  • Wirelessly sync your local files to your phone
  • On-the-fly sync - every track you add to a playlist appears instantly on mobile and computer
  • Starred tracks - tag all your favourites into a special list

You can download the app by pointing your mobile browser to m.spotify.com or visit the Spotify website.  Presently, Spotify is only available in parts of Europe with hopes that it will become available in the U.S. shortly.  Spotify will also be available for Windows Phone 7 sometime after launch. 

via: winmobile.se

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We're not too familiar with the AT&T U-verse cable TV and high speed internet service, but we imagine it's a lot like the more prominent Verizon FiOS.

The good news for U-verse subscribers is that you'll have the ability to stream your media content right from your Mediaroom DVR box (we're assuming that you have one of course). That's because Microsoft and AT&T will have a mobile client on or near launch that will support AT&T's system for Windows Phone 7, which should make many media-hungry folks quite pleased.

Exact details and features are not known at this time as it is expected that AT&T will have their own custom version of the software, setup to their requirements.

That AT&T "premier carrier for WP7" thing is starting to make a little more sense. So who's going to be watching "Jersey Shore" on the way to work in the morning, eh? Eh?

[via iStartedSomething & MobileCrunch]

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Windows Phone 7 audio & media codecs


File this under "old, but we missed it" and since s2gordon asked about them in comments yesterday, figured we'd answer...

We're going to leave this to you folks to determine if this list of officially supported audio and video codecs in Windows Phone 7 is a good thing/bad thing, since to be honest we're not aficionados in that area.

Our off-the-cuff first take? It's basic and expected. Nothing extraordinary. 

Full list of WP7 codecs after the break.

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Bing + Zune = happiness

For those who don't know, the Zune Marketplace went offline today and users were only given a few hours notice. As of this writing, they're still offline (6pm) and it could take all night before they're done.

But done doing what? That's the cryptic part here as there was no pre-announcement, but as ZDNet did some digging, they found out that Microsoft is arranging a marriage between Bing and Zune.

In fact, you can kind of see it working now. Go to Bing.com, search for your favorite band and you'll get a bunch of info on them plus songs which can be played (see the little 'play' button?). Of course it doesn't stream right now and instead you get the image to the right, but we think by late tonight it'll be a different story.

Nice to see Microsoft taking Zune to the next level and putting these two services together, it just makes sense. To what extent though these features overlap remains to be seen. It would be nice to have a Bing search launch my Zune software and add it directly to my Zune HD or, come November, my Xbox and Windows Phone 7.

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Looks like some major software development for Windows phone is still going on, as those Swedish developers of 'Spotify' plan to have a full fledged Windows Mobile by next month.

Spotify is quite popular in Europe already and for those who are unfamiliar, its a bit similar to the GrooveShark service: users are allowed to stream music to their device, but instead of Spotify hosting the music files themselves, it relies on a peer-to-peer model. So perhaps it's more like Limewire but without the permanent status.

Reportedly it looks great on a 480x800 device and has the following features:

  • Offline mode
  • Save offline audio files to phone, or storage card
  • Multi resolution support
  • Multitasking support – Yes you can run Spotify in the background and play Bubble breaker at the same time

Sounds good to us. We'll keep you posted on the release and have a review to boot. Oh and one downside? So far Spotify has yet to launch here in the States, so the availability of this program and service...well it may be limited unless you use some proxy-trickery.

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One of the more interesting and useful apps in development for Windows Phone 7 is "My MediaCenter Remote" which integrates with the Windows Media Center (an under-rated features of Windows 7). Well, it's useful if you don't want to splurge $10 for a physical remote, ya cheapskate.

The latest version by dgaust is near beta, although like other developers he's anxiously awaiting a physical device to actually run it on. The features so far completed are as follows:

  • View and play Recorded TV - done
  • View and play back tv stored by myTV - done
  • View music, and create album playlists - done
  • Remote control media centre - done

What's left is tweaking up some of the graphics, which are a bit dull or just missing at this point (placeholders). Overall though, considering we are still six months from the release of WP7, it's nice to know we should have some advanced media center functionality right out the gate. But we can't help but wish this could actually stream our content instead of just being a remote for it.

Check out the full video of the program's UI in action after the break

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Okay you TV watching fanatics, while Hulu may have lost The Daily Show/Colbert Report recnetly, it looks like somehow they are now allowing the Skyfire browser to stream videos.

Or perhaps it is vice-versa, we'll probably never know. (See Skyfire's earlier explanation to the community).

Either way, if you load up the latest version of Skyfire and head to hulu.com, you can now stream your heart away. We just tried it ourselves and we can confirm 100% (see above screens shot).

So there, you folks happy yet?

Update: And thou taketh away. Looks like it was just an error on Hulu's part as mobile streaming, once again, is dead in the water. Such teases. Thanks to everyone for sending this in.

[Thanks Scott, via everythingWM]

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For those fed up with the glacial movement of Pandora on the Windows phone platform, a new alternative has hit the streets: Slacker Radio.

Showing up on various forums, the .cab and service is actually very, very polished. It is the official version, but SlackerRadio themselves have not published it on their site yet.

No compromises here as you get album images, lyrics, band bio, reviews and a wide selection of music to choose from.  Audio quality is also extremely good, trouncing Pandora's 64kb stream. Plus they got that whole "let me power off the screen without disrupting the stream" thing. 

Two negative's we've noticed: landscape support is not there and we've had a few songs cut out towards the end for some reason (not uncommon with Pandora either). 

Of course, there is the free "basic" version which limits you to something like 6-skips per hour while the program steers you towards the "full" version with upgrade notices in parts.  Likewise, you don't get all those lyric bonuses in the free version.

If you want the subscription, it's $4.99 per month (on a month-to-month basis) or $3.99 a month on a 12-month plan (billed monthly). You can also try out the subscription for 7 days for free.  We suppose if streaming is your thing it's not a bad deal: the quality of the product is quite top notch. If you just like streaming your own music (as opposed to the jukebox, random streaming), give nanoGroove a shot.

Grab the file at XDA or scan the MS Tag below to automatically download it.

Edit: Whoops!  And just as fast Slacker Radio has remotely pulled the plug. The app currently doesn't work and we have to wait for the fine folks at Slacker Radio to drop this app "officially".  Sigh. [Here's their official reasoning]

   

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Confession: we've never heard of Syncables, so being they are now on version 6.0  is a big surprise to us. 

Evidently it is software that allows seamless syncing of media (and additionally contacts, email, bookmarks) between your PC, laptop and Windows phone.  In doing so,  it will auto-adjust the media for your phone to save space/optimize playback.  It also has (buzz word!) social-networking support.

The software looks nice enough though it is a bit pricey to do what is technically already possible with Windows Mobile Device Center/Windows Media Player, albeit much more streamlined with the former:

  • Syncables 360 - Standard Edition – single OS version for syncing media and files between Windows, Mac or Linux computers. License to syn c 2 computers. Price - $29.99
  • Syncables 360 - Premium Edition – multi-OS syncing of media, files, email, contacts and browser bookmarks with, and between, Windows, Mac and Linux computers. Includes syncing of media to and from Windows PCs and Blackberry or Windows Mobile phones. License to sync 3 computers. Price - $49.99; upgrade price - $39.99
  • Syncables 360 - Home Network Edition – Syncables 360 Premium functions w ith a license to sync up to 5 computers. Price - $69.99; upgrade price - $49.99

So anyone out there actually using this?  Should we give it a go and review here at WMExperts or are all of you too advanced for such a thing?  Hit us up in comments or Twitter.

[Syncables 6.0 Press Release]

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Who'd have thunk it, huh? HTC, which for years worked patiently behind the scenes making some of the best Windows phones out there, is running its own commercial. OK, sure, that's the Sprint Hero it's pimping, too (has the whole world gone Sprint?!?!), but let's face it: The TouchFLO 3D/Sense UI is one of the more recognizable UIs out there that doesn't include a boring grid of icons (zing!). We'll gladly rule the world alongside Android. The geek shall inherit the Earth.

Full presser on the push after the break.

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