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Verizon HTC 8X (L) and the Nokia Lumia 822 (R)

As we get closer and closer to the big Windows Phone 8 reveal on Monday, some more tidbits are coming out about Verizon.

In this case, a tipster sent us these lovely photos of the HTC 8X (in “California Blue”) and the all-white Lumia 822, a phone of which we have never seen “real” photos of before but only a render in white. Personally, we think the device looks darn good in white and is a better choice than black (the other color it comes in).

Other info: the tipster confirms the leaked prices we had from earlier in the week. The Lumia 822 will be $99 on contract while the HTC 8X will go for $199—substantially more, but worth it for some due to its eye-catching looks and higher specs.

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We have had a few of you send in photos from around the US today showing some MS Stores opening and sure enough, there are some crowds.

While none of it touches New York City and Times Square, it’s a good sign that quite a few people are interested in the Surface. And those kiosks seem like a great way to intercept people traversing stores in the mall.

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Revealed - The Verizon Nokia Lumia 822

Looks like there is not too much mystery left to discern from the Verizon Nokia Lumia 822. Images have now leaked out of the device showing a rounded 820 in black with a 800x480 display and an 8MP camera. Of course LTE is on board too, which should make users happy but should be expected.

The device certainly looks sharp but as we're sure we'll hear in comments, it's not the coveted Lumia 920. 

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The HTC 8S in blue

Now that the HTC 8S has been announced, we figured we would give you folks some high resolution photos to gawk at--that is until our video hands on follows this post.

The HTC 8S may not impress those who are fixated on specs, but make no mistake, the device is a looker. We happen to think HTC is on to something here with these two-tone designs and punchy colors.

But enough, talk. We'll let the device with a 4" display and 1GHz dual-core CPU speak for itself.

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The HTC 8X featuring Beats Audio

Today with the announcement of the HTC 8X with Windows Phone 8, we figured we inundate you with a barrage of hands-on-photos of the beautiful and stylish new devices.

Personally, we're smitten with the Limelight Yellow and California Blue colors, which match their Accent colors perfectly. While The 8X may lack some of the more 'wow' hardware of Nokia's Lumia 920, we're nothing short of impressed with the look of these devices: they're simply gorgeous.

Light to the touch, soft-touch paint, unibody design and a smooth, rounded display? What's not to love. Check out our high resolution photos after the break...

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One of the new Nokia devices running Windows Phone 8

Earlier we saw some renders of the supposed Lumia 820 and now it looks like we have another contender to deal with as numerous real photos have been passed on.

Showing with OS version 8.0.09735.09, the device being handled looks to be a real enough and bares resemblance to the 'Phi' we've seen previously though sources say this is the '820'. It is currently not known if the devices are one and the same or different.

The prototype device sports the now common button layout in keeping with the Lumia 800 and 900 but with the new Windows Phone 8 logo near the bottom...

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Windows Phone App Review: Metro.am

While there is not an Instagram app for our Windows Phone, there are a few client apps available. One such is Metro.am.

Metro.am does a good job delivering Instagram content to your Windows Phone but does feel a little lacking. Lacking because of the inability to sign up for an Instagram account or post images to your Instagram account. And it's not the developers fault for overlooking these features. You can blame the Instagram API restrictions.

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The new SkyDrive login screen

Two weeks ago Hotmail became Outlook.com with a new Metro…errr..modern look to it and now it is finally time for SkyDrive to get the same makeover.

Heading to www.skydrive.com you can see the new site redesign (log out and refresh if you are not seeing it) that brings it up to par with the Windows 8, Windows Phone and Outlook’s new appearance. And yes, Microsoft is not calling it Metro but rather are using ‘modern’ instead—take that as you will.

Besides the new look, SkyDrive also gets some new features on board including instant search, contextual toolbar, thumbnail multi-select, drag-and-drop organization, and HTML5 sorting which should make the service is more fun to use.

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Can it be improved? Yes it can.

If you’re a regular reader (and listener) of this site you know by now that myself and fellow camera-enthusiast George Ponder have been…harsh…on the AT&T Nokia Lumia 900’s camera.  We rated it as one of the worst we’ve used in quite some time (though not as bad as Dell’s) and it often prevents us from using the phone as our daily driver. The Titan II though easily blows us away.

We’ve staked our position that it’s the hardware that is the problem on the 900 and while we still believe that to be the case it does appear Nokia has finally figured out how to best optimize its software. Of course we’re talking about the un-released Tango OS and firmware update which we detailed yesterday.

For the last 24 hours we’ve been pouring over the camera, snapping pictures in different environments and we have come to this conclusion: this update dramatically fixes the Lumia 900’s camera…

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Uploading photos from your Windows Phone to SkyDrive can be a pain, especially since full resolution photos are resized when sent to the cloud. This is presumably due to Microsoft taking measures to optimise transfer for those on tight data plans who may not be connected to a WiFi network. While perfectly understandable, it would make sense to have this option in the Windows Phone settings for the user to configure how they'd like their photos uploaded to their SkyDrive account.

For now there's a workaround of sorts. Unfortunately a Windows PC is required with Zune installed, sporting an active Internet connection, and of course the native SkyDrive client for Windows. Luckily, Microsoft has developed sturdy software enabling Windows users to access and synchronise their SkyDrive storage locally with a smart folder set on their machine. This is what we'll be using through Zune to automatically upload photos from the Windows Phone to the cloud.

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Photo Lock now a freebie on the Marketplace

If you need a way to password protect the images and videos on your Windows Phone, take a gander at Photo Lock. Now is a great time to give the app a try because it's now a free app.  The price reduction (the app is normally $.99) is in celebration of Photo Lock reaching 65,000 downloads.  The free offer is good through August 10, 2012.

What is Photo Lock you ask?  It is an app that will let you securely store images and videos on your Windows Phone.  Photo Lock also includes basic editing tools and the ability to record video footage from the app.

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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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Windows Phone App Review - Smartest Eraser

Smartest Eraser is a photo editing app for your Windows Phone that helps clean up unwanted objects that snuck into your photos. Such as tree limbs, ex-boyfriends, bratty little brothers, a foot and any other item that just doesn't belong. The concept of removing unwanted objects (or subjects) from your pictures can be appealing and a useful tool.

But how smart is the Smartest Eraser?  We took it out for a test drive and while the app has potential, there is still a bit of room for improvement.

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We're almost at the point where we're going to start leaving flowers at the grave of the poor Sony Ericsson (now Sony Mobile) Jolie Windows Phone, which has had prototypes circulating throughout the web for a good number of months now. We last looked at the black version of "Jolie" when a hands-on video was published on YouTube.

Back to the white / silver version, and an owner of said Windows Phone has sent in some more photos to Windows Phone Italy. Not only does the slide-out keyboard look inviting, the overall look and design of the device itself is unique, compared to the Windows Phones we had when the platform launched almost two years ago.

It's a shame that such a stunning 2010-esque Windows Phone simply never came to be. But the tractor beams installed on the Android mothership appeared to be too advanced for Microsoft to best (and too expensive to acquire), which led to Sony ditching Windows Phone for the green droid. Check out some more shots after the break.

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A few weeks ago we reported on Aviary releasing their SDK for Windows Phone, allowing developers with little effort to plug in the company’s photo editing suite into any application out there. Rowi was one of the first to do this, allowing its users to quickly do sophisticated photo edits without ever leaving the popular Twitter app.

Today, Aviary has released Photo Genius, a standalone version of those tools for all Windows Phone users. The app is a “demonstration” one meaning it’s meant to show off what Aviary can do but for you all that means is you get an awesome, full featured photo editing program for your phone.

The app behaves like the “Auto Fix” feature built into Windows Phone. It analyzes a selected photo and then recommends a sweeping set of changes which you can enable with a quick “checkmark”. You can then compare the before and after images with a simple toggle, allowing you to see if you like the modifications.

If you don’t like the alterations or want to do more, you can hit the “Edit” button and load up Aviary’s full set of photo manipulation tools. Such tools include controls for brightness, contrast, sharpness, cropping, rotation, red-eye fix, filters, stickers and more—it really has it all.

Once you’re done you can just hit the “Save” icon and that’s it and you have your fully edited photo.

Overall, Aviary Photo Genius is a great little app. It’s “smart” and has a ton of features on board, allowing you to really control every aspect of how your photo looks. It is a big sluggish on loading photos initially (in the gallery) but once you’re up, it works just like any other app.

Pick up Aviary Photo Genius for all Windows Phones here in the Marketplace for free. And read more on the app release here on Aviary's blog.

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Windows Phone App Review: Photo Light

Nope. The Windows Phone app Photo Light isn't a flashlight app to use when taking pictures. It's a lite photo editor for your Windows Phone that isn't too shabby.

The main menu of Photo Light has five tiles that give you options to load an existing image from your Pictures Hub, launch your camera to capture a new image to edit, display the EXIF file information on images, access the app's settings and view the About screen.

Just a quick note about the EXIF information is that not only will Photo Light display the data contained in the image's EXIF file but it will also map it out if GPS data is present. For those not familiar, the EXIF file is short for Exchangeable Image File that is a metadata file that contains all the information your camera collects as it takes a picture. The amount of information varies from camera to camera but in general, the EXIF will contain camera settings, image size, date/time taken, and more.

Now back to Photo Light.

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Looks like Nokia was sitting on the release of Camera Extras & Play Now for its Lumia phones as you can now go ahead and download both apps from the Nokia Collection.

Camera Extras is what it sounds like, yet another camera app from the Finnish company that adds a lot of unique features to hopefully improve some of those pics. Features include:

  • Smart Group Shot - automatically selects faces, lets you create the perfect picture
  • Panorama - takes  numerous photos and stitches them together
  • Action Shot - rapidly takes photos
  • Self timer - 10 second countdown

The app downloads as a separate program but it does integrate into the camera module meaning you can just quickly load the whole thing by hitting your dedicated camera button. Overall, the features are pretty good and we think many of you will enjoy the new additions. Nokia may be late to the game but they often get it right in the end.

Next up is Play To, Nokia's DLNA app which has finally made it to their Collection. Allowing you to "stream" your Music, Photos and Videos to any DLNA capable device e.g. your TV, the app is a great way to show off your photos to friends and family.

The system auto searches for any DLNA devices over WiFi such as BluRay Players, PCs and more. We don't have one in house so can't test it, we'll leave that to you for now.

Note: For both apps it says you may need the latest update for your phone in order to work--that would be Windows Phone "Tango" (8773) for some of you or Nokia's latest firmware for others. Things like DLNA require some "ground work" done by Nokia in their firmware to be installed so if you can't install these apps or you don't get all of their features, you may have to wait till you get a phone update first.

If not available in your Market (It appears to be US, China and Inida right now) stay tuned as Nokia is rolling these throughout  July.

Pick up Camera Extras here and Play To here in the Nokia Collection. Thanks, CaliforniaDrew, for the heads up

    

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Microsoft's booth at E3 was massive

Now that we're home from the fray of E3 2012 and seeing as we now have working internet (shakes fist), we figured we would show you some of our photos from Microsoft's presence at the giant gaming and entertainment conference.

Needless to say, Microsoft had one of the largest and most busy sections at of the whole conference. For instance had you wanted to try the Halo 4 demo you would have had to wait 2.5 hours in line just to get a shot. Yowza.

 

Life size replica of the Halo Warthog

And yes as you can see after the break in our photo gallery, Windows Phone was there too. No, it didn't dominate but it was certainly there and people were playing with the Xbox LIVE games and seemed to enjoy the experience. Mobile in general at E3 is still a very tiny percentage of the conference, regardless of platform. But every year it grows a bit more and so far, the majority of those games are on iOS.

Here's hoping to Windows Phone 8 and E3 2013!

Check out our complete photo gallery after the break. (Maybe later we'll post some non-Microsoft shots as there were some very cool displays)

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