SMS

Going a step further on its fight against fraudulent premium SMS charges, T-Mobile will now start proactively notifying customers of unauthorized billing of premium SMS to their account. Although customers could previously request refunds for any unknown charge on their bill, this proactive approach of identifying premium SMS scams that weren't refunded goes a step further.

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While leading messaging apps like WhatsApp are ubiquitous now and the new ones like Telegram are gaining traction, there are still a zillion texts sent out every day.

If you do frequent texting, but hate typing, FasText is an interesting app. FasText is a glorified alternative to the default SMS/messaging app that allows you to quickly send texts by just tapping one of your predefined messages.

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Did you know that on your Nokia Windows Phone (since GDR2 and Amber) you're able to block unwanted contact from numbers through SMS and call filtering? It's a neat settings area, providing you with some power to prevent people from contacting you who you wish not to do so. Today, we've been alerted to a small update being pushed to the store.

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We've already covered what's been included in GDR2 from Microsoft as well as the Amber firmware update from Nokia, but there appears to be more pieces to the jigsaw puzzle. An update for Extras + Info has been fired out into the wild that enables Lumia Windows Phone owners who are rocking GDR2 to start blocking numbers and unwanted contact. Yep, this is huge, folks.

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The cost of sending SMS to contacts while they are abroad can prove to be rather costly, but there are a number of services that help minimise this fee, or remove it altogether. One such app has arrived on the Windows Phone Store and is called yuilop (www.yuilop.me). The app, now available for Windows Phone 8 hardware, enables users to send free SMS to anyone with a mobile phone in the world.

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A joint investigation by Canadian and Dutch officials has determined that popular mobile messaging program WhatsApp violates privacy laws of both countries. The problem is that the application, which lets users text each other over the internet in order to circumvent carrier texting charges, requires users to grant it access to their entire address book and not just the contacts who use it.

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Backing up personal data, including SMS conversations, has always been absent from Windows Phone. We’ve previously looked at how the Windows Phone Connector for Mac enables such functionality to a degree as well as a Homebrew Windows backup manager, but it’s always best to have such a feature built into Windows Phone.

In Windows Phone 8 Microsoft has implemented a backup facility that automatically stores SMS conversations and app list (including settings) information, as well as options to control how Windows Phone deals with uploading photos and videos captured using the handset. Using Microsoft’s cloud services, conversations and app settings are all automatically stored.

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New Emoticons for Windows Phone 8

If you like sending text messages (SMS) on Windows Phone, you'll love the new emoticon system that Microsoft has put in place. Previously, Windows Phone allowed you to easily send some basic smileys and if you wanted some more advanced symbols, you had to dig out some codes or use a 3rd party app.

This time around, Microsoft put in a selector at the bottom with visible choices for each symbol. You even have categories like faces, food, symbols and more. If you use the same symbols repeatedly, they will show up in a frequently used area for quick access the next time you message. 

We should also point out that they work in all apps. We used them in Kik messenger with no issues (they just don't have color). All in all, it's these small changes that make Windows Phone 8 quite an improvement.

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Talk.to, the popular cross-platform messenger, is on its way to the Windows Phone Marketplace. According to its download page, the Windows Phone app is "coming soon". Talk.to enables users to send messages using a number of third-party services. Facebook, Google Talk, and more are supported. Should you enjoy using the big screen, native desktop clients for both Windows and Mac are available, as well as use via a web browser.

Talk.to states on the website that it offers free SMS for both sending and receiving. Group messaging and read / delivered notifications are also present. Using Live Tiles, the simplistic typography look and feel, and toast notifications, we're pretty excited to see what the team can do on the Windows Phone platform. More apps is never a bad thing either.

Currently available for both the iPhone and Android smartphones, it'll be great to see such a solution on Windows Phone.

Source: Talk.to; thanks, windowsphoneapps, for the heads up!

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A lot of hay has been made over Windows Phone "Tango" aka CR3/build 8773 of Microsoft's mobile OS. The update contains a lot of minor things and is mostly focused on compatibility with 256MB devices for emerging markets and low-cost Windows Phones.

Nokia is hard at work with updating their ROMs for all Lumia phones and in fact if you use Navifirm to check, the Lumia 710 and 800 are getting heavily populated with new Tango updates, presumably being readied for roll-out in June.

We grabbed one of those ROM, OS 8773 with firmware 12120 from Mexican carrier Telcel to see what it has on board. Presumably, these changes you see in the above video will also be on the Lumia 800 and 900 ROMs as well, so consider this a sneak peek. Here is what's new:

  • Call forwarding - forward your calls to a designated number for (1) all calls (2) when I don't answer (3) when I am busy (4) when my phone is turned off
  • Call waiting - enable/disable
  • SMS delivery confirmation* - on/off
  • MMS delivery confirmation* - on/off
  • SMS Character set - Reduced (no accents, standard SMS) or Full
  • Send MMS acknowledgement* - on/off
  • Internet Sharing (aka WiFi tethering)
  • Enhanced MMS - Send voice notes, multiple images, video
  • Nokia branded Marketplace icon

As you can see, some of those features are pretty great (especially Internet Sharing) but they're also not necessarily "must have" items either, making Tango a minor update, something we've been emphasizing for some time now. Still, Nokia has done a nice job here and we expect T-Mobile to roll this out sometime in June officially (just a guess).

Some of you may wonder if the OS feels any different (faster, smoother, etc.) and to our eyes, no, it feels exactly the same. Perhaps there are some optimizations here and there but we really didn't notice it. We should also note the MMS issues we had in the video are probably due to this not being a T-Mobile ROM and more over, Nokia pulled their Network app to be fixed  (it'll be back soon) so we can't configure our MMS gateway for T-Mobile.

If you have any questions, ask away in comments. And yes, we'll see about whipping up a tutorial on how loaded Tango on our T-Mobile phone for you 'leet hackrz out there.

* Items with asterisk were not covered in video

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It's been awhile since we've seen some solid homebrew pop out from developers so it's with great interest for us to find Snotify version 1.0 floating around.

Billed as an "application that silences notification sounds based on a schedule" the concept should be very familiar to anyone who used the fabulous Windows Mobile app PhoneAlarm or PhoneWeaver. Anyone else just have a technology flashback?

In short, the app allows you to schedule your email and test/IM notification sounds so they won't disturb you in the middle of the night. For instance, you could have email on "silent" from 10pm to 6am or have SMS only with sound--your choice.

The free tool made by JMD Software needs to be "sideloaded" on to a fully interop unlocked phone meaning a lot of folks including developers won't be able to use it. That's a bummer but it's still a fascinating contribution to the homebrew scene.

Of course we know what many of you are thinking and even more of you will comment on -- why didn't Microsoft just include this in the OS? It's a good question as we'd kill to have this built into our Lumia 900 or Titan II, but alas even we have to sit this one out as our phones aren't capable of being fully unlocked just yet.

Source: JMD Software

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Here's an interesting little gem: On February 1st, AT&T pushed out a new app to the Marketplace called "AT&T Secure Messaging". Part of their new service, the app looks to be an excellent addition for Windows Phone users on the all-powerful network. From the app's description:

"AT&T Secure Messaging enables the exchange of encrypted messages between businesses, enterprises and government agencies who are using AT&T's Global Smart Messaging Suite powered by Soprano. AT&T Secure Messaging ensures your sensitive personal data is protected -  for example, a one-time password from your bank/online payment broker or a healthcare appointment reminder. Your secure messages are encrypted, then sent to the AT&T Secure Messaging mobile application and decoded, ready for you to read."

Fascinating stuff, especially for Windows Phone users in those key industries. For perhaps obvious reasons, we have no experience with AT&T's Global Smart Messaging Suite, but a quick trip to their site gives a plethora of details on the service which even regular consumer can opt-into (for a hefty price):

"The AT&T Global Smart Messaging Suite is a powerful web-based application designed for large enterprise messaging and communication. The AT&T Global SMS service enables 2-way communication (via SMS or e-mail), and can reach employees and opted in consumer subscribers at most wireless carriers globally. AT&T can help organizations get started using domestic short codes for cross-carrier SMS messaging, and the AT&T platform can also be extended on a global scale for messaging to employees and consumers worldwide."

Think of it as an in-house messaging service akin to Exchange. This push by AT&T into secure message delivery seems to be relatively new. A quick glance on YouTube shows a recently uploaded video detailing how this service can benefit the healthcare industry like hospitals in protecting vital doctor-patient data. Of course in the demonstration Android and RIM are shown using the service but it's now clear that AT&T also intend for Windows Phone to be there too as the app and service are both ready to use. That's good news as this could be a big area for AT&T to be entering especially as institutions look to support the many different devices of their end users.

If you're on AT&T you can find the app here in the Marketplace. QR code and video demonstration of the service can be found after the break. Thanks, Ben H., for the find!

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HeyTell, a popular cross-platform voice messaging service, has released an app for Windows Phone. HeyTell allows one to send and receive voice recorded messages, which can prove more efficient than standard SMS. The service requires no account to be created, just add an email and/or phone number and you're good to go.

Some highlighted features:

  • Send/Receive messages to and from contacts on Android and iOS.
  • Low data usage.
  • Toast notifications.
  • Messages can be saved and played offline.
  • Send/Receive current GPS location.

You can download HeyTell from the Marketplace for free. Note you may occur charges from your carrier from usage.

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Queue "Eye Of The Tiger," as it looks like group-texting app GroupMe is looking to make a comeback to Windows Phone.  The developers have put out a call across the Twittersphere for Windows Phone users in New York to do some testing on the evening of February 16.  GroupMe first cropped up in the Marketplace in July, and a month later, it was announced that it had been bought out by Skype (pronounced: Microsoft).  There was very little action post-announcement, until a major update was announced in December.  However, since then, GroupMe has been MIA from the Marketplace. 

There are no details on what is on the horizon for February 16, but if you want to be a guinea pig for GroupMe, you can sign up directly here, or via the source link.

Source: GroupMe (via Twitter); Thanks for the tip, Travis!

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HeyWire free texting app now on Windows Phone

HeyWire (see website) is a cross-platform app that enables users to text each other for free from the US and 45 other countries.  It sends SMS over any internet connection from iOS, Android, "dumb phones," and now, Windows Phone. 

"We are very excited to provide the only free texting app in the Microsoft Marketplace -- a platform that Gartner predicts will capture the number two smartphone spot by 2015," said HeyWire founder and CEO Meredith Flynn-Ripley. "This was an important service for our company to bring to consumers, which continues HeyWire's mission to facilitate free global communications amongst groups of friends. Now, WP7 users can send and receive text messages with friends on multiple devices, quickly and easily."

HeyWire not only lets you connect across mobile platforms, but Twitter as well.  It has a simple, straight-forward user interface and can be downloaded for free here. Thanks, Amir, for the tip!

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Add a twist to your messages with MyTextTwister

Need to spice up your text messages? Want to drive your friends crazy with upside down text messages? Want to do the same with Facebook, Twitter and Windows Live posts?

If you do, check out MyTextTwister over at the Windows Phone Marketplace. MyTextTwister adds a creative touch to your messages and posts with text effects such as inverted, rounded, leet speak, and lots of ASCII art effects.  A recent update to the app added a holiday theme to the available art effects.

MyTextTwister's interface is simple. You have one field to enter your text in a normal fashion and a preview field to show the effected text. Just below these two field is where you choose your Twisting Logic. Down below are buttons to add ASCII decorations, send the text to your SMS client, email the text or send it to a Facebook, Twitter or Windows Live.

It is noted in MyTextTwister's Marketplace description that sending ASCII arts and text effects relies on your service provider's support for sending 16-bit unicode text SMS and the receiving phone's support to receive such messages.

MyTextTwister is an interesting Windows Phone app to give your text messages and social media posts a unique flare. MyTextTwister is a free, ad-supported mango app that you can grab here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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Reports are scattered about the internet concerning a Windows Phone bug that is sent via text message that will reboot your Windows Phone and disable your Messaging Hub. The SMS bug is not device specific and the only solution that is available so far is a hard reset.

To make matters worse, if you've pinned a friend to your Start Screen and they get the message via Facebook, when the live tile updates to display the message, the reboot is initiated.

Nothing official from Microsoft on this kink in the system. We don't know the message sequence (and don't really want to know) but according to @ryanlowdermilk, host of Windows Phone Dev Podcast, it requires "A LOT of characters" and not something easily figured out.  Still the risk is there and we wanted to let you know and if you find your Messaging Hub crashing, this may be your problem.  As best we can tell, this bug doesn't expose what is on your Windows Phone but instead just makes life a little inconvenient with the hard reset.

Hopefully Microsoft can develop and distribute a software patch to fix this bug soon.

source: winrumors

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See where you're going with See Through Messaging

Note this as a strange, but useful app. See Through Messaging for Windows Phone allows the user to create SMS messages and emails on an overlay on top of a real time view of what's behind your handset via the camera. Basically, you can type while looking through your phone.

We've seen this before with TransparentTXT, which runs for $2.49, but See Through Messaging goes for the low, low price of free. (And of course LG users have had 'Look N Type' for free for ages through their app store).

Should you find yourself on the move while contacting other people, See Through Message could save you some embarrassment when not paying attention to what's in front of you. Only downside we noticed was there's not auto-correct nor word suggestions, which means your texting perambulations will be filled with errors, unless you're careful.

Download See Through Messaging from the Marketplace for nothing at all.

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Group Messaging in Mango: the MMS gambit

We actually heard about this little issue from our own Jay Bennett, but others have taken note as well. In short, when using the Group Messaging feature in Mango, by default the messages will use the MMS format instead of SMS. The reason for this is not too clear, though it has something to do with trying to keep all the messages grouped together in a thread (perhaps someone with more knowledge can explain in comments).

However, you can (and probably should) turn this off.  Like a lot of folks, you may have a limited monthly allotment of MMS messages and you be charged a ton for a 'few' conversations otherwise. To disable this feature, simply go to Settings --> Applications --> Messaging and turn off the MMS part. So what about Group Messaging? Well, as far as we know, it still works but will now use the SMS method. Only downside, which we have to verify, is that it might not group properly. Still, that's a small inconvenience versus a large, unexpected bill at the end of the month, no?

Big thanks to 'We Love Windows Phone' for the tip and screen shots.

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