testing

Windows Phone 8.1, the next milestone for Microsoft’s mobile OS, is rumored to be announced April 2 in San Francisco, California. That’s only 7 weeks away, putting Microsoft on a tight schedule to line up all of their eggs for the big reveal.

One of those milestones is to open up the Software Development Kit (SDK) to developers for some initial feedback.  Windows Phone Central has learned that Microsoft is now inviting a limited number of developers, under NDA, to begin early testing of the new 8.1 operating system and its SDK.

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Microsoft’s On the Whiteboard” video series is beginning to show us how terrifying the Redmond campus actually is. Last week our host, Pamela Woon, took us on a tour to a place where no one can hear you scream. This week we are touring a building that is described by Surface team member, Ben Reed, as “a medieval dungeon where each room has a device that is a torture chamber.”

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Nokia still has big plans for their expanding Lumia line of Windows Phones this year with the next big reveal expected later this summer. That subsequent device is expected to be the ‘EOS’, an internal testing name that seems to refer to the Greek goddess of dawn (and not Canon’s brand of cameras).

The EOS is anticipated as the first 41MP camera Windows Phone, based off of the PureView 808 Symbian device, which was released in early 2012.  Ever since that Symbian phone was revealed, a device literally in the making for years, people have wondered when it will transfer over to Nokia’s new darling, Windows Phone.

Starting this past February, reports of a “summer release” began to make the rounds and that now seems to be the case.

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It's common knowledge that the Microsoft Kin family of handsets suffered from a short life and quick death, with the hardware only being available for a matter of weeks. The poor devices never really saw the light of day when Microsoft's somewhat 'hip' mobile phones launched back in 2010.

Issues ranged from the hardware being too expensive to having too few apps and being slow and sluggish. Internal videos have now been published that show focus groups testing the Kin (using pre-production units that reportedly changed very little from the shipping product). It doesn't look good at all for the ill-fated devices.

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The other day we saw the Nokia Lumia 920 out and about in Washington, presumably being tested one way or another. Now it's the HTC Windows Phone 8X's turn.

Reader Rodrigo L. spied this interesting setup in downtown San Francisco this past Thursday morning.  From the photo we can see three HTC 8Xs and what appears to be an older Samsung make (kudos to the first of you who figure it out).

If we had to guess, this looks to be carrier testing with perhaps different variations on radio software for signal strength testing. We suppose it could also be for static photo taking but we're leaning on the first idea instead. 

Any carrier testers out there want to lend a hand on telling us what's going? Sound off in comments. Either way, only 4-5 more weeks before we're rumored to be able to grab this phone on AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. 

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As you may or may not recall, Skype for Windows Phone officially does not run on Windows Phone "Tango" hardware--devices with 256MB of RAM or less--like the Lumia 610 and ZTE Orbit. But Justin Angel from Nokia called up our podcast from his Lumia 610 using Skype and it sounded great, what's more Nokia themselves seemed okay with it too.

Then two days ago, word came out that Nokia with withdrawing support for Skype and the Lumia 610, causing even more confusion i.e. so is it available at least for those who want to run it?

Truth be told it's not available to download. As can be seen in the image above, users are given a notice that they cannot download the app. However, if we sideload version 1.1 of Skype onto our 610, it works just fine as you can see in our video below.

So what's the deal? We'll take Nokia's word that there are performance issues (we tested over WiFi and it seemed fine) and that's the reason why users won't have access to it. However, to us Skype for the Lumia 610 appears to be okay, at least from our limited testing.

What we're hoping for is with a version 1.2 or later, Skype and Microsoft can hammer out any performance problems and get the app on to Tango hardware. Because to us, it seems like they're very close to achieving just that making this a temporary problem with the platform.

See our hands on and unboxing of the Lumia 610 here.

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If there's one technology Windows Phone users have been yearning for it's Photosynth. The photo-stitching software creates "synths" or 3D images from your camera phone, giving an immersive photo that's hosted on the web. It then allows the viewer to pan around the image, zoom in and out and various other options.

What makes Photosynth (www.photosynth.net) frustrating for Windows Phone though is not only does the service have an iOS app, the company who makes it is owned by none other than Microsoft.

The Windows Phone version was noted to be a "top priority" for the team and we saw some real evidence of it existing back in February but not much since then.

Now, eagle-eyed reader Scott has found not only some test images but a Microsoft Twitter account that does nothing but post Photosynths. (We're not going public with the Twitter handle because we like to track these things and not scare them off) What's more, when one looks at the JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) data for the image we can see "__version_synther": "Windows Phone 1.0.0" listed, strongly indicated that the Windows Phone app is in final testing.

In fact the image above is an actual photo of a Microsoft employee's test computer which lists the steps in required for testing Photosynth. If you look closely, you can also see "(Windows Phone Only)" an "AugmentedReality" listed which is tantalizing to think about.  (And if anything, that's just kind of interesting to see how this stuff is done).

Should we expect a full-on Photosynth app for Windows Phone soon? We think so and it'd make sense that the app is due hopefully in the next few weeks as it coincides with Microsoft's big "official app" push which seems to be going on.

Fingers crossed people, fingers crossed. A big thanks to Scott for all of his detective work on this story!

 

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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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BBC News Mobile is looking for beta testers

If you use BBC News Mobile, the free and beautiful news app that's in the Marketplace, you may want to take the new beta for a spin. Besides being able to try all the new features, you can also give the dev some feedback before submission to the Marketplace, making this app even better for others.

Version 2.8.2 beta has a main focus for improvements: speed. Sure, the app is already pretty zippy, but why not squeeze some more performance out of it by streamlining some aspects, eh? Some other features include:

  • Background Cache Service
  • Better Live Tiles
  • Faster Loading
  • Reworked GUI
  • Picture quality improvement

Heck, there's even a snooze function for notifications (between 10pm and 8am) that we really dig too. Overall, the app is certainly faster on our end and we like the new UI layout for articles. But you can lend your opinion if you have a dev unlocked devices by heading to Gripper's blog and grabbing the XAP file from his server. And if you just want the current version in the Marketplace, here ya go.

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Not the best news in the world for AT&T Dell Venue Pro owners but it's a start. Microsoft has updated its "Where's my Phone Update?" page and it indicates the Mango update for the Dell Venue Pro has joined the Focus 1.4 by entering the testing phase.

There is no telling how long it will take for testing to be completed. It is solely dependent on AT&T but we can only hope the testing moves to scheduling sooner than later. Once in the scheduling phase, the update should be pushed out within ten days.

via: wmpu

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Although lots of folks have received the update for the Samsung Omnia 7, officially at least it's still not available--or rather the firmware that's tied into it is not as easy to get (you can still force-update to Mango, but not get the firmware).

We got word now that Microsoft has updated the "Where's My Phone Update" list and whereas before it said "Except Samsung Omnia 7 models" it has now changed to the more favorable "Except Samsung Omnia 7 models, which are Testing at this time."

Hey, baby steps. At this rate, we're thinking by the end of October sounds like a plausible date for actual release. We'll keep an eye out. Thanks, Gary M., for the heads up!

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It's been a few weeks since we heard anything about the Nokia 'Sea Ray' aka Nokia's first foray into Windows Phone. Evidently, the phone has showed up on DSL Reports, the mobile speed testing site for broadband devices, coming in at 1211kbps which isn't too shabby.

What gives the device away of course is the user agent, here reported as Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 9.0; Windows Phone OS 7.5; Trident/5.0; IEMobile/9.0; Nokia; SeaRay). That's a pretty good give away, though not impossible to spoof either.

Still, we've heard from our own sources that engineering prototypes have been sent out to their respective testing facilities, which possibly explains it popping up here. We've also heard some things about a 3.7" screen, a Micro SIM card and a code name of "Sabre", for what it's worth. Perhaps that latter name, if true, is a carrier name for the Sea Ray.

At least we're getting closer!

Source: DSL Reports; via Blog of Mobile, Pocketnow

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A few weeks ago, Brandon Watson of Microsoft let it be known that they were going to be sending out actual hardware phones to developers and too look for that announcement "soon".

Well, today at TechEd 2010, Watson provided further details and it looks like devices will begin shipping in July. How many handsets is not know, nor which ones, though presumably a large number will go out and they'll be of the LG/Asus/Samsung variety that we've seen so often.

The month of July gives developers plenty of time ahead of the "holiday 2010" OS release date to experiment with their software, so we can expect software not rushed to the Marketplace.

Overall, Microsoft seems to be, dare we say, executing this launch of Windows Phone 7 effectively? They're meeting deadlines, making progress and keeping developers happy. Granted, the road is still long but so far we like this measured approach.

[via iStartedSomething]

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In a nice follow up to those Marketplace revisions, Microsoft has just announced that they will allow developers to identify and interact with beta testers for their software via the Marketplace for Windows Phone 7.

Up till now, the question of whether some mechanism for developers to let the public test their program before release was unanswered. With no side-loading available for software installation, it's only through the Marketplace can the public add software to their phones, so some structure in the Marketplace had to be defined.

The mechanism will work via a "deep link" sent by email to the testers and presumably their Windows Live ID will be tagged by the Marketplace to grab the download. In addition, Microsoft is looking for a similar expansion of this public/private "cloud" distribution system to be applied for corporate environments, where they need to roll out their own proprietary software to employees. This latter part is important for the future success of WP7 in the business sector.

Once again, this is a great move by Microsoft and we're glad to see this becoming available.

Read the rest of Charlie Kindel's post on the Windows Team Blog.

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