USB

We’ve become accustomed to knowing one end of a USB cable has to go into a computer or charger, and the other end goes into your phone, but there is a future where you can use either end in either thingie, and this is what that utopian paradise looks like. The USB Implementers Forum is showing off two USB 3.1 connector standards today.

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Windows Phone 8.1 SDK beta leak reveals even more

As the leaked Windows Phone 8.1 SDK continues to get torn apart by packs of anonymous devs, a few other features about the forthcoming OS have come forward. Today, support for Miracast, uploading of files through Internet Explorer 11 and Google calendar have been found in the documentation.

Miracast is a peer-to-peer wireless screencasting technology that allows beaming of your display to another display, more often than not a large screen TV. Now, references to Miracast have been found in the Windows Phone 8.1 SDK documentation, specifically in the section detailing the ability to let devs connect their devices via USB to a PC to show the display’s contents.

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Talk about odd timing. Today Qualcomm gave information about their Quick Charge 1.0 system, a method by which modern smartphones can re-charge up to 40% faster than predecessors.

Qualcomm also provided a list of 70 supported devices and yes, the HTC 8S, 8X, Samsung ATIV S and Nokia Lumia 820, 822, 920 and 920T (China) are all also on board. It’s a neat and subtle feature that’s all part of the new Snapdragon chipset, requiring no new hardware—basically if you own one of these phones, you already have it and have been using it.

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We filing this one under a big ol’ rumor has we have no secondary source to corroborate the information, but there is some preliminary evidence to suggest there may be some truth to it.

We were just tipped off about a new requirement for Windows Phone 8 devices regarding the micro USB port and its placement on the device.

So far, much to the consternation of consumers and 3rd party accessory makers, it has been difficult to make charging stands, car mounts, etc. for Windows Phone due to the haphazard placement of the micro USB port. Some like HTC prefer the side, others like Nokia have it on top and some like Samsung have it on the bottom.

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We've continuously seen Microsoft make use of video output from a Windows Phone when demonstrating features and functionality at past events. This is a feature we'd all like to see at consumer level for somewhat obvious reasons To make use of the big screen using nothing more than a USB cable would be handy in certain situations. While the likes of SmartGlass is on the horizon, it would be beneficial for Windows Phone owners to be able to make use of supposedly supported video output.

The folks over at XDA Developers Forum have since decided to investigate and see whether it's possible to get video output working on Windows Phone. Marsrogers heads up the team, which was formed back in 2011, and the progress made in the designated thread looked as though the project wouldn't pick up and would eventually stop dead in its tracks. Marsrogers has continued to publish updates to the thread and keep readers up-to-date with progress and findings regardless.

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Microsoft already told you WP8 supports USB mass storage

When it comes to Windows Phone 8, there is much more information coming than has been revealed—Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore stresses this at the beginning of the WP Summit a few weeks ago. However, there are things we do know--either things we’ve leaked are or the more direct method like what Microsoft announced during the Summit.

A “rumor” going around today is that Windows Phone 8 supports “USB Mass Storage” i.e. the ability to plug your phone into your computer to transfer files.

Folks, this isn’t a rumor nor is it news. For one, we can tell you 100% that this is the case as Microsoft spoke about this on and off the record with us and a few other news outlets pre-Summit. Second, you can just watch it for yourself when Joe Belfiore briefly discusses this feature at the 14 minute mark in the Summit video:

“We introducing removal micro SD support as a core part of the platform and this core micro SD card support spans both the PC and the phone. The scenarios are both valuable to consumers but also to developers and even hardware vendors.

What this enables that’s different than what Windows Phone 7.5 has today is that an end user can add a micro SD card months after they buy the phone expanding their storage and then they can use it to transfer contents between their PC to their phone, from phone to phone, it can be used a distribution vehicle for apps and it supports all of things in a very natural, integrated way in the Metro experience.

We didn’t want to deliver this feature until we could do it in a way that would be easy to use, predictable and high performant [sic] and we think we’ve got that nailed in Windows Phone 8”

We admit that this announced feature didn’t include a big, splashy graphic but this technically isn’t a rumor and Belfiore is telling you nearly all you need to know about this upcoming ability to Windows Phone 8. Regarding the other half of the rumor today--that Microsoft getting rid of the Zune Desktop client and allowing native syncing with Windows--this too is old information as it was reported in February and should be obvious by now. If it's not, consider this your confirmation. 

And let’s be clear: this mass storage support gives you a PC mountable experience for the micro SD but not access to the phone’s internal memory for security reasons. But the ability to add media, files, etc. via a presumably drag-n-drop method for expandable storage is what many people have wanted for a long time and it makes sense. So there is nothing to see here but hey, if this is news to you, then we're glad we made you a bit more happy for Windows Phone 8 this fall.

See the video of the Summit cued up after the break...

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Here's a bit of a mystery.

There is a Windows Phone 7 update available for your Windows operating system. It won't show up on your update list unless you have Zune running and your Windows Phone connected.

Listed as Microsoft-Other hardware-Windows Phone 7, the 4.2mb update apparently deals with your USB connection and recognizes the Windows Phone device by name. Gone is the generic "Windows Phone device" identity whenever you connect your Windows Phone.

As to the "why", your guess is as good as ours. Could it allow Microsoft to open up the device specific apps to the Zune Desktop? Could it be a sign that the Mango's release is close at hand?  Or could it simply be someone at Microsoft getting tired of seeing a generic description of your Windows Phone?

Thanks goes out to Jarrod and everyone else who tipped us on this!

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The return of USB storage to Windows Phone

We covered using your phone as a USB storage device awhile ago. It's one of those features that lots of folks want but the demand waxes and wanes, usually based on remembering that our phones can't do it natively. For the record, Microsoft always frowned upon this practice as you could theoretically screw something up. We're not even sure if the original hack works anymore (we're betting 'no') but that hasn't stopped developer Den Delimarsky from coming up with his own solution.

His method is detailed in full in this post and we'll leave the nitty-gritty to the developers out there. As he says, you can do this yourself though for us non-techies he's looking to release this publicly when it's all good and ready (at least we really hope he does).

"You probably always wanted to use your Windows Phone device as a USB storage device but never could. Well, this is solvable. There were a couple of hacks floating around, but I was curious to see if I can do it by myself. Well, I found a way to do it without third-party OS hacks and only with the help of a simple application built around the Microsoft.Smartdevice.Connectivity assembly.

I am not releasing the application itself at this point because there is more work to be done, but you can take a peek at what it looks like."

You can even upload files to an app's isolated storage, which is a bit advanced for most of us. Just form glancing at the tool this certainly seems like a much nicer method than before and looks quite promising. While not a plug-n-play solution, probably something we won't see anytime soon, it could be a decent option for those who need such a method for file transport.

Source: DZone

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One of the joys I had with my HTC Hero was the data storage functionality presently available right out the box with Android - something I would have missed at that time in Windows Phone 7 should it have popped up. We have now learned of a tool by MarcHoover, which allows both locked and unlocked devices to register as storage devices and enables users to drag-and-drop files.

The beauty of this tool is that (as stated above) it doesn't require any manual registry hacking and is reported to work on locked devices.  So, even if you choose not to go down the Chevron route a while back, you'll be able to reap the benefits here while still being restricted with further access. Check out the development thread for support and more information.

Source: XDA Developer Forum, via: WMPU

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Review: Griffin PowerDuo Universal

If you are a regular reader of this site, chances are you are both a Windows Mobile power user and a gadget fiend. If you fall under either of those categories, the conundrum of keeping your devices charged while still having the convenience of a portable device can be a hassle. More often than not, our device comes with a single charging solution for use at work or home.

Enter Griffin’s PowerDuo Universal charging solution. Griffin gives you the best of both worlds, offering a single solution that gives you a generic power source (through a USB port) in both a 12v car charger (AKA PowerJolt) and 15 amp charger for home or office use (dubbed PowerBlock). Both the PowerJolt and PowerBlock come in this single package for $31.95.

(This will even work with non-Windows Mobile devices, like Phil and Mal’s favorite, the ZuneHD; hence the use of the word “Universal”.)

For more pictures, and the full review, hit the break.

 

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Review: Smartphone Experts Sync & Charge Cable with Tips

Geeks (like myself) tend to have a lot of gadgets. Those gadgets tend to come with an assortment of cabling for power, audio and synchronization. Trying to sell a geek more cabling can be like pulling teeth, unless that cabling helps cut down on the existing cable clutter.

Smartphone Experts produces a number of Sync & Charge solutions for various Smartphones, including several that offer retractable cabling that allows for easy storage and transportation. The problem with these types of solutions can be that they are locked down to one device manufacturer or model. This problem is handled elegantly by this option.

Stick around for the full rundown.

 

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Sure, the Treo 800w was a blip on the Windows Mobile radar and has now even disappeared from Sprint's Web site. But eight months after its release, one cool feature has now been discovered:  the 800w can act as a USB host.

So what does that all mean?  In short, with a cheap $8 adapter cable (like those found here on eBay) you can connect up all sorts of USB devices that don't require separate drivers to run.  Such devices include external hard disk drives, USB flash drives, USB headphones/mics, and for bnsguy, a USB ultrasound probe!

What makes this unique is that at the moment, very few WM devices can act as a USB host (if you happen to know any, drop us a line) and to be honest, it is a really cool feature that we would like to see on future devices.

After the jump, we'll post a few shots of what this setup looks like on the 800w and some various USB devices that can run on it!

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The bane of the US is that our cellphones always seem to be step or two behind the rest of the world. I blame deregulation. I'm not saying I want a Communist dictatorship, but I do like the idea of having a single standard for charging phones. I have way too many wall warts (aka AC adapters) and I can never keep them straight.

China is moving to standardize all cellular phones sold in the country to using the USB port for charging. The thought is that having one charger for every brand of cell phone will make it easier for consumers. It will make it easier on consumers, but cut into the profits for he accessory makers. I would imagine that if China standardizes to USB, we will likely see all cellular phones going to the same standard. However, China has set no date at which they will begin enforcing the standard.

Read: China to Make USB the Standard for Cellphone Charging

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