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Windows Phone 8 Rooms feature

Windows Phone 8 brings with it many improvements to its social abilities, one such improvement is the inclusion of “Rooms”.

Taking some of the ideas from Windows Phone 7’s Groups feature and expanding it out, the new feature allows for powerful social interaction with a selection of your contacts. Windows Phone has always been a powerful performer with regards to its social networking prowess and Rooms is going to take that a step further.

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Yes folks it’s finally here, the week that will see Microsoft launch Windows 8, spearheading its massive 2012 product launch schedule. It’s keystone of the ‘Three Screens & Cloud’ play and this is where we see how it’s all going to shake out.

The pre-orders for Surface have started and even run dry in some regions, invites to the various launch events have gone out and now it’s time to put all the cards on the table. With such a wide ranging spruce-up of the entire product line from Xbox to Windows Phone, we’re in for a wild ride. Windows 8 will be at the centre of these launches, not just because it’s Windows but because with it we will see a whole host of services light up to enable the entire eco system.

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We looked at NewsSpot back in September and have since been contacted by the developer to advise that version 2.7 is now available.

The Google Reader client was well received by us and we were looking forward to seeing the updates trickle through so we’re glad things are now on track. To get the update you will need to hit a new link in the marketplace which you can find below.

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Photos have been captured of what appears to be Surface ads in Paris. Taking on the same form of graffiti style as those seen in the US recently we’re wondering if this is the start of a concerted effort to get the message out to those in Europe.

These type of ads have been appearing in the US for some time but so far we haven’t had anything at all globally, leading many to begin to worry about availability across the pond.

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The next version of Windows Phone is just around the corner, with it comes some fantastic hardware and the promise of new features. But what about the next gen apps?

While we have spent a great deal of time looking at the coming phones and peeking at the new underlying operating system did we forget that it’s the apps that matter? While we know that existing apps will work fine on the new OS, what lays in store for those dedicated Windows Phone 8 apps?

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Nokia have just a announced through their Conversations website that existing Lumia phones will get some sweet new feature updates. The new features announced will include addition Bluetooth capabilities, a ringtone maker and of course the new Windows Phone 8 start screen aka the 7.8 OS refresh.

Nokia are not forgetting about their existing customers, they made this clear at the launch of Windows Phone 8 and now we’re seeing them keep to their word.

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Windows Phone App Review: Ceton Companion

Media Center has been a part of Windows for a very long time, it allows for the addition on TV tuner cards and streaming movies, pictures, music and live television to other devices around the home. As it requires a PC running Windows to be put under your television it only caught on with a hobbyist audience.  For those that want to cut the cord with their subscription television service or just build a great entertainment system with tons of flexibility, it is still hard to beat.

When Microsoft built Windows Phone, they left a few things out, one such omission was its ability to integrate directly with Media Center, even basic remote control duties were overlooked.  As we all know, where Microsoft cannot provide, others step in to fill the gaps. Ceton Corp has done just that, having just brought their Ceton companion app and services out of beta.  The app promises more than just a simple remote control functions, we power up our Media Centres and Xbox 360s to see how it does. 

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Nokia has announced that their music streaming service is to finally get launched in the U.S. Whilst many countries have seen the service up and running for a while the U.S. has, to date, been left out in the cold.

Not so anymore, Nokia brags about their service having over 150 playlists from Detroit house to Classical music. U.S. users will also be able to take advantage of creating custom playlists and even downloading the playlist for offline use.

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Listening to podcasts on the go is one of my favorite pastimes, a great way to catch up with the latest news or a special interest. For those of us who reside outside of North America, podcast support has been a bit limited to say the least. Unlike our pals in the US, we cannot subscribe to podcasts through the marketplace on either Zune desktop software or directly using the phone. Annoying, but Mango at least introduced a half-workable solution. Unfortunately, after the Tango update it’s no longer possible to use that either.

To subscribe to podcasts prior to Tango, first we needed to set them up in the Zune desktop suite. Once subscribed, simply plugging in the phone and synchronising would pass the podcast to it. Podcasts would the automatically download without further PC interaction. Alas, this is now not the case. What’s going on?

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Statistics from Localytics are showing that Nokia is now the key supplier of Windows Phones handsets worldwide. Whilst this news might not surprise many considering Nokias considerable push in the retail channels, it does paint an interesting picture of the state of play with the three main manufacturers. According to Localytics survey, Nokia is now clearly in pole position as of July with 59% of total sales.

While the survey shows Nokia winning in market share it also illustrates the rise of sales in Windows Phone units from January until the present.  Interestingly the growth looks almost to be exclusively with Nokia, the other device maker’s shipments look to have remained almost static since April.

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For those that are looking to advance their skills in English, Oxford has recently launched their best seller for Windows Phone.  The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary app contains a full A-Z dictionary and samples of British and North American speakers to help tailor your desired skill set. We certainly love to see more official apps filling in those blanks, and this looks like a good one.

A word of note here to those with razor thin amounts of space on their handsets, this app is going to require a 450MB download after you grab the initial app.

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A recent paper presented at Black hat 2012 by Peter Hannay has demonstrated a vulnerability in how iOS and Android deal with certificates whilst operating with an Exchange Server. The good news in this report is that Peter was unable to trick Windows Phone 7.5 devices using the same methods.

Using a man in the middle attack combined with a generic fake certificate, they were able to gain some traction in sending a command to iOS and Android devices to commence a device wipe. When devices are connected via Active Sync they commit to accepting certain responsibilities, one of the most important and sensitive of which is the wipe command. They tested off two sets of Exchange 2010 servers. One running with a self-signed certificate, a very common configuration for small business and another using a certificate from a trusted certificate signing authority.

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At the start of the year I took up driving with gusto, you see, being a Londoner I have really had little need of a car. For one reason or another, it had started to become a nuisance not driving so I decided to change my wicked, public transport loving ways and get a license to burn fossil fuels. I took an intensive course and recently passed. During the process of getting my license I bought a Lumia 800, of course, it is a wonderful device but wanted it for those free and extensive driving maps. So how does Nokias’s mapping software get on? I have been testing it for a few weeks now, read on to see how well it works.

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Whilst at the Windows Phone Dev Day in Bournemouth we got a chance to meet Ross Gouldthorpe, who has been developing for Windows Phone for two years. Ross was kind enough to give us a walkthrough of his upcoming Windows phone game, Atoms.

The game is also currently in development for the Xbox 360 and has a Nintendo DS homebrew counterpart. The game Atoms has roots as an old Amiga game of the same name. It started life as freebie on the cover of a magazine, which is where Ross first discovered it.  Ross tells me he still has his Amiga machines but these days they are locked up in storage, he does still have the Amiga CD32 connected to his TV though.

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As a companion piece to my review of the Phonos app, I thought it would be interesting to check in with Andy and get some background on his experiences whilst developing for Windows Phone. Originally, on the team that built the ill-fated Kin devices he has since been working on Windows Phone 8.0 Apollo. Andy shares his experiences with bringing his app to market. He tells us about hurdles hes overcome with the platform, thoughts on WinRT development and much much more... For these insights you’ll need to keep on reading past the break..

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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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In our latest how-to guide, we show you how to make the most of your Windows Phone and SkyDrive cloud storage

We've touched on the basics with Microsoft's SkyDrive services and the SkyDrive App for your Windows Phone. But how does all that translate into every day use?

The obvious every day use for SkyDrive and your Windows Phone is to free up storage space and make content easily available. Why bog down your Windows Phone with documents, pictures, and music files when you can store them in the Cloud and access them at your leisure? But did you know that several quality apps utilize SkyDrive? Of course you did... and we'll try to cover a few along the way as we look at every day uses for your SkyDrive account.

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We're going to batten down that hatches on this one for the comment storm that is sure to follow, but at least according to an AT&T Community Manager, the company is not planning on supporting the famed 8107 Windows Phone OS update. That's the one that fixes the super frustrating "disappearing keyboard" bug as well as some other security fixes.

The word comes from Jamileh, a Community Manager on the official AT&T support forums. In response to an ongoing discussion about the update and whether or not it will be coming, Jamileh finally chimed in today with what sounds like a definitive answer:

"I got some news about the Windows Phone 8107 update and wanted to share it with you all. We are not currently planning to offer the Windows 8107 update. I don’t have any additional information right now. If and when I get details, I will update the thread."

While we can leave some wiggle room here for the company (Jamileh does work for AT&T but obviously is not an official PR person), her response does sound like a fairly black and white one with little room for reinterpretation.

Of course this raises all sorts of questions e.g. is it because they are opting for the bigger "Tango" update which would be a legitimate delay (why role out 8107 when you you have build 87xx coming in a a month?) or is it because they just don't have any immediate plans to update their current lineup? For now, we're going to assume that AT&T won't be supporting 8107 but we're not ready to get the pitchforks out yet either.

Hopefully AT&T will chime in sooner than later to give some respite to worrying customers who have a lot invested in their Windows Phone.

Source: AT&T Community Forums; Thanks, Sheeds (WPDownUnder) and Bill J., for the heads up

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Look, we're not going to beat around the bush here, this post is total wild rumor-mongering, but SE asked us to guess so we are. Sony Ericsson (Netherlands) has put up a Tweet teasing a big announcement next week, presumably at CES:

"We're getting ready for some very interesting news next week...what do you think it could be?"

Normally we'd pass this off as "just another Android announcement" and it could very well be. However and perhaps it is just coincidence but we seem to have caught a theme of tiles throughout the above picture which was posted in conjunction with the aforementioned statement.

Could this mean that SE is finally on board with Windows Phone? If you recall, SE was announced as a key-launch partner for Windows Phone back in early 2010 and even had a working prototype (see above) but it was canceled at the last minute with the company turning towards Android. Back in May of this year, SE went on record as saying that they were "leaving the door open" for Windows Phone if it should start to take off. Finally, Sony has the option to port over the Sony PlayStation Suite, something they mentioned back in January, 2011.

So has that moment arrived or are we just looking too much into this?

Source: @SonyEricssonNL; Thanks, Jan Z., for the tip!

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