While Microsoft’s freshest Mobile OS is still a few weeks away from its big debut, versions of its SDK have begun to crop up online. The peeps over at WPCentral have snagged build 9900 of the software and are offering up a video tour of the reasonably-finished setup. It’s not clear if this is a fully-loaded edition or if we’re going to see a few more surprises if / when it launches next month, but if you’d care to see for yourself, check out the video after the break.
Consider this Microsoft’s ultimate blessing, or merely a way to guarantee household name recognition. Whatever the case, the company’s next-gen Apollo OS is not only powering HTC’s newest mobile movement, it’s also the headliner. That’s right, as clunky as it may initially seem, Windows Phone 8X is the official moniker of the OEM’s brightly hued flagship series, an alphabetical denomination that puts it on premium standing with the One X line. And thanks to the loosened spec restraints made possible by WP8, this modern-minded, unibodied beaut reps a 4.3-inch 1280 x 720 Super LCD 2 display with Gorilla Glass 2 coating, dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 processor buffered by 1GB RAM, 16GB of internal storage, WiFi a/b/g/n, NFC and an integrated 1,800mAh Li-ion battery. There’s also quadband radio support for GSM/GPRS/EDGE, HSPA/WCDMA (850, 900, 1900, 2100MHz) and, of course, LTE for stateside carriers.
Though the 8X may share the same boldly colored, polycarbonate construction of its live-tiled Lumia frenemies, it also stands apart with the inclusion of two HTC-specific features: Beats Audio, replete with a built-in amplifier, and ImageChip for continuous shooting. And speaking of optics, this device’s dual camera setup packs the combined punch of a 2.1-megapixel front-facer with 88-degree ultra-wide-angle lens and an 8-megapixel rear module with an f/2.0 lens accompanied by a single LED flash — both capable of 1080p video capture.
While the veil of mystery surrounding this latest tech industry collaboration may have just lifted, you’ll still have to wait a bit before it heads to retail. After all, Microsoft’s planning its own WP8 coming out party for late October — a reveal that should finally give us a full look at the smartphone UI formerly known as Metro. With a ship date set for sometime this November, the 8X will be available in four distinct colors – California Blue, Graphite Black, Flame Red and Limelight Yellow — on over 150 carriers worldwide. No word on final pricing as of yet. So, until then, sate yourself with this first taste
The Windows Phone 8 era is swinging into full effect. Nokia’s big launch event was only a few short weeks ago, now HTC is enjoying its time in the spotlight with two handsets of its own. The Windows Phone 8S makes no mystery of its platform choice and, like the One S, indicates its midrange status with a simple alphabetic suffix. This four-inch phone will be shipping with HSPA on board. Unfortunately there’s no word on an LTE edition of this rather handsome device. Spec-wise, the WVGA screen leaves us a little wanting, but we appreciate the combination of Super LCD and Gorilla Glass, which should make for a contrasty and scratch resistant panel. Under the hood is a dual-core S4 clocked at 1GHz, which is hardly a speed demon by todays standards, but should be enough to keep Microsoft’s streamlined OS humming along nicely. The CPU is augmented by 512MB of RAM, which isn’t any beefier than most Mango phones prepping for retirement.
A paltry 4GB of storage is baked in, but thankfully HTC saw fit to include a microSD slot for expansion. Those rather modest internals should help the handset make the most of the 1,700 mAh battery at least. Sadly, the Taiwanese manufacturer decided to skip a front-facing cam on its entry level device and the sensor around back is only 5MP and limited to 720p video capture. At 10.28mm thick the 8S isn’t the sleekest handset, but the tapered edges make look quite a bit thinner than that measurement would indicate. There’s no denying the appeal of the two-tone polycarbonate bodies, regardless of comparative girth, which feature soft touch finishes in veritable rainbow of options. Pricing has yet to be announced, but you can expect the 8S to hit shelves in early November on a number of carriers.
Nokia’s Lumia 820 is here, after countless leaks, and the budget-friendly handset is exactly what we expected. We’ll admit we’re sad to see the rather singular design of its spiritual forebear, the Lumia 800, fall by the wayside, but we can’t complain about the build quality here. The usual attention to detail and materials we’ve come to appreciate from the Finnish phone maker is on full display. The flat glass panel on the front may lack the mystique of the curved display on the 920 and 800, but it’s hardly something that should factor into your decision to buy this handset or another. The ceramic volume rocker and lock button on the right side have a pleasant and satisfying click, though we’re sad to report that the camera button still leaves us wanting. Sure, any dedicated camera key is better than none, but its squishy response to our press was hardly encouraging. At least Nokia had the good grace to upgrade to a dual-stage solution. We were also a bit put off by the shine of the body. The Lumia series stole our hearts with its matte finish when it first debuted; now the glossy exterior is more likely to throw some glare and attract fingerprints. The new plastic also feels quite a bit lighter in the hand, which makes the 820 feel more like the midrange device it is and less like the premium handset it’s succeeding.
What’s under the hood certainly makes up for some of those shortcomings. The 1.5 GHz dual-core processor with 1GB RAM simply chewed through the lightweight Windows Phone 8, leaving us to wonder if Apple and Google can truly keep up. All of the UI animations were smooth and fluid, and apps launched with nary a hiccup. And, can we just say that Windows Phone 8 is an absolute pleasure to use. At the risk of angering quite a few people — there’s simply no mid-range Android phone or iOS device that’s as quick and satisfying to use as the Lumia 820, and much of that is thanks to the highly optimized Microsoft OS. It’s a pleasure to see that new features like the customizable home screen and background multitasking haven’t weighed down Redmond’s phone platform. And things will likely only get better as the final wrinkles are ironed out and bugs are squashed. But, as we all know, speed and smooth animations alone don’t make a device — Microsoft will have to convince developers to support its still fledgling platform.
It’s official. Nokia’s just taken the wraps off its worst-kept Windows Phone 8 secret: the Lumia 920. The device, announced at the manufacturer’s event in New York City today, is a spiritual successor to the 900 that first broke onto American shores and can largely be seen as a response to critics of that former device. With a dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 CPU (the same one that drives the current US supremos, the HTC One X and Galaxy S III), a “better than HD” 1,280 x 768 LCD display, PureView imaging (albeit with only eight megapixels), NFC capabilities, 2,000mAh battery with wireless charging and a next-gen Redmond-baked OS, this handset’s a big-break proposition for the flailing Finnish company; an attempt to up the ante and compete on even ground. From the outside, it may appear as though not much has changed in this generational hardware leap, but rest assured that what Espoo’s packed inside should take the mobile outfit to the next level. So, follow on after the break as we dive into our first impressions of this curiously hued smartphone splash.
In case you didn’t notice, Microsoft and Nokia are holding a pretty major press event right now, and while we’ve mainly been waiting for some shiny new hardware, a few fresh apps never hurt either. Nokia just made a joint announcement with AOL, unveiling an entertainment hub called Entrance, which will be available only on Nokia’s Windows Phone devices. AOL (which happens to be Engadget’s parent company) naturally used the app as a way to highlight its various properties, including Moviefone, AOL Music and Huffington Post Entertainment. So, for example, you might watch trailers or buy tickets on Moviefone, or read news from HuffPo. Like its various Android apps, it includes Shoutcast Radio integration with streaming from over 55,000 radio stations worldwide. Perhaps the most compelling bit, though, is an augmented reality feature with overlays for movie posters and show times. The app’s free and available for download at the source link below, and we’ve also got some screenshots to help give you a sense for the look and feel.
Nokia Lumia 920 official: Dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 CPU, 8MP PureView camera, Windows Phone 8 (video)
It was only this past spring that Nokia crashed onto the US smartphone scene to stake its claim and make inroads into consumers’ minds and hearts. Now, just five months later, the Finnish company’s poised to overtake the buzz of its fledgling, former Windows Phone flagship, with what many consider to be a true high-end contender: the Lumia 920.
As one of the first Windows Phone 8 devices to be officially announced, this device augments Espoo’s line with a larger, curved 4.5-inch PureMotion HD+ display, dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 CPU, 2,000mAh battery, NFC, integrated wireless charging and an 8-megapixel rear PureView camera capable of 1080p video. The display packs WXGA (1,280 x 768) resolution, is 25 percent brighter than the next best panel on the market and it’s the fastest LCD that Nokia has ever shipped on a smartphone. What’s more, the screen also boasts what Nokia calls “Super Sensitive Touch,” which promises to let you use it even when wearing gloves or mitts.
As you can tell from its humpless back, this PureView is not that of the 41-megapixel variety — it’s merely all about the branding, as the moniker will now ring synonymous with “high-end cameras.” Despite that fall from 808 grace, Nokia’s Head of Imaging Damian Dinning has assured detractors the magic is in what’s done with the optics and pixels and not sheer gargantuan sampling size. To wit, the 920 employs a “floating lens,” which, in layman’s terms, translates into hardware image stabilization and also packs impressive low-light capabilities — an area the company’s seems squarely focused upon.
In a true return to form, the 920 also hearkens back to the Lumia that started it all, opting for the “sinuous tapering” that debuted on the 800 with glass edges that blend gently into the polycarbonate hull. Unfortunately, not all of that design language has made the transition, given its chassis now appears glossier and more polished, distancing itself from that premium matte finish. Still, as looks go, the handset’s keeping to its 900 origins, appearing nigh indistinct from its predecessor save for that attention-grabbing mellow yellow hue.And as a bonus, Nokia’s imbued the device with integrated wireless charging, based on the Qi standard, which corroborates those leaks we saw just last week. The Lumia 920 will arrive in pentaband LTE and HSPA+ variants and both are expected to ship “in selected markets” later this year.
Microsoft’s SmartGlass gets official: app brings AirPlay-esque streams to Android, iOS and Windows Phone
Microsoft may not be introducing a next-gen console at E3 this year, but it is teaching its venerable Xbox 360 some new tricks. SmartGlass brings AirPlay-style wireless technology to Xbox and Windows 8 by letting you send video from your tablet or phone to your TV. It then turns that second screen into an information window giving you data of the content you’re watching. Plus, it updates the info on your mobile device as the content on the TV changes. The app also enables peripheral controls for games you’re playing — so you can scroll through different plays on your tablet while playing Madden on your big screen, for example.
In addition to providing your peripherals with contextual awareness, the SmartGlass app turns your phone into a remote and trackpad for your Xbox, in case using Kinect and regular controllers aren’t something you’re into. So, you can pinch to zoom, move the onscreen cursor and scroll to your heart’s content in Xbox’s new web browser using your tablet or phone. When will we be seeing SmartGlass in living rooms? Unfortunately, not until this fall, so our liveblog photos of the app in action will have to suffice until then.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone team is making a few changes to how users are able to acquire apps on their devices but luckily, they probably won’t affect most of you. Starting today, users can no longer get apps from the Zune desktop software (the app store will remain for the Zune HD, as shown above), so they’ll need to browse via the website or directly on their phones, which Microsoft says the majority of users were already doing. The other change is that in the next few weeks, any users who have not upgraded their handsets to Windows Phone 7.5 Mango will no longer be able to download, update or review apps. Since the update is available for all Windows Phones (Android, we’re mostly talking about you) this shouldn’t be too much of a problem, and any laggards will regain their access after upgrading.
On a final note, the developer blog mentions the software needed for hardware partners to create phones for Bahrain, Israel, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, UAE and Vietnam and that there will be more news on these storefronts “in the weeks ahead.” With these moves, the squad has culled any reason to open a heavy memory hungry desktop program just to install some new apps from a PC (iTunes, we’re completely talking about you) and devs can write off supporting users still running on old platforms guilt-free. All that in one day? We bet they didn’t even have to use their AK — those old zune:// links however, will be missed.
Looking to pick up a Windows Phone handset on Big Blue? You might want to sit tight for a few days. AT&T has just confirmed to us that the HTC Titan II will be hitting the carrier’s U.S. stores on April 8th, the same day that the Lumia 900 is set to ship. HTC’s flavor will retail for double the price of Nokia’s new flagship, priced at $199.99, and takes the award for highest megapixel count, thanks to its 16MP backside-illuminated sensor with an f/2.6 AF lens in tow. It also includes a 1730mAh removable battery and a familiar design that’s nearly identical to its predecessor. We were quite impressed with that camera during our test at CES, however, so if you’re looking to replace your first-gen Titan with a very capable cameraphone, this may be your best bet. Jump past the break for our hands-on.
Now here’s a little righteous indignation to liven up your Monday. It’s the sorry and admittedly one-sided tale of Galaxy Nexus-owner Sahas Katta, who claims he beat a “Get Smoked” Windows Phone challenge at a Microsoft store yesterday, but was denied his prize. To win a $1,000 laptop, he simply had to complete a task on his personal phone quicker than a store employee who was using a Windows Phone. It so happened that the task chosen for Sahas’s contest suited him perfectly: he was told to cold boot and then bring up the weather in two different cities, and by a stroke of luck he already had two separate weather widgets for San Jose, CA and Berkeley, CA running on his Nexus’ home screen. He also had his lock screen disabled, which goes against Google’s own security advice but which he says gave him the “split second” edge he needed. The principle of justice, meanwhile, was smothered with lock screens, because Sahas was promptly informed that he’d just been “smoked” by a Windows Phone, even though he’d been quicker. At first he was told that the Windows Phone won because it “displays the weather right there,” then he was told it was because both his cities were “in the same state,” and finally he just gave up. A Microsoft insider has since tweeted that he’ll “make it right” for Sahas, but will it be the kind of right that includes a $1,000 laptop?
Those of you stateside Windows Phone hopefuls just dying to get on the Lumia bandwagon will have a new handset to jump on beginning early next month. AT&T has confirmed to CNET that the Lumia 900 will be hitting U.S. retailers on April 8th, for $99.99 on a two-year contract — an aggressive price for the flagship smartphone. The LTE-equipped device includes a 4.3-inch ClearBlack display, 1.4GHz single-core CPU, 512MB of RAM and an 8-megapixel rear-facing cam with an f/2.2 Carl Zeiss lens and LED flash. There’s also a non-removable 1830mAh battery, which should keep the 4G slab powered for a fair amount of time. Want to take a closer look at this new Microsoft-friendly flagship? Jump past the break for our hands-on video, direct from CES 2012.
If you thought Mango was the bee’s knees, just wait till you get a hold of Apollo. No, seriously, keep waiting ’cause we have no idea when that will happen. While we still can’t say when Windows Phone 8 will be making its way to a handset near you, we do have quite a few new details about the mobile OS courtesy of the folks over at PocketNow. The site managed to snag a copy of a video starring Windows Phone manager Joe Belfiore talking about what’s coming in the next major revision. Those of you concerned with Microsoft’s inability to go toe to toe with Apple and Google on specs can breathe a bit easier as new screen resolutions (four in total) and dual-core CPUs will be supported, while those clamoring for more storage will be happy to hear that microSD support has returned — this time in an official capacity. Rounding out the new hardware features will be NFC support, including the Beam-like ability to share content by tapping, though, it’ll have the advantage of being able to share with Windows 8 based tablets and laptops as well. And, speaking of Windows 8, its similarly numbered, phone-centric sibling won’t just share a UI, it’ll have many of the core components, including large chunks of the kernel, networking stack and security features — which should make porting apps from the desktop to the handset a relatively simple affair.
Eldar Murtazin gives RIM six months to win back customers, says Nokia is selling its soul to Microsoft
Murtazin is a guy well known for scoring handsets way ahead of even their debut showing. He also has an uncanny knack of knowing exactly what mobile companies are plotting — sometimes. He’s a guy worth listening to, especially for his often outspoken views on company failings. In his latest (lengthy) editorial, Eldar Murtazin takes umbrage with two companies that have weathered a tricky 2011; RIM and Nokia. He reckons that the BlackBerry makers have around six to eight months to convince people and the markets that there’s still a future — a worrying deadline given that we’re not expecting to see its OS successor until the second half of 2012. Regardless of when these long-awaited QNX handsets do appear, Murtazin maintains that even if they arrived with the kind of OS that dreams are made of, they are unlikely to recover the ground lost in recent years — especially on corporate handsets.
However, he saves most of his ire for the Nokia-Microsoft partnership, claiming that Nokia executives have lost their ability to sensibly judge the state of the mobile world. With apparently the “most valued” engineers and developers leaving the good ship Nokia, the shuttering of Nokia’s own Ovisync services are apparently talismanic of a shift closer to Microsoft. Murtazin thinks that Nokia CEO Elop has only two aims while at the helm; to ruin the company’s chances of recovering in the mobile market and increasing Microsoft’s own share and influence in the same sphere. He also reckons a Microsoft buyout of Nokia is still plausible, and while we’re sure you’ve been reading Eldar’s missives with a hefty side of salt, it would make for an even more interesting 2012.
Just over one month after crossing the 40,000 app-submission threshold, Microsoft’s Windows Phone Marketplace has hit another milestone: 50,000. According to analyses done by All About Windows Phone, the Taj Mahal of tiles has seen developers submit just over 50,000 applications for review — 42,655 of which are currently available in the United States. What may be more telling is the rate at which developers are submitting their wares. Over 17,000 apps have been submitted to the Marketplace in the last 90-days from over 13,000 different publishers (an average of 265 per day). With Apple’s iOS App Store and Google’s Android Market sitting firmly atop the mobile-app-ecosystem totem pole, Microsoft is looking to close the gap and put distance between itself and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry App World. Hopefully, the gang from Redmond can keep the positive momentum going through 2012… even with its next major mobile OS revision being a minor one.
As expected, Microsoft has made its new and improved Xbox Companion app for Windows Phone available to coincide with the latest Xbox dashboard update — what’s not so expected is the iOS app that also rolled out today. Dubbed My Xbox Live, the iOS app (optimized for both iPhone and iPad) is expectedly a bit more limited than its Windows Phone counterpart, but it will let you read and send messages, edit your profile and update your avatar, manage your friend list, and keep an eye on your achievements (and those of your friends). The new Windows Phone app, on the other hand, brings with it a decidedly more integrated experience, including the ability to search for games, music and movies available through Xbox Live, and view second screen information while you’re using your console. Hit the appropriate source link below to download the app of your choice.
The great thinkers of the world have long known a secret that we’re now happy to disclose: it’s not necessity that’s the mother invention, but rather laziness. Fortunately, expending a great deal of effort on a project — simply to perform a task effortlessly — sometimes brings very cool results. A concept app known as ZuneVoice easily passes muster in this realm, which is used to control Zune software on the PC with only a standard microphone and spoken commands. As you can see in the demo video, its creator, keyboardp, is able to play individual songs, issue commands such a “pause” or “next song”, and even display full-screen music videos from YouTube. The developer even crafted an app for his Lumia 800 known as PhoneZune, which serves as a remote control for times when he’s away from the box. Neither application is yet publicly available, though feedback is welcome. Next, we’re told to expect Kinect integration. Perhaps one day, these gems will see the light of day.
Still tempted by the fruit of another? If you’re looking Microsoft’s way, but aren’t quite ready to toss your adoration for iOS or Android aside, the coders in Redmond are giving you an alternative to quitting cold turkey. By visiting http://aka.ms/wpdemo on one’s iOS or Android browser, you’ll be immediately tunneled into a emulation of Windows Phone 7. We gave it a test run here at Engadget HQ, and it seems that every tile and swipe save for Apps runs properly. Can’t say the fonts and such looked as smooth on our Galaxy S II as they do on the Radar, but it’s a solid effort that’ll definitely serve you well if you’re considering the switch. Just don’t try to flip the demo horizontally — that’s clearly a no-no.
Windows Phone 7 emulator within Android 2.3′s web browser