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.
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.
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
Thousands of smartphones pass through New York City’s Herald Square each day, but few tower higher than a few inches, or run Windows Phone 7.5. In celebration of three new Windows Phones hitting stores — the Samsung Focus S, Focus Flash and HTC Radar 4G — Microsoft has constructed a monstrous six-story “Windows Phone” just a few feet away from the world’s largest Macy’s store, right in the middle of one of the city’s more popular outdoor picnic areas. The gadget sure is huge, but it’s not a phone in the traditional sense — enormous tiles display video feeds transmitted from a control room, and move out of place to accommodate live stage performances. We dropped by for a midday calisthenics session, which surprisingly appeared to be a hit with locals and tourists. There were functioning devices on hand as well, in a makeshift showroom, though those were far less popular than the 55-foot behemoth front and center. Jump past the break to see it in action.
We’ve already seen Tango video calling demonstrated on a Windows Phone Mango handset, and the company has now confirmed that it will indeed be the first video calling service available for the OS. The app is slated to roll out on November 7th, and it will include both some tight integration with the operating system (aided by some input from Microsoft) and hardware acceleration for smoother video calls. It will also apparently come pre-loaded on at least some of the forthcoming Mango-based handsets, although Tango isn’t ready to specify exactly which just yet. Naturally, all of this now puts some considerable attention on Skype, which Microsoft acquired earlier this year for the tidy sum of $8.5 billion, but it still has some catching up to do with Tango on the Windows Phone front — a spokesperson tells Forbesthat it “does not have anything to announce at this time regarding Skype on Windows Phone.”
Nokia’s Lumia 710 Windows Phone announced alongside the 800, hitting select markets by end of year (Video)
You didn’t think Nokia would go through all this hoo hah just for one handset, did you? Nope, the potential audience is far too big to be satisfied with just one device at one price point, so here comes the Lumia 710. It takes advantage of the same 1.4GHz CPU found in the Lumia 800, offers a 3.7-inch ClearBlack display and comes in “stealthy black” and “crisp white,” with replaceable back covers. Look for the 710 to be priced around €270, or $375. For availability, you can expect to see the Lumia 710 hitting France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK in November and then Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan by the end of the year, with additional markets in the first part of 2012.
We knew as soon as we first clapped eyes on this hulk of a phone that it’d make a brave purchase. It’s not just the 4.7-inch screen that requires a leap of faith, but also the Windows Phone operating system, which is presented here in all its Mangofied glory but is still very much an early adopter’s ecosystem. After all, if you love the Titan’s hardware but prefer a more established OS, you can always wait for the Sensation XL, which is essentially the same phone running good ol’ Android and which should have a similar £480 ($750 converted) SIM-free price tag. The question is, do you have the guts to make that jump to something more exotic? Yes? Maybe? Then read on before you begin your run-up.
Hey, it’s our old pal, the Acer W4. We’ve heard tell of the device and seen our share of mockups, and this week at IFA, we actually got to play with the thing. The 3.6-inch handset is fairly compact, and pretty slick looking, with its black front and curved white backing. It’s not particularly exciting on the spec side, with its 1GHz Qualcomm processor. Nope, what’s most exciting here is the inclusion of Mango, which should look rather familiar to Windows Phone 7 owners, while adding some welcomed updates to the mix.
HTC just threw two new Windows Phone handsets down on the table and politely requested that we be impressed. The high-end Titan (previously leaked as the ‘Eternity’) is indeed an awe-inspiring brute, wielding a 4.7-inch SLCD display, 8MP rear camera and 1.3MP front-facing snapper to take full advantage of Mango’s newfangled Skype integration. Its over-sized guts include a single-core 1.5GHz processor, 512MB of RAM and up to 16GB of fixed flash storage. Meanwhile, the Radar (which also recently leaked out as the ‘Omega’) comes significantly less pumped in order to meet a lower price point and — we suppose — the expectations of a more mainstream audience. It can be seen as an updated Trophy, with similar weight and dimensions, plus the same 3.8-inch LCD, 1GHz processor clock speed, 5MP rear camera resolution, RAM and maximum 8GB fixed storage. The key upgrades involve the cameras: HTC says it has an improved 28mm wide-angle lens on the rear, plus of course there’s the front-facer, which is unfortunately only VGA. Although HTC intends to update its existing WP7 range to Mango starting in mid September, the Titan and Radar will be the company’s first innately Mango-fied devices when they arrive in early October. What do we make of them? By all means, click past the break to find out.
Is Microsoft preparing to fill in Google’s old mobile boots? It could very well be, now that the search king has firmly committed to the hardware side of the mobile business. According to a report on GigaOM, MS was one of many potential suitors circling Motorola’s treasure trove of patents, effectively forcing El Goog to swoop in for the $12.5 billion kill. Moto’s portfolio of 17,000 patents and 7,500 patent applications would have significantly strengthened Redmond’s attack on the Android platform, but it appears the loss might actually benefit MS in other unintended ways. Despite the cheery, public well-wishing from handset makers, insider rumblings indicate a possible mass OEM defection to Windows Phone 7 could shortly be afoot, paving the way for a fierce, three-way mobile OS fight. For its part, Google doesn’t seem too worried about the competition, considering the deal’s hefty $2.5 billion break-up fee — a percentage three times that of the AT&T / T-Mobile mergerpenalty — a confident financial sign it intends to win this wireless race.
Groupme, the little group messaging service that made a bit of a splash at Google I/O, turns 3.0 today. There are some shiny new features on board, including a simpler way to exchange private messages and “Questions” for sparking conversations when you’re not sure who to talk to. But, the big news — Groupme 3.0 is now platform and nation agnostic. With the latest update, the service will be available in 90 countries and add Windows Phone 7 to its list of supported OSes, alongside iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android. Even if you’re sitting in front of your desktop you can still take part in the mass messaging fun. The website has been overhauled and now sports all of the same features, like photo-sharing and group management, as the mobile apps. Check out the source link to get the latest version for your handset of choice — provided you’re not a Symbian fan — and don’t miss the gallery below.
Steve Ballmer may have confessed during today’s WPC keynote that Windows Phone 7′s market share is still “very small,” but it’s obvious the team is doing monumental things with Mango. As the mobile OS finds it own, things like indoor mapping and a pristine iteration of Visual Voicemail could be key to swaying folks who still believe that Microsoft’s latest attempt in the smartphone universe still lacks the basics. The fine folks over at Pocketnow and WMPowerUser have been putting the latest build of Mango through those exact paces, and both instances are looking downright delicious. We won’t bore you with textual details; head on past the break for a bit of visual proof.
The image above is unfortunately just a Photoshop special, designed to sucker you in. But there is evidence to suggest that a WP7 version of the overwhelmingly popular Galaxy S II might be just around the corner. What type of evidence, you ask? The numerological type: if you take the Galaxy S II’s model number, SGH-927, then add 10, you get “SGH-937.” Now, a device bearing that name has just cropped up at the Bluetooth SIG, and it’s reported to have exactly the same Bluetooth characteristics as a Mango Windows Phone 7 handset. Finally, we add some corroboration in the form of an obscure list of WP7 phones at Occasional Gamer, which also mentions the SHG-937. That leaves us just two possibilities: either WP7 is about be available on one of the best smartphones around, or it isn’t. Luckily, the occult rules of numerology state that you can pick whichever one you like.
Make no mistake, Microsoft isn’t playing coy in the smartphone market any longer. The folks in Redmond are making a significant jump forward in the mobile arena, announcing that the upcoming version of Windows Phone, codenamed “Mango,” will be heading to a device near you in time for the holidays. As its competitors have raised the bar of expectations to a much higher level, Microsoft followed suit by adding at least 500 features to its mobile investment, which the company hopes will plug all of the gaping holes the first two versions left open.
We received a Samsung Focus preloaded with the most recent developer build (read: not even close to the market release version) and we had a few good days to put it through its paces. It’s still far from completion, as there were several key features that we couldn’t test out; some weren’t fully implemented, and others involved third-party apps that won’t be updated until closer to launch. Yet we don’t want to call this build half-baked — in fact, it was surprisingly smooth for software that still has at least four months to go before it’s available for public consumption.
At the risk of sounding ridiculously obvious, we’re mighty interested in seeing the final result when all is said and done this holiday season. As a disclaimer, we can’t guarantee that the stuff we cover here will actually look or act the same when it’s ready to peek out and make its official introduction in Q4; as often happens, features and UI enhancements are subject to be changed by the Windows Phone team as Mango gets closer and closer to release. Let’s get straight to brass tacks, since there’s a lot of details to dive into. It’d be best to grab a large beverage (we’d recommend a Big Gulp, at least), find your most comfortable chair, and meet us after the break.
Still not clear on what your gaming options will be like with Windows Phone Mango? Then Microsoft’s now got you covered with a fairly extensive overview of its new Games Hub, which has actually been tweaked a bit further from earlier previews it’s offered. One of the biggest changes is that the Hub now includes features previously relegated to the separate Xbox Live Extras app, including improved Xbox Live messaging, integrated achievements (complete with comparison views with your friends), and the ability to edit your Xbox Live profile — not to mention fully animated 3D avatars. The Hub also boasts a new Collection view that promises to let you more easily manage your installed Windows Phone games, and it’s literally been brightened up a bit across the board. Check out the gallery below for a closer look, and hit the source link for some more details.