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  1. Microsoft Lumia DENIM​ Update Last night I decided to do an update to my Lumia 630, to my surprise the long awaited DENIM Update was finally here in preparation for the Windows 10 Upgrade... Many details are covered at the link mentioned above but one which I am quite happy about is the fact that now on Windows Phones.. We have the ability to create a personal WiFi Hotspot. This interests me a great deal as I will no longer have to buy another SIM Card and pay a data plan for my tablet.. Owning the phone for the first few months made me quite jealous and perturbed at the fact that iPhone users had this capability right on the phone natively and yet Microsoft did not. Many attempts at ​connecting virtual Wifi Routers.. Proxy connections and fake apps which did not do as advertised later I gave up with no hope.. Now I am a happy Wind​ows Phone owner.
  2. By Tony Calileo Jan 27 http://tony.calileo.com/fb
  3. Turk

    Nokia Lumia 1520 Review

    By Jamshed Avari, January 16, 2014 The Lumia 1520 has two big things working against it, neither of which is a deal-breaker on its own, but when combined, make it a very interesting product to review. First, it's a Windows Phone. While the platform certainly does have its fans, there's no denying that it isn't as versatile as iOS and Android yet. As a person buying this phone, you will have to put up with a number of limitations and frustrations because of its software. Second, it's huge. So-called "phablets" are big business, but not everybody wants a phone that can't fit in a pocket and be held in one hand. With that said, it's time to examine this phone on its own merits and see whether Nokia has managed to distinguish itself with a winner. Look and feel Nokia's first big-screened Lumia seems like a "me-too" product. Sensing that Android manufacturers have been making huge profits with such devices, they want in on the action. Luckily, both Microsoft and Nokia have been able to tweak their software and hardware manufacturing well in time to catch this wave. The Lumia 1520 isn't just a stretched-out version of any other model, although its bright polycarbonate shell fits right in with the rest of the Lumia lineup. We had the glossy red model in for review, and while we were impressed with the quality of materials and construction, we found it a bit too flashy. Other manufacturers' flagship devices use metal or more subtle coloured plastic, and it seems Nokia is specifically going after a young, outgoing sort of customer with its current design direction. The subtler matte finish of the white and black variants will have a much broader appeal. The 1520 is a near-perfect rectangular slab with rounded edges and blunt pointy corners. The back is flat except for a roughly 1mm tall circular bump housing the rear camera's optics. On the whole, the body is impressively thin and still manages to be reassuringly strong when bent or flexed. The front face is made of toughened Gorilla Glass 2, which should be able to withstand a fair bit of abuse. The back is mostly blank, with only the camera lens, dual-LED flash, speaker grille and microphone array visible. Nokia's own branding and PureView logos are printed in a surprisingly subtle, light ink. On the right edge you'll find a volume control rocker, power button and camera button, while a Micro-USB port sits on the bottom and a standard 3.5mm headset jack is the only thing on top. The left edge has slots for your Nano-SIM and microSD cards, both covered by flaps that can be released with a pin or the included eject tool. At 209g, the Lumia 1520 is the heftiest of its siblings. Its size and weight make it rather cumbersome to carry around and you won't be comfortable holding it in one hand for very long. For the purpose of comparison, Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 and HTC's One Max weigh in at 168g and 2217g respectively. The weight and smooth glossy body make it very easy for this phone to slip out of a trouser pocket when you sit down, although you're unlikely to want to keep it in a pocket at all. Unless you wear a jacket or carry a bag every day, you'll probably end up carrying it in your hand. Features and specifications On the inside, Nokia hasn't skimped on anything. The 1520 is powered by a top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC (system-on-a-chip), which consists of a Krait 400 CPU running at 2.2GHz and Adreno 330 graphics processor along with integrated LTE, Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth communications modules. Pretty much every flagship smartphone on the market today and even a few tablets use this particular SoC, so the 1520 is in good company. 2GB of RAM should be more than enough for even the most demanding tasks, including recording continuous HD video and capturing 20-megapixel photos. The battery is non-removable, as is the norm these days. Nokia's ClearBlack IPS LCD is vivid and sharp, with a highly reflective surface. Colours don't pop as much as they do on some of the AMOLED screens used by competitors, which is a matter of personal preference The Lumia 1520's PureView camera is one of its biggest selling points, but it isn't the same record-setting 41-megapixel unit that first debuted with the Symbian-powered Nokia 808 and later re-emerged on the Lumia 1020. The 1020 thus remains Nokia's current flagship camera phone, which creates an odd division in their product lineup. The 1520 has better specifications all around, especially the screen and processor, but it doesn't get the benefit of what is easily Nokia's best innovation in the entire series. Nevertheless, this camera still bears the "PureView" tag, and with the combination of hardware and software used, you still get optical image stabilisation, the ability to record in RAW format, manual focus, ISO and shutter speed control, advanced post-capture editing options, and of course full-HD video recording at 30 frames per second. Software The Windows Phone environment is what truly sets the Lumia 1520 apart from all its big-screened rivals. Microsoft has managed to update the OS to work with large, pixel-dense screens, so everything looks crisp and slick. There's room for an extra column of medium-sized tiles on the home screen, and you can have a maximum of six small ones in a row. Most apps look great, especially ebook apps and games, but surfing the Web is a mixed bag since some sites default to a mobile layout, which just looks ridiculous on such a device. The high resolution and pixel density help make Windows Phone's various pages full of thin typography feel less sparse, but the sheer size of the screen also amplifies the OS's annoyances, such as the excessive animations that accompany every screen transition and menu fly-out. Other little things matter too: menus roll up from the bottom of the screen but confirmation dialogs are displayed right on top, well beyond the reach of your thumb. You'll find yourself adjusting your grip on the 1520 every time you encounter things like this that just weren't designed with such a large screen in mind. That brings us to the software's biggest flaw: Nokia and Microsoft haven't managed to figure out how to make a soft keyboard work on such a large device. The standard keyboard has simply been stretched to fill the screen's width, but it also retains its original proportions, resulting in keys that are too large and widely spaced for quick two-thumbed typing. This also means that when active, the keyboard obstructs well over half of the available vertical screen space, so while reading documents is a total pleasure, typing and editing are far more frustrating than they should be on such an otherwise capable device. The only people who would actually benefit from this are those who prefer hunt-and-peck typing with a single finger. One of the platform's flagship features is MS Office integration. Apart from the keyboard issue, working with documents is a fantastic experience, and this is one of the best reasons to choose a big-screened phone. You can view Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, but creation is limited to Word and Excel. You can type out text documents just like notes, with a few limited formatting options, and create spreadsheets with formulas and even graphs. Again, we ran into limitations in the way that Windows Phone apps are designed: there's a lot of untapped potential given the 1520's screen and processor. Just to prove this point, we loaded the desktop version of SkyDrive in Internet Explorer. The integrated Office Online version of Word loaded perfectly, giving us a much fuller, more powerful tool on exactly the same hardware (although, to be fair, it involved a lot of pinching and zooming to actually make use of). Microsoft includes a voice command feature that's far more basic than Siri on iOS and Android's integrated functions. You can basically only open apps and dial saved numbers, although third-party apps can also add their own commands. The feature is only notable because, at least with the default setting on our review unit, the phone responds to commands in an Indianised voice with overdone inflections. This might have been intended to make users here feel more comfortable, but it really does come across as cartoonish and patronising. Nokia-specific tweaks Microsoft's efforts have also been supplemented by Nokia in the form of several apps and tweaks, and the Lumia 1520 is the first device to ship with Nokia's latest "Black" software update preinstalled. The most useful of these is the Glance screen, which basically displays the time, phone status and notifications on the phone's lock screen persistently, even after the screen times out. Users of older Nokia Series 60 smartphones will find this familiar: it's exactly the same as the old "screensaver" feature, but now it's done by keeping the screen backlight very slightly illuminated. This might impact battery life to a very small extent, but Glance uses the phone's proximity sensor to turn itself off when it detects it's in a case or pocket. Similarly, since the power button won't always be easy to reach, you can wake the phone by double-tapping anywhere on the screen when it's asleep. Last but not least, Nokia has also decided to cater (or pander) to Indian buyers with a small collection of Indian ringtones, all of which sound like the background scores of incredibly cheesy tourism ads. Camera Nokia's historical strength in imaging has resulted in the truly excellent PureView series of camera phones, but it isn't only hardware that sets the company apart. Nokia knows perfectly well that a phone's camera is only as good as its interface. After having released a number of well-received camera apps, Nokia has decided to coalesce them all into a single one called-what else-Nokia Camera. This app replaces the default Windows Phone camera app, which is truly a blessing. In the default Still mode, you can quickly adjust settings for the flash, white balance, ISO, shutter speed and brightness. You can even manually focus an image as you'd like it. Nudging the shutter release icon inward makes a semi-transparent overlay appear over the display with crescent-shaped sliders for all these settings, and you can see how changing one value affects the others. If you push one too far, you'll see a red highlight and some of the others might become unavailable. This helps you use the best settings for normal shots, but also experiment with artistic ideas. By default, the app is set to capture 16:9 photos at 16 megapixel resolution, but changing this to standard 4:3 actually nets you 19megapixel images, since these are essentially uncropped versions of the same frames. Smaller 5-megapixel versions of all shots are saved in addition to the full size, which are easier to email and upload via various apps. In fact the only way to get the original high-res versions of photos off the phone is to connect it to a PC via USB. In addition to JPG, you can choose to record files in the DNG RAW format, which is uncompressed and allows for much more flexible editing later on a PC (at the cost of enormous file sizes). We were very pleased with the quality of shots captured with the Lumia 1520, both in daylight and at night. Zooming in to the full-resolution version of photos, we were able to expose minor imperfections such as JPEG artefacts and noise, but you'll rarely ever see these on screen. The luxury of having such a large image is that imperfections vanish when you scale downwards. It's possible to capture gorgeous macro shots, and of course being able to manually adjust focus is quite a thrill. In video mode, you only have white balance and focus controls, and can use the flash for constant illumination. There is one neat feature, though: That array of microphones on the rear panel allows the phone to detect where the subjects you're filming are, and boost audio from them while diminishing background noise. Video is captured at 1080p, which can be stepped down to 720p, and 30 frames per second which can be changed to 25 and 24 fps if you prefer. Videos are just as crisp and clear as we expected, and the optical image stabilisation feature really does make a difference. Finally, the third mode is what used to be Nokia's standalone Smart Camera app. In this mode, holding down the shutter button for a few seconds captures a series of frames in rapid succession. The phone then runs through a few processing algorithms and comes up with what it considers the best shot. You can swipe up and down to perform other tricks, such as superimposing multiple copies of a moving subject against a static background, blurring the background with only the subject in focus, and choosing the best combination of smiles from different frames. The Action Shot and Remove Moving Object modes only really work well when you can ensure that only one thing in the frame is moving, and that too at a particular speed. Playing with Smart Camera is a lot of fun, but it will take a bit of practice to get results that are as good as the ones in Nokia's tutorial and advertising materials. There's one more photography feature in the form of a standalone app, or a "lens" that can be launched from within the camera app's menu, called Nokia Refocus. This app captures images while also saving information about the scene at multiple different focal lengths. After taking the photo, you can tap different parts of the frame to decide whether the foreground or background should be blurred or focussed. For no apparent reason, there's a trick within a trick here: you can also tap any object in the frame to preserve its colour, while everything else turns to black and white. It's a neat effect, but it's best when used sparingly and subtly. Other apps Nokia's other big software selling point is the Here maps app with Drive+ global navigation directions. At least as far as larger cities go, we found the maps to be accurate and useful. Although the maps aren't as detailed as Google's, Nokia should get more credit than it does for its mapping features, especially the directions that include options for walking, driving, and public transport. You can check for updated maps and also save them to the device so you aren't dependent on an Internet connection, which frequent travellers will appreciate. The My Commute feature lets your phone learn where you travel from and to frequently, and it will calculate the best route for you and alert you to bad traffic conditions on any given day. You can pin a special My Commute live tile to the phone's Start screen to stay informed of traffic conditions on the way. Nokia Beamer is a hidden gem that links your phone to a service that you can access in any Web browser on any other device, and simply mirrors the contents of your screen to it. You can pair the phone by pointing its camera at a QR code displayed on the target machine's screen, after which pairing is effortless. Visuals are transmitted through the Internet, so don't expect perfectly clear video unless you have superfast Internet connections for both the phone and the target device. Performance and ratings As expected, the Lumia 1520 sailed through our synthetic benchmarks. We don't anticipate any problem running current or future apps, even graphically intensive ones. Games look incredible on the full-HD screen, which wasn't a surprise either. We noticed a few issues, such as a portion of the screen being cut off in one game, and visible tearing in another. We hope this is just a matter of developers optimising their titles for the new hardware, because the Lumia 1520 certainly has the potential to be a gaming powerhouse. In our subjective analysis, the points that stood out were the device's build quality, overall screen quality, and the performance of the camera hardware and software. We gave it lower marks for UI design, ergonomics, and the quality of its app ecosystem. The Lumia 1520 is ultimately an unbalanced device, with extremely powerful hardware and software that doesn't yet take advantage of it. Battery life is solid, and we had no problems with normal day-to-day usage, which consisted of receiving calls plus a few hours of watching videos, playing games, and browsing the Web over Wi-Fi. We did notice that the enormous 3400mAh battery takes a really long time to charge up to 100 percent. Our formal video loop test returned a result of 10 hours and 20 minutes, which is quite respectable. Verdict If you want a Windows Phone with a supersized high-resolution screen, this is currently the only game in town. Nokia is the only manufacturer truly committed to Windows Phone, and with its acquisition by Microsoft now complete, it's unlikely that any other company will bother developing such a device. The Lumia 1520 retails for roughly the same street price as the Lumia 1020, and both could be described as flagships of the line, depending on your priorities. The 1020's camera is simply unbeatable, and is the only thing keeping the 1520 from dominating the specifications charts in every category. However, the 1520's screen and nearly all its internal components are a generation ahead of the 1020's. Incidentally, most of the things we loved about the software such as the Glance screen, integrated camera app and Beamer app are contained in Nokia's "Black" update, which means they'll be rolling out to other Lumias shortly. It's also worth noting that Windows Phone 8.1 is expected in the second quarter of this year. While we don't have any clear indications as to what features and improvements it will bring, it's also likely that a new generation of phones will launch alongside it. The Lumia 1520 will almost certainly receive this update too, but we're not convinced it will have a very long shelf life, and that makes it even harder to recommend. So this is easily the most powerful Windows Phone we've ever used, but does that make it a great phone? We're hesitant to make a recommendation. If you love giant phones, there are quite a few Android options with screens and hardware that match the Lumia 1520, and they have the benefit of better optimised software and a far more substantial library of apps. If you love Windows Phone, there are cheaper options. The Lumia 1520 does stand out when it comes to its camera and looks, but you'd have to be pretty passionate about either of those things to spend close to Rs. 50,000 on this phone. Price: Rs. 56,539 http://gadgets.ndtv.com/mobiles/reviews/nokia-lumia-1520-review-471941
  4. Editorial Vlad Dudau 2 hours ago In my book Windows Phone has a few things going for it. First of all the refreshing Modern UI, which some people hate, but I find to be playful, functional and beautiful. Secondly: high-quality, beautiful devices from the likes of Nokia and even HTC which attract the eyes of consumers with their colors and style. However there are some indications that all of this might change in the near future and not for the better. I’m not referring to the operating system UI, which Microsoft has made quite clear that it’s committed to. Yes, Modern as a design language has become the Redmond’s company primary focus going forward, integrating it in all of their products, like the recently launched Xbox One, and Windows 8. The multi-colored live-tiled interface is here to stay and that for one makes me happy. What I’m referring to is the hardware side. Things might soon shift back towards the colorless slabs of glass and metal that were, and still are in large part, the de facto standard of smartphone and tablet design. Windows Phone 7 launch line-up. Can you spot the difference? If we go back to 2010, when Windows Phone first launched, you might remember that the original line-up of devices had pretty much the same look and feel to them. Whether it was the HTC Mozart, or the Samsung Omnia 7 or even the Dell Venue Pro with its physical keyboard, all the devices were pretty much the same. Sure, some had rounder corners, other had straight ones and the phones differed somewhat in terms of internals but from a user’s point of view they were all the same plastic slab with a screen thrown on top. Going a bit further we can easily say that all smartphones back then looked like that. Following Apple’s sterile iPhone design codes, which it had adopted years earlier for the iPod and Mac devices, all companies churned out black, uninspiring handsets. Yes, some of them could be rather beautiful, especially when they were the original design and not copycats. The iPhone 4 as well as some HTC handsets are good examples of this but the market quickly got saturated with the same design being rehashed over and over again by all the OEMs. The Nokia Lumia 900 - cyan all the way! Enter Nokia. I would like to argue that the Finnish company’s biggest contribution to current smartphones isn’t in terms of sales numbers or software, but rather in terms of design. Following the short-lived N9 with Meego, Nokia quickly repackaged their design ideas, added a lot of color, character and launched the Lumia 800. This wasn’t a commercial success, nor one in terms of critical achievement but it was a success in that it changed the conversation of how smartphones should look and feel. The Lumia 800 brought with it a bold and playful statement, and Microsoft’s and Nokia’s commitment to push this as a more personal handset to consumers paid off. Folks, both in terms of critics, consumers and even other OEMs noticed. A beautiful cyan-blue plastic, combined with the company’s legendary build quality made people pay attention. And most importantly it made other OEMs pay attention. A few months later the same thing happened once again with the Lumia 900, leaving many to wonder why there weren’t more well-designed colorful phones on the market. Finally we get to the launch of Windows Phone 8 and all the handsets that went with it. In something reminiscent of Skittles ads or even this famous Sony Bravia clip, Windows Phone 8 handsets, like the eye-catching Lumia 920 or the playful and stylish designs from HTC made a big colorful splash in the markets. And Nokia’s continued emphasis on good design and desirable looks, as seen in the Lumia 625 or the recently launched Lumia 525, finally made other OEMs cave in and join. Apple took a page out of its own playbook and came back to a much more colourful reality. Last year’s iPod touch models brought a bit of style and this year Apple went all in with the launch of the iPhone 5C. Even the 5S now gets a bit of a makeover with the gold/champagne version. And even Samsung says it’s thinking a lot more about design and build quality even though nothing has yet come of this. The Lumia 2520, a tablet with a splash of personality However this situation may soon change. Nokia is giving up on smartphones and its whole handset division will become part of Microsoft. Now, I’m not saying that Microsoft doesn’t do good design, as the Modern UI itself and Surface tablets clearly show it does. But it has yet to create playful, colorful devices that have their own appeal like the Nokia branded Lumia 2520 tablet. And in fact Microsoft has disappointed many with the rather uninspiring design of their Xbox One console. The company is unpredictable in this field. It occasionally sees major success but more often than not it’s seen as predictable and dull. There’s a real chance that all of Nokia’s hard work might get squashed or at least roughed up under Microsoft’s corporate legacy. Samsung Ativ S - might this be the future of Windows Phone design? And there’s another clue as to the future of Windows Phone hardware. According to recent rumors, Windows Phone 8.1 will completely ditch the physical keys and will go for an Android-styled approach where everything is digital. Why’s that important? Because Microsoft is trying to make it easier for OEMs to switch between Android and the Windows Phone platform. Which ultimately means OEMs will adopt a one size fits all approach and simply reuse their Android designs for WP handsets. And that pretty much takes us back to the Windows Phone 7 launch and its uninspiring black plastic slabs. Of course it doesn't necessarily end like this. Apple seems to have re-committed to colors and it will hopefully drag the rest of the market with them, much like it has in the past. Microsoft themselves will hopefully embrace all that the Lumia team is bringing with it. So even though Nokia’s role in the smartphone wars is ending, we can all hope that their legacy lives on including their awesome playful and user-friendly design. Images via Microsoft and Nokia http://www.neowin.net/news/the-future-of-windows-phone-design-in-microsofts-hands-as-nokia-passes-the-torch
  5. Adam Clark Estes January 13, 2014 4:00pm As you probably suspected, the NSA’s massive phone record collection “has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism,” according to a new study. In fact—and perhaps more interestingly—the agency’s real problem isn’t a lack of information. It’s an excess of secrecy. In the study, the New America Foundation reviewed 225 terrorism cases and found that traditional investigation and law enforcement methods actually did the most to prevent attacks. About a third of the leads in terrorism cases came from tips or an informant, while old school surveillance warrants were used in 48 cases. All things told, bulk telephony metadata collection provided evidence in only one case, a case that didn’t even present the threat of an attack against the United States. The results of the New America Foundations study are notable but not terribly surprising. After all, President Obama’s own advisory board said a couple weeks ago that the NSA’s program “was not essential to preventing attacks” and that the real useful evidence “could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional [court] orders.” They also agree that the NSA’s secrecy is doing more harm that good. The timing of the study couldn’t be better. President Obama will announce widespread reforms to the NSA and other government surveillance practices on January 17 and is expected to follow many of the advisory board’s recommendations. Afterwards, maybe the NSA can actually do something other than spy on unwitting Americans. Maybe they can do something useful! [New America Foundation via Washington http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2014/01/nsa-phone-spying-is-useless-in-preventing-terrorist-attacks-study-says Edit: The above "study" is an interactive figure shows all variables in details Original Study: http://www.newamerica.net/publications/policy/do_nsas_bulk_surveillance_programs_stop_terrorists Full Study Report PDF http://www.newamerica.net/sites/newamerica.net/files/policydocs/Bergen_NAF_NSA%20Surveillance_1.pdf
  6. Phone-controlled locks could one day make rummaging for your keys a thing of the past and some of the latest designs have been revealed at this week's CES show. The devices work by using a phone's Bluetooth connectivity to automatically open the lock when an approved person is nearby. The Goji Smart Lock, one of several designs on show at the Las Vegas technology expo, can also take a photo of whoever has triggered the lock and automatically send it to the homeowner's phone. Temporary 'digital keys' can also be created for certain periods or times of the day. For example, a text or email can be sent to a neighbour, babysitter or plumber to give them the power to unlock the front door. The lock's functions are controlled by an iPhone or Android app. Goji's founder, Gabriel Bestard-Ribas, said users could potentially control access to their home while lounging on a beach thousands of miles away. 'Your lock is linked to the WiFi of your home, and your home automation system, so you could manage your home from anywhere in the world,' he said. 'This is a really life-changing event that is happening nowadays.' A WiFi connected doorbell, called the SkyBell, was another of the security gadgets being shown off at CES. It sends an alert to a person's phone - plus live video - whenever someone rings the bell and lets the homeowner talk to the visitor. A motion sensor also triggers an alert when someone is lurking nearby, potentially catching out unwanted visitors. The annual CES technology show - the biggest in the world - has seen the biggest players in technology, as well as many start-ups, show off their latest products. http://www.skynews.com.au/tech/article.aspx?id=941109
  7. 1 of 2. The Huawei Ascend Mate2 4G mobile telephone with an Android operating system is displayed at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada January 8, 2014. Reuters) - LG Electronics executive Frank Lee bounded onto a Las Vegas stage this week to show off a new phone for the U.S. market, the 6-inch G-Flex, which boasts a curved screen. Two hours later, in another room at the same hotel, Huawei Technologies' Richard Yu unveiled the razor-thin Ascend Mate II, bragging it had a battery life of nearly two days. There was one key difference between the two product launches at the Consumer Electronics Show: the South Korean G-Flex will be sold through three U.S. carriers - T-Mobile U.S. Inc, AT&T Inc and Sprint Corp. The Chinese Ascend Mate II? None, at least not yet. In two years, China's three biggest handset makers - Huawei, ZTE Corp and Lenovo Group Ltd - have vaulted into the top ranks of global smartphone charts, helped in part by their huge domestic market and spurring talk of a new force in the smartphone wars. Chinese companies took up more showspace at CES than ever before, eager to tout their products to the world's largest electronics market. Still, analysts said it will likely take years for the Chinese to make headway in the United States, where arguably the only Asian brand to have succeeded is Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. Aside from their struggles to get onto store shelves - U.S. carriers sell nine-tenths of the country's handsets - Chinese handset makers continue to grapple with low brand awareness, perceptions of inferior quality, and even security concerns. "The talk last year was premature," said Frank Gillett, an analyst with Forrester Research. "It's one thing to have the product. It's another thing to have all the relationships, build the distribution channels and do the marketing. "We'll maybe start to see things kick in in 2015." In the third quarter of last year, ZTE and Huawei accounted for 5.7 percent and 3 percent of all phones sold in the United States, respectively, trailing Apple Inc's 36.2 percent and Samsung's 32.5 percent, according to IDC. While Samsung was able to use Google Inc's Android software to offer a viable rival to the iPhone, that path now is too well trodden with many brands offering Android phones. "It's a tall order to climb into this market and gain significant share now, simply because they're coming in after habits are established, technology is established and brand names are established," Gillett said. THE CHINESE ARE COMING It's not for lack of trying. Karen Chupka, one of the organizers of CES, said more than 1,800 Chinese companies turned up this year. She did not provide a comparison. Huawei and ZTE occupied prominent - and pricey - positions at the center of one of the cavernous halls. Huawei said it doubled the size of its booth in two years, and even parked a Mercedes sedan on the floor to attract participants. For Huawei and ZTE, the push into handsets came amid a general slow-down in their bread-and-butter business of selling networking equipment to telecoms companies. Frustrated by accusations on Capitol Hill that national security would be compromised if Chinese networking equipment were installed in the United States, they have sought to double down on handsets for American consumers instead. "That's a cloud over Huawei's ability to operate here," said Endpoint Technologies analyst Roger Kay. "Huawei suffers from something that Lenovo is also smeared with, but Huawei is tarred even worse than Lenovo ever was" in part because of persistent reports about its ties to the Chinese military. Compared to many other markets where consumers buy phones at full price for use on pre-paid plans, 92 percent of Americans buy heavily subsidized devices through carriers, IDC says. "The key to success in the U.S. is the carriers," ZTE USA President Lixin Cheng told Reuters this week in Vegas. He pointed to a nearby stack of papers. "That's my schedule." "I'm meeting all the carriers' C-level executives." ZTE unveiled late last year the Grand S, an unlocked phone that arrived in the U.S. market to mixed reviews. This week, the company unveiled a successor device, the Grand S II. Billed as the world's slimmest smartphone, Huawei's Ascend P6 debuted to mostly positive reviews last year but was never picked up in the United States. T-Mobile said it carries Huawei and ZTE devices, and Sprint said it sells a ZTE device. But these phones are not easily found in stores nor are they promoted on the carriers' websites. AT&T and Verizon did not respond to requests for comment. THERE'S HOPE Still, some analysts think the Chinese firms may have a better shot if the U.S. wireless operators change how they sell handsets. T-Mobile made waves last year when it said it would eliminate contracts for customers who pay full price for phones, and its bigger rivals followed suit with similar offers. More changes may be underway: at CES this week, T-Mobile offered to pay termination fees for users who switch over, essentially offering more freedom to move than before. Huawei and ZTE could make headway if carriers slash subsidies and more consumers are willing to pay full price, giving them an edge over high-end phones. But they may not see meaningful gains for at least two years, said ABI Research analyst Michael Morgan. "They are already setting themselves up for where the puck is going to be tomorrow, when price becomes visible to the consumer again," Morgan said. "There's the crack in the armor for them to sneak through." Just as essential is marketing, something Chinese firms have less experience with than their foreign rivals. Huawei last year uploaded a tongue-in-cheek video of a man asking people around New York's Times Square to pronounce "Huawei." Most failed. And "ZTE apparently has zero brand presence. No one knows who ZTE is," Kay said. In Vegas, Huawei touted figures showing brand recognition has doubled worldwide in the past year. But the least progress was made in the United States and Japan, where its brand awareness rose 5 percent and 9 percent, respectively. The Chinese firm has been marketing directly to consumers only in the past three years, sponsoring European sports events and music events, such as a recent Jonas Brothers tour. ZTE signed a deal with the Houston Rockets basketball team and released a Rockets-branded phone. Yet it will be hard-pressed to match Samsung's 2013 marketing budget of $14 billion, greater than Iceland's economy. "Our approach is grassroots, not like many tier-one brand names," Cheng said. "They're burning hundreds of millions of dollars of your money - consumer money - to build their brand." Some think Lenovo stands the best chance of cracking the local market, given its longer track record here and a more established brand in the United States, courtesy of its 2005 acquisition of IBM's PC division. Lenovo itself expressed an interest in October in Blackberry, but the deal was reportedly nixed by Canadian regulators. Lenovo USA president Gerry Smith declined to discuss specific deals but said Lenovo will "continue to look." Kevin Restivo, an IDC analyst, said the Chinese contenders were making the right moves but it would take time. "The Chinese smartphone makers have grown by leaps and bounds," Restivo said. "But there's a lot of heavy lifting in order for them to approach Samsung as far as status, brand and market share in the U.S. It's very early days." (Additional reporting by Paul Carsten in Beijing and Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Edwin Chan, Tiffany Wu and Bernard Orr) http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/10/us-ces-china-handsets-idUSBREA091BT20140110
  8. Nokia has today updated their Nokia Camera Beta app to version 4.5.1.6. imageThe app, which combines the features of Nokia Pro Cam and Smart Cam, is now available for all handsets running Nokia Amber, and brings support for DNG capture (Digital Negative Format) on the Lumia 1520 and 1020 running the Lumia Black software update. The app can be found in the Windows Phone Store here. Via WindowsPhoneapps.es http://wmpoweruser.com/nokia-camera-beta-updated-now-supports-all-nokia-amber-handsets
  9. Written by Ron on January 12, 2014 - 07:05PM If you are looking to make the switch to Windows Phone or simply confused by all the Nokia Lumia choices out there, have no fear. There are quite a few options out there for those interested in purchasing a brand new Nokia Lumia Windows Phone device. Ranging from the Lumia 520, all the way up to the Lumia 1520, which of these Windows Phone devices are the best for you? Nokia launched its line of smartphones called 'Lumia' running Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, first introduced back in November of 2011. These Lumia smartphones were the result of a partnership between Nokia and Microsoft, and aimed to challenge Apple's iPhone and Google's Android dominated smartphone market. Thanks to the Nokia Lumia line of smartphones, Microsoft can proudly tout Windows Phone as the third-place platform, behind iOS and Android. Sure, Windows Phone is on other devices, but Nokia makes up for the majority of Windows Phone devices out in the market today. Nokia Lumia Windows Phone devices all range from a wide variety of specs, color options, and price points. Available on three of the biggest carriers in the United States - Verizon, ATT, and T-Mobile - choosing the right Lumia device may be a daunting task for some. Lets explore some of these handsets and see which one is the right choice for you. Nokia Lumia 520, 521, 525 First off, we have the Nokia Lumia 520. Touted as the most popular Windows Phone device ever, the Nokia Lumia 520 is by far the most affordable choice out there. We recently did a piece on this device called Nokia Lumia 520: Exploring the world's most popular Windows Phone device ever and we suggest taking at look at it if you haven't already. The Nokia Lumia 520 is a 4-inch handset (WVGA 800 x 480) with a 5MP camera, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of storage and a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4​ 1GHz dual-core processor. This device features 3G connectivity. If you want the same specs, but with 4G connectivity, the Lumia 521 is your phone. The Lumia 525, on the other hand, is similar to the 520 and 521 except that it features 1GB of RAM. These devices pack basic power and functionality with a cheap price tag. Perfect as a secondary device or a backup device. Nokia Lumia 620, 625 The Nokia Lumia 620 is a Windows Phone 8 smartphone which features a 3.8-inch display, Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 Plus processor with 1Ghz dual-core CPUs, a 5MP rear camera, and 8GB of internal storage. Unlike the Lumia 520, the 620 features a front-facing camera. The Lumia 625, on the other hand, features the same specs as the Lumia 620 except for a larger 4.7-inch display and a slightly bumped 1.2Ghz CPU. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qU3kZQt4KOM Nokia Lumia 720 The Nokia Lumia 720 is a SIM-free device which you can snag from online retail outlets such as Amazon.com and comes packed with a 4.3-inch WVGA (800 x 480) IPS LCD. The device also features a Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 Plus processor with 1Ghz dual-core CPUs, 512MB RAM, 8GB storage space, and a 6.7MP camera. Nokia Lumia 810, 820, 822 The Nokia Lumia 810 features a 4.3-inch WVGA (800 x 480) display, with a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB of internal storage, and an 8MP camera. The Lumia 820 features a 4.3-inch WVGA (800 x 480) display, a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB of internal storage, and a slightly better 8.7 MP camera. The Lumia 822, available on Verizon, features a 4.3-inch WVGA (800 x 480) display, with a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and an 8MP camera. Nokia Lumia 920, 925, 928, 929* The Nokia Lumia 920 is an AT&T Windows Phone device that features a 4.5-inch WXGA (1280 x 768) IPS LCD display, with a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB RAM, 32GB of storage, and an 8.7MP Pureview camera. The Lumia 925, on the other hand, is newer with an Amoled display, rather than an IPS LCD display. Having roughly the same specs as the Lumia 920, the Lumia 925 is simply lighter and thinner. The Lumia 928, which is available via Verizon, features the same specs as the Lumia 920. The Lumia 928 sets itself apart by having both a Xenon and LED flash on the rear camera, along with a trio of mics for noise cancelation and distortion-free recording. Verizon is also rumored to be receiving the Lumia 929 (also known as the Lumia ICON), which features a 5-inch 1080p display, 2.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage space, and a 20MP camera. Nokia Lumia 1020, 1320, 1520 The Lumia 1020 is known for its 41MP camera with Xenon flash. Other specs include a 4.5-inch screen with 334 ppi and WXGA (1280 x 768) resolution, dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU, 2GB RAM, and 32GB of storage. The Lumia 1320 is a lower-cost sibling of the 6-inch Lumia 1520 and features a 6-inch 720p screen, a 5MP camera, dual-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU, and 8GB of internal storage which can be expanded to 64GB. There is also a 5MP camera. The Lumia 1520, on the other hand, is the current flagship Windows Phone device in the market with a gigantic 6-inch display sporting a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels with 367 ppi density. Under the hood, the phablet is powered by the monstrous Snapdragon 800 SoC clocked at 2.2GHz with Adreno 330 GPU and 2 GB of RAM. The device also features 16GB of storage space and a 20MP camera. Available Where? ◾Verizon: Lumia 928, Lumia ICON ◾AT&T: Lumia 920, Lumia 925, Lumia 1020, Lumia 1520 ◾Sprint: Does not carry Nokia Lumia devices. ◾T-Mobile: Lumia 521, Lumia 925 Comparing the camera and resolution ◾Lumia 520, 521, 525: 4-inch display (WVGA 800 x 480) with a 5MP camera ◾Lumia 620: 3.8-inch display (WVGA 800 x 480) with a 5MP camera ◾Lumia 625: 4.7-inch display (WVGA 800 x 480) with a 5MP camera ◾Lumia 720: 4.3-inch display (WVGA 800 x 480) with a 6.7MP camera ◾Lumia 810, 822: 4.3-inch display (WVGA 800 x 480) with an 8MP camera ◾Lumia 820: 4.3-inch display (WVGA 800 x 480) with an 8.7MP camera ◾Lumia 920, 925, 928: 4.5-inch display (WXGA 1280 x 768) with an 8.7MP camera ◾Lumia ICON: 5-inch display (Full HD 1920 x 1080) with a 20MP camera ◾Lumia 1020: 4.5-inch display (WXGA 1280 x 768) with a 41MP camera ◾Lumia 1320: 6-inch display (HD720 1280 x 720) with a 5MP camera ◾Lumia 1520: 6-inch display (Full HD 1920 x 1080) with a 21MP camera So as you can see, there are a wide variety of Nokia Lumia Windows Phone devices available for selection. If you are in the United States, AT&T has a wider selection of Lumia devices, including the higher end Lumia 1520. Those of you on Verizon will have to wait for the Lumia ICON to be released, otherwise settle for the Lumia 928. Sprint, for now, does not have any Nokia Lumia devices available for purchase, but you can use an unlocked Windows Phone device on the network. As for carriers outside of the United States, let us know in the comments below which Nokia Lumia device you are able to choose from and the name of the carrier. So which one of these devices are best for you? If you are looking for something simple and basic in functionality, snag the Lumia 521 which comes with 4G connectivity. A great midrange device would be any device in the 9xx range for those wishing to have a balance between power and price. For those of you who want a larger screen device and a powerhouse device without worrying about price, grab the 6-inch Lumia 1520. Which Nokia Lumia device do you currently own and on what carrier? Are you currently looking to make the switch to a newer Lumia device? Let us know in the comments below. If we missed or fudged any details, let us know in the comments as well so we can fix it! http://www.winbeta.org/news/lumia-520-lumia-1520-which-windows-phone-powered-nokia-device-best-you
  10. By Daniel Rubino, Saturday, Feb 8, 2014 at 4:32 pm With yesterday’s all but obvious teaser for the Lumia Icon – otherwise known as the Lumia 929 – you would suspect that a launch date and announcement wouldn’t be too far off from now. Granted, expected dates have come and gone in the past, but now that Verizon stores are receiving inventory for accessories and Nokia US is tossing up videos, we’re much more confident this time around. The latest intel has the Lumia Icon due for availability on Thursday, February 20th. Verizon traditionally launches new devices on that day of the week, so that lines up with expectations. It also matches anticipations that this device will come out before Mobile World Congress (so don’t expect it to be announced there). Even more, we’re hearing that the Icon will go on pre-order at Microsoft Stores on Wednesday, February 12th, with a $50 deposit, making an official announcement from Verizon by early next week very likely. The information and confirmation comes via in-store inventory listings, seen above. We’ve witnessed such proof in the past, only to have Verizon push the date back. In theory, that could happen here, but as mentioned earlier, in-store inventory and promotions have already begun, making it less likely. The Lumia Icon, previously known as the Lumia 929, sports some very impressive specifications. In fact, it’s all but the Lumia 1520 in a smaller package. Coming in Black or White, the new Verizon flagship will sport the following features: Verizon Nokia Lumia Icon •Windows Phone 8 Update 3, Lumia Black •5” 1080P AMOLED Display •2.2 GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon 800 CPU •32 GB internal Storage •2 GB RAM •20 MP PureView camera with dual LED flash •Qi-Wireless charging •2510 mAh battery •880 hours Standby; 13.83 hours Talk Time •Dimensions: 5.37 in (H): 2.81 in (W): 0.41 in All in all, it’s the spitting image of the Lumia 928, but with cutting edge hardware jammed into a device that is only slightly taller than its predecessor. The Lumia Icon also sports a metal-frame around the body, greatly improving the feel (and quality) of the device. The Lumia Icon was previously known as the Lumia 929, but we’ve been told that Verizon requested the marketing re-brand to better differentiate from AT&T and other carriers. This move is similar to their ‘Droid movement when they first adopted Android devices. There’s no evidence though that this will become the norm for future Lumias (or what those will be called under Microsoft). Yesterday’s teaser video uses the tagline ‘See and hear what you’ve been missing’, which is the same language used on Verizon’s website that accidentally went live a few times, all but confirming the relatedness. http://www.wpcentral.com/nokia-lumia-icon-verizon-february-20th
  11. By Ina Fried 8, 2014, 9:00 AM PST Tim Cook has made it abundantly clear that Apple will be going into some new market segments this year. He said it on last month’s earnings call, and reiterated it this week in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “There will be new categories and we’re working on some great stuff,” Cook told the Journal this week, adding, of course, “We’re not ready to talk about it.” Whatever it is Apple has cooking (and many expect a watch, or possibly a more serious entry in the television space), it can’t come soon enough. While smartphones continue to grow, most of that growth is in the low-end and mid-tier of the market — areas Apple has continued to eschew in favor of producing premium iPhone models. In its earnings report this week, chipmaker ARM Holdings forecast that the high-end part of the smartphone market — the only part in which Apple currently competes — will grow only an average of four percent over the next five years. The overall market is set to grow 10 percent, fueled by growth at the low end. “Anybody in the premium space has to be careful,” ARM Executive VP Antonio Viana said in an interview this week. Apple is most definitely in that space, with the iPhone generating $32.5 billion last quarter, more than half of Apple’s total sales. And while Apple isn’t alone in that area, it is the only company that sells phones exclusively at the high end. Rival Samsung has a particularly diverse portfolio of smartphones, with a model at almost every price and screen size. Apple hasn’t ruled out moving into other price segments, but Cook has said Apple won’t do so unless it can do something up to its high standards, a point he reiterated with the Journal. Where it comes to true smartphones, Cook said Apple is typically No. 1 or No. 2 in the market. “Would I like to be one in the places where we are two? You better believe it,” he told the Journal. “If there is a way we can do that without changing where our line is on a great product, then we’re going to do it. But what we’re not going to do is we’re not going to make junk.” http://recode.net/2014/02/08/this-one-chart-shows-why-apples-new-categories-cant-come-soon-enough
  12. by Peter Bright - Feb 9 2014, 12:00am AUSEST This article apparently is a response to "Analysis: Microsoft Must Kill Windows Phone And Fork Android" http://www.nsaneforums.com/topic/206052-analysis-microsoft-must-kill-windows-phone-and-fork-android/ Canning Windows Phone and using Android would be a huge mistake. As happens from time to time, the suggestion has been made that Microsoft cancel Windows Phone, and instead fork Android. It's not the first time this suggestion has been made. It's probably not the last, either. It's a poor idea. Google has worked to make Android functionally unforkable, with no practical way to simultaneously fork the platform and take advantage of its related strengths: abundant developers, and abundant applications. The outline of the "Microsoft should fork Android" argument is as follows: Windows Phone doesn't have huge developer buy-in or sales success, but Android has both. By forking Android, Microsoft could provide unique value—corporate integration with things like Exchange, Active Directory, and System Center or InTune; full Office support; a polished user experience—and make the platform depend on its own cloud services (Bing, Bing Maps, Azure) rather than Google's. But simultaneously, it would still have access to all the Android applications that people depend on. The result should be a platform that's somehow more attractive to consumers, by virtue of the Android brand and all those Android apps, more attractive to developers thanks to the Android APIs, and cheaper for Microsoft to develop, since core operating system development can be left to Google. Where this falls down is that there's no good way to use the Android platform this way. It's not designed for it. In fact, with each new Android release, Google is making a forked operating system less and less viable. Not-very-open source Broadly speaking, Google produces two big chunks of code. The first is the Android Open Source Platform (AOSP) codebase. This provides the basic bones of a smartphone operating system: it includes Android's version of the Linux kernel, the Dalvik virtual machine, and portions of the basic user interface (settings app, notification panel, lock screen). This part is licensed under a mix of the GPL and Apache license. Google produces periodic code release of these open source parts, though has been criticized for performing the actual development largely behind closed doors. The second chunk is called the Google Mobile Services (GMS). (Or at least, sometimes it's called GMS. Sometimes it's called just Google Services, and sometimes it's Google Play or Google Play Apps; GMS is what it's called in the code, though, so that seems to be the most common name). This has two big portions. The Google Play Services provides a wealth of APIs and system services: APIs for Google Maps, Location, and in-app purchasing; Google+ integration; Remote Wipe; Malware scanning; and more. Then there's the Play Store collection of apps: Search, Gmail, Chrome, Maps, and many more. The GMS has a few important features. GMS isn't open source. Anyone can take AOSP and slap it on a phone. That's not true of GMS. To get GMS, the device has to meet certain technical requirements (performance, screen resolution, and so on), and it has to pass validation. Though Google says that the GMS suite is itself free, the validation process isn't, with reports that it costs around $0.75 per device. GMS also seems not to be divisible: if your phone passes the GMS validation and can include GMS, it includes everything: both Play Services, and the various Google-branded apps that use those services. The split between AOSP and GMS is not constant, either. Google has slowly been migrating more and more functionality to GMS. For example, in the latest Nexus 5, the core phone user interface—the thing that you use to launch apps and show icons—has been rolled into the GMS Search app. Similarly, APIs have made the move. AOSP contains a location API, but GMS contains a newer, better one, with additional features. Google encourages developers to use the GMS API, and the AOSP Location API mostly dates back to Android 1.0, and hasn't seen any substantial changes since Android 1.5. The result is that many third-party applications are not merely "Android" applications: they're GMS applications, and won't run without the proprietary, non-open Google software. Four ways to do Android There are four ways that hardware builders can use Android on their phones. The first is the way that Google really wants companies to use Android: by relying both on AOSP and GMS. Pass the certification, include all the Google services and Google apps. That's what companies like Samsung and HTC and LG do. Going this route still provides some facility for the OEM to customize. OEMs can provide their own apps to sit alongside the Google ones, for example. It appears that Google isn't completely happy about this—there are reports that the company recently made an agreement with Samsung whereby Samsung would reduce the amount of customization of the user interface and deprioritize or remove its apps that competed directly with Google-branded equivalents. Taking this path provides the best compatibility with third-party applications by ensuring that they have both AOSP and GMS APIs available to them. It also provides the most consistent experience: in spite of the various customizations that are done, it means that Google's apps will be available, and those apps will work the same way on any AOSP+GMS device. It also cedes most control to Google, and that level of control will only grow. Each new release increases the level of integration with Google's own services, and Google is moving more and more new functionality to GMS, leaving AOSP a barebones husk. At the other end of the spectrum, you can ignore GMS entirely. Ship a phone with AOSP and perhaps some custom software on top of it to make the experience a little less rough for users, and call the job done. At the very cheapest end of the market, there are companies doing precisely this; it's abundant in China, in particular. If they choose, OEMs can provide their own stores and other services to fill the many, many gaps that omitting GMS leaves, but they're always at a disadvantage relative to GMS devices, because they won't be compatible with any third-party applications that use GMS' APIs. That's not a small category, either, since features such as in-app purchasing are in GMS. The third option is the one that spans the two: ship a device with AOSP, and an equivalent to GMS that provides new implementations of substantially the same APIs. Provide workalike replacements for services such as location and mapping, but plumb into Microsoft services rather than Google ones. No company has really gone down this route. The closest is Amazon, which provides near-drop-in replacements for some Google APIs (in particular mapping), but which hasn't even begun to keep pace with GMS development in general. Technically, however, a company with sufficient development resources could provide its own GMS replacement. The overhead would be not insignificant, especially as—to ensure optimal compatibility—the replacement would have to replicate not just correct functioning, but any bugs or quirks of the GMS implementation. There are also lots of little awkward aspects of the GMS API; it includes such capabilities as "share with Google+" which few companies have any real counterpart to. Another example: there is an API for handling turn-based multiplayer gaming. A company could implement this API and have its own server infrastructure for managing the gaming sessions, but obviously these gaming sessions would be completely separate from Google's gaming sessions, fragmenting the player base in a way that game developers are unlikely to be keen on. As an added bonus, should the ultimate resolution of Google's long-running legal battle with Oracle be that APIs are, in fact, copyrightable, this kind of wholesale reimplementation of GMS would become legally actionable. Google could, if it chose to, shut it down through the courts. To these three options, one could perhaps add a fourth: use AOSP to provide a few essential services—support for hardware, telephony, and so on—but then build an entirely new platform and APIs to run on it. Aspects of Amazon's API support would fall into this category, with some of its APIs covering the same ground as GMS APIs, but in a completely different, incompatible way. It's not clear, however, that any manufacturer has entirely embraced this path, though one might argue that Ubuntu for Android is similar, at least in spirit. You can have compatibility or control: Not both The first of these options—AOSP with GMS—is the only option that provides the full Android experience. It's the only one that ensures developers can transfer their skills perfectly, the only one that ensures that the full breadth and variety of Android software is available. However, it's clearly not a good option for Microsoft, given that it would almost entirely cede control of the platform to Google—and judging by the advertising company's track record, it would cede even more control with each new Android release. The second option—AOSP with a few extra custom extras—has the upside of providing an opportunity for Microsoft to integrate its own services. It would support some Android software, though exactly how much is unclear. It would certainly mean omitting any high-profile title using in-app purchasing, so, say, Plants vs. Zombies 2 or the latest iteration of Angry Birds would be out. If one were building a feature phone platform, this may be a somewhat reasonable path to take. When the phone is only really built for running the built-in apps (camera, browser, e-mail) the fact that many Android apps would be incompatible doesn't really matter. The rumors of a Nokia-built Android phone suggest this kind of approach: AOSP under the hood, but with Nokia services, not Google ones, on top. This approach also probably works acceptably for ultra-low-end devices where compatibility isn't such a big deal, which accounts for much of the Chinese AOSP market. But for Microsoft, this would be missing the point: the company already has a platform that's not compatible with the latest and greatest high profile apps. It doesn't need another one. However, it's important to understand just how deficient this kind of device would be. Google has pushed very significant pieces of functionality into GMS, including messaging and the Chrome browser. The AOSP counterparts are buggy, feature deprived, and by at least some accounts, barely maintained. If a company wants to use AOSP without GMS, it has a lot of work to do if it wants to produce a high quality experience. The open source parts just aren't good enough. Amazon's Kindle experience also demonstrates how even having an Android-like AOSP-derived platform is challenging. Kindle doesn't have the latest and greatest Android games, because their various developers haven't bothered making non-GMS versions of their games, even though the Kindle platform is very similar to Google's. In other words, the application challenge already faced by Windows Phone isn't solved by using AOSP. The only way to solve the application issue is to be not merely an AOSP platform but a GMS platform. The third option—AOSP with a home-grown GMS equivalent—would solve this, but it would also maximize the development effort required by the forker. Providing equivalents to every GMS capability ensures at least that users get a decent experience. It would also reinstate the software compatibility that AOSP without GMS forfeits. But this is a huge undertaking. For Microsoft, the effort required to build a GMS workalike on top of AOSP is going to be comparable to the effort required to build the Windows Phone shell and APIs on top of Windows. In fact, it's likely to be somewhat greater: Microsoft already has, for example, a browser engine that runs on Windows. It doesn't have one that runs on AOSP. Moreover, it still implicitly gives Google control over the platform. Various aspects of how Android is used are determined by the underlying APIs: sharing between applications, for example, is done in a particular Android way. Any platform using Android in this way would have only a limited ability to take the platform in a different direction from the one Google chose. The fourth option—use AOSP with an entirely new software stack on top—gives freedom and flexibility, but to what end? The kernel isn't the important bit. Microsoft already has a smartphone kernel. Windows Phone 8 already uses it. And strikingly, for Microsoft, ditching Windows Phone doesn't mean that the company can ditch development of this kernel. It's already being developed—for Windows! The kernel isn't the hard part. Fork off If Android were an open platform in the way that Firefox OS or Ubuntu for smartphones were an open platform, the forking suggestion would make more sense. The AOSP/GMS split wouldn't exist. Everything would be in AOSP, so piecemeal substitution of back-end services without having to reinvent vast tracts of code and without any major compatibility implications would be practical. But it isn't. Not only is it not this kind of an open platform, but Google is actively working to make it functionally less open with each new release. The result is that a forker has to make a choice: they can give Google control and get the all the upsides of the platform, or they can snatch control from Google and get almost none of them. Android isn't designed to be forked. With GMS, Google has deliberately designed Android to resist forking. Suggestions that Microsoft scrap its own operating system in favor of such a fork simply betray a lack of understanding of the way Google has built the Android platform. http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/02/neither-microsoft-nokia-nor-anyone-else-should-fork-android-its-unforkable This article apparently is a response to "Analysis: Microsoft Must Kill Windows Phone And Fork Android" http://www.nsaneforums.com/topic/206052-analysis-microsoft-must-kill-windows-phone-and-fork-android/
  13. By Charles Arthur 8 February 2014 03.03 AEST Microsoft’s new chief executive should separate mobile effort, and use the strength of Google’s open-source Android code to leap into mobile contention Edit: A response to this article, titled "Neither Microsoft, Nokia, nor anyone else should fork Android. It’s unforkable." can be read here: http://www.nsaneforums.com/topic/206105-neither-microsoft-nokia-nor-anyone-else-should-fork-android-its-unforkable/?do=findComment&comment=737084 To add to all the advice being ladled out to Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new chief, here’s another piece: stop bothering with Windows Phone. It’s a waste of money which will never pay off. Instead, focus the efforts of Microsoft and soon-to-be subsidiary Nokia on forking Android – because that way you can exploit the huge number of Chinese handset makers who want to burst out of China and sell to the rest of the world. Here’s the thing: Windows Phone was too late in coming to the smartphone race: when it was released in October 2010, the starting gun had long been fired. The race had been on for years before Microsoft showed up with a competitive product, and that meant the rival ecosystems had plenty of time to capture markets. Late to the race You can argue over whether Apple fired the gun in January 2007 by showing off the iPhone - which certainly seems to have galvanised Andy Rubin’s team at Google to rewrite Android for a touch screen rather than a keyboard, as set out in Fred Vogelstein’s book Dogfight, or whether Google fired it by announcing the Open Handset Alliance and releasing the Android open source in October 2008, or whether BlackBerry and Nokia had done it years before with their offerings. It doesn’t matter. The fact is that no mobile OS announced since 2009 has made any significant impact on the landscape for smartphone use. In the US, Android and iOS make up 93% of the installed base of smartphones, with Microsoft on 3.1%, at a time when 65% of mobile phone users wield a smartphone. The remaining 35% will be increasingly difficult to reach, and likely less interested in using a smartphone. Windows Phone has arrived too late for them. In reality, Windows Phone has a very small user base; Paul Thurrott estimated it recently at 50m worldwide, which sounds reasonable. Compare that, though, against more than 500m iPhones and, conservatively, 800m Android phones (using figures from Flurry from mid-2013) - or perhaps a billion Android phones including those in China which don’t use Google services - and you realise that Windows Phone hasn’t just got a mountain to climb; it’s a sheer overhanging cliff. At this point someone is certain to say “Aha! But Windows Phone is outselling iPhones in 24 countries!” This comes under the heading of “true (at the time the data was collected, which was just ahead of a new iPhone launch), but irrelevant”. The reality is that in every single one of those countries, Android is outselling Windows Phone. And the iPhone is outselling Android in one country - Japan (always a law unto itself, phone-wise). However, there are no countries where Windows Phone is outselling both Android handsets and the iPhone. Because it is always selling fewer than one or the other (or both, as is the case in many big European countries), it is continually falling further behind the three real mobile ecosystems (Google Android, non-Google Android in China, iOS). The chances of Nokia on its own ever catching the iPhone for installed base - which, remember, is the total of phones in peoples’ hands that has accumulated over years, not one month’s sales - in key territories such as the US and Europe are below minimal. In the US, a key market for all sorts of things, there are presently 65 million iPhones users and 80 million Android users, according to ComScore - and 4.8 million Windows Phone users. There are 83 million featurephone users left. If you truly believe Windows Phone will capture those remaining users in any significant amount, or persuade large numbers of Android and iPhone users to abandon their handset, your faith is touching, but surely misplaced. Windows Phone is nice enough. But this is about reality. US smartphone installed base, by platform, to December 2013. Windows Phone has fewer than 5m users; Android, 80m; iPhone, 65m. Source: ComScore. Photograph: Guardian/ComScore That red line struggling to take off? That’s the background to the problem. Now, what about the solution? Killing Windows Phone would be dramatic. But it’s a distraction at a time when Microsoft needs focus. As someone who has come from the cloud side of the business, Satya Nadella knows about providing services. (It’s said that Apple’s iCloud uses Microsoft’s Azure for some of its services.) As someone running a company which is going to focus on “devices and services” (via Steve Ballmer), the question is: which do you want to make your money from? Services everywhere Apple’s good at devices, so-so at services. Google’s nowhere in devices, top-notch at services. Where does Microsoft want to be? As John Gruber argues, it should be trying to offer Microsoft services on every device, everywhere: Satya Nadella needs to find Microsoft’s new “a computer on every desk and in every home running Microsoft software”. Here’s my stab at it: Microsoft services, sending data to and from every networked device in the world. The next ubiquity isn’t running on every device, it’s talking to every device. So how does dumping Windows Phone and forking Android achieve that? First, it means that Microsoft doesn’t simply waste the money and talent from the Nokia mobile acquisition. Nokia’s expertise is in hardware and the supply chain. Microsoft’s is with software. Forking Android wouldn’t be trivial, but Microsoft could take the Android Open Source Platform (AOSP) that is already widely used in China and put new services on top. It is already licensing Here maps from Nokia (the bit that’s not being sold to it). It could add its own mail client and app store. It has its own search engine, Bing, which has needed a major mobile deal. As with Windows Phone, setting up or signing in to an outlook.com email account could be your first step. Everything’s ready. Most useful of all, developers who have written Android apps would be able to port them over with minimal effort - as has happened with Amazon’s Kindle Fire effort. (That also uses Nokia’s maps.) Microsoft already knows how to run an app store. There’s also the example of BlackBerry, which in its desperate efforts to create an attractive app store for BB10 (launched in 2013, and so at least five years late) has made Android compatibility a major playing point. (BlackBerry’s problem is that it can’t sell enough handsets.) After all, what’s been the biggest complaint about Windows Phone? Not enough apps. The handsets have been fine (that’s Nokia’s expertise) but the wildly popular apps for Android and iOS haven’t been ported. Going with AOSP would suddenly bring those in reach. And developers would love having a parallel customer base to reach. Plus it would make shifting from a Google Android phone to a Microsoft phone (now on AOSP) a lot simpler - and that’s what Microsoft wants to do. At present it’s a tough job persuading rival users to migrate. Though existing members of the Open Handset Alliance (that is, those handset makers who make devices with Google services installed) wouldn’t be able to sell Microsoft-Android handsets, there are plenty in China who would be happy to – and make them in volume. They could be additive to Nokia’s business, which could focus on the high end (where its cameras excel, but volumes are limited) while Chinese vendors aim for the rest of the market. Nokia did consider going with Android - but Stephen Elop, then in charge, decided that Samsung was likely to crowd others out. Certainly, that has happened, but there is a large and thriving market of handset vendors in China who would like to expand beyond their borders. The patent carrot One other carrot that Microsoft could dangle: it could promise to not demand patent royalties from Android manufacturers which come over to its version. Microsoft has been busily suing the members of Google’s OHA, demanding (and getting) licensing payments for patents that it claiims over Android use on handsets and other devices. So far, it has around 20 companies (including Samsung and HTC) signed up, and Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research calculates (based on some easily-overlooked details in Microsoft SEC filings) that it is heading towards being a billion-dollar business. By offering not to charge for patent licensing, Microsoft could make its forked Android much more attractive to handset companies, because they wouldn’t have a per-device overhead, which seems to average out to a few dollars per device. That doesn’t sound much, but it can be the Micawber-ish difference between profit and loss for a handset maker. Conclusion Windows Phone was a wonderful project, but it was too late; the benefits of integration across handset, tablet and desktop simply haven’t appeared. The vast majority of people who use a desktop PC don’t use a Windows smartphone, and there’s no chance of that changing any time soon - or ever, actually. AOSP offers Microsoft the chance to remake its mobile strategy so that it exploits all the strengths of its most bitter rival – it’s free, widely available – and grab mobile developer interest. An all-out war between Microsoft and Google using the Android platform would be absolutely fascinating; both would be pressed on their strengths and weaknesses. For Microsoft, presently a distant third in this race, it could be the answer it needs. It’s highly likely smarter minds have already considered this – and that Nokia’s “Normandy” phone, said to run Android, is the first beachhead in this war. (The codename would make sense.) My only fear is that while Nadella might have the vision and audacity to do this, that one voice in the Microsoft boardroom would resist throwing away years of effort. But let’s hope if this idea comes up that Bill Gates, in his new role as “technical adviser”, will see the potential in it - and won’t reject it as being “un-Microsoft”. Microsoft has tried that, and it hasn’t worked. Now it needs to try something that will. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/07/satya-nadella-mobile-windows-phone-android Edit: A response to this article, titled "Neither Microsoft, Nokia, nor anyone else should fork Android. It’s unforkable." can be read here: http://www.nsaneforums.com/topic/206105-neither-microsoft-nokia-nor-anyone-else-should-fork-android-its-unforkable/?do=findComment&comment=737084
  14. By Lance Whitney 3 hours ago What surprises await the next version of Microsoft's mobile OS? One person with access to the Software Development Kit reveals a few tidbits. Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows RT will be able to share the same code, helping developers more easily create the same apps for phone and tablet. At least, that's the take from a round of leaked details. On Tuesday, a developer with access to the new Windows Phone 8.1 Software Development Kit (SDK) hopped onto Reddit to share several features headed for the new version. New Universal Apps templates will help developers build WinStore/WinRT and WinPhone apps using the same HTML and JavaScript code, according to the SDK. The developer pointed to the new feature as a sign that WinRT and WinPhone are starting to merge. Recent reports from ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley and Windows SuperSite's Paul Thurrott suggest that Microsoft is aiming to release a series of updates, collectively codenamed Threshold, in 2015. Threshold will reportedly update Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox One so that all three platforms can more readily share certain code and other elements. What else is in store for Windows Phone 8.1? A new YouTube player promises to play videos embedded in the Web page without need for a separate app. Squabbles between Microsoft and Google have effectively neutered the current Windows Phone version of YouTube. The SDK documentation also refers to a file picker and saver, hinting at a possible file manager. Users will be able to install apps directly to an SD card and shoot photos and footage in one of three modes: camera, burst, and video, according to the developer. They'll also be able to close an app by swiping down on it. http://news.cnet.com/8301-10805_3-57618709-75/windows-phone-8.1-features-leaked-by-developer WP8.1 is going to have javascript support! (self.windowsphone) submitted 13 hours ago* by wpthroaway //no more leaks. would love to give a round of applause to MS for finally improving WP8! until April 2 and big shout out to quinn for helping making this happen ;) EDIT: So, impressed with current new WP8.1 features? EDIT: Some might be relief by this Silverlight 8.1 apps will only run on Windows Phone (code-named "Blue") devices. Devices running Windows Phone 8 will not be able to install or run these apps. However, Windows Phone (code-named "Blue") is a free update that will be supported for all existing Windows Phone 8 devices. EDIT: Oh and according to docs almost every API in WinRT can run on WinPRT. These include also: video and audio transcoding, so expect some cool multimedia apps for WP8.1. There's also roaming data like in desktop. EDIT: To clear something WP8 apps are now consider Windows Store App like with Win8. EDIT: ALL apps now have fast resume activated and is not an opt in feature like it use to. EDIT: WP8.1 apps can't use XNA anymore, unlike in WP8.0. Goodbye XNA Also see: Windows Phone 8.1 includes universal apps and lots of feature updates By Tom Warren February 11, 2014 07:52 am http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/11/5400660/windows-phone-8-1-features-leaked
  15. By Matthew Miller January 29, 2014 Nokia Lumia 520/521 can't be beat for less than $70 Most people in the US purchase their phones directly from their carrier and look to pay the least amount upfront as possible. This usually means signing a long-term contract and picking up a heavily subsidized phone where the cost of the phone is hidden in the contract fees. And you can buy an affordable one that's not three or more years old. Times are changing though, thanks in large part to T-Mobile acting like a European carrier. Consumers are starting to understand that buying unlocked smartphones may work better for them. There are a few reasons you may want to consider an unlocked smartphone, including the following: •Flexibility to change carriers. You can go with T-Mobile or AT&T from the top four or choose another smaller GSM service provider. •Limited or no carrier bloatware on the phone. AT&T loads up their phones with a ridiculous amount of apps and services, most of which cannot be removed on Android devices. •Larger selection of phones, including very low cost phones. •Ability to use the phone overseas with low cost foreign SIM cards. •Option to pay carriers just for service and not for the phone subsidy that is rolled in forever. So now let's look at the best unlocked smartphones available today, in order from lowest price to highest. I tried to find the best under $500, but also included a couple Google Play Editions at the end that exceed this level. •Nokia Lumia 520 for $59 and Nokia Lumia 521 for $69 •Moto G for $179 •Moto X for $329.99 (16GB) and $379.99 (32GB) until February 14 and then $70 more after that •Google Nexus 5 for $349 (16GB) and $399 (32GB) •Samsung Galaxy S III for $370 •Apple iPhone 4s for $409 •HTC One Google Play Edition for $599 •Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition for $649 The Nokia Lumia 520/521 are crazy deals for a phone that performs very well, has a number of Nokia Lumia services, and has no carrier limits. Here's my review. Some may also be asking about the newest iPhone devices. For your information, the lowest cost unlocked iPhone 5s is $649 (16GB only) with the lowest cost iPhone 5c priced at $549. http://www.zdnet.com/best-unlocked-smartphones-february-2014-7000025718
  16. By Paul Thurrott Jan. 30, 2014 With January on the way out, AdDuplex returns with an interesting look at Windows Phone usage for the month. Also worth discussing: Why Nokia Lumia sales were down quarter over quarter in Q4 2013, but actual Windows Phone sales to customersand thus activationswere in fact up. It's all here in this month's peek at Windows Phone device usage. As you may remember, AdDuplex bills itself as the largest cross-promotion network for Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps, empowering developers and publishers to promote their apps for free by helping each other. And each month it provides a tantalizing glimpse at which Windows Phone (and Windows) devices people are actually using. This month, however, there are two things to examine. The Windows Phone device usage stats, of course. But also how we rectify the fact that Nokia's Lumia sales in Q4 2013 were down quarter-over-quarter (but up dramatically year-over-year, which is how we really measure such things), while Windows Phone sales to customers and activations were in fact up quarter-to-quarter in Q4. Let's look at the AdDuplex usage data first. Some trends from this month's report include: Lumia 520 is still number one. It's getting a bit boring since the Lumia 520 has pretty much been the Windows Phone story since mid-2013, butshockerit's still number one and growing, albeit more slowly, with 31 percent usage worldwide. Low-end phones rule. When you combine all of the low-end Windows Phone handsetsthe Lumia 520, 521, 620 and 625you can see why Nokia moved more aggressively into this end of the market in 2013: They represent about 47 percent of all Windows Phones in use. And the number is much higher if you just look at Windows Phone 8 handsets, but AdDuplex doesn't provide those numbers for January. High-end phones drool. The Windows Phone market seems mostly incapable of accommodating high-end handsets. Looking at the top ten worldwide, only one devicethe Lumia 920was ever marketed as a high-end device, and newer entries like the Lumia 1020 and 1520 don't make the cut anywhere. That said, here's one oddity: AdDuplex reports that there are currently more Lumia 1520s in use than there are Lumia 525s (the new low-end handset for China). But neither are anywhere near the top ten. Nokia is still number one. Not much movement here either, but Nokia now accounts for 92.3 percent of all Windows Phone handsets in use. Windows Phone 8 vs. 7.x. 78.3 percent of all Windows Phone handsets in use are running Windows Phone 8, vs. 21.7 percent for Windows Phone 7.x. Windows Phone 8 Update 3 vs. GDR 2 vs. GDR 1. Looking at the three major updates to Windows Phone 8 that happened in the past year, AdDuplex sees that 67.3 percent of Windows Phone 8 handsets are running GDR2, which makes sense since that is the one that was most recently rolled out to most users. Update 3, which is available only to a limited set of device types on a limited range of carriers, has hit 18 percent usage. And GDR 1 is still kicking around on 14.7 percent of Windows Phone 8 handsets. As for the supposed quandary over Windows Phone sales in Q4someone on Twitter actually asked me if Nokia was somehow lying about its sales or had conspiratorially underreported Lumia sales in Q4 to assuage investor complains that it is selling its handset business to Microsoftit's not all that hard to explain. And I was interested to see this week that AdDuplex's Alan Mendelevich agrees with my assessment. It goes like this. Back in Q3 2013, Nokia reported record Lumia sales, 8.8 million units, and since Nokia represents about 92 percent of all Windows Phone handset sales, it's safe to say that Windows Phone overall experienced record sales in the quarter too. But then in Q4 2013, Nokia reported that it sold 8.2 million Lumia handsets. That's a huge increase from the 4.4 million it sold in the year-ago quarterthe figure that actually mattersbut it's also less than Q3 sales, which caused some handwringing in the less sophisticated parts of tech bloggerdom. The thing is, the quarter over quarter drop-off isn't notable in any way. In fact, this isn't even the first time Lumia has experience a quarter over quarter drop-off. But since Q4 was the holiday quarter, the worry is that something terrible happened, and that Lumia sales fell through the floor. Not so. Like most hardware makers, Nokia registers a sale when it one of its handsets is purchased ... by the channel. (Since, you know, that's when it gets paid.) So a big part of the record 8.8 million Lumias sold in Q3 was devices that were sitting in retailers and distributors, waiting to be sold to actual consumers. Those consumers purchased the phones in Q4 and in many cases delivered them to others as Christmas presents. This theory was bolstered when Windows Phone's Joe Belfiore attempted to detune concerns about a supposed Windows Phone fall-off in Q4 in what is unfortunately a typically cryptic and incomplete way: He tweeted that "folks who think [that] holiday sales of [Windows Phone] declined are incorrect ... Activations more than doubled last holiday [quarter] and increased [over] each holiday month." And in his own blog post, AdDuplex's Alan Mendelevich provided the same theory I did above to explain how Nokia's sales numbers and Windows Phone activations are in fact perfectly consistent. And he has usage data to back that up. In fact, Alan's post provides a few interesting bits of data: He estimates that there are now 38 million Windows Phone 8 handsets in use in the world, and 12 million Windows Phone 7.x handsets. These are actual handsets in use, not sales. That means that there were about 50 million Windows Phone users in the world at the end of 2013. Not too bad. http://winsupersite.com/windows-phone/windows-phone-device-stats-january-2014
  17. Mark Hachman Jan 31, 2014 3:00 AM Something very interesting is going on at Nokia: The company apparently believes that the look, feel, and underlying services of the Microsoft Windows Phone operating system may be more important than, well, the OS itself. According to reports, Nokia is finalizing development on “Normandy,” the code name for a low-end Android phone. Reports published this week say that the phone will be marketed as the Nokia X, but built upon much the same hardware platform as the Lumia 520, Nokia’s cheapest Lumia smartphone. Not surprisingly, representatives for Nokia declined to comment. But screenshots from Twitter leaker @evleaks reveal a surprise: an Android UI that’s much closer to Windows Phone in form and function, rather than the typical Android layout of carefully organized icons. Instead, if the screenshots are accurate, the Nokia X will feature icons that nudge up against each other, Windows-Phone style. The leak shows a mix of apps: Nokia’s own HERE maps, Microsoft’s Skype, plus games like Jetpack Joyride and Plants vs. Zombies. The operating system is Android. But the user interface is “Windows Phone.” The data is owned by... well, that’s a bit unclear at the moment. But the Nokia X’s design philosophy appears to be a provocative one: What’s running on top of the operating system is more important than the operating system itself. Entry-level investment Reportedly, Normandy is based on a fork of the free, open-source Android OS, offering Nokia an entree into the Android ecosystem without the constraints that Google might place on the company. @evleaks suggests that the Nokia X/Normandy will be an entry-level phone: Amazon tried this strategy, too: Its Kindle tablets use their own version of Android, offering moderate performance at competitive prices. Amazon then rakes in the rest of its profits over time, capitalizing on transactions from its online store. The Nokia X might not follow directly in Amazon’s footprints, but the company apparently sees value in capturing a user’s data inside the Windows ecosystem and monetizing it later. Once a customer has committed his or her data to the platform, they may naturally upgrade to a “full” Windows Phone experience. According to Charles Golvin, formerly with Forrester Research and now an independent analyst, when consumers purchase a modern smartphone, they essentially invest in it in four ways. First, there’s the hardware and the price paid for it. Second, consumers invest their data, everything from the address book to documents stored in the cloud. Third, consumers invest their time, learning the most productive ways to navigate the user interface and their data stored within it. And finally there’s the social element, connecting users within the same ecosystem to one another. Aside from the social aspect—Nokia lacks a social network, and Microsoft’s social play, So.cl, is barely breathing—Golvin’s investment thesis nicely justifies the Nokia X’s development. Welcome to the Microsoft cloud The phone’s leaked specifications suggest a low-cost, entry-level phone, with a minimal barrier to entry. That’s a plus. And we also know that Nokia has invested in developing an emerging market strategy around its third-world Asha phones—which, to be fair, have struggled. Nokia’s recent fourth-quarter report noted that sales of its mobile phones had fallen “due to increasingly lower price points and intense competition at the low end” of its product portfolio. So Nokia needs a low-cost phone to entice customers, but more than just price to keep them in the fold. What the Android-based Nokia X offers the Windows Phone ecosystem is a path into Microsoft’s cloud services. Microsoft already offers Android versions of SkyDrive, Outlook.com, Skype, Bing, and Office Mobile. And as most users know, once the data is inside those services, it’s much easier to stick with them than to export and upload that data to a competing service, and start fresh. If you take the @evleaks as gospel, however, Nokia hasn’t given itself over completely to that philosophy. What the screenshots reveal is a rather neutral selection of services: The only Microsoft-owned service that appears is Skype. A missed opportunity? A screenshot that doesn’t represent the default configuration? Or Nokia just playing it safe? Possibly a bit of all three. If Nokia, and later Microsoft, don’t supersaturate the mix with Microsoft services, they’re missing the boat. (Nokia will have to be careful, however, so as not to risk the ire of Google. Reports have said that Google will tolerate tweaks and forks of the Android OS. But try and replace Gmail, for example, and Google could dig in its heels.) Not a perfect solution, by any stretch But it’s the UI that, if “Normandy” is real, will grab headlines. This isn’t quite Windows Phone, obviously. While the layout is decidedly Microsoft-inspired, it’s not clear whether Android can emulate the urban energy of the constantly-refreshing Live Tiles. The Normandy UI is essentially “training wheels,” helping customers bridge the gap between Android and Windows Phone. As Golvin notes, there’s some value in learning the look and feel of a UI. I’m simply not sure that Nokia can mimic Windows Phone closely enough with Android to allow customers to benefit from that experience. The Windows Phone app market still struggles, especially in comparison to Android. But if Microsoft can capture most of the data—email, searches, documents, among others—it can cede some of the less-important applications to the Android platform. Let’s face it: Even the most devout Windows Phone enthusiast probably wouldn’t mind a bulletproof YouTube app, for example, or the ability to use Snapchat or WhatsApp. Normandy likely wouldn’t be a bulletproof solution. Location data, presumably, would be still fed to Google, and it’s unclear whether the phone would still require establishing a Google profile. So much of this is still speculation. Nor am I in love with the Normandy’s design, which looks like a 16-bit take on the Windows Phone interface. We also don’t know for sure whether the leaks are accurate, if Nokia will ever bring the phone to market, and whether Microsoft views an Android-based Windows Phone UI as a bridge or an abomination. A previous Microsoft experiment in the phone market, the Kin, flopped after the hardware couldn’t live up to what Microsoft promised. But whether the Nokia X exists as a product or only as a concept, it’s still an intriguing experiment in rethinking priorities. And that might be one way of marketing the phone: as a low-key experiment, or perhaps a “hobby,” like the Apple TV. Microsoft’s gone down this road before. Microsoft pitched the Kin, a direct descendant of the Danger Sidekick, as a phone for the hip, connected consumer: taking pictures, storing them in the cloud, and sharing them with social networks. On paper, the phone was ahead of its time. In reality, the Kin’s subpar hardware lagged badly, and polling social networks for updates every 15 minutes simply undermined its premise. The Nokia X would likely fail as well, if launched as a mainstream smartphone. Under the harsh light of the tech press—“it’s a knockoff Windows Phone!”—the phone would surely wither. Reports claim that the Nokia X will be unveiled at Mobile World Conference in a few weeks’ time, one drop in a flood of smartphones. That’s fine. Experiments like the Nokia X deserve a little time in the shade to establish themselves. The Nokia X won’t change the world. Microsoft won’t hitch it to the future of Windows Phone. But convince customers in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia and South America to adopt it, and Nokia and Microsoft may just establish themselves as the favorite platform of the next-next generation of smartphone buyers. http://www.pcworld.com/article/2092342/how-nokias-fake-windows-phone-could-save-the-real-one.html
  18. By Zach Epstein on Feb 12, 2014 at 9:49 AM When Samsung unveils its highly anticipated flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone later this month, it will likely be one of the most impressive handsets the world has ever seen. Rumors suggest it will have an amazing Super AMOLED display that measures 5.25 inches diagonally and packs 2K resolution for crystal-clear viewing. It will also supposedly feature either a cutting-edge quad-core Snapdragon chipset or Samsung’s own eight-core Exynos processor, as well as a huge battery, an impressive 16- or 20-megapixel camera and the latest version of the Android operating system. As great as that all sounds, however, you probably shouldn’t buy Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 when it launches in the weeks to come. Samsung plans to take the wraps off of the new Galaxy S5 during a press conference in Barcelona, just before the annual Mobile World Congress trade show gets underway. Millions of smartphone fans around the world are waiting with bated breath, and it will undoubtedly be a gorgeous device. But those who can fight the urge to purchase one the instant it launches will be rewarded, according to the results of a recent study. Consumer electronics price comparison specialist Idealo on Wednesday published the results of its research into the price trends of recent Galaxy S flagship phones in the months following each release. By analyzing the data it gathered, the firm was able to predict that the Galaxy S5′s price will decline substantially following its launch, which is expected to take place next month. Samsung’s Galaxy S II, Galaxy S III and Galaxy S4 all followed remarkably similar trend lines in the long run in terms of unlocked price trends following launch. In the short term, however, the prices of Samsung’s flagship phones have been dropping faster with each new generation. Within three months of being released, the prices of the S II and S III had each dropped by more than 10%, and the S4 fell by nearly 20%. According to Idealo’s projections, the average retail price of the Galaxy S5 will dip by 24% after just three months on the market. That’s a discount of nearly one-quarter for those who can manage to wait just three months. “The average price of the Samsung Galaxy S2 had reduced by 13% of its initial value after three months of being on sale,” Idealo explained in a post on its blog. “Its successor, the Galaxy S3, experienced a price decline of 14%. One generation down the line, we notice an even more significant price decline. The Galaxy S4, which was released in May 2013, was 18% cheaper by August 2013.” The post continued, “Based on this data, we can predict that after just 3 months, the new Galaxy S5 could be available for just 76% of its original release price, which makes up a price reduction of almost a quarter, just three months on from market release.” It’s always difficult for gadget enthusiasts to hold off on purchasing a new device the moment it launches, especially one that’s as highly anticipated as the Galaxy S5. Those who can exercise some self-control and wait a bit, however, stand to be handsomely rewarded. http://bgr.com/2014/02/12/galaxy-s5-price-details-sale
  19. By Alex Colon 10 hours ago A recent report suggests that Microsoft is considering bring Android apps to Windows Phone. But isn’t it too soon to admit defeat? Microsoft is seriously considering the idea to bring Android apps to Windows Phone, according to a report from The Verge. It wouldn’t happen until Windows 9 is complete some time next year (at the earliest), but this would be a tremendous shift for Microsoft. And while it might prove positive for consumers in the short-term, it could ultimately spell trouble for Windows Phone as a viable platform in the future. It seems like a good idea I get why Microsoft would want to do this. Compared to the million-plus apps available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play, Windows Phone only recently crossed the 200,000 mark. And even as the OS continues to gain momentum, this doesn’t look like a trend that’s likely to end any time soon. The recent hit Flappy Bird, for instance, appeared on both iOS and Android, but there was no Windows Phone equivalent – and Flappy Bird is about as simple as app development gets. But it’s not just the number of apps that matter. It’s the fact that many developers aren’t even considering writing for Windows Phone alongside iOS and Android. And without enough developers, Windows Phone will never truly emerge as a “must-have” platform. Microsoft is catching up, but it isn’t happening fast enough. Big name apps like Instagram and Mint are only just starting to appear, and even then, some of these apps lack major features you’ll find in their iOS and Android counterparts. Bringing Android apps to Windows Phone would give users hundreds of thousands of additional choices, along with the feeling they don’t need to wait for months to see a popular new app, or settle for leftovers. But it probably isn’t On the other hand, Microsoft has a new CEO, Windows Phone 8.1 is on the horizon and the company’s acquisition of Nokia’s device business is nearly complete. If anything, now is the time for the company to once again bet on Windows Phone and give it another shot. After all, it’s not like adding Android worked for BlackBerry. BlackBerry 10 has the ability to run Android apps. And it’s fairly simple to download and install the Amazon Appstore, which is home to thousands of Android apps that BlackBerry 10 is not. But this is clearly not helping to move additional BB10 devices off of store shelves. Then again, it sounds like Microsoft would support Android apps in a more official capacity than BlackBerry does, perhaps through a third-party enabler. But this also presents a problem. If a developer can easily sell their Android app on Windows Phone, what point would there be in creating an optimized version, designed to take full advantage of the platform? At best, this could result in a number of poorly scaled apps that fail to utilize Windows Phone. At worst, it means developers could stop creating apps for Windows Phone completely. On top of this, Nokia is expected to introduce an Android-powered device at Mobile World Congress later this month. These phones are intended to be low-cost introductory smartphones – training wheels before a user moves up to a higher-end Windows Phone handset. They likely won’t support the Google Play app store, but will still have access to Android apps through stores from Microsoft and Nokia. With a foot in both worlds, Microsoft should further entice developers to simultaneously develop apps for both platforms. That way, if and when a user leaves their Android device behind, the same app will be available for them on Windows Phone. Simply allowing Android apps on Windows Phone would seem to be a premature admission of defeat, before the company even put up a real right. http://gigaom.com/2014/02/12/could-android-apps-save-windows-phone
  20. By Hammad Saleem on February 12, 2014 04:10PM The moment has finally arrived. After countless number of leaks and speculation, the Nokia Lumia Icon has finally landed on the Big Red. The handset will hit retail on Verizon starting February 20th for $199.99 tied to a two-year contract, with the pre-orders kicking off today at the Microsoft store. Nokia Lumia Icon boasts a similar set of specifications as the flagship Lumia 1520 phablet from the Finns, but comes in a smaller form factor. Although we know pretty much all there is to know about the Nokia Lumia Icon, there might be a few of you who don't remember. Here's a quck recap. The handset measures 5.39 x 2.79 x 0.39 inches and rocks a 5-inch Full HD OLED display sporting a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels with a pixel density of 441 ppi, which is quite impressive. Under the hood, Nokia Lumia Icon is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 800 SoC with a clock speed of 2.2GHz with Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB of RAM on board. On the storage side, it features 32GB internal storage along with free 7GB SkyDrive storage for your needs. On the rear, it features a 20 megapixel PureView camera with Carl Zeiss optics, optical image stabilization and dual-capture mode, allowing users to capture snapshots at different aspect ratios. Other features include WiFi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, GPS, microUSB 2.0 with charging, a 2,420 mAh battery and runs Windows Phone 8 Lumia Black update as its operating system, out of the box. For those of you who plan to order the handset before March 16th, Microsoft is throwing in a free Nokia Wireless Charger. It seems Windows Phone devices are ready to go head-on with high-end Android devices and iPhones, thanks to the Windows Phone 8 Update 3 bringing along support for high-end specifications. In the meantime, take a look at the video posted by the folks at Nokia US. http://www.winbeta.org/news/nokia-lumia-icon-becomes-official-will-hit-verizon-shelves-february-20th-19999
  21. By Spulatov February 1st, 2014 Dear Microsoft, I really like your Windows Phone platform, and use Nokia Lumia 820. I am generally happy with performance and functionality. Your Windows Phone store has several exclusive apps with very interesting ideas like Foundbite and Bill Reminder. BUT, your store has a lot of junk which makes new and unexperienced users to buy and run fake applications. I reported several times applications which is just fake, disappointing, or PAID apps which is just a links to a web browser. Let me show you what I will get if I will enter just a Facebook. I will get tons of Facebook apps, and only one of this apps s official other are junk. Let me show screenshots of one, The Facebook PRO which costs $2.49, and as you can see its just a browser wrapper. There is one more problem which makes me really mad at you dear Microsoft, and it is FAKE apps. THE CHROME browser, 3 Firefox browsers Please Microsoft, remove fake and useless apps. PS. I reported all this apps several times to Microsoft, but no action is taken. #windows-phone http://oneslash.postach.io/microsoft-please-clean-your-store-from-junk
  22. I've been thinking, with all the revelations coming out about the NSA spying on all of us, maybe we've been going about reacting the wrong way. I mean, we all seem to fall somewhere on the spectrum of being upset about this, from the more mildly uncomfortable but resigning folks that are okay with the spying to those more militant about privacy. What if we're all just pissed that we aren't the ones getting to do all this sweet, sweet surveillance on everyone we know. Well, that's all changed, thanks to the makers of the mSpy software, which allows you to gift smart phones preinstalled with their software to those you care about most and then play NSA on them to your heart's content. Starting today, the company is also selling phones preloaded with the software, making it simple for users without any tech savvy to start surveillance right out of the box. The phone package is available with the HTC One, Nexus 5, Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5s, at varying cost; for example, the Samsung Galaxy S4 costs $300; the subscription for the preloaded software costs another $199 for a year. [From the moment the software is installed], the phone records everything that happens on the device and sends the details to a remote website. Every call is recorded, every keystroke logged, every email seen, every SMS chat or photograph monitored. Count me as someone who is suddenly even more glad than ever that I'm out of the dating world. On the other hand, I suppose it'll be weird for any of us married folks to get smart phones as gifts from now on as well. Oh well, down the surveillance hatch, I say! The NSA spies on us, we spy on each other, and the important thing to remember is that the makers of this software, which advertises to buyers that their targets "won't find out", are the most innocent of innocents here. The phone's proclaimed target markets are employers and parents who have the legal authority to watch what their children do on their smart phones. Company founder Andrei Shimanovich knows others may use his products in illegal ways, but says it is not his responsibility. "It is the same question with the gun producer," says Shimanovich, a Belarus native who recently moved to New York. "If you go out and buy a gun and go shoot someone, no one will go after the gun producer. People who shoot someone will be responsible for this. Same thing for mSpy. We just provide the services which can solve certain tasks regarding parents and teenagers." And creepy bastards, estranged lovers, stalkers, or anyone else who might be able to surreptitiously sneak this software onto the phones of whomever they're targeting. While it's completely true that we ought not blame the tool-maker for the way the tool is used, that doesn't discount the level of creepy in this software. Gone, apparently, are the days when parents raised their children to be responsible and then loosed them on the world to make a few mistakes and grow up better because of it. Gone are the days when employers made it a point to hire staff that they trusted. The NSA has paved the way for a whole new level of Orwellian acceptance, where the only difference between government surveillance and that we do ourselves is that our personal spying might actually be effective, since it will be more targeted. Prepare yourselves, people, for when the news media first gets hold of some stalker who commits a violent act and is found to have employed this software, because the backlash against it is going to be insane Source
  23. By WPBar February 16, 2014 WPBar, who has been right about a lot of things Windows Phone 8.1 related, reports that we can expect the official version of the updated OS to reach us only between June and August 2014. At the same time we can also expect a wave of new devices running the OS. This corresponds to a similar release pace as Windows Phone 8, which was also widely leaked in Early 2012, but only hit devices around October 2012. The good news for enthusiasts however is that Microsoft has finally managed to get its Developer Preview program up and running, and WPBars sources confirm that the OS will be made available to developers, which really means anyone with an App Studio account, from April this year. While I am sure our readers would prefer Microsoft get WP 8.1 pushed out as rapidly as possible, given the massive size and complexity of the update I think we would all prefer Microsoft get as close to getting it right as possible before release. http://wmpoweruser.com
  24. By Quentyn Kennemer Feb 12th 2014 It’d probably be an understatement to suggest Microsoft is having trouble getting more developers to fill their apps store with the goods users are looking for. Unfortunately they seem to have found themselves in a classic “chicken or egg scenario” — users won’t come to the platform unless there are apps, but developers won’t develop apps if there are no users. There’s no shame in that problem, as Android suffered it very early on (though obviously quickly eradicated that with being the fastest growing mobile operating system of all time). Unfortunately for Microsoft, gaining market share to attract more developers is easier said than done. If recent rumors are to be believed, they could be getting ready to do something about it. The Verge is reporting that Microsoft is seriously considering developing an Android runtime for Windows Phone and perhaps other Windows-based platforms (including RT and the full Windows experience). This would allow developers to port their apps over to Windows Phone with little to no effort. Would it be the first signs of a doomed platform? History repeating itself? It’s something our friends in Waterloo have already done for Blackberry 10, giving developers an easy and pain-free way to port Android apps (it literally only takes a couple of lines of code and 5 minutes to compile). In the same breath, it’s worth reminding ourselves that little move didn’t give Blackberry the boisterous app store they needed to attract more users to their slowly dying platform. As a result, Blackberry was almost sold off to vulturous investors (but not before some rich knights in very shiny armor managed to scare them off). There’s reason to believe that a move like this is actually counterproductive to the strategies of competing platforms. Their idea is that giving developers an easy way to port existing apps will give them the variety they need to dangle a prettier carrot in the face of potential customers. The problem comes in two areas: •It gives developers absolutely zero incentive to create native Windows Phone apps. If they can make an app for the biggest mobile platform in the world and port it over to one of the youngest and smallest, they’ll likely go that route — especially if they’re small time or independent. That isn’t good for building your own identity and brand. •Others have already tried… and failed. Why do you want to make the same mistake? Yes, more apps bring users to your platform, but it’s not going to make a difference if they can get those apps on more popular devices that are bound to be better fits for their needs. And although I’ve never been one to equate the quality of an app store to how many apps there are, the average consumer is going to hear that typical “a million apps!” line from a carrier rep who’s just trying to get them to walk away with a two-year contract, and unfortunately for Windows, they’ll likely be impressed by it. Developers, Developers, Manufacturers We’ve seen this happen with Blackberry. We’ve seen this happen with Palm. It’s a chicken and egg scenario where the platform needs apps to lure consumers, but developers don’t want to develop for a platform without consumers (and therefore viable revenue). But the case with Windows Phone is different. iOS is the only successful competitor able to sustain itself with a closed ecosystem, making both their hardware and their software. WebOS folded despite having a beautiful OS because they couldn’t pump out phones quick enough and they were the only ones making WebOS phones. Blackberry added Android support for much of the same reason and you know how that’s turned out. Microsoft, though, relies on manufacturing partners to produce Windows Phones. If Microsoft allows Android Apps it displays a lack of confidence in their own OS and ecosystem. And if Microsoft is creating Windows Phones with Android support, and creating Android Phones with newly acquired Nokia, why should manufacturers like HTC, Samsung, or Huawei have any confidence in developing phones? Losing developers is one thing and losing manufacturers is another. By inviting Android Apps into their ecosystem, Microsoft will lose both. If Nokia can become the next Apple of Windows Phones that might work, but let’s not fool ourselves. Are the “Windows” closing for Microsoft? The Windows Phone platform isn’t bad at all, but it sounds like they could be coming to a point where they’re forced to face a certain harsh reality — there just might not be room for three major platforms in the smartphone space. Android’s already giving iOS a tough time, and any other sliver of market share outside of the pieces those two share is too insignificant to care about. Soon enough, they’re going to realize that they will either have to foster enough innovation to get consumers to pay attention, or concede defeat and come to grips with the truth — that they’re simply not fit for this tough fight. Of course, there’s a chance these rumors could be a big pile of bologna so it’s wise to make sure we aren’t getting ahead of ourselves. Still, you have to wonder if this could be considered the first of many “spaghetti sticking to walls” ideas before an eventual white towel is thrown into the ring. Edgar from ChromeSpot, Joe from WinSource and Phandroid’s very own Chris all had a nice little chat about it on Hangouts earlier today, so be sure to catch that little discussion above if you missed it. After that, meet us in the comments section and let us know what you think! http://phandroid.com/2014/02/12/windows-phone-android-apps
  25. By Paul Thurrott Feb. 14, 2014 Universal apps are a lie One of the more intriguing aspects of the recent Windows Phone 8.1 leak is that this platform might support the creation of so-called Universal apps, similar to those in iOS, that run across both tablets (Windows RT 8.1 in this case) and smart phone (Windows Phone 8.1). With due deference to the game "Portal," however, I can report that Universal apps are a lie. At least from what I can tell. To understand what I mean, you need to understand a bit about Visual Studio, Microsoft's awesome software development environment. In Visual Studio parlance, each project you create represents a single application (or similar unit), like a Windows Phone app, a Windows desktop application, or whatever. But Visual Studio is also a team-capable and professional developer suite. So each project you create is also contained in something called a solution. And you can have multiple projects within a solution. For example, you might create a complex application that includes a project for the application itself plus separate projects for a service library, class library, or whatever. And each could be written in different languages, and by different developers. So what's this Universal app stuff? You may recall that the possibility of Universal apps was first raised when a developer leaked information about Windows Phone 8.1 recently. I wrote about this in Windows Phone 8.1 Feature Set Possibly Leaked, noting that he described "the leaker claims that developers will be able to create so-called Universal apps with HTML and JavaScript that can run on both Windows 8.x and Windows Phone 8.1." The HTML/JavaScript bit is indeed new to Windows Phone 8.1. But Universal apps? No. With previous versions of Windows 8.x/RT and Windows Phone, Microsoft advised developers who wanted to duplicate an app across each platform that they could create Visual Studio solutions with separate projects for Windows 8.x/RT and Windows Phone apps. There could then be a third project that contained shared code, since there is some crossover between the APIs used by the different platforms (WinRT for PCs and tablets and WinPRT for Phone). With the SDK that will accompany Windows Phone 8.1, Visual Studio picks up what appears to be a set of new project types for something called Universal apps. There are separate projects for a blank app, a hub app, a portable (i.e. cross-platform) class library, and a portable Windows Runtime component. But all this really is is a formalization of Microsoft's previous advice. What you get, as before, is a single solution with separate projects for the Windows 8.x/RT app, Windows Phone app, and shared code. In other words, nothing has really changed. Here's how such a solution—with two separate apps and a shared code module—looks in Visual Studio. The ability to code Windows Phone 8.1 apps in JavaScript (really HTML/JavaScript/CSS) is new to Windows Phone 8.1 and mirrors how this works in Windows 8.x. To me, that is the real story here, that developers can create native Windows Phone apps now with a very familiar set of technologies. That said, in the leaked SDK, the Windows Phone bits run in the Windows 8.x emulator for some reason. So there's apparently still work to be done. Will the Windows 8.x and Phone APIs, SDKs and platforms merge even more going forward? Of course. But I wish Microsoft had held on to the name Universal apps for the time when such a thing was truly possible. That name suggests something far more than what is possible today, or in this coming release. P.S. If you not familiar with my "Portal" reference, please refer to this Know Your Meme entry. And then go play some Portal. Great game. P.P.S. If you're a developer and know more about this stuff than I do, let me know if I missed anything. I'd love to think this system is more sophisticated than I understand. http://winsupersite.com/windows-phone/windows-phone-81-preview-universal-apps
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