Archive for Windows Phone

Windows Phone continues to pick up momentum, quintupling last year’s sales figures

Ballmer Qualcomm CES 2013 Keynote 560x305 Windows Phone continues to pick up momentum, quintupling last years sales figures

Windows Phone’s market share is admittedly small, but the OS is beginning to pick up momentum. Microsoft elected to pull out of the International CES this year, but that didn’t stop CEO Steve Ballmer from rushing out onto the stage during the Qualcomm keynote to talk about the two companies’ partnership, particularly when it comes to Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8.

According to Ballmer, Windows Phone sales quintupled during the last few weeks of 2012.

“In November we reported that sales of Windows Phones were four times greater than during the same time last year. And during the week of Christmas, we were running at five times the number of phones from the Christmas week last year.”

This is huge, despite the fact that the OS is coming from a relatively small starting point. A 500% increase in sales is fantastic. If Microsoft can keep up this pace, we should start to see Windows Phone’s market share grow at a much more rapid pace.

[Bloomberg via Neowin]

Skype Preview 2.1 released for Windows Phone 8

Skype1 560x248 Skype Preview 2.1 released for Windows Phone 8

Microsoft has released a new preview of its Skype app for Windows Phone 8, bringing with it a number of performance enhancements and bug fixes. The biggest change, however, is the temporary removal of one of the app’s most exciting – if buggy – features: People Hub integration.

The app’s integration with the People Hub and its ability to run in the background and surface incoming chats and calls as if they were part of the OS are both cool and useful, making them banner features for Skype. Unfortunately, the former was known to cause stability issues with the People Hub, resulting in crashes and many other frustrating things. As a result, the feature has been temporarily disabled in Skype for Windows Phone 8 Preview 2.1. Hopefully, the Windows Phone and Skype teams will be able to quickly resolve the issue.

Thankfully, incoming chat and call notifications are now much more reliable and messages are also guaranteed to be displayed in the correct order. Other improvements include an updated keyboard with autocorrect, a new option to toggle toast notifications for Windows Live Messenger contacts (this is very helpful if you don’t want to have duplicate notifications from Skype and the Messaging Hub), and labels for friends who are on Windows Live Messenger rather than Skype.

[Skype Garage]

Windows Phone 7.8 update still coming next year, Windows Phone 8 “Portico” update due tomorrow on T-Mobile

T Mo 8X Portico Ann 560x262 Windows Phone 7.8 update still coming next year, Windows Phone 8 Portico update due tomorrow on T Mobile

Over the weekend, some Nokia Lumia 800 owners started noticing notifications for a new OS update. Specifically, the long-awaited Windows Phone 7.8 update, which brings the new Windows Phone 8 Start screen to older devices. Unfortunately, it’s not quite ready for everyone. While the update is nearly done, a Nokia representative has stated that the update is first rolling out to pre-production devices to ensure that the update process proceeds smoothly. Everyone else will have to wait until the first part of next year. Of course, with the update seemingly ready to go, we probably won’t have to wait too long into the new year.

In other Windows Phone update news, T-Mobile has announced that the first Windows Phone 8 update, codenamed “Portico,” will be delivered to the Windows Phone 8X by HTC on its network tomorrow. According to T-Mobile’s forums, the update will ”help address a few bugs, including issues with Bluetooth, devices rebooting, and being incorrectly routed to tethering upsell pages when browsing.” But while they aren’t specifically listed, we know that a few new messaging enhancements are bundled in the update as well. Not to be left out, an update for AT&T’s Nokia Lumia 920 has shown up on Nokia’s servers, meaning that the release of “Portico” on AT&T shouldn’t be too far away either.

[Tweakers via Engadget | T-Mobile via WPCentral | WPCentral]

Windows Phone Store now allows you to download apps for transfer via microSD

Manually Install WP Apps Windows Phone Store now allows you to download apps for transfer via microSDWindows Phone users have long been able to download apps directly from the phone or queue them up for download from the Windows Phone website, but Microsoft has added yet another way to install apps. Believe it or not, it is now possible to manually download the .xap files from the Windows Phone Store on your PC and install the apps via a microSD card on Windows Phone 8 devices.

The process is just as simple as it sounds. All apps on the Windows Phone Store now have a “Download and install manually” link in the details column. From there, simply copy the .xap file to a microSD card and insert it into any microSD-equipped Windows Phone 8 device. While the Nokia Lumia 920 and Windows Phone 8X by HTC do not have microSD card slots, most other new devices do. To finish installing the apps, open up the Windows Phone Store on your device, tap SD card, and then hit Install. It’s that easy. The full details on the process can be found here.

Frankly, it’s surprising that Microsoft is allowing people to install apps manually, as some people might be worried about increased piracy. But it sounds like the Redmond-based company is getting around this issue by having the phone authenticate the app and ensure that it is the latest version before the installation process can be completed. Apps this fail this test will be listed under “Incompatible apps.”

While I can’t see myself using this feature a lot, it’ll probably be useful for many people.

[Windows Phone Blog]

Windows Phone app downloads and revenue double over the last month

Windows Phone Apps Windows Phone app downloads and revenue double over the last month

Todd Brix, Microsoft’s Senior Director of the Windows Phone Apps Team, has announced that Windows Phone has seen more than a 100% increase in “developer revenue and app downloads since Windows Phone 8 launched in November.” This is exciting, and it appears to signify a marked increase in the amount of Windows Phone devices being sold. Of course, Brix made sure to clarify that this statistic is not an announcement of actual hardware sales. Rather, it is a “nice trend.”

Regardless of the actual hardware sales figures – which, by all accounts, appear to be quite good, based on the Lumia 920′s extremely limited availability – an increase in app downloads and revenue is a big deal for developers, especially if it’s twice what it was before. The Windows Phone Store currently has more than 120,000 apps, but by attracting even more developers, Microsoft will be able to increase this figure exponentially and hopefully close the gap between Windows Phone and 600,000-700,000 apps found on Android and iOS.

[Todd Brix on Twitter]

Six Windows Phone games discounted for Black Friday

Windows Phone Black Friday Sale Six Windows Phone games discounted for Black Friday

Microsoft has discounted six hot Windows Phone games for Black Friday, and most of them are must-haves. All six of the titles have been dropped to $1.99 for the next week, which has resulted in savings of between 33% and 60%.

Personally, I’d highly recommend Mush, and Carcassonne is a very addicting board game which has since been turned into a video game. Carcassonne is particularly notable because it was released just a few short weeks ago, right before the launch of Windows Phone 8. The rest of the games on sale are just as great.

While the sale pricing doesn’t appear to be live just yet in the United States, you shouldn’t have to wait too long. The Black Friday sale is expected to run up through November 26.


Meet Your Match is the new Smoked By Windows Phone

With Windows Phone 8 devices now available in stores, Microsoft’s Ben Rudolph has once again taken to the streets to challenge people and their smartphones. This new campaign, dubbed “Meet Your Match,” takes the hugely popular “Smoked by Windows Phone” challenge to a more personal level, rather than one based purely on speed.

“The soul of Smoked – a side-by-side comparison of us vs. the other guys – hasn’t changed,” Rudolph wrote in a post on the Windows Phone Blog, ”but now it’s about why our phones and features are a better match for you, no matter who you are or what you’re into.” This, of course, is the main focus of Windows Phone 8, which Microsoft claims is the “most personal smartphone around.”

As with “Smoked by Windows Phone” before it, you’ll be able to ”Meet your Match” at Microsoft Stores around the US, as well as in the UK, France, and Germany. Anyone who participates in the challenge at a Microsoft Store will also receive $25 toward any order of $75 or more.

I really like the direction that Microsoft is taking with “Meet your Match.” And, since the results are based on personal preference rather than seconds or milliseconds, it’ll be less likely to generate the type of controversy that Smoked experienced at one point.

[Windows Phone Blog]

Nokia Drive is a killer app, and it’s on its way to other Windows Phones

Nokia Drive on Windows Phone 81 Nokia Drive is a killer app, and its on its way to other Windows Phones

If I had to create a list of apps that I couldn’t live without, Nokia Drive would be pretty close to the top. It is the killer app for Nokia. So much so, in fact, that it makes it difficult to use a Windows Phone from any other manufacturer like HTC or Samsung. Earlier this year, Microsoft revealed that Nokia’s mapping technology would be built into Windows Phone 8. And while that is certainly the case, the actual mapping experience isn’t all that different at this point.

Thankfully, while Nokia’s voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, speed limit alerts, and other great Nokia Drive features aren’t built into the core Windows Phone 8 OS at this point, Nokia has provided the app to the rest of Microsoft’s hardware manufacturing partners. This means that – believe it or not – Nokia Drive will be available on other devices, should the manufacturers choose to release it. Personally, I can’t wait. Although I do wonder if, by giving this killer app to its competitors, Nokia is almost shooting itself in the foot.

[Nokia Conversations]

Windows Phone 8 now available in Europe, coming soon to the US and other countries

Nokia Lumia 810 Windows Phone 8 now available in Europe, coming soon to the US and other countriesThe wait is finally over… provided you’re in Europe. The next generation of Microsoft’s mobile platform, Windows Phone 8, is now available in Europe. This includes all of Microsoft’s flagship devices from Nokia, HTC, and Samsung. Unfortunately, as with the Windows Phone 7 launch two years ago, other countries will have to wait a little while longer.

Out of all the US carriers, T-Mobile has the most concrete information. The Nokia Lumia 810 (a variant of the Lumia 820) will debut on T-Mobile on November 14. It’ll cost Value Plan members $99.99, while Classic Plan members will have to pay $149.99. Both of these prices, of course, are based on a $50 mail-in rebate and a two-year contract. The Windows Phone 8X by HTC is expected to launch on this day as well for $149.99.

Next up is Verizon, which will begin carrying the Windows Phone 8X by HTC “before Thanksgiving.” The device will exclusively include wireless charging, and it will run you $199.99. The Nokia Lumia 822 (also a Lumia 820 variant) will launch on the same day in white, black, and grey for just $99.99. If you’re eyeing Samsung’s ATIV (pronounced “aah-TIV”) Odyssey, a variant of the ATIV S, you’ll have to wait until December.

Lastly, AT&T plans to exclusively carry the Nokia Lumia 920 – which features wireless charging and a PureView camera – and the Lumia 820 starting sometime in November, along with the Windows Phone 8X by HTC and Samsung ATIV S. Unfortunately, pricing and availability still has yet to be announced.

Sprint will not be getting any Windows Phone 8 handsets at this time, but the Microsoft Store plans to carry every US device in every color. Which one will you be picking up?

[Nokia Conversations: 12 | All About Microsoft]

Xbox SmartGlass arrives on Windows Phone

Xbox SmartGlass Xbox SmartGlass arrives on Windows PhoneWith Windows 8 now available in stores and the new Xbox 360 dashboard update on consoles, Microsoft has gone ahead and updated the Xbox Companion app on Windows Phone, turning it into the long-awaited Xbox SmartGlass app.

Xbox SmartGlass is more than just a simple name change. While the app still supports basic navigation and media playback controls, as well as the ability to search the Xbox LIVE Marketplace and launch content, it now supports content-specific interactive experiences with select games and apps. Send music and videos to and from your smartphone or tablet, discover who’s in a particular scene while watching a movie on Xbox Video, queue up songs in Dance Central 3, and much more. The possibilities are endless.

SmartGlass is also deeply integrated with the new Internet Explorer app on Xbox 360, letting you interact with content on your big screen as if it were on a touch device. You can even transfer websites from your TV screen to your smartphone. Keyboard input is directed to the phone as well, eliminating the need for a Chatpad accessory. The inclusion of an Xbox Guide button and asynchronous connectivity – allowing you to use the app in a limited capacity if you’re not signed in on your console – are welcome additions too.

I’ve you already have the Xbox Companion app on Windows Phone, all you need to do is download the update. But if you haven’t tried it before, we highly recommend doing so. Xbox SmartGlass is currently available on Windows Phone and Windows 8, but Microsoft plans to release the app on Android and iOS as well.

[Windows Phone Store]