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Windows Mobile takes up roost in Windows Phone, thanks to WML project (video)

Friday, February 17th, 2012
Windows Mobile takes up roost in Windows Phone, thanks to WML project (video)

Whether you’re looking for a good laugh or a simple trip down memory lane, seeing Windows Mobile 6.1 hobble around like a grumpy old man within Windows Phone might just satisfy both those urges. The technical stunt comes courtesy of the Dark Forces Team, which is now previewing a bit of hackery known as WML (Windows Mobile Loader?). While details of the project have yet to be made public, a video posted to YouTube clearly shows the elderly OS accessible from within Windows Phone on an HTC Gold (HD7). Support for Windows Mobile 6.5 is also in the works, but for the moment, just take a peep at the most important visual treat in the above clip.

Windows Mobile takes up roost in Windows Phone, thanks to WML project (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 17 Feb 2012 16:36:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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HTC Titan review

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform is in a peculiar place right now. Those who use the year-old mobile operating system typically offer glowing accounts of their experiences, but adoption has been anything but brisk. Carriers aren’t pushing Windows Phones with any effort worth noting — in fact, retail staffers at U.S. carrier shops have been known to steer customers away from the platform according to various reports — and in the second quarter of 2011, Microsoft’s share of the mobile market may have hit an all-time low. Microsoft’s deal with Nokia finally bore fruit this week however, and the second wave of Windows Phones has begun trickling out into the market. Among the Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” devices that have been announced to date, one in particular stands taller than the rest, both literally and figuratively. In this review, we take a look at the AT&T-bound HTC Titan to see if it’s worthy of its grandiose moniker.

The Inside

Ever since Microsoft first took the wraps off its next-generation mobile platform “Windows Phone Series 7″ in early 2010, I’ve been intrigued. Like webOS, Microsoft’s operating system appeared to offer a fresh take on the smartphone user experience. When handsets finally started shipping ahead of the holidays last year, Windows Phone delivered. It was fresh, it was unique and it was a pleasure to use. Unfortunately for Microsoft and its partners, however, consumers didn’t seem to care.

Windows Phone was truly a pleasure to use, but it was also quite clearly rushed. I can’t really blame Microsoft for rushing its new mobile platform out the door, of course, as Windows Mobile had effectively been dead for some time already. Android and iOS were crushing the market and Microsoft needed something to lure its vendor partners away from Android. And so Windows Phone 7 was born, but almost immediately dropped off at the orphanage. Vendors didn’t bother promoting the devices, carriers didn’t bother promoting the devices… even Microsoft fell oddly silent as its new platform was cast aside.

Enter Windows Phone 7.5, code-named “Mango” after a fruit so sweet when it’s ripe, it is almost impossible to resist. This was to be the company’s opportunity to regroup and deliver a series of blistering fastballs after a bases-loaded balk saw its opponents’ lead grow wider. All eyes were on London this week as Nokia unveiled its first two Windows Phones, but HTC’s Titan is already upon us, carrying Microsoft’s latest mobile OS on what is likely the largest display it will ever see.

The HTC Titan is a beast. Its 4.7-inch display gives Windows Phone a canvas that is nearly tablet-like, and the 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor driving the device makes one of the world’s smoothest operating system even smoother. In the two weeks I have been carrying the Titan, I have yet to see a crash, bogging, lag, or anything else of the sort. I can’t even say that about iOS.

Animations flutter about on the Titan, and native apps open into a usable state in the blink of an eye. The user interface is unbelievably smooth, and the UI “sticks” to one’s finger during navigation just as well as iOS. Scrolling in apps is also lag-free, though inertia scrolling is still a bit off. When the user releases a finger following a flick, the scroll seems to accelerate at the same rate regardless of how hard the user flicks. It’s awkward but hardly a major problem.

My biggest performance-related issue is the amount of time it takes most apps to refresh with new data. On AT&T’s HSPA network, data speeds are fast and latency is quite low. I regularly saw download speeds of between 2Mbps and 4Mbps during my tests in and around New York City, and upload speeds hovered between 1Mbps and 1.5Mbps while connected to HSPA. Even still, it can take 5, 6 or even 10 seconds or more for an app to refresh with even the smallest amount of new data. I haven’t quite pinpointed the culprit yet — different developers tell me different things, though everyone I’ve spoken with recognizes the issue — but I suspect that it’s often a combination of the OS and developers’ inexperience with coding apps for it.

Beyond that, I can’t stress enough how much I’m enjoying Mango. The “tombstoning” feature akin to application state-saving in iOS is implemented quite well, and apps that take advantage of it load from the background almost instantly. Enhanced multitasking features in the next major Windows Phone release will bring even more capabilities to developers and users alike, but the current solution is fast and elegant.

The Outside

The Titan is huge. There’s no reason to beat around the bush.

Supersized smartphones are becoming more popular each month — probably due in large part to the fact that vendors are flooding the market — and there are definitely advantages and disadvantages to carrying a phone this massive.

At 5.18-inches tall by 2.78-inches wide by 0.39-inches thick, the Titan is even bigger than the Samsung Galaxy S II. At 160 grams, it’s also more than 20 grams heavier. I like a heavy phone, and the Titan’s solid build and high-quality materials are more than worth the added heft to me. The majority of the smartphone’s case is comprised of beautiful brushed aluminum, save for a small rubber-feel area near the top of the rear case and a larger one at the bottom where the antenna sits.

Across the top of the phone sits a power/lock/unlock button, a small hole for the noise-canceling mic and a 3.5-millimeter audio jack. The right edge of the device is home to a slim two-stage camera button that sits beneath an equally slim volume rocker, and the left edge sports a lone micro-USB port. The bottom houses only the phone’s main microphone and a battery door release button.

On the rear of the device is a sizable camera lens flanked by a dual-LED flash and a speaker. I’ll discuss the camera more extensively a bit later. The face of the phone is made up almost entirely of smooth, oil-resistant glass. Three customary capacitive Windows Phones buttons sit across the bottom, and a front-facing camera is positioned near the top below the phone’s ear speaker. Voice calling is quite clear on the Titan, and the speaker gets loud enough to be used comfortably in noisy environments.

One thing that should not be overlooked about the exterior of the Titan is the design. Like the Sensation, HTC’s Titan features a unique unibody design that has the rear case of the device wrap around the side and top. The “guts” of the phone then sit inside the case, creating a design that positions all seams directly around the display. The result is not only gorgeous, it also means there are no uncomfortable seams to be felt by the user’s hands.

The Upside

As a complete package, the Titan is easily one of my favorite Windows Phone to date. The build is phenomenal and the Windows Phone 7.5 operating system is like greased lightning. I’m also a huge fan of live tiles.

Microsoft’s home screen UI, for those unfamiliar with Windows Phone, is tile-based. It is comprised of a grid of square and rectangular tiles that cascade endlessly. The result is a tidy home base that provides a welcome alternative to static icons. These tiles, if enabled, provide the user with information dynamically and can be updated frequently.

For example, my favorite simple weather app WeatherLive displays the current temperature, the temperature range for the day, and a graphical representation of the current weather conditions. When it rains, I see a storm cloud and rain drops. When it’s sunny, a big sharp sun covers the bulk of the tile. Another example is my favorite Google Reader-compatible RSS Reader, Wonder Reader. When enabled, the app periodically flashes headlines across the tile to let me know I have new articles waiting to be read. Messaging apps display unread counts, the Photo Hub cycles through images stored on the device, my Xbox Live avatar dances around the Games tile, and so on.

Beyond the tiles, there are a few other new features in Mango that I really enjoy. First and foremost, tombstoning and basic multitasking support are implemented quite well. Enabled apps close in a frozen state and holding down the back button for a second quickly brings up the task switcher UI. Transition animations are subtle but appreciated, and jumping between apps is lightning fast.

I also like that Mango brings Wi-Fi tethering to Windows Phones. The Internet Sharing service on the Titan is buried in the system settings in Windows Phone rather than being granted a dedicated app that I might be able to pin to the home screen, but I still appreciated having one less device to carry while testing the Titan. Wi-Fi tethering is available on a number of smartphones these days, but I typically find it unusable due to the inevitable battery drain. The Titan’s 1,600 mAh battery held up nicely even after about 30 minutes of Internet Sharing, however, and Mango includes a nifty feature: if no devices connect to the phone after a few minutes, tethering is automatically turned off. Also, if you’re tethered and then you disconnect all devices from the phone, Internet Sharing will automatically turn off after a few idle minutes. It’s one less thing to worry about.

The camera on the Titan shocked me. This has traditionally been a very weak point for HTC phones — very, very weak — but the 8-megapixel camera on the Titan captures terrific still images. The color and clarity in photos taken by the Titan is on par with the likes of Zeiss-equipped Nokia handsets and the iPhone 4S, and future Titan owners can certainly plan to ditch their point-and-shoot cameras. It also captures high-quality 720p HD video content, though the lack of an HDMI-out port or even an adapter is something of a disappointment.

Finally, Windows Phone still provides what, in my opinion, is the hands-down best email experience on any mobile platform. The UI in the email app is gorgeous and lightning fast, and it’s simple to drill down to unread items, urgent items or flagged items with a quick flick. On the Titan, the humongous display only makes things better. Productivity is the same story. Microsoft’s mobile Office suite is a joy to use for creating and editing Word documents or Excel spreadsheets, and the SkyDrive integration provides easy access to remote files to ensure that the same documents are available on your phone and your computer.

The Downside

Again, the Titan is huge. While I have gotten somewhat used to the mammoth device over the course of the the past two weeks, it’s just still too big for me.

Consumers love giant smartphones. Vendors keep cranking them out and people keep buying them. While there are numerous and obvious advantages to big smartphone displays, there are also several drawbacks and the negative outweighs the positive for me.

On the one hand, the huge screen affords a great canvas for emails, web pages, images and video. On the other hand, stretching 480 x 800-pixel resolution over a panel that measures 4.7-inches diagonally means clarity and sharpness suffer. Usability suffers as well, and a perfect example is the back button. On Windows Phone devices, the back button is extremely important. There is often no way to navigate back one screen from within the UI, and holding down the capacitive back key also brings up the application switcher. While holding the device in my right hand, however, I cannot reach the back button at all. Not even close.

I also can’t reach the lock/unlock button without repositioning the device in my hand, though this is infinitely less important than the back key. This button is crucial to the operation of the device, and one-handed use is often my preferred method of operation. It just doesn’t work. Samsung solved the problem by repositioning the back button on its giant Galaxy S II smartphone to make it accessible during one-handed use. This of course left the menu key just out of reach, but better that than the back button.

Somewhere around 4-inches lies the sweet spot for me, and a scaled down device like the Titan with a display around that size would likely be my ideal Windows Phone.

My only other serious complaint about the Titan applies to Windows Phone in general rather than to this particular smartphone, and that is the third-party app situation. It’s improving every day, and Nokia’s arrival on the scene will only help accelerate developer adoption. Today, however, things are not where they need to be.

I cannot for the life of me find a decent Twitter app, for example. There are a handful of usable options — I’ve landed on Seesmic for the time being — but they’re all slow and clunky. This goes back to my earlier note that data calls take entirely too long. Microsoft needs to fix this problem because it can be quite off-putting, especially in areas with sparse cellular coverage. The Metro interface is beautiful, but it loses its allure quickly when a data refresh takes 10 seconds.

Today, Windows Phone is often an afterthought for developers and the selection in the Windows Marketplace reflects that. This will change, and Mango introduced new APIs and capabilities that afford developers more flexibility. Right now however, there are many go-to apps that I simply can’t find in the Marketplace, and I suspect many users coming from more established platforms will make the same claim.

The Bottom Line

HTC’s Titan is a smartphone worthy of its name. More importantly, it is also worthy of consumers’ consideration because it really is a fantastic device. The hardware and build are class-leading, the display is bright and clear, the 8-megapixel camera captures gorgeous images, and the Windows Phone 7.5 operating system is a breath of fresh air.

Size matters. For me, bigger isn’t always better and the Titan’s towering stature is a turn off. Many smartphone buyers enjoy large handsets however, and if you fall into that category I sincerely doubt you’ll be able to find a better Windows Phone anywhere in the world right now.

AT&T will launch the HTC Titan some time this fall.

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Android still king of the US smartphone hill, Motorola facing a market nosedive

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

In other obvious news, Android and iOS continue to sit pretty atop the US smartphone market, according to a recent NPD study. The current titans of the mobile industry both saw their pieces of the OS pie increase in Q2 of 2011, putting Andy Rubin’s green robot in the lead with 52 percent and Apple at 29 percent. Newly adopted webOS, and Microsoft’s WP7 and Windows Mobile all managed to cling to their respective 5 percent shares with no yearly change, leaving only BlackBerry OS to experience an 11 percent decline. But the real meat and potatoes of the report focuses on Google’s soon-to-be in-house partner: Motorola. Despite the rosy picture painted by recent acquisition talks, the company appears to be facing tough competition from Android OEM rivals, and the wireless market as a whole. In regard to overall mobile phone share (read: dumbphones, et al.) and smartphone-only, Moto saw a 3 percent year-to-year decline, with its biggest loss coming from Android unit sales — a 50 percent drop to 22 percent of the market. Will the rosy glow of Mountain View “help inspire new paths to differentiation” for Moto, or are we just looking at a repeat of the “RAZR era?” While you ponder these pressing questions, head past the break to read the full report.

Continue reading Android still king of the US smartphone hill, Motorola facing a market nosedive

Android still king of the US smartphone hill, Motorola facing a market nosedive originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 23 Aug 2011 17:09:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Smartphone data usage jumps 89% in the U.S., Android users still biggest gluttons

Friday, June 17th, 2011

The Nielsen Company on Friday released its latest findings regarding smartphone data usage and as expected, data consumption continued to increase at an explosive pace in the first quarter of 2011. In the same quarter last year, the average smartphone user consumed 230MB of data on their device each month. Last quarter, that number shot up 89% to 435MB. The heaviest data users are responsible for the bulk of the growth, with average data usage among the top 10% of smartphone owners having grown 155% from 1.8GB to 4.6GB on average each month. Lucky for them, the average cost per megabyte of smartphone data has dropped 46% over the same period, from $0.14 in the first quarter of 2010 to $0.08 last quarter. Android users remain the most data hungry, averaging 582MB each month, and iPhone users followed closely behind last quarter, using 492MB of data each month on average. Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry users round out the top-5, consuming 317MB, 174MB and 127MB on average each month, respectively. Some additional data from Nielsen’s report can be seen after the break.


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The Collector concept turns unused microSD cards into a refillable thumb drive

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011
The Collector

Digging through our drawers here at Engadget there is one thing we’re clearly not in desperate need of: USB flash drives. We also happen to have a plethora of microSD cards in 1GB an 2GB sizes, left over from the days when picking a smartphone meant Windows Mobile or BlackBerry. This concept USB drive, dubbed The Collector, could potentially solve our conundrum by allowing us to toss all those thumb drives and find a use for our now homeless microSD chips. The Collector wouldn’t have any storage of its own, instead you’d slip up to three microSD cards into it and, when full, simply swap them out for more. It would also combine your smaller chunks of storage into a single block, so those three 2GB scraps would become a slightly less useless 6GB drive. Of course, keeping that pile of microSD cards (now bound by common data) organized might actually be a bigger headache than rifling through your drawers looking for that OFWGKTA mixtape you downloaded so many months ago.

The Collector concept turns unused microSD cards into a refillable thumb drive originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 12 Apr 2011 13:19:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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HTC HD7 review

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Albert Einstein wrote that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. For what seemed like an eternity, Windows Mobile was the epitome of insanity and Microsoft was insane. The Redmond-based giant resisted change as long as it possibly could, forcing itself to believe that users would magically come back around and embrace the counter-intuitive mess that was Windows Mobile 5… and then 6… and then 6.5.

After years of some serious electroshock therapy courtesy of journalists, bloggers and enthusiasts, Microsoft is finally ready to check out of the asylum.

Microsoft’s new OS is not simply a major departure from Windows Mobile; it’s a full-on OSectomy. The company literally went back to the drawing board and built a new, modern operating system from the ground up. The result is “Windows Phone 7” — a 13-character name with one single focus: get Microsoft back in the game.

WP7 launched on November 8th in the U.S., and with it came a handful of devices. Microsoft’s strict hardware requirements reduce handsets to vessels for the OS in many respects, so I’ve decided to review the one launch handset that managed to impress me the most: the HTC HD7.


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The Outside

HTC has carved itself a new niche with its oversized smartphones and to be honest, it surprises me a bit. It shouldn’t, of course. Here in the U.S. at least, we certainly subscribe to a bigger is better policy.

It all started with the massive EVO 4G — a phone that made Android handsets before it look like Oompa-Loompas. It was tall, wide, thick and heavy; with a 4.3-inch display and nearly every wireless radio imaginable crammed inside. Each successive 4.3-inch offering has been slimmer and lighter, and now we have the HD7.

According to market research firm NPD Group, big-boned smartphones are quite popular right now. In fact, the EVO 4G found itself on NPD Group’s list of top-5 best selling Android smartphones in both the second and third quarters of 2010.

Of course it all boils down to taste and preference — and I’m still not sold. If the display on the HD7 was in the 3.8-inch to 4-inch range and the hardware was downsized proportionately, I would be in love. As it stands now, however, it’s too big. I can’t comfortably operate the HD7 with one hand and that can be a big deal at times. For example, holding the device in my right hand and reaching over to tap the back button is very, very uncomfortable. I even dropped the phone once or twice while attempting this typically simple maneuver. Going back a page with one hand is commonplace on a normal phone, but not on this king-sized beast.

The only other build-related items I take issue with are the battery cover and the side buttons.

The HD7’s battery cover is almost paper-thin and it basically peels off when you remove it. I took it off once to have a look at the battery and now the top corners of the cover won’t sit flush with the back of the phone. I’ve tried bending them back into place and even squishing the phone and battery cover together with frustration-driven brute force. Still no luck. Perhaps the battery cover should be made out of a stronger material or perhaps the clips that hold it in place need to be retooled. Whatever the case, I shouldn’t be having fitting issues on a brand new phone.

Regarding the side buttons, it just boils down to poor execution. There are three buttons situated along the outer sides of the HD7. A dedicated camera button and a volume rocker are found on the right side, and a power/sleep/wake button is located on the top. The camera button is fine — the other two are not. With the volume rocker, the issue is poor fit; the button is so loose that is rattles around as you use the phone. The power button on top is fit perfectly, on the other hand, but it has almost no tactile response whatsoever. I can’t tell whether or not I’ve pressed it until the screen comes on.

My issue with the power button is relatively trivial, of course, but the volume rocker is a pretty big annoyance. Hopefully the problem lies with a small number of units and not an entire run.

Aforementioned qualms aside, the HD7 really is a great phone. Battery life is average for a smartphone — most people will get about a day’s worth of usage per charge, but very heavy power users might have trouble making it to the end of a long day.The design is also awesome, I think. I love the matching metal mesh covering the ear speaker above the display and the microphone below it. Both the speaker and the mic work wonderfully during voice calls, by the way, and calls come through loud and clear over T-Mobile’s network.

It’s also very well built and sturdy. The back has a smooth rubbery texture to it that feels great in the palm, and the sides are thick hard plastic that supports the phone’s massive frame quite well. There’s also an aluminum kickstand on the back that could come in handy for those who intend to watch videos on the device while stationary. I’ve yet to use it a single time and I doubt I ever will.

The Inside

The HTC HD7 is powered by Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 OS, which means its internals are nearly the same as any other WP7 handset. Because the OS is so new, it also means it would be easy to get carried away and cover every nook and cranny of the OS. I’m going to try to keep things general, however, and cover some of the broader concepts rather than every last intricate detail.

The first thing to note is that Windows Phone 7, in its current state, is anything but a traditional smartphone OS. Think of it more along the lines of iPhone version 1 than iOS version 4.

Like the first version of the iPhone platform, Windows Phone 7 shows signs of greatness right off the starting line. Also like version 1 of Apple’s mobile OS, Windows Phone 7 is very incomplete. Core functionality is missing; integral apps and services are nowhere to be found; key features are absent. I’ll come back to this in my conclusion…

Microsoft’s new interface is wonderfully minimal, consisting mainly of just two simple screens. The first is an endless string of tiles, two columns wide, that each represents an app, a shortcut, a contact or a “hub”. This is the home screen. Swipe to the left, and you find a single column comprised of each app on the device. That’s it.

A defining concept found throughout the OS is simplicity. On the home screen, for example, the only information shown at the top of the display is the time. Signal strength, network connection information, battery life and other standard details are all hidden — and I love it. Why does the user need any of this info unless it becomes important? I don’t need to know how good my signal is unless it’s low. I don’t need to know I’m connected to Wi-Fi or 3G unless there are connectivity issues. I don’t need to know how much battery I have left unless I’m going to run out of juice soon.

The only place this philosophy falls short is with message indicators. If I have an unread SMS for example, there is an icon on my lock screen to let me know. Once the HD7 is unlocked, however, the only indication I have that there is an unread SMS is an indicator on the Messaging tile. I would prefer to have a reminder that is visible on every screen.

In terms of HTC-specific customizations, there isn’t much to speak of. In an effort to keep the WP7 experience uniform and optimal, Microsoft limits manufacturers a great deal. The company has essentially created a scenario where it is more Apple (control everything) than Google (give manufacturers near-complete freedom), but it has the luxury of variety and help with marketing because partner companies build the hardware. Some might say it’s the best of both worlds.

Beyond a few available apps including a photo effects tool, a flashlight and a stock-monitoring app, there is little evidence of HTC in the software on the HD7. In fact, the “HTC Hub” is the only real reminder that HTC did, in fact, build this phone. The HTC Hub is the company’s attempt to bring a Sense-like experience to Windows Phone in a self-contained app. So basically, the user opens the hub and is presented an alternate home screen reminiscent of the Sense UI found on Android devices. Within the hub, users can browse alternate menus and launch other apps as well.

While the concept is relatively intriguing, don’t bother with the HTC Hub for the time being. It drains the battery, it doesn’t give you access to email and other important apps, and it negates several of Windows Phone 7’s most compelling features. Some future version of HTC’s custom hub might be useful, but this first version is a dud.

The Upside

The UI, simply put, is gorgeous. It might not suit everyone’s tastes — nothing ever does — but to me it’s absolutely stunning and wonderfully unique. And on the massive HD7 display, it’s great. The font is gorgeous, the transition animations are perfect and the overall experience is responsive and spry.

In my eyes, Microsoft has moved the smartphone interface into its next evolutionary phase.

Recent history looks like this: The smartphone interface was a convoluted mess in popular operating systems like BlackBerry OS, Windows Mobile and S60 (Symbian). The iPhone then came along and turned everything on its head. An overcomplicated web of home screens, menus and settings became one single focus… apps. Everything you need on your device is just a swipe and a poke away. Let’s call it the rebirth of the smartphone interface.

Now, Microsoft has brought about the re-rebirth of the smartphone interface. Just like the iPhone, everything you need is a swipe and a poke away. But there is a single, subtle difference that amounts to a major change as far as usability is concerned.

With only one exception, app icons in iOS are merely tiny images that let us open each app. They are doors. In Windows Phone 7, tiles are often living widgets that update constantly and give us information from various apps at a glance. They are windows.

Windows are better than doors. On the iPhone I can look at my display, see an icon for a weather app, tap the icon, wait for the app to open, wait for the data to refresh, and then see the current temperature and weather conditions. On the HD7, I can look at my display and see the current temperature and weather conditions. Six steps become one.

Microsoft is hardly the first company to use a widget system, but its implementation by far the best to date. Developers have the tools with which to create wonderfully useful and creative living tiles that deliver information in a variety of ways. For example, right now my WeatherBug tile is displaying my location (New York, NY) and the current temperature (44 degrees) along with a nice big sun icon because it’s sunny outside. The tile is also bright blue. Over the course of the day, the sun will become a moon, the temperature reading will drop and the light blue coloring on the tile will fade to dark blue to represent nighttime. I’ll also see a little badge appear on the tile, accompanied by a push notification, if a weather alert is issued during the day.

It’s awesome.

Windows Phone 7 also shines where text input is concerned. The HD7 specifically plays a big role here as well. The keyboard on the HD7 is the probably my favorite among smartphones to date. It’s huge, it’s responsive, it’s well organized and the accompanying auto-correct/word recommendation system is outstanding. Barring a few tiny quibbles, I love it.

The last big plus I’ll cover for the time being is hugely important — the ability for interested parties to develop for the Windows Phone 7 platform. This appears to be a primary focus for Microsoft. We’re sill in the early stages, obviously, but I can see Windows Phone 7 becoming a huge draw for creative developers looking to build novel solutions.

Microsoft’s new OS grants developers access to more core components than the current biggest developer draw, iOS, and more access means better app integration. Much better. For example a Google Voice app can use the native WP7 dialer to make calls from within the app, instead of just using a secondary dialer that then opens the native phone app as with iOS. Or, apps like HTC’s Photo Enhancer can integrate with the WP7 pictures hub, so I can tap a menu beneath photo I’ve taken and begin editing it in Photo Enhancer instantly.

These are just two examples in a practically endless list of possibilities. I’m very excited to see how talented developers use the WP7 developer tools and resources at their disposal.

The Downside

The display on the HD7 is nice and bright (when brightness is set to full from within the phone’s settings) but the resolution isn’t great. A new breed of displays is upon us and consumers will quickly get accustomed to the dense dpi counts they afford. The HD7 goes in the opposite direction however, using the same pixel count as its smaller WP7-toting counterparts and spreading it across a bigger display. The result is fine for screens with minimal graphics such as the Windows Phone 7 home screen, but small fonts and other intricate details take a hit in some areas.

Another flaw is the search function. All Windows Phones are now required by Microsoft to have a dedicated search button, which is great. Tapping that button from a home screen, however, pulls up Bing and allows you to perform a Web search. Every other major smartphone operating system has a universal search function that brings up apps, games, contacts and more, along with an option to search the Web. There’s a reason for this — universal makes a smartphone more usable.

When I want to call BGR President Jonathan Geller, for example, I don’t want to have to open up the Phone application and dial his number. I can’t remember his number. I also don’t want to have to dig his name out of an address book; that involves way too much effort. Windows Phone 7 does give you an option to pin contacts to the home screen for easy access, but pinning too many contacts would defeat the purpose.

I just want to tap a search button, type J – O – N, and tap on Jonathan Geller.

I covered most of my gripes regarding hardware above, but there is one more I wanted to discuss: the camera.

HTC does a lot of things right, but there are some areas where the company continuously falls short. The camera is a perfect example. As cell phone cameras inch closer and closer to becoming viable point-and-shoot replacements, image quality becomes increasingly important. The 5-megapixel camera on the HD7 takes terrible, terrible pictures. Colors are muted, edges are fuzzy and definition is muddy. The camera on the HD7 couldn’t replace a Polaroid from the 80s, let alone a modern point-and-shoot.

The Bottom Line

The Windows Phone 7 OS on HTC’s HD7 is absolutely fantastic in many respects, and yet in other areas, it is an OS filled with almosts. The email app is almost fantastic, but there are tiny issues that hinder it, such as its inability to download images by default. The new mobile version of Internet Explorer is almost great, but the abundance of wasted space above and below webpages negates the super-sized display on the HD7. The Windows Marketplace is almost a terrific tool for app distribution and discovery, but the fact that artists, albums and songs from Microsoft’s Zune service are returned as search results is bizarre and annoying. And so on.

In the end, the current version of Windows Phone 7 feels rushed. Actually, it doesn’t feel rushed — it is rushed. The OS looks refined and it functions quite well, but there are glaring omissions that are obviously the result of a need to get Windows Phone 7 out to market with haste.

Copy/paste support is non-existent. Microsoft’s third-party multitasking solution is nowhere to be found. There’s no support for Flash or Silverlight. There isn’t even support for Windows Live Messenger out of the box. And list goes on.

If Microsoft had burnt some serious midnight oil and determined the omissions above would result in the best possible user experience, then so be it. At least we would be able to defend Microsoft’s choices with some sort of logic. Instead, Microsoft has addressed related criticism by stating, we know, it’s coming. Microsoft knew a lot of this functionality needed to be in the OS, but it launched without it.

The fatal flaw in all this is that adding much needed functionality at some point down the road means it will not be a part of consumer’s initial experience with the OS and the devices on which it resides.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

My sincere hope, however, is that people do give Windows Phone 7 a second chance once the functionality is flushed out a bit. Looking back on the first version of the iPhone OS, it was missing tons of features as we can all recall. Over time, however, iOS grew to become the great platform it is today.

Microsoft is not a newcomer to the game as Apple was, so these omissions are even less excusable than they were for the iPhone. But there was a huge amount of pressure for Microsoft to deliver, so it did the best it could.

Whether or not the OS will improve quickly is not a question. It will. I think by the second half of next year, we’ll have something special on our hands. Is the OS usable in the meantime? Absolutely — but when purchasing a great phone like the HTC HD7 for the time being, prepare to deal with the same frustrations many of us dealt with when the iPhone platform was in its infancy.

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Verizon launching new Mobile Recovery service tomorrow

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

We’ve just been tipped by one of our Verizon ninjas that VZW will be launching a new service called Mobile Recovery, for smartphones, starting tomorrow. Mobile Recovery will provide several functions, including:

  • Device location using GPS
  • Sound alarms
  • Remote device lock
  • Remote device wipe

The option will be a free add-on for those customers who subscribe to a Total Equipment Coverage (TEC) plan and have an Android, Windows Mobile, webOS, or BlackBerry device. We’ve also been told that: “Once enrolled in TEC, which is complete coverage against loss, theft, accidental damage and defects after the manufacturer’s warranty expires, customers can visit to download the Mobile Recovery application, or text getmr to 6967 for download instructions.”

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Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Preview

Monday, July 19th, 2010


Once at the top of the smartphone pack, Microsoft’s current mobile operating system, Windows Mobile, has quickly fallen from grace. Luckily the juggernaut in Redmond, WA decided finally to do something about that. You call it whatever you’d like — a restart, a do over — but Microsoft has entirely changed course with Windows Phone 7, and they have broke most everything in the process. That means old Windows Mobile applications won’t work, the entire OS has been redone, and practically nothing from the user’s perspective has been carried over. A good thing when you’re now playing in a world of Androids and iPhones. We have been testing out a non-final, never ever going to be released to market Samsung prototype Windows Phone 7 device for a week, and we’re excited to let you know what we think of the operating system.



We’re not going to review the actual hardware we received since it will never see the light of day, but we can talk about the hardware requirements and what that means for the platform. Microsoft has a reportedly over 200 page document that details what’s required of the hardware powering Windows Phone 7. Some of that includes a minimum of a 3.7″ 4-point capacitive multi touch display, 5 megapixel camera, 1GHz CPU, all memory must be built-in (it can be microSD, just not user accessible), dedicated graphics chip, and three hardware buttons on the front. That would be the back, Start, and search buttons.

That baseline is pretty high end, and other chassis specifications will be a little more relaxed. Chassis 2 will apparently support other hardware configurations like slide-out keyboards, and we assume chassis 3 might allow for lower-to-mid specs, but the last part is just our assumption. Having a baseline requirement is a great thing and it’s nice to see Microsoft taking more a stance with this new platform. We all can remember the mess that Windows Mobile became (we’re talking hardware).


User Interface

If you were to call Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 OS UI minimalistic, you’d be right. Even if our sentence wasn’t. The thing is, sometimes when using Windows Phone, things are so minimalistic, that it actually feels a bit too lonely and open. Don’t get us wrong, it’s nice to feel like you’re not constrained to a certain window or foreground app, but at the same time, we can’t help but feel that there could have been so much more done.

At the bottom of every application are Microsoft’s action buttons. These are contextual buttons that offer added actions in almost every application on the phone. The thing is, they’re pretty standard, and not that user friendly. At least not for us. We’re not sure why Microsoft decided to implement and design something that actually gets in the way instead of helping. For starters, we found them to be tiny and poorly placed. Unlike Android where you have a menu key and a nice big popup of additional actions, Microsoft’s approach is to have a tiny, tiny area reserved for these buttons at all times, wasting screen real estate while also cluttering up the view with pointless circles that are almost laughably small. The one saving grace is the ability to expand this action button view, but we can’t but feel like it would have been better all around to move all the action buttons over, and let the user expand / close it when necessary.

Let’s take the homescreen for instance… Apple’s homescreen is pretty straightforward. You have app icons and you have folders which contain apps and they are all the same size, and that’s about it. Android has the same basic logic, except you can add widgets, add shortcuts to different menus or applications, and even add live moving wallpapers among other things. Microsoft basically reinvents the mobile phone homescreen, and we’re not sure we’re in love with it.


Other annoyances with the UI? The scrolling. There’s a very slight rubber-banding effect, but what happens is, when you get to the bottom or top of a scrollable list, the scrolling stops short and the content then sort of mashes up slightly. It’s not that elegant, and especially on this not-amazing prototype phone, it looks pretty bad and pixelated.

Something else would be the fact that threaded text message conversations are all the same color. So, your messages and the other party’s messages are all the same color which makes things a bit difficult to tell apart. We also can’t stand the fact that the top upper status bar which contains the time, battery level, signal strength and other status icons, is basically hidden from view for the most part. You can have these icons show at will by tapping the always-present time in the upper right corner, but it’s not that reassuring having this stuff hidden by default for freaks like us.


One last thing that really bugs us with the UI is that there is no application switcher. At all. On a BlackBerry you can hold the BlackBerry key, on Android devices you can hold the Home key, and on the iPhone you can double tap the home button. Just simply navigating back, back, back, back and back doesn’t really cut it, and during every day usage, it got tired quick.


Home Screen / Hubs

Microsoft’s new Hub interface is decent attempt to centralize different application data in a clean and pretty fluid manner. Apps will be able to create their own hubs, as will OEMs and carriers, but they’ll have to follow some design guidelines that Microsoft has created. Yes, Microsoft will be limiting the scope of what third parties can do with hubs, and we think that’s a great idea. Thing’s like the navigation, and apparently even fonts will look uniform from hub to hub.


Hubs are a great idea in general, but the homescreen, filled with hubs, just comes off feeling unfinished and unpolished. Microsoft was sure to mention to us how they wanted the OS to just naturally speak for itself with clean, modern fonts and lines, and not be overloaded with fake 3D UI elements like drop shadows and the like. The thing is, it really comes off as feeling a little too plain for us, especially with the all black default color scheme. If you try and remedy that specific problem and you flip it the setting to use white instead of black, the phone is so bright that it’s basically unusable.

You could argue the homescreen is the most important part of current smartphones, and in our view Microsoft really falls short here. It’s definitely dynamic at times, but it’s underwhelming for the most part and it sort of cheapens the other positive areas of Windows Phone 7.


Zune / Music

If you’re a fan of the Zune music player, you’ll no doubt be enthralled with the Zune app on WP7. It’s clean, functional, and very hip looking. In fact, Windows Phone 7 is basically modeled after the Zune UI (in our view at least, since we didn’t see WP7 debut until after the Zune). It contains everything you’d want in a music player nowadays, like video / music video support, podcasts, a built-in radio, and the Zune Marketplace.

We’ve never been huge Zune fans over here, but we do have to say using the music player on WP7 was a really pleasant experience. We’d absolutely put it second to Apple’s iPod on their iPhone. It is miles ahead of anything coming out of RIM or Android at this point, and it’s great to see a phone that is just as focused on multimedia as it is on say, email.



We’re not going to lie, we really have no idea how people actually let the phone app get this far. When you first launch the application, you’d except to be at the keypad, so you can actually make a call, right? No. You’re presented with the recent call history list. Just text splattered on the screen. No problem, you’ll mosey on over to settings and change the default view so the keypad shows up. Ah, problem there. You can’t make that change because it’s not an option. So to make a phone call, you have to go into the phone and hit one of the poorly-sized action buttons below to bring up the keypad to make a phone call.


Another annoyance? Let’s say you do for some reason want to actually call someone on your recently called list, so you don’t have to bring up the keypad this time. Just tap the phone number in the list, and off you go. Not quite. Microsoft links the recent calls to “profiles” not numbers. It’s the most insane thing we’ve ever seen. If you tap on the caller in the list, you don’t dial the phone number, a profile view slides in and you then have to determine which number to call from there. Ok fine, but if you got a call from just a phone number, and not someone in contacts, it won’t bring up the profile, it will just dial the phone number. Again, not quite. It will still bring up a profile view, but this time offer default options of calling or texting that number. A simple long press gesture could have solved these problems in our book. Long press to get options to text the number, save it to your contacts, or anything else. It’s another little missed UI piece of the puzzle that gets really apparent when you use the OS a lot.


Actual phone calling works fine enough, though it can be a little confusing at times. Unfortunately Microsoft tries to be a little too hip by showing the background as transparent, and we just don’t know what purpose this solves but a cheap UI effect. In our minds, you’re either actively in the phone call (foreground), or the phone call is minimized (top status bar). But to have the phone application in the foreground not take up the whole screen and the view below it to be transparent doesn’t really flow much. Maybe we’re being picky, but with already frustrating calling experience, we’d have liked the phone application to just be a phone.



As huge Microsoft Office fans, using the email app on Windows Phone 7 is nothing short of fantastic. It’s simple, easy to use, feature-packed (especially if you’re on an Exchange 2007 or 2010 server), and really enjoyable. It’s one of the only default apps to use a white color scheme instead of black, and it really looks great. Emails are organized in the hub very cleanly, with all, unread, flagged, and urgent sections that are flickable.

The transitions here work very well for the most part, but it’s a little overblown at times and kind of wastes time if you’re really hoping to and from emails in a hurry. Unfortunately, in this non-final version of the OS, PDF attachments were not supported. We’ve reached out to see if that will change in the first shipping Windows Phone 7 handset. There are little things we’re not in love with on here, but they are pretty small… we don’t like how there is no status bar for attachment downloads, it just says “Downloading” with no visualization of how much time or amount of data is left to download, we also don’t like that by default, emails sent from the handset aren’t immediately available in the sent folder. You have to manually sync the folder to view emails sent from the phone. Seems a little counter-intuitive. One last annoyance we stumbled across is that even with specific rules set up in Outlook 2010 on an Exchange server wit Outlook open, messages can slip through the cracks. It’s not every message, and it’s not the end of the world, but we haven’t seen this happen on an iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android handset even once.

Something incredibly stupid with the email app, is the inability to remotely search for emails. With Microsoft launching this feature in Windows Mobile 6.1, and basically every other smartphone OS supporting it, it’s pretty amazing how it isn’t included. You’re limited to whatever is locally stored on your device to search through. Microsoft did let us know they were open to revisiting this, so we’ll have to see if it changes in the near future. For the meantime though, this really takes away from a great email application.


We absolutely love the keyboard on Windows Phone. It’s so… clickable yet still virtual. It really flies, the predictions and corrections are awesome, and it’s almost as good as the iPhone’s keyboard. The iPhone has a more functional layout, and better access to symbols and corrections, but Windows Phone’s keyboard is just about there, and easily our favorite second best software input device on a smartphone platform. Unfortunately, there’s no multi-touch capability on it, but it’s still very solid.



The mobile web browser is a tricky one. In our view, Apple still holds the crown, regardless of whether Android has taken over in raw Javascript performance. It’s a whole package kind of thing, and with RIM currently out of the picture, the only two competitors are the aforementioned. Microsoft’s browser is fine, but it’s far from pleasurable to use. It’s not the most elegant browser (there might just be some software bugs that will be fixed in the first shipping handset) and we at times had some pages that didn’t render properly, and were a little janky after scrolling through them. The browser supports tabs, and has a simple thumbnail view to hop back to an open page, or close the open tab. There are favorites and a history view, and to be honest, that’s about it. Bing search is built into the navigation bar, though search results don’t populate in real-time like on Android and iPhone platforms. All in all, the browser was fine, but didn’t have anything that was lust-worthy. We still prefer Google’s and Apple’s mobile browsers.



Microsoft’s bread and butter is of course Windows and Office. So, what would a Microsoft mobile product be without a great implementation of Office? Windows phone 7 has its own Office 2010 hub complete with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and SharePoint access. Combine that with the great email app (we can call it Outlook), and you’ve got a pretty powerful mobile productivity software suite. Easily the best mobile Office experience, and why shouldn’t it be?


Social Communication

Windows Phone is pretty social right from the out of box experience. You can link your Windows Live, Facebook, and Exchange accounts as you glide through the first time set up process. Windows Live, Facebook, and Exchange contacts are all integrated together in the main people view. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to control what shows up here, or limit it. For instance, we’d love Facebook to sync to our existing contacts in our address book and link up, but there is practically no interest in seeing every single Facebook friend listed in the people view. We have no found a way to filter out contacts by services or even groups and that’s kind of frustrating.

Facebook status updating is built right into the device, but sadly your choices are only that and your Windows Live status. Twitter is nowhere to be found here.

The photos hub is interesting as it’s an aggregated view of your local and remote photos, and sharing photos is a relatively easy task if you can figure out how. When tapping on an individual photo in a single view, nothing happens. You’d think there would be some overlay that pops over with action buttons, but you actually have to tap and hold the photo to accomplish this. Once there, however, you are greeted by a lot of sharing options. You can email the picture, upload it right to Facebook, send it in an MMS, or upload it to Windows Live SkyDrive.



It should be clear to everyone that Windows Phone 7 as a platform is not finished yet. The first handsets aren’t rumored until September, October, or November depending on what site you’re reading on which day, and the handset we have been using for a week won’t ever be released and is meant only for developers to test apps on actual hardware. However, we have been playing around with WP7 for enough time, and the OS is well-enough along that we have got a great feel for it, regardless of any minor improvements before the first handset launches. Microsoft has no doubt broken course and gone in an entirely new direction, something that many people wish RIM would do, and we applaud them for that. They have created a brand new mobile operating system packed full of clean, modern, and sometimes even beautiful design elements.


We liked using the OS in general, though the experience for us felt a little too much like our time using the Microsoft KIN 2. The tiled homescreen seems a little too constrained and boxed in for us, and the non-frills design approach actually left the handset menus and navigational elements feeling bare and unfinished, rather than pure and unaltered. Not having any sort of menu for hoping back and forth between applications hampers your every day usage, and the animated transitions also start to feel old pretty fast. For a phone that was made from scratch and started on after the first iPhone was introduced, and for a phone that’s not even in market yet, it unfortunately in our view falls short. There’s practically no real innovation we can see with Windows Phone 7. It’s a decent mashup of some already pioneered features like aggregated status updates linked with your contacts, customizable homescreens, and a mobile apps and music marketplace, but we’re not sure that’s enough to push WP7 ahead of the three big juggernauts. It’s a fantastic featurephone, but as a truly competitive smartphone platform, we’re just not sure at this point in time.

There is no killer application on Windows Phone 7, and we can’t see an overwhelming reason to use one instead of an iPhone, BlackBerry or Android handset. Whether Microsoft’s OS updates to the platform will be enough to change our minds in the future is up to them, but for now, they’ve created a decent mobile operating system from scratch, but it unfortunately still has that Microsoft feel. And that’s not the best thing sometimes.

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HTC HD Mini review

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

We had to exercise our neglected patience muscle with this one, but at long last we’ve gotten ahold of a real live HD Mini and put it through its paces. Equipped with the same processor, screen size and resolution as HTC’s Legend, but running the HD2‘s Windows Mobile 6.5.3 under a WinMo-specific Sense skin, the Mini is in many ways an amalgamation of its two better known cousins. You’ll no doubt be aware that we weren’t too displeased by either of those handsets, so what you must be wondering now is whether or not splicing them into one eminently pocketable package delivers an equally compelling device. Read on to find out.

Continue reading HTC HD Mini review

HTC HD Mini review originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 06 Jun 2010 14:04:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Phone guitar: iPhone OS, Windows Mobile and Android got all night to set the world right (video)

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

What can you do when no one’s got a phone to jam with you? Why, you can be a geeky one-man band, of course! Web developer Steffest (just one name, like Sting or Madonna) managed to do just that by strapping a couple of Android devices (possibly an Archos 5 and a HTC Desire), a couple of WinMo handhelds (looks like a HP iPAQ h1940 and a HTC Touch Diamond), and an iPod touch on top of a portable speaker. All this just for a forthcoming presentation on mobile cross development — Steffest had to painstakingly write the same audio program “in Java for Android, in C# for Windows Mobile and in Objective-C for iPhone.” Oh, and it doesn’t just end there — turns out this dude can also pluck tap away a good Neil Diamond classic on this five-way nerd-o-strummer. Get on board and check out the video after the break.

Continue reading Phone guitar: iPhone OS, Windows Mobile and Android got all night to set the world right (video)

Phone guitar: iPhone OS, Windows Mobile and Android got all night to set the world right (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 08 May 2010 04:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Android on the rise as Windows Mobile falters

Friday, March 12th, 2010


A lot happened in the US smartphone market from October 2009 to January 2010, but thankfully there are companies like comScore kicking about to help us make sense of just which platforms were the biggest winners and losers during this period. The biggest platform was not surprisingly Google’s Android which saw an uptick of 4.3% to a total of 7.1% thanks in part to the successful launches of handsets like the DROID, DROID ERIS and Hero. RIM’s BlackBerry OS, which faired second best with a gain of 1.7% continued to dominate the total smartphone market at 43%, but one has to wonder if RIM could have done just a little bit more. After all, it did launch the BlackBerry Bold 9700, Curve 8530 and Storm2 during these months. Apple’s iPhone didn’t do as well as many would have guessed, but its 0.3% increase makes quite a bit of sense when you consider the tradition of people holding out on iPhone purchases in the six months leading up the summer release of the devices later iteration. Nonetheless, it does hold a 25.1% stake in the US smartphone market. When it comes to market share, one’s success is another’s misfortune. Not exactly a stranger to losing ground, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile managed to shed 4.0% thanks in part to what can be politely summed up as a general indifference to its current platform (how things will change). After this, we saw Palm with a loss of 2.1%. In Palm’s defence a lot of this can be attributed to people finally getting around to ditching Palm OS, but the fact remains that thing’s aren’t going to well for a company that many felt was on the path to recovery just 15 months ago.


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Android’s American market share soars, WinMo pays the price

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Mobile manufacturer and platform market share stats for the US are in for the month of January thanks to comScore, and as usual, they tell a fascinating (and somewhat unpredictable) story of what’s actually going on at the cash registers. Motorola — which has long since fallen off its high horse on the global stage — still maintains a commanding presence in the American market by representing some 22.9 percent of all subscribers, though that’s down 1.2 percent from October 2009; that’s particularly interesting in light of the Droid’s success, and a possible sign that smartphones still aren’t on the cusp of dominating the phone market overall. Samsung recently touted the fact that it had held onto the States’ overall market share crown, though Sammy was undoubtedly referring to sales, not subscribers — in other words, there are still a ton of legacy RAZRs out there inflating Moto’s stats.

Turning our attention to smartphone platforms, BlackBerry OS, iPhone, and Android all saw gains, while Windows Mobile and Palm both saw significant downturns. You might use Palm’s loss of 2.1 percent of overall market share in a single quarter as a big nail in webOS’ coffin, but we’re inclined to believe this includes legacy devices — and considering the huge installed base of Palm OS-based handsets (Centros, for instance) that are coming off contract these days, it’s neither surprising nor alarming to see that kind of drop. Android’s gain, meanwhile, likely comes in large part from WinMo’s whopping four percent loss — it’s no secret that WinMo 6.x is well past its expiration date with customers leaving in droves (even before Windows Phone 7 Series announcement), and our informal observations lead us to believe that many of those folks are heading for Android. After all, it’s kind of convenient that Android gained 4.3 percent and WinMo lost about the same, isn’t it? BlackBerrys still dominate the American smartphone landscape, and the iPhone market looks like it might be mature for the time being — Apple added just 0.3 percent to its market share in the quarter, possibly a sign that folks are holding out for whatever Cupertino brings us come Summer. Is this a sign that Palm needs to step up its game yet again? Undoubtedly — but at the same time, we wouldn’t call the loss of those Palm OS subscribers a death knell just yet.

Android’s American market share soars, WinMo pays the price originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 11 Mar 2010 23:11:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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This Windows Phone 7 User Interface Skin Makes Old WinMo Phones Feel Young Again [Winmo]

Monday, March 1st, 2010

The mobile OS running on this old Toshiba TG01 looks like Windows Phone 7 and it mostly acts like Windows Phone 7. But in reality it’s a clever user interface skin covering up Windows Mobile 6.5.

Put together by a fellow named LeSScro, this interface tweak can make older WinMo phones pretend that they can handle Windows Phone 7 and will hopefully be made available soon. [Pocket Now via Mobile Crunch]

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Microsoft: Windows Mobile 6 has no upgrade path to Windows Phone 7

Monday, March 1st, 2010


Natasha Kwan, Microsoft’s General Manager for Mobile Communications Business in the Asia-Pacific market, has spoken, and Windows Mobile 6 owners are not going to like what they hear. When asked about the possiblity of a Windows Mobile 6 upgrade path, Kwan dropped this bomshell to tech blog APC: “Because we have very specific requirements for Windows Phone 7 Series the current phones we have right now will not be upgradable.” And that includes the HTC HD2.  While the HD2 meets the extensive list of hardware component requirements, it fails to fulfill one superficial prerequisite: it has more than 3 dedicated buttons. Perhaps this is one of the first, albeit painful, steps in a better Windows mobile platform experience for all. However, we now know this for certain: if you want to run Windows Phone 7, you’re going to need some new hardware. Though we’re sure the crew at XDA will change that if you’re a daring individual. Read

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PocketGear acquires Handango, new cross platform app store to feature 140,000+ paid and free titles

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010


Remember the days when Handago was the place to go if you wanted to find an application for your smartphone and PocketGear was the place you went if you could not find it on Handango? Those days are long gone and today heralds a new beginning for both companies as PocketGear has announced that it is acquiring Handango. The two application distribution platforms will merge to form the world’s largest cross platform application store and the ensuing stats on this newly merged behemoth are impressive:

  • over $400 million in mobile application revenues to date
  • over 140,000 paid and free titles
  • support for Android, Symbian OS, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Palm, Linux, and Java powered mobile devices
  • 4 billion consumers in 175 countries worldwide and using over 2,000 unique mobile devices
  • 32,000 strong developer network
  • distribution deals with 4 of the world’s top 5 handset manufacturers, 4 of the top 5 mobile operators in the US, and 3 of the top 10 mobile operators globally

Competition will be intense as this new application store will be competing directly with the Android Market, Windows Marketplace for Mobile and other smaller manufacturer and carrier-created application stores that will come pre-installed on the customer’s smartphone. Given a choice would you prefer to buy from the potentially smaller platform-specific application store or the larger, cross platform conglomerate?


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Adobe brings AIR to Android, promises Flash 10.1 in the first half of the year

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Convergence has always been a big theme in tech, and its focus at MWC this year seems to have landed firmly on procuring an application platform that is OS-agnostic. Earlier today, we heard of the big carrier cabal intent on slaying the beast that is multi-platform development through cooperation, but if you ask Adobe the answer is much simpler: just slap AIR on your phone. The company’s grand vision of the future sees AIR as the facilitator of a “feature-rich environment for delivering rich applications outside the mobile browser and across multiple operating systems.” If that sounds like your cup of tea, it’s now available on Android and there are a number of cool demo videos at the DevNet link below. As to Flash Player 10.1, that’s also heading to Android, to be completed within the first half of this year, while also including support for WebOS, Symbian, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices. We all know who’s missing from that party, but Reuters reports Adobe has expressed confidence that Apple will “eventually bow to market pressure” and join in on the fun as well. We shall see. Video of AIR apps running on the Droid awaits after the break.

Continue reading Adobe brings AIR to Android, promises Flash 10.1 in the first half of the year

Adobe brings AIR to Android, promises Flash 10.1 in the first half of the year originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 07:16:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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BlackBerry Application Suite leaks, ready to corrupt a perfectly good WinMo phone

Friday, February 12th, 2010

We’d figured that RIM’s ambitious (if not questionable) project to port the juiciest morsels of BlackBerry OS to a virtual machine running atop Windows Mobile was abandoned long ago, and for all we know, it has — but the half-baked remnants of the undertaking are finally available thanks to the good folks at xda-developers. BlackBerry Application Suite, as its known, has finally found a proper home in a CAB file that’s making the rounds on the forums, and it’s apparently been bolted together with enough duct tape to work on an AT&T Fuze. Well, “work” is a relative term — you’ve apparently got to be on a BES server for it to work, you need to generate a valid PIN, and actuating the touchscreen requires a double-tap, but when you’re ready to stop punishing yourself with this craziness, the cold comfort of WinMo is just a couple clicks away. If you think you need this, odds are you really just need a Storm2, but hey, feel free to ruin your weekend trying to get this to work.

BlackBerry Application Suite leaks, ready to corrupt a perfectly good WinMo phone originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 12 Feb 2010 07:24:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink PocketNow, Mobility Digest  |  sourcexda-developers  | Email this | Comments

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