Posts with tag windows phone
It seems as if the Nokia X was so popular that it demanded a new version – and here it is, the Nokia X2. While still aimed at the low-end, off-contract market, the X2 has been vastly upgraded and improves just about everything that was present in the Nokia X.
While the X2 still comes with a custom fork of Android that isn’t Play-certified, the hardware has been massively upgraded and even trumps the low-end Windows Phone market. Specs-wise, you get a dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 200, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of storage, a 5-megapixel camera with flash, a front facing camera and even a MicroSD card slot that supports up to 32GB cards.
On the software side of things, the Metro-esque custom launcher comes with a few improvements like an apps list similar to that of Windows Phone, new screens, and the ability to set the color of the tiles pinned to your Start Screen, also a feature straight out of Windows Phone. Pre-loaded apps include Skype, Outlook and OneDrive with a generous 15GB of online storage (though this was given to every non-paying OneDrive user recently). And being Android, apps aren’t a worry even if it’s not Play-certified.
As mentioned before, the device will sell for about $135 and will be available immediately in “select countries”. As ever, they come in a wide variety of colors; green, orange and black are the launch colors and they’ll later introduce yellow, white and grey colors.
Microsoft now controls the OS and the hardware
If there’s one thing Microsoft has always been good at, its developing software and partnering with hardware manufacturers to get that software out into the world. But starting today, Microsoft has turned into a big player of both the hardware and the software. That’s right, after over half a year of waiting and waiting for the right government approval, Microsoft has officially acquired Nokia’s devices and services unit.
The deal, which was originally announced in September of 2013 and cost Microsoft $7.2 billion, puts the software giant firmly in control of nearly the entire Windows Phone ecosystem, from end to end. Nokia had been Microsoft’s biggest Windows Phone supporter, however the company began to accelerate a deal that would merge the two companies when it became public knowledge that Nokia was heavily considering switching to Android – a consideration that eventually turned somewhat to reality with the announcement of the Nokia X and XL last month.
Under the acquisition, Microsoft will be allowed to use the “Nokia” name on feature phones until December 31st, 2015. However, any new smartphones by the former Nokia team will be released under the Microsoft brand. It remains to be seen on whether or not Microsoft is planning on using the Lumia branding with upcoming Windows Phone devices, however a rumor a while back indicated that Microsoft could be considering switching to the Surface brand for all smartphone models going forwards.
A couple weeks ago, we reported on a rumor that Windows Phone 8.1 would be arriving on April 14th. Today is that day and it’s confirmed – the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers has been released through Microsoft’s Preview for Developer program, meaning anyone with a Windows Phone developer account (even a free App Studio account) can download and install this update just like you would any other update.
According to one of my contacts, the update is split into two parts: the first part is a pre-update, if you will, that presumably contains some bugfixes for the existing Windows Phone 8 OS while the second part is the actual Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview update.
Windows Phone 8.1 contains many new features such as VPN support, more tile customization options and most notably, Cortana. If you’re interested in the update, all you have to do is get your phone developer unlocked and install the Preview for Developers app – but be aware that once you update, there’s no going back to a stable OS.
Review coming soon!
Says the leaked documents
Yesterday, Microsoft showed off Windows Phone 8.1 during the //BUILD/ 2014 Day 1 keynote. The speakers stated that the build would be arriving for developers sometime later in April but didn’t leave any specifics.
Neowin has acquired an internal email that may help shed some more specifics on when the build will be arriving. While there was an earlier build of Windows Phone 8.1 released to Microsoft Connect partners, it wasn’t deemed the gold master because there were a few extra bugs that had to be fixed. This pushback seems to have resulted in the new release date of April 14th with the build being signed off on April 8th.
An important thing to note is that the leaked Neowin email refers to an “adaptation kit” which is for OEM partners to tailor Windows Phone images to their devices and may not mean that ordinary developers will get the build at the same time the OEMs do.
The Lumia 635 is the successor to the Lumia 521 and will be available on T-Mobile. Like the 521, it’s a budget device aimed at the no contract market but it does include LTE support, something that Stephen Elop mentioned during the keynote this morning. It’ll also come with a 4.5″ screen and a quad-core processor which is a considerable upgrade from the 521.
But if you’re still rocking a Lumia 925 or 521, T-Mobile will be releasing the Windows Phone 8.1 update for those devices too. And it’ll also be available for people who own the MetroPCS version of the Lumia 521, as MetroPCS is now owned my T-Mobile. Unfortunately, owners of the Lumia 810 are once again going to be left out in the cold as the press release makes no mention of that device.
The devices and updates are coming to T-Mobile “this summer” with no specific dates or price points mentioned.
Cortana, what's new?
As expected, Microsoft has officially announced Windows Phone 8.1 on stage at the BUILD opening keynote speech today. Although Windows Phone 8.1 has been designated as a minor point upgrade, in actuality Windows Phone 8.1 is a large upgrade to the platform, bringing some of the most commonly requested features and bits of functionality into Microsoft’s floundering mobile phone platform.
While we’ve seen a lot of this before already, the biggest bit of new news came from Windows Phone’s Cortana functionality. Cortana, for those who don’t know, is Microsoft’s take on an intellectual voice assistant on Windows, akin to Siri on Apple iOS and Google Now on Android.
Cortana is incredibly intelligent, keeping track of a held conversation in a way that Siri for example has yet to truly grasp – commands can be treated as sort of threads, so if you say “What’s the weather in Boston, MA?” for example, you can amend that in the next command by saying something like “What’s that in Kelvin?” – for you scientists who just need to know what the weather’s like in Kelvin.
Meanwhile, Cortana can also keep reminders outside the Cortana UI itself. Ask Cortana to remind you to tell your wife something, and a reminder will pop up next time you text, call, or Skype with your wife. It’s very smart, and a welcome addition to the voice assistant family – something I hope will make its way to some competitor’s platforms before long.
Other than Cortana, Windows Phone 8.1 provides several other impressive new features. There’s a new lock screen customization UI that allows developers to create unique new lock screen designs. Picking up the personalization trend and running with it, Microsoft has also integrated a sort of unique wallpaper support in the platform that allows you to transplant images onto live tiles. It’s kind of odd, but it creates some unique and interesting customization options.
Microsoft has also integrated Internet Explorer 11 support into Windows Phone 8.1, as well as a bunch of other updates to integrated applications, such as Settings and Calendar. The keyboard has been updated to allow for Swype-like usage with swiping instead of tapping on the individual letters. Windows Phone 8.1 is slated to ship to new phones beginning in April, and will ship as an update to existing Windows Phone 8 devices (we hope) in the “next couple of months.” Good luck.
Customer Experience Team still working
According to popular Microsoft blog WPCentral, Microsoft has completed work on the Windows Phone 8.1 core, bringing the product – which is expected to be officially announced at Microsoft’s BUILD developer conference – one step closer to finalization.
According to WPCentral, the Windows Phone 8.1 team is still hard at work on other elements of the operating system; the Customer Experience Team in particular is still working on fixing some lingering bugs, blocking the operating system from being eligible for RTM (gold) status just yet.
Looks to make Windows more attractive
In one of the most unexpected pieces of news since forever, we’re hearing confirmation today that Microsoft will be participating in an effort to release dual-boot Android/windows Phone hybrid devices starting this calendar year. The root of this confirmation comes from Karbonn, an Indian-based smartphone manufacturer, Chairman Sudhir Hasija, who claims that his company has been in discussion with Microsoft about the project for some time now and that dual-boot smartphones will be coming within the next six months.
But before that will start, Karbonn will begin selling their first line of Windows Phone-exclusive smartphones by June. These phones should ship with Windows Phone 8.1 out of the box and will be the result of an effort by Microsoft to, as Hasija has said, ease “regulations and… open[ing] up its platform for other players.”
Microsoft has seen only limited success with its Windows Phone platform, capturing less than 5% of the smartphone market. This comes in stark contrast to the overall success of the Windows Mobile line prior to the unveiling of the iPhone in 2007, a product that largely dominated the marketplace in its time.
It's almost time
It’s been a while since we’ve heard nary a word regarding Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s smartphone business, but today we’re hearing an update on how that’s are going at last. According to Nokia, the company hopes to have e division sold off to Microsoft and the deal finalized by the end of March at the absolute latest.
Nokia has provided a full statement today regarding the news:
Nokia would like to stress that recent developments in India related to ongoing tax proceedings are not expected to affect the timing of the closing nor the material deal terms of the anticipated transaction between Nokia and Microsoft, announced on September 3, 2013.
The transaction is still expected to close in the first quarter of 2014, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, irrespective of the proceedings in the Indian tax case.
Nokia has just recently announced the Nokia Lumia Icon flagship smartphone for Verizon, bringing a high end Windows Phone smartphone to America’s largest cellular network.
The merger has begun
Microsoft has been largely silent regarding their upcoming Windows Phone update, originally dubbed “Windows Phone Blue” – now predictably called Windows Phone 8.1 – but their silence has been broken, if not by choice. Major new leaks coming from a variety of sources have not only confirmed that Windows Phone 8.1 is real and coming, but has also revealed a partial feature set, a plethora of new screenshots, updated applications, and – perhaps most notably – a sign that Microsoft is actively going ahead with their long rumored plans to merge Windows Phone and Windows RT.
Read more to find out what Microsoft has in store for the future of Windows Phone.
Two birds, one stone
Two stones, one stone – that’s the entire premise of this Xbox Music pass deal. For a limited time, if you buy a $99 one-year subscription for Xbox Music in the Microsoft Store, Microsoft’s willing to throw in a Nokia Lumia 520, totally free of charge. While the Nokia Lumia 520 is a fine, if slightly lackluster smartphone on its own, you might be swayed by the low, low price tag of “free” if you were already in the market for a low end smartphone.
Otherwise? Xbox Music is decent, if slightly underrated, and the Nokia Lumia 520 is undoubtably a low end smartphone meant to appeal to only the most basic of would-be smartphone customers. But if you’re interested, head on over to the Microsoft Store and have at it.