Showing posts with label Microsoft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Microsoft. Show all posts

Nokia Lumia 525 becomes official

Update: According to one of Nokia’s localized Facebook pages, the Lumia 525 should ”be available on 14 December at the suggested retail price of SGD249 at Nokia Stores and Nokia Solution Partners”. That translates from Singapore Dollars to roughly $199.

The first time we heard about the Nokia Lumia 525 was at the end of October when a certain contest announcement revealed its existence. Since then, we’ve seen the device leaked in press renders showing off future possible color options, and today, the Nokia Lumia 525 becomes official.

We’re expecting the press release to be published soon with details on pricing and availability. Until then, there’s the official product page which mentions the specs: four-inch WVGA display, the same dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor clocked at 1GHz and found on many other models, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD), five-megapixel main camera (sans flash), and a 1,430mAh battery.

As far as color options are concerned, the Nokia Lumia 525 will be able to accept “glossy, changeable covers in dazzling orange, radiant yellow and luminous white”. More details can be found at the source link below, and in the embedded video.

Nokia Lumia 525 becomes official

Source: Nokia (YouTube, Facebook, Pocketnow)
Thanks everyone for the tip on pricing and availability!
Read More

What if Windows Phone 8 Finally Brought a Real Speech UI?

Click here to find out more!

For many years, most mobile phones came with some sort of hands-free voice dialing interface. Today there are many popular options on smartphones including Apple's very often advertised and fun to use Siri software. Android has numerous options including Google's Voice Actions, and Microsoft has a "TellMe" based speech interface as well. However, those are all just programs that process your voice and then carry out some action. They really just have a few tie-ins to a few other built-in apps and a networked server. You can do web searches or launch third party apps, but that's where the integration ends. 

Ever since Microsoft first released its Voice Command software for their smartphone operating system (Pocket PC Phone Edition) in 2003 (which was way ahead of its time with many functions still not found on smartphones today), users and developers have been wishing and hoping that Microsoft would make a speech application platform. Something that not only allowed you to interact with specific built-in functions, but was also extensible to third party applications just like a real operating system's graphical user interface. 

Ideally, a speech UI would give you one single method of activating it and then all functions supported would be accessible through the user's speech and the device's voice feedback. There shouldn't be any need to look at a screen or press a button multiple times or even navigate to a different part of the visual interface in order to activate voice dictation or whatnot. Furthermore a real speech UI should allow 3rd party applications to extend their functions to other programs through a series of APIs. So, for example, aTwitter app could add support for specific voice commands related to Twitter functions, or GPS navigation apps could add commands for finding nearby destinations and asking about traffic updates, or eBook readers could add support for finding different books and reading them aloud. The possibilities are endless.

It's been 10 years and there hasn't been anything like this on any kind of consumer computing experience, why should we think Windows Phone 8 might bring this kind of innovation that we've been waiting so long for? Well, actually Microsoft did bring a sort of extensible speech interface to something else recently. The newest Xbox 360 dashboard released in the winter of 2011 seems to have a consistent speech interface that is shared by all applications and games that have been programmed to make use of it. No matter if I'm in the dashboard, the YouTube app, Netflix, Crackle, MSNBC or Star Wars Kinect… if I say "Xbox" it will start listening to me and highlight the relevant commands that I can say. I can tell the TV what I want it to do instead of picking up a plastic controller and pressing buttons. Plus since the speech UI is shared throughout the system, apps like YouTube or Netflix don't have to reinvent the wheel in order to get propervoice control support. Unfortunately, the Xbox's speech interface still requires your eyes on the screen in many situations since it does not provide voice feedback for any commands (however it does have a little sound effect that acknowledges commands.) 

Hopefully we will finally see some real forward movement in the area of speech UI's for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 since that seems like the next step for human-computer-interactions of the future (considering we already have 3D gesture recognition with Kinect.) 

Is an easy and extensible speech interface important to you for the future of smartphones or is the regular "touch a button" interface always going to be the primary interface? 
Read More

Windows Phone Marketplace Adds Web Access For More Countries

Click here to find out more!
Back at the end of March, we heard from Microsoft that it was adding support for a number of new countries to the Windows Phone Marketplace. While Zune support was going live nearly straight-away, at the time the company indicated that these countries would get access to the web-based version of the Marketplace within about a week. The entirety of April has passed in the time since then, and that web-based support never happened. Microsoft hasn't forgotten about things, though, and today announced that the Marketplace is now accessible in twenty-two new nations. 

All told, Windows Phone users in Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Croatia, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela, UAE, Bahrain, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Israel, Thailand, and Vietnam can use the web-based Marketplace as of this afternoon. 

In addition to this expanded access, Microsoft also discussed its efforts to make keywords a more useful tool for finding relevant apps. The company will be pouring through keywords currently tied to apps and doing a bit of pruning, removing those without strong ties to the application they're associated with. By effectively cutting down on the level of noise, those keywords that remain linked to apps should be more on-target than ever. 
Read More

Microsoft Evangelist Explains Apollo Upgrade Confusion

Click here to find out more!
A couple days ago, we took a look at a video interview featuring Microsoft evangelist Nuno Silva, in which he responded to a question about the move to Windows Phone 8 Apollo by explaining that Microsoft had confirmed that all existing Windows Phone 7 handsets would be seeing software updates to WP8. That was interesting to hear, especially since it hadn't been seeming like that would be the case. It wasn't long though, before other sourcesstarted speaking out in denial of Silva's claims. Just how did the story get so tangled-up? Silva's now setting the record straight, hoping to correct his statement. 

In a new blog post, Silva takes responsibility for the confusion, and says that he was thinking aboutWindows Phone 8 app compatibility when he made that comment about phone hardware. Considering just how Silva originally broke the "news", that makes a lot of sense; he casually spoke then of what Microsoft had said regarding the matter as if it were already a matter of public record. 

If anything, Silva's embarrassing little incident is a reminder to all of us to carefully consider just how we're getting our news. Comments from a company affiliate, no matter how confident they may seem in their statements, aren't necessarily gospel. They may make for good rumors, but we need to remember to treat them with the appropriate weight. 
Read More

Windows Mobile Marketplace Dies On May 9th; Nostalgia Anyone?

It's been a long and good ride for Windows Mobile. Some of us still love it and keep at least one of these true power houses just for old times sake. Sad news for all of us 14 people that still own one since Microsoft has just begun to distribute emails regarding the final closure of the Windows Mobile 6.x Marketplace as of May 9th. 

Things actually got quite rocky since June of last year because even if the Marketplace still worked, it was pretty much useless. You could still install apps the old-fashioned way, but it just proved how Microsoft wasn't willing to put any more effort to it after barely two years after the Marketplace launched. 

For those of you who just jumped into the Smartphone train, this is most probably pointless, but for those of us who started with Pocket PC 2000, it's sad news. Many of you probably don't even know or remember that the term "Smartphone" came from the non-touch version of Windows Mobile that was later dubbed Standard. If any of you still keep any of these beauties around as a paper weight, just like you see my oldHTC Rhodium in the picture, it would be cool if you uploaded a picture of it to any photo-sharing service and shared a link with us in a comment. 

RIP Marketplace. 
Read More

Windows 8 on a Tablet: First Impressions (Video)

After the Windows 8 Consumer Preview was released this week, it took me a few hours to decide wether or not I wanted to install it on my old HP TouchSmart tm2 that I use daily and bought a while before the original iPad came out. Needless to say I took the plunge after the setup program told me just about everything I had already installed would be compatible. 

It turns out Windows 8 is going to be a lot like Windows Phone 7 and that's probably a good thing. You've got full screen "Metro" style apps that have no reminants of application chrome or even operating system controls. You've got the gorgeous live tiles that animate with pictures, social network notifications, messages, emails and weather. Everything is very smooth and responsive to the touch. 

However there are some big differences. First of all, I was quite content with the Windows 7 touch interface. You touch the buttons and they activate. That's pretty simple. Now that I've been using Windows 8 though, I'm much more impressed. The touch UI is designed to be both ergonomic, highly efficient, and clutter free! The main controls are right next to the bezel where your thumbs would be if you were holding atablet. Just swipe your thumb along the left side to flip between open apps. Swipe across it and then back to show a list of thumbnails representing open apps that you can easily tap to open the one you're looking for. Then swiping on the right side with your thumb opens the "charms" for other types of operating-system interactions. It's really quite nice once you learn how to use it, and that's really the only issue... there's nothing on the screen giving you any kind of indication on how to interact with this new user interface. 

Overall, I'm very impressed with the speed, usability, and preview apps in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. I'm glad that Microsoft went this direction for their new tablet initiative rather than scaling up a mobile operating system like Windows Phone 7. The fact that you can easily jump back into a desktop computer interface in order to run all of your high-end content-creation programs (even though they may not be designed for touch UIs) is fantastic for mobile productivity. 

Have you tried the Windows 8 Consumer Preview yet? Are you looking forward to new Windows 8 tablets coming to the market? 
Read More

Microsoft Ads to Feature "Smoked by Windows Phone" Results

A couple weeks ago, we learned that the "Smoked by Windows Phone" smartphone speed runs the company introduced at the CES were making their return, with Microsoft's Ben Rudolph bringing the competition to Microsoft's retail locations across California. Just like before, Ben would put the platform's reputation on the line as he faced-off in challenges against other smartphone users, seeing who could complete certain common tasks the fastest. Beating Rudolph would net the winner $100, but losers would have to admit their defeat on-camera. Now it's time for Microsoft to share some of those showdowns with the rest of us, announcing plans to turn Smoked by Windows Phone into its next advertising campaign. 

When Windows Phone faced-off against challengers at the CES, Rudolph managed to come out on top 88% of the time. After going up against the public in Microsoft's retail stores, his win-rate has climbed even higher, and Rudolph's been managing to emerge victorious 19 times out of 20. 

After hearing from Windows Phone fans that they'd love to see these contests featured more heavily, Microsoft has decided to make them the focus of its next ad campaign. Over the next several weeks, we should have plenty of opportunities to see confident Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry users go home with their tail between their legs after making the mistake of challenging Ben Rudolph. 

Read More