Nokia Lumia 1520 sneaks out early

Windows Phone fans anxiously await the next versions of the Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices from Nokia. For some fortunate customers, like the Xbox One, a few lucky people are getting the handset just a bit early. The latest in the line of Nokia phones falls into a category that has been dubbed a ‘phablet’, which loosely translates to an oversized smartpahone — one that rivals Android devices like the Galaxy Note.

The Nokia Lumia 1520 is set to be released in late November, when Microsoft has plans to also launch its next-generation gaming console, the Xbox One.  The 1520 purports 4G LTE and a 3,300mAh battery, with a 20 MP rear camera. And, now the oversized phone has hit the market a bit early, with an advance version apparently being sold at an AT&T retail location.

A poster in the forums over at Windows Phone Central has managed to land the device and posted images and a receipt as evidence. “Ok here is a copy of the receipt, this should provide all the ‘Proof’ that I own the phone”, says Michelle SV. Then, she proceeded to post images of the box being taken apart as well. It was compelling evidence, though not foolproof, as these things have been faked before,

The phone was sold unlocked and, beyond that, the customer claimed to have entered a second store and was also offered a Lumia 1520. Microsoft has, so far, failed to issue comment. However, given the recent travails with Xbox One thanks to another retailer, the company is possibly game planning a strategy to deal with these, increasingly common, mishaps that seem to be occurring.

nokia lumia 1520

Wreck-it Ralph hits Windows Phone

Disney is no stranger to hit movies — in fact most of the studios releases are expected to be box-office successes, and Wreck-it Ralph did not disappoint.

Now the blockbuster flick attempts to become a cross-over hit as a game. The game brings five fun sub-games within, inspired by some of the movie’s most memorable scenes. There’s Fix-It Felix Jr., where you fix what Ralph has wrecked; Hero’s Duty, which lets you suit up as Sergeant Calhoun and blast cy-bugs; Sweet Climber, where fizzy jet packs help get you toward the top; Turbo Time, a fast race for the gold; and Flight Command, a flight simulator that strengthens all of your piloting skills.

Wreck-it Ralph for Windows Phone is not free, but $0.99 is  rather small fee to pay for more than 100 levels of entertainment, involving wrecking, fixing, blasting and soaring. Good luck.

wreck it ralph

Original Angry Birds comes to Windows Phone, free until May 15

It has taken quite a bit of time, but Rovio finally brings its popular Angry Birds game to the Windows Phone platform. The original game — the version that launched the craze — lands in the store today. “Good news for all of our fans who play Angry Birds on Windows Phone, we have a brand new version of the original Angry Birds for you to play” the Finnish game studio announces.

The best news for customers on the Microsoft mobile platform is that the new game is free from now through May 15th. The game will have over 400 levels from the start. The Windows Phone 8 version will also have Xbox Live integration with new achievements and leaderboards.

angry birds

“This will be a completely separate download from the original Angry Birds title that some of you may already own. The reason why we’re re-releasing the game is that it will be technically easier for us to support in the future” Rovio claims. If you are worried that you will lose your current progress, then rest easy. Rovio points out that downloading this new, improved version will not wipe your old game, including your stars and level progress. Both versions are completely separate.

Microsoft attempts to woo Android users with ‘Switch to Windows Phone’ app

For a week now rumors have been rampant that Microsoft would release a “Switch to Windows Phone” app to Android users. The day has arrived and the app has landed in the Google Play store.

The free app is available today and attempts to make a switch from the Google mobile platform to that of Microsoft an easier transition. “Use Switch to Windows Phone to see how many of your Android apps are available on Windows Phone. Just run Switch to Windows Phone on your Android, and this app will check to see if your installed apps are available in the Windows Phone Store” the app tells us.

switch to windows phone

Switch to Windows Phone will then proceed to save to the cloud the app list it puts together and keep it ready for you when you pick up that Nokia Lumia or HTC 8X handset.

Needless to say, Microsoft  is being attacked by Android phone fans — the app already has a two star rating, with only 22 users giving it five stars, while 213 customers handed it a one star review. Still, you have to hand it to Microsoft for trying. Perhaps the company may even land a few new customers who may have already been on the fence about switching.

Updated Facebook app coming to Windows Phone

Microsoft is now seeking beta testers for a new and updated version of the Facebook app for Windows Phone. Version 4.2.1 is still the current iteration on the mobile platform, but a new one is on the way. “Today we’re launching a new program designed to help speed up delivery of new features in the official Facebook app for Windows Phone and need sharp-eyed, energetic volunteers to download a beta version of our next release and tell us how to make it better” announces Microsoft’s Michael Stroh.

Users will find that the app is undergoing a major redesign and now includes several much-requested features, including new support for high-res photos, post sharing, and Facebook Timeline.

facebook beta for windows phone

Before you get too excited, Stroh cautions that if you “don’t like it when apps crash? This probably isn’t the program for you”. The good news is that you do not lose the current Facebook app if you decide to take the plunge then the beta will not replace the existing Facebook app, but instead run side-by-side with it.

How To Succeed With a Mobile App

Smashing Magazine LogoGetting into mobile app development often seems like a path paved with gold, but the reality is very different with many apps failing to succeed. Good apps do not simply “get lucky” but rather their developers work hard at  planning a successful app. Smashing Magazine’s article “How To Succeed With a Mobile App” shows the elements needed to plan for app success.

Smashing Magazine identifies six areas to consider for a great app.

1) The Idea. Find a vaccuum or empty niche for your app.

2) Money. Plan the business model for your app.

3) Define. Write down what your app will do in one sentence and stick to it.

4) Design. If the user has to think how to use the app, you’ve failed.

5) Coding. Native, high-quality, robust code is essential.

6) Marketing. Make friends, build buzz, launch big, love your fans.

But don’t simply read the above and move on. Check out the original article by Jeremy Olson at Smashing Magazine as it has plenty of further information for would-be app coders.

 

The Rise of the Smartphone

Today I was relaxing in a cafe, taking it easy on Sunday. As I looked around the other tables, everyone else was either looking at a smartphone or else had one resting on the table. They weren’t students or young professionals either; these were mums and dads, grandmas and grandpas.

Brewing coffeeHere’s the tally of what I saw:

Getting away from “my phone is better than your phone”, what might this highly unscientific observation say about the mobile communications market, at least in the UK?

First, it’s diverse. While Nokia and Windows Phone is nowhere to be seen, the three other operating systems seem to be pretty much holding their own.

Second, Apple has iPhones and RIM has Blackberries. Is the Samsung Galaxy now the de facto Android brand? The popularity of HTC seems to have fallen dramatically with the rise of Samsung.

Third, no-one was actually using their phones to make phone calls. In all the time I watched, there wasn’t a single call made or received but there was plenty of reading, swiping, tapping and pecking. It always seems that the PDA was lost in the convergence with the mobile phone, but the reality is that the PDA won the battle and “voice calling” is one feature among many.

Fourth and finally, smartphones are now ubiquitous and cross-generational. There wasn’t single ordinary phone to be seen and the range of the users suggests that age is no longer a discriminating factor.

As I said, entirely unscientific but still an interesting snapshot in the evolution of the smartphone.

Coffee brewing photograph courtesy of BigStockPhoto.

Where Are Blackberry Users Going?

RIM, or Research in Motion, is in trouble.  That isn’t news anymore because it’s become fodder for every tech blog around.  The mobile company that used to own the space has fallen by the wayside and the only thing left to decide is where the users will go and what last-ditch effort the company will make to save themselves.

As for saving themselves, there is one rumor that has been floating around – that they will go the Nokia route (another company that was in trouble) and become a Microsoft partner in the Windows Phone space.  While that remains to be seen, there was a recent survey done over at the Blackberry enthusiast site, Crackberry, that asked where users would go if they couldn’t wait for the long-delayed Blackberry 10.

The results weren’t very surprising, except for one thing.  iPhone 5  garnered the most votes at 47%, while Android picked up a solid 34%, but, most surprisingly, Windows Phone picked up 19%  of the votes.

Windows Phone remains behind in the market and also in this survey, but they are gaining ground steadily and perhaps can still turn this into a race.  Clearly it’s a three-way battle at this point with Nokia, while still making Symbian, conceding, and Blackberry losing their mojo.  Android, iOS, and Windows Phone will be the only three mobile operating systems that will matter going forward.

Source: WMPowerUser

 

I Feel Stupid

Windows Phone 7Over the break, there’s been a bit of discussion by some of the big names regarding the reasons why Windows Phone 7 handsets haven’t been flying off the shelves this holiday season. Charlie Kindel started the debate with “Windows Phone is Superior; Why Hasn’t It Taken Off?” and largely faults the relationship between the OEMs, Microsoft and the carriers.

MG Siegler responded with a fairly weak response largely citing the mantra of “too late and not enough apps” but as can be seen from today’s news of 50,000 apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace, the latter argument really isn’t that valid.

As usual, Robert Scoble hits the nail on the head. People buy Android or iOS because it’s a safe bet and they don’t want to look stupid or uncool by buying something else. Microsoft Windows Phone 7 and RIM’s Blackberries simply don’t have the gold-plated appeal of a sure-thing.

And he’s right. I was a big Palm fan and look how that turned out. I do feel stupid. After spending years waiting for Palm to move from PalmOS to WebOS and then HP promising to do big things. I bought in with a succession of Pre phones and pre-ordered a TouchPad. Maybe I shouldn’t be so shallow and have a less of an ego, because WebOS is a great operating system and even with the smaller app selection, it does 99% of what I need a phone to do. But when everyone else is, “Have you got this app and that app” on their Galaxy S IIs and iPhone 4Ss, you do feel a bit of a chump.

So thanks, HP. I feel stupid.

Android Handsets More Unreliable

Android LogoWireless expert WDS is reporting that high failure rates in Android handsets are costing mobile network operators as much as $2 billion per year in dealing with repairs and returns. Reviewing the four leading mobile operating systems, its study found that Android-based devices seemed more prone to failure as 14% of technical support calls on Android were for hardware, versus 11% for Windows Phone, 7% for iOS and just 6% for BlackBerry OS.

Simplistically, Android handsets were twice as likely to suffer a hardware fault that an Apple or RIM device. The study suggests that cheaper hardware, software customisations and OS updates all contribute to the failure rate and in turn, the increased impact on the network operators to provide technical support and customer service. WDS analysed over 600,000 technical support calls from July 2010 to August 2011.

One thing we must be absolutely clear on,” says Tim Deluca-Smith, Vice President of Marketing at WDS, “is that our analysis does not find any inherent fault with the Android platform. Its openness has enabled the ecosystem to grow to a phenomenal size, at a phenomenal rate, and it’s this success that is proving challenging.

He added, “The Android customer experience differs enormously between devices and this means that the way in which Android devices are retailed and supported must consider factors such as the hardware build and quality of components.

If you are thinking about buying or upgrading your smartphone, you might want to bear this research in mind before you purchase.

The full WDS whitepaper can be downloaded from this page.