All posts by Surur

Site Admin and Windows Phone enthusiast, he has been using Windows Mobile devices since before they were called PocketPC’s. He is currently sporting a Nokia Lumia 920.

Cortana coming to China next week

cortana china

Chinese site Zol.com.cn reports that Microsoft is sending out invitations to a Chinese event where it is strongly suspected that Microsoft will be launching Cortana in the region.cortana envelope

The invitation, for the 30th July, which features a Cortana logo on the phone, is very suggestive, but the envelope containing it even more so, with a massive Cortana logo.

Microsoft has long said China and UK will be the next markets to receive the voice assistant, with UK also expected to get the update next week.

Zol notes they expect Cortana to have the more sedate name of “Huna” in the region.

Read more here.

Thanks hengxiang32401 for the tip.

Satya Nadella confirms the next version of Windows will unify Windows and Windows Phone

The next major version of Windows is expected to be released in Spring to Summer 2015, in  about a year’s time.

There has been many hints along the way, and now Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has confirmed that the next version will be the one that subsumes Windows Phone into Windows.

At the Microsoft quarterly earnings call he said:

“We will streamline the next version of Windows from 3 operating system into one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes.  We will unify our stores, commerce and developer platforms to drive a more coherent user experience and a broader developer opportunity.  We look forward to sharing our more about out next major wave of Windows enhancements in the coming months.”

He notes later in the call, collated by Neowin in the video above, that the OS will have a UI which scales across all screen sizes.

The news suggests we may see a radical change in the UI of the next major version of Windows Phone in 2015, and that the artificial differences in functionality between Windows and Windows Phone may go away e.g.  that if Windows supports Bluetooth keyboards, Windows Phone should also.

In some ways the news also telegraphs the death of the traditional Windows Phone however.  How do our readers feel about this news? Let us know below.

Cortana adds Local Events to interest checklist

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Microsoft has just added another feature to the Windows Phone 8.1 Digital Assistant.

You are no able to set Cortana to alert you to local events, be it food festivals or a local business seminar.

The feature has been added under the Discovery tab, and users are able to narrow down their interest to events such as music, dance, food and drink, community and more.

Microsoft is continuously updating the backend of the Cortana cloud service, which is possible without making any changes to your handset, and we should expect to see even more improvements in the future to make the DA ever more useful.

BBM for WP8 picks up its second pre-release update

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Blackberry has just updated Blackberry Messenger for Windows Phone for the second time in the Windows Phone Store.

The app , which is still in private beta, is now on version 1.0.0.4.

Users report that as a messaging app the app actually works pretty well, though others have complained of connection issues and delayed messages.

The Official Changelog (via NPU) includes:

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Official Lumia shipment numbers confirms a disastrous Q2 2014

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Microsoft has (unexpectedly) released their Q2 2014 Lumia shipment numbers, confirming only 5.8 million Windows Phones were sold, less than 2 million per month, leading to a $692 million loss for the division.

That’s even worse than the $452 million loss of Q1 2014, and given that Nadella has not been stingy with the knife it make us wonder if Windows Phone is next for the cutting board.

A loss of nearly $120 per handset makes us wonder if Microsoft would not have more success simply giving away Windows Phones for free, and actually save money in the process.

Now of course the poor performance in the quarter was predictable – Microsoft/Nokia’s product line was stale, and not very relevant or exciting to the market.

However the release of the NL 630, a terribly underspecced and uncompetitive handset, is hardly going to help, and the Lumia 930 is too little too late.

With the Nokia McLaren being cancelled, and the Surface Mini confirmed also, and Nokia’s ASHA, X and feature phone business also heading to the recycling bin, we have to wonder what’s next.

Update: According to the Verge the period of sales were just for 65, not 90 days, from April 25 to June 30th, meaning sales would be closer to 8 million per quarter, not just 5.8 million.

Not amazing, but at least not as disastrous as it first appeared.

German Nokia Lumia 930 owners on Edge due to screen flickering

A mass of new German Nokia Lumia 930 owners are complaining of what appears to be a pretty unique problem.

According to posters on Nokia’s support forums and popular German Windows Phone forum PocketPC.ch the screens of their 930 handsets flicker when data is transferred on 2G/Edge.

Luca Negro has uploaded the video above demonstrating the effect in action (look particularly at the white part of the page while it is loading), which he describes as “flickering like an old TV Screen.”

If the problem is widespread it is somewhat understandable – 2G data does cause a lot of electrical interference and the handset is relatively thin, reducing the possibility for good shielding.  In addition most of us hardly ever use 2G these days in any case.

The fact remains however that many Windows Phone users expected better from Nokia, who after all is rather well known for their smartphone radio expertise.

Read more at Nokia Discussions and PocketPC.ch here.

Thanks Matthias for the tip.

My O2 app now available in the Windows Phone Store

O2 has finally brought their My O2 app to Windows Phone, which will help take the mystery out of that last shocking phone bill.

For Pay Monthly customers the app gives access to a full itemised bill including your most expensive, longest and most frequent calls.

The app syncs with your phone book contacts so you can see who you’ve called and texted instead of seeing cryptic numbers, and the app offers fully itemised recent charges to your account since your last bill and up to six months detailed bill history.

The app also offers notifications to let you know when you’re running low on minutes, messages and data, and lets you know your allowances of minutes, messages and data.

Pay and Go customer can see their allowances of minutes, messages and data, tariff details and calling plan costs, Bolt Ons and Top Up using O2’s automated call services.image

The My O2 app is unfortunately not available to O2 business and corporate customers.

Download the app for free from the Windows Phone Store here.

Don’t bother trying to claim your Nokia Lumia 930 Wireless Speaker kit in UK; its too late

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One of the big attractions of jumping in early on the Nokia Lumia 930 was the £130 worth of wireless kit, which incudes attractive items such as wireless speakers and additional wireless chargers.

It seems however you had to be rather quick, as the allocation available to hand-out was pretty small, amounting to only a few thousand kits spread over a large number of retailers.

If you try and claim now you will most likely be met with the above, somewhat sarcastic screen.

We agree with Neowin that the offer was misleading, and that Microsoft did not make it clear that stocks were as limited as it was, instead merely emphasising that the offer was time limited.

If you have purchased a Nokia Lumia 930 try your luck claiming here. Don’t hold your breath however…

28% of mobile developers developing for Windows Phone, up from 21% a year ago.

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Vision Mobile has posted a result of their bi-annual survey of mobile developers. 

They revealed, despite the low market share of Windows Phone, that the OS continued to attract interest from developers, with 28% of developers creating for the platform, up from 21% a year ago. Microsoft has said 500 new apps are being added each day to the Windows Phone Store.

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10% of developers were also dedicated to using Microsoft tools like C# to develop mobile apps, while 32% prioritized Objective C and 42% Android’s Java.

Vision Mobile notes Microsoft developers were the most loyal, saying:

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Lumia Cyan now rolling out to the Nokia Lumia 1520 in India and UK

There are a huge number of Nokia Lumia 1520 fans, and those users will be happy to hear the Windows Phone 8.1 update is now rolling out to the handset in some areas.

We have had a confirmed report of the update coming to the NL 1520 in India and also UK, and it may also be rolling out elsewhere.

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To check if it is available to you, go to Phone Update and Check for Updates.

Thanks Mubashir and Juned for the tip and screen shot.

Microsoft wants you to talk sweetly to Cortana, not blurt commands

In a meandering CNET article about the creators of Microsoft’s digital assistant, program manager for Cortana Marcus Ash revealed that the reason they gave Cortana a touch of personality was to encourage users to speak to the service in natural language.

"If you don’t tell us natural language phrases, we can’t train the system," Ash said in an interview in April. "If we can’t train the system, then we don’t understand natural language phrases."

The aim was to get people comfortable using the assistant and to encourage users to keep on using it.

"You can’t make this faceless thing and expect people to talk to it," Ash said.

Designer Sogol Malekzadeh noted that Chit Chat, Cortana’s ability to tell a joke or make a snarky remark, was something the team invested in early. She said it was because it was important Cortana sounded human.

Otherwise, she noted people would drop the natural language and revert back to basic search phrase. More critically, the natural language and quick responses help create that emotional bond between Cortana and the user, which was a primary goal for Malekzadeh. "Similar to when you create a piece of art, you like your audience to connect with you through that lens, in their own unique way."

Without that connection Cortana can fall in the same trap as Siri.

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OneDrive for Windows Phone updated with better file management options

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OneDrive app for Windows Phone 8.1 devices has just been updated to v4.2  in Windows Phone Store.

The update brings the usual bug fixes and performance improvements,  but now also lets users choose where their files get downloaded on their device, and with a new progress bar for uploading and downloading.image

The app now also features improvements in choosing contacts when you share files.

The updated app can be found in the Windows Phone Store here.

Modern Combat 5: Blackout coming to Windows Phone 24th July

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On the Windows Blog Microsoft has announced that Modern Combat 5: Blackout is coming to Windows and Windows Phone on the 24th July.

The game is expected to take players on a tour of the world, tracking a terrorist gang through numerous iconic location.

Gameloft, the developer has also announced that all of their Gameloft HD titles in 2014 will release simultaneously with iOS and Android on the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store. This is a verification of the news we first posted in August 2013 from an interview with Gregory Wintgens .

See the trailer after the break.

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