Google extends Exchange ActiveSync support to July 31, 2013

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Jan 312013

Today was to have been the day that Google’s Sync service would stop being available to new Windows Phone devices. Fortunately, Microsoft yesterday announced that Google was extending their support for new Windows Phone connections to July 31st, 2013. The extension will allow Microsoft to build into their software support for CalDAV and CardDAV, the protocols to be used to connect to Google’s Calendar and Contacts services.

At the same time, the Windows Phone team is building support into our software for the new sync protocols Google is using for calendar and contacts—CalDAV and CardDAV. These new protocols, combined with our existing support for the IMAP protocol for email, will enable Windows Phone users to continue to connect to Google services after July 31, 2013.

It’s likely that Microsoft will push out a new update before July 31st to add the necessary functionality to Windows Phone devices. While devices now using the service will find that the Google Sync service will continue to work past the deadline, it’s unclear how much longer Google will support it. An update would future-proof devices against a future shutdown of the service.

Read more: Windows Phone Blog

Nokia begins Windows Phone 7.8 upgrade rollout

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Jan 302013

Nokia today announced that it is beginning to roll out its Windows Phone 7.8 upgrade to Lumia smartphones currently running Windows Phone 7.5 as these will not be upgraded to Windows Phone 8. The Nokia Lumia 510, 610, 710, 800 and 900 will all receive upgrade notifications during February.

With Windows Phone 7.8 installed, your Nokia Lumia gets even better.

The Start screen experience is completely refreshed with the ability to re-size your tiles: small, medium and large.

In addition, there are also new options available on your lock screen, such as having a daily background image from Bing; plus there’s improved pocket and child lock screen security.

Plus, there is increased language support, meaning even more people get to enjoy Nokia Lumia.

These new benefits, together with the new look Start screen, will make your Lumia feel like a brand new smartphone.

Once you receive your notification, you will need to connect your device to your computer via Zune for PC, or the Windows Phone app for Mac.

As usual, carriers will need to approve the update before they push it out to their users.

To make sure you don’t miss the update when it is released here, check that notifications are enabled by selecting Settings > Phone Update > “Notify me when new updates are found”.

Read more: Nokia

Nokia Drive+ beta now available for all WP8 devices in Canada and U.S.

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Jan 262013

While Nokia Drive+, Nokia’s turn-by-turn navigation app, remains in beta, it is no longer a Lumia exclusive. Nokia decided this week to make it available as a free download to all Windows Phone 8 customers in Canada, the U.S., and the United Kingdom.

The app remains in beta as the team fine tunes the customer experience. In the meantime, you can access full turn-by-turn voice-guided navigation, offline maps, speed limit warnings, and conveniences such as day and night modes. With today’s release, the team is looking forward to hearing from even more Windows Phone customers through the app’s “feedback” tab, to help make it even better. Give it a try and let them know what you think. Learn more about Nokia Drive+ Beta .

Nokia Drive+

Among the features it offers are full, offline support for 89 countries, turn-by-turn, voice guided navigation with spoken street names, an automatic Day/Night mode, 2D and 3D landmarks on maps, an advanced dashboard with your speed, distance covered, estimated time of arrival and the time left to your destination, and more.

Nokia Drive+ is available for download through the Windows Phone Store.

Read more: Windows Phone Blog

Nokia announces return to black with Q4 2012 financial results

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Jan 242013

Nokia today announced its financial results for the last quarter of its fiscal 2012 year. It had a pleasant surprise for its stockholders, reporting a profitable quarter after six quarters of losses. It saw an operating profit of US$585 billion (€439 million) on net sales of US$10.7 billion (€8.04 billion). According to CEO Stephen Elop,

“We are very encouraged that our team’s execution against our business strategy has started to translate into financial results. Most notably we are pleased that Nokia Group reached underlying operating profitability in the fourth quarter and for the full year 2012.

While the first half of 2012 was difficult for Nokia Group, in Q4 2012 we strengthened our financial position, improved our underlying operating margin in Devices & Services, introduced the HERE brand to expand our mapping and location experiences, and drove record profitability in Nokia Siemens Networks.

We remain focused on moving through our transition, which includes continuing to improve our product competitiveness, accelerate the way we operate and manage our costs effectively. All of these efforts are aimed at improving our financial performance and delivering more value to our shareholders.”

As it had previously announced, Nokia shipped 4.4 million Windows Phone Lumia devices during the quarter, up 51% from the 2.9 million the previous quarter. Of those, 700,000 were sold in North America, still Nokia’s smallest market. It also shipped another 2.2 million Symbian devices and 9.3 million Asha handsets.

Nokia expects that it could return to a loss in Q1 2013 due to “competitive industry dynamics” and Q1 typically being a slower quarter.

It remains to be seen if Nokia will announce new Lumia smartphones at MWC 2013. Recent rumours have pointed to a “true PureView Windows Phone” codenamed the Nokia EOS and the Nokia Catwalk.

Read more: Nokia

True PureView Windows Phone Nokia EOS smartphone in the works?

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Jan 232013

When Nokia first announced plans to bring PureView to Windows Phone, most expected Nokia to unveil a device that would sport a camera similar to the 41MP one on the Nokia 808 PureView. Instead, the Nokia Lumia 920 was announced with Nokia PureView technology but with an 8MP sensor. It has gone on to impress many with the quality of the pictures it takes despite the different sensor. But now comes word that Nokia may finally release a “true PureView Windows Phone” with the 41MP sensor in tow.

According to The Verge, Nokia is working on a smartphone codenamed EOS. Aside from the upgraded sensor, it will also drop the polycarbonate body in favour of an aluminium one. Nokia is also looking to update the look of its devices for 2013 and the EOS will also sport a new look with squared edges.

The Nokia EOS looks to be a new high-end Lumia model in a product refresh that will also include the Nokia Catwalk, a replacement for the Lumia 920, and a new mid-range device. A Nokia Windows RT tablet is also in the cards. AT&T looks set to be among the carriers to offer the Nokia EOS when it launches.

Read more: The Verge

ASUS considering Windows Phone 8 including Padfone model

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Jan 172013

Things are looking for the Windows Phone 8 operating system. According to The Wall Street Journal, ASUS is the latest manufacturer to be considering making devices powered by Microsoft’s mobile operating system. Benson Lin, corporate vice president of mobile communication products confirmed that ASUS is currently engaged in licensing discussions with Microsoft. “There is no target timeline… but we are interested in making Windows phones.”

Lin also revealed that ASUS proposed to Microsoft to develop a Padfone device powered by Windows 8. The current ASUS Padfone 2 is an Android-powered smartphone that docks into a tablet accessory. “With our Padfone concept, the phone plus tablet, I think it makes sense for Windows 8,” Mr. Lin said.

Given that Microsoft offers Windows Phone 8 for smartphones and Windows 8 for tablets and PCs, it will be interesting to see how the Padfone would work. Could it use Windows Phone 8 in smartphone mode and switch to Windows 8 when docked? Or will ASUS wait for the rumoured Windows Blue release which is supposed to bring Windows 8 to smaller-screens?

The report adds that ASUS is currently also in discussion with U.S. carriers to bring its phones to the U.S. perhaps as early as next year.

Read more: The Wall Street Journal

Huawei Ascend P2 and Ascend W2 specifications revealed?

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Jan 142013

With CES now behind us, it’s time for the MWC rumours to start (or more accurately continue). Huawei, which unveiled the Ascend D2, Ascend Mate, and Ascend W1, is set to announce two more devices at next month’s event. Thin is definitely in for Huawei for the Ascend P2 and the Ascend W2. The former could be the next smartphone to grab the crown of world’s thinnest smartphone while the latter could the thinnest Windows Phone 8 device.

The Huawei Ascend P2 appears to be a successor to the Ascend P1 S unveiled at CES 2012. It is expected to be less than 6.45 millimeters thin. Based on leaked information, we can expect its specifications to be as follows:

  • Processor: 1.8GHz quad-core HiSilicon K3V2
  • Operating system: Google Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • Cellular connectivity: HSPA
  • Other connectivity: GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Display: 5-inch HD (1280×720) IPS
  • Input: 5 point multi-touch capacitive touchscreen
  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Storage: 8GB onboard
  • Rear-facing camera: 13MP AF with LED flash and 1080p video capture
  • Front-facing camera: 1.3MP
  • Battery: 3,000mAh non-removable
  • Dimensions / weight: 6.45 millimeters thin

As for the Ascend W2, not quite as much is known but here is what we have so far:

  • Processor: Dual-core
  • Operating system: Windows Phone 8
  • Display: 4.5-inch HD (1280×720)
  • Input: Capacitive touchscreen
  • Memory: 1GB RAM
  • Storage: 16GB onboard
  • Rear-facing camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 2,800mAh
  • Dimensions / weight: 7.7 millimeters thin

A higher end device than the Ascend W1, the Huawei Ascend W2 could sell for ¥3,200 (about CA$510).

Read more: UnwiredNews (Ascend P2) and UnwiredView (Ascend W2)

Rogers Nokia Lumia 920 receiving maintenance release

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Jan 132013

On the heels of the recent Portico update, Rogers Nokia Lumia 920 owners are now receiving another update. There aren’t a lot of details about Microsoft Update 8.0.10211.204 but it does promise “quality improvements for languages.”

Nokia Lumia 920 update

It appears that those who will benefit most from this update are those using the Nokia Lumia 920 with a language other than English.

The update should take about 10 minutes and your smarphone.

If you have not received the update notification, you can check manually by selecting Settings -> Phone Update -> Check For Updates.

Read more: MonWindowsPhone (Source: WMPoweruser)

Sprint to offer two Windows Phone 8 smartphones this summer

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Jan 102013

After teasing that Windows Phone 8 devices were coming soon, Sprint earlier this week shed more light on the launch. The company revealed that it would launch with two Windows Phone 8 devices, one from HTC and one from Samsung, sometime this summer.

“Sprint has had a strong relationship with Microsoft for many years so we are excited to reinforce our commitment to the Windows 8 platform by sharing the details and timing for our first Windows Phone 8 smartphones,” said Fared Adib, Sprint senior vice president, product development and operations. “These smartphones combine a robust new operating platform with the benefit of Sprint’s unlimited data plans. There is no doubt these phones will quickly become an extension of your PC experience right in the palm of your hand.”

While Sprint’s press release is light on details about the devices, Sprint’s director of device delivery Ryan Sullivan indicated that they would be new devices. “They’ll be current,” he said. “We’re working for current product launches, and not necessarily to launch on six-month-old hardware.”

Today, Sprint only offers Android, BlackBerry, and iOS devices. Sullivan hinted that Sprint could even offer devices powered by the Firefox and Tizen operating systems in the future.

Read more: Sprint and PCMag

Nokia ships 4.4 million Lumia smartphones in Q4 2012

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Jan 102013

Nokia today issued a fourth-quarter preliminary report and the news is much more positive than it has been in past quarters. Its Mobile Phones business unit and Lumia portfolio both delivered better than expected results. Nokia now expects that its Devices & Services group will exceed expectations and achieve “underlying profitability” for Q4 2012. According to Stephen Elop, Nokia CEO:

“We are pleased that Q4 2012 was a solid quarter where we exceeded expectations and delivered underlying profitability in Devices & Services and record underlying profitability in Nokia Siemens Networks. We focused on our priorities and as a result we sold a total of 14 million Asha smartphones and Lumia smartphones while managing our costs efficiently, and Nokia Siemens Networks delivered yet another very good quarter.”

In particular, Nokia reports sales of 4.4 million Lumia-branded Windows Phones in the quarter. That amounts to a 51% jump over the 2.9 million devices shipped in Q3. It’s not clear how this breaks down between Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7 devices. It also shipped 9.3 million Asha full touch “smartphones” and 2.2 million Symbian smartphones.

Nokia expects Q1 2013 to be tougher due to “competitive industry dynamics” and the general seasonal weakness of the quarter. Margins could fall into negative territory again as a result.

Nokia will issue its full Q4 and full year 2012 financial results on January 24th, 2013.

Read more: Nokia

CES 2013: Huawei launches Ascend W1, its first Windows Phone 8 device

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Jan 082013

Huawei Ascend W1Alongside the Android-powered Ascend D2 and Ascend Mate, Huawei today launched its first Windows Phone 8 smartphone, the Huawei Ascend W1. As expected, it is an entry-level device designed to be easy on the pocketbook.

“Inspired and powered by people, the Ascend W1 is a combination of Huawei’s user-centric design philosophy and Windows Phone 8 software, bringing consumers a truly compelling alternative.” said Richard Yu, CEO, Huawei Consumer Business Group. “The addition of the Ascend W1 to our smartphone portfolio gives consumers access to an even wider range of Huawei smartphones. At a price that makes sense to consumers, Ascend W1 underscores our commitment to put smartphones within reach of every consumer, no matter who you are or what you want from your phone.”

Huawei Ascend W1 specifications:

  • Processor: 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8230
  • Operating system: Microsoft Windows Phone 8
  • Cellular connectivity: UMTS/GSM
  • Other connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1
  • Display: 4-inch WVGA (800×480) IPS LCD
  • Input: Touchscreen
  • Memory: 512MB RAM
  • Storage: 4GB onboard and microSD cards up to 32GB
  • Rear-facing camera: 5MP AF with flash LED
  • Front-facing camera: 0.3MP
  • Connectors: 3.5mm audio jack
  • Battery: 1,950mAh
  • Dimensions / weight: 124.5 x 63.5 x 10.15 millimeters / 130 grams
  • Colours: Blue, red, black, white

The Huawei Ascend W1 will first launch in China and Russia starting in January 2013. Other markets including the U.S. (and Canada?) will follow later. Pricing information was not announced.

Read more: Huawei

Nokia CEO on Android: “Anything is possible”

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Jan 072013

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop had some surprising words in an interview published today by Spanish El Pais. At one point, the conversation turned to Android. Elop explained why Nokia chose Windows Phone over Android (concerns about differentiation and domination by other manufacturers) when planning its turnaround. But he left the door open for the future. When asked about whether he dismissed launching an Android phone next year, he answered that “anything is possible.”

While this puts into question Nokia’s commitment to Windows Phone, Elop explained that the company remains fully committed to both Microsoft and Windows Phone but that he was keeping an eye on the future. Elop suggests that HTML 5 could eventually make any mobile operating system irrelevant:

“In the current ecosystem wars we are using Windows Phone as our weapon. But we are always thinking about what’s coming next, what will be the role of HTML 5, Android… HTML5 could make the platform itself—being Android, Windows Phone or any other—irrelevant in the future, but it’s still too soon [to tell]. Today we are committed and satisfied with Microsoft, but anything is possible.”

Nokia is pushing to grow its market share to double digits in 2013. Not only will it need to continue to battle against the dominant Apple iOS and Google Android operating systems but some new players in 2013, including BlackBerry 10 and Tizen, could also make things more interesting.

Read more: El Pais (in Spanish) [Google translation] (Source: Gizmodo)

Sprint teases Windows Phone 8 is coming soon

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Jan 062013

Sprint is the lone major U.S. carrier not to offer at least one Windows Phone 8 device. That may be about to change. It has launched a new support page that promises that “Windows Phone 8 is coming soon!”

It had previously indicated that it would do so sometime in 2013 but never provided more specific timelines. “Sprint and Microsoft are partnering to bring Windows Phone 8 to Sprint’s customers – operating on its 4G LTE network – next year,” the company had told PCMag last November. With CES 2013 just around the corner, it’s quite possible that we will know more this week.

Sprint does not have a very extensive history with Windows Phone. It only ever launched the HTC Arrive back in early 2011.

What Windows Phone 8 device would you like to see Sprint launch?

Read more: Sprint (Source: The Verge)

Google to restore Google Maps access for Windows Phone devices

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Jan 052013
Google Maps

Windows Phone users started reporting yesterday that they could no longer access Google Maps. They were instead redirected to Google’s mobile search page. Initial suspicions ranged from some sort of technical issue to Google willfully blocking access. When Google initially responded, it explained that Google Maps was optimized for WebKit browsers and that other browsers such as Internet Explorer would not be able to access it. Confronted by howls of protest and proof that this was a new development rather than something that had always been true, it appears to have changed its tune somewhat.

Google today issued the following statement to The Next Web:

We periodically test Google Maps compatibility with mobile browsers to make sure we deliver the best experience for those users.

In our last test, IE mobile still did not offer a good maps experience with no ability to pan or zoom and perform basic map functionality. As a result, we chose to continue to redirect IE mobile users to where they could at least make local searches. The Firefox mobile browser did offer a somewhat better user experience and that’s why there is no redirect for those users.

Recent improvements to IE mobile and Google Maps now deliver a better experience and we are currently working to remove the redirect. We will continue to test Google Maps compatibility with other mobile browsers to ensure the best possible experience for users.

As Google points out, the version of Internet Explorer found in Windows Phone 8 handles the Google Maps much better and it will remove the redirect it has put in place.

Google is well within its rights to decide to support or not support non-Webkit browsers. But it should have been more transparent about its recent decision to redirect IE traffic to its main search page. The move follows Google’s recent decisions to stop supporting Microsoft ActiveSync and statements that it had no plans to develop Windows Phone version of its apps.

Read more: The Next Web

Windows Phone 7.8 update rollout now “imminent” says Nokia

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Jan 052013

Nokia yesterday told that the Windows Phone 7.8 update for its Lumia devices currently running Windows Phone 7.5 is “imminent.” A more specific timeline for the update was not provided. Nokia added the exact schedule “remains in Microsoft’s hands” and concluded that “At present we have no more information we can give about wider availability of the update for phones running Windows Phone 7.5.”

Windows Phone 7.8 will offer a number of Windows Phone 8 features (including the updated Home screen) to older handsets. Among these is the new Start screen with resizable Live Tiles, additional theme and accent colors, new lock screen features and more.

Some Nokia Lumia smartphones such as the Lumia 610 and Lumia 505 have begun to ship with Windows Phone 7.8 preloaded. “With Windows Phone 7.8 beginning to ship pre-loaded on Nokia Lumia smartphones, we will naturally be deploying the software to our factories for product rollout,” Nokia explained in its statement.

For its part, Microsoft has only indicated that Windows Phone 7.8 will start rolling it out in early 2013.

Read more: (Source: WMPoweruser)