Pandora has shown absolutely no sign of making it’s way to Windows Phone. Pandora is already facing stiff competion from native Zune streaming service and now Spotify has arrived as well – making life tougher for Pandora. What’s Pandora doing about it then? From my perspective, nothing. But then there are folks who couldn’t take it anymore. Coder extraoridinairre Justin create a Pandora API, titled Metro Pandora and he even created a proof of concept application – which apparently has login issues (see revelant XDA thread here), and taking advantage of this API, developer Janabi Mustafa has created the first third party Pandora application called “Metro Radio” that lets you login, tune in to your favorite stations and of course – Mango only background audio. So it does the job. UI looks fairly basic as of now. The application will be submitted next week according to the developer.
Take a look at the UI demo of the application in “glorious” 240p (sigh)
Two developers: snickler and Marvin_S from xda-developers have released their app, Metro Browser into the marketplace, that can play flash video from youtube, megavideo, videobb and other sites.
This app is a must have for all windows phone users, since it allows you to play those YouTube videos that are otherwise unavailable to mobile users because you have to watch an ad before it (hey, Google, if you are reading this, please come up with an official solution for that.) This works not only with the YouTube website, but also with embedded YouTube videos across the internet.
The main advantage of this app, however, is that you can watch videos from Megavideo, videobb, etc. Something that so far, only Android users could do (or iOS users if the corresponding app exists.)
I tested the app myself with videobull.com and found that it does work, I was able to watch mythbusters on my phone! (Sorry for the low quality video, I did not have a great camcorder with me)
Metro Browser playing flash video
Metro Browser works by acting as an intermediate layer between the site and the IE control it hosts, and figuring out when you have a flash video to be played. As soon as it detects one, it plays it using the player. They do not seem to be using the wp7 video player, and you have to wait for a while for the video to be buffered before you can play the video.
XDA’s Windows Phone hacker supremo HeathCliff has done it again. Apparently, he has found an exploit which lets you enable interop unlock on your already developer unlocked or chevron unlocked Nokia devices. Remember, this is the first and only interop unlock solution for Nokia devices so use at your own risk. This is just the first step to make Nokia get neck to neck with other OEMs which already have interop unlock solution available on XDA.
If you have a Nokia device, please make sure you back up before you try this. Since this is a HeathCliff hack, I suggest you try it as soon as possible because there’s a massive chance that it will successfuly work.
Again, I suggest you backup before you proceed. For download and instruction, hit the source link.
Application development on Windows Phone is rapidly increasing at about 5k apps per month and rising, and eclipsed the 40k mark earlier last week, according to “All About Windows Phone”.
With the global release of the much anticipated Mango handsets from hardware manufacturing giants like Nokia, HTC, and Samsung over the last month, Windows Phone Marketplace is now growing by about 165 apps per day.
This Sunday, the flagship device for the new wave of Mango handsets, the HTC Titan, was made available in the United States on carrier AT&T after being available in the UK for the last month.
Sporting a brilliant 4.7 inch screen & 1.5GHz single-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, the Titan is the biggest, fastest WP7 device to date, and also features a 1.3MP front-facing camera. It’s expected to garner major interest amongst Microsoft consumers in the US who have been awaiting it’s release for some time.
The developerprograms just keep on coming. We just received a tip about a competition in Sweden being conducted by Migbi called ‘Windows Phone App Mania’. And the prize ? Three coveted Nokia Lumia 800 devices.
All you have to do is submit a Windows Phone app from a Swedish AppHub account between November 9 and the 31 December deadline. there are two ways in which the apps will be judged. One, a panel of judges chooses the best app from all the apps submitted during the duration of the competition and awards a Nokia Lumia 800. Two, the top two devs with the highest no. of apps submitted get a Lumia 800 each. And don’t be intimidated by the title, you don’t have to create the highest no. of apps in the Marketplace, just among the participants with Swedish AppHub accounts. You can find the official rules here. So, which side will you choose ? Quality or quantity ?
Well, color us surprised if the image is true. As we all know, there are two OSes in the Windows Phone camp that are circulating around devices. The 7720 Mango update and the 7740 update. The 7740 update is expected to fix an email issue related to Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and fixing a voice mail notification issue. We know very little as of now about Tango (universal search) and some blind guesses for Apollo. Considering that the device running the update is the HTC Mazaa, we can’t help but speculate the update may be in Tango territory. What do you think though? Let us know!
Although WP7 phones have never been formally been launched in China, it doesn’t mean there’s none of them in the Central Kingdom. Like every other kind of device blocked outside China by myriad laws and regulations, there always are smuggled units in the wild.
Where there’s a market, there’s always supply. Many months back, Chinese apps were already popping up occasionally on the Marketplace, mostly done by big local IT companies who have branch in the US (thus gaining access to App Hub registration). The Chinese app populaton has beefed up quite a bit since October, when Microsoft opened up App Hub to Chinese developers. So far we have:
Baidu, the search engine that rules over 70% of Chinese market, has released its mobile browser on WP7, in Chinese and English.
Tencent, master of China’s hugest IM service “QQ”, has released QQ clients for WP7 several months ago.
Sina, owner of the biggest microblog in China where Twitter is sadly blocked, has made a quite OK official microblogging client for WP7.
Youku, which could safely be called “China’s Youtube” because China doesn’t have access to Youtube, has released official client for WP7.
Jiepang, a popular LBS service, has made WP7 official client. People here seldom use Foursquare.
Other things, like Baidu’s online video sharing site (Hulu-ish) client, Tencent’s web browser, Tencent’s music streaming (Spotify-ish) service, Tencent’s Hulu-clone… You might be wondering why so many things from Baidu and Tencent. Truth is that China’s internet is basically ruled by three companies: Baidu, Tencent, and Alibaba. Getting support from two of the tree kings is definitely a good sign.
Since Microsoft opened up App Hub registration to Chinese developers, Chinese apps have been popping up in the Marketplace at a steady speed of about 0.5 – 1 app per day on average.
Just during the last weekend, 360buy, a leading B2C e-commerce website in China (imagine an Amazon.com, only in 100% Chinese) just released its official client for WP7. Honestly the app was made astonishingly crappy, with a barcode scanner module that, in this Mango era, still requires user to take a static snapshot of a code so it could analyze the *picture*. But anyway, it shows some more support from Chinese mainstream IT companies.
Things are speeding up slowly, but definitely going positive. As one of the early Android adopters in China, I think WP7 is doing remarkably better than Android did in its infancy.
Let’s look back at the Nokia – Microsoft partnership news again. Nokia, like other OEMs, get to have some exlusive apps for their windows phone devices. Major selling point, as being advertized by Nokia, has been their “exclusive applications” built in Nokia Lumia devices. XDA has managed to leak all three of their exclusive applications – starting with Nokia Maps, followed by Nokia Music and now the elusive Nokia Drive (which is (was?) supposed to be a major selling point). Nokia Drive XAP has been noted as warez but it’s still existent on XDA, so we thought we’d give you a heads up on this. Before you download the xap, please read the Note at the end of the post.
Now what does this mean? It’s easy as 1-2-3 for XDA folks to port apps from one OEM to other. Where’s the exclusivity then? What’s the differentiating factor for OEMs? Yes, only a few go ahead and unlock their devices to deploy xaps on their phones but now that unlocking is as cheap as $9 and you get exposed to some amazing homebrew stuff, I think a large chunk of folks would be interested in getting available XAPs, no matter legal or illegal.
p.s – Nokia Drive is alive and kicking in India. It also gives you direction in Hindi, how cool is that ? Video demo coming very soon.
Note – We do not encourage piracy or enjoy promoting warez content. We ocassionaly post XAPs and ping several Microsoft employees regarding the state of affairs wherever concerned. We are hoping for a new encryption system that prevents this, because Internet is a massive place - a simple Google search will give thousands of download link – use wpsauce.com/contact if you don’t feel right about it. We don’t charge for sane arguments. So download at your risk.
When many people see Windows Phone devices, the first thing they say is Wow that’s a nice phone but it looks really expensive. To assuage that belief, Microsoft promised to release Windows Phones devices at diverse price points to broaden the Windows Phone experience (aka cheap and expensive phones on major carriers). One of the devices apart of Microsoft’s new strategy is the Samsung Focus Flash, the third Samsung device offered on AT&T and other networks worldwide. But in exchange for that cheaper price, is the customer getting shafted with an inferior experience to the likes of Mr. Green Roboto? We hope to answer that question in our review of the Samsung Focus Flash, the little brother to the gigantic Samsung Focus and the Samsung Focus S.
Would not know the phone is made of plastic on first glance As strange as this is about to sound, the Samsung Focus Flash is built like a very old HTC/Sony collaboration (does the Sony Xperia X1 ring a bell). The device, while made of plastic, has a very professional feel to it. In part, this is due to the brushed back, which may not be metallic, gives the device a premium feeling. Uniquely, the sides of the device, in comparison to the Samsung Focus S, are less rounded in appearance and have a square-like shape. The design choice may be a catch 22; while it definitely makes the device stand out, the edges can be a bit painful after prolonged holding in a horizontal orientation. Still, one must be impressed with how the phone has a premium feel to it, despite its plastic chassis.
The front of the device sports a front facing camera to the upper right corner of the device. To the bottom of the front lies the three standard Windows Phone buttons. Unlike the other Samsung Focus brethren, the Samsung Focus Flash has an actual start button made of clear plastic that is also recessed to minimize accidental keypresses. In addition, pressing the start button turns on the device, which can be a good thing if you don’t feel like pressing the on button. On the left of the device lies a pretty sturdy volume rocker, which takes a bit more pressure to increase/decrease volume versus the Samsung Focus S. To the top of the device lies the standard 3.5 mm headphone jack. To the bottom of the device lies the standard micro-usb port for charging and syncing with Zune. On the right of the device lies the power button and the dedicated camera button. Much like the volume rocker, the power and camera buttons require a bit more force to enable or disable in comparison to the Samsung Focus S. The buttons aren’t necessarily as recessed and are easily spotted for many users. One thing that we enjoyed was the buttons weren’t cheap feeling like the Samsung Focus S or recessed like the Samsung Focus.
Turning the device on the back reveals the speaker and the 5 MP camera with a single led flash. The 5 MP camera, which was once considered the "premium" option for Windows Phones, is relegated to a cheaper status in the current Windows chassis specifications. Now what is interesting about the Sammy Flash is the quality of the back cover. Unlike the Samsung Focus S that has a relatively cheap back cover with a raised bump design, the Focus Flash offers a long piece of plastic that surrounds a considerable amount of the back. The back cover does not curve around to surround the volume rocker like in the HTC Titan, but still the Samsung Focus Flash back cover takes a lot of room and engulfs a considerable portion of the back. The brush finish definitely makes the device look nice.
The device is a lot of things, but it is not a light device in any stretch of the imagination. The Samsung Focus Flash feels considerably heavier than the Samsung Focus S despite the Samsung Focus S being considerably larger. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. At times, the Samsung Focus S was so light, I forgot I even had it. But with the Samsung Focus Flash, you feel the bump in the pocket and you won’t freak frantically looking for the device. The heft and design of the device makes it stand out; almost demanding that a user pays attention to the Samsung Focus Flash. Typing with such a uniquely designed device is an interesting experience for a variety of reasons. Unlike the ergonomically designed Samsung Focus S, the edges of the Focus Flash will become a bit bothersome after a while. Unless you’re typing a paper of amazing proportions or a very long text message, chances are you may not really feel the corners of the device hitting you unless you are holding on to the device for dear life.
Super AMOLED never looked so bright Unlike previous Samsung Windows Phone devices, the Samsung Focus Flash sports a 3.7 inch Super AMOLED display with a 800×480 screen resolution. Unfortunately, the screen offers a pentile matrix subpixel arrangement. For those of you that don’t know, a pentile matrix offers about 768,000 subpixels while the Super AMOLED Plus display offers 1,152,000 subpixels. While the color banding issue has been solved in Mango and requires developers to update their programs to disable strange color banding issues, users won’t get the wild array of colors that the Samsung Focus S offers.
Despite not getting the wide array of color depth and pixel density that the Focus S offers, the Focus Flash is no slouch because it is using Super AMOLED. Where it beats the Samsung Focus S is in its brightness. Enabling or disabling auto display intensity in the extra settings on the Samsung Focus S does very little for the device to catch up to the automatic brightness of the Samsung Focus Flash. It made us scratch our heads to ponder why the "runt" of Samsung’s family shines ever so bright compared to its more expensive brother.
If a user has an issue with pentile matrix subpixel arrangement, then chances are this device won’t be in your future because of the limitations of the Super AMOLED display. But if viewing angles matter, as does a bright screen, this device is the one for you. Plain and simple, the viewing angles, brightness of the screen, and the overall size (at 3.7 inches) is very natural. Coming from a 4.3, 4.1, or 4.7 inch screen didn’t decrease the experience. Typing is a breeze, viewing content is a breeze due to the great viewing angles. The Flash also has a better pixel density versus the Samsung Focus S, giving some very sharp results. The screen technology may not be a spectacular, but it is something I would recommend in a heartbeat!
Images should never be this cold and lifeless The Samsung Focus Flash offers a 5 MP camera and a front facing camera. I won’t mince words here. If there is ever a reason why the Focus Flash is considerably cheaper, one reason lies in the camera. Before explaining the quality of the camera, there are some good things the camera performed well at versus the Samsung Focus S. The major aspect that the Flash outperforms the S in is the white balance. Indoors or out, the white balance on automatic is almost top of the class in several shots. The flash on the Focus Flash didn’t result in many issues or over exposure in indoor settings like the Samsung Focus S, which is also a good thing. Finally, the same tap to focus on many Windows Phones taps on a specific object in the image and the focus isn’t just center weighted. All of these aspects were a joy to use.
What we didn’t enjoy was the lackluster performance of the camera. Samsung cut out a few key features that made the Samsung Focus and the Samsung Focus S a fantastic camera. One of those features include the anti-shake. With no anti-shake, the user is required to hold the camera a certain way, without shaking, to take a non blurry image. For many aficionados, that’s not an issue, but for some it can present a few issues. One of the largest complaints about Windows Phone was the camera, and the Samsung Focus saved many from those woes by providing antishake. It definitely makes a big difference in taking an image under optimum conditions.
So, how did the images fare? Surprisingly lackluster. The colors looked washed out and unnatural, the antishake feature that yields a sharper and more precise image was missing, resulting in blurry images. Unlike the Samsung Focus S which took great photos in natural settings, the Flash just doesn’t have that quality in imaging. Which is a shame considering the emphasis on camera performance Samsung prides itself on.
The Focus Flash has 2 recording settings: 720P and VGA. The VGA recording on the Focus Flash was not bad, often with much sharper video and adequate moment without jerkiness in playback. Despite the sharper video, the quality wasn’t that great. The 720P video recording was sadly worse often the quality of the video being extremely grainy. If that weren’t enough, the playback is absolutely horrible and in many ways beating the Dell Venue Pro for worst 720P video recording and rendering. In a head to head, the VGA output performed better than 720P, but in terms of video quality, you may want to keep your dedicated camera on hand. The Focus Flash is a camera you should avoid because of the lackluster shots and mediocre recording versus the Focus S and the original Focus.
Fast, but aching for more than 8 GB of storage If you’ve taken a look at our review of the Focus S, there isn’t much more to say. You get the same next gen 1.4 GHz snapdragon single core processor, but it runs smooth as butter in performing tasks. Period. This is where Windows Phone will always shine and I don’t think anyone would argue that. Metro is stylish, pleasing and definitely something users should try.
Despite the buttery smooth performance, if you expect to perform a lot of tasks on the device, don’t. In part, this is due to the storage limitations of 8 GB. Samsung undoubtedly had to make another concession to drive the price point. Unlike Mr. Green Roboto, there is no option to expand the storage. So users are stuck with 8 GB of onboard storage, and that’s it. Don’t expect to take your full audio/video catalog or to load several different mapping solutions. But for not so memory heavy tasks and light music listening, any user should be alright with that.
One night charge, two days later, back on the charger it went The Samsung Focus Flash offers a Super AMOLED display that is extremely bright. We expected the device battery to be relatively short given its price point and brightness of the display. But color us shocked, for the power that the Focus Flash provided, we got almost 2 and a half days over wifi with heavy usage, and about a day and 10 hours after heavy usage and automatic brightness. For any smart phone, that’s impressive! Samsung, excellent job on the battery life.
While call quality could be improved, wifi connection was great Unlike the Samsung Focus S, the Samsung Focus Flash had mediocre call quality. On the plus side, not a single dropped call. But on the negative side, the volume seemed extremely low, the phone had a humming noise that were heard on both ends of the conversation, and there was a high pitched sound to some calls. The faux g speeds that are touted to bring speeds up to 14.4 MBPS didn’t get above 2.5 MBPS in a 4g area in Chicago. Understandably, the issues can be attributed to AT&T and not indicative of the phone itself. But the experience on cellular radio was mediocre; almost bordering on horrible.
But the Focus Flash had one of the most consistent wifi connections I’ve ever used in a Windows Phone. No matter where I walked in my home, the connection didn’t drop. A few meters away from my house, and I was still connected to my wifi. This is something I couldn’t do with the Samsung Focus S and that was considered the "premium". Go fig.
It’s not a premium smartphone, but I would definitely consider it Throughout the review, constant comparisons were made between the Samsung Focus Flash and the Samsung Focus/S line of devices. In many ways, it is almost impossible not to compare the Focus family of devices. But that quality hurts the Focus Flash because it makes the device lack a unique identity in comparison to its 4-inch brethren. But that couldn’t be any further from the truth. There were a lot of things we enjoyed about the device that makes it one of the better Windows Phones out there. Yes, there is a 3.7 inch screen and it’s only Super AMOLED, and yes there is only 8GB of onboard storage. Topped that with the mediocre camera performance, what makes the device special?
One thing that makes the device special is the pixel density. The pixel density makes for a sharp viewing experience. In my eyes, it makes metro really look fascinating and on par with the Super AMOLED plus display without the foibles the Samsung Focus S had. There is no concession for performance because the device is clocked at 1.4 GHz, like the Samsung Focus S. And the price is fantastic – $49.99 on a new 2 year contract with AT&T and a penny on Amazon Wireless! If anything, this is the best priced device you can get on the market. If camera and storage isn’t what you need in a smart phone, consider this being the top of the proverbial heap. Definitely try this device out. We were far more excited about this than the Samsung Focus S. I suppose pricing is a huge reason, but you decide.
What we loved
What we hated
Mediocre camera with subpar 720p recording
If you are on a budget and need a phone that just works, get the Focus Flash if you’re on AT&T. It’s hard to be disappointed with the device even with its shortcoings
Nokia knows what is its most important market. Aside from its “connecting the next billion” plan which seems more or less India-centric, it just can’t ignore China. Basically China was a Nokia country. Just a year ago when I count “fun boxes” people wield in Beijing’s subway system trying to figure out which kind of device is the most popular, I’ve got a consistent record which goes like this:
Nokia S60 devices >= iPhone + iPod + Android + Windows Mobile + Windows CE + e-ink readers + PSP + NDS
It sounds a bit scary, but it’s more or less a fact. S60 devices WERE this popular. These days things have changed dramatically, not in the good direction though, you know. But Nokia just can’t igore a huge market where it still has the upper hand, if only by slight advantage now.
With the debut of Lumia WP7 phones, Nokia had hinted that the series will come to China some time in “early 2012″. But now we’ve got a more specific time from the company. During an interview with Global Entrepreneur magazine, an anonymous executive from Nokia China spilled that Nokia’s WP7 phones ”will come to China in the first half of 2012, most likely around April.”
Well that’s good to know. For those who are wondering why it takes Nokia so long to launch even the Nokia 800, which is becoming widely available across the planet now, the reason is as the following:
China has blocked sites like Youtube, Twitter and Facebook via a national firewall matrix. It’s no point launching phones with crippled People Hub. Need to make localizations.
China requires a whole lot of paperworks before a device is granted legal status. This usually take OEMs a lot of time on bartering & lobbying, even Apple is under the spell.
It’s generally believed that the upcoming Tango update will have a lot to do with Nokia’s China-localization of the WP7 OS, including taking out censored modules and replacing with locally available counterparts. I’d say Nokia is moving pretty darn fast if the Lumia family could come to China through means other than smuggling by April 2012.