Windows Phone is the smartphone platform and OS from Microsoft. Like Google does with Android, Microsoft only makes the software, allowing various hardware manufacturers to make the phones that run Windows Phone. Windows Phone replaced the older Windows Mobile (Professional and Standard editions.) Windows Phone competes directly with iOS and Android, offering most of the same OS features.
WhatsApp has extended its WhatsApp Web functionality to iOS devices. It previously only supported Android, BlackBerry, and Windows handsets. With WhatsApp Web, users are able to send messages from their desktop browser in addition to their mobile device. Setting it up requires users to scan a QR code from within the WhatsApp application on their handset. They are then able to unlock the browser-based desktop client, where they'll be able to message their WhatsApp contacts. In addition to expanding WhatsApp Web to iOS, WhatsApp also updated its Windows Phone app. The app adds quite a handful of new features. For example, users can mark chats read or unread, as well as set custom notifications, vibrate alerts, and ringtones for individual conversations. Contact Cards are now easier to integrate into WhatsApp's contacts database for quicker replies. The app adds a significant number of new emoji and the ability to adjust the emojis' colors. Last, the app makes it possible to set limits on the app's mobile data usage. WhatsApp is free to download from the Windows Store.
Samsung's Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ offer a few new applications to make connecting to other devices and sharing content easier. The phones include a new feature called HD Live Broadcast, which lets owners stream live video from their Note 5 or S6 Edge+ directly to others or the public YouTube Live. The live YouTube broadcasts can be viewed from any phone, tablet, or PC. Samsung also debuted a connectivity tool called SideSync 4.0. This lets the Note 5 and S6 Edge+ connect wirelessly to PCs for sharing files, responding to text messages, or answering calls. SideSync 4.0 is compatible with Windows 10 and Apple OS X.
Microsoft today made available a new build of the Windows 10 Mobile Technical Preview. Build 10512 is available to fast ring Windows Insiders members first. This build makes a number of stability and performance improvements to the beta OS. Some specific fixes include the ability to set the lock screen image from within the Photos app, as well as improvements to Latvian and Chinese input, the Kids Corner tile layout, and reliability of Data Sense notifications. Microsoft said it modified the shape writing algorithm so it is less aggressive in suggesting contact names over common words, and Microsoft resolved an issue where the camera wouldn't launch when the phone was in a locked state. The build resolves some incoming text message notification problems, and touch screen response issues. While the new build repairs a wide range of bugs, a number of issues remain, warns Microsoft. For example, mobile hotspot and two-factor authentication don't work in this particular build. The Windows 10 Mobile Technical Preview is not meant for most people; it is a test version of the operating system made available to developers and enthusiasts wishing to trial the software ahead of its general release later this year. Windows 10 is expected to arrive this fall.
Microsoft today said its Windows Bridge for iOS application is moving to open source. Windows Bridge is the tool developers need to port iOS apps to the Windows platform. It can be used to create Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 desktops apps for now, but will support the mobile versions of these two operating systems later this year. Microsoft said it wants to rely on the open source community to put Windows Bridge through its paces and contribute code and/or bug fixes as needed. Windows Bridge for iOS is being released as a technical preview and will see a full release in the fall. Microsoft is expected to offer Windows Bridge for Android in the fall as a beta app. Microsoft hopes developers will bring their Android and iOS apps to the Windows Platform, which may help address the app gap.
Nokia today formally announced the sale of its HERE Maps business unit to a consortium of three German auto makers. Audi, BMW, and Daimler have agreed to buy HERE Maps for $3 billion. Nokia has been shopping the business unit since April, soon after it announced plans to acquire Alcatel-Lucent. The three car makers will act as investors in HERE, as well as customers of the mapping business and suppliers of data. Nokia said HERE-branded mobile apps will continue to be available to Android, iOS, and Windows devices. Nokia expects to complete the sale during the first half of 2016. Once finalized, Nokia will have two business units: its telecommunications equipment unit and its technology unit.
An appeals court has sided with Microsoft and upheld a 2013 verdict that says Motorola has to pay Microsoft for refusing to license standard-essential patents at fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory rates. This particular case began in 2010, when Microsoft sued Motorola for failing to pay it patent-licensing fees for technology found in Motorola's Android smartphones. Motorola filed its own lawsuit in return, in which it sought some $4 billion to cover royalties for technology in Microsoft's Xbox and Windows devices. Even though Microsoft sued Motorola, Motorola was still required to license its own patents to Microsoft at fair rates. Two separate courts determined in 2012 and later 2013 that Motorola's $4 billion demand far exceeded what's considered fair and reasonable. Therefore, Motorola violated its agreement with Microsoft and Microsoft was thus awarded $14.5 million in damages for breach of contract. This week's decision, reached by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, verifies that Motorola must pay the damages.
Microsoft today released a new email application called Send. The idea behind Send, developed by Microsoft Garage, is to let people send quick messages to one another while still harnessing the power of corporate email. Send messages strip out headers, subjects and footers, and look and feel more like text messages. Even so, they are backed by companies' Office 365 email servers and can be viewed and/or responded to via Outlook. "These are the sort of quick emails you send to the people you care about at work—your boss, your teammates, and sometimes partners or customers outside your organization. You're usually busy or on the go when you send them, and Send is specifically designed for this get-in get-out scenario," explained Microsoft in a blog post. Microsoft knows co-workers often need to reach one another and don't always have phone numbers on hand. Office 365 integration means the corporate email directory is available to Send users, making everyone easy to reach. Send is available to corporate and education iPhone owners and will soon reach Android and Windows Phone. Microsoft said it hopes to expand Send's availability to more platforms/devices over time.
BlackBerry today said it has agreed to acquire AtHoc for an undisclosed sum. AtHoc provides secure crisis communications for businesses so they can push critical data in real-time during business- or life-threatening events. The AtHoc service can send alerts to any device, including iOS, Android, Windows, and Macs, as well as radios, IP phones, digital displays, and even sirens or speakers. Homeland Security and the Department of Defense are among AtHoc's customers. BlackBerry said it will integrate AtHoc's offering into its own portfolio of enterprise communications services. The deal gives AtHoc global reach to expand its business and helps round out BlackBerry's business offerings. BlackBerry said it expects to complete the deal during its fiscal third quarter.
A consortium of three German automotive makers has agreed to purchase HERE Maps from Nokia for about $2.71 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. Sources familiar with Nokia's plans say Audi, BMW, and Daimler (Mercedes) have fielded a winning bid for the mapping division, which Nokia put up for sale earlier this year. By divesting the business unit, Nokia's chief remaining business will be providing telecommunications equipment to network operators. The car companies will run HERE Maps together, and plan to invite other car marks to invest in a stake if they wish. The three German car makers beat out Uber and private investors, which were also interested in HERE. Nokia bought mapping company Navteq in 2007 and rebranded its product HERE Maps. HERE Maps is a free app available to Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Nokia did not confirm the Journal's story.
Microsoft recently updated its Hyperlapse time-lapse application for Windows Phone and Android devices. The Windows Phone version of Hyperlapse is now compatible with all Lumia handsets. It had previously not worked with older devices running the Qualcomm S4 processor (Lumia 520, 620, 720, 920, 925, and 1020). Microsoft also updated the Android version of Hyperlapse. At launch in May, Hyperlapse for Android was released as a limited, closed beta. It is now available to all Android users for free. Hyperlapse can be used to stabilize shaky footage or to create fast-moving time-lapse videos. The app supports multiple playback speeds (between 1x and 32x) and can import existing video files from the phone's camera roll. Hyperlapse app is available from the Windows Store and the Google Play Store.
H5OS is a new mobile operating system that intends to challenge Google's Android. H5OS was developed by Acadine Technologies, a Hong Kong-based startup founded by former Mozilla President Li Gong. The operating system is based on HTML5, a standardized web programming language that can support light-weight apps. Acadine Technologies was formed in May and has raised $100 million in seed funding from Chinese supporters. Acadine's Gong doesn't expect H5OS to reach the market until 2016, but he believes it can supplant Android in certain device segments. "Our web-based mobile software is lighter and consumes less power and memory compared to Google's Android," said Gong in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "It requires lower hardware specifications to deliver the same user experience so it can bring down the smartphone cost. Another advantage is that H5OS is a truly open mobile ecosystem without default services like Google Maps and Google Search. We can work with any content and service providers, offering more customization options to device makers." Android is the global leader in mobile operating systems and Apple's iOS is a distant second. Windows Phone and BlackBerry hardly register, and other competitors, such as Jolla's Sailfish OS and Canonical's Ubuntu, have struggled to gain any significant traction. Gong believes H5OS can succeed in the ultra-low-cost smartphone and feature phone segments.
Microsoft has indicated that it plans to discontinue a handful of mobile apps across Windows, Android, and iOS devices. The MSN Food & Drink and MSN Travel apps will be shuttered Sept. 28, and the Health & Fitness app will be closed Nov. 1. The content for the apps will still be available from MSN.com. Microsoft said the apps themselves have not attracted enough users to merit their upkeep. The apps will no longer be accessible after the cut-off dates, and Microsoft suggested users take the time to download and backup any personal information they may have stored in the apps. The app closures folllow significant personnel reductions planned for Microsoft's handset business and several key executive departures. Microsoft plans to focus on fewer phones moving forward, and, it appears, fewer apps, as well.
Microsoft has rolled out updates to the Android and iOS Xbox Music apps that adds the ability to stream music stored in OneDrive. The free feature doesn't require a subscription, so people can upload songs to OneDrive and stream them to their Android or iOS device. The feature is already available to Windows Phone. Users will need to pay for an Xbox Music Pass to stream songs they don't own, but any music stored in OneDrive can be downloaded for offline playback. The update doesn't introduce the new Groove Music branding. Xbox Music is free to download from the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store.
Microsoft today announced significant job cuts and plans to restructure its mobile phone business unit. The company will eliminate 7,800 jobs, mostly from its phone business, and streamline its portfolio of smartphones. The company said it will record a charge of about $7.6 billion in assets related to the Nokia Devices and Services acquisition, as well as another $750 million to $850 million in restructuring charges. The company warned as recently as last month that it faced tough choices. It recently cut former Nokia executives and agreed to transfer some engineering employees and assets to Uber. "We are moving from a strategy to grow a standalone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem including our first-party device family," said Nadella in an email to Microsoft employees. "In the near-term, we'll run a more effective and focused phone portfolio while retaining capability for long-term reinvention in mobility. We plan to narrow our focus to three customer segments where we can make unique contributions and where we can differentiate through the combination of our hardware and software. We'll bring business customers the best management, security and productivity experiences they need; value phone buyers the communications services they want; and Windows fans the flagship devices they'll love. In the longer term, Microsoft devices will spark innovation, create new categories and generate opportunity for the Windows ecosystem more broadly. Our reinvention will be centered on creating mobility of experiences across the entire device family including phones." Microsoft said the prospects for its smartphone business are below original expectations. The company expects the bulk of today's actions to be finalized before the end of 2015. The $7.6 billion write-down exceeds the $7.2 billion Microsoft spent to acquire Nokia in 2014.
Microsoft is planning to announce a new round of layoffs as early as today, reports the New York Times. Many of the cuts will target employees in Microsoft's hardware group, such as the smartphone unit it bought from Nokia in 2014. Nokia and Microsoft-branded Windows Phones have struggled to gain traction with consumers. The Times' suggests Microsoft may be forced to write down a loss on the smartphone unit later this month. Other parts of the business will see headcount reductions, as well. As of March, Microsoft had about 118,000 employees globally. Last year, Microsoft said it planned to drop 18,000 employees. These new cuts are in addition to those already announced. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently warned that the company has to "make some tough choices in areas where things are not working and solve hard problems in ways that drive customer value." Former Nokia executives Stephen Elop and Jo Harlow, along with a handful of other executives, were recently shown the door. Microsoft did not confirm the Times' report, which was based on the comments of unnamed sources.
Microsoft today revealed details about the music service for Windows 10, which is now called Groove Music. Groove will be available across XBox and Windows devices, including PCs, tablets, and smartphones. The $10 monthly fee buys ad-free access to 40 million tracks, which can be streamed across platforms. People will also be able to create their own, custom radio stations. Microsoft says Groove will support music libraries uploaded to OneDrive, including tracks purchased via iTunes. The service will also be made available to Android and iOS devices in the near future. Groove Music is expected to launch in the weeks ahead.
Microsoft today replaced its Lync 2013 corporate messaging app with Skype for Business for Windows Phone. The app has a refreshed user interface for messaging, more emoticons, and improved interactions with the server. Microsoft says Skype for Business better manages notifications for conversation threads, and syncs them more consistently across other devices such as PCs and tablets. Users of Lync 2013 on devices running Windows Phone 8.1 will be updated to Skype for Business automatically. Microsoft said hardware running Windows Phone 8.0 and earlier should remain on Lync 2013 or Lync 2010.
Microsoft today released another new build of the Windows 10 Mobile Technical Preview. Build 10149 adds features and resolves several bugs from the previous build. Microsoft released build 10136 earlier this month, but it required users to backtrack to Windows Phone 8.1 first. Microsoft says testers who stayed on build 10080 will be able to update directly to 10149, skipping over build 10136 completely. Windows 10 Mobile Technical Preview 10149 brings new branding to the Microsoft Edge browser, which relocated the address bar to the bottom and added the ability to view web sites in desktop or mobile views. Edge replaces Project Spartan, which was in previous builds. Build 10149 makes improvements to Cortana and the flashlight, as well as general user interface tweaks. Microsoft says the UI should be more responsive. The new build features an updated photos app that adds support for GIFs, and the camera can now be set to automatically upload images to OneDrive. Microsoft fixed a range of bugs impacting call and SMS filtering, text notifications, Podcast performance, and app installs. Microsoft listed a number of known issues still plaguing the preview. The Technical Preview is not meant for general consumers and shouldn't be installed on anyone's daily device. These builds are pre-beta status for the mobile OS, which won't be offered in final form until the fall months.
Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri said the company will tackle the mobile phone industry again once its non-compete clause with Microsoft expires next year. Nokia no longer owns any manufacturing facilities and will not make its own phones. The company did something similar with an Android-based tablet it released in December. "We will look for suitable partners," said Suri in an interview with the German magazine Manager Magazin. "Microsoft makes mobile phones. We would simply design them and then make the brand name available to license." Microsoft bought Nokia's handset business in 2014 for $7.2 billion. Just this week, Microsoft reshuffled its executive deck and removed two former leaders from Nokia, Stephen Elop and Jo Harlow. Neither Elop nor Harlow has said what their next steps will be. Microsoft's Windows Phone platform and Lumia-branded handsets continue to struggle in the market against Apple's iOS and Google's Android. The company is releasing a new mobile operating system, Windows 10 Mobile, this fall. Suri did not say if Nokia will use Android, Windows Phone, or some other platform for its future devices.
Verizon Wireless today announced the Microsoft Lumia 735, a low-cost Windows Phone. The 735 includes a 4.7-inch HD screen, 1.2GHz quad-core processor, and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has a 6.7-megapixel sensor and the user-facing camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. The phone supports memory cards up to 128 GB and includes a 2,220mAh battery. In addition to Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana and the Lumia Denim update, the Lumia 735 offers owners a free year-long subscription to Office 365 as well as 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage. The Lumia costs $192 at full retail or $8 per month for 24 months with a Verizon Edge plan. It is available online today, but won't reach stores until July. Verizon also is offering $100 bill credit to customers who port their number.
Microsoft has confirmed that Jo Harlow, head of the company's mobile phones, will leave alongside device chief Stephen Elop in the weeks ahead. Harlow began at Nokia in 2003 and played a role in Nokia's switch to Windows Phone in 2011. Harlow joined Microsoft when it later acquired Nokia's handset business. Harlow was often seen on stage during device introductions. Microsoft did not say what Harlow intends to do next.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has moved around some of the top executives at the company and some are leaving Microsoft. Among those headed out the door is Stephen Elop, who helmed the company's device business. Elop was the former CEO of Nokia and played a large role in selling Nokia's handset business to Microsoft. Terry Myerson will assume many of Elop's responsibilities and now leads the Windows and Devices Group, which includes Lumia, Xbox, and Surface, as well as Microsoft's core Windows products. Other departures include Mark Penn, Eric Rudder, and Krill Tatarinov. Exec Scott Guthrie is picking up some responsibilities, include Microsoft's Dynamics business. Guthrie already runs Microsoft's cloud business, including OneDrive. Executive Vice President Qi Lu will continue to lead the Applications and Services Group, which is focused on reinventing productivity services for digital work. "We are aligning our engineering efforts and capabilities to deliver on our strategy and, in particular, our three core ambitions," said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. "This change will enable us to deliver better products and services that our customers love at a more rapid pace." Microsoft's fiscal year ends June 30.
AT&T today said it will begin selling the Microsoft Lumia 640 XL on June 26. The phone runs Windows Phone 8.1 with the Denim update and includes Cortana. It has a 5.7-inch HD screen, 13-megapixel camera, 3,000mAh battery, and a Snapdragon 400 processor. The 640 XL costs $8.34 per month with 30 device payments on Next 24, $10.42 per month at 24 payments on Next 18, or $12.50 per month at 20 payments on Next 12.
T-Mobile has made the Lumia 640 smartphone available via its web site for $130. Customers can pay full price or $5.41 per month for 24 months. This inexpensive Windows Phone has a 5-inch screen, 8-megapixel camera, and LTE.
Microsoft today made available a new build of its Windows 10 Mobile Technical Preview. To start, the new build requires users to downgrade from the previous technical preview (10080) to Windows Phone 8.1 due to a bug. People not interested in downgrading for the new build (10136) can choose to wait for the next build of the technical preview. The new build includes a large number of improvements to the fit and finish of the operating system, especially with respect to the user interface. Microsoft says the newest build of Cortana is very close to the final version. Microsoft also made changes to the camera and photos apps, as well as one-handed use. Microsoft says devices with screens larger than 5 inches should offer more configurable control options to improve usability. Microsoft said it resolved a number of bugs compared to the previous build, but a handful of issues still remain. The final build of Windows 10 Mobile is not expected until the fall months.
Opera today said its Opera Mini web browser is now available as a stable release for Windows Phone. The browser had been available as a beta for several months. Opera listened to user feedback in order to prepare today's full release. The browser lets users gauge how much mobile data they are conserving in daily, weekly, and monthly views. The download manager provides more granular control over when and where the browser downloads files. Opera made it quicker to reach the Speed Dial and bookmark functions, as well. Opera Mini for Windows Phone is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.
Instagram has redesigned its mobile and desktop web sites, placing a greater emphasis on the photos. Images are now much larger on the site, which will display users' image feed when they sign in with their account. The design does away with the out-dated motifs of the outgoing site and has a more modern, minimalist appearance. People can scan for hashtags as well as perform searches. Instagram is owned by Facebook and has mobile photo-sharing apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.
Facebook has updated its Graph API and the change will impact the Facebook Connect feature on Windows Phone handsets. The Facebook Graph API is what lets Microsoft connect users' Facebook accounts to their Microsoft accounts for the purposes of populating the People app with current contact data and newsfeed updates. The changed API breaks functionality most dramatically with handsets running Windows Phone 8.0 and earlier. This means the People app and others (photo gallery, movie maker, and OneDrive) will no longer be updated with content from Facebook. The change doesn't have such a large impact on devices running Windows Phone 8.1, but the People app will still cease updating Facebook content on WP8.1 handsets. Microsoft said the Facebook application for Window Phone will continue to function properly.
Facebook today altered the way it handles location sharing within Messenger. Previously, Messenger allowed users to set their location-sharing status to on or off. Now, it provides more granular controls. Users can choose to share their location directly with message recipients through new, and more specific tools. For example, people can search for basic locations, such as cafes or restaurants, and send those coordinates to recipients. Alternately, users can send maps of their exact location to others. Facebook says users now have "full control" over when and how they share their location information. Location details can be sent as a separate message even if the sender has not yet arrived at the indicated spot. Facebook says Messenger will not see users' location data unless it is actively shared, and the app will not suss out users' location in the background. Messenger is free to download for Android, iOS, and Windows devices.
Nokia today updated its HERE Maps products for the Android, iOS, and Windows Phone platforms simultaneously. Nokia says there are "millions of changes" to the maps, but calls out a few specifics. To start, several countries in Africa have much more accurate road maps and can now support navigation between points. In the U.S. and other regions, Nokia has worked to more accurately depict where train and subway lines run. HERE Maps no longer simply connects the stations with straight lines; instead, transit lines are shown exactly as they run along the ground. Nokia said it also improved its business-grade maps product for corporate customers. Nokia said customers should update the main map app, as well as any countries they may have downloaded for offline access. Nokia HERE Maps is free to download from the Google Play Store, iTunes App Store, and Windows Phone Store.
Microsoft today announced that Windows 10 will be available as a free download to PCs and tablets on July 29. Most hardware running Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 should be able to upgrade to the new operating system. Microsoft recommends people reserve a copy online. Microsoft did not provide an update concerning the availability of Windows 10 Mobile. Earlier this year, Microsoft indicated the smartphone version of Windows 10 would not arrive until after the desktop version. Windows 10 Mobile is expected to arrive in the fall months, though Microsoft has not specified exactly when. Windows 10 for desktops, tablets, and phones share many features and apps. A technical preview of Windows 10 Mobile is available for testing purposes, but it is far from its final form.
Microsoft said it plans to more effectively enforce rules in the Windows Store in order to rid it of duplicate and questionable apps. The company will focus on four main areas: eliminating app clutter; ensuring apps are appropriately priced; distinguishing informational apps; and ensuring relevant app titles and keywords. Microsoft plans to strip away app clones that don't offered differentiated features, such as the myriad flashlight apps in the store. Microsoft will be checking to be sure developers price their apps in line with similar apps, and will also make sure developers describe them appropriately so people know what they're getting. Microsoft also wants informational apps to be more differentiated from functional apps so users know when they're buying a game and not a game guide, for example. Microsoft believes these enforcements will improve the Windows Store for both developers and consumers.
Microsoft today said Android and iOS users will soon be able to use Cortana, its virtual assistant, on their smartphones. The Android and iOS Cortana app will work in coordination with Cortana on Windows 10 PCs, according to Microsoft. A Phone Companion app for Windows 10 PCs will help Android and iOS device owners install Cortana on their handset so they can access Microsoft's virtual assistant wherever they go. The Android and iOS version of Cortana will include most features available to the Windows 10 and Windows Phone versions, such as setting reminders, alerts, and alarms; tracking flights and managing travel details; and accessing Cortana's Notebook function for search preferences. Changes made in one version of Cortana will be reflected across all devices. Microsoft said the Phone Companion app will function with Windows Phone handsets, too, to help sync Cortana functions across devices. In order to test Cortana on Android and iOS smartphones, users will need to enroll in Microsoft's Windows Insider program and install the Windows 10 Technical Preview for PCs. Microsoft said the Cortana Companion App will be available for Android phones at the end of June and for iPhones later this year. Microsoft also mentioned that the updated Xbox Music app for Android and iPhone will be available in late June or July with the beta label in tow to stream OneDrive music content. Google's own personal assistant, Google Now, is available for Android and iOS devices, but not Windows Phone. Apple's Siri is only available to iOS.
Spotify today introduced new features to its streaming music service on the desktop and on mobile devices. The biggest change involves how people discover music and create playlists. A feature called Spotify Now purports to know what listeners want to hear at different times of the day and can automatically generate playlists for different activities, such as commuting, working, and relaxing. The service is also adding video content, which will come from a variety of sources, such as Comedy Central, Vice, ESPN, NBC, Adult Swim, TED, and others. Much of the video content will focus on music and will be short-form clips rather than long shows or episodes. The company is also targeting runners with new music controls that make it easier to select and control playlists while exercising. Spotify is placing an emphasis on discovering the songs that match tempo to the runner's pace. Spotify uses on-device sensors to determine pace and can do so very quickly. The company thinks this can help runners improve their workouts. Spotify has apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. The new apps will reach consumers in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and Sweden today, with other regions following over time.
MixRadio today made its customized radio service available to Android and iOS devices for the first time. Microsoft acquired MixRadio when it purchased Nokia's handset business, but later divested it to a messaging company called Line. Due to its relationship with Nokia and Microsoft, MixRadio has been exclusive to Windows Phones until today. The new Android and iOS apps, which are available from the Play Store and iTunes, include thousands of free, curated radio stations similar to how Pandora operates. The service lets users create and listen to personalized radio stations, and can be cached on devices for offline playback. The app is supported by ads, but MixRadio may launch an ad-free version later this year. It is available in 31 countries, including the U.S. In addition to announcing the new apps, MixRadio said it has partnered with HTC to provide music-related news stories for HTC's BlinkFeed application.
Microsoft said it plans to take a more active role in making sure the existing base of Windows 10 smartphones has the latest code. The company is taking a page from Apple and will not rely on carriers to deliver operating system updates. Microsoft said, "We take our responsibility to keep Windows secure seriously. We [will] proactively update supported devices with necessary updates to address issues. And today, we're announcing this continuous update process applies to all Windows 10 devices, including phones." Microsoft confirmed to ZDNet that it will deliver security, performance, and feature updates to Windows 10 Mobile handsets itself, and the code will be pushed to all users simultaneously. The statement appears to apply to handsets that ship with Windows 10 Mobile, and not older devices. With Windows 8.1 and earlier, Microsoft relied on its carrier partners to approve and distribute system updates and it will continue to do so. As ZDNet points out, however, consumers with older handsets can join the Windows Insider program to maintain early access to new OS versions. Apple uses this same master distribution method for keeping its iOS devices up to date. Google still relies on its handset and carrier partners to update their individual devices to newer versions of Android.
Microsoft today released build 10080 of the Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones. The updated operating system adds a number of features and resolves a wide number of known bugs. To start, the new technical preview introduces the Windows Store beta for phones. Users will be able to browse through the new content store for apps. Thanks to the store's presence in the build, Windows Phone previewers can now download the universal app versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, and Xbox. The operating system includes the music preview and video preview apps, too, which will let testers look at how Windows 10 Mobile will handle media playback. Microsoft also added the new camera app. Microsoft recommends users read through the "known issues" bullet points before installing the operating system preview on their phone. The technical preview is in pre-beta status and not meant to be used as a daily driver.
Microsoft today released an application for Windows Phone and Android handsets called Hyperlapse. The app can be used to stabilize shaky footage or to create fast-moving time-lapse videos. The app supports multiple playback speeds (between 1x and 32x) and can import existing video files from the phone's camera roll. Microsoft says the user interface takes only a few moments to master. The app is available to Windows Phones from the Windows Store, though the Android version is officially being labeled a beta. Microsoft also made Hyperlapse available to Windows PCs. There are a number of competing time-lapse apps in the market, including one from Instagram called Hyperlapse. Instagram's app is limited to the iPhone. Microsoft's Hyperlapse app is free.
Verizon Wireless today announced the LG Lancet, the first Windows Phone handset to support Verizon's Advanced Calling 1.0 service. Lancet owners will be able to make high-definition voice calls via Verizon's LTE network. The phone runs Windows 8.1, but carries over some features from LG's Android handsets, such as KnockOn for waking the phone and Quick Memo for capturing screen shots. The Lancet features a 4.5-inch screen, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 8-megapixel main camera, 8 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 128 GB. The Lancet is a budget-friendly phone. The full retail price is $120, though Verizon is offering the phone for $5 per month with a Verizon Edge plan. The LG Lancet is available online starting today, and it will reach Verizon stores May 21.
Cricket Wireless today said the Lumia 640, which goes on sale May 15, will cost $129.99. Early buyers of the phone will be rewarded with a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal for use on the phone as well as on a tablet and on a PC. The phone also offers 1TB of OneDrive storage for a period of one year, and 60 minutes of free Skype Unlimited Worldwide calling each month. The phone has a 5-inch HD screen, 8-megapixel camera, LTE, Bluetooth, WiFi, and GPS. The Lumia 640 will ship with Windows 8.1, but can be upgraded to Windows 10 Mobile later this year. Cricket does not require contracts.