Facebook has made a version of its Messenger application available to devices running Microsoft's Windows Phone. The app, which is free to download from the Windows Phone Store, brings conversations to life in a way the stock Windows Phone messaging app cannot. Facebook Messenger runs independently from Facebook. It lets users send stickers and photos, create and manage group conversations, share location data, and see read receipts. The app includes presence, which shows people who's available to chat via mobile or desktop, as well as adjustable notifications, and persistent log-in to prevent missed messages. Facebook Messenger is for devices running Windows Phone 8 and up.
Microsoft today made its OneDrive cloud storage service available to BlackBerry 10 devices. The app, which is free to download from the BlackBerry World store, provides users with 7GB of free online storage. Customers can choose to pay for more storage if they wish. The service, which was recently rebranded from SkyDrive, is already available to Android, iOS, and Windows Phone devices.
Julie Larson-Green, who has led Microsoft's Devices and Studios unit since last year, is moving to a new position as Chief Experience Officer of Microsoft's Applications and Services group. There she will manage the look and feel of key Microsoft apps and services as exsperienced on Microsoft devices. The move is being made, in part, because Microsoft is set to close its acquisition of Nokia's handset business. Once the deal closes, former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop will be put in charge of Microsoft's Devices and Studios unit, which includes Windows Phone hardware, in addition to XBox, Microsoft Surface, and game development. Elop was a Microsoft executive before being hired by Nokia to turn the company's mobile phone business around. Elop was responsible for ditching Nokia's Symbian platform in favor of Microsoft's Windows Phone platform.
The rumors seemed surreal: an Android phone from Nokia?! Well it's real, and it's part of Nokia's aggressive strategy at the lower end of the market. With a unique blend of slick Lumia design, Android software, Microsoft services, Asha features, and a very low price, Nokia has created something that feels altogether new. Read on for our first hands-on impressions.
Nokia today announced the Nokia X, Nokia X+, and Nokia XL, its first phones to run the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) platform. The phones run standard Android apps, available through a new Nokia Store, or side-loaded. The phones offer Microsoft services - such as Outlook, Skype, HERE Maps, and OneDrive - instead of Google services. The interface is a blend of Lumia and Asha, including re-sizeable live tiles like Windows Phone, plus FastLane from Asha. The Nokia store supports carrier billing and in-app purchases. Facebook is pre-loaded. The X and X+ include a 4-inch display. The X+ adds a memory card slot. The XL steps up to a 5-inch display and a 2-megapixel front camera. The Nokia X will sell for 89 Euros. The X+ will sell for 99 Euros, in Q2. The XL is coming in early Q2 for 109 Euros. Nokia will sell the X family globally, starting in "growth markets." Nokia also re-affirmed its commitment to Lumia and Windows Phone. The company expects to price all X family phones lower than its Lumia phones. It will also continue offering Asha touch phones, at even lower price points, such as the new Asha 230, which will sell for only 45 Euros.
Microsoft today announced a handful of features of the next version of Windows Phone. The slate of changes announced center on supporting cheaper hardware and developing markets. The new software will support Qualcomm's newer low-end Snapdragon 200 and 400 chipsets. It will also reduce memory requirements and allow apps loaded on removable memory cards. Microsoft will also remove the requirement for three hardware buttons below the screen and a dedicated camera button. This is designed to allow manufacturers to re-use hardware designed for Android phones. Microsoft will also expand its driver support for common hardware parts used in Android phones, further making it easier for manufacturers to offer a phone in both Android and Windows Phone versions. Microsoft will also support dual-SIM phones in the new version. The company is expected to fully reveal the new Windows Phone OS at its upcoming Build conference.
Microsoft today announced Facebook Messenger app for Windows Phone. The app - previously only available for other OSes - is in final testing and will be available "soon."
Microsoft today launched OneDrive, a renamed and improved version of its SkyDrive cloud storage service. OneDrive is available to most devices, including Windows Phone handsets, Windows machines, and Android and iOS phones and tablets. OneDrive offers 7GB of storage for free, and allows users to score more storage by recommending friends to the service. Microsoft is releasing new versions of the OneDrive app today, and the Android variant gains automatic photo backups. Microsoft said people who use the automatic camera backup feature will earn an additional 3GB of storage. Microsoft also offers higher storage increments to those who need more than 7GB for small monthly payments. OneDrive is free to download from the Windows Phone Store, Google Play Store, and iTunes App Store.
Microsoft today released new versions of Bing News, Bing Finance, Bing Weather, and Bing Sports for Windows Phone, as well as three new Bing apps. The new apps include Bing Food & Drink, Bing Health & Fitness, and Bing Travel. Bing Food & Drink caters to cooking enthusiasts and ties in content from Epicurious, Bon Appetit, and other recipe sites. It also helps people create shopping lists based on recipes. Bing Health & Fitness offers nutrition, fitness, and medical information, including workouts and a diet tracker, cardio tracker, and GPS tracker. Bing Travel makes it easier to plan and manage trips with destination guides, photos, and more. The app also lets people book travel, including flights, from within the app. Bing Finance has been updated with an investment tracker. Bing News was updated with new sources, including the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Bing Sports was updated with live event coverage for NBA, NFL, and all major soccer leagues. All the Bing apps are free to download from the Windows Phone Store and seamlessly sync across devices with their tablet and desktop counterparts.
Nokia today said that it expects Microsoft to finalize its acquisition of Nokia's handset business by March 31. The company issued a statement regarding some tax difficulties it is facing in India that could complicate the sale. Nokia said the issues won't delay the deal, which it looks forward to closing in the weeks ahead. Microsoft and Nokia had previously suggested the deal would close by the end of the first quarter, so it is running on schedule. Microsoft first proposed to buy Nokia's handset business in September last year. The deal is valued at $7.2 billion.
Nokia plans to announce a smartphone later this month running Google's Android operating system, rather than Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. The device, reports The Wall Street Journal, was already under development when Microsoft made its bid to buy Nokia's handset business, a transaction that has yet to close. Nokia's Android phone is meant to target emerging markets and will run a modified version of Android that will not feature the Google Play Store. Instead, the phone will come with Nokia's own application store and apps, such as HERE Maps, and Mix Radio. The device is expected to make an appearance at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, according to the Journal's unnamed sources. Nokia did not confirm the Journal's report.
Microsoft today announced the appointment of Satya Nadella as chief executive officer of the company. Nadella replaces Steve Ballmer, who will remain on the board of directors. Nadella has been with Microsoft for 22 years and held various roles during his tenure. "Microsoft is one of those rare companies to have truly revolutionized the world through technology, and I couldn’t be more honored to have been chosen to lead the company," Nadella said. "The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must focus clearly, move faster and continue to transform. A big part of my job is to accelerate our ability to bring innovative products to our customers more quickly." Microsoft also announced that Bill Gates, previously chairman of the board of directors, will take on a new role as Founder and Technology Advisor. He will devote more time to the company and assist Nadella in shaping future products. Nadella is CEO effective immediately.
Microsoft today announced that it plans to rebrand its SkyDrive cloud-storage product. The new name will be OneDrive. Microsoft said SkyDrive users will see no change to their service other than the name itself. "We believe the new OneDrive name conveys the value we can deliver for you and best represents our vision for the future," said Microsoft in a blog post. The official launch of OneDrive was not disclosed, but a sign-up page is now live for those interested in more information.
Rockstar, a patent consortium jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson, and Sony, has dropped its patent infringement lawsuit against Huawei. The suit was originally filed last year, and included co-defendents Google, Samsung, and HTC. Rockstar believes the companies are violating its patents. Neither Rockstar nor Huawei indicated why the suit was dropped, nor whether or not Huawei signed a licensing agreement with Rocktar. The lawsuit still stands against the other companies. Google, in particular, is accused of infringing on seven different patents that pertain to internet search terms and advertising. Rockstar is seeking damages from Google, which it says is violating the patents willfully. Rockstar is a group of companies that together purchased thousands of patents from bankrupt Nortel. The firms spent a total of $4.5 billion on the patents.
Microsoft has updated both the Android and iOS versions of its XBox Music application. The updates provide both apps with the ability to cache music locally for offline playback. The Android version also makes it easier to playback your entire music collection and to playback entire genres. The XBox Music app itself is free to download, but the service can incur a monthly fee.
Microsoft today pushed out a small update to its Bing Translator application for Windows Phone devices. The most significant aspect of the update is improved speed and accuracy with spoken voice translation. Microsoft also adjusted the UI of the offline language packs. Bing Translator for Windows Phone is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.
Google has filed a patent lawsuit against Rockstar, the company formed by Apple, Microsoft, and BlackBerry to manage major communications patents bought from Nortel. Google accuses Rockstar of being a patent troll targeting the whole mobile industry. Google is asking the court to specifically declare that its Nexus devices do not infringe, which could set precedent in favor of all manufacturers of Android devices. Rockstar has made patent claims against most major Android players, including Samsung, LG, Huawei, ZTE, HTC, Pantech, and Asus. Rockstar bought the patents in 2012 for $4.5 billion, with $2.5 billion contributed by Apple.
Microsoft today made available a revised version of Facebook for Windows Phone. The updated social networking app makes improvements to notifications, which are now pushed more regularly to the Live Tile. Facebook also added secondary Live Tiles, which let users pin specific events, groups, pages, or photo albums to the Start Screen. These secondary Live Tiles each support notifications for their respective function, separate from the main Live Tile. Facebook for Windows Phone now supports 50 languages, as well as stickers, and emoticons within messaging. Last, the app gains some reliability and performance tweaks. Facebook for Windows Phone is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.
Microsoft today made available separate applications for its Xbox Music service and Xbox Video service. The Xbox Music app for Windows Phone 8 requires an Xbox Music Pass, but lets device owners explore, stream, and download millions of songs. The Xbox Video app for WP8 is brand new and lets device owners rent and buy movies and televisions shows. New TV shows are available after they air. It supports WP8, as well as Microsoft's PCs, tablets, and Xbox One and Xbox 360 gaming consoles. The app offers ratings and reviews, lets users resume playback where they left off, and shows trailers. The Xbox Music and Xbox Video apps themselves are free to download from the Windows Phone Store.
Eight U.S. tech companies have sent a joint letter to President Obama and Congress asking for changes in the way governments collect personal data through the web. Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo, and AOL all believe that the bulk collection methods used today have gone too far. Referencing details that were exposed by Edward Snowden earlier this year, the companies said, "This summer's revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual–rights that are enshrined in our Constitution." The companies want governments to target individuals rather than everyone, and suggest that consumers and businesses alike will not use technology they don't trust. "Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it," said Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft. Microsoft recently said that it would increase the encryption it uses in an attempt to prevent government snooping. In the letter, the companies suggest five principles of reform, including the use of an independent way to oversee national security and more freedom to offer details about government record requests publicly.
The European Commission today approved Microsoft's proposed purchase of Nokia's handset business. After assessing any overlap between the two companies' businesses, as well as how the merger might affect each companies' existing business relationships, the EU believes the merged entity won't be a threat to competition or choice in the industry. Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Nokia recently garnered approval from U.S. regulators.
The U.S Federal Trade Commission today approved Microsoft's proposed $7.2 billion purchase of Nokia's handset business. Microsoft first announced the plan in early September. With the U.S. government on board, Microsoft is one step closer to absorbing Nokia's phone-making capabilities. Nokia's shareholders have already approved the deal. Nokia switched to Microsoft's Windows Phone platform in 2011 and has since become the world's foremost supplier of Windows Phone handsets. Nokia will continue to run its networking business and will retain rights to the Nokia brand.
Twitter recently made a new version of its Windows Phone app available to smartphones running Microsoft's operating system. The app adds several new features, including notifications when there are new tweets from favorited accounts. The app also makes it possible to delete individual direct messages and makes various other bug fixes and performance improvements. Twitter for Windows Phone is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.
Microsoft today made an updated version of its SkyDrive application available for iOS devices. SkyDrive, which is Microsoft's cloud-based storage service, now lets iOS device owners automatically backup their photos and videos. The new SkyDrive makes improvements to how Office Mobile and OneNote perform on the iPhone, and added the ability to edit Office docs. The app also adopts the iOS 7 design language and fixes bugs. SkyDrive is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Microsoft filed a lawsuit against Acacia Research this week over a broken contract pertaining to smartphone patents. Microsoft signed an agreement with an Acacia subsidiary in 2010 to license some of its mobile device patents. Last month, other Acacia subsidiaries sued Microsoft for violating about a dozen mobile device patents. Microsoft's lawsuit is a response to the first. Acacia and its subsidiaries are owned by Access, which is based in Japan.
Nokia's shareholders today approved Microsoft's proposed acquisition of the company's handset business, according to the Financial Times. About 80% of Nokia's shareholders sided with management in favoring the deal, which will see Nokia's phone-making unit sold to Microsoft for $7.2 billion. Microsoft believes the deal will strengthen the footing of its Windows Phone platform. Nokia's Lumia-branded smartphones represent the lion's share of Windows Phones sold throughout the world. Nokia will still hold onto its networking business. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is expected to run the new hardware division from Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond. The deal still needs to meet regulatory approval.
Microsoft today announced a new application for Windows Phone 8 devices called Office Remote. The app lets any WP8 device control a PowerPoint, Word, or Excel presentation. The app requires a Bluetooth-enabled computer with Office 2013 and a desktop plug-in. With all the components together, WP8 device owners will be able use their smartphone to advance slides, view thumbnails, jump between slides, access speaker cues, and more. Office Remote for Windows Phone 8 is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.
Microsoft today announced that developers will be able to add support for Facebook Login to Windows and Windows Phone 8 applications. Apps that use Facebook Login allow device owners to sign in using their existing Facebook credentials rather than force them to create a separate account for that particular app. This often increases consumer engagement with apps, as it removes a roadblock for some users who might seek to minimize the number of accounts they own across the web. Developers will also be able to tap into the Facebook social graph to improve the performance of their applications, and their relevancy to end users. The feature is being rolled out in Facebook beta 5.2 and Microsoft provides detailed instructions for developers on how to add Facebook Login to their apps.
Vine today launched its first application for Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. Vine, which is owned by Twitter, lets users record six seconds of video that can then be shared through various social networks online. Vine first launched in December 2012 for the iPhone and earlier this year for Android. Today marks the first time it is officially available for devices running Windows Phone 8. Unique to Windows Phone, Vine users can pin their favorite Vine accounts to the WP8 home screen. Vine is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.
AT&T today began accepting orders for the Nokia Lumia 1520. According to AT&T, the device will ship to those who preorder it on November 19. It will reach AT&T retail stores November 22. Earlier this week, Microsoft said the release date would be November 15. AT&T is charging $199.99 for the 1520 when purchased with a new contract. The 1520, which has a 6-inch full HD display and 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, runs Windows Phone 8.1 and features a 20-megapixel PureView camera. AT&T is offering a $20 gift card to the Windows Phone Store, which can be used to purchase apps and games. AT&T is also offering 50GB of storage in its cloud-based AT&T Locker service.
Microsoft today announced that it is combining the registration processes for its Windows and Windows Phone developer programs. Any developer that has registered for either the Windows or Windows Phone developer programs will automatically be enrolled in the other. Further, it now costs less to join Microsoft's Windows/Windows Phone developer organization. Despite the unified registration process, developers will continue to use the separate Windows Store and Windows Phone Dev Center Dashboards to submit and manage their applications. Microsoft is offering some incentives, such as cash prizes, for developers who submit apps for both Windows and Windows Phone. Developers can learn more by visiting Microsoft's developer support site.
Microsoft is now accepting preorders for the Nokia Lumia 1520 smartphone. The 1520, which has a 6-inch full HD display and 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, costs $199.99 when purchased with an AT&T contract or $549.99 without a contract. Orders placed through Microsoft's online store will ship November 15. It comes in black, white, red, or yellow. AT&T itself has yet to announce release details for the 1520.
Nokia today said that Samsung has agreed to license some of its phone-related patents for another five years. Samsung will begin to make royalty payments to Nokia beginning in 2014. Nokia didn't say which patents are being licensed by Samsung. Patent licensing has become a contentious issue over the last few years as mobile device makers seek to drive profits from their patents and the resulting products. Many companies resort to filing lawsuits to force settlements. Nokia is in the process of selling its handset division to Microsoft, but it will retain ownership of its patents.
Rockstar, a patent consortium jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson, and Sony, has filed patent infringement lawsuits against Google, Samsung, Huawei, and HTC. Rockstar alleges that the companies are violating its patents. Google, in particular, stands accused of infringing on seven different patents that pertain to internet search terms and advertising. Specific details about Samsung, HTC, and Huawei's infringements weren't immediately specified. Rockstar is seeking damages from Google, which it says is violating the patents willfully. Rockstar is a group of companies that together purchased thousands of patents from bankrupt Nortel. The firms spent a total of $4.5 billion on the patents. Google and others attempted to buy the same patents won by Rockstar. "Despite losing in its attempt to acquire the patents-in-suit at auction, Google has infringed and continues to infringe," read a portion of the lawsuit.
Microsoft has requested that European antitrust regulators approve its proposed acquisition of Finland's Nokia. Microsoft announced its intent to purchase Nokia's handset business for $7.5 billion last month. The European Commission said that it will device no later than December 4 on whether or not it will approve the deal. The deal needs to be approved by U.S. regulators, as well. Nokia is the world's largest purveyor of Windows Phones, Microsoft's smartphone operating system.
Nokia today announced its first modern tablet, the Lumia 2520. The 2520 runs Microsoft's Windows RT 8.1, rather than Windows Phone, though many apps are compatible with both platforms. The device features a 10.1-inch full HD display with Gorilla Glass 2, an 8,000mAh battery, stereo front-facing speakers, and Microsoft Office/Outlook. The 2520 shares most other specs with the Lumia 1520, including the same 2.2Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and connectivity options (including LTE). The Lumia 2520 has a 6.7-megapixel main camera with Zeiss optics and a 2-megapixel, wide-angle user-facing camera. The Lumia 2520 will reach the U.S. during the fourth quarter and will cost $499.
Microsoft today announced Windows Phone 8 Update 3, a revised version of its smartphone platform that adds a handful of new features. Chief among the new capabilities is support for 1080p HD screens and quad-core processors, such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800. Support for bigger screens means Windows Phone displays will be able to fit six apps across the Start screen instead of just four. It also puts Windows Phone on an even playing field with Android devices, which already support 1080p screens. Support for quad-core processors means Windows Phones can offer even more performance. WP8 Update 3 adds a new Driving Mode, which can be used to limit incoming notifications when the phone senses that it is in motion. The update also improves internet sharing with Windows 8.1 devices; adds customizable ringtones; adds screen rotation lock; adds better storage management tools; adds the ability to close apps from the App Switcher; and improves Bluetooth functionality thanks to tweaked connection quality with accessories. The update will begin rolling out to Windows Phones in the weeks ahead, though timing will depend heavily on the device and carrier in question.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought against Google by consumers who claim the company violated privacy laws. In February 2012, researchers found that Google had bypassed the privacy settings of Apple's Safari browser and Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser in order to install cookies on PCs and smartphones. Consumers sued, saying that despite taking steps to prevent cookies from being installed on their machines, Google did so anyway and served them targeted ads. The judge overseeing the case said it was clear that Google circumvented the privacy settings of Safari and IE, but that the plaintiffs were unable to prove they had been harmed. Google was fined $22.5 million by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission last year for its transgression.
Microsoft today provided Android device owners with a new version of its Outlook.com email application. The app is rife with new features, including the ability search not only on the device, but Microsoft's email servers for older messages. Users can now download all their Outlook.com email to their Android phone if they want, and the app throws in support for multiple aliases. The app now includes vacation responders, and introduces several new colors. Outlook.com is free to download from the Google Play Store.
AT&T will begin offering the GDR2 and Amber system software updates to the Nokia Lumia 820 and 920 later today. The company posted information about the update in its community forums and an AT&T spokesperson confirmed the details with Phone Scoop via email. The GDR2 update, which comes from Microsoft, improves XBox Music and how the devices manage storage. The Amber update comes from Nokia and adds features including an FM radio, flip-to-silence, Nokia Smart Camera, and call/SMS blocking. According to AT&T, Lumia device owners will be notified by their handsets when the update is ready. It can be downloaded and installed over Wi-Fi.