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.
Microsoft: Windows 10 Mobile Users Should Switch by End of Year
Microsoft will end support for its Windows 10 Mobile smartphone OS on December 10 2019, and is encouraging people still using Windows 10 Mobile phones to switch to Android or iOS phones. Microsoft is now focusing on those platforms and offers a suite of its own apps for both platforms. After December 10th, Microsoft will no longer offer free security updates for any version of Windows Mobile, making the continued use of Windows phones a security risk. The cutoff for the Lumia 640 and 640 XL phones is sooner: June 11th. "After the end of support, automatic or manual creation of new device backups for settings and some applications will continue for 3 months, ending March 10, 2020. Some services including photo uploads and restoring a device from an existing device backup may continue to work for up to another 12 months from end of support."
Samsung Shows Off Its Flexible Display Concept
Samsung today showed its folding display technology for the first time. The company had been hinting for several months that it would debut a folding phone. The Infinity Flex Display is what Samsung calls the future of smartphone screens. Samsung used new materials to design the display from scratch. Samsung says the Infinity Flex Display can be unfolded and folded hundreds of thousands of times without degradation. The company created a new adhesive, reduced the thickness of the polarizer by creating a new, thinner material, and made changes to the OLED panel itself to ensure flexibility. The cover display is a fully functioning touchscreen of unspecified size. For a bigger screen experience, users can unfold it to reveal the full 7.3-inch display. Together with One UI, the foldable display relies on continuity so the app on the cover display ports to the inner display fort seamless transitions. It can support up to three apps running in multitasking mode. This is called Multi-Active Windows. Samsung said it should be able to start mass production of the Infinity Flex Display in the coming months.
FCC Sets Limits On State and Local Govs for 5G Site Approvals
The FCC is stripping power away from state and local governments in order to facilitate the installment of 5G infrastructure. This week the agency moved forward on an earlier proposal that sets limits on fees municipalities can charge for cell site applications, as well as the timeframe in which those applications need to be approved. Carriers must apply locally within towns, cities, and states to install new cell sites. Local governments can impede progress by denying permission to put up new sites for any number of reasons, as well as charge fees. Since 5G requires more cells in more locations, the FCC believes the process needs to change. To start, the FCC is setting limits on the fees that can be charged by municipalities for applications, processing the applications, and adjusting the right-of-way around such sites. The FCC is mandating that local governments charge no more than is reasonable. The FCC has also shortened the shot clocks afforded to local governments to weigh such applications. For example, new equipment that is to be added to existing cell sites will have a 60-day shot clock, and entirely new cell sites will have a 90-day shot clock. Local governments that charge onerous fees or sit on applications past the new 60- and 90-day windows will be presumed to be denying the applications and will need to have legitimate reasons prepared. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are all in various stages of building their 5G networks. This step by the FCC helps these companies at the expense of local governmental control. Earlier this year, the FCC made similar changes at the federal level.
Google Overhauls Chrome for the Browser's 10th Birthday
Google today announced sweeping changes headed to its Chrome browser for desktop machines, as well as Android and iOS devices. First, the browser will have a brand new look thanks to a fresh color palette and rounded corners. For example, Google changed the shape of tabs so web site icons are easier to spot. On mobile, Chrome moved the toolbar to the bottom of the screen for iOS where it is easier to reach. The mobile version of Chrome also enjoys simplified prompts, menus, and URLs in the address bar. Chrome bakes in better support for passwords, addresses, and credit card numbers to speed up the process of filling out online forms. This info is saved to each user's account and can be accessed from other devices when signed in. Google has taken care to improve the way Chrome handles passwords. For example, Chrome can auto-generate password suggestions and will then save it for successive logins across devices. Google updated the Omnibox to show answers directly in the address bar without opening a new tab. The Omnibox also lets people search for a web site and, if it's already open on their device, jump straight to it. This same feature will also soon search through Google Drive files. Google says Chrome is easier to customize. Users can create and manage shortcuts via the new tab page, which can feature a customized background. Chrome is available to iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows devices.
Microsoft Asks Developers to Sunset their Windows Phone 8 Apps
Microsoft today said that it will soon cease accepting new apps for Windows Phone 8.x or 8/8.1. Microsoft will stop taking in new Windows Phone 8.x and 8/8.1 apps on October 31 of this year. Microsoft will stop pushing updates to apps for Windows Phone 8.x starting July 1, 2019, and will stop pushing updates to apps for Windows Phone 8/8.1 on July 1, 2023. Microsoft asks developers to consider updating to the Windows 10 platform. "We encourage you to explore how you can port your existing app to the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) where you can create a single Windows 10 app package that your customers can install onto all device families." Windows Phone 8 has been discontinued for some time. Microsoft has also stopped making new Windows Mobile 10 phones. Some of these devices remain in use, however, and are still receiving support from Microsoft.
Facebook, Google, Microsoft to Make It Easier to Port Data Between Services
Facebook and partners today announced the Data Transfer Project, an initiate with the goal of giving people more control over their data. The companies are working together to create an open source method that people can use to easily transfer their data from one service to another. For example, the tool would make it possible for a Google Photos uses to swap their image library to Microsoft OneDrive and any other provider. The Data Transfer Project hopes to do this in a way that is simple, secure, and supported by as many services as possible. While Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter are the first to lend support, the initiative is open to all companies. "If a user wants to switch to another product or service because they think it is better, they should be able to do so as easily as possible. This concept of allowing users to choose products and services based on choice, rather than being locked in, helps drive innovation and facilitates competition," said the companies in their white paper. The participants admit it is early days for the project and they haven't said when the DTP might be available to the public. Consumers often choose an ecosystem — Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, et al — when buying hardware. The DTP could make it simpler for people to change ecosystems when upgrading to new devices.
Microsoft to Connect Windows 10 PCs to Your Text Messages
Microsoft today announced several new mobile initiatives that pair its own Windows platform with Android and iOS devices. First is a new tool, tentatively called Your Phone, that connects Android and iOS devices with a Windows 10 PC in order to access text messages, photos, and notifications. People will be able to perform actions such as drag-and-drop photos from their phone directly to their PC. Microsoft said this will be available via the Windows Insider Program for testing in the near future. Microsoft has also updated its Microsoft Launcher app for Android devices, specifically with business customers in mind. Launcher will fall under full control of the IT department and will support business applications via Microsoft InTune. Businesses will be able to use the Launcher to control which apps are made available to employees. Last, the new Timeline tool helps people move their work flow from one device to another seamlessly. In other words, employees working in Word on their Android device will be able to pick up where they left off on a Windows 10 PC. Timeline will be available via the Microsoft Launcher on Android phones and through the Microsoft Edge browser on the iPhone and iPad. Microsoft said all these tools and features will be available in the near future.
Opera Discontinuing Its Android and iOS VPN Service
Opera Software says its mobile VPN service will go offline on April 30, 2018. The Opera VPN service has been around for several years and allows Android and iOS users to connect to open WiFi network securely. With Opera VPN shutting down, Opera is pointing people to the SurfEasy VPN. Opera Gold subscribers have the option to redeem a free one-year subscription to the SurfEasy Ultra VPN. Non-Gold Opera VPN users will be able to redeem an 80% discount for SurfEasy via the Opera VPN app ahead of the April 30 shutdown. SurfEasy Ultra offers unlimited usage on up to five devices per account, with access to 28 regions, and a no-log policy. SurfEasy VPN is available to more platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Amazon.
Microsoft Disabling Notifications for Windows Phone 7.5 and 8
Microsoft says devices running Windows Phone 7.5 and 8.0 have reached end-of-life status and will no longer be supported. Beginning February 20, Microsoft will turn off push notification services for Windows Phone 7.5 and Windows Phone 8.0. This means devices running those platforms will no longer receive notifications, will not receive live tile updates, and will not be able to use Find My Phone to locate the device. Microsoft says Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 Mobile remain fully supported for the time being. Devices running Windows Phone 7.5 and Windows Phone 8.0 were originally sold in the 2011 and 2012 timeframe.
Microsoft's New Photos Companion App Acts Like AirDrop, But for Windows PCs
Microsoft's garage team has released a new application that lets Android and iOS users easily transfer photos from their phone to their Windows 10 PC. Photos Companion works in coordination with the Microsoft Photos app on Windows 10 PCs. As long as the iPhone or Android device is on the same network as the PC, users can transfer photos and videos directly from the phone to the computer over WiFi. The app makes use of a QR code in Microsoft Photos on the PC that users scan with the Photos Companion app to initiate the transfer. Photos Companion is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
Chrome to Support HDR Video Playback
Google today provided an update on the progress it has made with the Chrome browser over the last year and offered a peek at some features that will arrive later this year. To start, Chrome now supports play/pause, rewind, and fast forward controls for audio and video. The browser handles picture-in-picture playback on Android, and improved audio/video controls on both the lock screen and notification shade. The browser is able to mute web sites and soon will let people customize which sites are allowed to autoplay audio and video content. Google has already begin adding support for high dynamic range video content to Chrome for Windows 10 devices, and will expand HDR video playback to more platforms soon. HDR content of course offers more vibrant colors and darker blacks. Last, Google is prepared for the official release of virtual reality on the web, which it has been testing for the better part of a year. Google said HDR video and VR are coming to Chrome later this year. HDR and HDR+ content can be played back on a handful of smartphones, such as the LG V30 and the Samsung Galaxy Note8.
Snapchat's Lens Studio Lets Anyone Create Lenses
Snapchat today debuted Lens Studio, a desktop application that makes it easy for anyone to design and create Lenses for the Snapchat community. Snapchat says Lens Studio is free to Mac and Windows, and guides creative types through the process of animating their ideas for mobile devices. Artists can then use a special Snapcode to share their creations with others who can unlock the Lens. Snapchat hopes developers and other creators will put Lens Studio to use in making more personal and more diverse Lenses available to all Snapchat users.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 to Power Laptops and Phones
Qualcomm today named the Snapdragon 845, its flagship processor for 2018. The chip supplants the Snapdragon 835 at the top of Qualcomm's line of mobile processors. The 835 is one of the most popular processors for high-end smartphones from the likes of LG, Samsung, OnePlus, and Huawei. The 845, announced at the Snapdragon Technology Summit, will power not only mobile phones but Windows-based laptops. Qualcomm didn't provide too many details about the chip, other than to say it will be paired with the company's X20 Gigabit LTE modem. It will target augmented reality and virtual reality applications, offer top security, improve battery life, and support faster recharging. The chip is expected to be manufactured by Samsung, relying on Samsung's 10nm process. Qualcomm is expected to share more information about the Snapdragon 845 in the days ahead. Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun said the company will build a flagship handset based on the Snapdragon 845 next year.
Researchers Say WiFi Vulnerability Impacts Nearly Everything
Researchers say they've found a serious gap in the WPA2 security protocol that can allow hackers to use key reinstallation attacks (KRACKs) to compromise most WiFi devices. The researchers say the method allows hackers to read encrypted information transiting via WiFi, including passwords, emails, photos, credit card numbers, and more. KRACKs can access nearly all WiFi traffic and, depending on the individual network safety configuration, insert code and alter data, such as send malware. The researchers claim the weakness is in the WiFi standard itself, and not in individual products, which is why the vulnerability is so widespread. Devices running Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, macOS, and other platforms are impacted. The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) agreed with the researchers' assessment and warned, "The impact of exploiting these vulnerabilities includes decryption, packet replay, TCP connection hijacking, HTTP content injection, and others. Note that as protocol-level issues, most or all correct implementations of the standard will be affected." In other words, even if WiFi devices are being used properly, with passwords, they are still vulnerable. Google said it is aware of the issue and will patch the vulnerability in a future security update. The WiFi Alliance has not yet responded to the researcher's revelations.
Microsoft Exec Says Windows Mobile Is Basically Done
Microsoft executive Joe Belfiore on Sunday explained in a series of Tweets that the company is no longer creating new software or hardware for its Windows Mobile platform. Belfiore was responding directly to questions posed by fans when he said, "Many companies still deploy [Windows Phone] to their employees and we will support them! Of course we'll continue to support the platform ... bug fixes, security updates, etc. But building new features/[hardware] aren't the focus," Belfiore admitted that he, like Microsoft founder and former CEO Bill Gates, has switched to Android. "As an individual end-user, I switched platforms for the app/hw diversity." The questions put to Belfiore arose due to Microsoft's recent move to expand its Edge browser to to iOS. The browser is in beta mode via the App Store. Microsoft has focused much of its mobile app efforts on the Android and iOS platforms in recent years with its Office productivity suite, Skype communications tool, Android Launcher, OneDrive, and more. In the end, apps became the problem for Windows 10. "We have tried very hard to incent app [developers]. Paid money ... wrote apps for them ... but volume of users is too low for most companies to invest," wrote Belfiore. With no real selection of apps, Windows Mobile didn't have much of a chance against the Android and iOS platforms, which each offers more than one billion apps available to end users.
Microsoft Releases Edge Browser for Android and iOS, Launcher for Android
Microsoft today made a beta version of its Edge browser available to Android and iOS devices. The beta, available to registered Windows Insiders, requires users to initiate the signup process through a Windows 10 PC. Edge for mobile devices ports over popular desktop features, include Favorites, Reading List, New Tab Page, and Reading View. It can sync bookmarks and browser history with the desktop and includes a built-in QR code reader. It's only available to U.S. beta testers in English for now. Microsoft today also released a new launcher for Android handsets. The launcher replaces the native home screen on Android devices in favor of Microsoft's. It includes Windows 10 features such as favorites, recent photos, documents, and more. Before today, the Microsoft Launcher for Android was in beta status via the Microsoft Garage. It is now available for download through the Google Play Store.
Microsoft Pauses Groove Music, Spins New Tune with Spotify
Microsoft today announced changes to its music offering for Windows devices that will see it transition from its own Groove Music service to Spotify. According to Microsoft, the Groove Music media player application will continue to work for playing back owned music on Windows devices, but it will no longer offer the option to stream, purchase, or download music after December 31. Microsoft says all Groove Music Pass customers can easily transition their curated playlists and libraries to Spotify. The newest Groove Music app for Windows devices will encourage customers to initiate the transition from Groove to Spotify. Spotify is one of the world's largest music streaming services and has more than 30 million tracks available for on/offline listening. Some Groove Music Pass customers may quality for a free 60-day trial of Spotify Premium, which normally costs $10 per month.
Microsoft and Amazon Let Cortana and Alexa Talk to One Another
Microsoft and Amazon today announced a new partnership that will allow Windows 10 users to access Alexa via Cortana, and Echo users to access Cortana via Alexa. The tie-up lets people use one personal assistant to open the other. For example, people who own Windows 10 PCs will be able to say "Hey Cortana, open Alexa" and then speak queries to Alexa through their PC. Conversely, people who own an Amazon Echo device will be able to say "Alexa, open Cortana" to set reminders, check appointments, and make other requests of Cortana. Microsoft says this capability is available to Windows 10 PCs first, but it will come to Android and iOS devices later this year.
Microsoft Cans Its WordFlow Keyboard App for iOS
Microsoft recently withdrew its WordFlow keyboard application from the iTunes App Store. WordFlow was one of many Microsoft Garage projects, which are chiefly apps that target Android and iOS devices. WordFlow for iOS was a version of Microsoft's capable swipe-style keyboard that was originally found on Windows Phone. On its own web site, Microsoft calls the WordFlow experiment "complete" and suggests people download SwiftKey instead. "The SwiftKey product team is frequently building and evaluating new features for SwiftKey and shipping updates," said the WordFlow team. Microsoft bought SwiftKey in February 2016.
Microsoft Overhauls Skype, Adds Highlight Reels
Microsoft has totally re-envisioned its Skype messaging application and, in the process, made it more like Snapchat and Facebook Messenger. To start, Skype offers more personalization. For example, users can tweak colors and more easily add animated emoji and reaction icons to conversations. The app now supports what Microsoft calls a Highlight Reel, which is a Snapchat Stories-like compilation of videos and photos. Microsoft says people can create Highlights by accessing the in-app camera, or by pulling in content from their phone's photo gallery. People can then react to Highlights or use them as a starting point for a new conversation thread. Bots are headed to Skype, too, via the new Find tab that's built into the app. Users can take advantage of the bot-enabled search tool to find concert tickets, see what's trending across social networks, and more. Microsoft expects third-party developers (businesses and brands) to create their own add-ins and bots for Skype over time. Skype still supports one-on-one and group conversations, video calls, audio calls, and other legacy features. Microsoft says the new Skype will reach Android devices over the next few weeks with the iPhone to follow in a month or so, and Mac and Windows desktops to follow later this year.
Cortana to Help People Follow Up On Email Commitments
Microsoft today improved its Cortana personal assistant, which can now remind people to take care of tasks they've promised to do via email. The tool is available in Microsoft's Office 365 and Outlook.com email services. Cortana will scan emails and when users tell someone they'll complete a specific task (such as file a report) Cortana will automatically suggest a reminder to help people follow through. Microsoft says machine learning is behind the new tool and it will learn from user behavior over time. Moreover, these reminders will automatically be added to the action center so they are visible outside of the email app. Users will need to ensure they are signed into their Microsoft account and have granted Cortana the proper permissions. The tool is being made available to Windows 10 devices first, but Microsoft plans to expand it to Android and iOS in the weeks ahead.
Microsoft's Project Rome SDK to Let Android, Windows Play Nice
Microsoft this week released the Project Rome SDK, a tool for developers that will let Android devices control Windows devices and vice versa. Once fully enabled, third-party apps will be able to see Android and Windows devices when they are connected to the internet. For example, a Windows PC may see a music app on a connected Android handset and open it remotely. The remote app service lets people not only open, but control apps from afar. For now, the SDK only permit Windows devices to access and run apps on Android devices, but Microsoft expects to make expand the SDK so Android devices can control Windows apps. Developers can download the SDK from Microsoft's developer console.
Alcatel Idol 4S with Windows Now Available Unlocked
Alcatel today made its Idol 4S with Windows 10 smartphone available unlocked from the Microsoft Store. The Windows Idol 4S has a 5.5-inch full HD display, Snapdragon 820 processor, 21-megapixel camera, and USB Type-C. Other features include a wide-angle 8-megapixel selfie camera, 3,000mAh battery, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, stereo speakers, and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. The Idol 4S with Windows is compatible with Continuum, which enables it to act like a full PC with the proper accessories. The phone is compatible with the networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile. The Idol 4S with Windows 10 costs $470.
Garmin inReach Brings Satellite Messaging to Your Phone
Garmin this week announced its inReach series of satellite communicators. These standalone handheld devices can also be paired with any Android, iOS or Windows 10 smartphone to provide satellite-based text messaging and GPS mapping on your phone even where there is no cellular coverage. The devices use Iridium's global satellite network for messaging, letting the devices send and receive text messages with any cell phone number, email address or another inReach device. Users can set up the devices to provide regular location updates to a mapping portal, so friends and family can follow the progress of an expedition. An SOS function can let first responders and family know when you're in trouble and exactly where to find you. The base model inReach SE+ will sell for $400, while the inReach Explorer+ adds TOPO maps, compass, barometric altimeter and accelerometer for an extra $50. Both models will be available later this quarter.
Microsoft and Qualcomm to Bring Windows 10 to ARM-Based Snapdragon Processors
Microsoft and Qualcomm plan to make Windows 10 run on Qualcomm's next-generation, ARM-based Snapdragon processors. The idea is to enable full PC functionality on cellular-connected devices of varying form factors. Qualcomm said its new chips are fully compatible with the Windows 10 ecosystem, and hardware makers can use them to create phones, tablets, and other mobile devices. The companies say new Windows 10 PCs with Snapdragon inside can support x86 Win32 and Universal Windows apps, including titles such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and even games. Microsoft said these "cellular PCs" will be able to take advantage of eSIM technology, allowing people and businesses to activate and use them on the network of their choice. Microsoft and Qualcomm expect to see the first Snapdragon-based Windows 10 PCs reach the market as early as next year. "With Windows 10 on cellular PCs, we will help everyone make the most of the air around them. We look forward to seeing these new devices with integrated cellular connectivity and the great experiences people love like touch, pen, and Windows Hello," said Microsoft's Terry Myerson.
WhatsApp Says What's Up to Global Video Chats
WhatsApp today announced that it is enabling video calls for all users around the world. Video calling is being added to the Android, iOS, and Windows phone mobile apps over the coming days. With it, users will be able to make encrypted video calls to one another. WhatsApp said it developed the app such that the majority of phones and networks — not just the most expensive and strongest ones — can handle the video chatting client. The app allows users to switch between cameras and makes use of a simple calling button to make connecting easy. WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, is late to the video calling party. The service already supports group texting and voice calling, but most of its competitors have already adopted video chats.
Instagram Throws Boomerang Into Stories
Instagram today made its stories feature more fun and powerful with the addition of Boomerang and @mentions support. Moving forward, people using the stories function will be able to record Boomerangs directly within Instagram. Boomerang takes a series of photos and then assembles them into a very short video that loops forward and backward. Further, storytellers can now add username @mentions to their stories for a greater degree of interaction. The app will notify people when they've been mentioned in stories, and people who view stories will be able to pull up the profiles of those whose usernames are attached to stories. Last, a "see more" tool should now be visible in stories, allowing verified accounts to provide links and other details concerning themselves and/or their business. Instagram's new features are available to the Android, iOS, and Windows 10 Mobile apps.
Alcatel Makes the Idol 4S with Windows Official
Alcatel today announced a new variant of the Idol 4S with Windows 10 Mobile on board. This handset carries over the chassis of the Android-based model, but changes a number of key specifications. For example, the Windows Idol 4S has a 5.5-inch full HD display and Snapdragon 820 processor, which differ from the quad HD display and Snapdragon 652 processor of the original. Further, the Windows version improves the camera to 21 megapixels and swaps microUSB for USB Type-C. Most other specs are the same. The Idol 4S with Windows 10 has a wide-angle 8-megapixel selfie camera, 3,000mAh battery, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, stereo speakers, and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. The Idol 4S with Windows is compatible with Continuum, which enables it to act like a full PC with the proper accessories. It will be packaged with a set of virtual reality goggles for a limited time. The Idol 4S with Windows 10 hits T-Mobile stores November 10 for $470.
Outlook for iOS Makes Scheduling Meetings Easier
Microsoft today announced an update to its Outlook email app for iOS that should ease the process of scheduling group meetings. A new scheduling assistant built into the app makes it possible to see coworkers' availability when booking new meetings. Users will first need to create an event and set invitees. Outlook will then use color-coded effects to show when invitees are free. Users can drag the time picker around the calendar until it turns green, which signals when all the invitees are available. A few more taps sets the event and sends invites to the other participants. The new tool requires a connection to Office 365 or the latest version of Exchange. Microsoft said this feature will be available to Android and Windows 10 Mobile devices soon. Outlook is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Microsoft Announces 3D Capture App
Microsoft today announced a new 3D Capture app for phones. Using only the phone's camera, it can capture an object's shape and texture for importing into the new 3D tools available in the new version of Windows 10, dubbed Windows 10 Creators Update. The app will be available soon for Windows 10 Mobile, followed by versions for Android and iOS.
T-Mobile Outs Windows 10 VR Phone From Alcatel
T-Mobile today listed the "Alcatel IDOL 4S with Windows 10 VR" on its web site. The unique version of the Idol 4S not only runs Windows 10, but sports many of the upgrades available in the related BlackBerry DTEK60, such as the high-end Snapdragon 820 processor, 21-megapixel camera, and USB Type-C connector, none of which are in the standard Idol 4S. The Idol 4S with Windows 10 also includes free VR goggles (for a limited time) for use with "pre-loaded games and videos". Curiously, while the standard Idol 4S includes a Quad-HD display ideal for VR, this version steps down to a full-HD display, according to T-Mobile's specs. The Idol 4S with Windows 10 also supports Windows Continuum, which lets you connect a screen and keyboard to turn the phone into a full Windows 10 computer. Other features of the phone include a memory card slot, stereo speakers, 8-megapixel front camera, and 4 GB of RAM. T-Mobile's specs do not mention NFC. Pricing and release date have yet to be announced. Microsoft is
Microsoft Pushing Windows 10 Mobile Anniversary Update
Microsoft today made the Windows 10 Anniversary update available to devices running Windows 10 Mobile. The update is the first major improvement to the Windows 10 platform. It adds features and makes improvements to phones such as the Lumia 650, 950, and 950 XL. Some of the changes impact the Edge browser and Maps app. Unlocked devices can snag the update through the settings menu, but carrier-locked phones will need to wait for the carrier-specific update to arrive. The Windows 10 Anniversary update is free to download and install.
Skype Gains More Bots to Help with Travel and Purchases
Microsoft has updated Skype for Android, iOS, Mac, the web, and Windows devices and given the communications tool access to more chat bots. Microsoft says it worked with select partners this time around to bring dedicated services to Skype. A bot from Skyscanner lets Skype users search for flights, while a StubHub bot makes it simpler to find event tickets. A bot from IFTTT can deliver alerts from apps, devices, and web sites, while a Hipmunk bot helps book entire vacation packages. Microsoft updated its bot platform last month with support for group bot chats and info cards. The company says more bots and capabilities are on the way. Skype is free to download from the Google Play Store, iTunes App Store, Apple App Store, and Windows Store.
Starbucks Debuts Brand New Windows 10 Mobile App
Starbucks today released a new application for Microsoft's Windows 10 Mobile platform. The app, available in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, allows Windows users to find stores, manage account details, and make payments. People can use the app to send e-gifts, check their account balance and transactions, leave digital tips, and track Starbucks rewards. Starbucks for Windows 10 Mobile is free to download from the Windows Store.
Microsoft to Trim Another 2,850 Employees
Microsoft revealed more job cuts on Thursday as it continues to wind down its mobile phone business. The company plans to reduce headcount by 2,850 employees, primarily in its mobile phone and sales businesses. These cuts are in addition to the 1,850 job eliminations announced in May, also in the phone unit. Microsoft expects to finalize the cuts by the middle of 2017. Windows Phone's presence in the smartphone market has been hovering around 1% for the last few quarters.
Skype to Drop Support for Older Windows Phone Versions
Microsoft today said its Skype service will no longer be updated for Windows Phone 7 - 8.1 and older versions of Android and iOS. The company said it wants to "focus on the platforms of the future" which means it "must end support for some devices and operating systems." Skype will continue to support Windows 10 for Mobile, Windows 7, 8, XP, and Vista, Yosemite on Mac, iOS 8, and Android 4.03. Versions of Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android older than those named here will no longer be supported with updates. Skype says its service won't cease immediately on older platforms, but as the company continues to move Skype to the cloud, some features may become broken over time.
Deezer Opens Up Service to Everyone In the US
Deezer today made its music-streaming service available to anyone who wants it in the U.S. The service was previously limited to Cricket Wireless customers and those who owned Sonos home stereo equipment. Deezer's offering is similar to Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Music in that it provides access to millions of tracks, radio stations, and podcasts to mobile devices. Songs can be streamed or downloaded for offline playback. Deezer is available to Android, iOS, and Windows devices. The app itself is free to download, but the Premium+ experience requires a $10 monthly fee.
Acer Jade Liquid Primo Hits Microsoft Store
Acer's Jade Liquid Primo landed in the Microsoft Store today for $649. The device runs Microsoft's Windows 10 platform with Cortana, OneDrive, and Office. The Jade Liquid Primo includes a 5.5-inch full HD screen and is powered by a hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The main camera captures 21-megapixel images and includes a dual-tone LED flash, while the selfie camera shoots 84-degree wide-angle images at 8-megapixels. Other specs include support for memory cards up to 128 GB, 2,870mAh battery, NFC, USB Type-C, GPS, Bluetooth, dual-band WiFi, and a bevy of sensors. The Acer Jade Liquid Primo is available directly from Microsoft's web site, unlocked with support for GSM-based networks (LTE Cat 6), for $649.
Microsoft Wallet Gains Tap-to-Pay Functionality
Microsoft today updated its Microsoft Wallet app and gave Lumia smartphone owners the ability to make mobile payments at supporting retailers. Windows Mobile has long included a Wallet app, but until today it was reserved for loyalty cards and other retail programs. Now, people can add their credit or debit card to Microsoft Wallet and use the app for tap-and-go purchases. The app is available to the Lumia 950, 950 XL, and 650, and requires Windows Insider build 14360 or higher. The Windows Insider program is free to join and distributes pre-release versions of Windows 10 Mobile that are still in development. Microsoft says the tap-to-pay feature will be expanded to all users running stock builds of Windows 10 Mobile later this summer. Both MasterCard and Visa support Microsoft Wallet, along with financial institutions including Bank of America, Chase Manhattan, People's United Bank, Fifth Third Bank, US Bank, and others. Microsoft says mobile payments should work at any retail terminal that accepts contactless payments. Microsoft Wallet is free to download from the Windows Store.
Microsoft Picks Up Wand to Boost Bots
Microsoft today said it has acquired Wand Labs, a company that combines human language with machine intelligence. Microsoft said it plans to add Wand Labs' talent to its Bing, Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and Windows platforms. "The Wand team's expertise around semantic ontologies, services mapping, third-party developer integration, and conversational interfaces make them a great fit ... especially with the work we're doing in the area of intelligent agents and chat bots," said David Ku, corporate vice president, Information Platform Group. Wand Labs was founded in 2013 by Vishal Sharma. The acquisition fits the roadmap unveiled earlier this year by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, which will focus on the "conversation as a platform."