Windows Phone 8 Update Will Reportedly Include VPN Support, Audio Improvements


Microsoft is reportedly working on an update for Windows Phone 8.

According to The Verge, the update, codenamed Apollo Plus, will bring new features to the mobile operating system that were not present in its initial release.

Specifically, the update is expected to bring VPN support, allowing corporate users to connect to work systems. A Wi-Fi fix will allow Windows Phone 8 users to leave Wi-Fi always on, and audio enhancements will improve the sound quality produced by Windows Phone 8 devices.

Details on the update are expected to be revealed in February at Mobile World Congress.

Microsoft revealed Windows Phone 8 in June of this year. A follow-up to Windows Phone 7, the mobile operating system got an updated look — with three tile size options rather than one — and support for higher resolution screens, multiple processors and NFC.

The first Windows 8 devices were released earlier this month.

Are any of you current Windows Phone 8 users? What features would you like to see added to the mobile operating system?

[via The Verge]

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Living With Lumia, Day 3: Battery Woes


I’m now in my fourth day of using the Lumia 920 and Windows Phone 8 in lieu of the iPhone 5 in our Living With Lumia challenge.

So why is this post/video delayed? I’m glad you asked! Yesterday, we had a Google+ Hangout (sorry about the technical problems) and I answered some questions and talked with the community about the process of switching phones.

Originally, that hangout was going to be my Day 3 entry and video, but when I left to go to a series of events in the afternoon, a more pressing issue reared its head: Battery life.

In short, I’m having issues with it on my Lumia 920. On my first day with the 920, I noticed that the battery life wasn’t great and that the phone was hot to the touch. I didn’t dwell on this because I was doing a lot with the phone — setting it up, downloading apps, etc. After a full battery cycle, the problem seemed to disappear.

In fact, on day two with the phone, I really didn’t have any noticeable issues with the phone. So far, so good!

Yesterday, that changed. I left my office around 4:15 to go to an event — the phone was at 100%. By the time I got to the event’s location — maybe 20 minutes later, I’d probably lost 10 or 15% of my battery. Moreover, the phone was very hot to the touch.

At the event, I sent a few tweets, took a few photos and browsed some websites. I noticed the phone was getting increasingly warm and that the battery life was dropping quickly. I made sure my background tasks were off (only weather could still run in the background), NFC was turned off, and I didn’t have geotagging on the camera.

By 6 p.m., my phone was down to 55%, dropping at least 40% in just 90 minutes.

I sent the following tweet with a screenshot of my battery at 6:24 p.m.

While I was able to make it to my other events, I was afraid to use the phone. Even without being used — the phone was almost dead (4% battery) by 10:30 p.m.

Trying to Find Solutions

Perusing the Internet, I found I’m not the only one with battery issues. A quick poll of my Twitter followers showed about 50% of fellow 920 users have had issues, 50% haven’t.

On WPCentral, a forum titled “lumia 920 Battery Issues” has nearly 400 replies with various users offering advice and anecdotal feedback.

Nokia responded to my concerns on Twitter and via email and directed me to an area on its support forums.

I had already implemented the changes it suggested last night and still had issues with my phone’s battery.

As of right now, I’m having better luck today and will monitor the situation as the day continues. If I run into another period of rapid battery drain, I may take the drastic step of resetting my phone (which some users say has worked), though I’d like to avoid that if possible.

Battery life is a fundamental feature in using a smartphone so I look forward to seeing how this plays out in the future.

Living With Lumia, Previous Installments:

BONUS: A Tour of the Nokia Lumia 920

Microsoft to Give New Tablets, Phones to Employees


Microsoft will be giving its employees a new Surface RT tablet, a new Windows PC and a Windows Phone 8 device, company chief Steve Ballmer revealed at Microsoft’s annual employee meeting in Seattle Thursday.

Microsoft has more than 90,000 full-time employees, and they should be receiving the tablet and the phone by late December. As far as the PC goes, employees will have the possibility to choose between a desktop, laptop, ultrabook and tablet.

The meeting was not open to the public, but some employees shared the good news on social networks such as Twitter. Some even compared Steve Ballmer to Oprah, who is known for giving away presents to its studio audience.

Microsoft is known for making sure its employees are using the latest company software and hardware. The company did something similar back in 2010, when it gave all its employees a Windows Phone 7 device.

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Live From Nokia and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 Event


Nokia, along with Microsoft, will unveil the next phase of Windows Phone this morning at an event in New York City. Mashable is live on the scene, and we’ll be posting updates here as they happen.

During the summer, Microsoft finally revealed its master plan for its budding Windows Phone operating system at a developer event in San Francisco. There, we learned that Windows Phone 8 will be a big leap from previous versions of Windows Phone, getting reworked from the ground up to be compatible with Windows 8 itself.

That’s good news for developers who want to make apps that work across all Windows devices. But it’s bad news for current owners of existing Windows Phones, since there was no way to upgrade those phones to Windows Phone 8 (instead they’ll get upgraded to “Version 7.8,” which brings some of the features of the new OS).

With Version 8, Microsoft drew a dividing line between old and new Windows Phones. Today we’ll find out exactly what the “new” in that equation means. The world got its first taste of Windows Phone 8 with the unveiling of the Samsung ATIV S last week, but details were scant. Nokia is Microsoft’s preferred partner for the Windows Phone platform, however, and the phones revealed today will push it forward more than any others.

Keep your browser pointed here for the events as they happen — starting at 10 a.m. ET — with commentary from the Mashable crew. And feel free to jump into the discussion anytime with comments (though not all of them will be published). For the raw video feed, follow Nokia’s live stream.

UPDATE: Nokia Launches New Flagship Lumia 920 Phone | Lumia 920 Phone Features Wireless Charging | Nokia Debuts Lumia 820 Windows Phone

Is it Time to Adopt Windows Phone?


Skype for Windows Phone 8 Preview Now Available


Microsoft’s Skype for Windows Phone 8 is now available for download as Preview.

We reviewed the beta version of the app in October, and found much to like — in particular, the smart layout, call reliability and fast operation.

The Preview version of the app is not for everyone, though — Microsoft notes that the “experiences” in the app are “not yet final.” Specifically, Microsoft says there might be issues with “call reliability and the ability to receive incoming calls and chat notifications when outside of the app.”

Still, if you’re aware of the potential issues, Skype for Windows 8 Phone Preview is a good choice if you want to see a very smart and stylish Windows Phone 8 app.

Skype for Windows Phone 8 Preview is available for free at the Windows Phone Store.

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Zappos Launches Native Windows Phone App


Image: Mashable composite. Mashable, Zappos.

You can now add Zappos to the list of companies slowly making their way to Windows Phone.

The Las Vegas-based retailer launched its first Windows Phone app Tuesday. Zappos developed the app through a partnership with Microsoft.

Unlike some Windows Phone apps — such as the one recently launched for Pinterest — Zappos’ app is a true native app, and not just a shortcut to its mobile site.

“Windows Phone doesn’t have a lot of native apps,” Aki Iida, Zappos’ head of mobile, told Mashable. “When you build web apps, one of the main challenges that you have is you have to build the same experience for all devices. With native experience, you can build technology that allows you to make all the transitions much smoother and easier.”

Zappos Windows Phone

Image: Zappos

The Windows Phone app has the same basic functionality as Zappos’ existing iOS and Android offerings, including free shipping on all orders placed through the app. However, it has fewer features overall. For example, the Windows Phone app doesn’t allow users to initiate returns, track orders or manage their account information.

This highlights a much bigger problem with the Windows Phone platform. Companies are often reluctant to spend the time and resources developing native Windows Phone apps, and even when they do — as we’ve seen recently with Pinterest, Spotify and Instagram, which is still in beta more than a year after its launch — the apps are rarely on par with their iOS and Android counterparts.

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How I Fixed My Battery Issues on the Nokia Lumia 920


How does an Apple fangirl survive the weekend after switching from an iPhone 5 to Nokia’s Lumia 920 running Windows Phone? It turns out, surprisingly well.

I had a few issues getting my videos up over the weekend, but this post-dated entry follows up on my battery life issues (and how I think I’ve solved them), discusses the camera, and includes discussion of my first weekend with the Lumia 920.

Day 4, 5, 6: Weekend Bonanza

The good news is my battery life is significantly better than it was at the end of the week. After speaking with Microsoft, I followed their advice and uninstalled and reinstalled Skype and Facebook.

Apparently, there are issues with some apps and the way Windows Phone’s servers are syncing data that has caused some phones to enter some kind of infinite loop, which stresses out the battery.

I don’t know if those steps totally fixed the problem, but I did notice battery life was significantly improved — especially while idle.

I also followed some advice from other Windows Phone users on Twitter and installed the WPBench app and ran its battery tester. This ran down my battery (essentially giving it a full recharge cycle) and upon restart, I did notice the phone seemed a bit faster to charge.

While I still notice the phone gets hot — and it certainly drains battery more when in use than I might expect — the biggest battery problems appear to be behind me.

In my tests and my usage, I wouldn’t call the Lumia 920’s battery demonstrably better or worse than the iPhone 5’s. Having said that, I don’t see an issue going 6-8 hours of moderate-to-heavy use without requiring a charge. In a perfect world, the battery life would be better, but for now only Google’s Nexus 4 has consistently better battery life.

Other Weekend Thoughts

Using the phone over the weekend, I really enjoyed the camera — especially while at Bryant Park on Sunday night. As other reviewers have noted, where the camera really shines is in low-light situations.

The only issues I’ve had with the camera are more on my end than the camera itself. On iOS, tapping the subject on the camera will focus the image and tapping again (or pressing a volume key) snaps the image.

On the Lumia 920, tapping on the image focuses AND takes the shot. You can also focus and snap by half-pressing the camera button on the side of the device, just as you would with a traditional point and shoot.

I’m not opposed to the tap focus/snap method of operation, but if you’re used to one behavior, be prepared that it doesn’t work as expected. It’s also important to turn off the flash-assisted focus if in a dimly lit room and taking photos of individuals, as the LED from the camera can be blinding.

Speaking of photos — we’ll have a more robust photo test up tomorrow, but check out this awesome shot of Mashable‘s Stacy Martinet and her husband Drake. Even given the lighting of the situation (which wasn’t ideal), this was a great shot.

Stay tuned for a follow-up post on my seventh day of Living With Lumia. You can follow me @film_girl on Twitter to catch up in real time. If you have any questions about the Lumia 920 or life with Windows Phone 8, let loose in the comments.

Living With Lumia, Previous Installments:

BONUS: A Tour of the Nokia Lumia 920

Microsoft: Windows Phone 7.8 is Coming in Early 2013


Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.8, the next iteration of the WP7 platform, is coming in early 2013, the company announced Wednesday.

The news disproves a recent rumor that pegged the release for Nov. 28, though Microsoft did publish a blog post revealing the actual launch time on that day.

In the post, Microsoft says the Windows Phone 7.8 update is coming to WP7.5 devices, but that there will also be new devices launched with the new OS, mostly at lower price points.

The post also mentions several of the most important (and mostly already publicized) new features in 7.8, including resizable Live Tiles, double the number of theme and accent colors (now totaling 20), Bing-adorned lock screen and — finally — the ability to set up a PIN/password that protects accidental wiping of devices connected to Exchange accounts.

The update likely won’t be available to all users at once. Microsoft says it’s working closely with its hardware and carrier partners to bring it to “as many devices as possible” in early 2013.

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