Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Microsoft's first Windows Phone 8 update dubbed Apollo Plus?

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Here's a quick refresher on code names. The Windows Phone team has been all about the o's. Windows Phone 7 OS was code-named NoDo. Then there was Mango (Windows Phone 7.5). A minor interim update arrived next, code-named Tango. And Windows Phone 8 OS was code-named Apollo. Joe Belfiore(o), manager of the Windows Phone Program, said awhile back that the team was finished with code names ending in "o."
So what was Windows Phone 8's successor going to be called?
Winsyde.com posted earlier today that the next release will be code-named "Apollo +," and that it would be available in Q1 2013 -- citing the @Football4PDA Twitter account as the source. The Verge subsequently posted that the code name of Windows Phone OS 8's follow-on would be "Apollo Plus." (Maybe the ban on code names ending with "o" doesn't start till Windows Phone 9 OS?)


The Verge's Tom Warren also reported that Microsoft would share details about the update at the Mobile World Congress show in February 2013. The Verge cited unnamed sources as providing the information and said the coming update could include features like VPN support, a Wi-Fi connectivity fix, and audio improvements.

VPN support is an interesting one, given Microsoft officials said in June of this year that Microsoft had decided against including VPN functionality in the Windows Phone operating system (even though it had been included in Windows Phone OS' predecessor, Windows Mobile). A Microsoft official told me that Microsoft has decided instead to rely on things like Secure SSL to address this need... as they considered Secure SSL "a better, light-weight approach" to providing this kind of functionality in the new BYOD (bring your own device) world.
I've since heard from a number of business users that no VPN support was a deal breaker for their organizations in adopting Windows Phone. I've also heard from users in countries with governments that censor their citizens' Web-browsing that VPN is a much-desired feature for circumventing officially imposed firewalls.
I asked Microsoft whether the next version of the Windows Phone OS was code-named "Apollo Plus" and whether VPN connectivity will be part of it. Not surprisingly, a spokesperson said only that the company doesn't comment on rumors and speculation.
If Microsoft does refer to the minor, interim update to Windows Phone 8 OS as "Apollo Plus," that might help dampen user expectations a bit. With Tango, many users were expecting a lot more, feature-wise, than ended up being part of that update because it had its own special code name.
Meanwhile, I also asked Microsoft about the whereabouts of the Windows Phone OS 7.8 update -- the one that is slated to allow existing Windows Phone 7 users to make use of resizable tiles on their phones. A Microsoft spokesperson said: "More information on 7.8 will be available in the coming weeks."
As to the rumors circulating that 7.8 might be available this week, I'm doubtful. I think Microsoft might announce the release to manufacturing of 7.8 this week, but I'm hearing the update may not be available from the carriers until early next year (maybe even as late as February 2013)





This story originally posted as "Apollo Plus: Is this Microsoft's first Windows Phone 8 update?" on ZDNet.
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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bluetooth Headset That you can Wear on Your Finger

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With a simple twist, The O.R.B. transforms from a ring to a headset worn on the ear that is capable of hands-free calling. Incorporating HiWave™ technology, the O.R.B. is a “Digitset™” that provides high-quality bone conduction audio without the discomfort of placing a device inside the ear. A deluxe edition also features an E Ink display for caller ID, text messaging, and calendar reminders.

To use the ring as a headset, simply remove it from the finger and twist open around the hinged joint. The ring (now a headset) is placed over the upper ear, between the ear and the side of the head. The transmitter end of the headset rests just above the jawbone and utilizes dual speaker “voice annihilation” DSP technology. The transmit exciter transducer rests just behind the outer ear.


The O.R.B. will be available in a variety of sizes, available in styles for both men and women.

All sizes have an expansion hinge, spring prongs and adjustable adhesive soft pads on the interior edge, which provide a secure and comfortable fit on the finger (or thumb) as well as the ear.


The O.R.B. features military-grade seals and gaskets, making it fully waterproof and built to accompany you on any adventure.


The ring vibrates, alerting the user to an incoming call, text message, or event reminder. The user can glance down at the finger and see a horizontal streaming message of caller I.D. or meeting schedules. If accepting an incoming call, the user twists open the O.R.B., slips over the ear, and begins the conversation. If declining incoming calls or texts, or dismissing event reminders, the user can simply push the cancel button with the O.R.B. still idle on their finger. When not in use the ring serves as a time device/alarm clock. If the user would like to silence a call he/she can simply touch a button on the band.



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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Windows Phone 7.8 update dated for Q1 2013

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The first hint as to Microsoft's plan for owners of last-generation Windows Phone 7.5 handsets has been provided by the company's Brazilian arm, suggesting that an upgrade is due early next year.

Windows Phone 7.5 dates back to 2011 and introduced numerous new features to Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform ahead of the launch of Windows Phone 8. Those who had upgraded were hopeful for an eventual transition to the newer Windows Phone 8 OS, but those hopes were dashed by Microsoft's announcement that Windows Phone 8 would be exclusive to new handsets. Instead, Windows Phone 7.5 users are to be provided with a 'stop-gap' upgrade, Windows Phone 7.8, which back-ports some of the new features of Windows Phone 8 to older handsets.

Originally, Microsoft had planned to launch the Windows Phone 7.8 update alongside Windows Phone 8 in October, but that date has been and gone with no sign of the software for existing Windows Phone users. Microsoft has been silent on the reasons for the delay, and had yet to publicly comment on a revised launch schedule for the software until the company's Brazilian arm broke cover with a promise that the update would be launched by early next year.

Answering a customer's query as to the status of the update via microblogging site Twitter, the company explained that Windows Phone 7.8 will be launching in Brazil in the first quarter of 2013. With Microsoft originally planning a US launch for the software and then an international roll-out over the weeks following, it seems likely that Windows Phone 7.5 users should be offered the update by March next year at the latest.

Still to be announced, however, are the features from Windows Phone 8 that will be coming to older handsets as part of Windows Phone 7.8. Although a new start screen with customisable tiles is known to be part of the update, the remainder of the features are being kept under close wraps by Microsoft until closer to launch.


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