Category Archives: Windows Phone

How To Easily Create Ringtones For Windows Phone Mango

Windows Phone, with the latest Mango release has started supporting custom ringtones, however with a few caveats. One, the file must be a DRM free WMA or MP3. Two, it must be less than 1 MB in size and 40 seconds in length. This means that you will no longer be able to use just any file as a ringtone and that some amount of preparation will be involved.

Generally this means using a audio editing software such as Audacity, but like me, if you couldn’t be bothered with additional software there is a free website that suffices beautifully. Enter MakeYourOwnRingtone.com, its a free web tool that lets you upload your favourite track, crop it as you desire, add effects if you want, select the quality and finally create the ringtone. Then its a simple matter of downloading it, adding it to Zune or iTunes, setting ‘Ringtone’ as the genre and syncing it to your phone.

If you’re not using this website to create ringtones for Windows Phone, you can ignore the 1 MB and 40 second parameters and experiment even more.

How To Easily Create Ringtones For Windows Phone

  • Hit the upload button and upload the file that you want to edit.

How To Easily Create Ringtones For Windows Phone

  • It will show up on the website. You can then drag and select the part of the song you want as the ringtone. For Windows Phone, make sure it is less than 40 seconds. Next select the output format (MP3 is fine), and then quality. The higher the bitrate, the better the quality. If that’s all you want to do, hit ‘Make a Ringtone’ and jump to step 5.

How To Easily Create Ringtones For Windows Phone

  • Otherwise selecting the ‘Advanced Mode’ lets you use a bunch of tools to modify the sound.

How To Easily Create Ringtones For Windows Phone

  • Expert Mode gives you an even greater array of options. Once done, select ‘Make A Ringtone’.

How To Easily Create Ringtones For Windows Phone

  • Once you’ve hit ‘Make A Ringtone’ a windows will pop-up which will give you a download link. That’s it.

Once you have the file make sure it confirms to the requirements (less than 1 MB and 40 seconds in length), change the genre to ‘Ringtone’ in Zune or iTunes and sync it to the phone. Finally, select it from within your phone’s settings and set it as the ringtone.

ChevronWP7 Labs Windows Phone Unlocker Live: Opens Doors To Side Loading Apps

Windows Phone 7 just like iOS, restricts users to its official app store. So if you want to install an app on your shiny new Lumia 800, the only option you have is to goto the Marketplace. If you wanted to side-load an app, just like Symbian or Harmattan, you need a developer account and a AppHub registration which costs 99$ and comes with the ability to publish apps to the marketplace.

Enter ChevronWP7 Labs, they developed an hack that allowed to side load apps and in a way ‘jailbreak’ your Windows Phone. However that wasn’t Microsoft approved and they were soon approached by Microsoft and here’s where you’ll be surprised. Instead of just shutting them down and threatening to void warranties Microsoft actually started working with Chevron Labs to reach a middle ground in order to support homebrew development. The result is the Microsoft blessed ChevronWP7 Labs.

In their own words, ‘ChevronWP7 Labs was designed to allow hobbyist developers to install, run, and debug unsigned applications on their personal Windows Phone’. But even if you’re not a developer and want the ability to side-load apps, its 9$ away. There’s already a few apps that you may like including a screenshot utility and a battery status live tile. So to ‘unlock’ your device ‘You log into the site with your Windows Live ID, pay a small fee, and presto — you’re ready to write and share some homebrew code’.

Here’s how all of this will work in a little more detail:

  • All you need to get started is a Windows Live ID. It’s important to note that we don’t need the Windows Live ID tied to your phone. We simply require any Windows Live ID to simplify the registration and login process.
  • After registering, users will have the ability to purchase and manage what we’re calling “unlock tokens”. One token equals one unique Windows Phone device registration. (You get unlimited re-registrations of that device should the need arise.) Tokens will cost $9.00 USD and be sold via PayPal. If having a Paypal account makes you cringe though, you can elect to check out with a credit card instead.
  • On the desktop, you’ll run our custom version of the unlocking tool. It’s very similar to the official “developer registration” tool, however instead of requiring an App Hub account, it requires an unlock token. Oh and it looks prettier. Otherwise, it behaves identically. No magic spells. No exploits. Your phone’s warranty and support lifelines will remain intact.
  • When using our tool, you may notice the “unlock queue” – you’ll be put into one. This queue exists to serialize our unlock requests for various security and administrative reasons, so we’ll just apologize for the inconvenience right now. We’ll be monitoring these queues to ensure they’re kept short and will add capacity where needed.

The team also adds:

We know that our work is sometimes misinterpreted as promoting “jailbreaking” activities. This is not the case. Our goal is to help bright people do awesome things without infringing upon the developer community with apps in the Marketplace. In fact, we had many conversations with Microsoft to make sure we do this the right way. It may be the long way around, but we feel this approach is ethical, the best way to ensure that the program stays alive and hobbyists like us get more access to cool toys.

So there you go, Microsoft isn’t willing to just let anyone side load apps just yet, but if you’re looking for a way to do so, its good to know there’s an official option available. Nokia users have been used to side-loading apps all the time, and may be the company will be able to use its influence to open the platform up a little. But till that time, there’s always ChevronWP7 Labs. In an ideal world Microsoft should directly let users ‘unlock’ their device for free, with all the disclaimers attached. But this move still shows that they seem to ‘get it’.

Nokia Lumia 710 Hands On

The Lumia 710 is the more affordable of the Windows Phone smartphones that were announced at Nokia World. The candybar device will ship in black and white for an unsubsidized price of 270 Euros, before taxes. It packs a 5 Megapixel Camera with a LED flash, a 3.7″ CBD LCD display, and weighs in at 126 grams.

On the inside, its similar to the Lumia 800, packing a 1.4 Ghz Qualcomm MSM8255 (WCDMA) processor with 512 MB of RAM. Another interesting thing about the Lumia 710 is that swappable back covers make a comeback to Nokia devices. So you can have a black or white Lumia 710 with backs ranging from blue, yellow, pink and a few other colours.

Another remarkable aspect of the device is that instead of the usual capacitive Windows Phone buttons at the bottom, the 710 has physical buttons. I am not a huge fan of these as to my mind they detract from the seamless touch experience. That said, you will probably get used to them very quickly.

Like the Lumia 800, the 710 ships with Nokia Drive, Nokia’s free in-car navigation app pre-installed. Also present is he Mix Radio functionality which lets you stream playlists based on genre for free and even save them for offline listening.

(Available in HD)

All in all, the Lumia 710 is presents a fairly compelling proposition if you are looking for a speedy mid range smartphone, and if you like Windows Phone, the Lumia 710 could quite easily be one of the better options out there. We’ll be covering the Lumia 710 in more detail in the future, for now here’s my hands on video from Nokia World.

Looking for the Lumia 800? Find all the coverage including unboxing, hands on video and pictures, a beautiful picture gallery, Camera and  video samples and finally an in-depth look.

Dear Nokia, We Need A Localised Version Of The Idea Project: Here’s How It Should Work

Nokia’s made the big move to Windows Phone, and that means it’ll be a fresh start for its developers. While Windows Phone with Microsoft’s backing has had some success getting the big name developers to deploy apps on its platform, it still has a bit of catching up to do.

But as we’ve seen, it’s not just about the big brand apps that have global appeal. A lot of the times, the end users care about the fact that whether or not their local bank has an app on the App Store or whether their favourite multiplex has an app that lets them book tickets to their favourite movies on the go. So here’s what I propose.

Nokia is clearly willing to spend a lot of time, effort and money to promote Windows Phone, and make sure its customers have an amazing experience.

  • So just like the Ideas Project, Nokia should have a local site, divided by countries where users can suggest and then vote for their ‘local’ apps. The idea is not to find new and innovative apps, but help find out which apps are possible deal breakers for users in their desire to switch to Nokia or Windows Phone devices in general. For example, my local multiplex PVR Cinemas has an Android app that I use regularly. I’d very much like such an app to be available on Windows Phone. Same with my bank, and so on.
  • Once this is website is setup, e.g. india.ideasproject.com, uk.ideasproject.com etc, I could then go there, search for the ‘PVR Cinemas’ app to see if someone has already requested it, if yes, vote for it. If not, add it so that others can also vote for it.
  • Then every month, the local Nokia people in each country who are associated with developer engagement, look at this list and pick the top 5 out of those apps. They then try to get those companies or developers to develop for the platform. This push could range from just approaching the company/developer and showing him the benefits of developing for Nokia/Windows Phone, to hooking them up with hardware and support, to even fully or partly funding the project, the last option of course used cautiously because you just don’t need a version 1, you need the developer/company to keep supporting the app, adding new features etc.

This would not be for any prizes or fame for the end users, nor does Nokia need to promise that they’ll be able to get 5 of those apps into the Marketplace. But the fact that Nokia is listening and very actively trying to get its users what they need, would reassure a lot of people who are wondering whether to switch. I’ve heard Nokia was influential in getting Whats App onto the Windows Phone platform, and I’d see them use their influence more and more.

What I have in mind is a very broad outline, and I’m you guys can think of a better way to do it. Have something specific in mind? Please comment, I’m sure Nokia would want to know!

Nokia’s Dual Core Windows Phone Chip Supplier Confirmed To Be ST-Ericsson

My Nokia Blog has the scoop on what chips Nokia’s next gen Windows Phones will run on, while Marketwatch has the press release from ST-Ericsson stating that they have been chosen as Nokia’s key partner for its Windows Phones. Specifically, its the company’s NovaThor platform that has been selected and it packs powerful chips such as the U9500, U8500 and U5500, all of which are dual-core.

“We are pleased to have been selected by Nokia as a key partner for Windows smartphones, in line with our goal to be present in all segments and major operating systems,” said Gilles Delfassy, president and CEO of ST-Ericsson. “Our NovaThor platforms continue to gain traction as they enable customers to bring great smartphones to the market.”

This is great news for the ecosystem, as competition between chip makers is sure to ensure faster innovation, which means speedier and more efficient performance for us. Earlier, Qualcomm was the only supplier for Windows Phone chips and thus enjoyed a monopoly of sorts. While this doesn’t mean that Nokia will abandon using Qualcomm altogether, I’d sure like to see a Nokia flagship running on that DB9500 chip.

If you’re curious about what to expect from the U9500:

  • Full HD 1080p camcorder, multiple codecs supported (H264 HP, VC-1, MPEG-4)
  • High-resolution, touchscreen display support up to WXGA
  • Simultaneous dual display support up to dual XGA
  • High performance 3D graphics
  • Dual camera support with Integrated ISP 20 Mpixel and 5 Mpixel
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and FM enabled platform
  • Built-in USB 2.0, HDMI out
  • Support for major operating systems
  • Optional support for mobile TV standards

Although the press release doesn’t mention any of these chips specifically, there are only three NovaThor chips listed on the ST Ericsson website.

[via: My Nokia Blog]

On The Road To The Lumia 800, Was The N9 A Speed Bump?

The Nokia N9 has been a somewhat difficult subject for Nokia, one that they are, and should be, immensely proud of. But one that has raised more questions than answers. When the February announcement with Microsoft came, everyone wondered what was happening to Nokia’s upcoming MeeGo phone. Nokia was quick to point out that they would indeed release a MeeGo based device. Then word started coming out that the original MeeGo device, which we now know as the developer only N950, had been canned, and replaced by a beautiful new touch only flagship.

Soon enough, Nokia Connections came and Nokia unveiled the N9. The reaction to that device was incredible, ranging from people calling for Elop’s head because of his decision to kill MeeGo, to calmer, saner voices wondering if Nokia should keep the MeeGo project going, if for nothing but just to keep Microsoft in check. Then we found out that the N9 would only be available in a handful of countries, the world was literally shocked. It made no sense, why release a product at all if you weren’t going to ship it to major markets such as UK, India, US among others. While the world waited and hoped that Nokia would reconsider, another thing happened.

In The Lumia 800 Picture, Where Does The N9 Fit?

A device code named Sea Ray, which we now know as the Lumia 800 leaked. Infact, Stephen Elop’s entire presentation to the employees, which was supposed to be shared on the company intranet, got out. Some called it a controlled leak, while most just took the device in and didn’t care as long as the could look at an unreleased Nokia phone, specially a secret Nokia Windows Phone. The result was that a lot of the chants of ‘bring the N9 to my country’ stopped. Nokia’s policy was finally beginning to make sense, they weren’t going to release a device that looked just like the N9 in the same market as the N9, specially when that device would define their foray into the Windows Phone market.

The N9 shipped to positive reviews, mine included, but the consensus among the reviews clearly was that as much as they loved the device, they couldn’t honestly recommend the N9 to someone knowing that the Sea Ray was around the corner. But the N9’s core strengths really came through, a breath-taking design, a unique yet intuitive UI that made sense, and judging by the Maps and browser, Nokia could do software.

Finally, last week the Lumia 800 was revealed at Nokia’s megaevent with literally thousands watching. The stock market liked what they saw and the Nokia stock started climbing. A did a quick hands on and unboxing and then two days later a much more through (p)review. I really seemed to like the device.

This is when we all wondered, if we had not seen the N9 before would we have loved the Lumia 800 even more? The short answer to that question for me is yes. When you first look at that design, most people go head over heels over it and if Stephen Elop got on stage at Nokia World and showed off that design for the first time, we’d have had an even bigger WOW.

In The Lumia 800 Picture, Where Does The N9 Fit In?

Now for the long answer, knowing that the Sea Ray was coming, should Nokia have released the N9? I’d again say yes. Why? First and foremost, the people in the countries where the Lumia 800 is going on sale haven’t seen the N9. So for a vast majority the design is fresh, new and amazing. The minuscule minority, which has seen the design before will still love it, its still less than two months old in the real world and Windows Phone doesn’t make it any less pretty. Infact, I’d say that the jazzy WP UI is a great match to the N9’s physical design.

Next, in various interview Elop’s stated that it was a great platform for Nokia to learn from, see what people like and go on from there. He’s made it clear that none of the N9’s strength’s are going away. We’ve already seen the design used with the Lumia 800, Qt is coming to the next billion and the Swipe UI will apparently make its way to Meltemi, Nokia’s now not so secret platform for low-mid range devices.

Finally, the period between February to October was long and painful. Nokia was bleeding marketshare and on top of that mindshare, which we all know can be as bad as loosing marketshare. The N9 showed the world that innovation was still alive and well at Nokia and that the Finnish giant was far from dead. The message was imagine if this is what we can do alone, think about what we’ll do with Windows Phone in a few months.

At the end of the day, the glory period for the N9 is over. Its all about the Lumia 800 now, no matter how you feel about open source versus the closed Windows Phone platform, its water under the bridge. With the marketing blitz planned for Windows Phone devices, only the die hards will cherish the N9 and don’t get me wrong, it’s a device meant to be cherished. The N9 will keep selling in countries where the Lumia 800 isn’t shipping as yet and I’m sure Nokia will provide great support for it, but its time for the Lumia 800 to hold the Nokia torch.

In The Lumia 800 Picture, Where Does The N9 Fit?

The N9 will remain a crown jewel in Nokia’s arsenal, a hacker’s phone, a Qt device to help prime the developers for the next billion. So I don’t fault Nokia for announcing it and then the Lumia 800, look at what Apple did with the iPhone 4 and 4S, those things even run the same OS! The N950 would never have been able to generate the kind of buzz for Nokia that the N9 did, it bided time for the transition and it was never a lost cause. Nokia’s goals with the N9 were just, lets say, different.