Google Officially Brings Google Search To Windows Phone 7

Over the past few weeks Google has started considering Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 as an OS to stay. Google Analytics started listing Windows Phone as OS under mobile, followed by Google enabling multiple calendar sync for Windows Phone 7.

The love did not stop there. If one visited Google’s homepage via IE on WP7, there’s a big option to pin Google on your homescreen. Here’s what it looks like:

Once pinned, a tile to’s mobile website is added to the homescreen and I quite like the tile icon:

While Google doesn’t have an official app for WP7, it is an interesting approach of using Microsoft’s new found love for turning web pages into applications; a trend that will continue with Windows 8.

Update: @harsha_g11 pointed out that the guys at WPCentral spotted this two weeks back.

Windows Phone Gets Foursquare Menus Before iOS [4th & Mayor Updated]

Last week I wrote about how Foursquare is now expanding and setting itself to compete with Yelp. The Foursquare Explore and restaurant menus features introduced to the web (and subsequently to the Android app) is quite promising.

When Foursquare introduced the restaurant menu feature for Android, I cringed. There was a voice deep down within me that said, “Oh well, WP7 won’t be getting any love soon.” But to my surprise, 4th & Mayor released an update yesterday that brings menus to Windows Phone 7. Within a week of opening push notifications to users with v3.1, 4th & Mayor v3.2 adds restaurant menus & checkins using QR codes.

While Foursquare has an official app for Windows Phone 7, the app isn’t as good as the widely popular 4th & Mayor. The developer behind 4th & Mayor is Jeff Wilcox, a senior developer at Microsoft. For a brief period, Foursquare directed users to 4th & Mayor as the official client. In my opinion, 4th and Mayor is one of the best apps on the platform and probably a superior Foursquare client on any mobile platform.

Timely updates to apps with new features and more apps is what Windows Phone needs.

Foursquare Going Beyond Check-ins, Aims To Replace Yelp & The Likes

I love Foursquare. be it checking into a place and sharing it on Facebook or be it the competition to be a mayor—it’s simply fun to tag where I was. Foursquare is also one of the poster-boys of successful web-startups. What makes Foursquare a lot more interesting is that it isn’t from the Valley but from New York City, the city is trying to attract startups; Facebook recently opened a major engineering center too.

Not long ago, Foursquare introduced a feature called Foursquare Explore to their mobile applications for users to find places they can visit around their current location. Categorized locations according to activities have been quite handy—from finding Indian restaurants to hookah bars—you can get useful suggestions. The feature was available only via the phone apps until Foursquare added it to their website. Their intentions were clear—Foursquare was expanding. No more just a casual app limited to tech enthusiasts with smart phones, Foursquare was gunning for services like Yelp, AroundMe etc. Foursquare is leveraging their self-populating database of photographs, tips and categorized locations, to give users better options. Then there are specials for loyal & new customers!

With Foursquare Explore for the web, the company is also offering restaurant menus on the website. (For example.) AboutFoursquare is reporting that the feature is now available in Foursquare’s Android app, iOS should follow soon. For a company that was being considered as a victim of Facebook Places, beat Facebook and is ready to take-down some major players in location services. A new swanky office, a product constantly evolving for the better, Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai are kicking ass!

via About Foursquare (Restaurant Menus) & (Menus in Android app)

[Update] Microsoft India Says Lumia 900 Coming To India “Soon”

Earlier today the team behind the Windows Phone account on Facebook shared the link to CNET’s article oh why Nokia’s Lumia 900 is a great phone. The device has received a lot of applaud from industry experts who got to see Nokia’s Stephen Elop unveil the device at CES earlier this month. Microsoft India sharing the link seemed a little odd to me since the device has been “designed specifically for the US” according to Microsoft and Nokia; so I asked if the Lumia 900 will be released in India. The answer was a pleasant surprise. According to the team behind the Facebook account for Windows Phone, Lumia 900 will be made available in India at some point:

I wouldn’t hold my breath though.

Update:  Not shocking but the comment is now deleted.

EA To Bring Need for Speed Hot Pursuit To Windows Phone 7

Towards the end of 2011, I went on a rant against EA and their support for Windows Phone 7. It was around the time when Microsoft and their partners announced a new range of Windows Phone 7 handsets. A year ago with the first wave of devices, EA announced 4 titles for the platform. I continue to be a fan of the Need for Speed series and while I may not be as hardcore today as I was, I enjoy the game a lot more than any other racing game I’ve tried. Need for Speed Undercover was among my first purchases when I got my Samsung Focus and I still play it from time to time. Today, on the official Windows Phone blog, Microsoft shared details about 4 new games headed to Windows Phone 7 in February, the first title in their list?—Need for Speed Hot Pursuit.

Tim McDowd, writing for Microsoft says the game will have 24 tracks (day & night) and 48 career events, doesn’t sound like a lot but I am not complaining. I expect the game to be priced at around $6 ($5.99 or $6.99) like most popular Xbox LIVE titles. McDowd shared just one teaser screenshot from the game:

Along with NFS HP, first person shooter fans should be excited about Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell availability on the platform. Toy Soliders: Boot Camp and BulletAsylum are the other two games.

Nokia Offers Free Hotel Rides For CES Attendees In Metro Tiled Buses

Earlier today the New York Times published a two-page write up on the design brilliance of Windows Phone 7. Not appreciated for their software designs, the New York Times article tries to make the point that with Windows Phone 7, Microsoft has turned a new leaf. Within the article was information about the launch of Nokia’s flagship Windows Phone 7 device—Lumia 900. Picked up by several websites, the NYT says Nokia will unveil the Lumia 900 at CES. The phone will sport a sleek metallic body, 4.3″ screen and 8MP camera. The phone will be sold via AT&T and will be at the center of the $2 Million marketing push planned by Microsoft and Nokia. As part of the promotions planned, AT&T representatives will be given incentives for promoting the new range of Windows Phone 7 devices, something that Microsoft should’ve done at Mango’s launch.

All this brings me to Nokia’s presence at CES 2012 happening at Vegas. Microsoft’s Ben Lower who reached Vegas shared on Twitter Nokia’s early bird promotions for their announcements. Nokia is offering free bus rides to attendee hotels at the airport. The buses covered in Nokia’s Windows Phone 7 Lumia art work have some rather catchy captions. According Lower, Nokia is also demonstrating the devices to attendees. Images courtesy Ben Lower:

While I am travelling India, Keith, Parth and Romit from Techie Buzz will be at ground zero to bring us hands-on coverage of the event.

Microsoft Surface To Allow Glassless Interaction With 3D Objects Someday

A couple of days ago I came across job posting on Microsoft’s website where the company was looking for an engineer to work on the core aspects of the next generation of Microsoft Surface—the expensive table that’s a computer. The posting had no details about what the next generation Surface might have. Microsoft Research, however, has now uploaded an interesting video showing interaction with a 3D object on a table-top surface. The cool part, it is glassless 3D. The concept shown in the video uses Microsoft’s Kinect to recognize the interaction and some IR cameras beneath the table. Microsoft’s Surface v2 got rid of the bulky look and introduced a sleek design, the table shown in the video is a bulky one.

The research project called Vermeer has been created at Microsoft Research’s Cambridge facility. The research team explains Vermeer as:

Vermeer is a novel interactive 360° viewable display suitable for a tabletop form factor. It provides viewpoint corrected stereoscopic 3D graphics to simultaneous users 360° around the display, without the need for eyewear or other user instrumentation.

A short video prepared by the team demonstrates the concept with some technical background:

PCWorld named Vermeer as one of the top 10 research projects to watch out for.

Microsoft Makes SkyDrive Fun, What? PDF Support For Hotmail Coming

Today morning the SkyDrive team was excited. My twitter feed was filled tweets and retweets about what is a significant update to the service. Though not many talk about SkyDrive when talking about consumer cloud services, for the Windows ecosystem, SkyDrive is pretty sweet.

PDF? Here you go!

The latest update has several changes around usability that  include right clicks, moving documents and renaming–an experience like on the desktop. As someone who uses SkyDrive a lot for keeping documents synced and accessible everywhere, the lack of PDF support annoyed me. Unlike Google Docs, Hotmail & SkyDrive needed me to download the PDF to view. Not anymore on SkyDrive. I can share and view PDF documents much like Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents on Office Web Apps.

My first reaction when I learnt about this was of joy. My second reaction was when will Hotmail bring in PDF support. As of now, a Word, Excel or PowerPoint attachment can be opened using Office Web Apps and no need of downloading the document. With the new SkyDrive update, I am certain that Hotmail will be getting the same too. I asked someone from the Hotmail team and got a positive response.

SkyDrive, the photo network

The other minor addition to SkyDrive which I really love is a tiny map showing geolocation. For those not cool enough to  use a Windows Phone 7 device aren’t aware that you can automatically sync your photographs to SkyDrive and the native Twitter integration uploads shared images to SkyDrive. Along with all the other meta information of a picture (size, format, camera, date), SkyDrive now has a map with a pin of where the picture was taken. This takes SkyDrive a step closer to being a photo sharing network.

Making documents social

Collaboration is a key feature of cloud computing. Google Docs and Microsoft Office both offer shared editing and access to documents; Microsoft however, has been working on letting you bring your Facebook friends into this and reducing the sharing complications. In a labs project called, Microsoft allows you to share documents on Facebook  and set which Facebook friends of you have access to the document. Although is a good product it did not catch the fancy of the Facebook user.

I wrote about being on the chopping block an year ago; the latest SkyDrive update is another nail in’s coffin.  The new social sharing in SkyDrive has a limitation over as of now. Unlike on, a document I share on Facebook is open to all, a shortcoming I expect the SkyDrive to fix soon.

I can now share documents on Facebook, MySpace (yea, I know!) and LinkedIn. There is the usual sharing via email. The neat addition to sharing is you can get three separate links to a document for:

  • View Only
  • View and Edit
  • Make it public

Microsoft Updates WP7 OS X Client, Brings Ringtone Support

Over the thanksgiving weekend while everyone was updating their parents’ browsers, Microsoft rolled out an update for Windows Phone 7’s OS X client. On Windows, Zune is the client; on OS X, Microsoft has a no-frills & simple sync client. According to the details shared on Apple’s App Store, the new update has a couple of feature additions. With Windows Phone 7 Mango, Microsoft introduced custom ringtone support and now OS X users can add ringtones to their WP7s without Zune. The ringtones need to be less than 39 seconds and no more than an MB.

The update log says 13 additional languages are now supported by the client and that there is drag and drop support for the Browse window. I am not entirely sure if these are new additions. The WP7 Mac client has had Aperture support for a while in addition to iTunes and iPhoto sync.  Aperture is an image editing software by Apple for photographers. The update log:

Some screenshots:

Paid-Apps On Windows Phone Microsoft Journalists Recommend & Use

When Microsoft announced the apps worth $25 free with new Windows Phone 7 devices I wondered what apps I would’ve bought. I looked at my list of installed apps and there weren’t many that I bought. I searched the marketplace for apps I might want to buy, I surprisingly didn’t find many. I then decided to ask some of my peers from the Microsoft beat as to what apps they use. Here’s a list of apps (both paid and free) suggested by those who follow Microsoft everyday.

Adam Lein at PocketNow (  @adamzea)

Daniel Rubino at WPCentral (  @malatesta77)

He’s behind my favorite Windows Phone blog and he sent me a long list of apps he likes. Here are the paid ones:

  • BoxFiles for Dropbox ($1.29) — A Dropbox (and SkyDrive) client; there’s a free version  (ad supported without SkyDrive support)  too.
  • Fuse ($1.29) — News reader
  • Weave ($3) — RSS reader that has a free version as well.
  • Thumba Photo Editor ($1) — the best $1 you’d ever spend on an app. It’s like Photoshop on mobile.
  • WeatherLive  ($1.50) — I personally use AccuWeather, it has ads, is free and the live tile works.
  • Garmin StreetPilot  ($35, no kidding!) — expensive navigation but if you’re a fan of Garmin’s devices it might be worth it .
  • Handyscan ($2.5) — the app acts as a scanner and document manager. Scanned documents can be uploaded to Dropbox, SkyDrive or saved as a PDF and emailed. There’s a free version too.
  • IM+ Pro ($5) — Multi protocol chat client that has a free version too. Gtalk, Skype and a bunch of others. I’d still prefer Mango’s native Facebook integration for Facebook chat.
  • NextGen Reader  ($2) — a Google Reader client
  • Ffffound  ($1) — a WP7 app for the blog, brings you inspirational and creative images.

Tom Warren of WinRumors  (  @TomWarren)

Techie Buzz has learnt that Tom Warren would have you pay for only two apps:

  • Network Dashboard  ($0.99) —  Network Dashboard is a very handy utility. It’s on my useful apps list as well. The app now costs $0.99 but was initially free. A simple app that creates live tiled shortcuts for WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth and Airplane mode. The live tiles have multiple templates and the app will even remind you to turn the WiFi or 3G ON/OFF.  (Toggle is a free alternative.)
  • Pictures Lab  ($3) —  Pictures Lab is a photo manipulation app. It lets you apply filters, frames etc., the usual stuff.

Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet (ZDNet @maryjofoley), Scott Lovegrove (@scottisafool) and Kip (@kipkniskern) from LiveSide (

When I asked MJF, she had an interesting answer, she said was a person of few apps and she’d be willing to pay for apps local to her city. The one example she had was museum guides. For her, games aren’t very exciting either. Now if I look at Adam’s list, he has 2 apps and 3 games. Scott and Kip both said they didn’t buy a of lot apps (Scott bought 1). When I looked at my list, I bought only two apps—Thumba Photo Editor and Thumba Cam. I did however buy a few games (NFS, Assassin’s Creed, Angry Birds, Flight Control, Fruit Ninja, PES and Revolution).

I decided to look at the iTunes top 10 paid apps list and I wasn’t surprised to see 8 games and just 2 apps. Android however, had 7 apps and just 3 games. The thing about Android’s list is that, of the 7 apps, 1 was a music player (probably the default player sucks?), a ROM manager (for those who love root access), an alternate keyboard (maybe like the music player, the keyboard sucked too), a File Manager (yea, well, it’s Android…) and a widget manager (I don’t even want to start on that). The thing is, the default Android setup (UI/UX) till ICS looked pretty bad to me compared to Windows Phone & even the iOS. All this in addition to Android not being a great gaming device, perhaps, would explain the list.

I wonder whether mobile applications actually are great revenue generators when there is no subscription involved.