Tag Archives: Update

LG Optimus 3D Gets The Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread Update At Rogers

Last year, LG announced its first 3D smartphone, the LG Optimus 3D at the CES 2011 in Las Vegas. This handset was shipped with the old Android 2.2 (Froyo) Operating System. The international SIM-free version of this handset has already received the Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) update. However, the owners of some carrier-specific variants are still waiting for this update. Rogers and LG recently started rolling out the Android 2.3.5 update for the Rogers’ Optimus 3D variant in Canada. Check out the complete changelog below.

lg optimus 3d

Changelog:

Enhanced HSPA+ Network Speed

  • Faster data speeds from 14 Mbs to 21 Mbs

Enriched 3D Experience

  • Improved video playback in 2D and 3D
  • 3D Video Editor with the abilitu to create new projects (Video timeline, Adding video clips, images and sound and Cropping and trimming length)
  • 2D to 3D conversion for videos and images
  • 3D to 2D conversion supports both images and videos
  • Easy to convert Open-GL games from 2D to 3D—Most apps are built on the Open-GL platform which is an open, standardized language for writing apps.

Improved Multimedia

  • Improved video recording quality to 12 Mbs HD
  • Improved battery life with low-power modes during music playback
  • Video stabilization support for both 2D and 3D
  • Upgraded sound quality with Dolby Mobile Effect when a user has the ear jack/BT Headset (Stereo)
  • Improved camera loading and switching time from 2.5 seconds to 1 second
  • Improved 3D depth with 720p camera

It is advised to backup all your data before updating the device. You should also make sure that the battery is fully charged before updating your phone. Sadly, this update will not be available via OTA (Over-The-Air). You will need to manually download the update from the LG Canada’s support site and update your phone. If you find something new in this update, then let us know in the comments below.

Nokia Still Showing Love to the N9 – PR1.2 Right Around the Corner

Even though Nokia has gone full tilt to Windows Phone 7, and in the process, taken the design of the recently announced Lumia 800/900 from the N9, they are adamant in providing updates to the dead-on-arrival handset.

Just shy of 2 months from the PR1.1 update, Nokia Developer has announced that PR1.2 will become available for registered developers and participants in the N950 Developer Program. It will be in a beta stage for testing and provided to ensure application compatibility before full public launch on the N9.

Among the 3,500 expected changes, the ability to create folders on the homescreen, copy and paste in the browser, and face recognition within the camera, are the top additions. Although no official changelog has been released, likely due to the fact that the OneClickFlashers for the N950 have not been released, screenshots from an N9 already running PR1.2 have been shared online.

While Nokia does have a fairly strong track record of providing updates and fixing serious bugs on released devices, some have indicated that PR1.2 will be the last update for the N9, as the company moves forward headstrong with Windows Phone 7. Hopefully the update also brings with it, the much requested (and promised) ‘open-mode’, giving developers more low level system access — which will also allow the community to continue updating their devices when Nokia stamps it as EOL.

If you’re a lucky (or unlucky) user of an N9, you’ll likely be waiting anywhere from a few week or a few months until PR1.2 is officially released for your N9. Hang in there, this might be the last hurrah for you and your coveted MeeGo device.

Windows Phone Executive: It’s “Business as Usual” with Windows Phone Updates

Windows Phone Blurry

In a blog post yesterday, Microsoft indicated that going forward there were two changes coming to Windows Phone updates: That they would put out an update which carriers could request, and that the weekly updates they used to post about the extent of deployment of the phone updates, were ending.

Needless to say, Windows Phone users and enthusiasts (including yours truly) did not like it. There was an uproar on twitter, as well as in the comments on the blog post, about how this was a regression. It was generally thought that Microsoft has in fact got push back from the carriers and OEMs who did not like being publicly held responsible for delayed updates to their customers.

However, Mary-Jo Foley says in a blog post today at ZDNet, that per Microsoft, it is business as usual. Greg Sullivan, Senior Product Manager with Windows Phone clarified in a phone call with Foley that nothing has changed as far as relationships with carriers is concerned. He said that carriers always had the choice of requesting an update to push to their customers’ phones. He also clarified that with the number of phones as well as carriers increasing, maintaining the detailed list of where the updates are per country, per carrier, per phone, would become unwieldy. As a result, they decided not to publish the granular updates anymore.

Personally, I understand both these points. In fact, as far as updates are concerned, we knew around the time of the initial launch that carriers had the right to skip one (and only one) update, and since all Windows Phone updates were cumulative, customers would get the older updates in the next cycle. Given that Windows Phone is going to expand in terms of markets served, carriers supporting it and OEMs building devices for it, I also completely understand that maintaining the list on a weekly basis would in fact be an extremely painful exercise.

The issue clearly then, is communication. Why were these two points not included in the original blog post? It would have helped put some color to the decision they made, rather than create unnecessary angst among the public and lead to irresponsible speculation about the actual cause of the change.

While I do understand these points, I am still absolutely not ok with the lack of understanding where my update is, and how responsible my carrier is about getting me the latest fixes. Given that the carriers have absolutely no interest in putting more time and effort in servicing customers within contract, I am going to assume they are guilty until they prove themselves innocent.

AT&T, are you listening? Man up, and send the updates out to us. Yes, that includes the earliest adopters on 1st generation phones like Samsung Focus.

Windows Phone Updates Are Now Completely Opaque

Windows Phone Opaque

Windows Phone behind a frosted glass

After the “NoDo” update mess, the Windows Phone engineering team took a major u-turn and did several things right. They became more transparent by having a blog and a site dedicated to providing the latest status of a certain update by carrier, by phone model, by country/geography. Secondly, they got together with the OEMs and the carriers to do a coordinated deployment of the first major update, Windows Phone 7.5 (codename Mango).

So, why do I say they have become opaque? This afternoon, over at the Windows Blog, Eric Hautala, General Manager of Customer Experience Engineering announced that going forward they are going to discontinue the constant, weekly updates they were putting out on the blog. Instead, they will provide news of updates on the main Windows Phone blog. Also, that this update (and presumably others, going forward) is going to be up to the carriers to request from Microsoft and provide to end users.

The update, available to all carriers that request it, is part of our ongoing maintenance of Windows Phone

What? The carriers have to request the update? Why would they? If they request the update, they’d have to run a long test cycle to validate the update. Then they’d have to roll it out to their users. It takes a lot of engineering effort on the part of the carriers to undertake these tests. Why would they, unless it is a huge issue like a major security vulnerability or if phones are becoming useless (“bricked”)? Absolutely no reason.

Microsoft has to push the carriers (and OEMs) to push the updates to the phones that are impacted. Sometimes not all phones on all carriers are impacted, but instead of relying on the carriers to request the update, Microsoft should be the one pushing the carriers to force the updates to the users. Unfortunately, unlike Apple, which treats you and I as their customers, Microsoft treats the carriers as their customers. That is not to say that the end customer is irrelevant to Microsoft, but clearly, the customers that pay Microsoft are the carriers and the OEMs.

I have mocked Android before, for being extremely slow in updating phones, but in that case at least, Google has admittedly washed their hands off the entire process by making Android free to use. Their argument could very well be that they have no control over the OEMs and therefore, it is futile to push the carriers who may have to do even longer testing because of the large variety of Android phones that are available. In Microsoft’s case though, all OEMs are known because it is a not a free license. The updates could be coordinated, as we saw in the case of “Mango”, among the various OEMs and carriers. That they have made a conscious decision not to mandate the carriers, shows that behind the scenes, something has changed politically which has led to this decision.

I am disappointed at these moves: first, the move to let the carriers request the update, but second and more importantly, the lack of the detailed communication regarding various updates, going forward. So, going forward, it will not only be unclear if you will receive the update, but also, you won’t know how far along your specific carrier is with the update deployment.

I can only imagine that the transparency did not go down well with Microsoft’s partners since it clearly exposed the OEMs (Samsung in particular) and carriers (Telefonica is an example) which were holding up the updates. However, the end user is the one who gets the short end of the stick here – not because they don’t receive the update, most normal customers don’t even care – mostly because their phone experience suffers. In the most recent update, there is an annoying, oft-occurring bug which has been fixed (“disappearing keyboard”). If AT&T does not pick it up and push the update out in the next few weeks, this Windows Phone user will definitely start watching the next iPhone rumors more closely.

Microsoft Releases Out-Of-band Update to patch .NET Framework

Microsoft has released an infrequent, out of band update to fix a security hole in .Net Framework.

Usually, Microsoft updates its software regularly through Patch Tuesday program. But in certain situations like this one, where the risks of exploitability are high, they try to patch it immediately.

Incidentally, this is also the 100th security update released by them this year and will probably be the last with just a day left for New Year.

The MS11-100 update patches four vulnerabilities in .NET Framework – one publicly disclosed and three privately reported.

According to Microsoft Security Bulletin,

The most severe of these vulnerabilities could allow elevation of privilege if an unauthenticated attacker sends a specially crafted web request to the target site. An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take any action in the context of an existing account on the ASP.NET site, including executing arbitrary commands. In order to exploit this vulnerability, an attacker must be able to register an account on the ASP.NET site, and must know an existing user name.

The security update addresses the vulnerabilities by correcting how the .NET Framework handles specially crafted requests, and how the ASP.NET Framework authenticates users and handles cached content.

The update is available for all supported version of Windows such as XP SP3, Windows Server 2003 SP2, Vista SP2, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and is rated critical. For those who have Automatic Update enabled, no user interaction is necessary as the update will be automatically downloaded and installed. For everyone else, I recommend installing this update as soon as possible since this is an out-of-band update and hence the risk level is high.

As always, the update can be acquired through Windows Update or downloaded from Microsoft Update.

Facebook, Googles Goggles and Google+ Apps For Android Get a Major Update!

Last night, quite a few popular Android apps got a pretty major update. First and foremost, the official Facebook app for Android was updated by the developers hired by Zuckerberg. The new update is a pretty major once, and brings some major UI enhancements along with faster notifications and access to the Games and apps available on Facebook.

FB

This new update finally makes Facebook for Android usable and nearly on par with its iOS counterpart. I would highly recommend all Android users to try out the latest version of Facebook for Android. Here is the download link of the app.

The big G also updated two of its apps, Goggles and Google+ app. The update for the Goggles app adds some new features including a Continuous mode. This mode allows users to use the Goggles app without pressing the shutter button. The app can now also recognize text in a document and provide a link of its online version.

The Google+ app was also updated last night, and its adds some much needed features like the ability to +1 a photo or a comment. Users can now also upload a high resolution photo directly on Google Pllus. Support for videos in Instant Upload was also added back. It was removed in the previous version because of a bug. The latest version of the Google+ app for Android can be downloaded from here.

BlackBerry PlayBook OS Update Pushed to 2012

If you were waiting for the PlayBook to get an update to OS2.0 before actually being useful, unfortunately you’ll have to continue waiting.

While RIM is going against all odds and continuing to provide support for the PlayBook, the shiny brick won’t be getting the expected update to OS 2.0 until February of 2012. It’s not the recently announced BBX, but it is supposed to be a fairly large upgrade for existing users. It wouldn’t be a product from Research in Motion if it didn’t ship missing crucial features, would it? Of course not, so it’s very fitting that RIM has decided to leave BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) support out of the update. That’s right, it’s going to take an additional 4 months of work before the system is polished up, but it still won’t have their proprietary instant messaging functionality. Feel free to purchase a new $500 (likely) BlackBerry to accompany your $700 PlayBook so you can use BBM with it. That’s a pretty good option, right?Maybe news of RIM doling out a couple of hundred PlayBooks loaded with OS 2.0 beta might make you feel better. Developers and any other DevCon attendees were given a new PlayBook. So, technical journalists, hobbyists and other random kids got them, but not paying customers. Members of the BlackBerry Early Access Program will also be getting closed betas of 2.0 shortly, this is mainly for tackling Enterprise support and integration.

In a post to the Inside BlackBerry Blog, Senior VP of BlackBerry PlayBook at RIM, David Smith gives a few reasons for the delay and lack of features upon launch.

First off, we have decided to defer the inclusion of the BBMâ„¢ application to a subsequent BlackBerry PlayBook OS release. We are committed to developing a seamless BBM solution that fully delivers on the powerful, push based messaging capabilities recognized today by BlackBerry ® users around the world and we’re still working on it. In the meantime, BlackBerry smartphone users will be able to continue to use BlackBerry ® Bridgeâ„¢ to securely access BlackBerry ® Messengerâ„¢ on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet’s high resolution display.

These betas will be rolled out over the course of this year and are an important next step to bringing our unmatched enterprise app deployment, device manageability, security and email integration capabilities to the tablet category.

There is a bit of good news in the tidbit. When OS 2.0 does pop around for download, it will bring integrated email, calendar and contacts. Your “business ready” tablet, isn’t exactly business ready at all, but it soon will be.

The software update will add advanced integrated email, calendar and contact apps, a new video store, as well as new functionality that will allow your BlackBerry smartphone and BlackBerry PlayBook to work together even better.

Hopefully this means a few software managers at RIM got slapped with a trout and are now starting to put actual work into the PlayBook. Their half-assed Android Player isn’t going to bring any new customers, so hopefully the brand spanking new OS, BBX, will make it to smartphones by February with the new PlayBook OS in tow.

HP Updates TouchPad To webOS 3.0.4.77

Even though you didn’t get your hands on a webOS TouchPad, there’s nothing stopping HP from providing marginal updates to their defunct platform, right?

HP has just started pushing out the latest update to the their tablet, the TouchPad. It’s still webOS, although there are ways to get Android running on yours. It’s a small update, it brings the usual speed improvement, performance and stability updates, and fixes some rather huge gaps in the system (that you probably never cared about). You may have noticed that puny 1.3 MP camera on the front, but that there was no way of actually using it to take pictures; well fear no more. There is now a built-in Camera app to take care of your video and picture-taking requirements. Likely, the camera attached to your phone is more suited than the TouchPad, but it’s nice that HP has addressed this.

You also may have been having issues pairing your phone with the TouchPad — that’s because in their infinite wisdom, HP decided to disallow non-webOS devices from connecting. Well, they’ve also fixed that. You can now pair any device, smart or dumb phone to your TouchPad and use it as a phone. Thanks HP, holding and talking into a 10″ screen is exactly what I want to do. Instead, HP should have added the Bluetooth DUN profile for tethering or maybe OBEX-FTP for sharing files between devices. There’s no reason a modern mobile platform should be missing either of these. Shame on you, HP.

Of course some other minor additions such as OGG Vorbis support, and being able to actually toggle between offline and online while logged in to an IM service have been added.

These certainly are nice additions that most definitely make up for HP stabbing Palm in the back, abandoning webOS and shattering the dreams of many customers. Thanks for the bone, HP! Next time, do all your customers a favor and instead of shipping 2 or 3 devices with Android pre-installed, set it up for everybody and save yourself the PR nightmare.

Microsoft fixes NoDo nightmare with super-efficient Mango rollout

Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) is here

On September 27, 2011, Microsoft began its rollout of the Windows Phone 7.5 operating system update. This update, codenamed Mango, is significant for Microsoft for  a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it  brings 500-odd new and updated features to Windows Phone 7, bringing it closer to the competition like iOS and Android.  More importantly,  it is also a litmus test for Microsoft’s update process after the disastrous update experience earlier (with NoDoand SSL certificateupdates). This article focuses on the excellent job Microsoft has been able to do in the update process.

Background

Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7 to general markets in October 2010, promising choice and variety over the monotony of iPhone, and a streamlined phone and application experience compared to the wild, wild west with Android. There were some glaring omissions in Windows Phone 7. Copy-paste and multitasking were two big items missing in the original release. Copy-paste functionality was announced as a soon-to-be-coming update at the time of the launch itself.

After a very long period of silence from Microsoft, it seemed like the NoDoupdate was finally being made available in March 2011. Even though Microsoft had not provided a date, this timeframe was thought to be a highly delayed one because it was common knowledge among Microsoft insiders that the update was ready by the end of December, and that carriers and OEMs were delaying the rollout to end users.

Besides being a highly delayed update for seemingly must-have capabilities like copy-paste, it turned out that not everyone was able to get the update at once. Compared to iOS updates, this process seemed extremely haphazard. After some very loud complaints about the lack of communication, Microsoft finally started blogging about the update process, and published a table which showed which carrier was pushing updates for the various phones. This table finally made it abundantly clear that the carriers were in fact holding up the update.

Competition

iOS updates are delivered on a specific date to every single device, regardless of carrier or country, as long as the device is eligible to get the update. This process has been in place since the very first software update they delivered. The only caveats are, over the years, certain devices have become ineligible for OS updates, and after Verizon introduced the iPhone, updates for the CDMA device are on a slightly different schedule. However, when an iOS update is made available, it is simply that available.

Android updates on the other hand are more sporadic and unpredictable. Google makes an update available for the OS, and then it is up to the OEMs and the carriers to certify that update. Google does not control the process at all, and lets the partners take care of delivering the update. Of course, Google’s Nexus devices get the updates at the time the OS is updated, but pretty much every device besides the Google Nexus devices will have their own schedule for receiving updates.

The beauty of Mango update

One huge surprise when the Mango update rollout was announced, was that almost all the phones across all the countries and all carriers were being updated. All at once! Globally, too. Granted, there are caveats like certain phones and especially phones with a certain firmware were not yet updating, and that it was a phased (throttled) rollout, but it is still incredible that in a matter of months Microsoft has been able to convince OEMs and carriers to cooperate and make this happen.

Unlike iOS where Apple is the OS maker as well as the OEM, Microsoft has to provide a build of the OS to the OEMs to test with, after which it would go to the carrier to test. Microsoft was able to get all the OEMs to synchronize their testing and then have all the carriers complete the testing by the time the update was announced as rolling out. This is incredible and it becomes immediately obvious when you compare it to Android which is much closer in its model than iOS is, to Windows Phone. The charts and table below show that as of September 2011, Android 2.3 and above are still only about 30% deployed. In about 6 months, Android has only been able to get to 30% deployment.

Android version distribution

Android version distribution

Android versions historical

Android versions – historical

In  the update announcement post, Microsoft is promising that in a few weeks, after throttling is disabled, every single existing device will have Mango available to them, across geographies, manufacturers and carriers. So in a matter of a few weeks, presumably, most Windows Phones will be on the latest version of the OS.

After its previous disasters in updates, Microsoft needed to prove that it had the muscle and the organizational setup to get an update rolled out smoothly. This announcement and subsequent reports of ease of applying the updates have proven that the ghastly memories of NoDo update can now be put away. Not only is Windows Phone the prettiest, most efficient and usable mobile operating   system with a range of carriers and OEMs to choose from, it is also an OS which updates like it should at once, uniformly, and quickly.

There’s a lot to be excited about Windows Phone coming up in the near (with Nokia) and distant future (with Windows 8 and possible merge of Windows Phone and Windows). As a Windows Phone user, I am glad that this update nightmare is over and cannot wait for what’s next!

Update: Just as I pushed “publish” on this post, I saw this update from Eric Hautala at the Windows Phone Blog, saying that the update is going so well, they are accelerating the rollout. Kudos, once again to everyone who’s behind this amazing turnaround. Remember Microsoft, this is now the new bar! :-)

Update 2: As of October 19, 2011, Microsoft has opened up the updates to generally everybody. This move is ahead of schedule and says a lot about the flawless nature of this update.

The Witcher 2 Version 2.0 Will Release With Major Changes

You have to hand it over to the guys over at CD Projekt RED (CDPR). They make brilliant games and they make sure that the customers who bought their games enjoy it for a while to come. With the original The Witcher, the Polish developer pushed a huge update that changed the game from a buggy and stunted experience to a fleshed out and stunning one for free with the Enhanced Edition. With their sequel, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, CDPR has been releasing update upon update since the day of release. On the 29th of September, the 2.0 patch will be available for the game featuring a host of fixes and three new gaming modes for replayability and additional challenge!

TheWitcher2

The three new modes for The Witcher 2 are Tutorial, Dark Mode and Arena. Most of it is self-explanatory, but I will write a couple of lines about each because we run a respectable blog here!

  • Tutorial: Considering how suddenly the game dropped you in the middle of a war camp and expected you to know everything implicitly (which was a good thing and a break from the norm of having a tedious tutorial mode), CDPR decided that a [perhaps] tedious tutorial was required. In this mode players rescue a knight called the Bastard of Bolton of Ironford while learning the basics of gameplay, swordplay and… alchemy-play.
  • Dark Mode: This is akin to the Hell Difficulty in Diablo II. Basically every foe in the game is extremely powerful and at times it feels like the game is cheating on you. However, there’s a sub-quest throughout the game outlining a dark legend and some powerful items of said legend are scattered throughout the realm for you to find and use. Sounds like fun!
  • Arena: What I found to be lacking in the original game was that while the combat brilliant, in my zeal I used to commit genocide of every foul thing present in an area and found monsters lacking after a while. The Arena pits Geralt of Rivia against an endless horde of monsters and thus try to quench my enormous bloodthirst.

So will you be re-installing The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings to install this update? I, for one, have not uninstalled the game yet.

Facebook Introduces Sweeping Sharing and Privacy Changes

It seems like we hear horror stories about Facebook every day. There are writers who spend all their time at Techie Buzz warning you about Facebook scams. Joel just did a great write up on how to not get hacked on the worlds largest social network. Now, it looks like Facebook is ready to help you control your sharing and privacy setting.

Announced today on their official blog, Facebook is introducing a slew of changes to their privacy and sharing settings. These are some seriously good changes for Facebook, which hasn’t always been known for giving users control over their sharing. There are a large number of smaller changes, but they can be broken down into two big categories. Let’s take a look at each one.

Tagging Changes

fb-privacy-1.jpg

The first tagging related change is the ability to control when tagged photos appear on your profile. In the past, when someone tagged you in a photo, it would appear on your profile automatically. That lead to many spam tags appearing on profiles, and that was a huge problem for users. Now, you can choose to approve or reject each tagged photo posting individually, giving you more control over what appears on your Facbook profile.

fb-privacy-2.jpg

The next major tagging change is an old feature brought back. In the old days of Facebook, you had the ability to approve or reject tags people added to your photos or posts. Facebook has brought that back for users, which is good news. Now random people tagging your photos without your knowledge won’t be a big deal anymore.

The next tagging change revolves around the tagging of non-friends and locations. Previously, Facebook only allowed you to tag people you are friends with in your posts. That meant that if you were with someone who you weren’t friends with, you couldn’t tag them. Now, you can, with their approval.

fb-privacy-3.jpg

In addition to that, you can now tag locations without checking into them, which makes locations much more useful. Interestingly enough, this change means that Facebook is now phasing out the mobile-only version of Places. That means that all settings associated with that will be removed, and will need to be replaced in the new location settings.

fb-privacy-4.jpg

The final tagging change revolves around the removal of tags and content on Facebook. In the past, the process of untagging and removing of content was unclear for many users. Now, Facebook will prompt you for a reason, which will allow you to take one of a set of actions against a piece on content. This marks a new phase for controlling your persona via Facebook, giving you the ability to request the takedown of a photo or even block a user based on a tag.

Sharing Changes

fb-privacy-5.jpg

The next big set of changes from Facebook revolves around sharing controls. Many of us (myself included) are enthralled by Google’s sharing system on Google+. Facebook now has something very similar with its Inline Sharing Controls. When you make a post on Facebook going forward, you will have the ability to select who gets to see it. Options include Public, Friends, and Custom, and will grow to include Facebook Lists in the near future.

In the past, once a post was posted you could not change the sharing settings. Now, you are given the option to change those settings after you hit ‘Post.’ This will allow you to stop that secret message for your best friends going out to everyone on the internet.

fb-privacy-6.jpg

The last change Facebook announced is a change in the way you handle your profile visibility. In the past, if you wanted to see what your profile looked like to the public, it was hard to do. Now, you will have a button on your Facebook profile to access these previews. This button is labeled ‘View Profile As…’, and will do just what I described.

Facebook: Now More Privacy Friendly

There you have it. Facebook is now working very hard to help users get more control over their content. These changes are, together, the most sweeping sharing and privacy changes Facebook has ever released. These new features will be released to all users over the next few days, starting today. When you receive them, you will get a walkthrough to see all the new changes.

What do you think of Facebook’s changes? Are you happy to see this kind of user privacy become a priority at Facebook? Is there a change you were hoping to see sometime soon? Let us know what you think in comment section below.

Windows Phone Mango Beta Refreshed; Twitter Integration Debuts

Yesterday, Microsoft announced Windows Phone Mango RTM. The RTM implies that the code is finished, and handed over to carriers and device manufacturers for testing and distribution to the customers. Today, Microsoft surprised developers by releasing Beta 2 Refresh of the Windows Phone SDK 7.1.

Also, Microsoft is pushing an OS update for developer-unlocked phones allowing developers to refresh the Mango update to Build 7712 corresponding to the SDK release. The RTM build is 7720. The Beta 2 of Windows Phone SDK 7.1 was released last month and developer-unlocked phones were updated to Mango (Build 7661). Although, the update has a RC moniker in the name when the tools are installed, this is an early version. The final Release Candidate would be released next month. The final Mango update would not be available to developers early, and would be pushed through the usual official channels.

Today’s update is available through the Mango Connect site. You would need to download and install the updated Zune software (4.8.2134.0) and an UpdateWP.exe file. Also download the Windows Phone SDK tools. Before you install any of these, first uninstall the previous versions of all three from your computer.

The latest update showcases Twitter integration in Windows Phone for the first time. Although the Twitter integration was announced and demoed earlier, the feature wasn’t included in the last update. I did a post on all points of Windows Phone experience where Twitter integrates.

The comprehensive integration touches all bases in Windows Phone. The integration is present in the Me tile, People Hub, Pictures hub, and Internet Explorer 9. The Twitter integration is very solid, and for infrequent Twitter users, this might just do away with the need for a Twitter client.

The tools update also adds a nifty screenshot capability built-in into Windows Phone Emulator allowing you to quickly take screenshots of your apps without using a separate app.

Motorola Bravo Android 2.2 FroYo Update Rolling Out Now

The AT&T branded Motorola Bravo is all set to receive a major software update from Motorola. The Bravo is similar to the Motorola Defy, except for the difference in radio bands.

Motorola will start rolling out a software update (v37.4.0) for the Bravo, which will update the Android OS of the handset to FroYo (Android 2.2).

Motorola_Bravo

While FroYo may not be the latest version of the Android OS, the OS update does bring with it some notable changes. After installing this update, Bravo users can enjoy Flash videos on their handset thanks to Flash 10.1.

The handset can now also act as a Mobile hotspot’ for up to five devices, and can USB tether to a Windows or a Linux desktop via an USB cable.

Along with all this, support for installing apps on the memory card, profiles features, a new task manager, an updated gallery, a bunch of new applications (Files, Latitude, Places, and News etc.) and smart dial function for the dialer are also onboard. The full change-log can be found here.

The update is an OTA one, and will be pushed to all Bravo handsets out there in due course of time.

Windows Phone 7 ‘NoDo’ Update Is Ready

The long awaited update for Windows Phone 7 is finally ready and will slowly be trickling out to handsets during the week. NoDo’ is the internal name (supposedly in jest of Google’s Donutmoniker) for the update and it brings along the much anticipated copy and paste feature, improved Marketplace searching and better Facebook contact integration. Although this update was first estimated to be available early February, Microsoft delayed to ensure compatibility and functionality for all handsets. Recent updates for Windows Phone 7 handsets were met with some troubles for Samsung devices and again were subsequently held off from public accessibility.

Microsoft has updated their Windows Phone 7 update history page to include the updates slated for March. The version numbering is bumped from 7.0.7008.0 to 7.0.7390.0 and a consumer-friendly changelog is present. In addition to core usability updates many other changes have been made, such as

    • Faster apps and games. Nobody likes to wait. That’s why we’ve whittled down the time it takes for apps and games to start up and resume. It’s all part of our focus on getting you to the things you love, easier and faster.

    • Other Marketplace improvements. We’ve improved the stability of Marketplace while you download apps.

    • Wi-Fi improvements. We now display your phone’s Media Access Control (MAC) address in Settings. (You might need this info if you try to connect to a Wi-Fi network that uses MAC address filtering.

    • Outlook improvements. We’ve improved the experience of viewing iPhone photo attachments you receive from a non-Exchange-based email account (such as a Google Mail, Hotmail, or Yahoo! Mail account), using the Global Address List (GAL) when connecting to Exchange Server 2003 using Exchange ActiveSync, and working with email display names that contain brackets (for example, "David Alexander [Contoso]").

    • Messaging improvements. We’ve improved the experience of receiving Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) messages if your phone uses a PIN-locked SIM.

    • Camera improvements. We’ve improved the stability of switching between camera and video modes.

    • Audio improvements. We’ve improved the experience of using a Bluetooth headset to make calls when you’re playing music or videos.

    • Other performance improvements. This month’s update also includes software from several phone manufacturers that improves the performance of specific models. Naturally, if you don’t have one of the affected models, we won’t install this portion of the update on your phone.

Since Windows Phone 7 lacks the integrated carrier customizations that many other platforms allow, Microsoft should have an easy time rolling out updates to all handsets in a timely fashion. Hopefully the days of market and localization-based update pushing are over and this can usher in a fast, seamless and user-friendly method of updating smartphones. Unfortunately, it does appear that you will need to connect your device to a computer in order to update through the Zune suite no OTA at this time.

TELUS Branded Motorola Milestone Android 2.2 Update To Roll Out Next Week!

It was just a couple of days ago that Motorola started rolling out the Android 2.2 Froyo update for the Milestone.

However, the update was meant only for unlocked and unbranded Milestone handsets. Nevertheless, Today Motorola Canada has announced that the company will be releasing the Froyo update for the TELUS branded Milestone handsets sometime next week.

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The Froyo update for the Milestone will bring with it performance improvements, bug fixes and some new features including Flash Player support. Other changes include JIT complier, new security features, text-to-speech and stability improvements.

The U.S. version of the Milestone, the Motorola Droid, got its Android 2.2 update just after a month of the official FroYo launch. However, it is only after nearly ten months that Motorola thinks it is time to update the Milestone to Android 2.2.

Officially, the Milestone got its Android 2.2 update this week. Unofficially, the phone got an Android 2.2 based Custom ROM last year in July itself!

This move clearly shows Motorola’s U.S. only strategies. The company has already highly restricted its activities outside the United States, and even closed a bunch of their service centers all over the world.

No wonder, most of the Motorola phones including the Droid X and the Atrix 4G have not been launched anywhere outside the United States, and in some cases Canada.