Microsoft: Compliant YouTube Windows Phone 8 app coming, meanwhile take the dreadful old version back
Following a cease and desist letter sent by Google little over a week ago, today, Microsoft reaches out to me and announces a new update for its homebrew YouTube Windows Phone 8 app. You might want to contain that burning desire to hit the "Update" button though.
"Microsoft and YouTube are working together to update the new YouTube for Windows Phone app to enable compliance with YouTube’s API terms of service, including enabling ads, in the coming weeks", says the Redmond, Wash.-based corporation. This comes two days after the passing of the deadline to remove the app from the Windows Phone Store.
App store numbers grab headlines, but don't matter to users. Both BlackBerry and Windows Phone boast constant ecosystem growth with more than 100,000 apps available in each store, yet neither of the two platforms has managed to assert itself as a viable alternative to Android or iOS. Why? Well, Canalys says that it's the quality of the apps that matters not the quantity.
"At a certain point, how many apps are in a store becomes irrelevant. Offering 100 different unit converters or weather apps is not a valuable choice", says Canalys senior analyst Tim Shepherd. "What is now far more important for BlackBerry and Microsoft is to focus on plugging inventory gaps and making sure they offer the right apps; to focus on quality and local relevance, not quantity". According to the company's latest report, both BlackBerry and Windows Phone fail to offer many of the popular titles available today, hindering their appeal to potential users.
Remote control apps are increasingly versatile, allowing smartphone and tablet users to access and manage computers from the workplace, a holiday resort or the couch in my case. For Windows Phone 8 users the most popular choice is PC Remote but, late-yesterday, another app hit the Store.
"Many Windows Phone users have asked for Splashtop", says Splashtop CEO Mark Lee. "We are excited to partner with Nokia and Microsoft to optimize and deliver the best-in-class Splashtop experience for Windows Phone 8". The app allows folks to remotely access Linux, OS X and Windows-based computers straight from the tiled operating system. Let's take a look at the features.
On Wednesday, Microsoft rolls out an update for its YouTube Windows Phone 8 app which takes away the ability to download content from the popular video-sharing website. The latest iteration arrives one week after Google sent Microsoft a cease and desist letter, demanding the removal of the app from the Store. The deadline passes today.
Google's grievances regarding the Microsoft-developed YouTube app focus on the removal of playback restrictions "on certain platforms", the lack of ads and the ability to download videos. Microsoft only resolved the third complaint and, despite the rapidly-approaching deadline, the company hints that YouTube will continue to be available to Windows Phone 8 users.
Starting today, the Nokia Lumia 521 is available at the third-largest carrier in the US. And you better sit down for what follows next. T-Mobile offers the entry-level Windows Phone 8 handset at a very attractive price-point -- $149.99 when purchased outright or $29.99 down coupled with $5 monthly installments over the course of two years.
What do you get for the money? The Lumia 521 packs a 4.0-inch IPS display with a resolution of 480 by 800, which can be operated using gloves. Power comes from a 1.0 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor backed by 512 MB of RAM and a 1,430 mAh removable battery.
The lack of an official Instagram app for Windows Phone opened the door to many third-party offerings looking to make their mark on the ecosystem. Itsdagram, released little under a week ago with a comprehensive feature set, seized the opportunity and climbed to the number one spot in the top paid category in the US Windows Phone Store.
Daniel Gary, the developer behind the app, decided to further build on Itsdagram's success by releasing a free, ad-supported, version which comes with unlimited photo uploads and the same feature set as its paid counterpart. Previously, the trial variant only allowed users to post a single photo to Instagram.
Despite what some folks would lead you to believe, sheer numbers are actually meaningless when it comes to app stores. That's just a marketing ploy. It's the quality that matters and not the quantity. After all, if you can't get the software that you need, does it really matter if there are 100,000 more apps out there? I'm inclined to believe that the answer is a resounding "No".
Windows Phone has this very same problem -- 145,000 apps available but major titles are still avoiding its Store (no, I'm not going to mention Instagram). Microsoft tried to fix this issue a couple of times before, including paying developers to beef up the ecosystem. Late-yesterday, the software giant has decided to step in again with the new Porting Challenge.
The big day is almost here. Microsoft reveals the new Xbox at an event held on its Redmond, Wash.-based campus tomorrow, and speculation runs rampant around the web. We do not even know the name of this next-generation console, let alone what capabilities the device will come with.
However, if you can not wait for the news stories to break then there is good news if you should happen to be a Windows Phone 8 user. The software giant announces a special app for its smartphone operating system that enables users to watch the event live right from wherever they happen to be -- which will be the workplace for many. Sorry employers.
I am not a die-hard Instagrammer, but every once in a while I feel a sudden need to upload a filtered view of the world on the popular photo-sharing social network. That's easy to do with Android handsets and iPhones, but in the Windows Phone realm things are not that simple as there is no official app waiting in the Store. That's not to say there is low demand for one, far from it.
Admittedly, Windows Phone is a smaller market for Instagram than Android and iOS but even so there are likely tens of millions of potential users waiting to grab that official app which never seems to come. Developer Daniel Gary, who is behind a third-party Pinterest app (no official offering available for this one either) called Pinsation, decided to cater to the Windows Phone users' needs for a fully-featured Instagram app and, yesterday, released Itsdagram. The names are quite similar indeed.
Little over a week ago, Microsoft released a native YouTube app for Windows Phone 8 which replaces the old iteration that displayed a mobile view of the popular video sharing website. The app, however, doesn't show ads, which generate major revenue for parent company Google.
As a result, the search giant is not overly keen about the implementation and sent Microsoft a letter demanding it to remove the YouTube app for Windows Phone 8. The complaints focus on the ability to download content, the lack of ads and the removal of playback restrictions on "certain platforms". I reached out to Microsoft for a comment on Google's claims and here's the software giant's response:
Change the rules of the game and you change the hierarchy. Two days ago research company Gartner released its latest report on the state of smartphone market which, based on sales, places Windows Phone in fourth place, just behind BlackBerry in terms of share. Today, IDC also released its latest report for Q1 2013, that measures shipments, and the two smartphone operating systems trade places -- Windows Phone now surpasses BlackBerry for the third spot in the charts.
That switch means Microsoft and Nokia have a reason to celebrate, in spite of numerous barbs coming from pundits. "Windows Phone claiming the third spot is a first and helps validate the direction taken by Microsoft and key partner Nokia", says IDC's Kevin Restivo. But the research company suggests that the operating system still has a long way to go: "Given the relatively low volume generated, the Windows Phone camp will need to show further gains to solidify its status as an alternative to Android or iOS".
Verizon customers, it's time to stop feeling envious of folks on AT&T who can get the Lumia 920. Today, Nokia's new Windows Phone flagship, the Lumia 928, is available exclusively at the big red's online and brick and mortar stores.
Verizon's pricing for the Lumia 928 may lead to sales cannibalization of HTC's Windows Phone 8X. The latter finds itself in a difficult spot as it has to compete with a newer smartphone that is available for roughly the same money and with similar, if not better, hardware specifications.
BBC iPlayer has long been the go-to service for catching up on TV and radio shows. The web-based version has been available for years, and iOS and Android users have their own mobile versions to use on phones and tablets. Having been promised back in March BBC iPlayer is now available for Windows Phone 8.
In terms of functionality, there’s little to differentiate this from its Apple and Google counterparts. The app has been a long time coming, but in reality the BBC iPlayer app is little more than a wrapper for the mobile iPlayer website.
Ouch! The latest report from market research company Gartner crushes Microsoft's dreams of Windows Phone breaking away from the smartphone operating system bottom pack. In Q1 2013, with a low market share of just 2.9 percent, Windows Phone battled with BlackBerry for the consolation spot of third most popular platform (and lost), far away from either Android or iOS. The green droid is still the dominant leader, followed from afar by Apple's OS.
"There are two clear leaders in the OS market and Android’s dominance in the OS market is unshakable", says Gartner's Anshul Gupta. "With new OSs coming to market such as Tizen, Firefox and Jolla we expect some market share to be eroded but not enough to question Android’s volume leadership". What he doesn't says is that the future is bleak for both Windows Phone and BlackBerry, which have to showcase their strength to survive the future string of contenders. Let's take a look at the numbers.
On Tuesday, at an event held in London, Nokia announced the new Lumia 925 Windows Phone. The handset shares most of its specifications with the Verizon-exclusive Lumia 928, unveiled four days ago, and represents a slight evolution from the currently available Lumia 920.
Available color choices for the Lumia 925 include black, gray and white. The handset sports a "metal design", similar to its Verizon-exclusive sibling. A silver-colored frame, which works as an antenna, surrounds the edges of the device, while on the back a polycarbonate (plastic) cover, in either glossy or matte finish, is used. Nokia calls the design "stunning", although from my point of view the Lumia 920 looks better.