Major Nokia Here Drive + and Here Transit updates coming to all Windows Phone 8 devices this week

As I tweeted a last month Nokia is set to finally get the Here Drive + app out of Beta with the inclusion of Life Traffic support and the My Commute feature. The company has also officially announced today a major update to the Here Transit application with a modified /improved UI and the availability of Here Drive + to all Windows Phone 8 handsets (HTC, Samsung etc..).

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Nokia updates offline maps for all Windows Phones

Nokia has pushed out a global update to it’s HERE Maps for all Windows Phone today adding tons of new data including better maps for Tunisia, Senegal and Cyprus, building outlines in Croatia, Public transit in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan and more Truck Attributes worldwide. It should also be noted that devices running Windows Phone 8 GDR2 (which means only the Nokia Lumia 925 right now) will only be prompted to download the updated data of the maps currently installed and not the whole maps dataset as it’s has been the case on Windows Phone 8.

Just head over to your phone’s Settings -> Maps and download the updates.

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Nokia Maps, Drive +, Transit,City Lens updated and rebranded to HERE. No longer exclusive to Nokia Lumia handsets

Today’s a big day for all Windows Phone 8 users with the start of MWC in Barcelona and Nokia’s Keynote which just ended a few minutes ago. The big news besides the introduction of the Nokia Lumia 720 and Lumia 520 is the updated and rebrand of Nokia’s mapping services which will now all sport the HERE name. This means that Nokia Maps is now Here Maps, Nokia Drive + is Here Drive + etc.

But it get’s better: they are now available to ALL Windows Phone 8 users in US, Canada, Mexico, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain! That’s right folks, Nokia has decided to make a really bold move today to help the Windows Phone ecosystem. You no longer need to own a Nokia Lumia handset to have access to these awesome applications.

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Nokia Drive + now available to all Windows Phone 8 devices for US UK and Canada users

As I previously hinted at in my Nokia Lumia 920 software video tour (and by Nokia a few months ago); Nokia and Microsoft have just announced that Nokia Drive + Beta is now available for free for all windows Phone 8 devices from HTC, Samsung in addition to Nokia’s handset. This is really a big plus for the platform given that Nokia Drive is in my opinion the best navigation software on any platform thanks to it’s offline maps and its price it’s totally free!

Head over here to grab it and check out my handset on video on the Nokia Lumia 920 after the break:

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Nokia Maps for Windows Phone 8 updated with improved traffic layer

Nokia Maps for Windows Phone 8 has just received an update to its traffic layer display bringing it back to how it was in previous WP7.X versions and Bing Maps. The WP8 version had a new display mode which only rendered a traffic layer when there was actually something going on and leaving the maps free of anything when the road was clear (see video here). This apparently confused the majority of the users so we are now to how it was before as you can see in the screen shot above.

This newest version also has better Nokia Transit support which doesn’t seem to perfectly work right now though (it always sends me to the Marketplace to download the app even-though its already installed on my phone.

UPDATE: Nokia Transit / Transport has also been updated today to work with the updated version of Nokia Maps.

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Nokia Drive + Beta updated with new Battery saver mode

Nokia has just issued an update to Nokia Drive + Beta for its Windows Phone 8 device today to partially fix one of the most annoying issue plaguing the app: extreme battery drain when the app is running in the back ground because the software was constantly updating it’s position via GPS even when navigation was stopped. As you can see in the screenshot above this is now a thing of the past thanks to a new Battery Saving feature.

There’s also a new new back to my position feature which is really handy and a welcome UX change. Check out my hands on video with the previous version after the break:

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Nokia Lumia 920 hands on videos: Hardware and Software tour

Better late than never right? Here are my first videos of my Nokia Lumia 920 in action that I shot a week ago (sorry didn’t have much time to post them earlier). The first one is a simple hardware tour of the device followed by a software tour with a short performance comparison against the Nokia Lumia 800. Finally, the third video is a demo showing Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive and Nokia Transit / Transport integration in the Windows Phone 8. Hit the break to watch them:

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Windows Phone 8 launches with new features, Skype and new apps

Most of you have probably already seen the full Windows Phone 8 event that was live streamed earlier today so I won’t write an essay about everything that was shown. Instead let’s do a quick recap on what was new or simply not yet officially unveiled since Windows Phone 8′s initial announcement a few months ago.

First of all Microsoft announced the newest version of Skype for Windows Phone 8. This new version of the app will fully integrate into the OS and allow seamless VOIP calling through the phone dialer and more features like background notifications and lock-screen integration. What’s new here (for Windows Phone) is that the Skype service will constantly be running in the background even if the app wasn’t triggered by the user. this means that calls or other notifications like messages will arrive as if they were regular phone calls or SMS. Most of the functionality of the UI and People/contact integration of the WP8 app are similar to the windows 8 version that was released just 2 days ago. Checkout the video below for a quick demo:

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Windows Phone 8 finally hits RTM

After a slight delay Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 has finally hit RTM status yesterday has you can see in the picture posted above showing Microsoft VP Terry Myerson signing on the big WP8 RTM billboard alongside other developers. Windows Phone 7 originally passed RTM on September 1st 2010 with devices hitting retail in November, while Mango hit RTM on July 27th 2011 with device shipping in October. If past history is any indication it’s obviously going to be a little be tricky for the OEMs and carriers to get the first batch of devices on the market before November at the earliest. The latest whisper on the streets are still pointing to an early November launch for the Nokia Lumia 920 though…

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Windows Phone 8 launching October 29th

Nothing is official yet but according to Mary Joe Foley’s own sources Microsoft is set to commercially launch Windows Phone 8 on October 29th just three days after Windows 8. Technically we may have to wait a few more days after the launch event until we start to see the first Windows Phone 8 devices hit retail and carrier stores around the world. Remember that MJ’s sources are often right so October 29th may very well be the real deal.

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New Windows Phone 8 Features detailed

I just took a quick tour of the Windows Phone 8 emulator bundled in the Windows Phone 8 Developer Preview SDK that leaked just a few hours ago and decided to take some screenshot to show you some of the new UI tweaks and Features implemented in Apollo. Beware that there’s a lot of images after the break and not a whole lot of text (just a few lines to describe what’s on the screen). So just hit the break to see what Microsoft has been cooking for this fall release and some nice features that have been long overdue.

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Windows Phone 8 Application platform detailed

The relatively big news today is the sudden appearance of the soon to be released Windows Phone 8 Developer Preview SDK which has leaked a few hours ago via Microsoft’s own password protected servers. Instead of making tons of posts detailing every single feature of the OS simply to generate hits I’m going to provide you with the detailed overview of the Windows Phone 8 application platform which I’m going to copy and paste (from the SDK) below after the break for those of you who aren’t able to get their hands of the Docs or the full SDK package. I’m also currently installing the full 1.3Gb Binaries on by Windows 8 desktop (important note: The WP8 Preview SDK is only compatible with the Windows 8 X64 Release Preview) and will make another post later on detailing the emulator. UPDATE: My WP8 Emulator overview is here.

The following document will go into details comparing Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT (hint: there are some important differences), The Direct3D feature set supported by the OS, the built-in Native Nokia Maps implementation, Camera features, NFC features Native code and XAML support. So just head over to the break to check it all out:

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Nokia Drive 3.0 for Windows Phone released

Nokia Drive 3.0 for the Lumia Windows Phone handsets has just been released to the marketplace a few hours ago. Those of you who took the time to read the user manual a little while ago should already what’s included in this newest release:

• Find your way with turn-by-turn directions and voice guidance
• Track your location, speed, and the distance driven, even if not navigating
• Preload maps before traveling and use Nokia Drive offline to save data costs
• Save your most-used destinations to your phone
• Get a warning when you exceed the speed limit
• Get real-time info on traffic incidents and conditions on your daily routes using
my commute

Unfortunately the My Commute feature doesn’t work in some countries yet (only works in the US right now..lame) which is really disappointing given that real time traffic data is now supported nearly worldwide in Bing Maps and Nokia Maps. You can grab it directly from the Nokia Collection in the marketplace or by hitting this link with your Lumia phone or scan the QRCode after the break:

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Nokia Drive 3.0 user manual released

If you can’t wait to get you hands on the soon to be released Nokia Drive navigation app for your Lumia Windows Phone you can at least take a look at its user manual which was recently uploaded to Nokia’s servers. The PDF covers all the new features which are going to be introduced in this newest version: Commute, live traffic info, save & view places and automatic switching between day and night mode:

• Find your way with turn-by-turn directions and voice guidance
• Track your location, speed, and the distance driven, even if not navigating
• Preload maps before travelling and use Nokia Drive offline to save data costs
• Save your most-used destinations to your phone
• Get a warning when you exceed the speed limit
• Get real-time info on traffic incidents and conditions on your daily routes using
my commute

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Nokia Drive to be available on all Windows Phone 8 phones. No longer exclusive to Nokia’s

Here’s a surprising piece of news that flew under my radar yesterday: Nokia Drive will no longer be exclusive to Nokia Lumia handsets on Windows Phone 8 and be made available to all other platform partners (OEMs) which means that HTC, Samsung and Huawei handsets will feature it too. Some may see this news as one less reason to get a Nokia Lumia handset but if you look at the big picture here the point of this move is to push the whole ecosystem further as it was announced back when the Microsoft Nokia deal was signed. Remember that every Android smartphone has turn-by-turn driving navigation for free and with WP8 Microsoft will have a similar offering. Windows Phone 8 will also integrate Nokia Maps as the native mapping service in Windows Phone 8.

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Nokia supporting Windows Phone 7 Lumia phones with new features and apps

Nokia is about to release a bunch of new (or not so new) application and updates in the coming days for its line of Lumia handsets as a way to appease current owners who may feel shafted by the fact that their handset won’t be upgradable to Windows Phone 8 but will instead get Windows Phone 7.8 which should include several unannounced features besides the new WP8 start screen.

Nokia Play To which was released as a beta a little while ago should hit the marketplace fairly soon while Nokia Drive 3.0 is set to be released this summer. The much anticipated Camera Extra features will be made available in June/July depending on your region.

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Windows Phone 8 unveiled: Features and specifications

Microsoft just took the wraps off Windows Phone 8 today during the Windows Phone Summit in San Fransisco. As you probably be know by now current Windows Phone 7.X handset won’t be upgradable to WP8 but will instead receive Windows Phone 7.8 and you will understand why in a shot while after getting a small glimpse at what Apollo will bring to the table later this fall.

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Windows Phone 8 to launch this fall with only four OEMs: Nokia, HTC, Samsung and Huawei all powered by Qualcomm

What I have been predicting for more than a year has finally been confirmed today when Microsoft announced that all the future Windows Phone 8 handsets launching this fall will be powered by Qualcomm‘s SnapDragon S4 Plus / MSM8930 or MSM8960 SoC with the Adreno 225 or Adreno 305 GPU, which seems to once again be the only certified chipset partner for the platform. What is more surprising though is that only four OEMs are on board this time around: Nokia, HTC, Samsung and Huawei. The rest are ..well..nowhere to been seen and frankly we shouldn’t care given the total lack of creativity and effort that was demonstrated in the past. For more Windows Phone features info hit the link after the break.

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No Windows Phone 8 upgrade to current Windows Phone 7 handsets: Windows Phone 7.8 unveiled

Microsoft has unfortunately just announced that none of the Windows Phone 7.X handset currently available will be upgradeable to Windows Phone 8. Nope, never, nada, zip… Instead Microsoft is announcing Windows Phone 7.8 which will be a free update that will be pushed ALL Windows Phone handsets bypassing carriers (and downloadable via WiFi) that will will simply add the new Windows Phone 8 start screen to all “legacy” WP7 handsets. Other WP8 features which are not hardware dependent may or may not be part of WP7.8 (Nothing has been officially announced yet). That’s it folks there’s nothing else to say here. That shiny Nokia Lumia 900 you got last week will be stuck forever with the Windows CE based WP7.X platform. Feel free to comment below and share your thoughts (or anger..).

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