FastBall 2 by Klik! Games is a title that has been on iOS for quite a while and is now on Windows Phone. Played by over 3 million people on multiple platforms, it falls under the category of “time-waster games” (that I love) and its quick gameplay and simple control scheme make it a good one.
The idea of the game is to get your rolling ball from one end of the level to the other by avoiding obstacles. You achieve this by using your only ability, which is to jump. As you roll, you will hit boosts to pickup speed and then some which will slow you down, drop you and lift you up to reach higher platforms. As you progress through each of the available 105 levels, the games picks up in speed and difficulty becoming very difficult, very fast. If you just cannot get by a level, you can use tokens, which you will achieve, to skip over levels.
The visuals are well-done and are reminiscent of a level from games like Super Mario, except the gameplay is very different. There are two themes: cartoon and futuristic, which mix up the look and feel of the game just enough. The ball rolls smooth and the physics match the gameplay and speed perfectly.
Fastball 2 is a great little indie title for Windows Phone that many have found to be an excellent little time-waster. Best of all, it’s free. FastBall 2 is an ad-supported, free title and is available in the Marketplace by searching for “FastBall 2″ in the Zune PC software or on your Windows Phone.
Nokia has announced that they will be placing Windows Phone devices on China’s largest carrier in a speech given by executive vice president Colin Giles in Beijing on Friday. China Mobile is a 3G network using TD-SCDMA and has more than 600 million subscribers. The move is largely believed to help Nokia fend off the likes of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android smartphone devices.
Nokia is currently the top selling mobile manufacturer in China just above Samsung and by tapping into a user base that is two-thirds the subscribers in China, Nokia is hoping to hold onto that lead. No release dates or specifics about the coming devices were mentioned, but it’s believe that we would see device by years end.
The move is smart for Nokia and great news for Microsoft. Tapping into a market that is already flooded with over 20% of Nokia devices should help with hardware mind share and put Windows Phone in more hands around the world, but Nokia is going to need to move quickly if it wants to do so before the next mobile manufacture takes that lead.
Source: China Daily
Google made huge waves this morning with its news to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5 million, which is over sixty percent above its current stock price. The move, while surprising, makes a ton of sense for Google, especially in its battle to keep Android from being taken over by other smartphone platforms like iOS and Windows Phone.
“Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners, and developers…which will enable us to better protect Android from anticompetitive threats from Microsoft, Apple, and other companies.” – Larry Page, Google CEO
The purchase give Google more hardware expertise, gives them control over one of Androids partners and most importantly provides them a large patent portfolio with which to fight both Microsoft and Apple. Microsoft and Apple Inc. have been creating huge problems for Android partners lately by forcing companies like HTC to pay a royalty to Microsoft for every Android handset sold for patent violations. This discourages current and future manufacturers from making Android devices and might encourage some to jump on the Microsoft bandwagon where it is relatively safe.
Android has been on fire lately and commands close to half of the smartphone market, so this move was necessary to secure some of the patents it needs to continue doing battle with their competitors. The mobile market is a fierce battlefield and patents are just one of the major fronts, so we shall see how Microsoft and Apple respond now that Google has Motorola’s patents in its fold.
Molly Wood: CNet Executive editor
Molly Wood of Molly-Rants CNet fame has accepted Brandon Watson’s challenge to try out Windows Phone and if she isn’t more pleased with her experience, he will donate $1,000 to a charity of her choice. She has updated her blog to “rant” about the pros and cons with her Windows Phone experience thus far. Here are just some excerpts from her week 1 post. I’m not leaving out parts to misrepresent her thoughts on the phone OS, I’m just trying to shorten everything for a quicker read as her post is quite lengthy. Click here to read the post in its entirety:
Here’s what she likes:
Interface:The Mango interface is lovely. The screen tiles are attractive and the “live tile” behavior (they update constantly with new Facebook images, flip-board incoming e-mail counters, and so on) is dynamic without being annoying. Plus, the tiles are nice and big, which makes it easy to see things at a glance…
Social: I went back and forth on this, but finally decided it’s a “pro.” Mango has integrated Facebook and Twitter support (and Windows Live and LinkedIn, for the record), and it’s pretty nice. The little “People” tile lets you immediately see what’s happening on Facebook and Twitter. This feature was much improved when I realized I could sort by either Facebook or Twitter. And you can post a status update to all the services at once–mighty useful…
Local: The feature is called “Local Scout,” and the button on the Maps page is a little hieroglyph of buildings: if you press it, and you have location enabled, you get a cool little list of places to eat and drink, things to see and do, and places to shop–plus something called “Highlights,” which in the case of things near my office includes a lingerie shop I didn’t even know existed. Long lunch! This is local done well, it’s useful, it doesn’t require an external app, and although the list isn’t super comprehensive, Microsoft says it’s building out the database over time…
Autocomplete: The autocomplete is awesome. It’s accurate, it’s less aggressive than the post-Gingerbread Android dictionary, and it seems to have a lot more words. Love it.
Speech: Press and hold the Windows (“home”) button on the bottom of the phone and you can control a ton of things with voice commands: call or text someone in your address book, launch a search, or open an app. It’ll even read back a text you compose, so you can double check it without having to look, and then you can say “send” and off it goes. I like…
Here’s what she doesn’t like so much:
Speech: Speech is there in Mango, but it’s not there in Mango. I can’t, for example, say “Navigate to” an address from the home screen speech commands. But more importantly, while there’s a little microphone for speech-to-text on the onscreen keyboard when I’m texting, there’s no speech to text in any other app (that I’ve found): not e-mail, which I need, not mapping, which I need, not in the browser, which I need. You can voice search with the Bing app, but it’s just not enough. Android is doing speech to text light years better than Mango at this point, because it’s integrated across the OS. This little bit of speech in Mango is almost more frustrating than helpful because it just highlights what’s not available.
Turn by turn: The pro part of the navigation on Mango is that it has turn-by-turn navigation…kind of. Also, the mapping is beautiful, and I love the very human-friendly directions, which include helpful little notes about traffic (moderate congestion, etc.), local landmarks (“You’ll see a 7-Eleven on the right”), and also, as your near your destination, notes like, “The last intersection is Woodhaven and if you get to Potter you’ve gone too far.” That’s awesome. More awesome if you have a passenger in the car with you to read them, but still very helpful.
I know I mentioned this in a previous post, but the lack of app support is problematic for me, personally. I actually don’t know that it will be for everyone. But yesterday, I needed to download the Square app
for a video piece I was working on, and I couldn’t; I was actually hamstrung in my work as a result of the lack of app support (and the guys at Square seemed to have little inclination toward building a version for the platform, which has got to hurt). That won’t be everyone’s experience, I know.
Molly also gets into some fit and finish odds and ends, but I won’t repost those as the writing is lengthy. Overall, the things she likes most about Windows Phone are the things that makes Windows Phone so great and the things she doesn’t like so much are either because she hasn’t figured out the phone just yet and some, like turn-by-turn directions, are valid and should be fixed in future updates. I’ve never had unreasonable expectations that Windows Phone is perfect, just that what it does, it does so much better than everyone else and hopefully she will come to that conclusion as well. We’ll keep following along as she discovers and critiques Windows Phone and we’ll see where she falls in the end.
Yes, it’s true. The Mango RTM build (7720) has leaked to the web via the XDA Forums and users have successfully flashed their devices to the new build, however, I would not recommend your average user flash their device as well as it can brick the device or even void out the warranty.
For those brave souls who know what they are doing, you can find instructions on how to take your device, no matter what build is currently running, to the RTM. For everyone else, I would highly suggest you do not try this at home and just be a little more patient for the official Mango release.
For instructions on how to flash your device to build 7720, click here.
Thanks for the tip Jon
We know just a few of the extra features that might show up on some new Windows Phone devices when Mango ships, but screen resolution is one that hasn’t really been talked about. Currently, Windows Phone run at 480×800 pixels, some on LCD, some on AMOLED technologies. In a tease tweet by Brandon Watson, there is a hint which leads to speculation that at least one new Windows Phone device might have screen technology which is really exciting and we’re not talking about screen size. Here’s the tweet exchange between Brandon Watson and another user:
WMPoweruser originally posted, in speculation, that this might mean a resolution bump or maybe even a new screen technology. Perhaps a Super AMOLED Plus device? Nobody knows, but with the Mango release seemingly around the corner, we should find out very soon what new features Mango handsets will be sporting.
Yesterday the web was buzzing about a report from PocketLint that Microsoft was panning on a release for their latest update to Windows Phone, Mango, on September 1st to coincide with an IFA event in Europe. Many were surprised that Mango would release so soon and here comes Windows Phone head, Joe Belfiore, to throw some water on the rumor fire with a tweet about the September 1st date:
Keep in mind that we’ve seen this from the Windows Phone team before. If you remember, the “rumor” about Windows Phone hitting RTM came out and was billed as a rumor only to be officially announced just days later, so this could just be Microsoft muddying the waters because they want to be the ones to reveal the date for Mango’s release and then again, it could really just be one big rumor. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out, but I have a feeling we’ll hear something very soon. Stay tuned…
Right now, Verizon Wireless is practically giving away HTC Trophies! As many of you know, the Trophy debuted in May as the first Windows Phone for Big Red. As of today, on its website, Verizon Wireless has dramatically dropped the price. Initially, the Trophy went for $150 after all the available rebates. Now, the online rebate has jumped from $50, to $150! Click here to visit the Verizon Wireless Trophy page.
Verizon dropping their price over 60% seems suspicious. This is quite similar to AT&T slashing the prices of the iPhone 3GS (8gb) a few months ago. Why did AT&T drop the price? Because iPhone 5 is right around the corner. This would lead one to question, is Verizon doing the same thing? It is quite possible they are. With many sources predicting Mango to be released within a month, I would not be surprised. Either way, this is a win, win situation because HTC Trophies are $50 (with a new contract).
Update: 8/12/11 Price on website has gone up to $100, still $50 less than the normal price.
PocketLint is reporting via “multiple trusted sources” that Windows Phone ‘Mango’ is set to be released on September 1st. We’ve been told all along that the release was slated for this coming fall 2011 and September would certainly coincide with that timeframe, however, nobody thought that we’d be seeing Mango this early in the fall.
As always with rumors like these, they must be taken with a grain of salt until an officialy released word by Microsoft, but it’s certainly not out of the question, especially when you consider that Microsoft probably needs and wants to release ahead of any iPhone announcements set to come from Apple in the month of September.
The rumored release is set to coincide with Europe’s largest consumer event, IFA.
Molly Wood of Molly-Rants CNet fame has accepted Brandon Watson’s challenge to try out Windows Phone and if she isn’t more pleased with her experience, he will donate $1,000 to a charity of her choice. Yesterday was the first day of the challenge and she’s taken to her blog on CNet to post some thoughts and a video about her experience thus far. You can check out the video and her post here, but to summarize, she said she finds no real faults in the HTC Trophy that she received, but is missing the larger app selection that one would find on Android or iOS. Apps that she mentions specifically are: Spotify and Words with Friends.
Words with Friends is a social-based scrabble-like title not currently offered on Windows Phone and Spotify is a subscription music service, although Molly says she will be trying the Zune Pass service in lieu of Spotify. I think she’ll come to like Zune Pass as its normally rated the best deal in music.
Molly also mentioned the integrated social networking in Windows Phone. While she did like the features present in Mango, she later amended her post to include that she prefers the actual apps for hardcore social networking tasks:
…I should say that although I liked the integrated social networking at first, I’m finding it slightly less useful as the day wears on. It seems slow to update; the list of Twitter mentions only says I was mentioned, but doesn’t show me the actual text until I click through to another screen; and it’s kind of weird to have one live tile for monitoring Facebook posts, and another for monitoring my own Facebook activity. I went ahead and downloaded the Facebook and Twitter standalone apps, though, and so far I like them better.
Overall, it seems that her experience is going well. Molly is apparently known for being a harsh critic on tech products, which is exactly what Brandon Watson and Microsoft want. She will find both the good and the bad in Windows Phone and most of it will rely on the user’s preference, so one of her cons may not be yours. The app selection is a legitimate gripe at this point, but we must remember that Windows Phone already has an outstanding 25,000 available apps in Marketplace and the number is rapidly growing by the day. Some apps just won’t be there this early, but most of the options you’ll want or need, you will find. Stay tuned…