The Wrap: The Focus 2 arrives, “Dear Windows Phone,” new 99 cent Xbox games

The Wrap: The Focus 2 arrives, “Dear Windows Phone,” new 99 cent Xbox games

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Here are my favorite Windows Phone highlights of the week. What about you?

The Samsung Focus 2 arrives on Sunday

Heads up that the Samsung Focus 2 makes its AT&T debut this weekend. With a $50 price tag, solid spec sheet, and 4G LTE network support—not to mention classy looks—I’m betting Samsung has another Windows Phone winner on its hands. The critics agree. CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt reviewed the phone this week and liked what she saw. “I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Focus 2,” she concludes. Ben “Smoked by Windows Phone” Rudolph also put this white beauty through its paces and walked away impressed. “If you’re looking for a value-priced phone that gets you top-level features, the Samsung Focus 2 is a great choice,” he wrote.

Buy it

See AT&T’s entire Windows Phone line up

The Samsung Focus 2 arrives at AT&T on Sunday.The Samsung Focus 2 arrives at AT&T on Sunday.

Tip: Rocking the lock screen

Once you do pick up that new Focus 2, check out Laura Foy’s latest tip for new Windows Phone owners. This week she delves into the secrets of the lock screen. (Looking for more great tips? We’ve got ‘em—here and here.)

“Dear Windows Phone”

We get lots of emails from people who decide to give Windows Phone a try and are so wowed by the experience they feel compelled to share. (Keep ‘em coming!) As Business Insider and a few other outlets noticed, we recently published one from a longtime Apple fan that landed in Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s inbox (funny how he ignores all my mails). Read it on our website. Speaking of converts, Sydney Myers over at PhoneDog has an interesting and thoughtful post this week on what soured her love affair with Android and why she now pockets a Nokia Lumia 900 instead. “I need a tool, not a toy, “ she writes. “I need a phone I can pick up and use. Windows Phone is exactly that and it manages to be seductively attractive in the process.”

List of bargain Xbox games growsimage

Last month I wrote about price cuts for seven popular Xbox LIVE titles in the Windows Phone Marketplace, including Angry Birds and Burn the Rope, to 99 cents. Well, since then the list of bargain titles has quietly been growing, and I wanted to makes sure you knew about all the great games you can now get on the cheap. Here they are. What are you waiting for?

And finally…It’s Metro: the musical!

Windows Phone owner and UK-based musician Matt Oglesby had this thought the other day: What could I do with my Lumia 800 and some free music apps from Marketplace?

A lot, it turns out. His composition “Metro” was made from five apps—BitSynth, Piano 7, Level 6 Guitar Chords, SoundFlake Synth, Tones—mixed together using Cubase. The only thing he added extra was some drums. (Here are the full production notes.) As a hack guitarist myself, I thought this was especially cool. Even cooler: One of the apps he used, BitSynth, was coded by Windows Phone blog contributor Andy Myers, whose office is right next to mine. (Look for Andy’s chronicle of how he made BitSynth on the blog soon.)

24 Comments
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  • abm
    268 Posts

    @ScubaDog2011, nice app but same limitations as 7Dialer:

    - Cant translate 1-800-Microsoft to 1-800-648161692

    - Cant dial the security codes. (if I copy the voucher number from the Bing Vision OCR -- scan text, and try to append the security number: *166*scanned_voucher_number#).

    PS small features make big differences in mobile world. We need cursor, copy-paste and dial-pad's alpha-to-numeric translation support (www.dialabc.com/.../keypads.html) in native phone dailer of WP (8 / ver.next)

  • Okay, you tried Simple Dialer?  It allows pasting of numbers.  Just pin that to your Start screen right next to your regular dialer.

  • abm
    268 Posts

    @Rodney E. Jones, thanks for bringing People Hub under the spot light and true about multiple save buttons being overhead! I have high hopes for next version of People Hub too:

    (its kindda thin but) it would be great if we could send email to multiple addresses of the same contact (yahoo, hotmail, companymail..etc) without copy paste. Like when I want to send email to my colleague’s company address and Cc to his other (hotmail/yahoo/gmail) id, I need to go back and forth to copy paste the other address. I dont know how often people do that, but there could be an easy way of doing this. One way could be; when we tap on email it should take us to an interim screen where it would list all the email addresses associated to that contact (from Windows Live, Phonebook, LinkedIn networks) with checkboxes (selected is the one we tapped on).

    To recap, phone dialer app requires 3 features:

    - Copy-paste alpha numeric numbers retaining the intended format of the number from clipboard and coping with the international phone keypad scheme (mentioned in my earlier post).

    - Cursor in the dialer: if someone enters the wrong digit at the beginning of the number, they have to erase all the succeeding digits to make the correction.

    - Autocomplete & suggestions as we are dialing the number (from the unsaved numbers in the history/recent). Some old Samsung phones had this feature!

    I believe these small usability upgrades would make Windows Phone much nicer.

  • @ ABM

    We need you!... Can you imagine the frustration someone coming from another platform would have with our dialer? Actually the whole Phone App needs a overhaul. Its just a ridiculously inefficient process to save a contact. I guess this is partly a issue with the people hub, which I love, but saving contacts sux. Yo have to go back and fourth, using multiple screens. Why not one screen that lets you save a contact. Another thing is,, why do you have to hit save twice? You have to save a name or picture, then back up and do a final save. Thats stupid! Lol.

  • abm
    268 Posts

    @ScubaDog2011, (from my first comment) "..A simple usecase could be; copy the phone number from Word file in Office Hub, the website or the Bing vision etc and paste it in the dialer."

    Another scenario:

    Imagine if they provide this feature, I would be able to OCR the scratch-card (or printed reciept) number to refill/reload/recharge my prepaid SIM using Bing Vision's scan-text feature (which I already tried and it worked great except there is no "paste" functionality in dialer AND the "cursor" is missing too!), append the recharge security code (in my case its *155*voucher_number#) and KABOOM!

    I tried to develop the general app for this purpose but besides other issues (like lack of dialing security code via third party app), seems like there is no offline OCR library for WP Silverlight and online OCR service doesn't help very much if you are on the road out-of-credit => out-of-data! Bing vision's scan-text does the OCR job offline, but to initiate the BV, you must be connected to the internet (because the other member of the BV league; like voice recognition requires data!). Moreover Microsoft.Phone.Tasks (or any other) namespace offers the developers to use the BV features yet. Bing translator was able to consume the offline OCR though! Hopefully with C/C++ support in Apollo, this idea might turn into the app by me or someone else! 8-)

  • KR
    503 Posts

    Microsoft and its partners just need to show more love with more devices up here

  • KR
    503 Posts

    @Rodney,

    I totally understand it really frustrates especially when coupled with the disappearing keyboard.idk what's wrong with US carriers and updates.in the land up north,true we pay more for our phones and services than in the US but are carriers are efficient in delivering updates.all WP updates don't take up to 2 weeks to get released here usually a week after its officially available from MS carriers here let the dogs out

  • Funny! I just got a text message with a number that can't be copied and pasted. In fact none of the message can be copied. The number was entered like this.. 979-888-0000...

    Sux because now I have to use my brain and remember. Lol

  • @ Scuba and Nathan

    There has been numerous times when Someone sent me a number, or a number on websites, or emails just aren't recognized as telephone numbers. The WP dialer has to have these numbers formatted just right in order to recognize them, which is fine, but if we could copy and past numbers/letters into the dialer it would eliminate a lot of frustration. If you practically run your business from your phone like I do things like this lack of functionality, and disappearing keyboard issues, come up quite often.

    This is supposed to be a Smartphone dialer! Hell, my old Samsung epic running WM6.5 could do this.. This is one feature that just has to be added.

    Right? Can you even call something so standard a "feature" lol!

  • Okay, @Nathan and others.  Could you give an example of where you would need to be able to paste a number into the dialer?  So far, every situation I've run into was handled by the fact that phone numbers are recognized as such in various apps (for example, in a text message) and you can simply tap the number and it brings up the number in your dialer.

  • T Windows
    116 Posts

    @abm

    Thanks for the feedback and break-down on the native dialer.

    It looks like you may have helped the developer out quite a bit on his next update for the ” 7Dialer “ app, as well as added some needed insight for the Windows Phone Dev Team.

    - Thanks again @abm

    I really hope the release of (A8) has the majority if not all of our wish lists included when they decided to release it, until then…

    - Stay Powered by Windows

  • abm
    268 Posts

    @T Windows, thanks for chipping in. The idea really is to paste the number on the native dialer. Third-part app won't cut it! Reason being; the windows phone dialer API (Microsoft.Phone.Tasks.PhoneCallTask: msdn.microsoft.com/.../microsoft.phone.tasks.phonecalltask(v=vs.92).aspx) restricts the security numbers like *166# etc. for security reasons (it's simple to fathom!)..

    Nonetheless, the dialer app should accept the alphabets. Let's say when I tested with Microsoft's tool-free number; 1-800-Microsoft, the 7Dailer sent the string as is to the native phone dialer. The native dialer simply truncated the letters and dialed 1 800 !! The letter-to-number translation is required via the following system

    (source: www.dialabc.com/.../keypads.html)

    0 = none (in some older telephones, OQ or OQZ)

    1 = none (in some older telephones, QZ)

    2 = ABC

    3 = DEF

    4 = GHI

    5 = JKL

    6 = MNO

    7 = PQRS

    8 = TUV

    9 = WXYZ

    Moreover, to retain the intended format, the dialer should respect the phone-number decorators when dialing: SPACE, plus sign +, parenthesis () and dash/hyphen -

    The format mismatch between Windows Phone and Windows Live contacts is yet another issue. If you have saved the contact's number like +1 (800) 888-7777 in Windows Phone, once sync, try to edit the contact on contacts.live.com. You will find the country (under mobile phone) is not detected automatically and if you save it, it will alter the format. More on: answers.microsoft.com/.../ae4fa457-0d5b-4c3b-aa1b-58b068b7eeab

  • I agree with Nathan... We definitely got to have copy and past into the dialer... This must come!

  • T Windows
    116 Posts

    @Nathan

    @KR

    @abm

    After reading your feedback post I thought surely by now there has to be an app resolution in-place for us.

    I found one that seems to work for me and it looks similar to the WP default dialer; the copy and paste feature works quite well.

    If you’re interested check out “ 7Dialer “ on the marketplace, they have a free & paid versions of the app – hope it helps in the meantime, at least until we get an update or Apollo lands.

    App link - www.windowsphone.com/.../search

    - Stay Powered by Windows

  • abm
    268 Posts

    @Nathan and KR,

    This is the exact feature request for which these people are voting on uservoice windowsphone.uservoice.com/.../2157707-allow-pasting-in-the-phone-dialer. I agree iPhone should not be considered as *model* when it comes to dropping basic features. A simple usecase could be; copy the phone number from Word file in Office Hub, the website or the Bing vision etc and paste it in the dialer.

  • KR
    503 Posts

    @Nathan

    I'll second that feature request.i need that function on daily basis and get frustrated when I realize I can't paste a number in the dialer

  • Nathan
    63 Posts

    @Michael, @Windows Phone division, @Microsoft.

    I admire the way Windows Phone is progressing and where its heading.. the only thing that bothers me "Why does Microsoft teams get inspired by Apple"? Im not trolling.. I have one reason to feel like that!

    "The unavailability of Paste feature in Windows Phone dialer! "

    iPhone was the only smartphone on the planet lacking this feature and now Windows Phone second it... Ask any pre-WindowsPhone nokia guy or Windows Mobile guy... does it even qualify as a "feature"? no then why? "because iPhone doesnt have it so there must be some technical reason behind it"! This is the way Microsoft is underestimating their own intellect..

    Michael, please before iPhone do that, ask the dev team to *secretly* include the copy-paste feature in Windows Phone's phone dialer..and you will gain +10000 respect by me 8-)

  • I need some high resolution Metro wallpapers.. Anybody got any ideas?? Preferably Beta Test Over stuff..

  • T Windows
    116 Posts

    @Michael

    Thanks for the post – I can see Rodney now working on his own Metro mix with a few Windows Phone guitar apps.

    ROCK ON!  -@Rodney metro style!

    @Albert

    I agree sounds like .99¢ is the magic number for apps; I’m hoping the price drop on angry birds is a indication for the new –coming soon “angry birds in space” debut on Windows Phone.

    @Windows Fans –everywhere check out the love this Windows Fan is showing here in article post from – wmpoweruser.com/are-you-fan-enough-to-shave-the-windows-phone-logo-into-your-hair

    - Stay Powered by Windows

  • Albert
    94 Posts

    Main reason I finally bought Angry Birds on Windows Phone was that it dropped to the .99 price point :)

  • One of my favorite WP highlights this week was Bridgestone Tire of Australia choosing WP as their fleet device!!! Mainly because of the office integration, and Nokia Drive. They chose the lumia 800.....

  • abm
    268 Posts

    Great news Michael!

    Is there any 4x game (strategy: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4X) for Windows Phone yet? Like little empire for Andriod.

    It seems like, none of the 14 strategy games is of 4x genre www.windowsphone.com/en-US/categories/strategy?list=xbox

    Would be lovely if 4x games LittleEmpire and action like Metal Gear Solid (by Hideo Kojima www.konami.jp/kojima_pro/english/) are developed for Windows Phone. 8-)

  • Glad you enjoyed it, djmike!

  • Love that you highlighted Metro (the song)!!  This is all good news capping another good week...