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August 12, 2011

The Weekly Wrap: Cool bling, a teen’s take, and more talk about Speech

Another weekly look at some Windows Phone consumer news items you might have missed. Quirky? You bet. Dull? You tell me!

Bling for Windows Phones

I don’t usually get wound up about phone accessories—I’m a black case kind of guy. But these eye-popping protective wraps for Windows Phone from GelaSkins made me do a double take. (Thanks to WP Central for pointing them out.) The wraps stick to your phone using a residue-free 3M adhesive, and are available for models including the Samsung Focus and Omnia 7, HTC Trophy and HD7, and the LG Quantum. The neat part: Each skin comes with a matching lock screen wallpaper (tip: the site offers these as a free download, even if you don’t buy a skin). If none of the designs speak to you (unlikely), GelaSkins can also create a custom wrap from your photos or drawings.  Anybody got one?

Artsy skins from GelaSkin for Windows Phone

Thus spoke Windows Phone

Our recent post here on Voice-to-text and other speech-recognition features coming in Mango is already shaping up to be the month’s most popular. Coincidence or not, it’s become a hot topic elsewhere on the web this week, too. GigaOm’s Ryan Kim sat down with Ilya Bukshteyn, senior director of speech marketing at Microsoft, for an illuminating look at the technology’s future on Windows Phone. Check it out.  Still want more? Watch Ilya’s recent keynote and demo on the subject, courtesy of WM Power User.

It’s, like, totally rad!

What happens when a respected technology journalist hands over his Mango test phone to his teen? That’s the fun premise behind Matthew Miller’s latest Mango review on ZD Net—guest written by his daughter, Mal. Take a look. What makes the post notable is that his daughter is intelligent and articulate, and therefore nothing like my friends and I at that tender age. Mal concludes her thoughtful review: “I can’t wait until my Dad gets me one of these, hopefully for Christmas (hint, hint).” Sorry, Matt, but from one dad to another? You walked right into that one, buddy!

Print photos right from your phone

Brother just released a companion app for its printers called iPrint & Scan that shows a lot of promise. The app lets you print photos wirelessly from your Windows Phone camera or Pictures Hub, and even lets you scan documents directly to your phone. I briefly tried it with one of my printers, and it’s pretty neat. If you own a Brother printer, give it a shot.

Print photos directly to your Brother printer

App roundup: 30 second reviews 

I somehow missed this, but Pocket Now is doing a regular series of short video app reviews for Windows Phone that’s worth checking out. I dig the approach: They blaze through 5 apps, spending just 30 seconds on each one. Great for people (like me) who love new apps but struggle with an Internet-age attention span. Check it out.

And finally….

Spot poll: Do you read books on your phone? The New York Times this week had an interesting piece by Nick Bilton, who set out to read a book using every possible device, platform, and technology—including our favorite smartphone. On Windows Phone he had this to say: “Reading on a Windows Phone 7 felt smooth, most likely because the Kindle app meshes well with the phone’s slick operating system.” Bilton’s journey makes for interesting reading—however you decide to do it.