Nokia Z launcher receives significant update, pre-beta program opened for new users

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Nokia rolled out Z launcher for Android in June that predicts apps and brings them in the front depending upon user usage pattern and preferences.  Today, the Z launcher has received an update  that will allow you to configure the way you want your favorite apps to appear on your home screen, using drag and drop.

“Today, we’re releasing our first significant update to Z Launcher based on your feedback and suggestions. Z Launcher will notify you of an update, but you can also check manually in Z Launcher settings.We have incorporated some of the most popular suggestions in this latest version with more to come. We’re still in the early phases of developing Z Launcher so please keep sending us your suggestions for improvements”

posted Nokia Z launcher via its blog.

The Z launcher was previously available for a limited number of users however, this update has also opened more pre-beta sign ups. Nokia says that it has rolled several user-requested features into the update and that it plans to continue to do so in the future.
The list of changes included in the update:

  • Configure Favorites via drag-n-drop on your home screen – #2 requested feature on user forum.
  • Hide apps, Uninstall apps via press-n-hold: A quick way to get rid of stuff you don’t want – #3 top requested feature on user forum.
  • Better support on HTC One and Moto X – We continue to work on adding support for popular devices.
  • Wi-Fi SSID incorporated into our algorithm – Aimed at improving the algorithm’s ability to recognize and promote apps used on specific networks.
  • Data Insight – Explore how you use your phone, what apps and contacts you access and when. If people like this feature, we’ll develop it further, but for now we kept it simple.
  • Bug fixes here and there – We’ve worked hard to make Z Launcher more reliable.

Beta testing has expanded to include Moto X and HTC One users, but as beta testing continues it’s likely that Nokia will add to the list of phones that are compatible with the launcher.

Nokia X Software Platform 1.2 update starts rolling out for Nokia X, X+ and XL

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Microsoft’s mobile division today started rolling out Nokia X software platform 1.2 update for the Nokia X, X+ and XL When the company launched the Nokia X2, based on Nokia X Software Platform 2.0, itannounced that older Nokia X devices would not get the 2.0 update due to hardware constraints.

The 1.2 update at least brings some of the features present in the Nokia X2, that includes new app switcher, new Nokia Store with new Home screen Spotlight widget for app discovery and one-click downloads, Outlook.com, OneDrive and OneNote apps and more.

New features in Nokia X Software Platform 1.2 update

  • Improved ease of use with the new app switcher – switch easily between open apps, or close apps with a single tap.
  • Instant access to your mail, calendar, and notes with Outlook.com and OneNote.
  • Updated Nokia Store – new design to help you find content more easily, and better integration with third-party stores.
  • New scrollable widgets, call reject with a message, contact search in the dialler, automatic uploading to OneDrive, and local calendar support.
  • General performance and usability improvements.

The new software update for these devices would be available over-the-air (OTA) starting today. You can check for the software update manually from settings -> About phone -> System updates. Since this is a major update, it is over 100MB, so it recommended to use WiFi for updating.

Nokia Lumia Cyan with Windows Phone 8.1 update roll out begins

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Nokia has announced that they have started rolling out Lumia Cyan update with Windows Phone 8.1 along for their Lumia devices running on Windows Phone 8. This would bring a lot of features for Lumia devices including, updates to Nokia Camera, Creative Studio and Storyteller apps, better audio quality when recording videos on Lumia 1520 and Lumia Icon and more.

New features in Lumia Cyan

  • Nokia Camera gets simplified user interface with one-tap access to edit and share pictures, and full-resolution zooming, re-framing
  • Creative Studio 6 (CS6) (coming to Windows Phone Store soon) with  new filters and image enhancement tools would be available directly from the renewed Camera Roll.
  • Updated Storyteller app allows you to share your best shots as a short Story Video on social networks
  • Nokia Device Hub helps you track down a missing accessory by showing you where you last used it
  • SensorCore Beta SDK for Lumia 1520, Icon, 930, 630 635 can record real-time data for fitness with Bing Fitness & Health app and other gadgets
  • The Lumia 1520 and Lumia Icon gets new Dolby Surround Sound support for video recording with Nokia Rich Recording
  • Miracast support for Lumia 1520 and Lumia Icon lets you project content to connected screens like a smart TV

Highlights of Windows Phone 8.1

  • Action center – Notifications center on Windows Phone
  • Cortana – Highly personal digital voice assistant
  • Start screen wallpapers – Parallax scrolling for the wallpapers
  • Lock screen themes – Make your own lock screen animations or use presets
  • Word Flow keyboard – Like Swype, but Microsoft claims it is faster
  • Skype integration to dialer
  • New default apps – Calendar, Xbox Music, Video and new Podcasts
  • People Hub can integrate with 3rd party apps
  • New type of e-mail accounts supported – including iCloud
  • New camera UI and gallery app
  • New utilities – WiFi sense, Storage sense and Battery saver
  • New enterprise features and a lot more

All the Windows Phone 8 users would get the new Windows Phone 8.1 with Cyan update. The Lumia 625 and 925 users are already receiving the OTA update globally, including India.

Users can manually check for updates from Settings, Phone Update, Check For Updates. You can check if the software update is available in your region / operator from the Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 Roll out page . Exact delivery timings will vary by region, phone and operator.

Nokia Camera updated with few improvements, likely to be renamed as Lumia Camera

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Nokia Camera app has been updated with few tweaks. The version 4.8.1.1. brings improved Inline Video Playback and living images playback in Camera Roll. In addition, the camera has got improved focus indicator on devices with continuous Autofocus. Other than this the app gets bug fixes and improvements.

Besides updating the camera app, it looks like the app is getting a name change from Nokia Camera to Lumia Camera. The changed name can be found under the app settings, as noticed by WP Central. The name tweak has not been made official yet and it is not clear when will it happen. Microsoft completed the Nokia acquisition in April this year and since then has tried to add more focus on its ownership. Earlier this month render images of the Lumia 830 was spotted with Nokia by Microsoft branding.

Nokia Lumia 630 Dual SIM Review: Missed Opportunity

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Nokia’s devices and services division, now officially part of Microsoftunveiled the Lumia 630 Windows Phone at their developer conference at San Francisco. This low end Windows Phone, which will cater to the budget customer, has a number of firsts and even a last, in terms of features. It is the first Windows Phone 8.1 device to be launched into the market, it is the first Dual SIM Windows Phone, it is the first Windows Phone with a quad core Snapdragon 400 chip and also the first one to support on-screen navigation buttons. But, having launched before April 25th, this, along with the Lumia 930, will be the last Windows Phones with a “Nokia” brand on them. Sporting a price tag of Rs. 11,500, the successor to the yesteryear Lumia 620 sports a bigger screen, with roughly the same resolution, undercuts it by a couple of thousands, but loses the LED flash and goes for a cheaper bill of materials (referred to as BoM from here on) generally. With the RAM staying at 512 MB, does the Lumia 630 Dual SIM Windows Phone strike a good balance between price and specifications in this crucial segment? Lets find out in our full review.

The Lumia 630 is designed to look just like the successor of the 620, carrying forward the curved corners and a flat look at the front, with sizable bezels. The bezels, despite losing the capacitive touch buttons, are proportionately the same size, which frankly waste a lot of space

Right above the 4.5″ display is the ear piece and hidden beneath the bezel is a proximity sensor. Surprisingly, there is no ambient light sensor on the device, so automatic brightness is a non-feature here.

Highlights of Windows Phone 8.1

  • Action center – Notifications center on Windows Phone, finally!
  • Cortana – Highly personal digital voice assistant
  • Start screen wallpapers – Parallax scrolling for the wallpapers
  • Lock screen themes – Make your own lock screen animations or use presets
  • Word Flow keyboard – Like Swype, but Microsoft claims it is faster
  • Skype integration to dialer
  • New default apps – Calendar, Xbox Music, Video and new Podcasts
  • People Hub can integrate with 3rd party apps
  • New type of e-mail accounts supported – including iCloud
  • New camera UI and gallery app
  • New utilities – WiFi sense, Storage sense and Battery saver
  • New enterprise features and a lot more
  • Lastly, a new file manager to help manage local files

These are only the highlights of the operating system, if you really want to get to know about it more, wait for our review in the coming days, or here is a long video featuring Joe Belfiore, explaining all the important features –

Nokia acquires mapping start-up Desti to boost HERE Maps

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In a bid to enhance its HERE Map offering, Nokia has bought Desti for an undisclosed sum. The mapping startup and app maker uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to generate more personalized location searches and maps. Desti app is based out of the same research center as Siri and Nuance.

We want to create a new class of location services that implicitly understands who you are and what you’re looking for, sometimes even before you ask,

said HERE VP of Search and Places Don Zereski blog.

Founded by Nadav, Desti will shut down as a result of the acquisition. The iOS app has already been taken down from the Apple App Store. Desti also taps your social graph, taking into account your preferences and tastes from your Facebook likes and own history of using the service.

Nokia has not provided details about how it will integrate Desti’s technology to HERE Maps. However, its pretty clear that HERE Maps will become more efficient and will show refined and tailored results. It looks like HERE Maps along with Desti’s integration will compete with Foursquare and Google Search for Nearby Places.

Earlier this month, there were reports saying that Nokia will bring HERE Maps to Android and iOS soon.

Nokia X2 Dual SIM spotted in benchmarks, specifications detailed

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Nokia X2 (RM-1013), the successor of the Nokia X, the company’s first Android smartphone surfaced few days back on a Chinese website. Now the smartphone has appeared on AnTuTu benchmark. This confirms the previous leak that the phone would be powered by a 1.2 dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor, 1GB RAM and 4GB internal storage. This also reveals more specifications such as 4.3-inch WVGA screen, Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean), 5-megapixel rear camera and a 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera.

It is not clear if it would come with an auto focus or a fixed focus camera. It has dual SIM support and is expected to come with a dedicated home button, in addition to the back button. Only the battery capacity is missing.

Nokia X2 Dual SIM rumored specifications

  • 4.3-inch (800 x 480 pixels) display
  • 1.2 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor
  • Nokia X software platform based on AOSP Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean)
  • Dual SIM
  • 5MP rear camera
  • 0.3MP (VGA) front-facing camera
  • 3.5mm audio jack, FM Radio
  • 1GB RAM, 4GB of Internal storage, microSD expansion slot
  • 3G, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n,Bluetooth, GPS

Since Microsoft now owns Nokia, it is not clear if we would see this smartphone. Anyway rumors suggest that the phone would launch in 2015.

Nokia Lumia 520 deflects a bullet to save police officer’s life

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The world’s most popular Windows Phone turned into a life saver for a police man in Sao Paulo, Brazil where a couple of robbers opened fire at him in his house. The Lumia 520, which was sitting in his back pocket took a bullet, and in the end saved his life, and literally his behind too. Nokia, being known for its build quality, will certainly take this as a positive result, but we are sure any phone would have done the same.

This happened in broad daylight, when the military police officer, aged 24 was just returning to his home with his uniform in hands, as he was off duty and wanted to wash it at this home. As he entered the house where his family members were held hostage, the two criminals opened fire, seeing his uniform. They reportedly fired two shots, once the officer began to flee, and one of them hit his buttocks, with the Lumia 520 taking that hit and the other shot reportedly hit the neighbour’s gate. While the criminals fled the scene, the officer returned to find that the pair took off a lot of valuables.

The story is not entirely rosy when you consider that the theft happened nevertheless, but the police officer must have been relieved to have his life intact. Another story of how technology can save lives, or is it? Let us know what you think, in the comments section below.

Upcoming Nokia ‘Superman’ Windows Phone will help you take ‘Super’ selfies

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The upcoming Lumia smartphone which is codenamed ‘Superman’ will reportedly come with a 5MP front camera. It will also be the first Windows Phone 8.1 device from Nokia after being taken over by the company whose OS powers the Lumia smartphone. Information regarding the other specifications of the Superman device is sparse at the moment although it is expected to sport a 4.7inch display and is expected to launch towards the end of the year.

Microsoft’s plans for Windows Phone 8.1 in 2014 includes a couple of updates that will be introduced along with new devices and later on rolled out to other devices. The first update is expected in July 2014 and the second update will debut on Nokia ‘Superman’ later in the year. Nokia is also said to be working on two more Windows Phone 8.1 devices which can be expected in 2014.