Starting today, as expected, Microsoft and Nokia are making the beta of Nokia Drive+ available for free to all Windows Phone 8 customers - (explaining the asterisk in the headline above) at least, in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. Nokia Drive+ had previously been a Nokia exclusive title on its Lumia range, but the legalities and finances have presumably all been worked out to bring full turn by turn navigation to all Windows Phone 8 users, again presumably with a roll out around the rest of the world in due course.
Recent News - Windows Phone 8 - Page 13
Nokia today announced that its Q4 2012 results will be better than previously expected, with the key Devices & Services division's non-IFRS operating margin expected to be between break even and 2 percent. Previously the company had indicated this would be -6%, with a +/-4% range. Nokia also currently estimates that it sold 6.6 million smartphones (4.4 million Lumia, 2.2 million Symbian) in the last quarter. Mobile phone sales were 86.3 million, and, of these, 9.3 million were Asha full touch devices, which are sometimes classified as smartphones (in which case, a total of 15.9 million smartphones).
Nokia has announced the start of the roll out of a software updates for the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 in Canada (Rogers) and the US (AT&T). The update (PR 1.1) combines the Windows Phone 10211 platform update with a number of firmware updates specific to Nokia. The platform update includes enhancements to Messaging, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, and a number of performance improvements. The firmware updates includes enhancement to imaging performance and battery management.
A new version of the Nokia Music app is available for Lumia devices running on Windows Phone 7.5 or Windows Phone 8. The new version includes a number of UI tweaks that help streamline the Nokia Music user experience. The latest update follows in the footsteps of a recent update that added support for rich artist information (swipe left from player screen), saving of artist images, and improved language support.
Nokia Maps for Windows Phone 8 has been updated to version 3.1.1. The new version has an improved traffic layer, showing more congestion information, in a clearer manner. In addition the app's public transport routing functionality now offers deeper integration with the Nokia Transport app, allowing easy access to richer public transport information.
Nokia's Cinemagraph camera lens app has been updated to version 2.5. The new version adds the ability to share captured cinemagraphs (animated GIFs) via messaging, email and social networks. Previously, cinemagraphs could only be saved to SkyDrive.
Google has announced the end of life for Google Sync, which was designed to give access to Gmail, Google Calendar and Contacts via Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync protocol. Starting from January 30th 2013, consumers will no longer be able to set up new devices using Google Sync, although existing connections will continue to function. The news will, potentially, effect those setting up a new sync connection to their Google Calendar and Contacts from a Windows Phone device after the specified date.
WPCentral, ZDNet and a number of sources are reporting that some international variants of the HTC 8X are receiving an over the air (OTA) update. The update, which takes around 20 minutes to complete, fixes a rebooting issue that was impacting a limited number of devices, adds support for WiFi connections to be "kept alive" while under the lock screen, adds a reject by text option, enables support for drafts in the Messaging app, and adds a 'select all' option in the Messaging app menu.
At the Le Web conference in Paris, Marko Ahtisaari, Nokia's EVP Design, announced the Nokia Lumia 620, a mid range smartphone running Windows Phone 8. The latest addition to the Lumia line up, which is Nokia's most affordable Windows Phone 8 device to date, has a 3.8 inch WVGA (800 x 480) TFT screen, 8GB of internal memory, microSD card support, a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor running at 1GHz, and a 5 megapixel camera.
The Lumia 620 will cost £155 / €190 / $249 before taxes and subsidies and will ship in January 2013. It will be available first in the Asia Pacific region, followed by the Middle-East, Europe and the Americas, and comes in seven different colour variants.
In response to user demand, Microsoft has released a preview version of Skype for Windows Phone 8. Compared to the Windows Phone 7.5 version, the app is more deeply integrated in to the phone, with hooks into the People hub, notification system, lock screen, and calling experience. Most importantly, it is now "always on" allowing Skype messages and calls to be received, even if the app is not running in the foreground.