Top Ten Mobile Phone News Stories of the Week

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Enjoy our round-up of ten mobile phone related news stories you may have missed including news of Asus’ CES press event, Instagram Direct‘s release, and a possible change to the look of Windows Phone.

1. Asus Teases Something Incredible At CES

Asus has invited members of the press to an event at CES in Las Vegas at the beginning of January, saying it has something new and exciting to show us. The tagline is, “In Search of Incredible,” but gives nothing away about its intentions. Asus produces a wide variety of products, but is probably best known in the mobile world for making the Nexus 7 tablet. Asus will reveal all on 6 January.

2. Microsoft to Change the Look of Windows Phone?

Here’s a juicy rumour, but as is always the case, there’s absolutely no confirmation it’s real. According to Eldar Murtazin, a Russian mobile blogger, Microsoft will change the look of Windows Phone for Windows Phone 9 at the end of next year, getting rid of the Metro style user interface used at the moment. Apparently, the new look will be closer to Android’s style, and perhaps may have an option to switch back to the Live Tile look. The estimated time line is for Windows Phone 9 to come out during the second half of 2014.

3. Instagram Launches Direct Messaging

At an event in New York this week, Instagram introduced direct messaging for its members. The idea is to take a photo, add a filter and a caption, then choose someone to send it to. You can group message to 15 people, and also include people who don’t follow you, where it becomes a request which must be accepted. Check out the video below on how it all works.

4. Oppo to Release the Find 7

Through its Sina Weibo social networking account, Oppo has teased the forthcoming release of the Find 7, a new device we know little about. A previous rumour has shown it has the potential to be very exciting, perhaps including the Snapdragon 805 processor, and even a 5.7-inch screen with a 2560×1440 pixel resolution. Sadly, Oppo hasn’t given us a clue when it will announce the phone, so we’ll have to be patient.

5. Windows Phone Arranges Important TV Deal

Microsoft and Nokia have landed a pretty high profile product placement deal, in Germany at least. Upcoming TV drama In the Devil’s Kitchen will prominently feature Lumia handsets, which could go some way to giving the platform a push in the European market. This may be a tactic which Windows Phone’s creators are employing on a wider scale, as we’ve recently noticed several such smartphone cropping up in episodes of Coronation Street and US TV drama Under the Dome.

6. Canonical Signs First Hardware Deal

Canonical’s Ubuntu Touch mobile OS has taken a big step to going on sale, as a deal has been signed with a hardware manufacturer. However, the firm hasn’t revealed which company will be producing the phones, but did say the devices would be high-end. In addition to the done deal, Canonical is in talks with four others. We should see the first Ubuntu Touch phone by the end of 2014.

7. Vivo Uses Augmented Reality to Promote XPlay 3S

Vivo, a Chinese manufacturer, will be introducing a new smartphone named the XPlay 3S very soon, and has been sending out invitations to the special event. However, instead of just another cryptic image on a card, the invitation comes alive when a camera phone is pointed at it. It’s all thanks to the latest NFC and augmented reality tech, and looks amazing in the video below.

8. Google Adds Device Manager to Play Store

Google’s security tool, the Android Device Manager, has moved on from being solely a desktop system to a mobile app. It’s now ready for download through Google Play, and it can be used to remotely locate a stolen or lost phone, reset the PIN, or to wipe the device’s memory. Most phones are compatible, provided they run Gingerbread or later.

9. Freephone Numbers to be Free From Mobiles

Ofcom has made the decision to make freephone numbers – that’s 0800, 0808 and 116 numbers – free to call from mobile phones. The change won’t happen overnight though, as networks must prepare for the extra traffic, but Ofcom says it’ll all be in place by June 2015.

10. Sony Introduces a USB Flash Drive for Your Smartphone

Sony has launched a set of USB flash drives which have both a standard USB socket, and a micro USB socket for connecting to a smartphone. Provided your Android phone or tablet runs version 4.0.3 or later, and supports USB On The Go, you’ll be able to swap and store photos, music and other files between your phone and PC. They’ll come in 8GB, 16GB or 32GB in size, and go on sale in January 2014.

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