Apps

Although many people are using Ask Ziggy on Windows Phone these days, the search for a viable alternative to the iPhone’s Siri continues. While we’re unsure of what Microsoft has planned in this arena for Windows Phone 8, WP7 users certainly want options.

A new alternative is on the Marketplace now called simply enough ‘Assistant’. It’s made by Speak To It and while it normally costs $0.99 it’s going for free now for the first 10,000 downloads.

It uses the same Nuance voice engine as Ask Ziggy, so in that regards it’s not necessarily any better nor worse. But the UI design and layout are quite nice. You get a custom Avatar to interact with and a choice of 4 different voices (UK and US English). The app can learn your name and you can name it too (we called ours Siri of course).

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Windows Phone App Review - Smartest Eraser

Smartest Eraser for Windows Phone

Smartest Eraser is a photo editing app for your Windows Phone that helps clean up unwanted objects that snuck into your photos. Such as tree limbs, ex-boyfriends, bratty little brothers, a foot and any other item that just doesn't belong. The concept of removing unwanted objects (or subjects) from your pictures can be appealing and a useful tool.

But how smart is the Smartest Eraser?  We took it out for a test drive and while the app has potential, there is still a bit of room for improvement.

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WP Central

Update - Version 3.0 is now live in the Marketplace as we just got the notification! Link after the break...

Although we’re still seeing version 2.0 for Nokia Drive on our Lumia, Nokia has finally pulled the covers of their highly anticipated version 3.0 which should be hitting the Marketplace in the next 24-48 hours. It has us so excited, we’re almost yearning to get lost just so we can use it.

Version 3.0, in our opinion, finally makes Drive the app we all wanted and expected from Nokia—sure the other versions were nice, especially for free, but they paled to the pay apps of Garmin, etc.

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WP Central

Still in beta, Pulse is now at Version 0.95.7

Looks like Nokia is putting some renewed vigor into their Pulse social app which is still in beta form. Version 0.95.7 just went live in the Marketplace and brings some cool new additions with it:

  • Conversation live tile – pin a specific conversation to your Start screen
  • Pulse from landing page – tap in the “Send a message” box and go directly to the Compose screen
  • Recognize multiple email addresses for an individual user
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Birdsong for Windows Phone

Birdsong, a Windows Phone Twitter app, experienced a little technical difficulties with Live Tile and push notifications. The developers have worked diligently over the past few weeks and the new push notification service went online just a little while ago.

Birdsong is a nicely laid out Twitter app for your Windows Phone that supports multiple accounts, threaded conversations, geo-tagged tweets, off line viewing and much more.

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WP Central Mark Osborn Interview

Mark Osborn, creator of the Windows Phone app Articles for Instapaper, is just in the process of uprooting from the UK and moving to the the US. We had been in touch with Mark for a while as he had shouted me on twitter to tell us about his Instapaper Client for Windows Phone.  For those not familiar, Instapaper is a free web service that lets you save web pages and articles to read later.  With Articles for Instapaper, you can tap into your Instapaper account from your Windows Phone to read your articles.

We were just in time to catch him before he headed off to frolic in Europe one more time before he left and had the opportunity to sit down, drink too much coffee and chat about the old, the now and the next.

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WP Central

Zite for Windows Phone - now available

We haven’t heard much about Zite (zite.com), a news service that’s owned by CNN, but we should start paying attention to it. Zite is not just a news-app but rather a service that finds stories based on your likes and interests which gets you away from the “information overload” that many of us experience today.

The app has been on iOS since late last year and is also on Android too but now the service is coming to Windows Phone and the CEO is quite excited—mostly because he uses a Lumia 710.

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Podcast Lounge Nokia Lumia 800 Cyan

During last night’s WPUG meet in central London, we got a chance to catch up with Richard from Igneous Software. BBC Podcast lounge is a must-have app for those that want to catch up on all the amazing and free content from Auntie Beeb. Richard was able to give me a quick walkthrough of the latest update that is currently in testing.

The current app is great but with this update, Richard looks to be taking a logical and very welcome next step. From 1.4 onwards users will be able to subscribe to podcasts. Great news, even better is that it offers options to keep up to 3 podcasts of each. That is very similar to the options presented on the Zune desktop client. Whilst the Zune music hub in Windows Phone is great, it’s not possible to subscribe to podcasts or even browse and download manually. The only way to get podcasts on your device through Zune is to first connect to the computer, subscribe to the podcast and then sync with your phone, once that’s done it will grab them. It’s a far from convenient solution, something better needed to be found.

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W Phone 8 for Windows Phone

A fairly lightweight Windows Phone emulator has made its way onto the Marketplace, which enables the user to see how the upcoming UI refresh would look on their handset. By lightweight we mean that no tiles launch any apps (links to Marketplace listings instead), but it certainly gives you a feel for what's to come with live tiles showing data, flipping around and having fun.

That's pretty much W Phone 8 in a nutshell, and while it may not seem a lot it's very well presented.

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MetroSpec

You can now enjoy the classics while on the go

Can we have a drum roll? Announcing the upcoming Sinclair ZX Spectrum emulator for Windows Phone - MetroSpec. This current work-in-progress by Starquake Mobile (website) is the first generic ZX Spectrum emulator for Windows Phone which isn't tied to a single title. 

The gist of the app is to enable Windows Phone users to download, load and enjoy Spectrum titles to either bring back memories or to defeat that all-impossible last boss that one could never beat. Head on past the break to see why you should be interested in MetroSpec, as well as some hands-on footage from the recent WPUG meetup.

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SlingPlayer for Windows Phone on sale

If you have a SlingBox and have been putting off buying the SlingPlayer Windows Phone app, now is your chance to same some bucks. The SlingPlayer app normally runs $29.99 but through July 22nd, Sling Media has slashed the price 50% bringing the price down to $14.99.

Compatible with Slingbox SOLO or PRO-HD slingboxes, the app will let you play anything you can watch on your television at home on your Windows Phone. SlingPlayer will let you change channels, control your DVR, view live or recorded shows, control your cable or satellite box, and much more.

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WP Central

The official MSN Messenger app is Chinese-only

In what is an unusual surprise for users on Windows Phone, Microsoft (MSN China) has released an official standalone MSN Messenger app for Windows Phone.

The app is now available in the Marketplace and it seems to have world-wide availability although you’ll be hard pressed to read it since there is no language-localization to be found.

The app is actually very well done—it’s fast and fluid and behaves like how you would expect. You can set your away messages, chat with others and login from different accounts. And really, that’s the big deal here—as many users do have multiple Messenger aliases which they want to use.

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iplayer radio app exclusive

Igneous Software, not content with making their excellent BBC Podcast Lounge are surely striving for greatness with their upcoming launch of the BBC Radio Player. We had previously reported on their plans but were finally able to get hands on demo of it at last night’s Windows Phone User Group (WPUG).

The new player will improve on the previous version in a number of ways. The UI has been updated to closely follow that of the official apps on other platforms. Igneous have taken great care to replicate the colours and visual cues from the iPlayer whilst taking advantage of Metro’s inherent slick delivery of typography and graphics.

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Windows Phone Official SkyDrive 2.2 Update Rolls out

Skydrive 2.2 Rolls Out

Microsoft is rolling out another update to its SkyDrive Windows Phone client today. Not a huge amount has changed in the latest version but it does bring some welcome graphical changes.

The logo has been updated to now fall in line with that seen on the web and on the desktop version  of the client, gone is the swish and onwards with the ‘flattening’. It is also adhering more to the Metro feel, dropping the rather dull skeuomorphic yellow folder icons and replacing them with their authentically digital counterparts. Yes, that means blue squares to you and me.

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Rebtel adds VoIP app to the Windows Phone Marketplace

Rebtel Windows Phone app

Rebtel is an international VoIP company (think Skype... well kinda) that has released tier mobile app, Rebtel, over on the Windows Phone Marketplace. Rebtel's Windows Phone app joins other mobile solutions that are available for the iPhone and iPad as well as Android phones and tablets.

The Rebtel app features address book integration and offers to provide rates up to 98% lower than average operator calls and up to 60% saving on international text messaging to more than 196 countries. You do need to register to use the services and if you're a Facebook fan, you can sign in through your Facebook account.  The Rebtel service even has Paypal support as a billing option.

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HBO Go comes to Windows Phone Romania

HBO Go, the service that let's HBO subscribers stream movies and TV shows to various devices, is one of the greatest blessings to the world of apps in recent times. And now it has finally come to Windows Phone...but only in Romania. You may ask yourself, "Why Romania?" Well, the answer may be that HBO Go depends heavily on regional cable providers and those carriers in Romania were the first to get agreements in place with television giant. At any rate, customers of Romanian providers HBO Go VIP/Club Romania, INES, NextGen Communications, or Romtelecom can now watch their favorite shows on their Windows Phone devices.

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WP Central

[+] Lock Screen is a stellar app and a must-have

Looks like it’s a good week in the Windows Phone Marketplace for deals as we just got tipped that Snack Studios have made their pay-apps free for an undisclosed time.

The developers have numerous apps in the Marketplace and in our opinion, all are top notch with an elegant design and useful functionality.  Those are apps are the following:

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Baseball Pro '12 updated to add player tweets

Baseball Pro '12 for Windows Phone

Baseball Pro '12 (formerly known as MLB Pro '12) is a nice Windows Phone app to keep you up to date with all the stats, scores and news from the Major League Baseball season. The app was recently updated to follow along with players Twitter tweets.

Baseball Pro '12 adds Player Tweets

Version 1.4 adds a twitter page to the Player Profile pages so you can see what your favorite ball player is tweeting. Additional features include:

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iPad My Xbox Live App

Microsoft continues to flesh out their Xbox live app for those of us that have iPads. The latest update brings more of the once exclusive features of the Windows Phone Companion App to iOS users. Unlike Windows Phone, which has a combination of apps to take care of Xbox live business, the iPad rolls all the functions into one. Personally, I like it all integrated into one whole and have been a little confused as to why the Windows Phone has essentially stuck with the Xbox Hub plus the two addition apps called Xbox Companion app and Xbox LIVE Extras App.

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Windows Phone App Review: HD Scanner

HD Scanner for Windows Phone

If you are looking for a fairly simple, straight forward document scanner for your Windows Phone, HD Scanner should make your short list. It was recently released to the Windows Phone Marketplace and creates .PDF files that can be uploaded to Skydrive, Dropbox or Google Docs. Created documents can also be save to your Pictures Hub or emailed.

HD Scanner can come in handy if you need to scan a receipt, scan research papers, shopping lists, or any other document you may need to archive or copy on the go.

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Pictures Lab for Windows Phone edits price

Pictures Lab for Windows Phone

Pictures Lab is a very nice photo editing app for your Windows Phone. The app offers a wide selection of editing tools that includes filters, borders, exposure adjustments and more. The app is in the top five photography apps on the Marketplace and has recently had it's price cropped. The original $1.99 price tag on Pictures Lab is dropped to $.99 making the app a steal of a deal.

Pictures Lab

Pictures Lab has Facebook and Twitter integration to make social sharing of your photos easier. Settings allow you to set the image quality on images you share and save. Plus you can add an artist name (e.g. copyright) to the image's EXIF file. plus you can set the image quality in the app's settings.

If you're not sure about Pictures Hub, there is a free trial version available to let you try before you buy. The full version is running $.99 and you can find Pictures Lab here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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WP Central

Great news for you instant messaging fans; Nimbuzz is now available to download in the Windows Marketplace. The popular cross platform app was a personal favorite of mine back in the Windows Mobile days and has also been a success on other operating systems. Now it is our turn on Windows Phone and the it will not cost you a penny to download. It is free.

WP Central

Nimbuzz offers the following features:

  • Free messaging - Replaces SMS with unlimited free chat.
  • IM Community - Connect with multiple IM accounts and have them all in one list. Nimbuzz supports Facebook, Yahoo Messenger, MSN/Windows Live Messenger and Gtalk.
  • Picture sharing - Click and share you favorite pictures with friends and family.
  • Chat history - Keep your conversations handy for use later.
  • Chat Buddies - Use popular chat buddies for Twitter, Cricket, Astrology etc.
  • And much more - Guided tour, contact management, Presence management, Message typing indicator, N-Word, Free avatars and much more.

 

More information/Download Nimbuzz for Windows Phone  via: WMPoweruser

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WP Central

Earlier this week we mentioned how the app I’m a WP7! was renamed to Outsider and re-released to the Windows Phone Marketplace. The app, made by the team at Liquid Daffodil, is for fans of Windows Phone to come together, discuss software, hangout, setup multiplayer games and just have fun. Filled with numerous Easter Eggs that include hidden functionality, the app is not only fun, it’s free.

With the update though came a challenge: Three “movers and shakers” of the Windows Phone community had to unlock 7 Easter Eggs in the app within 72 hours—if successful, Liquid Daffodil would make their other apps free for 72 hours.

Those movers and shakers were Microsoft’s Ben Lower (@benlower), Ben Rudolph (@BenthePCGuy) and yours truly (@Daniel_Rubino) and we’re pleased to announce that Lower and myself have completed the challenge with Rudolph almost finishing (he’s a busy man with a new kid, so our sympathy). As the great philosopher Meatloaf once said "Two out of three ain't bad"!

WP Central

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WP Central

Network speed test apps are always finicky and hard to judge for accuracy but we like what we see with the new app called Speed Test (or my Speed Test).

The app is free and has a companion site (http://www.myspeedtest.mobi) which is very useful for checking on your stats, seeing geolocaiton information and what others are getting for speeds. There’s no way to create an account but the Sign In area near the top suggests that this feature may be coming down the road.

WP Central

The companion Speed Test website

Speed Test is quite basic—you launch it and start the test, measuring your latency, download and upload speeds. You can either do a “complete” test or “fast” with the latter using smaller file-sizes, resulting in slightly less accurate results. You can then scroll over for “network” info including seeing your location and once more for test history. There are no options for changing between kb/s and Mbps with the former being used in this app.

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Freda ebook reader for Windows Phone bumped to 2.6

Freda

Freda, the free ebook reader for Windows Phone, has been updated to version 2.6, which introduces a number of new features and improvements. We previously looked at the app back in November when the developers were eagerly seeking beta testers for a previous update, so it's good to see Freda continue to receive invested time and effort to further improve the user experience.

So what's new in version two-point-six? The Turnipsoft team have worked hard to translate the UI for French, German, Swedish and Slovak users, further opening up the service for international consumers, but that's not all. Find the full changelog below:

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