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Windows Phone Central Gaming Roundup: The Next Big Thing

One of the helpful features of the Windows Phone Store is the Collections.  These are conglomerations of apps and games that fall in line with an underlying theme. Be it photography, shopping, sports or fitness these collections are a great place for one stop app/game shopping.  

One gaming collection always seems to catch our eye is The Next Big Thing. It's a collection of games that the Windows Phone Store gate keepers see as having potential to hit it big.  It is also the focus of this week's Windows Phone Central roundup.  

We spun the wheel and picked four of the games currently listed in this collection to highlight.  Three are very strong contenders for becoming the next big thing.  The fourth... well the fourth needs a little fine tuning but is on the right track as well.

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When it comes to tracking our fitness, we’re big fans of the Fitbit family of trackers and the overall ecosystem. Unfortunately, they don’t have an official app on Windows Phone, but do have on for Windows 8 and have a desktop app to sync with you tracker.

However, Windows Phone does have a nice set of third-party apps that at least let you view your data. One of our favorites, Fitbit Tracker, just received an update. Let’s check it out.

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Windows, Windows, Windows. It sure has been a busy day for Microsoft. If you've upgraded to Windows 8.1 from Windows 8, you're good to go almost immediately. It's really easy to get the latest release. But what about those of us who had the Windows 8.1 Preview? There has been talk about not being able to upgrade as Windows 8 keys won't work, etc. but there's light at the end of the tunnel.

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A handful of engineers on the Windows 8.1 team just wrapped up an AMA on Reddit. As you may or may not know, AMA stands for “ask me anything” and serves as a question and answer session. The team spent time answering questions from the community on everything from their favorite Windows apps to whether or not we’d see a book store in the Windows ecosystem. We’ve grabbed the highlights from the AMA for you to peruse down below.

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Microsoft will be launching its second-generation of surface hardware soon. To celebrate, the company has been running sweepstakes on Facebook. We've somehow managed to miss this opportunity for you all to win some cool prizes. You'll need to hurry up and get involved as there are only three days left. As well as the sweepstakes, there's an Ultimate Surface Fan contest!

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If you’re like us, you’ve spent a good chunk of the day updating your PCs, tablets and Ultrabooks to the brand spanking new (and spectacular) Windows 8.1 OS. If you did, pat yourself on the back because we have a small, but cool, bonus for you troopers: The Windows Phone Central Live Tile.

Sure, it’s not our official RT app, which is still in the works (you can bug Jay about it), but as runner up you can use the new Internet Explorer 11 “pin to start” feature, which will give you four Tile sizes: small, medium, large or wide. The tile is also Live, pulling directly from our site—think of it as another cool way to keep up to date on your favorite Windows Phone and Microsoft news.

The Tile will update every 30 minutes, giving you a peek at what’s new on the site!

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Poll: Upgraded to Windows 8.1, what are your thoughts?

Windows 8.1 has been out for a matter of hours and already many of us have bombed straight into the deep end and upgraded. But how has the process been for you? And more importantly: what are your thoughts on Windows 8.1? While some of us have actively been stressing the Windows 8.1 Preview, there are some handy new features and updates included in the final release.

So, feel free to vote in our poll, comment below with your thoughts and let's see how it's all gone for the first major update to Windows 8.

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Richard Walters is the developer of Calculator² and Calculator³. You may have used these apps before on Windows 8 or Windows Phone - we've taken a look at the mobile app in the past. It's been announced today that Walters has been able to accumulate over 1 million downloads on Windows Store for his Calculator² app alone.

Entering the DreamSpark program as a student, Walters received a Windows Phone and his journey began. What makes this story that much more unique is Walters doesn't have a development background. In fact, Calculator² was his first app ever developed, released on Windows Phone. 

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Microsoft is looking to buy Nokia (or at least its devices and services division), that has already been covered numerous times. Now, Steve Ballmer is reported to have been in Beijing to visit Stephen Elop and Nokia. Now, the actual deal between the two companies is still yet to be finalised and approved, but these are clear signs that the two parties are already preparing discussions and more.

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We first discovered unconventional platformer/puzzle game Eyez back in June, right around E3 time when we interviewed the developer. The game instantly caught my eyes with its beautiful hand-drawn Asian artwork and striking use of colors. It also packs some highly creative puzzle mechanics that you don’t see every day. Oh, and it runs on both Windows Phone 7 and 8.

Since Eyez’ release, developer Hua “Rex” Chen has steadily updated it with tweaks and compatibility improvements. The latest update even adds better touch controls. Head past the break for more update details, screenshots, and more!

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On the heels of Microsoft updating Bing Weather for Windows Phone 8, Bing Sports is getting into the action with an update as well.

Bing Sports moved to version 2.0.2.177 and while there's not an official change log posted, it appears the update adds a few new sports categories. You've got your customary professional sports listed (NFL, NBA, NFL, etc) along with collegiate sports, the PGA, and MLS but now NASCAR is showing up on the list.

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Smartwatches (or rather, wearable gadgets) have become the new thing to own.

From Fitbit to Google Glass, to Samsung's Galaxy Gear, companies are also looking at ways to improve the watch. Numerous smartwatch concepts have popped up across the web, but now Nokia is looking to get in with all the action. An application from Nokia to the Patent and Trademark Office has been spotted, with a modular watch design.

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Microsoft previously revealed to the world exactly how it's looking to evolve its Bing search engine and integrate the service into the "one" company vision. As well as a brand new logo (which looks more modern and fits in with what we've seen happen to the rebranding of Office, Windows, Windows Phone and other products), the web service itself has been completely revamped.

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Microsoft has updated their Bing Weather app to deliver user-demanded features

Besides Windows 8.1 rolling out today and Microsoft refreshing their core apps on that OS, Microsoft is also pushing out updates for some of their super popular Bing apps, including Weather, for Windows Phone. (Sports got a small update as well, which we’ll cover later, but it’s minor compared to Bing Weather).

Bing Weather has been bumped to version 2.0.2.170 and according to the site Plaffo, it includes quite a few new additions that should make the app a lot better.

Are you ready for what's in store?

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UPDATE: Check out the highlights from Tuesday's Reddit chat by clicking here.

Today is an exciting day that marks the release of Windows 8’s first upgrade – Windows 8.1. The free software update for existing Windows 8 users can be picked up from the Windows Store or purchased from your favorite retailer, if you are running an older version of the operating system (for more details on getting the update, click here).

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Nokia has been busy pushing out small and subtle updates for their core Lumia apps on Windows Phone. While these have not brought any new features, they all tend to say “support for more devices” under their changelogs.

Next week, Nokia is expected to announce a few new Lumias at their Nokia World event in Abu Dhabi. Coincidence? Not at all. Some of those devices should feature a 1080P display, and while current apps will technically run fine at that resolution, developers are encouraged to rethink some scaling and graphics for their apps to make them look the best.

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Facebook officially arrives for Windows 8.1

Facebook on Windows Phone has been a hit and miss experience since it first launch a few years ago. The early versions of the app were riddled with performance issues and an overall lack of features. However, the Facebook Beta and subsequent updates to the official Facebook app have improved it tremendously. For the past year, Windows 8 hasn’t had a Facebook app either. That’s all changing with Windows 8.1 as the official Facebook app has finally hit the Windows Store. Details below.

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Microsoft’s latest upgrade to their Windows 8 operating system will begin to hit user machines within the next 12 hours – and it is ready to pack a punch.

Are you ready for the upgrade? Do you have a few questions on how to get it?  No worries, check below for a crash course in Windows 8.1 then be sure to tune in as we release our full Windows 8.1 review in the coming week.

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Report: Windows Phone may supersede Windows RT by 2015

Microsoft will have Windows 8.1 out the door shortly, but what will follow the update? Mary Jo Foley over at ZDNet has heard from sources that the Windows team will release a small Spring 2014 update alongside the release of Windows Phone 8.1 "Blue". That pushes back the Windows Phone 8.1 expectations back by a few months, as it was previously hinted to be early 2014 instead of the Spring.

Not only that, but sources suggest we could well be looking at the Windows Phone OS being used for hardware with larger displays, superseding Windows RT. 

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