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Telstra approves Tango update for Windows Phone

Lumia 710

Australian carrier Telstra has approved the Windows Phone Tango update for its arsenal of smartphones. We previously covered Telstra's efforts in testing the upgrade last month, so the carrier is indeed making good progress with getting the update to consumers in a speedy fashion.

The upgrade will be available for Telstra customers with a Nokia Lumia 800, HTC Mozart and HD7 or Samsung Omnia W. The LG c900k (Quantum) is reportedly still undergoing some tests before the update is rolled out. The expected dates are still frozen at mid-July, so we should be able to see some notifications pushed out shortly.

Be sure to keep up-to-date with the status of the rollout over on the Telstra website.

via: Peter's Kitchen; thanks, Peter, for the heads up!

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228

Windows Phone sees slight dip in U.S. Marketshare

Windows Phone

Nielson has released their second quarter numbers for 2012 and while 54.9% of U.S. mobile subscribers opted for smartphones, 1.3% opted for Windows Phones. This is a jump from Q1 2012 for smartphones (50.4%)and a slight decline for Windows Phones (1.7%).

Nielson Smartphone Market Share

Android still has the lion share of the market with 51.8% and Apple is a distant second with 34.3%. RIM is holding steady at 9% with Windows Mobile pulling in 3% of the market.

Nielson's 1.7% is somewhat less of a market share than we saw last month from Comscore who has Microsoft holding on to 4% of the market. Then again, Comscore's numbers combine both Windows Phone and Windows Mobile shares in the market.

Regardless, both reports show that Microsoft still has some work ahead of them. The slight decline in the Nielson report could be from consumers holding off on the platform until Windows Phone 8 is released later this year. It will be interesting to see how these numbers change once the new devices hit the store shelves.

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WP Central

Microsoft yesterday announced commercial availability of their Microsoft Translator Hub. The service has been designed to allow developers and business to deliver tailored, real-time translation in up to 39 languages.  The real-time translation is available as an Azure Marketplace application, enabling users to leverage the Microsoft Cloud to deliver more relevant machine translation applications to their customers.

The applications vary for this service but as an example, it will allow for fluid, real time translation of live web chat interactions from customer services representatives. It goes beyond plain machine translation by allowing the output to be fully optimised for that particular application. A private set of data can be uploaded and using the Translator’s machine learning training system, output can then be tailored as required. Manipulating the output could allow exclusion of business specific nomenclature such as names of products or abbreviations. These customised translation scenarios can then be tested deployed so that they suit each application for which they are targeted. Once the solution is deployed, it can accessed through the familiar Microsoft Translator Service API, all the time being kept private or shared, depending on what you require.

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Zuma’s Revenge

PopCap Games may be best known for their sublime Plants vs. Zombies (on sale for $2.99 this week!), but they actually produce a number of stellar franchises like Peggle and Zuma. We interviewed PopCap about those two series coming to Windows Phone last year, and we’ll continue to ask about them whenever we can. PopCap seems to work on one game for one platform at a time, and they’ve just completed a new Xbox Live Arcade release: Zuma’s Revenge. It just came out yesterday, but I’ve been playing the game for a week now in order to bring you this review.

The original Zuma Deluxe was an XBLA launch title way back in 2006. Basically an enhanced clone of classic arcade game Puzz Loop (aka Magnetica), the Zuma games put players in control of a stationary frog who can rotate in any direction and shoot colored balls from his mouth. In each level, more balls roll on-screen along one or more paths. The frog’s job is to stop them from reaching the goal at the path’s end by quickly making as many colored matches as possible. It’s sort of like Bubble Town 2 but much, much better and more varied.

Head past the break for our full impressions and more screenshots.

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WP Central

'Overly Attached Girlfriend' approves of the latest PrimeTube update

Although it was nice seeing old-time favorite MetroTube land back on the Marketplace last week, we don’t want to lose sight of some other fantastic YouTube viewers. PrimeTube fits the bill nicely and it just received a solid update to version 2.1 (v2.0 hit last month).

According to the developer, version 2.1 brings “a new player, UI refreshes, speedier performance and bug fixes” which sounds to us like some nice improvements. Indeed, loading up the app and swiping through the pages is buttery smooth and the player itself is laid out quite nicely with options for High Definition (HD), High Quality (HQ) and Low Quality (LQ) which came with the version 2.0 overhauls.

WP Central

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Angry Birds Trilogy

It’s always interesting to see a popular mobile phone game jump to consoles. Xbox 360 has already received Fruit Ninja Kinect (which turned out pretty well other than the crummy menus), and Doodle Jump is coming with Kinect controls too. That only leaves one other major casual franchise to make the jump: Angry Birds! Well, just as Angry Birds Space is coming to Windows Phone eventually, so too are several Angry Birds games coming to Xbox 360 in the form of Angry Birds Trilogy.

Rovio’s popular bird-flinging series will be published on consoles by Activision (best known for their Call of Duty franchise). Angry Birds Trilogy contains the first three series entries: Angry Birds, Angry Birds Rio, and Angry Birds Seasons. For those keeping score, only the first game made it to Windows Phone, where it has languished with only a single title update and no Mango support. A patch for 256 MB devices is supposedly coming, at least. But hey, at least it only costs 99 cents nowadays!

With the Xbox 360 being the number one console as opposed to the current third-place position of Microsoft’s mobile OS, we can certainly expect Trilogy to receive much better support as far as content updates go. However, free updates are extremely scarce on the 360 (Minecraft: XBLA Edition had to get special permission for regular updates), with PDLC much more the norm. Rovio and Activision haven’t commented on exactly episodes (sets of levels) are included in Trilogy or their DLC plans, so these things remain to be seen.

Head past the break for more detals, screenshots, and pricing info!

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WP Central

The official Six Flags app from Nokia is a wild ride

The Six Flags app from Nokia for their Lumia line of Windows Phones received a small update today. Now at version 1.19 the update looks to be some minor bug fixes and under the hood optimizations that usually follow an initial public release. In other words, we’ve found no observable new features but presumably it will run a little faster now.

The official Six Flags app from Nokia is a companion app for the park which provides park info (location, hours), maps within the park (with augmented reality), videos, food and shop information (including descriptions) and park events (with a calendar). The deal between Nokia and Six Flags is mutual as the parks reportedly are heavily advertising the flagship Lumia 900.

Interestingly, neither Android or iOS have a Six Flags app making Lumia Windows Phones the first.

Pick up the exclusive Six Flags app from Nokia here in the Nokia Collection. Check out our hands on video after the break with the QR code. Thanks, Jose, for the heads up

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16

O2 UK announce July availability for Lumia 610

WP Central Nokia 610

Chrome finish and sleek lines come as standard

O2 UK have announced via their coming soon page that the Nokia's Tango-flavoured Lumia 610 will be arriving this month. Availability is simply set as July so that should be any time now.

The 610 has been built from the ground up to adhere to the new lower specification requirements made possible with Tango. The new lower spec devices have courted some controversy due to a lack of 100% application compatibility. The Lumia 610 represents Nokia’s attempt to bring the price of Windows Phone down sufficiently to allow it to be sold on great value monthly contracts or the ever-popular Pay-As-You-Go. I think its great Nokia are endeavouring to get these phones to as many people as possible. In my opinion, based on some limited time with the device, they have done well to keep the quality up. I would be surprised if it’s not a popular choice for Pay As You Go consumers.

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35

Another SkyDrive app appears in Windows 8 Marketplace

WP Central Skydrive Desktop App For Win8

Microsoft in a surprising move has updated the Windows 8 Marketplace so that there is now another SkyDrive app available. This is not the WinRT version but instead a shortcut to the full-blown desktop app that is currently available to all. SkyDrive is going to be a linchpin of Microsoft’s cloud based continuous client strategy. So what are they up to?

Windows 8 already has the WinRT version of SkyDrive, but currently that does not support folder synchronisation. I have to say I find this rather odd. I would have expected MS to simply update the existing built-in app to support such a function.

I do think there are number of reasons they have chosen this route. Firstly, it could be that a pure WinRT version will make it impossible to execute that level of interaction with the classic desktop environment. It could also be there to help aid install until a fully featured SkyDrive app baked in  with the WinRT environment and the Classic environment.

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Lumia 800

Swedish carrier Three (or "3") is offering the Nokia Lumia 800 on a 2-year contract for 299 kr (about $40), but that's not all as the carrier is also bundling the 4G slim version of the Xbox 360 for free. 2GBs of data is included in the plan, and with a free Xbox who can grumble?

We've previously covered similar offers in Sweden with the LG Optimus 7, so it's good to see carriers using Lumia Windows Phones in attempt to push more out the doors. The Lumia 800 itself is a sturdy mid-range Windows Phone that sports a 1.4Ghz chip, 512MB RAM, 16GB storage, 3.7 AMOLED display (with Clear Black technology), and has access to Nokia's collection of OEM exclusive apps.

Source: Three, via: WinGadget.se

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10

Official eBay Windows Phone app updated to version 1.18

eBay

We've received notifications that an update is available for the highly rated eBay app for Windows Phone - version 1.18. What's new in this latest release? We're not entirely sure, though our Daniel Rubino experienced issues with logging in on version 1.17, but can achieve this task after updating.

Other than the potential login fix (should you be affected), we're not entirely sure what's included. The previous version of the eBay app introduced auction creation support for Windows Phone, so we could well be seeing some bundled fixes and minor optimisation with 1.18. 

You can download the official eBay app from the Marketplace. Notice anything new which we've overlooked? Let us know in the comments.

QR: eBay

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WP Central

Although we’re still stuck with plain ol’ Angry Birds on Windows Phone, Rovio may finally be embracing Microsoft. Rovio now has a few titles coming to the Windows Phone platform including Angry Birds Space.

The latest franchise though is ‘Amazing Alex’ which is just about to launch on iOS and Android. The game is another physics-based puzzler where users must place objects on the screen in a certain way to cause a chain reaction. The game isn’t an original Rovio title as another firm, Mystery Coconut, released it in 2011. Rovio later picked it up and tweaked it a bit (evidently it wasn’t much of a hit, initially).

WP Central

In a tweet to the Nokia Blog’s Mark Guim, Rovio confirmed that “PC, Mac & Windows Phone versions are to come later, post launch”.

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Nokia scaling back Windows Phone 7 production

Compal Communications is Nokia's primary ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) for the Lumia Windows Phone. June revenues for Compel fell 39.5% due to a reduction in orders from Nokia.  Similar reductions are expected for July.

The move isn't surprising in that Nokia will begin shifting to Windows Phone 8 devices and the company wouldn't want to be stuck with a major inventory of the Windows Phone 7 ones.  This scale back could include any of the Lumia phones from Nokia including the 610, 710, 800 or 900.

What does the scaled back production mean to the average consumer? Most shoppers probably won't even notice it and Nokia is still slated to release the pink Lumia 900 over on AT&T on July 15th (a vote of confidence from the carrier, no doubt). Seeing how some of the color patterns of the Lumia 900 flew off the shelf earlier this year (remember the cyan model), we expect plenty of inventory on the pink version.

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Robert Williams

Reports are in that Robert Williams, Windows Phone Executive, has left the software giant and has made the move to Amazon. It seems as though there's an ugly trend starting to appear, but we do hope this is the end of it.

Sounds familiar, right? It was only five months ago when Brandon Watson, Director of Developer Experience for Windows Phone, left Microsoft to work on the Amazon Kindle. Of course, we're not forgetting Charlie Kindel, General Manager of the Windows Phone Developer Ecosystem, who left the company late last year.

It seems everyone is migrating elsewhere and we're beginning to wonder if we'll have a Windows Phone team left. So what's Williams' new role at Amazon? He's only the new Director of the App Store. Sounds rather snazzy, eh? Williams was the Senior Director Business Development in the Windows Phone division, and we expect his hard work and experience will be sorely missed at Redmond.

Robert Williams Amazon Tweet

At least he's still presumably using his Windows Phone if the above tweet is anything to go by. We - of course - wish Williams all the best in the future and look forward to welcoming whoever takes his place at Microsoft.

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WP Central

Earlier this morning we reported on a neat little trick that a few Windows Phone apps can do which is keep your Wi-Fi connection active even when the display is powered off.

That’s pretty useful feature for some people who are using a public Wi-Fi access point that requires you to “accept” the terms of service each time you re-connect. On a Windows Phone, every time you turn the display off it kills the Wi-Fi connection meaning you are forced to reconnect which can be problematic--even more so if you’re downloading some files.

Over at XDA, developer Ha Mai Tung (WinPhoneViet.com) has created a neat little homebrew app called Keep WiFi Alive which exploits the trick that some audio apps use. The app creates a fake music stream that makes the OS “think” it is downloading music, thereby keeping the Wi-Fi connection active.  The app is simple to use—just launch and hit the button.  To disable you can either turn off Wi-Fi in Settings or restart the phone.

Demo of Keep WiFi Alive

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WP Central
91

Windows Phone confusing to RIM's CEO

The Windows Phone platform is confusing. At least to Research In Motion's CEO that is.

In a recent interview CNET, Thorsten Heins said that Microsoft is overwhelming consumers with Windows Phone 7, 7.5 and now 8. He said,

"It's confusing at the moment, but that's the way they communicate."

It's understandable that Heins will speak highly of RIM and down play the competition but RIM doesn't exactly have a crystal clear approach on things. The obvious way to illustrate this is to ask where is Blackberry 10?  But there's more.

Beyond the delay of Blackberry 10's release, RIM has had to deal with lay-offs, resignations and quarterly loses. All the while Microsoft is posting gains, expanding through acquisitions and partnerships, and introducing new products (Surface anyone?). Sure, Microsoft has mulitple versions of Windows Phone in circulation but so does RIM with Blackberry 6 and 7. While Windows Phone may have confused RIM, I'll take stability and growth with a little confusion any day.

And it may not be fair to compare these two companies with Microsoft's more diversified portfolio of products. Still... is the Windows Phone platform any more confusing than RIM's?  Then you have to wonder if Heins should be calling out Microsoft's platform when RIM seems to be on the down hill slide?

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33

Samsung SGH-i687 with Windows Phone 8 coming this fall?

WP Central

It’s about time we start hearing about actual Windows Phone 8 hardware—or at least the bit of bread crumbs hinting at their existence.

Such is the case with the Samsung SGH-i687 which showed up on Sammy’s site under the User Agent Profile. Not too much is revealed and the only hint at Windows Phone 8 is the mention of Internet Explorer 10 as the browser. It’s been speculated and somewhat confirmed that current Windows Phone 7 devices won’t be getting that browser update and even if they were, we can’t see Samsung prepping a Windows Phone 7 device so late in the game.

The other interesting if not somewhat disappointing figure is the 480x800 (WVGA) screen. Windows Phone 8 of course brings two higher resolutions—720x1280 and 768x1280—to the fold and many of us are hoping to get our hands on a device with such a high pixel density.

WP Central

From Samsung's site on the i687 IE10 listed as a supported browser

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WP Central

Amazon & Android. New competition or just hype?

Amazon, the online retailer we all know and love, are testing a smartphone. According to reports, sources within companies who supply hardware for Amazon's upcoming handset have confirmed that testing of said device is already underway, with production set to take place later this year or early 2013.

With what we've seen with the Kindle Fire tablet, it's a strong possibility that the online giant could well be using Google's Android OS to power their new hardware, which could then be sold under the Kindle brand. What's interesting to note, probably only from a Windows Phone point-of-view, is that Brandon Watson is currently at Amazon working away on the Kindle. Could he be collaborating with the company on a new smartphone after leaving Microsoft?

The WSJ reports that Amazon's smartphone has a display size sitting in the region between 4 and 5 inches - a perfect size to compete with the likes of the TITAN II and Galaxy S 3. It'll be interesting should Amazon choose to go with Android and launch a smartphone, since the platform is pack full of competitive companies, not to mention the established iPhone, BlackBerries, Windows Phones, etc. 

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WP Central

It looks like things are not as good as they should be in the Nokia camp. According to a poll of 38 Reuters analysts the Finnish company are expected to announce next week a second quarter operating loss of 236 million Euros ($289 million USD), almost double its loss in Q1 this year. Shares have fallen to the lowest value since 1996 which is terrible news to hear.

The team here at Windows Phone Central are clearly giving Nokia some love since they adopted Windows Phone as their primary operating system, however it is clear that the public's perception of Nokia may well have fallen by the wayside. We all know that Nokia had the phone market pretty much sown up a few years ago with Symbian and its S series OS outselling all other manufactures. Things have changed greatly since those days; now with iOS and Android dominating the smartphone market. In many countries where Windows Phone is growing it is still heavily out gunned by the opposition. Take here in the UK for example: For the last two years RIM have held the top spot with the BlackBerry being the number one selling smartphone. Nokia now have Windows Phones that are cheaper than a BlackBerry but it seems that getting the youngsters to part with their BlackBerry smartphones is just too much.

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WP Central

Can we expect changes in the Windows Phone 8 Lock screen? 

Back at the Summit a few weeks ago, Microsoft was very clear that they were not showing all of Windows Phone 8, in fact we were only getting a peek. The reason for that is multifaceted but their official position is they don’t want to show consumer features to consumers when we’re still months from release. Then there’s the whole idea of trying to prevent an Osborne effect i.e. hurting current sales by enticing customers to wait for new phones this fall.

One tiny area of interest was an observation today from a reader (erichon99) in the new Start screen video by Microsoft. At about the 2:15 mark (snapshot below) you can see some icons on the Lock screen: 1 Missed Call/Voicemail, 4 text messages and presumably 13 new Hotmail/Live mail messages.

What caught our reader’s attention was the new Hotmail/Live mail icon which ironically is the old Windows flag logo (yet the new logo is clearly used for the capacitive button). To be honest, we think this is just a mockup oversight and we have no idea if Hotmail/Live mail would use the old logo though we’re leaning towards ‘no’ on that one--in other words, nothing to see here. However...

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2

Xbox 360 Impressions: Jeremy McGrath's Offroad

Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad

2XL Games made a name for themselves with off-road racer Baja: Edge of Control for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. After that, they switched gears to mobile development for several years, continuing to focus on off-the-pavement racing games. Now 2XL is back on consoles with Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad for XBLA and PSN. After coming away bored and disappointed from another recent XBLA racer (Bang Bang Racing from Digital Reality), I’m happy to report that 2XL has a grasp on making a downloadable digital racer both simple and fun.

Offroad features five different vehicles types, from Rally Cars to Trophy Trucks. Before you head to the track, you’ll choose one of 8 livery options for your vehicle and then customize it with upgrade points. Experience earned from completing races or performing in-race actions like big jumps and passing competitors can be spent on upgrading your ride’s acceleration, top speed, handling, and breaking. Nothing too complex, but the customization options are appreciated.

Head past the break for our full impressions.

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WP Central

We're almost at the point where we're going to start leaving flowers at the grave of the poor Sony Ericsson (now Sony Mobile) Jolie Windows Phone, which has had prototypes circulating throughout the web for a good number of months now. We last looked at the black version of "Jolie" when a hands-on video was published on YouTube.

Back to the white / silver version, and an owner of said Windows Phone has sent in some more photos to Windows Phone Italy. Not only does the slide-out keyboard look inviting, the overall look and design of the device itself is unique, compared to the Windows Phones we had when the platform launched almost two years ago.

It's a shame that such a stunning 2010-esque Windows Phone simply never came to be. But the tractor beams installed on the Android mothership appeared to be too advanced for Microsoft to best (and too expensive to acquire), which led to Sony ditching Windows Phone for the green droid. Check out some more shots after the break.

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Windows Store WPCentral

Kevin Turner today announced that Microsoft’s first ‘international’ store would be opening in Toronto, Canada. Whilst not exactly too far from the US, this still represents the first time Microsoft have ventured from their home turf to setup shop. The first emporium will open to the public in Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto later this year. The stores should be open in time to showcase Windows Phone 8, Surface & of course Office 15.

Whilst most will see this news as the right step forward, I remain a little cautious that this will lead to a rapid surge to get international Stores around the world. Why do I have my doubts? Microsoft often plays in Canada with some of its strategies. I remember the heady days of the Zune when Microsoft announced this service would go international (to Canada). From then until now, it has taken the company years to get some of its core Zune services to the rest of the world. The Zune didn’t end up going international, Zune services only went that way with the arrival of Windows Phone.

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Tuenti Head

Telefonica introducing a cross-platform mobile messaging service

Tuenti (official website) has announced an upcoming Windows Phone app, as well as a solution for iOS. Currently the service is available for both Android and BlackBerry (as beta - launched today), with the remaining two apps coming in the next few weeks. So what's the deal with Tuenti and should you be interested?

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