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After 18 nights spanned over the last 4 weeks, developer Rudy Huyn has finally concluded his beta for the highly-anticipated Instagram app dubbed 6tagram.

The app has gone through a remarkable 22 beta versions during that time, with multiple updates per day adding many new features during the process. The app was submitted late last night to the Windows Phone Store and should it clear, 6tagram could be live within the next 24 to 72 hours.

6tagram will reportedly be the first 100% API compliant Instagram app for Windows Phone (due to reverse engineering), ensuring that users of the photo service shouldn’t run into any immediate problems, including hashtag shenanigans. The app is loaded with features for a version 1.0 and it should make quite a splash on the scene once it goes live.

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We’re nearly done with our Casual Connect gaming coverage. At the San Francisco-based gaming industry event, I interviewed a number of Windows Phone and Windows 8 developers. One of the largest of those developers is Advanced Mobile Applications (AMA). Founded in 2004 and based in London, AMA is a sister company to Ubisoft, who publishes some of their games.

During the event, AMA’s VP of Sales Jean-François Denis took the time to show us several of AMA’s Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 titles. Today we look at two of those: the recently-released Hills of Glory 3D (also available for Windows 8) and the upcoming Babel Rising 3D. Yep, a new Windows Phone 8 version of Babel Rising 3D is coming. Learn more and see both games in action after the break!

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We’ve been seeing more and more previously 1GB-only apps and games head south to the 512MB zone and today it’s Nokia’s Video Upload app (previously known as YouTube Upload). The app was released a few weeks ago with the Lumia 1020, giving those users a quick and easy way to upload their videos to their YouTube account, including title and privacy restrictions.

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Halo: Spartan Assault is Microsoft's attempt to bring the popular IP to the mobile device. Selling millions of copies on consoles and the PC, the Halo series has accumulated many fans and we're set to see that base number grow as more titles are released.

Available on Windows Phone 8, the game has been restricted in the US to just Verizon Wireless customers through a 30-day exclusivity deal. This has now ended.

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Earlier this week we brought you a hands-on look at Autodesk’s FBX Review app for Windows 8, which we shot at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco. While there I also took in a demonstration of Sketchbook Express, a much more consumer-oriented Windows 8 app. Like FBX Review, it’s completely free.

Renée Busse, Autodesk’s Sketchbook Community Manager, used Sketchbook Express and a Surface Pro to whip up a lovely little drawing in no time at all. Head past the break to see the full video and learn more about what Sketchbook Express and its big brother Sketchbook Pro can do on Windows 8!

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Nokia Lumia 925 joining 4G lineup on Vodafone New Zealand

It’s hard to find a single person who isn’t super stoked when they finally get 4G on their network. Vodafone New Zealand started rolling out their 4G network this past February. It started in Auckland and Christchurch, but has slowly been expanding. It’s now launching in Palmerston North. As part of that launch, customers on Vodafone NZ can soon pick up a new Nokia Lumia 925 to enjoy that high-speed connectivity.

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Nokia and in this case UK carrier Three, have co-released a new ad for the Nokia Lumia 925. Falling under the “absurd” category, the Finnish smartphone maker asks Do Carrots help you see in the Dark? The ad then shows what looks to be a scientific test with subjects consuming vast quantities of carrots and then engaging in sports like hurdles and boxing, but completely without light.

The subjects of course fail miserably and since people falling down is allegedly funny, it is supposed to get a laugh.

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Microsoft's must-have Fresh Paint app has been bumped to version 1.0.3255.1, which opens up support for Windows Phone 8 devices with 512MB RAM. Previously only available to hardware with 1GB of RAM (sounds odd, we know), the app was exclusive to those with premium smartphones. Now anyone with a Windows Phone 8 handset can take full advantage of the tools available and unleash their creativity.

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Microsoft is continuing their phased closure of the Zune Marketplace, which has been replaced with Xbox Music and Video. The latest change involves users not being able to purchase music or video through the service starting as early as August 22nd. For that reason, Microsoft is encouraging you to spend any Microsoft Point balances before that date.

The move appears to be a combination of Microsoft wanting to move away from Zune, a necessary decision if they want to support only Xbox Music and Video, and the retirement of the MS Points system, which is being replaced by cash across their entire ecosystem.

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Although the Sprint Samsung ATIV S Neo went officially on sale today, you won’t be able to run to your local store to pick one up. At least that’s what we’re hearing from colleagues and fellow readers like yourselves.

Evidently, customers who wander in to a Sprint store to pick up the latest and greatest Windows Phone 8 device will be told that it is “direct ship only” meaning no in store availability. This news was reportedly reiterated in the Sprint weekly newsletter sent out to customers today. In addition, Best Buy is now listing the phone for a $149 price tag too but it’s not available online (or in brick and mortar). We haven’t checked Microsoft Stores but so far, they only have the 8XT listed.

That’s all bad news if people were expecting to grab the phone for the weekend as it means you’ll have to get it shipped and wait. We've also confirmed that at least two stores do not even have dummy units in place, which makes sense since in-store point-of-sales cannot occur.

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The GDR2 update from Microsoft is slowly (but surely) rolling out to consumers across the world. That said, how many of us have actually received the update? AdDuplex decided to run a quick test with the data accumulated in their monthly report. The results show that it's a slow process, but other miscellaneous details are also included so let's jump straight in.

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Windows Phone Central Game Roundup: Air Combat Games

Over at the Windows Phone Store there is a healthy selection of games to choose from. You have games where you battle zombies, solve puzzles, race cars, play board games and other genres that can be rather challenging. In this week's roundup, we focus in on games involving air combat.

Games where you pilot your planes through various missions, battling enemy aircraft and saving the day. Some are more strategy oriented while others are more of a straight forward shoot 'em up style.

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For well over a year now there have been murmurings and rumors that Nokia is working on a Windows 8 tablet with little to show for it. We have seen leaked images in the past and most recently, a late September date has been suggested as the announcement timeframe (Nokia is evidently planning an event in New York City).

Now, two images have come forth showing what is reportedly a Verizon-branded Nokia tablet with Windows 8.1 RT on board. The device appears to be labelled with “RT” suggesting that this is not a full Windows 8 Pro tablet, though there are too many caveats here to reach any firm conclusions. For instance, could Nokia have both RT and Pro devices both being tested as options for carriers and retail channels?

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Right now the NFL preseason is underway. Football teams across the United States are gearing up for the 2013 seasons that kickoffs on September 5 with last year’s Super Bowl champs the Baltimore Ravens. If you’re outside the United States you’ll probably read the headline, roll your eyes, and move on. For the rest of you, there’s a redesigned NFL Mobile app for Windows Phone just in time for the new season. Let’s check it out.

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Fhotoroom is a feature rich photography app for your Windows Phone. It is part photo editor, part camera app, and part photo sharing network. Which includes sharing to Fhotoroom's network, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and Instagram (via Instagraph).

The Windows Phone 8 version of Fhotoroom was recently updated to version 9.1.3 which adds a few tweaks to the user interface, but most notably allows Fhotoroom to handle the larger images files generated by DSLR cameras and the Nokia Lumia 1020.  Registered users (free) can now work with larger high resolution image files that range from 8MP to 25MP. We've even had success handling the 38MP high resolution image files from the Lumia 1020.

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Surface Pro driving four displays at once (video)

Some tablets are great for playing games, reading emails, and browsing Facebook. Then are others that kick all kinds of ass, like the Surface Pro. While calling it a tablet is a bit disingenuous, it does highlight the form factor of the Surface Pro as a jack-of-all-trades sort of machine. While it won’t win any awards for being light weight or thin, it can be used as a tablet on occasion. It really shines as an ultrabook.  An ultrabook that can, depending on your needs, become the only PC you really need. A fun video on YouTube shows a Surface Pro driving four monitors.

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GDR2 update available for the HTC 8x on AT&T

Quite the busy day so far. We’ve seen GDR2 updates rolling out for a handful of Lumia owners around the globe. Not to be forgotten, the HTC 8X on AT&T looks to be experiencing its own rollout. We’ve seen the 8X receive GDR2 over the past few weeks, but it’s time for AT&T to get some action.

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We didn’t exactly get a new Xbox Windows Phone release this week, but Windows Phone 8 gamers DO get something new to play. Square Enix’s Chaos Rings, one of the highest profile games on the incompatibility list, is finally Windows Phone 8 compatible!

The game launched only for Windows Phone 7 back in March, hugely disappointing Windows Phone 8 RPG fans. Earlier this week it started showing up in the Store on Windows Phone 8 devices, but couldn’t actually be downloaded by most users. Just an hour or so ago, several of us managed to download it at last. The game's Store web page was down all week and just came back up as well. At last!

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Last night, Windows Phone Central broke the news about the new Microsoft branded YouTube app essentially breaking. We investigated the problem and concluded that it was due to a revoked developer key. Such a scenario could only happen if Microsoft forgot to update it or if Google yanked it.

That latter situation implies that Google did not authorize the app and was taking direct action of their own by disabling the video player on all Windows Phones. Indeed, just a few hours ago this was confirmed when Microsoft said as much in a note to the press.

Now, David Howard, Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel at Microsoft, has taken to TechNet, Microsoft’s blog on legal and public policy. Needless to say, the nearly 1000 word statement is chock full of information and more details on the matter, making an excellent read.

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Earlier today we’ve seen a dizzying amount of updates rolling out for a variety of Windows Phone devices around the globe. It started with the Lumia 920 beginning to roll out GDR2 for our friends down under on Telstra. We then pieced together this wasn’t going to be an isolated occurrence once reports of more Lumia 920s around the globe began seeing the update.  Then Verizon and T-Mobile joined the action and started pumping out updates for the Lumia 928, the Lumia 521, and the Lumia 810.

It’s been dizzying to keep up, but what about our friends running devices like the Lumia 620, 720, and 820? When do you get your update?

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Gameloft’s UNO & Friends launched earlier this month. Since then, two weeks have gone by with no new Xbox Windows Phone release (unless we count Chaos Rings, which we’ll get to in another article). Once again, the Xbox Red Stripe Deal is left to pick up the slack.

This week’s sale game can’t even begin to match the quality of last week’s Rayman Jungle Run sale, but it should still please Achievement hungry bargain shoppers. Collapse! from Game House is on sale for 99 cents. It went on sale back in February 2012, but at the higher $1.99 price point.

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Microsoft has announced that the company has expanded its effort to cover 17 more countries with its Surface tablets. Redmond is attempting to get as many units sold to businesses through numerous authorised distributors previously unveiled in the US. With these distributors in place, bulk ordering can take place from education, government and business customers.

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