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Marie Claire (www.marieclaire.co.uk), a popular women's magazine, held a @work with Windows Phone event in London where a panel discussed the importance of maintaining a healthy work and life balance. The panel consisted of Marie Claire editor Trish Halpin, Holly Willoghby, Balance Me co-founder Rebecca Hopkins and jewellery designer Bec Clarke.

The four ladies were joined by dozens of Marie Claire readers for an afternoon discussing women at work and how technology can provide useful features to help smooth out each day. 

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Microsoft's Windows Phone Next App Star competition is heating up and 64 finalists have been selected for the public voting phase. If you're not up to speed, it's a contest for Windows Phone apps to be voted on by the public for $60,000 worth of prizes. Through head-to-head style voting, the grand winner will pocket the opportunity to have his (or her) app featured in a Windows Phone prime-time TV advertisement spot in the US.

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We’ve been anxiously following Signal Studios’ Ascend: New Gods since its announcement back at E3 last year. The XBLA/PC game looks like a vast action-RPG while the Windows Phone companion game is the closest thing to Infinity Blade that we can expect for some time. Both versions are free-to-play and connect to each other in satisfying ways, hence much excitement from Xbox 360 and Windows Phone owners alike.

The XBLA game features some innovative asynchronous components that will make the single-player game feel like part of a massive online world. Such a bold undertaking requires lots of testing. Luckily for us, Signal has just announced public signups for closed beta access!

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Popular Twitter client MeTweets has been bumped to version 2 and the latest release is now available on the Wndows Phone Store. We previously looked at the app a few days ago when we managed to get a sneak peek at what consumers can expect to see in the update. From the new Smart Split and Smart Merge features to a new design for Timelines and profile pages, it's quite a sizeable release.

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Isabella Desirée Löwengrip Rydberg, better known as Blondinbella, is a prominent Swedish blogger who runs blondinbella.com. The blog attracts thousands of visitors on a daily basis, who enjoy reading articles of her fictitious alter ego sporting a glamorous lifestyle. As well as being photographed wielding the Lumia 920 (a yellow one, we might add), Löwengrip has also blogged about the platform itself (about how it helps to keep her life in check).

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Nokia isn't quite bringing sexy back, but we'll take the Apps Madness competition. The company is launching the contest to establish the best app, voted by the community. An article has been published on the official blog detailing the entries, all 32 of them. The apps have been selected and divided into four categories: games, social, news & entertainment and utilities & productivity.

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United Airlines releases its Windows Phone 8 app

United Airlines has released it's Windows Phone 8 app, United, today. The app is a feature rich connection to the airlines to help you make it through your travels.

The United app's main pages cover your basic menu options (book a flight, check on flight status, check in, etc.), a log in page for your United Airline's account, a travel tools page (flight reminders, games, currency converter, baggage charges and more) and an Airport Maps page.

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Fly Delta updated, fails to address known bugs

The Fly Delta app for Windows Phone has been updated, but there still seems to be issues with logging in for many consumers. These problems were raised by users prior to this release being published, so one would expect the update to contain the necessary improvements, correct? The latest release includes "Bug fixes & performance enhancements" and no, we're not trolling you. 

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It was only the other day when we looked at MetroSpec hitting version 1.5, implementing a number of features, including support for Live Tiles on Windows Phone 7.8 and 8. We've now been informed of a few updates that are currently being published to the store that should address a number of bugs users have been experiencing since downloading and installing the latest build.

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Just yesterday on the podcast we were asked about a timetable for the new Nokia firmware for their Lumia line. As we detailed earlier, the 1308 firmware brings a host of new features and fixes for users—much like a good tidying up. Some of those changes include camera improvements, Storage fix option and the ability to change the color intensity of the display.

Now, that 1308 firmware has been spotted by us on the Navifirm system for the AT&T Lumia 920, meaning the release should be within a few weeks, at most, pending a nod from the carrier. Peeking on Nokia’s servers, we can see firmware for “RM-820 NDT America ATT” with the five color options available (white, black, red, cyan, and yellow). The firmware is marked as 1232.5957.1308.1.

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Nokia Lumia 520 and 720 being unleashed on China very soon

As one of the emerging markets, and a terribly big one for that matter, China just can't be overlooked on Nokia's strategic roadmap, especially the entry and middle segments of the market. Now the company is busy preparing for the release of both Lumia 520 and Lumia 720 in China.

The entry-level Lumia 520 will be available "by the end of March", which translates into some time close to NOW. The retail price is about CNY 1,299 (US$ 210), which would be cheaper than the HKD 1,788 (US$ 231) standard in Hong Kong.

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Since launched, the Surface RT tablet has always been sold only through two channels in China: Microsoft's freshly established online store, and Suning (a chain store for electronics, much like Best Buy). Now Microsoft is looking into extending the Surface RT distribution network, as the exclusive dealership with Suning expired in February 2013.

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Nokia has begun rolling out its updated Camera Extras and Cinemagraph app to all Windows Phone users this month, with the Lumia 900, 800 and 710 smartphones receiving the new features to bring functionality up to speed with what Lumia owners can enjoy with Windows Phone 8 (see above shot of the Lumia 920).

While this doesn't add all functionality that's missing from the 7.8 update (compared to Windows Phone 8), it's a welcomed update from Nokia to bring Cinemagraph to those who chose first generation hardware.

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Pandora music has always been one of those apps that served as a metric for mobile platforms: so long as Windows Phone did not have it, it was behind. Luckily, last October Microsoft finally announced that indeed Pandora was coming to Windows Phone 8 in “early 2013” and a few weeks ago we had hints it was near.

Well, that day is today.

Yes, the official Pandora app for Windows Phone 8 can be downloaded from the Store and is now available in the US, Australia and New Zealand. What’s more, Microsoft carried through on their promise of an ad-free experience throughout the year. Indeed users won’t have to pay a dime to experience the premium Pandora experience on their Windows Phone.

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Apps, apps and games galore! We're back for another podcast covering all the week's news so far in Windows Phone. Join Jay Bennett and Daniel Rubino for another 90 minutes of chatter and answering your questions!

Stream the audio above or the HD video after the break or use our app, your pick.

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Portico update finally available to Lumia 920s from BUILD

About 2000 people attended the //BUILD/ developer conference this past fall in Redmond, Washington. Microsoft attracted attendees from all over the globe in an event that sold out in less than an hour when tickets went on sale in August. You were given a Surface RT, Lumia 920, and 100GB of SkyDrive as part of your $1600+ registration fee. Unfortunately for folks with those Lumia 920’s, you haven’t had early or timely access for the Portico update. At least until today.

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After launching the Windows Phone Next app star competition yesterday to some shaky technical hitches, the voting app on Facebook is now back and available for you to vote right now. Don't forget that voting gives you the chance to win a free Nokia Lumia 920, so it's definitely worth your time.

It's important to inform you that votes registered on the 19th of March will not count towards the winner, in the interest of fairness the vote count was reset by the competition's organisers. We are very lucky to have been chosen as one of the 64 finalists and are up against a game we hold in very high regard - ARMED, a tough match up in the first bracket!

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Staples has released a Windows 8 app to provide customers quick and easy access to their online stores. You can tap into your Staples Rewards account and cruise through all the virtual aisles to find all your small business and home office supplies.

You can pin commonly used features to your Windows 8 Start screen, including an ink & toner finder, a printer finder, and your “lists” section, where you can create and share distinctive lists of Staples products, like “my favorites” or “recent orders.” With the snap view on Windows 8, you can set up a list of favorite features from the Staples app on either the left or right-hand side of their screen.  Shopping carts created from the Windows 8 app can be viewed or modified from other Staples.com sources (mobile website, desktop website, smartphone app, etc.) when you sign into your account.

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Liquid Daffodil has once again published its Add to Contacts app to the Windows Phone Store. You may recall our previous coverage, where we went into quite some detail as to exactly why the developer pulled the app and how those who continued to use the app ran into issues with the integration in Local Scout. It's an odd situation that started with Microsoft revising Bing suggestions for third-party apps.

The way Microsoft lists apps in Local Scout meant that with Add to Contacts being no longer listed on the store, it disappeared for users who had it installed. Not good. The app has now returned and the plan is to continue competing against Microsoft's unfair suggestions that favour prestigious apps, such as Nokia HERE services.

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Auto Trader (www.autotrader.co.uk), the popular website for those who are seeking a new or used vehicle to purchase, has just released an official app for the Windows Phone Store. We started playing with the app for a few minutes and already we're hooked. The interface is absolutely gorgeous, definitely one of the more well-design apps available on the platform. It's not all about looks though, and Auto Trader doesn't fall short when it comes to functionality.

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