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Recent updates by Nokia may reveal forthcoming additions to expand Lumia functionality for users

Nokia has been churning out quite a few updates lately for its Lumia Windows Phones, especially for those with the Amber update. The last few system app changes, notably Extras + Info yesterday and Display + Touch for today, simply moved those settings into their own categories.

While that is seen as a fix for discoverability, there are few other deviations that have been noticed as well that may be a sign of things to come.

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Those of you who are still eagerly awaiting the Amber / GDR2 rollout, we have some positive news for EE customers. The UK mobile operator took to Twitter today to reveal mid-September as to when Lumia Windows Phone owners can expect to see the updates shipped out on the network. Not long to go now, folks. EE is the last UK mobile operator to approve the software updates for the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820.

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Interop-unlocking of the Samsung ATIV S has reportedly been accomplished, opening the gates for deeper level OS changes

The hacking scene for Windows Phone 8 so far has been pretty dismal, with a lot of the legends in the community moving on to more open systems like Android. Although Windows Phone 7.x did see some minor movement within the fringe hacking community, its replacement OS has not met the same fate. The reason for that is Windows Phone 8 was unable to be interop-unlocked, a phrase not familiar to most casual users.

When it comes to operating systems, especially Windows Phone, there are different levels. Developer unlocking is the easiest and can be achieved by joining Microsoft’s developer program. Once registered, users can unlock their device by connecting to a computer and logging in. This allows developers to side-load XAP files i.e. apps not from the Store. But even side-loaded XAP files are sandboxed by the OS and cannot touch the deeper level functions. OEMs and carriers get access to this area, which is why they can roll out system updates.

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Windows Phone is taking the spotlight in the TV drama show Scandal. In the above shot we have the HTC 8X, the high-end Windows Phone 8 smartphone from the Taiwanese manufacturer. We've seen Microsoft and co. nailing prime time advertisement slots, as well as being featured in numerous music videos, TV shows and movie blockbusters.

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Xiaomi is a Chinese smartphone brand who recently came to international attention by the successfully hiring of Hugo Barra, a top executive from Android. From there, the company went forth with a series of new product announcements to continue the good media vibe. The first item is MI3, the latest of the company's smartphone line. The device is powered by a Tegra 4 processor, and marketed as "the fastest phone out there". Performance put aside, the official rendering of MI3 looks disturbingly familiar...

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T-Mobile seems to be on a roll this week with updates. Earlier we saw the HTC 8X finally receive its GDR2 OS update along with new firmware and today, the Lumia 925 has received a minor OS bump from 10327 to 10328 along with new firmware, adjusting it from 1325 to 1330.

Since the Lumia 925 already shipped with Amber and GDR2 onboard, this update to 10328 is mostly related to carrier-related improvements and isolated bug fixes, though its exact contents are unclear at this time. Some users have reported some odd behavior on their 925’s, including occasional resets and even a “blue screen of death”, which is irrecoverable (we had this issue, though it seems very isolated). Also things like the soft keys not lighting up and Wi-Fi connectivity have been occasionally wonky, though overall, the Lumia 925 has been very reliable for our daily use.

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Yesterday we reported on Nokia making some changes to its Display + Touch settings area, where you can configure some options for the Glance screen, altering display properties and adjusting touch sensitivity. The company has split up the panorama panes into separate settings entries to help with familiarity and easier to notice when first using a Lumia Windows Phone. 

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Earlier this week we saw Amazon.com run a special one-day sale on the 41 MP Nokia Lumia 1020, reducing the price to just $199. Now, AT&T has followed in their steps and lowered the price from $299 to a much more affordable $199 on contract. Off contract price has also dropped to $609 from the higher $659. All three colors, including matte yellow, matte black and matte white qualify.

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Instagramming from your Windows Phone

Windows Phone Central App Roundup: Instagram Clients

One of the more hot-button Windows Phone topics is Instagram. Whether it's rumors of a Nokia sponsored, official Instagram app hitting the Store or Instagram making it more difficult for third party apps, the photo sharing network is a popular topic for discussion.

While we still have yet to see an official Instagram app for Windows Phone, we do have several rather appealing Instagram clients that allow us to tap into the network and share photos of our dinner, pets, scenic views, ourselves, and anything else we find interesting in the world.

While there are several options to access your Instagram account and/or share images to Instagram from our Windows Phones, we see four apps leading the pack with regards to Instagram clients. All are very capable apps in their own right and we've touched on each before. In this week's roundup we revisit these four and give the low down on each for those new to Windows Phones or for those just getting interested in Instagram.

Oh... and to avoid having to say this repeatedly, none of these apps are official Instagram client apps and not a product of Instagram.

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Today, the 2013 NFL season gets underway. The opening game will see defending Super Bowl XLVII champions Baltimore Ravens up against the Denver Broncos. Both teams met in the playoffs last year, but only one went on to become champion. Should be an exciting game that helps set the tone for this season. What better way to enjoy the 94th regular season of the National Football League than with companion apps on your Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 device. Oh, and your Xbox 360 is getting in on the action too. Ready? Break!

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Console gamers might be aware that Rayman Legends just launched on Xbox 360 and other platforms this week. By all accounts, Legends is another sublime platformer like Rayman Origins before it. Awesome for Xbox owners, but how about mobile Windows platforms? Don’t they get any love?

Turns out they do! Windows 8 and RT users, anyway. Rayman Jungle Run, one of the finest Xbox Windows 8 games in town, got a major update recently. The free update adds 20 new levels, pushing Jungle Run’s grand total up to 70 levels. Pictures and impressions after the break!

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Shortly after the Lumia 1020 launched, Nokia announced an open contest to developers around the globe. It was called Nokia Future Capture. The contest aimed for developers to dream up imaging apps and hacks to take advantage of some of the new hardware in the Lumia 1020. Nokia then chose ten ideas, flew the developers with those ideas to Sweden, and had a hackathon to see which ideas proved strongest. These are the results.

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Microsoft has announced a handful big names that are on the way to the Windows Phone and Windows stores. The same comment has been made many times before, "the Windows ecosystem is empty." Hopefully this collection of apps for Australia will help provide functionality and warm consumers to the switch. It's worth noting that we've managed to find a few of them on the stores already, but the rest may be stuck in store approval somewhere.

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We know what you wish. You wish that from day one the Nokia Lumia 1020 was available on every carrier in every country. But that’s not quite how things worked out for the device that was exclusive to AT&T in the United States. Slowly but surely, we’re seeing more regions and carriers announce their plans and dates to carry the 41 million pixel smartphone. Now the Netherlands is getting in on the action.

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Although people in the US can benefit from the CBS Sports app released today, what a lot of users are looking for is one from those caffeinated gurus at Starbucks. Yes, the mighty coffee giant has so far been MIA on Windows Phone, but things are starting to change.

Back at the beginning of August, Starbucks did release an app for Mexico and today, Russia gets ones too. We were planning to report on the Mexico app (the site WinPhollowers originally found it), but even Microsoft were unable to confirm its authenticity for us or future plans for the Seattle based company.

That tells us that Starbucks is going market by market akin to Domino's Pizza and not necessarily coordinating with Microsoft on a global level.  Still, it is a sign of good things to come. Let’s take a look at each app.

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It has been some time since a big titled, official app landed for Windows Phone 8, so it’s great to see CBS Sports launch theirs today. The app, resting at version 1.0 (although it oddly says 2.0 on the About screen) and freshly published to the Store, comes in at a modest 3 MB and will surely keep you up to date in the sporting world.

The app comes with numerous features and is generally what we would expect from such a high caliber media company.

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SimpleRockets is an interesting game for Windows Phone 8. You're tasked with designing, building and launching your very own rockets into space and explore the solar system. It's a fun little indie game, which has launched on not only Windows Phone, but also Android, iOS and PC. So head on past the break and find out why you should waste countless hours travelling through space.

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The days of Xbox Windows Phone games being announced in advance are pretty much behind us. Most weeks we get no game at all, and the games that do pop up were either announced long ago (such as this week’s Six-Guns) or just pop up out of the blue. Blame changes within Microsoft for the dwindling quantity of titles and lack of PR for mobile Xbox games.

But but but! Nokia has actually put a fair amount of time and money into bringing new Xbox games to Windows Phone in the last year or two. Two recently announced games: Angry Birds Star Wars II and Tetris Blitz both come from Nokia’s strong relationship with Rovio and Electronic Arts. But Nokia’s Facebook page announced Tetris Blitz for the end of August and it never showed up. Could the game have been announced in error?

Windows Phone Central has finally received official confirmation from EA: Tetris Blitz is definitely coming to Windows Phone 8 soon. Head past the break for exclusive details!

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