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WP Central

Can it be improved? Yes it can.

If you’re a regular reader (and listener) of this site you know by now that myself and fellow camera-enthusiast George Ponder have been…harsh…on the AT&T Nokia Lumia 900’s camera.  We rated it as one of the worst we’ve used in quite some time (though not as bad as Dell’s) and it often prevents us from using the phone as our daily driver. The Titan II though easily blows us away.

We’ve staked our position that it’s the hardware that is the problem on the 900 and while we still believe that to be the case it does appear Nokia has finally figured out how to best optimize its software. Of course we’re talking about the un-released Tango OS and firmware update which we detailed yesterday.

For the last 24 hours we’ve been pouring over the camera, snapping pictures in different environments and we have come to this conclusion: this update dramatically fixes the Lumia 900’s camera…

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Windows Phone Short Take: Rush Hour

Rush Hour for Windows Phone

Rush Hour by Winprovise is a handy Windows Phone app but caters to a narrowly focused audience. Rush Hour is a traffic monitoring app for the Klang Valley in Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur region). Rush Hour alerts you of traffic problems to allow you the chance to re-route your travels and avoid the headaches.

The app tracks everything on Bing Maps and pulls traffic information from user reports. Rush Hour will also tap into traffic cameras throughout the region

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Windows Phone Central Vacation Giveaway Winners!

Gulf Shores, Alabama

The Windows Phone Central Vacation Giveaway Contest called for readers to guess where the above photo was taken (my vacation spot this year). We received over one hundred entries and most of them were correct and some on the creative side.

We were impressed with those who included a satellite image of the road sign location and those who knew to tap into the image file's EXIF data to find the GPS coordinates. In the end, Gulf Shores, Alabama was the correct answer.

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WP8 7inch mockup tablet idea

For a long time, Windows Phone users have speculated about the possibility of a Tablet based on the OS. It never happened, but even now, I’m left wondering if Windows Phone is the more capable and desirable portable computing experience.

Microsoft are on the cusp of releasing Windows 8 and with it we see the software giant plunging head first into the world of true mobile computing. They have dug in deep and hammered away at the core of Windows to enable new, mobile orientated computing experiences. At the same time we also have Windows Phone 8 getting ready for primetime. Windows Phone is now reaching its first major upgrade, and it's about to fully mature.

Given the right form factor it's an OS that could work better as a tablet than Windows 8, and here is why...

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WP Central

Internet Explorer 10 is good but is it the best?

Although Windows Phone 8 is still a few months away from release, it doesn’t mean we can’t start to gather information about it or one of its main new features: Internet Explorer 10.

The new browser was revealed back at the Summit in June and it will match the desktop component found in Windows 8 Desktop, due in late October. Featuring a new JavaScript engine, better performance, twice the HTLM5 compatibility, advanced privacy features and optional data-compression, the browser should really be a step up for consumers.

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Talk.to

Talk.to, the popular cross-platform messenger, is on its way to the Windows Phone Marketplace. According to its download page, the Windows Phone app is "coming soon". Talk.to enables users to send messages using a number of third-party services. Facebook, Google Talk, and more are supported. Should you enjoy using the big screen, native desktop clients for both Windows and Mac are available, as well as use via a web browser.

Talk.to states on the website that it offers free SMS for both sending and receiving. Group messaging and read / delivered notifications are also present. Using Live Tiles, the simplistic typography look and feel, and toast notifications, we're pretty excited to see what the team can do on the Windows Phone platform. More apps is never a bad thing either.

Currently available for both the iPhone and Android smartphones, it'll be great to see such a solution on Windows Phone.

Source: Talk.to; thanks, windowsphoneapps, for the heads up!

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WPCentral Podcast

We're back for another exciting chat on all things Windows Phone. This week we catch up on the great SDK leak, the disappearing Metro name, disappearing apps and our user polls on missing features.  Listen above or watch the video after the break...

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WhatsApp

Nokia Netherlands has confirmed with WhatsAppen, a dedicated WhatsApp website, that an update for the Windows Phone app is well on its way. This is to follow the mysterious disappearance of WhatsApp, which is now set to private and is unavailable to those who do not have it installed.

It was only a few days ago when we first covered the disappearance of WhatsApp from the Windows Phone Marketplace, and were later contacted by the WhatsApp team who denied reports suggesting this pull was due to security issues. Unfortunately, they were unable to inform us exactly why the app was set to private, but it shouldn't matter in the next 48 hours as that's when Nokia has stated the app will return with the update.

We'll fire up a quick announcement when the app is once again available on the Marketplace.

via: WhatsAppen; thanks, Dennis, for the tip!

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WP Central

 

Listen up UK people. If you fancy picking up a Windows Phone then it may just be the right time to do so. Carphone Warehouse dropped me an email today to announce that their Smart Deal of the week features the Nokia Lumia 710. From now until next Thursday (16th August) you can pick up the Lumia 710 for only £7.50 per month on a two year contract and the phone has no upfront cost - bargain!

For your money you will get 100 minutes per month, 5000 sms and 250MB of data per month. While this offer may not be of interest to heavy users it certainly could be tempting for those of you on a budget. Could Carphone Warehouse be trying to tempt the British teenagers away from their beloved BlackBerry smartphones?

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WP Central Spy Apps Roundup

WPCentral's Roundup of Surveillance, Security and Spy apps for your Windows Phone

The Bourne Legacy hit theaters today and we felt that it would be appropriate to focus on spy type apps for your Windows Phone this week. These are apps that can be used for security, surveillance or irritating your teenage child.

We've got a security toolkit, a few hidden cameras, an audio recording app, a novelty tracking app and a spy game in this week's mix. While they may not turn you into the likes of Jason Bourne, Aaron Cross, Jacque Clouseau or even James Bond... you may find these apps can come in handy.  They can turn your Windows Phone into a nanny cam, hide your camera to capture your camera shy girlfriend and record important conversations.

Now for the obligatory disclaimer. If a title doesn't make the roundup, it shouldn't reflect poorly on that app. We've got a limited number of apps to focus on and if we've missed something, feel free to share in the comments.

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WP Central

AT&T Nokia Lumia 900 with the 8779 Tango update

Well after biting the bullet and factory-resetting our Lumia 900 with a ROM flash, we managed to update our glossy-white AT&T Lumia 900 to the official Tango update. That update is sitting in stand-by on Nokia’s servers, presumably waiting for AT&T to give the go to push out to the Zune servers so the rest of you can update.

Although you can manually do this yourself using a third-party program called Nokia Care Suite, you will factory-flash the phone meaning the device will be completely wiped—no saved games, no saved photos. In that regard, you may be best served by just waiting a few days (weeks?) for it to hit Zune where you can just update the phone and keep everything.

In the meantime, we sacrificed for your knowledge. In turn you can watch our video hands on after the break for our thoughts on the update in addition to our mini-review...

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Metro Design Language

Prepare to say farewell to Metro UI

Rum'o'meter

Microsoft has decided to leave the 'Metro' branding for its new user interface on the battlefield with Metro AG and work on a fitting replacement. The European retailer has reportedly claimed the term "Metro" as trademark, which has led to the software giant looking at alternatives. According to ZDNet sources, Microsoft will be using 'Windows 8' instead. Metro is dead. Long live Windows 8, or so it seems.

We had a number of interesting suggestions from our readers (almost 500 comments on a previous article) who took a 15 minutes time-out to think up effective and ingenious replacements. There were some humorous ideas as well as plain awesome, but Windows 8 certainly wasn't at the top of the list by any means. We checked through all comments and even started up a poll for readers to vote for their favourite Metro replacement.

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WP Central

Nokia has finalized the Tango ROM + firmware for the AT&T Lumia 900

We’re in the finally stages of waiting for AT&T and Nokia to push out the much anticipated ‘Tango’ update for the Lumia 900 Windows Phone. Windows Phone ‘Tango’ will feature improvements to MMS including multiple messages and audio file support in addition to other minor changes. In addition, the inclusion of new firmware from Nokia should allow some of Nokia’s exclusive apps like Counters and Contact Share to finally work as well as flip-to-silence and other bug fixes and enhancements.

The information comes via Navifirm+ which shows uploaded files to Nokia servers. There we can clearly see the 8779 update (slightly higher than the 8773 OS on some Windows Phones) with the AT&T naming in the files.

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WP Central

Update from Pulse: "We have been prioritizing web and updating iOS and Android platforms and will look at the Windows phone in the near future. In the meantime, can we persuade you to check out the web app on a desktop platform." In other words, Pulse for Windows Phone looks to be dead for now.

Yet another mystery has fallen on Windows Phone users as the popular Pulse newsreader app has disappeared from the Store. We’ve reached out to the Pulse team for an answer on the matter and will update accordingly.

Recently, the company launched a very snazzy web-based version of their service that is really a sight to behold. The service now syncs between your web version and the app, allowing seamless management of your feeds and news. Unfortunately, any mention of Windows Phone has all be been erased from their site...

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Nokia Sell Qt

Nokia has reached an agreement to sell its Qt app development tools unit to Digia as it focuses on Windows Phone 8 and its future partnership with Microsoft. Nokia will be placing all its eggs into one basket and will be pushing its next line of Windows Phones harder to continue the increase in platform shipping and sales figures.

Purchasing the Qt technology back in 2008, Nokia provided its developer community with tools to write apps for both Symbian and MeeGo devices, but the manufacturer has since halted expansion on both platforms, favouring its partnership with Microsoft and the Windows Phone operating system.

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WPDevCon

WPDevCon is an independent developer conference, which was is to be held in San Francisco later this year. We previously covered the announcement of plans to hold the first independent event focusing solely on Windows Phone development. It's set to be a bash with over 50 classes and workshops, not to mention a number of speakers attending.

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A little bit of a hubbub is making the rounds this morning of Nike+ supposedly "announcing" a companion app for Windows Phone for the new Kinect game coming this holiday October 30th.   

But of course we knew about this way back in June during E3 when Nike released the first trailer and literally showed a huge Nokia Lumia with the Nike+ app flowing through the pivot screens.

So why the excitement? Blame it on the internet's short-term memory and a slightly revised ad coming out last week.

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HTC One X - Mock UP WP8

As with all non-official announcements, a good measure of trepidation is required before accepting these rumours. Those chaps at wpdang are reporting that HTC is to kick off its range of new phones with an announcement in the third week of September in either London or New York.

The website then goes on to say that, they now have two separate sources confirming the launch. Interesting stuff, if the rumoured specs are anything to go by then HTC will have some wonderfully compelling hardware to show off Windows Phone 8 come end of the year. 

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Sally's Spa

At lunch time on Wednesday, we were a bit hesitant to post a story about the Marketplace updating late. What if it updated within the next few minutes after the post went live? As it turns out, we needn’t have worried. Sally’s Spa, this week’s Xbox live release, finally went live around 1 am EST Thursday. That’s officially the latest a Windows Phone Xbox live game has ever been posted. Cheers?

There is some good news, however. While Game House quoted the game’s price as $4.99 to us, it’s actually showing up at $2.99 right now. Could the lower price be a mistake? I don’t know, but if you’re interested in helping Sally start her own spa chain, I would advise buying now rather than waiting. That price increase on Fling makes me antsy! But you know, $2.99 certainly is fair for Sally’s Spa given that it’s a bit shorter than its predecessor Sally’s Salon and retails for $2.99 on iOS anyway.

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WP Central

Pinball: Just one fix...

Although we’re still waiting on that pesky Xbox LIVE game to go…well live, we have something else to keep you gamers happy: Pinball League’s Dr. Pickaxe. If that name sounds familiar it’s because there’s a previous pinball game by the same company, Tainicom, called Pinball League - The Juggler. This game just hit the Windows Phone Store and we’re in love.

First off, we should note that we’re huge pinball fans. Pinball FX2 on Xbox 360 is our illicit drug of choice and we’re dying to get it on Windows Phone (see our interview with the developer for news on that front). In the meantime, Dr. Pickaxe is fullfilling our deepest wizard desires by offering a solid sequel to their previous effort.

Check out our quick video review after the break...

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WP Central

One of the “forgotten” phones on T-Mobile seems to have been the awesome and site favorite HTC Radar. We say that only because it has yet to receive the 8773 ‘Tango’ update like a lot of other Windows Phone, including its non-branded international counterpart.

We’ve now had two reports coming in noting that replacement phones for the Radar have ‘Tango’ in ROM:

  • OS version: 7.10.8773.98
  • Firmware revision number:1750.0602.40602.531

There’s no word of course when or if T-Mobile will push out the update for the rest of you who still have working Radars but we think it’s a positive sign that fresh-from-the-factory versions are coming with a T-mo approved new ROM.

Although Tango is a minor update, it does feature such things as multiple MMS messaging and other minor improvements to the user experience in addition to the optimized new firmware from HTC to fix any other performance issue that may be nagging users.

We checked our Zune Desktop and did not notice any awaiting updates (even when we “forced” it using the Wi-Fi trick) so don’t get too excited yet. We’ll try to find out more though so keep your fingers crossed in the meantime. Thanks, Andre for the photo and ICMIAMI05, for the info

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HexaLines

Does the name HexaLines ring any bells to veteran Windows Mobile owners? It should if you are crazy for competitive mobile games. HexaLines was a strategy game that saw players filling up as many paths as possible. Starting from the centre Hexagon, players are tasked with adding more hexagons to expand the available path for his or her colour.

Playing against either AI or friends, the game can get relatively busy on-screen with a number of ways to attack (or be attacked by) the enemy. Rotating the next available hexagon and strategically placing it to either cut off an enemy's flow or pour your own colour into their line is key to survival.

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Xbox Live

Brazilian Windows Phone owners have always complained about the lack of games (including Xbox Live titles) available for the platform, and rightly so. The Brazilian government has strict regulations that require video games (or any 'game') to be certified by its own ratings system, which has proven to heavily delay the release of said games to the Windows Phone Marketplace for owners in the region.

We previously looked at Microsoft adding a batch of 300 titles to increase available content on the Marketplace, but still numbers dwindled compared to other regions. Today, the Brazilian Ministry of Justice filed a statement that plans were in place for games to be certified by distribution companies themselves. 

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