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Rovio brings Amazing Alex to Windows Phone 7 too

Yesterday, Rovio’s Amazing Alex launched on Windows Phone 8 as an Xbox Live title, whereas Microsoft’s long-awaited Ms. Splosion Man debuted only for Windows Phone 7 devices. More than one reader remarked on the irony of the graphically simpler Amazing Alex heading straight to Windows Phone 8 while a more complex game turned out to be incompatible with it.

Rovio has a history of releasing separate Windows Phone 7 versions of its Angry Birds games though, so it should surprise no one that Amazing Alex has just turned up on Windows Phone 7 minus the Xbox Live features. Let us not mourn the death of an ironic situation but instead celebrate the life of a new Windows Phone 7 game. But are Windows Phone 7 gamers ready for 100 levels of amazing physics puzzles?

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Graphically Asphalt 7: Heat is by far one of the most impressive games on Windows Phone. Gameplay is fun, visuals stunning, and the choice in cars should keep most gear heads happy. One big complaint about the game though is the amount of space it takes up in storage.

The game was 878M but required 4.7GB of free space. Ouch for users with limited storage – like the 8GB version of the HTC 8X. An update today knocks some of that space down.

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HTC has always been a big partner of Microsoft. They’ve been onboard with Windows Phone since the beginning in 2010, but the history goes back deeper than that. They started out making devices for other companies (running Windows Mobile) and took off when they started to produce devices under their own name. With the upcoming ‘Blue’ update across a variety of Microsoft platforms it’s becoming harder and harder for OEMs to build a Windows Phone and not have a corresponding tablet running Windows 8 to complement it.

NPD DisplaySearch, a market research and consulting firm, believes that HTC is working on a tablet running Windows 8.

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Galactic Reign was quite the revelation when it appeared on Windows 8 and then Windows Phone 7 and 8 last month. Here was an exclusive strategy game for Windows platforms with cross-platform asynchronous multiplayer, and Microsoft basically forgot to tell anybody about it before release. But it’s definitely worth playing if you enjoy competitive strategy games. Check out our review to learn just how the game works.

One of Galactic Reign’s most unique aspects has to be its large-scale space battles. See, the fleets of ships that clash against each other in the game can number in the thousands. Instead of rendering these battles in-engine, the details about each side’s armada are sent to the cloud. From there, a cinematic video gets constructed and sent back to the game for players to watch.

The technology for those cloud space battles comes from Canadian developer Slant Six games. Last week at GDC 2013, we chatted with Paul Martin, Director of Technology and James Ricker, Cinematics Director about Galactic Reign’s videos and Slant Six Games’ experience working with Microsoft. Head past the break for the full video interview!

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Speedtest.net is the must-have app if you’re curious about data speeds on your Windows Phone. Based off of the site of the same name, the official app finally came to Windows Phone 8 in January and quickly received a bug fix shortly thereafter.

Version 1.1 is now live in the Store and it brings two new tings to the table, including a fix to a bug that “caused cell network tests to be seen as Wi-Fi tests”. That’s certainly useful and good to know.

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NearSpeak is an interesting Near Field Communication (NFC) app for your Windows Phone 8 device that lets you record voice messages and store them on NFC tags.

There are a couple of neat aspects to NearSpeak. First, NFC tags typically lack the storage space to hold audio files. To record your voice, NearSpeak uses speech recognition to convert your spoken word into text. When played back, the text on the NFC tag is converted back to audio through NearSpeak's speech files.

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Good news for those of you who watch Netflix “on the go” and who also have 720P devices like the ATIV S or HTC 8X. Netflix version 3.0.0.1 is now out on the Store, and it adds at least two things that we can see right off the bat: support for 720P resolution (meaning no more “black bars” for viewing) and double wide tile support.

That first one is pretty huge as being able to see full HD video on a 720P HD screen is kind of a big deal for Netflix fans. Now that the app has the full resolution support, videos can be watched “wide screen” and boy do they look great.

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We’re thinking of a new series to bring you simply called “Who’s ripping off Windows Phone now” because as many of you know, Modern UI has been lifted by quite a few companies and websites. In all honesty, we’re flattered and if anything it validates the attractiveness of Microsoft’s design.

But we do have limits, especially where “inspired by” crosses over into flat out copying.

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Acedia: Indie Horror is a mystery game for your Windows Phone 7.x and 8 device that has a spooky, almost creepy, feel to it. Inspired by "Slender: The Eight Pages", Acedia is a scavenger hunt sort of a game where you are tasked with finding particular objects/relics to complete each challenge.

You navigate through what appears to be a vacant mansion where the only light is your flashlight to hunt down various relics. The 3D animations and graphics are nice and the soundtrack gives the game a suspenseful feel. As if at any second something is going to jump out of the shadows and eat your brains.

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We’ve covered the blurring technique that some of us have adopted on Windows Phone recently. The trick is to find an image you want as your lockscreen and then to blur it using a filter in Photoshop or something similar. The effect is to basically add ‘bokeh’ to the image, allowing you to still see it, but making the text (and notifications) more legible.

We also recently posted Lock Widgets by Jaxbot from the site Windows Phone Hacker. That app added some cool weather and battery info, and when we ran the story, we showed it with a blurred background.

Evidently a light went off in Jaxbot’s head as he’s gone forward to create a freebie app that simply takes whatever image you want and adds “blur” to it. Intensity is based on a slider scale, and users can either save directly to their phone or instantly make it a background.

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Microsoft and Nokia are preparing to hold a Windows Phone Developer Camp in London. May 11th this year will mark the day when the two companies will provide an introduction to the Windows Phone platform for developers who haven't quite looked into hopping on to the train just yet. Numerous sessions will be held with some hands-on labs. It's set to be a worthwhile day for anyone looking to develop apps for Windows Phone.

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Facebook is holding their "New home on Android" event in Menlo Park, California today and we're HALO dropping Phil Nickinson, Iron Man style, to bring you all the live coverage you can handle!

Personally, we don’t care for Facebook too much and Android while we have respect, is still too busy for our likes.  What could go wrong when you combine one messy UI/UX with another? We’re about to find out.

10am PDT, 1pm EDT. Join us here:

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Does anybody remember the Xbox Deal of the Week for Windows Phone? It started quite humbly back in March 2nd, 2011 with a sale on Konami’s so-so port of Frogger. The sales rolled on in the weeks to come, typically discounting $5 games down to $3 and $3 games down to $2. Only holiday event sales would grant larger discounts, until the fateful day when Gameloft’s UNO HD became the first 99 cent Deal of the Week on November 14, 2012.

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Samsung has released a number of updates for its collection of Windows Phone apps, found on the Samsung Zone. We can confirm that a number of notifications have been received for multiple apps. It's good to see Samsung continuing to support Windows Phone with updates to its core list of apps exclusively available to customers. So what's been updated?

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Microsoft has a new trick up their sleeve to promote apps and games in the Windows Phone Store: weekly deals. Referred to as ‘red stripe’ offerings because the apps/games have a red boarder, users can purchase these games at a heavily discounted price. It should be a great way to move more inventory, so to speak, as well as highlight some top-quality apps or games in the store.

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The Daily Telegraph has produced a list of bestselling mobile phones over the last 40 years. While we celebrate the 40th Birthday of the mobile phone, what's interesting to note is how Nokia dominates the list with 13 of the spots taken by hardware produced by the Finnish manufacturer. Unfortunately no Windows Phones are present, but this illustrates just how strong the Nokia brand is.

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Keep retail cards in one place with Store Card Buddy

Wallet integration in Windows Phone is a useful way for credit / debit and other cards to be stored for use, without carrying around the pesky wallet (hence the naming of the app itself). Software developer Scott Lovegrove (@scottisafool) has created an app called Store Card Buddy to further expand on this functionality and provide a means for consumers to store and generate retail / store cards.

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Although by all accounts Nokia Lumia 920 owners are some of the happiest (and proudest) smartphone users out there, no phone is perfect and neither is any firmware update.

Recently, the 1308 firmware for Windows Phone 8 Lumias has begun rolling out, starting with AT&T and just this week heading out to other carriers globally.  Now, we’re getting numerous reports that the update, while adding advanced Storage Tools, improving sensors, tweaking some camera settings and more, has wrought some issues with the radio.

Indeed, from our own experience we too have witnessed these oddities with data and phone connections on our white AT&T Lumia 920 (clean install of the 1308 ROM). What makes the problem hard is it is not easy to quantify e.g. on occasion, it shows the phone being connected to LTE but data either trickles in or doesn’t come at all (both for uploads and downloads).

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King Poker for Windows Phone 8 landed in the Windows Phone Store and offers fifteen video poker variations. What's neat with King Poker is there's a Windows 8 version of the game available that lets you sync game data and tokens between the two devices.

King Poker, on either Windows Phone 8 or Windows 8, can be played as a stand alone game. However, you can log into your Windows Live account to enable to two versions to sync together. That way your gaming stats and token counts follow you around.

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