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5 intriguing apps for Windows 8.1: March 20, 2015

With the ever-growing number of apps and games in the Windows Store, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with what's out there. For that reason, every Friday we showcase some apps that have piqued our interest.

They may have been in the news recently, they may be new to the Windows Store, or they could simply be old apps that we just stumbled upon.

They are the 5 Intriguing Apps of the Week.

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Game Troopers appeared out of nowhere mid-last year with a mission to bring quality mobile titles to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 with full Xbox integration. Thus far, the team have published cutesy top-down shooter Tiny Troopers and the addictive virtual money generator Make it Rain.

Not content with stopping there, Game Troopers have today announced that they are working with Craneballs and Plunge Interactive to bring popular Android/iOS shooter Overkill 3 to Windows and Windows Phone.

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The Microsoft Band is one of those super fascinating accessories that has a ton of potential. Venetasoft is one of those companies, experimenting with the Band and even teaming up with hospitals to use the wearable with patients.

Today, Venetasoft's app Band Sensor Monitor goes to version 1.2.7.0 and with it comes the ability to stream your Microsoft Band's sensors to the web for remote viewing. This app is a super neat implementation of the Microsoft Band, your Windows Phone, and Azure cloud computing.

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The latest build of Windows 10 Preview, 10041, lets you pin settings to the Start screen. It's quite simple, and it reminds us of a new feature on Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2, which also lets you pin individual settings to the Start screen. Whenever you are in a settings page like System, Network, or Time & language, take a look at the top right corner. You should see a pin icon. Tapping it creates a shortcut on your Start Screen. Need visual aid? Watch our quick how-to video.

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Tubecast for Windows Phone is one of our top YouTube apps. But not only can it handle various levels of playback quality it can also 'cast your videos from your phone to your Xbox One, DLNA device, Chromecast or Apple TV (and soon Roku). That feature is super handy when you want to share a video with the room and not have to type on the TV.

Today, we are super excited to announce that the Windows 8.1 version of the app is now live in the Windows Store!

The developer behind the app, Stephane, tells us he spent "5 months doing the migration from Silverlight to WinRT, was not easy at all" to make it a universal app. Now that the job is done though, things are smooth sailing. Heck, it is even Windows 10-ready.

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Diorama is a relatively new Windows Phone photography app that hopes to appeal to your need for quick and simple solutions. The app creates a tilt shift effect to your images by blurring portions of the top and bottom areas of a photograph. The result can make the images of large images look more like model dioramas

The Windows Phone app also has the ability to adjust an image's color saturation and has an in-house camera app to capture new images to use with the tilt shift effect. In tinkering with Diorama over the past few days, while there is room for improvement, the app comes across as a simple and quick way to create unique photos.

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Yesterday, footage of the upcoming Xbox exclusive Phantom Dust leaked online, following a shift in game's developmental studio. Phantom Dust was a card-builder / JRPG hybrid released for the original Xbox. The in-development reboot was revealed at last year's E3 via a CGI trailer.

Phantom Dust's original developer Darkside Games were removed from the project, leading to the closure of the company. It's unclear exactly what happened, especially considering that the footage below looks quite decent.

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No one could ever claim that the dialer on the current version of Windows Phone is exceptional. Sure, it works, it is easy to read, and it has most functions that we expect from something as simple as a dialer.

However, it is missing Smart Dialing – the ability to type someone's name using the keypad to bring up their contact information. This feature saves you the extra step of opening the contacts list and scrolling until you find the person you want to dial. Instead, as you type those initials (D…a…n…) the list sorts down to the number you want.

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The team behind Microsoft's Project Spark game creation tools for Windows 8.1 and the Xbox One will finally release the long-awaited game and content packs based on Conker April 23. The very adult squirrel was the star of Rare's classic M-rated action-platformer Conker's Bad Fur Day for the Nintendo 64 and its remake, Conker: Live & Reloaded, for the original Xbox.

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The Lumia 430 forums are open for business!

Microsoft's newest Windows Phone is the super-affordable Lumia 430 announced today, and we've got just the place for you to come and talk about it. The brand new Windows Central Lumia 430 forums are now open for business and awaiting your visit!

So, whatever's on your mind, questions to ask, opinions to share, hit the link below and come join in the conversation!

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