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Developers can have a tough life. They slave over compilers, writing code, trying to come up with that perfect app or game that becomes the next Angry Birds. The rewards can be big but more often than not, most apps never reach that level (e.g. no one thinks that out of 300,000 apps, more than a few thousand are making money in Apple's App Store).

Foundation 42, who make Word Monger, Word Explorer Dictionary and Data Locker for Windows Phone 7, had announced months ago 'Appaloosa' an ambitious game for the new platform. Flash forward a few months and the studio had to cancel the project. Reason? Ultimately it came dow to cost vs. expected return.

It's the same old story: new platform struggles to gain audience, developers struggle too. After the break, you can read Foundation42's side of the story of what happened. From our perspective, we saw their move to heavily invest in a game on such a new platform gutsy if not quite a bit risky. We would have rather seen them try 'Appaloosa' in late 2011 when the platofrm will presumably have more traction and they could recoup their costs, but we think this may have been too early to invest so much.

So check out their side after the break and even see a video clip of what could have been, with an alpha demo of 'Appaloosa'. Thanks, Derek Jenson, for letting us hear your thoughts.

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Ballmer answers why no RIM acquisition?

2011 has an interesting twist separating it from years past: RIM, despite still holding on, clearly is wandering aimlessly in the consumer smartphone market. Their OS is old, not very appealing and despite numerous attempts, they've failed to really 'wow' anyone recently. They sort of reflect Microsoft with Windows Mobile 6.x.

Still, they have killer reach in enterprise and a solid, nearly world standard for email distribution. Considering Microsoft is sitting on $40B in reserves, why not make a bid for RIM to either take them out or integrate their tech? Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer was recently asked this by Maria Bartiromo:

Q: What has stopped you from making really bold bets on technology? You've got more than $40 billion on the balance sheet. If you want to have substantial market share in smartphones, why not just acquire Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry?

A: We've made bold technology bets. We've bet on the Cloud and our Enterprise business; it's going fantastic. We made the bet on Xbox; we made the bet on Kinect. We bet on Bing and are growing like a weed in that business. So I feel pretty good about the bets. When do acquisitions make sense? That's a complicated subject.

Not exactly a specific but when tied into the rest of the interview it begins to make sense: Ballmer really believes in Windows Phone 7 noting

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Two rumors love persisting in the blogosphere: Nokia wants Windows Phone 7 (despite numerous public denials) and that Sony Ericsson has either  devices planned (despite public denials)

Of course neither are true and that was reiterated today by Sony who in an interview made it clear they are sticking with Android for now. However, they also are clearly leaving the door open for a future with Microsoft but they are evidently being conservative here, waiting to see if it takes off:

We've done a lot of work with Microsoft over the years. We’ve launched a number of 6.xx products, but we made a decision not to bring a product to market in the first wave. We absolutely maintain to keep an open mind towards Windows Phone 7. We continue to engage in a relationship with Microsoft, but we haven’t made any concrete announcement about when and how we would introduce Windows Phone 7 into the portfolio.

We shouldn’t limit ourselves to one opportunity, but we aren’t yet ready to make any specific announcement about products. At this moment in time, there is clearly a galvanizing within the industry around Android as a creditable alternative to what’s out there, and we think that’s a good thing.

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Liquor Run is a surprisingly neat little app, ported from the iPhone and Android, with a specific purpose: find liquor stores anywhere around you. The thing is, it does it well in a very fast and slick little package. By simply using your location, typing in address or zip code, the app shows all the known liquor stores in your immediate area. On top of that, it gives you turn by turn directions, maps, ability to call and local liquor laws for selling (hours, days, etc.).

Extended features include over 1000 drink recipes separated by category and a list of beers by alcohol content and calories. Did we mention it was free too?  Check out the vid above and if you think you'll want it, grab it here in the Marketplace.

Bonus trivia fact: In Massachusetts, Georgia and Connecticut (where I'm from), liquor stores are called package stores and we go on "packy runs". No joke.

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We often get questions about the Xbox Live service on WP7 devices and how it correlates to the Xbox Live service on Xbox 360 consoles or on Windows PC's (where it's called Games for Windows - LIVE!).  Oh look! Here's one now from ericesque:

In general, I'm just fuzzy on how gaming on WP7 ties to the Xbox 360. Specifically, I'm wondering if I buy a game on my xbox, will I have to pay for a copy for WP7 too? Also, have we seen any games that let you play with friends on xbox if you're on WP7? I couldn't find any good learning resources from Microsoft. Hoping the experts could help.

Currently, gaming on WP7 is separated into two categories - games, and Xbox Live games. The Xbox Live service on WP7 is not so incredibly different from the Games for Windows - LIVE! service on Windows PC's. Downloading games and game demos from the marketplace is present and accounted for. A great deal of the social ins and outs is present too. With Xbox Live on WP7 you can easily see what your friends are up to - be it gaming or watching a movie or listening to music.

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Google is considered the top search engine in the world, and has held this title for some time since early development. When Microsoft had MSN (later as; Live) deployed as a competitor to Google (and Yahoo! at the time) no one really adapted to the giant’s offering – understandable since the results provided by the index were either slightly off, or just blatently ridiculous.

Requiring a new product (much like Windows Phone 7), Microsoft developed a search engine to create a stronger hold on the search share across the globe. Bing was born. Featuring a new User Interface and supposedly “better related” results, this was the secret weapon to attack Google’s fort.

With continued growth through the redirection of MSN/Live searchers to the new home of Microsoft search, and the acquisition of Yahoo! has had Bing in the spotlight for not only the Search Engine Optimisation world, but for those technologically banded. Not all could remain well for the two competitors however...

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We already demonstrated that you can change the accent color or theme on HTC (but complicated) and Samsung phones, but now Dave Amenta has also added LG and HTC support to his simple app Accent Changer..

It's the same deal as before, you need to have a developer unlocked phone to sideload the XAP file, but once you do so you  can simply drag your finger to manipulate the color gradient. Heck, you can even restore the original value with a touch of a button.

And now that LG and HTC devices can join in, the circle is complete (Oh right, no Dell, sorry). Read more and grab the XAP here.

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DioDict updated, format issues fixed

DioDict is a multi-language, dictionary app for Samsung Windows Phones. It's a free app available from your Samsung App Zone but was plagued by poor formatting. Words were cut off in mid-sentence and picked up on the next line of text.

While I'm sure the update contained performance tweaks, the most noticeable improvement is with the text formatting. Words are no longer broken up and definitions are justified to the right. The update gives DioDict a much cleaner appearance and it does appear to have a little more zip to it.

If you're a Samsung user, check your Marketplace app for the update.

Thanks goes out to David for the tip!

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Capturing screenshots in Windows Phone 7's future?

We will be the first to raise our hands in support of Windows Phone 7 having the ability to capture screenshots. Not only does it make reviewing applications a lot easier, it gives you the ability to share images from your Windows Phone screen with others. There are alternatives such as capturing a screenshot through the desktop emulator or taking a picture of the screen with a camera. But not everyone has access to the applications XAP file and video screens aren't the easiest thing in the world to photograph.

Microsoft's Director of Mobile Communications, Aaron Woodman, was asked if screen capture abilities was on the short list of features to be added to Windows Phone 7. His answer,

"I have never sat in a user group--and I sit in a lot of user groups, a lot of retail groups--I've never heard an end user go 'why can't I take a screenshot of that?'"

Just in case Mr. Woodman reads this post, let me be the first. Why can't I take a screenshot with my Windows Phone?  Microsoft gave the KIN the ability to snap a shot of the screen and Windows Mobile had the ability. So why not Windows Phone 7?

Woodman points out there could be copyright issues with allowing users to capture screenshots.

"The reality is, we have a DRM requirement for our marketplace, which makes things like HDMI and those types of things out, more difficult. We've made a choice to have a more protected set of content on the phone and available to consumers, so we do have restrictions within that."

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Whoa, where did this come from? Even though the Daily Show is openly pro-iPhone, looks like they are showing some Windows Phone 7 love as MTV Networks (Viacom) just released an official app for the show.

From the description:

"Get the Quote of the Day and video clip for the most recent episodes. Share them on Facebook and Twitter. Search the entire archive of videos by category or topic. Drag topics together to narrow results to an interesting combination."

That's the good news. The bad news is it costs $1.99 and there's no trial available. Oh Viacom, you greedy devil you. And you just know you won't be able to watch the whole episode. Torn between our love of Jon and dislike of corporate media giant.

Grab it now, right here.


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There's been successful attempts at modifying HTC Accent colors aka "themes" on unlocked developer devices, but up until now, Samsung phones were left to watch in envy.

Now Dave Amenta of Send to WP7 (Desktop) fame, has gone ahead and released a simple and effective app for Samsung phones that will allow you to easily modify all of your themes to any color you like. The beauty in it is you don't have to mess with those silly #FF339933 codes, but instead just use a color/shade slider. Easy as cake. But yes, your device needs to be developer-unlocked.

As you can see, we changed our Focus to a nice blue-grey theme and we feel pretty happy about it. Except now we want to go try every other color, so we're gonna go do that now, kthxbai!

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Panoramic, who just released the stellar BlackJack for WP7, is aiming to have their flagship app moTweets ready by February.

While Seesmic received a nice update, the official Twitter client still at 1.0 and Beezz doing alright, we're pretty excited about having ol' moTweets around again. Considered one of the top Windows Mobile Twitter apps (save Twikini, RIP), moTweets should be a pretty stellar app from this experienced company.

Fingers crossed.

Source: Twitter; Thanks, A--, for the tip!

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We were just envying LG's amazing Voice to Text app, wishing it were on other Windows Phones and evidently others at XDA thought the same. Difference being they went ahead and they allegedly patched the XAP file so as to make it work on any unlocked Windows Phone.  (Similar case with Samsung's apps).

To see if it works we tried it ourselves and sure enough, it does what it was meant to do. Most of you won't have a developer unlocked device to do this and the ChevronWP7 loop hole will be patched soon, plus there's the whole thing that this is technically stealing LG's software and one of their device selling points (though everyone seems okay with loading WP7 on their HD2s, with no concern there--double standard we guess). So you know, we don't recommend you do this, even if you could, which you probably can't.

Source: XDA

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Quantum not making leap outside of America

Word has it that the LG Quantum (aka Optimus 7Q) will not be heading across the pond to Europe.  According to Pocket-Lint, James Choi, marketing strategy and planning team director for LG Electronics Global, told them, “Unfortunately, the Quantum will not make it to Europe. It’s an exclusive handset for AT&T in America."  He did not elaborate much, simply attributing the move an "internal issue."

With the further delay of Dell's Venue Pro, It leaves our European WP7 counterparts QWERTY-less, with nothing more than hopes that the HTC 7 Pro manages to find its way over there in the near future.

Source: Pocket-Lint

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LG's Voice to Text app is pretty outstanding [Video]

Although LG may be feeling some blues over the response to Windows Phone 7, one area they nailed was their awesome Voice to Text app.

We're sure Microsoft and their Tell-Me system will add this feature to all Windows Phone in the future, but for now, LG has it all to their own. That's because they're using Nuance Dragon Diction to do the actual speech translation and it works quite well.

Supporting Twitter, SMS, email and memos, the LG-only app is a shining jewel for their Quantum (see review) and Optimus 7 phones and something to consider when buying your device.

Bonus Tip: saying "period", "exclamation point" or "question mark" will do punctuation for you. So cool.

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Leave your mark on MP3s with AudioBookMark

One thing that seems to be missing from all of the audiobook apps in the Marketplace is the ability to easily bookmark your spot in an MP3 and return to it. 

XDA member, dbroome, has developed AudioBookMark, which as the name implies, does just that.  AudioBookMark not only remembers which MP3 file you are listening to, but where in that file as well.  And in case you are someone who likes to skip from title to title, you can select from a list of your books and dive right in where you left off on each.  You can use the built-in transport keys to speed to a certain point of an MP3, or manually enter HH:MM:SS to jump directly to the juiciest parts.

You can download it here for $.99.

Source: XDA

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Chitika, a search-targeted advertising network who serves over 2 billion ads a month (thanks Wikipedia!), has their December results in where they parse down traffic by operating systems. The results? Windows Phone 7 did grow from 0.4% to 0.44%.

Yeesh. While technically improvement with the holiday season behind us we would have expected a sharper, more significant rise in reported traffic. Now granted, Chitika's numbers are but one ad-provider and probably don't tell the whole story (lots of factors at play here), but had the number jumped to 1% we'd probably be reporting it as positive too, so to be fair... They finally conclude with:

It’s still got a long way to go, and it’s nowhere near a threat to Android and iPhone yet, but it is growing.

For anecdotal results, TheNextWeb took a look at their traffic and found that WP7 is growing and doing pretty well, considering the competition:

I took a look into our traffic numbers here at TNW, and it seems that, at least from our vantage point, Windows Phone 7 is in fact growing much more rapidly than what Chitika reports.

They note that being a tech site, their numbers are pretty skewed, but it goes to show that Chitika's numbers are but one way of looking at these things.

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In a recent interview, James Choi,  marketing strategy and planning team director of LG Electronics global, shared some thoughts on the Windows Phone 7 launch and at least they're honest. In short, they were expecting a bit more visibility of the launch and for it to catch on more:

From an industry perspective we had a high expectation, but from a consumer point of view the visibility is less than we expected.

LG has been closely collaborating with Microsoft from the beginning. What we feel is that it is absolutely perfect for a huge segment out there. What we feel is that some people believe that some operating systems, mainly Google, are extremely complicated for them. But Windows Phone 7 is very intuitive and easy to use...

No one should necessarily be surprised at those comments.  The launch for Windows Phone 7 has been a critical success but publicly it is a bit on the down-low now, especially with Android and now the iPhone (once again) stealing all the news. But all is not doom and gloom for LG as they truly believe in Windows Phone 7 both as a vialble OS and a way to balance the plethora of Android devices in the market--something they say their vendors are looking to balance as well because there's just too much Android. As to the solution?

There is a lot of scepticism at the moment, but once Windows Phone 7 handsets that are mid-tier to low tier start appearing the market share will grow. Right now it’s only exclusively present in a high tier, because of its hardware requirements, and that’s limiting growth.

Sounds about right to us. Microsoft has the right pieces, just a matter of time.

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WHS solution already available in Marketplace

Branching off our previous look at Windows Home Server (codenamed “Vail”) coming to the Windows Phone platform, there has been an app already available in the Marketplace for some time that can accomplish a streaming ready connection between your home server and your mobile phone. So, what does this handy little tool have to offer?

Apart from the obvious feature of streaming music and media, WHS Phone brings with it server health and disk space of mounted drives clearly displayed, a list of connected clients on the network, with the addition of being able to browse through local shares, managing users and resources is also present. A welcomed ability to upload photos directly from your phone will interest those who love to capture every moment.

Though not an official release from Microsoft, this is a fantastic effort to bring functionality, which (in the eyes of some) should have already been officially included. It also makes the wait for an official app more bearable. Have you already got this app installed and running? If so, what's your experience with your home server?

via: WMPU

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Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst full changelog is massive

This morning the v1.1 update of Crackdown 2 was posted in the Marketplace.

We, being the curious bees we are, wondered what exactly had changed and were wondering why no change log was posted with the app description. In short we reached out to Karl Stricker of Microsoft who sure delivered on what was updated/fixed in the game and now we know why they didn't list it....the list is huuuge

So huge in fact we have to list it after the jump.  So if you want on all the deets, click on.

Thanks Karl, much appreciated!

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Well, that didn't take long...

One of the big downers of doing the Windows Phone 7 to HD2 port was the inability to access the Marketplace, buy apps and run Xbox LIVE games.

Well, evidently it's be "fixed" and by fixed we mean hacked to work. The video above is "proof" and the instructions are of course up at XDA.

We still find all of this a lot of work for basically an HD7--so we're either guessing there's a lot of financially-compromised hackers out there or too many coding geeks. Either way, if this just wet your appetite to dig out your HD2, then good luck! Oh and if Microsoft somehow does some bad mo-jo to your LIVE account, don't blame us, m'kay?

Source: XDA

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HTC launches HD7 in Egypt

Showing that there is no limit to where Windows Phone 7 will be available, today HTC announced that their flagship HD7 will be sold in Egypt. Kind of nice to know that our friends in the Middle East will start to get some Windows Phone experience.

No pricing, carrier or exact availability was mentioned, which is kind of lame if you're in Egypt right now. But hopefully it's soon.

Source: AME Info

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Shazam and Spotify team up and leave Windows Phone out

If you have a Zune Pass, you'll read this story and chuckle as Shazam + Zune Pass = music heaven (I use the combo 4-5 times a week, easily). For those outside of the U.S. who either don't have Zune Pass by choice or by circumstance (basically, not these countries), this may make you a little peeved. (If we recall, only United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain have Zune Pass access)

Today, both companies announced a partnership that will come close to simulating the Shazam + Zune Pass experience:

Shazam, the world’s leading mobile discovery company, today announced that Spotify, the popular music service, will be integrated across the full range of Shazam’s free and premium Apps for iPhone, iPod touch and Android. As a result, Shazamers will be able to access Spotify directly through a new ‘Play in Spotify’ feature, which will take them directly to Spotify where they can immediately begin listening to the full track that they either tagged or discovered within Shazam from recommendations or the Shazam charts.

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Seesmic v1.3 is out now and it is gloriously fast

Just a few hours ago we're reporting on those new features in Seesmic v1.3 and now it's live in the Marketplace.

Although we gave some flack to the Twitter Racoon for no push updates, we'll applaud their team for this: Seesmic v1.3 is hands down the fastest Twitter app now on Windows Phone 7. It is very zippy and we even had our own 'Neo' moment with an audible "whoa" when launching it. (Too geeky?)

Besides the very impressive speed updates and unmentioned bug fixes, not much else has changed, including no landscape support, no conversation view (gah!). It also still doesn't run under the lock screen, so you get that 'resume' thing happening (double gah!). Oh, but there is that new Tile art above.

But hey Seesmic, you have a solid base going right now for your WP7 Twitter app--let's get some landscape support, run-under-lockscreen and push notifications going and you'll own this race. Twitterers: grab the update now.

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