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Awhile back, we first broke the news about Windows Phone 7 and the tough protection scheme Microsoft has implemented to prevent piracy. Specifically, private keys (PVKs) which are tied to the hardware and need to server-authenticate. This hurdle would prevent non-approved devices from accessing all LIVE services and severely limit device functionality. Interestingly enough, just weeks later this was confirmed by team DFT, who were attempting to hack WP7 to the aging (but versatile) HTC HD2.

Fast-forward today and it is being claimed (not yet demonstrated) that certain aspects of PVK has been breached. But, like before, they're still far from a viable implementation. Pocketnow has summarized this as follows:

Several different methods are being attempted to bypass the limitation, including the search for a so-called "corporate key," which would essentially be a universal PVK for large-scale activations. Unfortunately, because all devices are security-flashed at the factory, such a key may not even exist. Secondly, overseas developers -- beyond the reach of Microsoft legal, apparently -- are said to be hacking the different bits of the device-side authentication piecemeal, but because of the unusually intricate security measures employed by Redmond, "it doesn't really look good" according to our source.

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AppMakr to bring WP7 development to the common man

San Francisco based startup AppMakr announced today at CES that it will be bringing its application-building platform to wannabe WP7 developers in the near future. AppMakr, which is currently only available for iOS, "enables anyone to build rich content based apps using a point and click solution," regardless of programming experience or know-how. The company also revealed that they will be launching Android support at the time as the Windows Phone version in February, boasting the "industry’s first 'No Coding Required' mobile application platform for multiple mobile OS."

AppMakr co-founder, Daniel Odio, expressed cautious optimism at the quick success of WP7: “We’re definitely making a little bit of a bet here, but we see it paying off early.” The company also extended the opportunity to beta test to anyone who wishes to sign up at: http://go.AppMakr.com/beta

Here's to bringing geekdom to the people. And probably more fart apps, flashlights and tip calculators. Come on people! Enough already!

Source: AppMakr; via: BizJournals

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Price Drop: Rocket Riot now just $4.99

Rocket Riot (review coming soon), is probably one of the best Xbox LIVE games on Windows Phone 7 right now: catchy music, great combo of retro and 3D graphics, fun gameplay. Only downside was cost: $6.99 made it one of the most expensive games on the Marketplace, which even I avoided paying.

Luckily in the last few days it dropped to a more reasonable $4.99, making it more worthy of consideration. Only thing we're hesitant about are the few complaints about the game "not loading" after a few days of playing. This seems to be isolated but hopefully the developer will have a v1.1 soon.

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Ilomilo is now available to UK fans

Live in the UK? Love cute, cuddly, adorable, puzzle games? Well you are in luck! Developer Southend Interactive has officially released Ilomilo a few days ago, which was locked to the AT&T network alone. Branching off from our review of Ilomilo, this beautiful little fantasy adventure will be ensuring that you forget Narnia, and focus on reuniting with your other half of the coin.

I have waited some time for this as some folk I know have explored the depths of puzzling on their phones, which has led to them to venture on a boasting spree. Installing and opening up the title, I hadn't put it down for a good hour and half making my commute on the train bareable. Below is a video from our review, by Rob, giving a great run through the game.

Head on over to the Marketplace to pick up this title for £3.99 ($4.99).

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Although Windows Phone 7 coverage at CES 2011 has been a bust (more on that later) a CDMA verion of the HTC Trophy has run its way through the FCC guantlet.  There was no direct mention of the "Trophy" name; however, a nearly identical model number to the European version of the Trophy was mentioned in the docs (PC40200 vs PC40100).  The device was also granted approval through the WiFi Alliance using the same certificate as HTC's Mozart and Surround.

As previously reported, Verizon is intending to release a WP7 Trophy in early 2011.  While it is unclear when exactly "early" refers to, this FCC approval means it's on the horizon. Our bet? Latest: end of February.

Source: FCC; via: PocketNow

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Slacker Radio now completely free...in Canada

Slacker Radio has been one of the cornerstone apps of Windows Phone 7, offering users a solid alternative to that other brand (pssstt..Pandora).

Unbeknownst to us, evidently in Canada you only had a 30-day trial and then it was pay-as-you go at $3.99 a month. Ka-razy! Now, Slacker is changing their tune (see what I did there?) and offering a free-version just like here in the U.S.. Basically every few minutes you'll have to hear an ad in between your songs (so it's like normal radio). Of course our Canadian friends still have the "Plus" option which offers unlimited song-skips, lyrics, song requests and of course, no ads.

Hey, options are good and we're glad for our northern neighbors. Of course you also have that Resco Radio option...just sayin'.

Read our Slacker Radio for Windows Phone 7 review here.

Source: PR Newswire

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Get Microsoft Silverlight

We mentioned earlier about those Game Room titles coming to Windows Phone7 and here are a few others as well, all demoed very quickly on Channel 9. Some titles, like Pac Man (which is receiving some terrible reviews) and Pocket God are already out, others like Full House Poker and Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 are coming down the road.

Overall, the titles look decent but nothing mind-blowing.

Source: Channel 9; via Pocketnow

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Test your Windows Phone 7 speed with BandWidth v2.0

For those curious as to what their mobile speed is, you can give BandWidth a shot. Developed by microhaxo from XDA, the app hits the usual servers for your upload/download rates. Pros fo the program included the ability to select servers based on location (including international), data size (small or large) and history for future comparison.

The app is free, no ads and is pretty sharp looking. Only issue we had was with our upload over AT&T's 3G--for sometimes it didn't work (but it did fine over WiFi). Anyways, if you think it's your thing, you can grab it here in the Marketplace.

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To little surprise, HTC is still doing very well, fueled mostly by the exponential growth in Android but also those five Windows Phone 7 handsets. According to Bloomberg:

"Fourth-quarter net income climbed to NT$14.6 billion ($500 million) from NT$5.5 billion a year earlier, the Taoyuan, Taiwan-based company said in a statement today.

HTC’s fourth-quarter consolidated sales more than doubled to NT$104 billion, from NT$41 billion a year earlier, it said."

HTC themselves estimated they would ship 9 million handsets in the last three months. However, no sales figures were given in that regard and will be presented instead later in January. While we can't imagine Windows Phone 7 was necessarily a huge part of their surge in growth, analyst Steven Tseng (RBS Asia Ltd.) said "The debut last quarter of Windows Phone 7 models and the release of fourth-generation handsets may help sustain sales growth".

Being so early in the game, we'll take "sustaining growth". We can only imagine what sales will look like one-year from now for Windows Phone 7.x--should be interesting.

Source: Bloomberg

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For better or worse, if you want to develop for Windows Phone 7 and publish, you have to pay Microsoft $99 for the privilege. However, if you publish two games to the Marketplace, you can get that back in a rebate from big'ol MS. That rebate was set to expire...well soon (it was always a temporary offer). Well, both an extension and a firm date has been given: February 15th, 2011.

So if you haven't yet done so, either publish those titles and/or send in the rebate.

Source: Doris Chen's Blog

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Game Room bringing classic arcade to Windows Phone 7

Classic gamers aka old people like us, have reason to celebrate. Game Room, the popular gaming service on Xbox 360 and PC that brings old school titles to today's devices, is coming to Windows Phone soon.

Game Room allows gamers to indulge in various arcade, Intellivision, and Atari 2600 titles, while competing in high score points on leaderboards, achievements and various other areas. The Xbox/PC version is promised to have over 1,000 titles over the next few years. So far, these titles are confirmed for Windows Phone: Centipede, Asteroids Deluxe, Shao-Lin's Road, Time Pilot, Lunar Lander and Pitfall. We dig those. In addition, we can expect "A shared "Game Room" profile and global leaderboards let you track your medals and top scores across the phone, PC and Xbox 360."

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Flickr app for Windows Phone 7 coming January 31st

In a plug for Microsoft's Azure cloud service and a win for consumers, Microsoft and Flickr today announced dedicated apps coming to Windows Phone 7 and Windows 7 slates.

The program looks about as smooth and integrated as you can get between cloud-based photo sharing and Windows Phone, demonstrating the strengths of both technologies. Of note is the excellent looking "comment" ability that users will be able to take advantage of when discussing people's photos, plus the basics like exploring your friend's photos, Flickr Explore, etc. Other features include:

  • Browse your Flickr photos in stunning high resolution display and touch navigation controls
  • Share photos with friends and family via email, Twitter, Facebook and more
  • Upload your latest images on the go with the in-app uploader
  • Seamlessly transition from your Windows Phone 7 to Windows 7 tablet and back again, without ever losing your place

Available for download on January 31st. Cool. Combined with those dedicated Amazon.com and Bank of America apps coming, Windows Phone 7 continues to get all the big names and services out there.

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Steve Ballmer has just wrapped up his 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show Keynote Address. He addressed three key components for Microsoft; Xbox 360, Windows 7, and Windows Phone 7.

Discussing how productive 2010 has been for Microsoft, Ballmer described it as a year filled with new experiences for consumers. Ballmer touched on the success of the Windows Phone Marketplace that now has over 5,500 apps and 20,000+ developers on board. On average, Windows Phone users are seeing 100 apps a day introduced to the Marketplace.

The success is being reflected by consumer confidence in that 9 out of 10 AT&T customers would recommend Windows Phone 7 to a friend. It was clear that Microsoft was pleased with the two month impact Windows Phone 7 has had and Ballmer continued to voice a strong commitment to the new phones.

Here are a few points from Ballmer's keynote on what we can expect in 2011 for Windows Phone 7.

OS Updates: Ballmer phrased it: "Over the next few months we will be delivering a series of platform improvements that show we are taking feedback to heart in an effort to continue to enhance the products we release. The updates will be released automatically and will include a few changes". No time frame was set but Ballmer did mention these updates will bring Copy/Paste to Windows Phone 7 as well as "significant improvement in performance when loading or switching between applications".

Sprint and Verizon: During the first half of 2011, Sprint and Verizon will join the Windows Phone family.  While there was no mention of which phones are headed where, indications remain that the HTC Trophy is headed to Verizon and the HTC 7 Pro will be Sprint's Windows Phone device.

Games: One of the strengths of Windows Phone 7 is the Xbox Live integration. Windows Phone users will see a series of new Xbox Live games heading to the platform including a version of the popular console game, Fable.

Fable Coin Golf (we're assuming it's a golf themed game) will allow any coins earned on the Windows Phone, carry over to the Xbox Live version of the game.  You also have Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 heading to the Windows Phone as well as the much anticipated Zombies!!!.

Apps: We saw a few new apps that caught our interests. There will be an Amazon.com app and a Bank of America app that will allow you to take care of your shopping and banking needs.  Hopefully, this will break the ice for more online retailers and financial institutions to bring their apps to Windows Phone 7.

It looks like 2011 is shaping up to be another year filled with new experiences for Microsoft consumers.

Update: See the entire video presentation after the break (grab a coffee, you'll need it, but it's worth it)

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Attention space geeks! Astronomy Tile of the Day may be something you want to take for a spin. The new app basically brings down new photos of the cosmos everyday to your phone for your viewing pleasure, which is something we know hobby astronomers are definitely in to. But probably one of the cooler things is this has a Live Tile meaning everyday it will show the latest pic right on your Today screen, which we think spices up the phone just nicely.

The app is both free and pay, meaning it has a fully-functional trial but the developer would appreciate the $0.99 if you want him to continue development. We think that's a fair bargain and look forward to any improvements in the future (like downloading images inline, instead of hopping to Mobile IE, something that is planned for the next update).

Grab it here in the Marketplace.

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Our attempt of the MarketPlace Enabler

There has been a known issue clouding the Marketplace on our beloved platform that has affected a good number on non-US residents (surprise, surprise) – not being able to download a good number of apps (mainly just after they are published) or even access the Marketplace itself, as India has to struggle to cope with.

I have had this problem myself, attempting to download The Oregon Trail to bring back the old days of Windows 98. Reading up on a previous post about a registry hack that changes the location of the computer and allows you to catch apps using Zune software. Now The Windows Club team have taken it to the next level (good news for the less technically savvy) and have released MarketPlace Enabler.

This handy little program allows anyone who can’t access the Marketplace to change the location and literally access it from anywhere in the world (except you wont be physically moving from your seat). As you’d be using the Zune software, free and paid apps will be downloaded just as you would on your phone, and it is all perfectly safe as the payment gateway attached to your Xbox Live/Zune account will be used to complete the purchase.

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DioDict added to Samsung Zone

The DioDict dictionary app has been added to the Samsung App Zone in the Marketplace. The dictionary application is being described as bringing together "the most comprehensive lexical contents over the world with the rich-functional dictionary search engine."

DioDict taps into the Collins Dictionary library that includes multi-language dictionaries including English, Portuguese, French, German, Italian and Spanish. The dictionary application also has a flash card feature to help memorize definitions.

It's a nice looking dictionary application and it's free. If you own a Samsung Windows Phone 7 device, you can find in your Marketplace application in the Samsung App Zone.

Thanks goes out to David for the tip!

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AT&T lays out their 4G plans

Today, AT&T unveiled it's plans to deliver the "Nation's most advanced mobile broadband experience" by adding 4G. The announcement came today at AT&T's Developer's Conference that leads up to the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.

The initiative includes three areas of concentration.

  • AT&T plans to accelerate its LTE network build and launch the services mid-2011. The network is expected to be largely completed by year end 2013.  AT&T is quickly expanding ethernet and fiber to cell sites nationwide as well as adding new cell sites to the network.  By the end of the 2011, AT&T expects that nearly two-thirds of its mobile broadband traffic will be on expanded backhaul.
  • AT&T plans to introduce 20 4G compatible smartphones by the end of 2011. Some of these phones will be exclusive to AT&T. Five to seven of these devices are expected to be available by the first half of 2011.
  • AT&T also plans to provide customers access to more mobile applications. The wireless company plans to expand it's leadership in apps with new initiatives to speed collaboration with developers.

Android will likely lead the charge with the initial 4G push by AT&T and maybe a few Windows Phones will surface within the twenty expected devices that are 4G capable.  The twenty new devices sounds promising but it's our understanding this includes not only smartphones but also wireless devices such modems, air cards, etc.

Hopefully more will be revealed on AT&T's push for 4G in the coming days at the 2011 CES.

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Tired of those embarrassing moments holding your hand out to the Parisian street vendor, eagerly expecting more change back for your Nutella crepe, only to find that the exchange rate on your currency calculator is wrong? Sigh no more. STIML (Smart Technologies In Modern Life) has created the first WP7 currency calculator with live tile updates so you can avoid such an international disaster.

Currency Tile receives live updates of exchange rates for over 150 currencies without having to run the application itself. Aside from the built-in calculator, it also offers graphs of past exchange rates for 1-day, 5-days, 1-month, 3-months, 6-months, 1-year and 5-years. Currency Tile also supports Yahoo data source.

Full features include:

  • Live Tile currencies rates
  • Currency Charts with both landscape and portrait orientations
  • 150 currencies from around the world
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Built-in convenient calculator
  • Favorite currencies
  • Regional format support

Source: STIML; via: 1800PocketPC

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Angry Birds is coming, just not yet

Angry Birds, the massively popular game that has found its glory on both the iOS and Android platforms, but has failed yet to flood the Windows Phone 7 MarketPlace, and another tweet has confirmed a further wait. A continuous stream of ETA updates from Rovio have had numerous news sites and blogs fall over each other in reporting duplicate stories of “Angry Birds app on the way!”. But are we all really that excited about its arrival?

I pose that question as a person who has not yet had the pleasure in playing Angry Birds myself, but have witnessed it in action many times and I must admit it does look like a fun little game that can absorb a few hours of your spare time. This would be why it is such a popular title on the iPhone and Android due to the majority of games these platforms have are all from small developers.

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Amazon Kindle app now available for Windows Phone 7

Good news folks as Amazon's Kindle app has finally hit the Marketplace. Well, they said "by the holidays" and though they're a few days late, we'll accept the ever so slight delay.

Considering the Kindle was one of the top selling gadgets of 2010, we're betting many of you got one for the holidays, making this app a natrual extension. What's cool of course about Kindle is the fact it keeps all your periodicals synced up, meaning you can read your Kindle then pick up your phone and continue that newspaper from right where you left off.

Our initial impression? It's pretty, darn pretty. And we like it.

Anyways, grab it here now.

via: ZDnet/@palmsolo & @derbrotkasten

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Microsoft insider and author of Windows Phone Secrets Paul Thurrott has revealed some additional details about some of the Windows Phone 7 updates we can expect in 2011. We’ve discussed several of the rumors that have been floating around, and Thurrott confirms much of what we’ve been hearing.

The first update, rumored to be announced tomorrow night at the opening keynote at CES in Las Vegas, is entitled “NoDo” (No Donuts) reportedly in response to Android 1.6 (Donut). Thurrott reports that NoDo will RTM in January, with consumers seeing the update in the early February timeframe, after testing by carriers. NoDo will have copy and paste, CDMA support, and supports Qualcomm’s 7x30 chipset.

Thurrott also confirms what we’ve been hearing about Mango, which has been termed a “Major” update to Windows Phone 7. Mango should see HTML5 and Silverlight support within the browser, also bits of the Trident 5 rendering engine contained within Internet Explorer 9. Referred to within Microsoft as the “entertainment” branch, Mango is something we will definitely be looking forward to.

From a scheduling standpoint, Thurrott makes it clear that we should expect more updates between NoDo and Mango, though he doesn’t go into additional detail.

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Oh how we love Tuesday nights around here as it's time for some new Xbox LIVE titles. As you probably guessed from reading the headline, Pac-Man from Namco and Tower Bloxx: New York are on tonight's list. We all know Pac-Man but Tower Bloxx is a popular Facebook game, meaning lots of you can take your addiction on the go.

We can expect them go live in the next few hours, so keep your eyes out.

Source: @karlstricker

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Resco is back with Radio for Windows Phone 7 [Video]

For those Windows Mobile users, Resco was a standard name for software on that platform, delivering us the much needed Explorer, Radio, Audio Recorder, Contact Manger, etc.

So it's great to see them return to our new OS with an updated and very solid Resco Radio v1.0. Fetching for a modest $1.99 (and no monthly subscriptions). Radio brings straight up internet radio streaming to your phone, with some advanced features like sleep, add station, location search and of course the ability to play under the lock screen (no background though).

We decided to give it a spin and as you can see in the video, we're impressed. We highly recommend for music and talk radio addicts to take it for a trial run. Grab it here in the Marketplace for $1.99.

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Evernote for Windows Phone 7 coming this winter

Good news for you Evernote fans (see review for Windows Moible). The popular note-taking application is finally coming to Windows Phone 7 and judging by their time frame, we're talking weeks, not months.

A brand new Windows Phone 7 version of Evernote will launch this winter...

Allowing you to take photos, save webpages, basically any bit of info you can grab, Evernote brings note-taking and cloud-computing to another level.

We'll keep an eye out for when its released.

Source: Evernote blog; via: @edbott

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Metro Home brings WP7 to your Windows 7 desktop

We've seen some attempts at bringing the Windows Phone 7 Metro UI goodness to your desktop before and now the makers of HTC Home have a "special" version of their Vista/Windows 7 widgets available.

Called Metro Home, it brings the usual widget functions including "date and time, weather information for the current day and next four days, and picture slideshow" and allows limited customization.

Oh and its donation-ware so no big commitment if you like it or don't. We're loading it up right now because we keep it geeky-real, son.

Source: HTC Home; via: InToWindows

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