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We covered the app Speak to Play at the end of January as being one of the first voice-controlled music apps for Windows Phone. In short, you tap the button, tell it to play <artist>, <song>, <playlist> or <genre> and the app will start up whatever matches in your music collection.

From our opinion, the app worked quite flawlessly but we lamented that you still had to find the app, launch it then hit the microphone button--a few too many steps in our mind. Luckily, the app has under-gone a little makeover since we last reported on it and it has the following new features:

  • Renamed - the app is now called "Hey DJ!" instead of "Speak to Play"
  • Pin 'Speak now' to the start screen - Like Soundhound and Shazam, you can now put a virtual button on your Start screen. Tapping it launches the app and it automatically goes to "listen" mode, enabling 1-touch listening/playback
  • Price drop: The app was $1.99 but has now dropped to $0.99 with a free trial

The app still works well from our end and we really do like the ability to play music with a single-tap now. If you haven't paid for it yet, the new $0.99 price is much more fair and reasonable. So if you're a music fan, we have to give this a recommendation.

Pick up Hey DJ here in the Marketplace for $0.99

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It's been awhile since we looked at iHeartRadio, the popular radio app available across devices and for the web. It was in October that the app went to v3.0 and received Mango support and a few days ago, version 4.1 hit the Marketplace bringing a nice make over with some bonus features on board.

Gone is the grey photo background and instead we have just pure black with red text. The UI now is much more minimalist and Metro, giving the app a fresh new bold look which we really like.

But the biggest feature is the addition of "custom radio" which is very similar to Pandora. You choose a station to create based on a song, artist or genre and iHeartRadio will select tunes based off of that criteria. You can then thumbs up/down songs and from that, refine your musical selection. Likewise you can still pull down lyrics, pin the station to your start screen and purchase/download tracks from the Zune Marketplace.

All in all it has been working great on our end and considering it's free, we see no reason not to try it if you like your music on the go. Grab it here in the Marketplace. Thanks, Ronald V., for the heads up Edit: Turns out this isn't available to those in the UK, for whatever reason.

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It's Sunday, so what time is it? It's time for the Windows Phone Summary of the Week! This is where we bring you all you a digestible list of everything you need to know from the past week, should you have been lost or absent. Kicking us off, as always, are WPCentral announcements. 

We've selected selected our winner (and runner-up) for the WPCentral Nokia 710 Photo Contest! Our Dave is back with the forum roundup for the recently held Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, as well as a number of top threads that contain hot discussion. That's all on the website front, let's head on into the summary. 

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Microsoft has updated their free Weather app for Windows Phone, finally bringing Mango support in version 2.0. We first reported on this looming refresh a few weeks ago and now the app upgrade is available in the Marketplace.

New in version 2.0 is the ability for fast app switching, multiple city support and the ability to pin each city to your Start screen with (get this) Live Tiles. Yes, now each city will display the current temperature and icon for current weather conditions right on your Start screen. While it lacks anything more advanced e.g. written forecast, radar maps, cams, etc. for many such a simple, minimalist weather program is all they want and need. In that regard, this app is pretty great for its "too the point" brevity.

So if you want simple, free and no ads, this is your app. Pick up Microsoft's Weather right here in the Marketplace. Thanks, Joseph K., for the tip!

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Not minutes after we teased about the Lumia 900 coming to AT&T soon, BGR is now reporting from their "source" that flagship device has been delayed by over a month till April 22nd. In a way, this explains why things have been so quiet around the stores e.g. no SKU leaks, product shipments, internal emails, etc.

While no official date was ever given for the AT&T Lumia 900, Paul Thurrot and Mary Jo Foley both claimed "March" for a release month with Thurrott getting more specific with the 18th. Later, BGR "confirmed" the date as well.

The price point of $99 on contract remains but if accurate, this is surely some bad news for those hoping for an exciting weekend next week.

Source: BGR

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For those of you who remember Warrio's Jewels (WJ7), a sideloaded/homebrew Gameboy emulator, you'll be pleased to know that it has been renamed to 'Purple Cherry' and is on its way to the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Yes this is from the same developer who brought us the Sega Gamegear emulator, Sonic's Jewels which was later renamed to 'Blue Tomato' (due to copyright infringement). In trying to avoid the same legal issues, the developer has opted for a renaming and rebranding before submission this time and the emulator is expected to pass.

New images show that Purple Cherry is using the same design as Blue Tomato, something we're all for as it has an excellent layout with bold, clear fonts and UI elements. What's more, many fixes and improvements have gone into this updated emulator with more games running smoothly now e.g. Kid Icarus, WarioLand 2 and better Pokemon playability. In addition, SkyDrive support is there too allowing easy loading of ROMs to the emulator.

No word on pricing but we bet the same $1.49 price range can be expected. We'll follow up more as we get closer to release.

Source: Facebook

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Yesterday we showed you how to get the latest firmware for your Lumia 710, version 12070, on your device early but those in Singapore won't have to. As promised earlier, Nokia has started rolling out this update officially for that device in that region meaning all you need to do is plug in your phone to your Zune Desktop.

Singapore is also getting the 12070 firmware update for the Lumia 800 as well.

The update addresses an annoying issue where some users can't end  call once initiated, instead they have to pull the battery or shutdown the phone. Further, this update brings other "performance enhancements" to the table e.g. we notice our phone turns on faster now when we hit the power button.

This is also a good sign that Nokia will begin rolling this update out more globally in the next few weeks, dependent on carrier request.

Source: Nokia, Facebook; Thanks, Ramesh T, for the heads up

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Two weeks back Mobile Nations ran a survey asking all of you to tell us a few things about your computing and mobile device ownership and buying plans.  I’ve been digging into the data which is especially pertinent given today's iPad announcement.

Admittedly, those of us who fill out these surveys in the first 48 hours are often the most enthusiastic tech people of the bunch.  So we can’t go too crazy drawing conclusions.  But still, the data is interesting.

We had just over 1100 Windows Phone users fill out the survey.  The percentage of those people who use a Mac versus a PC is quite small, at only 5.1%

Across the entire survey population (over 7500 results), Mac has 17.7% market share. Without doing the math, this sure looks like a statistically significant result to me.

This may not be too shocking of a result to many of you, but I think we can safely say that Windows Phone users dislike Macs more than the average person.  A lot more.

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We showed you the latest version of Ask Ziggy, the Siri-like app knowledge app, last week and we told you it'll be here soon. Sure enough, the app has now been updated in the Marketplace, bringing all that new re-designed goodness free to your phone.

As we remarked and showed in our video, Ask Ziggy v2.0 brings a new Metro look, geolocation localization to answer questions about whereabouts, weather, time and searches. It's also a bit smarter, allowing the developer to update certain features from the backend.

So how much attention is Ask Ziggy getting? A lot. Our first video has 166K views, Microsoft has taken an interest in it. And now we have word that that Nokia has personally invited Ask Ziggy to give a special demo of their voice recognition technology at its 3-domed “Nokia Lab” at the SXSW (South by Southwest) Festival on March 12th. What's more they've doubled their staff from one to two people, which is quite impressive when you think about what they're up against.

Grab Ask Ziggy in the Marketplace for free right here. Let us know in comments your thoughts. Thanks, zoljac, for the heads up

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It’s been a long time in coming – Japanese developer Cave first announced their exclusive shooting game for Windows Phone way back in July. Many months later, DoDonPachi Maximum has finally debuted on Xbox Live.

DoDonPachi Maximum is a vertically-scrolling shoot-em-up that borrows elements from previous games like DoDonPachi Resurrection. The twist is that the entire game is supposed to be a computer simulation, so the backgrounds and enemies have all been given a retro graphics makeover. At the start, you select from two different ships, each with its own weapons and abilities. Tip: the Delta Sword kills bosses much faster. Two more ships are supposedly unlockable, but I shudder to think about the requirements for doing so…

Gameplay is simple – touch anywhere on the screen and drag to move your fighter (which shoots automatically). I find that a centimeter or so below the ship works best. As you kill enemies, your laser bombs will charge up. To fire one, touch the screen with two fingers at once. It’s a fine control system and necessary for weaving between the enemies’ many, many bullets. Check out our preview video to see it in action, or this video to sample the soundtrack.

Warning: DoDonPachi Maximum is hard. In fact, it’s harder than I just said. It will take tons of practice to complete the game – the last level is actually punishment for treason in some countries. The Achievements are even more challenging; I expect only a handful of people in the world will ever get them all.

If that sounds good to you, you’re going to love Cave’s DoDonPachi Maximum. Get it right here on the Marketplace for $4.99.

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Nokia seems to be wrapping up testing of their much anticipated firmware update, 12070. The update brings better battery life through better controlled screen-brightness and ~70 mA discharge when idle.  In addition, the update tweaks the camera's white balance a little and sound is improved via the bass response.

We can testify that 12070 has nearly tripled our battery life since we forced-upgraded from 11401, making this a worthy and important update for Lumia users.

Those in Singapore seem to be the lucky ones tonight as they are now getting 12070 official through Zune Desktop, making them the first group to get the honors. So if you're in Singapore, y'all need to stop reading this and go get your update as it is totally worth the 15 minutes.

We expect the rest of Lumia 800 users to start to get their updates later on this week. Stay tuned.

Thanks, VoodooKing for the heads up; See XDA forums for further confirmation

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We're still expecting the HTC TITAN II to drop in the next few weeks and perhaps in an attempt to clear some stock, AT&T has dropped the behemoth Windows Phone to just one cent with a new contract.

That's pretty amazing for a 4.7" screen device with a 1.5GHz CPU and the best camera yet on a Windows Phone (yeah, we're calling it). The TITAN has been a big success, according to the folks at HTC we spoke with back at CES and we can't argue with that as it has been one of our favorite devices around.

The TITAN though is not being discontinued as far as we know as HTC told us that it will still be sold alongside the TITAN II (which is slightly redesigned, has a 16MP camera and LTE 4G on board), so we think this is more of a sale to push Windows Phone rather than an end-of-life scenario. Either way, it's a great deal.

Source: AT&T; Thanks, Reece, for the heads up

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An unlocked white Lumia 900 is available on eBay with expected shipping dates between April 3rd-9th. The handset joins the black and cyan versions that were previously available on the auction site back in January. The only difference separating the previous listings and this new one is the colour and price tag. The white Lumia 900 4G Windows Phone will set you back $829.

You never know with eBay listings such as this so proceed at your own risk. Check out the auction (and make your purchase) by following the source link to the item listing.

Source: eBay; thanks Cole for the heads up!

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I like experimenting and tinkering with software. A lot like how a circuit bender tries to get electronics to emit beautiful music, I attempt to coerce software into doing things it wasn’t designed to do. Often, like my recent Windows Phone Hackathon, I fail spectacularly. But rarely, I do make notable progress. Cue Audible.

Audible.com (Audible for short) is a service owned by Amazon that provides digital audio books. They put out software that works across a slew of devices such as the iPod, Kindle Fire, Blackberry, and even PC. Old hats may even recall that Audible supported Windows Mobile 5 devices such as the HP iPAQ Pocket PC. One platform void of support, however, is Windows Phone.

We – along with our readers – have been keeping the pressure on Audible for quite some time now, to no avail. Support technicians would say an app is in the works but has no ETA. Now they're saying this month. Who knows when this is really coming out? More importantly, what’s taking so long?

I sat down one day and decided to figure out why this was taking so long, or at least try. I started by downloading the old Windows Mobile 5 software. In the dusty CAB were a number of skins and resources, to support the fragmented Windows Mobile market, along with some key application files. Disassembling the Audible Player executable revealed they all relied on a single dynamic link library (DLL) to perform all the needed functions: AAXSDKWin.dll.

AAXSDKWin.dll is a library compiled for devices containing a StrongARM processor, like the iPAQ mentioned earlier. Without going too deep, it was compiled using an instruction set (ARM4i) that is still used in today’s ARM (e.g. Cortex) processors. At this point, you’re probably thinking “Hey… doesn’t Windows Phone sit on top of ARM too?” Yep, it sure does.

I took the library and started weeks of disassembly, study, and boozing, excruciatingly dissecting bit after bit until I had enough of their APIs worked out to use the damn thing in a proof of concept. I jiggered it into a Silverlight for Windows Phone application project and deployed it onto my Samsung Focus test phone. I was able successfully parse an Audible book and light up my UI with relevant metadata (e.g. title, author, etc.). I remember thinking “Holy crap, it worked.” (The app shot below is not a functional application.)

How Audible for Windows Phone could look like.

I continued my research efforts, with the goal of playing a book in mind, but stopped short for two reasons: One, Audible’s books are protected with a DRM scheme. This meant I needed to reverse engineer their account activation, authentication, and decryption logic – something I wasn’t keen on doing. Two, we reported that Audible was warming up for a late March release. I had no intention of busting hump to later be superseded by a better and official application. But with the success of the concept application, I couldn’t answer the original question – What’s taking Audible so long to put out an app?

I can only surmise as to why. We know getting legitimate native access on Windows Phone is easy and possible. I also know that all the APIs they need are there. So from a technical perspective, an Audible app is possible. But perhaps Amazon, in a move to increase Kindle interest, decided to not continue porting Audible to newer mobile devices. Or maybe there’s some behind-the-scenes political or logistical clashing we’re not privy to. Or more likely, Audible just didn’t have the Windows Phone marketplace numbers to justify paying a team to rework their ancient source code into something usable on Windows Phone.

Regardless, an Audible application official or otherwise is coming.

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Remember that insane Symbian cameraphone that was unveiled at this year's MWC, which blew some of us away? Looks like the PureView camera technology that provided the Nokia 808 with a 41MP shooter has been confirmed to be heading to a Windows Phone near you (check out some of our hands-on coverage to witness what this will mean for consumers).

Nokia's Jo Harlow validated the speculation that the manufacturer would be brining this technology to the Lumia Windows Phone family in an interview with Finnish newspaper Aamulehti. When queried about when we should expect to see such a device, Harlow replied with (rough translation): "I can’t say precisely when, but it will not take very long." Windows Phone Apollo (when we're more than likely to see PureView on Microsoft's platform) just got that little bit sweeter, no? 

This is sure to rock the socks off of both our George and Dan if all goes ahead. Say cheese!

Source: Aamulehti, via: e's phoneblog; thanks damthman for the tip!

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Take this with a heaping cup of salt, but Tweakers.net is reporting from multiple sources that Sony is planning on joining the Windows Phone camp late in 2012.

Of course there are hurdles in the way such as Sony and that whole Playstation thing, but Sony is like any other massive corporation and its departments operate independently of each other, so we wouldn't actually cite that as a reason not to. Heck, we know that back in 2010 Sony-Ericcson seemed just fine with the whole notion even going so far as to make a few prototypes for early development. Obviously if SE had no problem with the Xbox system we don't see why Sony (sans Ericsson) would either.

Still, there's no hard evidence here for this just past experience so we'll just have to keep an ear out. Should Sony though decide to make some Windows Phones, especially with waiting for WP8 that could be a very good thing for customers.

Source: Tweakers.net;Sony render by Brian (Follow Brian here on Twitter and see his work with the LG Fantasy and Nokia 900.) Thanks, Jentse H., for the heads up!

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With the upcoming "Tango" update to Windows Phone, OEMs will have the ability to make phones with just 256 MB of RAM, shaving off a few precious dollars from their bottom line. Of course in doing so, about 5% of the apps currently on the Marketplace (including ours) won't work unless the developer re-works aspects to make it more efficient on memory usage. Such phones include the Nokia Lumia 610 and possibly the ZTE Orbit. Those devices display a similar notification in their "About" section too:

Of course there are instances where developers may not want to adjust their app--either they don't want to compromise performance/esthetics or they use periodicTask or a ResourceIntensiveTask. In that case, developers can actually opt-out of making their app compatible and instead a message will appear alerting users that this app won't work on their phone.

Nokia has now published details on both how devs can enable this feature as well as what the user experience will be like. The latter part involves a message noting that the app cannot be installed and when tapped a pop-up window will notify them that they need a phone with more RAM.

Source: Nokia Developer; Thanks, anon, for the tip

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It's been awhie since we've talked about Ask Ziggy, the Siri-like app from developer Shai Leib. Powered by Nuance for voice-search and some backend tweaks to customize how things work, the app is a great example of developer ingenuity.

Since the app went viral, Leib has gone back to the drawing board and reworked a lot of the app in response to user feedback. For instance in the new version expected in a few days, it's much more Metro influenced with the SMS chat bubble. But more importantly, the feature list has greatly expanded to include using your geo-location ability to pinpoint weather/time/search requests. You can even set reminders (it will create a Live Tile and alarm), call people, pull up calendar information for any day upon request and much more. (You can see some more screenshots here)

The app should be hitting the Marketplace in a few days and it is still free as far as we know. This is also just the beginning as Leib has much more planned for new and unique features. For now, you can watch out video though to get an idea of what's coming and you can download the old verison here in the Marketplace.

We'll keep you posted when version 2.0 goes live probably next week, so stay tuned.

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This morning at Mobile World Congress, CEO of Nokia Stephen Elop commented on their recent success of announcing four new Windows Phone within one year of their famous partnership with Microsoft. He noted that they were now in 31 different markets and on 50 unique operators with increasing demand in sales everyday.

In just under a year, they've won awards for the Lumia 900, including a "Best of Show" which was a first for them and garnered high praise for the Lumia 800.

So when it came to the Lumia 710, specifically on T-Mobile which Elop pointed out was their return-device to the U.S. market, he reported with great enthusiasm that sales are "exceeding expectations" and that they are "very pleased" with its performance in the market so far. While no specific numbers were given, it appears at least that Nokia has a small hit on their hands with the Lumia 710--a device we gave high praise for--and the increasing visibility of the device e.g. LIVE! with Kelly is certainly helping too.

Quickly checking T-Mobile's page for device information, we can in fact see this being reflected. As of today, the Lumia 710 is T-Mobile's third best selling device--a level we have never seen reached for any Windows Phone in the US. Likewise, the device is in the same spot for user satisfaction with a 4.7 stars (out of 5) from 115 reviews (interestingly, the HTC Radar is number two).

The conclusion seems to be that Nokia is doing quite well with the 710 which we think is a great sign for the impending Lumia 900 on AT&T and their accompanying media campaign.

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Can we have a drum roll? Because GroupMe is back! The group-texting app for Windows Phone (which is also available on Blackberry, iOS and Android) went MIA late last year and not much has been officially said surrounding the app since, until a callout was published on the Twitter account looking for Windows Phone users who reside in New York.

Today we have an article announcing the app's return on the official GroupMe blog. So what's new in version 3? With the company being purchased by Skype (Microsoft), the team has been working closely with the software giant to revamp the app. As well as a visual (and code) overhaul, which looks much more fluent with the Metro UI, GroupMe also supports deep-link live tiles (with notifications) to chats and groups, photo sharing, contacts integration, and more.

A few issues are present though: no landscape support for writing and notifications aren't working yet for us. Still, from keeping in touch with colleagues, to sharing photos, GroupMe will enable you to keep up to date with your favourite groups of contacts. Overall, a great comeback for the app and we look forward to see how Skype and GroupMe can integrate in the future. You can download GroupMe from the Marketplace for free.

Source: GroupMe Blog

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