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Windows Phone News

Question is: are you fast?

Do you reside in the US and fancy winning a brand-spanking-new Lumia 900? Who wouldn't? Microsoft has kicked off a new weekly sweepstake, which will see the software giant handing out a Lumia 900 each and every week until August 31st.

As with any sweepstake, you'll be required to fill in your personal details, email address, favourite colour and - of course - answer which shoe you put on your feet first. Unfortunately this sweepstake is only available to those who live in the US and is unfortunate (but the norm) for outsiders to be left out.

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With more screen caps from the Windows Phone 8 SDK coming out we can glean a lot of new functionality that is coming to the new OS this fall. In fact at this rate we’re not sure what Microsoft will have left to tell us come September/October.

Head past the break for a break down of a few new features that we’ve come across including:

  • New features for Bing including Deals, Buzz and News
  • Custom audio alerts
  • Bing Map improvements
  • Photo Hub options
  • Email dictation

It’s sure to make an exciting OS and we think many of you will appreciate the new additions.

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Microsoft will begin upgrading the App Hub's infrastructure this Friday. Upgrades that will add more server capacity to better handle the load increases and streamlining the processes in an effort to speed up the rate in which apps can be submitted, certified and published.

Developers planning on submitting new apps or updates should do so no later than tomorrow. The maintenance work may cause delays in app certification and publication.

The maintenance will also require the App Hub to go offline on Monday, August 6th for about 24 hours (or less). When all is said and done, the maintenance should improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Marketplace submission and certification process.

We'll be keeping our fingers crossed that all goes well. 

Source: Windowsteamblog

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Yes, after my long trip to “the Peg” in Canada (more on that later), I’m back with some more Microsoft news that’s too good to pass up. Today’s stories:

  • Bing gets Facebook “tagging” today
  • Xbox 720 info leaked looks real
  • Microsoft announces new mice, keyboards for Windows 8

So head on past the break for the full scoop on all of this exciting news…

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Looks like that Windows Phone 8 SDK preview (leaked on the web a few days ago) is still coughing up many little changes. The latest deals with the Live Tiles of Windows Phone 8 and yes, there are some subtle but welcome changes.

  • New Live Tile counter – instead of a black circle we now have a square which more closely matches the Metro UI
  • Tiles can cycle through images – we’re not sure what this is called but evidently a Live Tile can have multiple images within it, allowing it to run through them.

The first one is well overdue in our opinion as the circle counter really never fit in with the Tiles not to mention they sometimes were jaggy. Going to Square looks much better to us and we bet you’ll agree too...

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Samsung are set to unveil dual-core hardware when Windows Phone 8 launches, according to documentation acquired by The Verge. The two listed Windows Phones are included in court documents submitted as part of the trial Samsung has against Apple. Both devices are stated to be packing the Qualcomm MSM8960 chipset, which is a dual-core 1.5Ghz CPU that Microsoft has been using for Apollo test devices.

According to the documentation (see above snapshot), the Samsung Odyssey will sport a 4.65" S-AMOLED display (with HD resolution) and an 8MP main rear-shooter. It is also marked as supporting NFC, a feature which is currently being marketed on the Nokia Lumia 610. It would seem that OEMs will attempt to include such functionality to further expand on the possibilities of NFC on the Windows Phone platform.

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Orange Stripes has released a NeatStreets app for Windows Phone. NeatStreets is a service available for those who reside in Australia (website) and New Zealand (website), which enables residents to report on any issues with litter, graffiti, sanitation, footpaths, roads, streetlights, and more. These reports are forwarded to the authorities who will be able to act on the compiled information.

We have a similar Windows Phone app here in the UK, called Love Clean Streets, which pretty much shares the same functionality as NeatStreets. The services are a great way for Windows Phone users to help keep local environments clean and to alert local authorities to anything that's considered an issue. NeatStreets is a simple, yet effective, app which can be utilised wherever the user may be located.

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UK mobile phone retailer Phones 4u has announced today that it will be launching the Samsung Omnia M exclusively. The Windows Phone is said to be arriving into the UK on August 1st when Phones 4u will exclusively stock the device for two months until it opens up for other retailers.

The Omnia M sports a 1Ghz chip, 4" S-AMOLED display, and 4GB of storage, perfect for those who don't require a powerful device and who don't particularly want to splash out on a shiny new Lumia 900. Phones 4u has been able to bag a handful of exclusives on the Windows Phone platform, including the white Lumia 800 / 900.

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Microsoft has, in a round about way of doing things, may have unintentionally announced that the Surface tables will become available on October 26th. In a filing with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission, Microsoft states:

"The next version of our operating system, Windows 8, will be generally available on October 26, 2012. At that time, we will begin selling the Surface, a series of Microsoft-designed and manufactured hardware devices."

According to the original announcement from June, this would be the WindowsRT version of the Surface with the Surface Pro making it to market about 90 days after the WindowsRT hits.

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Yesterday saw the start of a new developer group, this time not based in London but on the south coast in Bournemouth. Scott Lovegrove of Ferret Labs and Dan Thomas of Moov2 conceived the meet up. The core idea in creating the group is simple, to bring developers interested in both Windows Phone and Windows development together. With the looming releases of both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 now seemed like the time.  We signed up to attend the event and were invited to present a short talk. With everything from games development to a platform overview of Windows Phone 8 from a Microsoft evangelist, it proved a very worthwhile trip.

The event was generously hosted by local digital agency redweb. As well as the excellent space, they were able to provide a great meeting room and a fridge stocked with refreshments for the ever-thirsty developers. We arrived after a very early start to make it for 10am to find that the place was already buzzing with devs. We took our places and the talks began, first it started off with a show and tell section.

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Ever since that leak of the Windows Phone 8 SDK a couple days ago, we’ve been slowly finding out more and more about the new OS.

We’ll file this next one under ‘not sure’ but it certainly looks like Windows Phone 8 will have some sort of family-child filter built in either for the Marketplace of in the OS itself.

The evidence comes from the site Windows Phone Hacker who found a simple registry entry with settings for ‘KidZone’ (nested under ‘Family'). Though it may be too early to say exactly what this feature will entail it is certainly interesting. (The evidence is found under Software --> Family --> KidZone in the registry for the OS.)

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Japanese social gaming giant GREE International made a big splash at E3 this year. Nobody expected a massive booth dedicated to mobile gaming at the console centric show, but GREE’s booth outshined many a console publisher’s. And that’s to say nothing of their party at Club Nokia.

GREE had a strong presence at Casual Connect Seattle as well, though their focus as more on developer relations than showing off an arsenal of quality mobile games. Currently GREE’s ‘platform’ extends only to iOS and Android, but we can’t help wishing for some of their games to land on Windows Phone as well. That’s just one of the things we discussed with Eros Resmini, GREE’s SVP of Developer Relations and Marketing. Video interview after the break!

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In a new study just released tonight, Appcelerator and IDC surveyed 3,632 'Appcelerator Titanium' developers from May 11-18, 2012 on their plans for app development now and in the future. Though not a survey of consumer demand the data is but one piece of the bigger picture of how Windows Phone (and Android, iOS, BlackBerry and webOS) is fairing amongst developers. For that reason, it should be considered as a metric but not necessarily the only one to measure interest or future success.

The news is not very good for Windows Phone but there is some light at the end of the tunnel for the future iterations of the OS, specifically the ‘Apollo’ update coming later this year.  That's interesting as Windows Phone has been coasting on ‘hope’ for nearly two years now and developers have not yet completely abandoned it, seeing weakness in Android.

For a complete run down, head past the break…

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Hey DJ!, previously known as Speak To Play, is a Windows Phone app that enables users to tap a button to speak, and state clearly an <artist>, <song>, <playlist> or <genre> and the app will start up whatever matches in your music collection. Sounds pretty neat already, right? We previously covered the app when it was rebranded, was updated with new features and had its price tag slashed.

Now we're excited to report that Hey DJ! has been bumped to version 1.8 and is now completely free for the next 72 hours (until July 31st). So if you haven't already purchased a copy for your Windows Phone, you'll want to do so now while it's on offer. Once the period has closed, the pricing will return to $0.99.

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We’ve previously reported that Windows Phone 8 should be bringing native screenshot functionality to the masses. The function was rumored to work by holding the Start key and the Camera button at the same time and sure enough, that combo works in the Windows Phone 8 emulator from the leaked SDK.

The Windows Phone 7.5 (7.1 SDK) emulator did have native screenshot functionality for developers to take screenshots of their apps but it was not native to the OS itself. At first we were a bit cautious that this may be that function but seeing as this is enabled by simulating the Start-Camera combo (F7 + F2 keys) it seems like this is the real deal for regular users as evidence by the video made by WP7app.de. We have not been able to verify this ourselves yet, so we'll leave a little wiggle room in case it proves otherwise.

Native screenshot ability will be a much appreciated feature for developers who can more easily share shots of their app, consumers who want to report bugs or share moments on Windows Phone with friends and even viral-marketing. That last one may not seem obvious but the more screenshots of Windows Phone float around on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit etc., the more the OS will resonate with the masses.

In Windows Phone 7.x the only way to do screenshots was to have a developer unlocked device and to load a 'homebrew' solution. While effective, such an app was limited to developers only and not regular consumers.

Head past the break to see the video of the screenshot function in action...

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Elemental Breaker from DCT is a Windows Phone exclusive game and will soon be headed to Windows 8. The breakout styled game was released just a short time ago on the Marketplace and out of 71 reviews, the game is averaging four out of five stars. A rating we won't argue with.

Elemental Breaker is a multi-level two times over type game. That is you have three level packs that contain nine sub-levels. The first level pack comes pre-loaded with the initial install and level packs two and three can be downloaded at your leisure.

The main menu for Elemental Breaker has options to play the game, view the "How-to" tutorial, access the settings, view the developer's information, and view your power-up/bonus balls (sixteen all together) that can be earned during game play. Settings are few and cover vibration on/off and sound levels.

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Nextgen Reader, an RSS app for Windows Phone, has been updated to version 3.1, which introduces a number of features, bug fixes, and enhancements. The app enables users to keep up-to-date with favourite sources of information, with support for Google Reader.

The app was previously bumped to version 3.0 back in May, adding a new tutorial to get users started who may not be familiar with the app. So what's new in 3.1? The "my feeds" section has disappeared, with all feed management moved to the main screen. Smarter article viewing is available for when viewing articles with a view button present to turn the content mobile-friendly.

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