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Windows Phone News

The Nokia-like Smoked by Windows Phone campaign, Blown Away by Lumia, has gone to Bulgaria with public heading through popular shopping malls in Sofia being challenged to beat the Lumia 800. Already witnessed in other countries, including India which produced some interesting (yet humorous) results, the challenge is successful at pulling in the punters to show off Microsoft's platform powering Nokia products.

Popular Bulgarian artist Deo took to the helm and led the team through the challenges. These included uploading photos to Facebook, opening web pages and posting status updates to social networks - basic smartphone tasks. Should the participant beat the Lumia 800, they'd pocket 50 lev, but if they failed they'd have to publicly admit defeat.

Check out some more shots after the break.

Source: MobileBulgaria; thanks Eirenach for the tip!

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News just in. Tesco Mobile, the mobile virtual network operator (using O2 as its carrier) from the supermarket, has got the Lumia 800 in its arsenal of smartphones. But it's not running Windows Phone. Well... it is, but it isn't. Confused? You certainly would be if you came across the above page.

According to the documentation the Lumia 800 is a Windows Phone device, but it sports a small Android logo to the right. Which is it Tesco? We've previously covered retailers getting it wrong when it comes to labeling Windows Phones, but should this really be happening with the platform being almost two years old?

Thanks Rob for sending the photo in!

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There seems to be a fascination with baking cakes that look like Windows Phones. So much so that Microsoft is hosting a cake contest where you could bake your way into a new Windows Phone.

Entering is simple. Create a Windows Phone inspired cake, take a picture of your culinary delight and submit it at the Windows Phone Cake Contest page over on Facebook. The three cakes with the most "likes" will win a Windows Phone.

Entries must be received by Wednesday, May 30, 2012 and voting ends on June 6, 2012. You can find all the fine print of the official rules here on SkyDrive. This is definitely one contest that could go straight to your hips.

Good luck and happy baking.

Source: Windows Team Blog

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We previously covered the Crunchyroll Windows Phone app when it was released last month, but the app has been recently updated that enables guest access. When the app was released access was restricted unless you were in possession of a premium account, or enabled the free trial. The service allows users to watch over 600 popular anime shows.

So what shows are available on Crunchyroll (website)? The likes of Naruto Shippuden, Bleach, Shugo Chara!, Blue Exorcist, Gintama, Fate/Zero, Space Brothers, The World God Only Knows, and Bodacious Space Pirates. As mentioned above, this latest update enables access to those who don't have a premium account. To enjoy the full experience of the service, one is required to kick off membership.

Advantages of premium membership:

  • Watch new episodes 1-hour after airing in Japan
  • Watch over 3G and 4G network
  • No adverts
  • Access to 720p HD and DVD quality videos (1080p on newer series) on the website, crunchyroll.com

You can download Crunchyroll from the Marketplace for free. When launching the app, you can select to start a free trial, log in or test the app for free.

Thanks Elisha for the tip!

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It's official, Telstra has announced the HTC TITAN 4G, which will be the first Windows Phone to make use of the faster network speeds. After weeks (if not months) of speculation and anticipation from Australian Windows Phone fans, the carrier has finally released details surrounding the HTC monster device. It's actually the HTC TITAN II that launched in the U.S., but will be branded as the HTC TITAN 4G.

This is great news for those who are awaiting for a 4G Windows Phone as this beast of a smartphone not only packs 4G speeds, but a 16MP camera, which we positively reviewed. Will Irving, Group Managing Director, Telstra Business comments:

"Windows Phone fans will soon be able to surf the mobile web, respond to email and access work documents faster than before on the HTC Titan4G – Australia’s first 4G Windows Phone which launches next Tuesday on the Telstra Mobile Network.” In a clear pitch to business users and enterprise customers. Australian small businesses have embraced smartphones to help them work where they want and to stay responsive to customers and new business opportunities.

The launch of the nation’s first 4G Windows Phone means small businesses can perform even more advanced tasks from the palms of their hands – like handling larger emails on the go, capturing and sending high-resolution images and video  and accessing emerging cloud-hosted services direct from their smartphone screen.  Best of all, Windows Phone is incredibly easy to navigate and immediately familiar to anyone who uses Microsoft’s popular Office software."

So we know it's the bees-knees, what about pricing? You can get your own for free on the $79 Freedom Connect plan (after using an included MRO bonus), which includes $800 worth of voice calls and MMS, unlimited SMS and 2GB data. The phone will be available outright for $888, should plans not be up your street.

Business customers can pick up the TITAN 4G for just $8/mo after using their MRO bonus on the $70 Business Mobile Advantage plan (24 months). This includes unlimited SMS, free voice calls to eligible mobiles, and 1GB data. 

Source: WPDownUnder

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Nokia World 2012 was announced earlier this year and is set to be held in Helsinki, Finland on September 25-26. As was the case with London 2011, we expected a single event to be held in a fairly large convention centre. It seems Nokia has other ideas for this year as the manufacturer has revealed plans for a new format with holding a number of events separately.

The first of said events will be held on September 5-6, a handful of weeks in advance than previously announced. More information and details will be published in the coming months, but you can be sure Windows Phone Central will be at Nokia World to bring you the latest Windows Phone juice. The first event will target carriers and large partners, but follow-up events will cater different audiences.

Nokia has stated that we should look at future Nokia Worlds as more SXSW, rather than CES. All we know is that it's going to be an un-missable look at what hardware the manufacturer will have for Windows Phone 8 "Apollo".

Source: Nokia Conversations; thanks Kyle for the heads up! 

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Our friends over at Windows Phone Geek, the developer-based community, have announced their new marketplace (link) that caters for developers who requires tools to help them build apps on the platform. This beta (currently invite-only) Windows Phone marketplace enables developers to buy / sell UI controls, developer tools, SDKs, app templates, source code and more.

So why launch a developer marketplace? The goal is to help developers build high quality apps and offer tools in a single location. For those who have already crafted such tools and projects, they can release them for free or earn a little revenue on the side by selling the tools to other platform developers. Submissions are stated to be free. Boryana Miloshevska, Founder and CEO of WPGeek Ltd, had the following to say:

"Our purpose is not just to list thousands of low quality components, but to list only those that really can bring value and can help developers to build better apps. So, quality and not just quantity is what we aim to achieve with the WindowsPhoneGeek Marketplace!"

Be sure to head on over to Windows Phone Geek to check out the resources available and show interest into the newly announced developer marketplace.

Source: Windows Phone Geek

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The premium version of Rowi has been updated today, which introduces features implemented in the recent Rowi "Lite" release. Without repeating ourselves too much, this update to both versions of the Windows Phone Twitter client makes use of the Aviary SDK (see our earlier exclusive first look) for photo manipulation and editing. 

As well as catering for the die-hard amateur photographers, version 2.1 also brings support for TweetMarker (website), a service that synchronises accounts across multiple clients and platforms. The update is rolling out for the paid version of Rowi as we speak, so fear not if you haven't received the notification just yet.

If you haven't got Rowi, you can download the app from the Marketplace.

Thanks to everyone who tipped us!

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We're not too sure what to make out of AT&T running out of the HTC Titan I and Titan II online but if you head to their site, you can see for yourself.

Now we could explain away the original Titan becoming unavailable -- after all, AT&T would probably be happy to put away any stock on that device for it's bigger and better sequel. But even the Titan II is not available, which makes us wonder if HTC is having some component or production issues (or maybe they just forgot to make more, instantrimshot).

Could the Titan II be selling so well that they can't keep up? Obviously, we doubt that though we do have reports of general increases in Windows Phone sales due to the Lumia 900 (insert the whole "rising tide lifts all boats" idiom here) and maybe, just maybe the Titan II is seeing an uptick in purchases too.

Heck, it should. It's a great Windows Phone and a great smartphone, rocking the largest camera available on the market. Which reminds us, why have we not seen a single commercial boasting that fact? Seems like an easy sell to us but what do we know...

For those interested, Amazon Wireless still has the Titan II in stock, which is a reversal from a few weeks ago. It's also listed at the $149.99 price point. Natch. No word on supplies at local stores either, so your mileage may vary.

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

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RainbowMod? Sounds familiar, right? We previously covered a custom ROM for the Lumia 710 sharing an identical name, and now it's out for the Lumia 800. Built on Windows Phone "Tango" (7.10.8773.98) and based on Chinese firmware, RainbowMod is shipped with both English (US) and Russian languages.

It's required that the owner has configured the Qualcomm boot loader on their Lumia 800. So what's included in RainbowMod?

  • Full Unlock from UltraShot
  • Removed OEM applications (Nokia Drive, Maps, etc.)
  • Search key remapping
  • QuickLaunch menu for quick switching state of WiFi, 3G, Flight mode, Power save, etc.
  • Ability to access file system via WiFi/USB
  • Integrated Live ID, DppImplant no longer needed, but new key can also be banned
  • Orientation locker
  • Added multiple colour themes
  • Easy installation xap from browser or file manager
  • Unlocked Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts (limitation of Chinese firmware)
  • Added Google and Yandex search engines
  • xb0xmod cert for cab-updates
  • Cab-updatable
  • Lots of minor changes
  • Updatability via Zune (not guaranteed)

It must be noted that the ROM creator does not own a Lumia 800, and thus this may well bust a cap in your Lumia's ass. Windows Phone Central takes no responsibility for any damage caused to your device. Proceed with caution and at your own risk. Head on over to the XDA thread for more information and support.

Source: XDA; thanks Maersk for the heads up!

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Skype working on Tango has come and gone with Microsoft and Skype announcing that the rushed-to-the-market Windows Phone app will not run on devices with less than 512MB of RAM. We then saw Nokia announce to the world that the Skype app will run on Tango Windows Phones (specifically the Lumia 610) with minimal amounts of memory. This was reaffirmed by Justin Angel using the app on his 610 to feature on a recent Windows Phone Central podcast.

Now Nokia HK has turned around and stated that they have decided to recommend to Lumia 610 customers that the Skype app really shouldn't be used and will not be available to those wielding the device. See the below quote from an email reportedly sent by the manufacturer:

"Nokia values the user experience provided by its products and services. Therefore, although the Skype Windows Phone version is workable on Nokia Lumia 610, after in-depth testing, we found that the user experience is not up to par with Nokia and Skype's expectation and decided not recommending users using Skype on Nokia Lumia 610. In the future, users of Nokia Lumia 610 would no longer be able to download Skype Windows Phone version from Window Phone Marketplace. However, Skype Windows Phone version would still be available for other users."

Looks like devices that are hitting the bare minimum requirements for Windows Phone Tango will not be able to run Skype. At least for now anyway. We're still looking at the Skype app as a pressed result from pressure mounting up on the teams to get something out on the Marketplace. We do expect the teams to sort out the issues and get the app working on low-end hardware as well as the flagship Windows Phones in the future. Our Rafael looked at why there are limitations with Skype on Windows Phone altogether, which is also worth a read.

Source: WeLoveWP.hk (Bing translation)

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Nokia has unleashed version 2.0 beta of their Transport app for Lumia Windows Phones. We previously looked at leaked improvements detailed over at a Russian Windows Phone forum earlier in the month. The app provides public transport information and guidance when attempting to reach a destination in a supported location (see our early hands-on).

What's new in version 2-point-oh?

  • Find nearby stations, departure times and even types of transit lines available around your location.
  • Improved search:
    • Remember your last search query
    • Change your search without leaving the journey view
  • Improved performance:
    • Faster display of upcoming journeys
    • Faster journey request

You can check out the beta over at Nokia Beta Labs, or download the current version from the Marketplace (Lumia handsets only). Be sure to double check which locations are supported.

Source: Nokia Beta Labs; thanks Simon for the tip!

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From the WPUG WPBarCamp event in London

The WPUG Windows Phone Bar Camp was an effort to attract more attendees from an earlier start, which had everyone (including myself and Jay) head to The Vibe Bar for a 10am start. Featuring a number of presentations not only from developers, but Telerik (the masters behind the RadControls for Windows Phone) as well.

Speaking of Telerik, be sure to check out their white paper on promoting your newly submitted apps. Apps that were presented included Screach, ZuneCardr, and an upcoming child-friendly app that makes use of approved YouTube playlists, applets and more to provide secure entertainment for the kids.

It was great to see some new developer faces on the night, as well as our friends Rafe Blandford from All About Windows Phone, and Boryana Miloshevska and co from Windows Phone Geek. We hope more UK based developers can make future events. Follow organiser Matt Lacey (@mrlacey) and WPUG (@WPUG) on Twitter for more announcements and details. Check out our presentation and some more shots after the break.

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Skydiving and Windows Phone enthusiast Minesh Mandalia has taken his Lumia 800 with him up Mount Everest. Why not? We've previously seen UK scientists launch the handset up into almost-space attached to a balloon, so it makes sense that such a sturdy companion is also taken up the side of a fairly tall mountain. Mandalia is currently studying BSc Computer Science & Management Studies at the University of Nottingham, and wanted a challenge.

"I’m at university and needed a break, so I thought out of all places why not try the Everest Base Camp, I wanted a challenge."

Unsure as to what he'll need to take on his journey to Everest Base Camp, Mandalia decided to take his trusty Lumia 800 in favour of a laptop among other devices.

"I was first considering taking a laptop to browse the internet, update my Twitter and Facebook, and back up my photos and videos but then realised I could take my phone and have all those features put into one small device. It was the perfect size to keep in my pocket so that I can quickly take it out and snap a photo or check the altitude. The best bit was I didn’t even have to take my gloves off when using the camera – I got some great photos."

"My phone handled the trip really well, despite being exposed to freezing temperatures (up to – 20c!). It even worked perfectly when my fingers couldn’t. It even managed to survive everything from getting bashed with trekking poles and hitting walls as you make way for the Yaks and Sherpas. Even in the bright sunlight reflecting off all the snow topped mountains and glaciers, I could still read my texts and messages on the screen."

If anyone has doubts about the construction and strength of the Lumia 800, the above quote is certainly set to put those concerns to rest. It's a superb achievement for Mandalia, as well as Nokia and Microsoft. What apps did Mandalia use on his journey? GPS Satellite, Flashlight 7, Evernote, SkyDrive and Baconit.

Source: Windows Phone UK

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Amazon Wireless has some pretty enticing deals, much like Amazon itself, but the online retailer is now offering the black AT&T Lumia 900 4G Windows Phone for just $9.99 when upgrading, or $39.99 when adding a new line. The Nokia smartphone, which boasts a 5-star rating on Amazon Wireless from 342 customers, is the culprit behind the delays that have occurred in Europe due to high demand in the states.

Powered by a 1.4 single-core chip, and featuring 16GB storage, an 8MP rear-shooter (with FF), 4.3" AMOLED display with ClearBlack technology, and 512MB RAM, the Lumia 900 is definitely no slouch. Will you be picking yours up?

Source: Amazon Wireless; thanks parthp90 for the heads up!

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What? "Birdsong is still alive" you say? It seems the team at Red Badger have been busy pumping life into the old girl, who has been dormant since she was updated to Mango. We last spoke of Birdsong, the then-popular Windows Phone Twitter client, when the team announced that intern Joe Stanton would be tasked with bringing the app back up to speed with the competition. So what's new in upcoming 1.7?

The team has introduced a new trends feature, which is now accessible from the main app bar and provides convenient access to Twitter trending data for users. The feature calculates your location and displays nearest trending topics with the option to view what's trending in a specific city, nationwide, or on a global scale. 

Search functionality has been revamped and is now more intuitive with the main search view retrieving saved searches automatically. Upon executing a search via Birdsong, the app now searches both tweets and accounts simultaneously. The app makes use of the Twitter API for searching, so any saved searches created / manipulated on the app will be reflected on the website and other apps that make use of the same functionality.

As well as a search revamp and trending topics, Birdsong now supports both photos tweeted using Twitter's in-house hosting service and gzip. Previously, any image hosted with Twitter would show it as a link which could not be selected, but now all photos are loaded correctly depending on user settings. For gzip support, this solves the login issue many experience when attempting to connect their Twitter account to the app on first launch.

There are two bug fixes in 1.7, the first being the above implemented gzip support. Twitter altered their authentication API to always return a gzip response, which resulted in Birdsong not being able to process authenticated responses. The second bug fix is for errors with user profiles where the app was making unauthenticated requests, causing the user to hit brick walls with limits being applied by the social network. 

Unfortunately, we couldn't see any mention of the live tile / push service functionality in the change log. Many have been reporting issues with manipulating the settings for said features in Birdsong, where the app would throw a failure message when one attempted to simply enable the service. We hope these known issues will be fixed in a future update, which wont take as long to publish.

Source: Red Badger; Thanks, Kyle, for the tip!

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We're not to sure what to make of this ad for the Nokia Lumia 900 showing up on some sites but it caught one of our reader's attention and indeed, it is intriguing.

The ad is simple enough. It shows the 'beautifully different' Lumia 900 in glossy-white with a 4G icon (this is for the international version, not AT&T) spinning around, displaying various features.

But what is different relates to the Live Tiles:

  1. Contacts - The tiles flip and it says "Meet up with Sarah"
  2. Photo Hub - Flips and splits into two tiles, one with the latest photo, the other with a count

Anyone who has used Windows Phone, any version, knows very well that the Live Tiles do neither of those things. Yet there they are flipping around like they belong there are a new ad.

Now we could easily chalk this up as some marketing error, a glitch made by someone getting Photoshop happy and not accurately representing Windows Phone 7.5--and to be honest, there's a good case for that theory. Or perhaps we're looking at something else, maybe something along the lines of Windows Phone 8 behavior. After all, those are small enough changes that also make tremendous amount of sense for "new features" in an updated OS.

No real way to know of course but if this isn't a Windows Phone 8 leak then Microsoft, you should probably make those changes because they're quite nice. And if a mistake, Nokia you should probably fix it.

Source of ad: PC Advisor; Thanks, Victor V., for the tip

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On Sunday we posted a method by which you can get a free Avatar prop featuring Windows Phone--either a Longboard, foam finger or tee-shirt. All you had to do was sign up for the Windows Phone Insider newsletter and you were sent a redeem code.

Then late Sunday/early Monday we started to get word that the offer had suddenly ended, even before most of you were able to try and get one. Now, Microsoft's KC Lemson has posted why on the Windows Phone Blog.

In short, some jerk managed to sweep up all the remaining redeem codes, locking out future users. What's worse, they're selling them on eBay for $10 a pop.

The good news is Microsoft will do right and extend free I <3 Windows Phone shirt avatar props to those users who received a rejection email, meaning not only will you get something, you'll get a more rare item.

No word though if they'll open this up for others who missed the original offer. From the sound of it, it was a successful program. Let's hope they do it again.

Source: Windows Phone Blog; Thanks, FalconX, for the eBay link

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Although we like playing video games with bombs on our Windows Phone, we have to remember in the real world, bombs and mines are a real problem for war-torn territories.

Evidently a few students at the Military University of Technology in Warsaw have decided to do something about it so they created SAPER. What is SAPER? The name means “minesweeper” in Polish and is also an acronym for “Sensor Amplified Perception For Explosives Recognition.” Yes, that's right,  it uses the magnetometer in Windows Phone to detect bombs, specifically  the magnetic field around an forty different types of explosive material from 30 cm (11.8 inches) away.

In short, you launch the app and let it calibrate in the area you intend to scan. Then waving the phone around it compares the recorded magnetic disturbance signature with other signatures in the database via a cloud-based connection, giving a probable threat cause and even a potential ID of the type of explosive. It even uses Bing Maps to then mark the area for future extraction.

Currently the app is exclusive to Windows Phone and is an Imagine Cup entry though the developers do have plans to extend it to other platforms and potentially extend it to other areas (detecting wires in a wall, body scans, etc.). And no, it's not intended to replace proper mine-sweeping technology but rather to supplant it where it can't be made readily available until a later time.

Certainly this is very impressive stuff and demonstrates just how powerful smartphones can be made--it's a tell tale sign of where things are going in the future. And for once an app on a smartphone will do good for the world instead of just waste time by shooting birds at pigs.

Source: WAT; via Microsoft, Gizmag; Thanks, Bernard M., for the tip!

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Since Windows Phone users can't spend a lot of time customizing their OS (instead we live our lives), there's much focus on the lock-screen. We know we change ours every few days (we use Ffffound for inspiration).

Today, Microsoft has announced a partnership with London based graphic designer Levi Freeman and as a result, they've released eight "officially sanctioned" wallpapers to spiffy up your Windows Phone.

The eight images are nature focused so they may not appeal to everyone (we're more into abstract art here). Still, the designs are nice and they're meant to look perfect on your phone. What's more, the images all have a corresponding QR code for easy download (see, not even Microsoft uses Tag). Plus Microsoft notes that they hope more of these collaborations will happen with Levi, meaning we can probably expect different themes in the future--we like that idea. Levi also plans to release desktop versions too.

There's some interesting tidbits about the inspiration for each image and details about Freeman at his site, so hop on over to grab those images and learn a little bit about their origins.

Source: Windows Phone Blog, Levi Freeman's blog

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