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3 years ago

Windows Phone App Review: Track My Life

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Every wonder where you spend most of your time? Track My Life is a Windows Phone app that hopes to tell you just that.  The app records your location every thirty minutes and logs which city your are in.  Track My Life will map these locations on the map (provided by Bing) with a push pin.  From there you can tap on a push pin to see how much time you've been tracked in that city or view the overall stats that will let you know which city you've spent the most time in.

Track My Life is an interesting tracking app for your Windows Phone that does have some room for improvement.  Overall though, it's a nice choice if you're curious what location you are spend the bulk of your time in.

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3 years ago

Microsoft plays with live-surveys in new Windows Phone app BrushFire

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Microsoft's live-survey app code named 'BrushFire' is in early alpha stages of development

The notion of using live feedback and crowdsourcing during events isn't new--heck your teachers probably did when they asked you to "raise your hands" when voting on something as a kid. But this is 2012 and we need something with a little more bite to it. BrushFire is such an attempt.

Made by Microsoft (and technically for internal use only at the moment) the app is is still in the "alpha" stage meaning don't expect it to actually work. But the concept here is what's neat. From the app description:

"This is for internal MSIT use only. The application allows users to complete surveys by supplying a provided code. The application is alpha and only demonstrates the first activity type of survey. Future versions will include other types of activities. You can use the code MSIT to sample the application. "

How BrushFire works, in theory, is when a presenter at a conference wants to get feedback or interact with the audience in some e.g. a survey, they can fire one up and have it broadcast through this app to the audience. The audience can then take the survey on their phones and the info is calculated in real time. This type of feedback is often done with product testing and audience screenings of movies but now the technology can go anywhere and be configured nearly on the fly.

There's no word if the app and service will go forward, be cross-platform etc (though it'd make sense to be on iOS and Android if maximum audience participation is wanted) but the idea behind it seems extremely useful. It's always nice to take a peek behind Microsoft's curtain a bit.

Thanks, anon, for the info

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3 years ago

From the Forums: Xbox companion, SmartGlass and Exclusive apps (Hot Thread)

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In this week’s hot thread we are talking about  Microsoft giving away all our exclusive apps. Earlier in the week we received the news that Microsoft was releasing the XBOX companion app on Android and updating the IOs version to 1.5 bringing features that even Windows Phone doesn’t have. The question here is does it matter? Is Microsoft shooting itself in the foot giving away exclusive apps to other platforms?

In this thread “Well the scumbags did it....just go ahead and throw the ecosystem away” forum member inteller is saying just that. He thinks that by making this app and other Windows Phone exclusive apps available on other platforms Microsoft is killing Windows Phone:

“Stealth update for XBL on iOS adds all the Companion functionality we had exclusive. Let's just go ahead and release Office and remove any other reasons for people to come to Windows Phone. Bag of tools...is anyone running Microsoft?”

These are strong words indeed and tough for Windows Phone users to hear.

We would sit with our friends on a Saturday night and show off apps like this one to our iPhone toting companions. “Look what I can do with my Windows Phone” is what we would say. This app and others like it are how we could show our Windows Phone's superiority. If these apps lose their exclusivity, is this making Windows Phone less relevant?  

Countering this claim is mhans311 who notes that Xbox is the focus here not just Windows Phone:

“Well Microsoft is also trying to promote XBOX and this is a great way to entice a large number of people to use XBOX even more. Besides, it's not a feature that is going to make most people drop iOS for wp anyway.

Oh and they already released a one note application for Android that works pretty well. That combined with quickoffice is more than I need as far as Office apps go. One note was the only thing missing before.”

People on other platforms don't really need Windows Phone to have a good experience with Microsoft products. Why is Microsoft doing this? Shouldn’t they keep these Microsoft creations exclusive or at least make the experience better on Windows Phone?

Forum member Figure 8 Dash has a little different opinion.

“The companion app is fairly useless and will get replaced by SmartGlass this fall.”

We don’t have all the answers here but we do know that some of the upcoming Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 upgrades like SmartGlass will make some apps obsolete. If the apps Microsoft is releasing now won’t be used or necessary when we update at the end of this year does that change your thinking?

Is Microsoft their own worst enemy releasing these apps and making Windows Phone 7 less relevant? What do you think? Let us know in the comments then join us in the forum for the community opinion.

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3 years ago

Nokia's MIA Network Setup app returning within the week for Lumia handsets

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Nokia's network configuration app has been missing for months

Finally some news for all of you who have been itching for Nokia's Network Setup app, according to Nokia Support it's the final stages of submission to the Marketplace and should be available late next week. From a post on their support site:

"I can now let you know that a new version of the Network Setup app will be reviewed this week to go live and it should be published worldwide later this week (wk24). Please be aware that propagation through Marketplace may take an additional 3-5 days after the app is published."

The Network Setup app is crucial for pulling down SMS, MMS and carrier gateways for unlocked Lumia phones. In short, if you've unlocked your Nokia handset and threw in a new SIM you most likely were able to make phone calls but things like data and sending MMS were hit or miss. With this app, you can detect network settings to auto configure your phone.

The app went missing a few months ago without much word from Nokia. Presumably there were some issues with the app and it had to undergo some changes. That process looks now to be complete.

Incidentally, our Lumia 610 did ship with Network Setup pre-installed so Nokia is not losing those on the unlocked phone front just yet. But at least for all others your trouble should be over soon. We'll keep you posted when it goes live in the Nokia Collection.

Source: Nokia Support; Thanks, Shelby M., for the tip

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3 years ago

Nokia releases 'Climate Mission 3D' game exclusively for Lumia Windows Phones (Video)

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Nokia has finally released an "exclusive" video game for their Lumia line of Windows Phones. But no, it's not Angry Birds: Space or anything from EA, it's a little indie title that they had on Symbian awhile back called Climate Mission 3D.

Sounds like a bad 80's movie to us. That or an episode of Captain Planet.

Regardless of Cartman-like reaction it's not half bad. The 3D graphics are well done and the music is chill enough without being annoying. You basically have three mini games--Iceberg, Ants and Trees--which keep you occupied with little tasks like making bigger icebergs, forcing slave ants to do you bidding by collecting pine needles or populating the earth with fruit launching trees.

Although we jest at the theme of the game, considering it's free it' s not a terrible time killer. While the initial levels are dead simple (to train you) it does get a little challenging. There are also things to unlock and do around the globe and we guess the message ain't too bad albeit tacky.

But hey, free is free so if you're on a Nokia Lumia phone go and grab Climate Mission 3D  now in the Nokia Collection. Thanks, Kay O., for the tip

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3 years ago

Windows Phone Game Review: Smashing Planets

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Smashing Planets is a rather entertaining Windows Phone game that is a missile defense styled game.  You are required to defend Earth from evil alien invaders that are determined to smash the planet into tiny little bits. Your perspective in the game is from space and you have an arsenal of missiles to take out the alien ships and bosses before they blow things up.

Smashing Planets has over sixteen levels of play, really nice graphics and addictive game play. It's a neat little game that is a very nice time waster.  Smashing Planets is a nice addition to your Windows Phone gaming library.

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3 years ago

Microsoft's (old) Xbox 720 roadmap through 2015 leaked online [Updated]

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Update: Microsoft's lawyers (Covington & Burling LLP) have had the document in question taken down from the source, tacitly confirming the legitimacy of the leak.

Sometimes we have leaks with small tidbits and then on the rare occasion you get the motherload. That just happened minutes ago as what looks to be Microsoft's entire game plan for the Xbox 720 (yes, even they're calling it that) has just leaked online.

The document is called "Xbox 720 9-24 Checkpoint" and looks to be about two years old, but it is full of some glorious details about what Microsoft has (or had) planned for the living room. Everything from the 720's architecture to its base OS (Windows 8) is online to be viewed.  Ex-Microsoftie Shane Nokes also notes it's "an old discussion deck" but not necessarily that it's legitimate (though the amount of details suggests that it is).

We're still going over the massive slideshow, but here are some highlights:

  • XTV - Xbox TV will be launched "Holiday 2012" and will be what it sounds like. Full support won't be till the Xbox 720 though in 2013. It will work on the Xbox 360, Phone and PC.
  • Fortaleza (Kinect 3D Glasses) in 2014 with WiFi for living room; by  2015, it will have a cell radio/4G for use everywhere
  • By 2015 "Xbox experiences served up form the cloud. Instantly on any screen."
  • Xbox 720 Media Hub - "Record TV in the background and serve up to any device in the household.Stream your personal videos, music, photos and more and play them back from any device. Start and play your favorite Xbox games from other devices like phones and PCs with RemoteFX technology...Take your entertainment everywhere. Start on one screen but instantly  pause and play it again from any other device makes it best way to enjoy your TV, movies and music when you’re on the go."
  • Kinect v2 Sensor (2013) - Better 3D Play Space (closer, wider, deeper); Improved Voice Rec.; 4 Player tracking; Dedicated Processing; Improved HD 

Some now are speculating that Monday won't be a Microsoft Tablet but an "XTV" announcement. That makes sense as Los Angeles is the entertainment home. Regardless, if Microsoft doesn't announce it Monday, you can bet that it's coming soon (if it's to be ready for the holiday season).

We're sure there are more nuggets in there, and we'll update as we go through it. We can imagine there are some nervous folks at Microsoft right now but honestly this is some fantastic stuff.

Source: Scribd (download removed at the request of Covington & Burling LLP); via Michael Gillett (Twitter); More slides after the break...

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3 years ago

NY Times: On Monday Microsoft will unveil their own tablet, will take on the iPad

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We have to admit, we're rather loving this speculation about what Microsoft will unveil on Monday and it finally looks like it's coming into focus.

On Monday, June 18th, Microsoft will take the wraps off of their own tablet running Windows 8 (or a variant of), confirming an earlier report.

The New York Times is now going on record as having spoken to "people with knowledge of Microsoft’s plans"  that indeed, it is a tablet of their own making. As the Times points out, this is the first time in the company's 37 year history that they are making their own computer. That's huge.

What makes the situation difficult is how Microsoft's OEM partners will react--after all, they'll be competing with their own team, so to speak. On the other hand, Google has been making "Nexus" devices for some time now--devices which set the bar for what they expect as far as quality in hardware and design. Truth be told, the Nexus line of Android phones have been some of the most popular as they are both cheaper and more stable having no 3rd party skinning.

If Microsoft heads down this path, the tablet unveiled on Monday will surely be priced very competitively and also be a "pure" device. That notion certainly appeals to us and we're betting you're going to thrilled with it as well. What's more, according to the New York Times, Microsoft is aiming this directly at the iPad making this a bold (and overdue) move.

Unfortunately, there's no word if Nokia has had a hand in this--our bet is they have not. Instead, we're expecting Nokia to show off any new tablets in September at Nokia World. For some reason, we don't think we'll be disappointed with whatever they make leaving fans a tough choice: pure Microsoft or whatever Nokia offers?

The only question we're left is what will they name it? Microsoft has a spotty history in this area and let's be honest, the name is hugely important. (Then again, we all laughed at "iPad" a few years ago). We're kind of partial to "X-Tab" but curious as to what you think they should call it...let us know in comments!

Source: The NY TImes; Thanks, Pierre V., for the tip

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3 years ago

Windows Phone Central Ringtone Contest (Reminder)

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Got some musical chops? Then make us a ringtone and win yourself a Nokia Play 360!

First, we'd like to congratulate Windows Phone Central reader Elvis7. Elvis7 has been randomly selected to win our week one prize in the Ringtone Contest, a $50 gift certificate to the WPCentral Accessory Store.

Second, if you haven't entered an original ringtone, you only have another week to enter the Ringtone Contest for your chance to win a Nokia Play 360. We've already seen several great entries and as a reminder, here's how the contest works:

  1. Create an original ringtone
  2. Post it in this Windows Phone Central discussion
  3. The ringtone has to be original content to qualify. No use of copyrighted music or materials unless it is yours.
  4. You can submit two entries but they need to be distinct and original
  5. You have until June 23, 2012 at 5pm EST to submit your entry.

From there, we'll listen to all the entries and select the two ringtones that stand out as the best to us. Expect the winners to be announced by June 28th.

Oh... and remember, we'll have one more random drawing for a $50 gift card to the Windows Phone Central Accessory Store on June 22nd.

So get creative, get humorous, get original and start working up that ringtone. You will need to register to participate and you can take care of that here.

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3 years ago

Nokia teases us with Microsoft Monday event [Updated]

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What's Nokia teasing for this Monday?

Update -- And we hate to the bearer of bad news but we've heard from a very trusted source that this has nothing to do with Microsoft's announcement come Monday. So what is it? We're told that the area code for Hawaii--808--is the key here. Specifically a new 41MP camera phone called the 808 Pureview--you may have heard of it---that impending announcement is exciting but not for Windows Phone users. Sorry.

Looks like Nokia is itching to tell us something and that something is for this Monday, June 18th. The same Monday that Microsoft is set to announce something as well. Related? Probably.

Nokia doesn't say much on the matter but they did post the above image of the Hawaii islands and what look to be zoom features. If we had to bet, they're hinting strongly at some 3D mapping feature coming to Bing Maps.

Could it also be part of a hardware RT tablet? Maybe. There is currently a lot of speculation whirling around the idea that Microsoft is unveiling their own tablet hardware possibly made by Nokia this Monday but we may need to tone it down and settle for some Microsoft-Nokia mapping collaboration instead.

We revealed that in Windows Phone 8, Nokia Maps will be powering Bing with 3D mapping that is hardware accelerated. This could be a prelude to that as it seems to be intimately related.

Only 72 more hours, give or take, before we find out. Have a theory about the above image? Sound off in comments!

Source: Nokia US Facebook; Thanks, Jack F., for the tip!

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3 years ago

Zombies, Run!, a different type fitness game, is heading to the Marketplace

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Here's an interesting Windows Phone game...

Zombies, Run! is a game (or is a exercise app?)  where you listen to missions that place you against zombies while jogging.  As the mission progresses you earn or collect supplies. After your run, you use the supplies at your your base township. The town in turn uses the supplies to support growth and as your town grows, more missions become available.

Asides from the video game features, Zombies, Run! will also track your distance, time and pace of your runs. A ZombieLink is also in the works to let you view and share your running data online.  The game also has Live Tile support that will send you into the game where you left off.

Zombies, Run! contains more than thirty missions that last anywhere from twenty to thirty minutes. You can play the game while jogging around the neighborhood, around a track or from a treadmill.

Zombies, Run! is an interesting way to pass the time while you're working up a sweat. The app is already seeing success on the Android and iPhone markets and the developer is excited about bring the app to the Windows Phone Marketplace.  The game already has t-shirts and game blog that you can find here at the Zombies, Run! website.

Look for Zombies, Run! to hit the Windows Phone Marketplace towards the end of June with five exclusive missions to the Windows Phone OS. Zombies, Run! will be offered for $7.99 and there is no word if a trial version will be available.  

Source: digitalspy; Thanks, Vanessa and Gopalan, for the tip!

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3 years ago

DEAL ALERT: T-Mobile showing Dad some love with free Windows Phones

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T-Mobile is running a an awesome 2-day Fathers Day sale that includes a couple Windows Phones.

Today and tomorrow, you can snag a slew of 4G phones, tablets and hotspots for free with a new 2-year contract. Amongst the myriad devices is HTC's Radar 4G and Nokia's Lumia 710, which is available in both black and white. All devices are free after rebate and are available both online and in brick and mortar stores.

So if you're looking to avoid one of those "Cats in the Cradle" situations, head over to T-Mobile June 15-16 and get the old man some 4G goodness.

Source: T-Mobile; Via: WindowsPhoneDaily

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3 years ago

Microsoft improving Marketplace turn around times

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Microsoft is constantly working to improve the Windows Phone Marketplace experience. A few months ago we saw a commitment to the quality of apps appearing on the Marketplace. Now Microsoft is turning its attention towards the turn around time it takes an app to go from submission to appearing on the Marketplace.

It now takes three to four business days, roughly speaking, for an app to go through the certification process and be published on the Marketplace. The lag time between certification and having an app available is now about one day.

For example, recent updates for Logoarama and People Search took about four days with the updates becoming available under 24 hours of certification.We are still seeing it take about 48 hours (or longer) to have price changes become visible but the overall app submission process seems to be improving.

Source: Windows Team Blog

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3 years ago

Barnes & Noble, Microsoft and tablets make for some interesting speculation for Monday

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Over at All Things Microsoft, Mary Jo Foley has laid out an interesting discussion linking Monday's secret Microsoft announcement, tablets and even Barnes & Noble.

First up is the tablet announcement. After the Hulu idea was shot down as was Windows Phone (we've confirmed that it's not a Windows Phone announcement, otherwise we'd be there) the rumors are now centering around an RT Tablet unveiling. Specifically a Microsoft-branded RT Tablet which is more or less the same core that Windows Phone 8 will be based off of.

The rumor comes from entertainment site The Wrap who reported:

"But an individual with knowledge of the company said that Microsoft would introduce a Microsoft-manufactured tablet at the event, marking a foray into a new hardware category that would put the company in direct competition with giant rival Apple."

Certainly a plausible idea though we won't really know until Monday as the event is very much under wraps. Should Microsoft be unveiling a branded RT tablet (RT is what powers Windows 8) it will surely make headlines for numerous reasons. Some have even speculated that Nokia would be behind such hardware but Microsoft would wear the name. We find that last bit a tad much but who knows. 

Back to Mary Jo Foley, she has suggested that the Microsoft/Barnes & Noble deal focuses heavily on Windows Phone, specifically Windows Phone 8. The information comes by way of a recent filing with the SEC on the deal which mentions "Windows Phone" 55 times in the document. That's odd only because the original agreement does not mention WP at all.

Foley then goes to suggest that 

  1. There may be a reader ala Kindle of some-type announced Monday
  2. It's based off of the Windows Phone OS, specifically Apollo

We've told you that there will be two HD resolutions for Windows Phone Apollo--720x1280 and 768x1280--both of which are very high resolutions even by today's standards for a smartphone (on a 4.5" screen, the PPI is higher than the iPhone 4S's 3.5" Retina Display). Because of that we could easily see a tablet/reader running at 768x1280 but the question is would Microsoft do that?

We're not so sure. We're confident that Monday's announcement is not anything Windows Phone related--that's from talking with Microsoft PR on the matter who would surely have us there if it were. Then again, if the OS is some hybrid of a desktop OS and the Windows Phone one (for telephony purposes) then perhaps Microsoft is pulling a quick one. A strategy by Microsoft to take on the reader market is surely plausible and the location, LA for entertainment, makes more sense.

Needless to say people's imaginations can run wild on this and we'd rather sit back and see what happens.

Source: The Wrap, All Things Microsoft

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