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2 years ago

Brandon Watson, Director of developer experience for Windows Phone, leaving Microsoft

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We're getting word in that Brandon Watson, no stranger around here at WPCentral, will be leaving Redmond for greener pastures.  In a recent Tweet he made (and a confirmation we received), he notes:

"The rumors are true. The team is in great hands. I'll miss working on #wpdev. I will the community, but won't be a stranger."

In a way, this should not be a surprise as his old Twitter profile even proclaimed "Entrepreneur on loan to Microsoft focused on getting our developer mojo back." That statement already read to us that this was a temporary job for him with a finite mission, one that looks to have finally succeeded.

No doubt, he'll leave quite a hole to fill as Watson had quite the presence in getting Windows Phone back on the map, working tirelessly to get the recognition it deserved and making devs happy.

Update: Watson is leaving for Amazon. In an email to ZDnet he mentions he'll be taking on the responsibility as Director of the Kindle Cross Platform team and “it was a hard decision, but the opportunity placed in front of me that was too big to pass up.”

Developing...

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2 years ago

Appointile: Appointment Live Tiles for your Windows Phone

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Here's an interesting app for your Windows Phone. Appointile generates dual live tiles for your Windows Phone Start Screen that list your appointment agenda.  AppoinTile is an ideal app for those who are wanting to see more than just one upcoming appointment on their Start Screen.

When you first launch AppoinTile you are taken through a set-up wizard where you choose which calendar to tie into (Windows Live, Google, etc.), how you want your tile to look (number of appointments, days in advance, etc.) and pinning the tiles to the Start Screen.

AppoinTile allows you to list up to four appointments and will reach out as far as thirty days in advance. The back of the tiles can display the date or a 42 day calendar with markers placed on busy days.

The AppoinTile tiles will sync automatically with their respective calendars on a schedule you set within the app's settings. You can also restrict synchronization to only over Wifi/USB.  If you need to change calendars, you can access the calendar settings from the three-dot menu.

If you need a little more information displayed on your Start Screen with regards to appointments, AppoinTile is a Windows Phone app worth considering. There is a ten day trial version available and the full version will run you $2.49. You can grab AppoinTile here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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2 years ago

Free year of Zune Pass at Microsoft Stores with new phone purchase

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We're really starting to hate the fact that there are barely any Microsoft Stores around as they keeping having some great deals. The latest promotion runs from now till February 14th (that'd be Valentine's Day for you Forever Aloners out there) and involves getting one year of Zune Pass for free with the purchase of a new Windows Phone.

At $10 a month that's about a $120 value and if you're in the States, Zune Pass is actually worth it. So keep that in mind when shopping around for the special gift in the coming weeks.

Thanks, Derek, for the photo

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2 years ago

Windows Phone Marketplace expands to 5 more countries

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The Windows Phone Marketplace, which has been expanding at a relatively mediocre pace, now covers five more territories. Argentina, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru and the Philippines now join the 36 other countries that have access to games and apps for their handsets. Todd Brix recently published an article on the official team blog detailing plans for an upcoming expansion, urging developers of those countries to start submitting apps and games.

China is not open to Windows Phone owners just yet, but developers are able to submit content. If you're a developer with global reach, be sure to read up on Brix's latest post walking through this expansion. 

Source: Windows Phone Team Blog

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2 years ago

Nokia Lumia selling well in Czech Republic, Indonesia pre-orders on Feb 6th

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With so much Nokia news these days, we're just going to start recapping what we can to save space around these parts.

First off is the Czech Republic where the Lumia 710 and 800 went on sale two days ago. At least one online retailer is reporting great numbers so far with Alza.cz showing the Lumia 800 as their top seller. Not a bad a start at all and something we're getting used to these days.

Next up is Indonesia. We reported earlier that that country was due to get the Lumia 710 and 800 as well and while no firm date was given, it was stated to be in February. In fact, two large big events are planned to coincide with the launch--one a massive developer day featuring 800 devs making 800 Windows Phone apps and the other a Facebook contest.

Now we're getting word that pre-orders for the devices will start on February 6th with the following offers:

  • Nokia Lumia 800 - IDR 5.250.000 (about USD 585), incl. Nokia Purity HD Stereo Headset by Monster (WH-930) and 12-month of Unlimited Internet package by XL.
  • Nokia Lumia 710 - IDR 2.900.000 (about USD 325), incl. Nokia Purity Stereo Headset by Monster (WH-920) and 12-month of Unlimited Internet package by XL

Heck, we're even hearing that some Nokia flagship stores are being renamed, temporarily, to Lumia stores. Not a bad deal and we're real excited to see how Indonesia kicks things off here as they will be an important market to watch.

Source: Alza.cz (Czech); Thanks Ondřej Š, for the tip; Tekno Kompas (Indonesia) 1, 2; TribunNews; Thanks, ruddevil, for the links

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2 years ago

Skype for Windows Phone is in testing, out soon

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In an exclusive report this morning, The Verge is trumpeting that the elusive Skype for Windows Phone application is "currently [in] testing" and that "at least one source indicated that it could launch at Mobile World Congress later this month." (Emphasis ours.) Wait, didn't we already know all this? Answer: Yes.

Here's a compressed timeline:

We understand everyone is chomping at the bit for Skype. We'll let you know when we learn more and roll out a full review when it hits the Marketplace. Stay tuned.

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2 years ago

Nokia UK video introduces magenta Lumia 800 [Video]

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The magenta version of the Lumia 800 is well on its way with Carphone Warehouse expecting the handset to be available this month. Joining the cyan and black colours, it will be interesting to see how the pink catches the eyes of females and those who would be fond of such a coloured phone (I personally owned a j700 back in the day).

Should you be eager to see what plans you can get Nokia's magenta Windows Phone on, check out Phones4U (link below) who have got O2, Orange and Vodafone contracts available, from just £20 a month.

Source: YouTube, Phones4U

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2 years ago

BusFinder for Dublin Windows Phone users coming soon

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Are you an Irish Windows Phone owner who resides in Dublin? Then BusFinder will be of great use to you in your installed app arsenal. Using Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI), the app displays up-to-date bus departure times across a number of routes throughout the city. BusFinder allows the user to add individual bus stops to a shortlist for convenient access and/or pin Live Tiles to the home screen that list the next three bus arrival times.

The app features Bing Map integration that clearly illustrates that particular bus route and what stops it covers, as well as the location of your current selected bus stop. Sporting a cartoony style interface with a Metro UI feel, BusFinder certainly stands out from the crowd. It will be hitting the Marketplace in the next couple of days, and will be available for €1.29 ($1.99/£1.49).

Check out the video of the app in action after the break. 

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2 years ago

Microsoft seeks marketing and promotion feedback on UserVoice

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While Microsoft already has a feedback website dedicated to Windows Phone owners providing suggestions on features in the OS, what was missing was an official location to allow users to voice their apparent frustration when it comes to marketing and promoting the mobile platform. We've all had issues with the lack of 'umph!', until Nokia came on board and blew everyone away with tripling marketing expenditure when their family of Windows Phones were announced at Nokia World 2011 in London.

We've now come across a UserVoice page set up by the Windows Phone team that allows users to submit suggestions on how the software giant could improve marketing, and vote on other submissions.

"Just like with your suggestions on features to add to future versions of the product, we'd like your suggestions on how we can spread the word about Windows Phone itself via advertising campaigns, community or social media involvement and other types of promotions. Creativity highly encouraged, let us know what your ideas are!"

Be sure to head on over to UserVoice and input your ideas (or ensure that your favourite suggestions get bumped up by voting). We know a good number of our readers have some thoughts on how Microsoft can improve in this area.

Source: UserVoice

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2 years ago

Windows Phone App Review: Ballistica

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Ballistica is a rather interesting app for your Windows Phone that provides a quick, easy way to calculate ballistic trajectories. Granted this Windows Phone app won't appeal to everyone but for those who shoot competitively, hunt or just like spending time at a firearms range, Ballistica can be a very useful tool.

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2 years ago

Quick Look: Take Me Home for Windows Phone

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Here's a quick look at an interesting navigation application for your Windows Phone. Take Me Home is a no-frills, basic navigation app that will generate directions to a series of saved addresses.

Take Me Home has two pages, one entitled Settings where you enter your addresses and assign it an icon and another that will tap into mobile Google Maps to generate directions to your destination.  You do have two options on the Settings Page to turn on/off location services and auto navigate features.  Once you've entered the address, swipe over to the Navigation Page and you can generate the directions.

I like the concept and ease of generating directions to saved locations but Take Me Home only provides text directions. You can tap on the individual step in the directions overview to pull up a thumbnail map but that is a little cumbersome.  

I do like the options to choose walking, transit and driving directions. This could come in handy when traveling and you need to rely on mass transit or your feet to get you to your destination.

The developer notes in the Marketplace description that more features are on the way and hopefully a map view that routes your course is among them.  As is, Take Me Home is a decent app for your Windows Phone but does have room for improvement.

Take Me Home is a free Windows Phone app and can be found here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.  Additionally, Take Me Home Pro (allows you to save up to four addresses) is running $.99 and you can find the Pro version here at the Marketplace.

          

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2 years ago

Pre-order Nokia Lumia 900 for $25 at Microsoft Stores

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Should you be eager to get your hands on the Lumia 900, Nokia's top Windows Phone, then you might want to check out your local Microsoft Store where you can pre-order your own 900 for just $25 down.  Still no word on what the full price will be for the Lumia 900 and the pre-order offer isn't available online.  The 4G handset is set to arrive on March 18th for $99 at AT&T, which other sources have since confirmed.

The 4.3" AMOLED screen, 1.4Ghz processor, 16GB storage, 8MP rear camera (with front-facing camera) specifications are bound to peak interest enough to be reserved for a small upfront fee. 

Source: The Verge

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2 years ago

Nordea Mobile Bank app lands in the Windows Phone Marketplace

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The Scandinavian Bank Nordea has released their banking app, Mobile Bank, over at the Windows Phone Marketplace. It offers customers an easy way to take care of tier everyday banking needs such as check account balances, transfer funds and pay bills.

Additional key features include:

  • Currency converter
  • Mortgage calculator
  • Rate exchange information
  • Stock Quotes
  • News from Nordea's newsroom

The Nordea Mobile Bank is a free application and you can find it here in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

source: Nordea; Thanks, parcp67, for the tip!

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2 years ago

Lumia 800 Windows Phone stock selling out in Finland

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According to a report at e's Phoneblog and Kauppalehti the Lumia 800, which launched in Finland yesterday, has been selling at a fairly fast rate. Jonne works at Gigantti (an electronics retailer) and states that while he doesn't know the exact Lumia 800 sale figures at the store, he has sold more handsets than he did N8s within two days of the Symbian handset being launched. 

Elisa's Executive Vice President, Henri Korpi, told Kauuppalehti today that they have sold out of Nokia's mid-range Windows Phone in some of their stores. Still no numbers provided, but we are expecting to see some positive feedback should figures become available. What makes this story extra special is that Lumia 800 buyers in the land of Nokia are braving snow storms (-27°C) to reach retailers. Now that is dedication.

Source: Kauppalehti.fi (translation), via: e's Phoneblog

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2 years ago

Update: Luma Arcade, creators of "The Harvest", restructuring, still alive and well

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Update:

Sam Williams, GM or Luma Arcade, has posted the following comment clarifying the situation:

I'm General Manager and co-owner of Luma Arcade.

We have indeed begun the process of winding down operations for our current office in Johannesburg. However, our team and production capacity are alive and well. Closing our Johannesburg office is not a decision taken lightly of course, but as more and more of our best production capacity has come from our team in the US and outside South Africa, we've restructured to accommodate working with South African staff directly from our US parent company (which is not a part of Luma Studios) rather than through our South African subsidiary (which also, was not a part of Luma Studios).

We're hopeful that this restructuring will provide a healthier, more productive working relationship for the talented team that remains based in Johannesburg, and put us the best position possible to grow our fantastic talent pool further and keep making great games like The Harvest, and our forthcoming iOS / Android title, Bladeslinger. Stay tuned, Luma's not going anywhere.

If you have any follow up questions, feel free to email me directly (sam.williams AT lumaarcade.com). And in the future, we have a general email for inquiries about the company (info AT lumaarcade.com). Should be helpful for looking into rumors before posting a story in the future.

Thanks,

Sam Williams
GM, Luma Arcade

 

Long time followers of Windows Phone will no doubt be familiar with The Harvest. It was one of the first XBOX Live games for WP7 and is rather stunning.  The company behind it is Luma Arcade, who are the largest game design studio in South Africa. They are based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and are a part of Luma Studios.

Unfortunately we have received a tip that recently Luma Arcade has made the decision to close up shop close the South African office. The decision was a financial one, and it looks like it came down to them not being able to make enough money to continue operations. This is only Luma Arcade South Africa though (and possibly just the dev team), not Luma Studios or Luma Arcade USA which are both alive and kicking.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea here, their situation is not caused by WP7. They have only developed one game for the platform, and that game was sold to Microsoft. The majority of their work is on other platforms such web, iPhone and Android gaming development. Details are still sketchy, and until we hear official word, there is not much more to go on.

The Harvest was a great game, and it's a pity that they did not get a chance to develop more for Windows Phone.  We contacted Andre Odendaal, who is a part of Luma Arcade, but he could provide no comment regarding this.  We've reached out to Lumia Studios but haven't heard back from them.  If we hear anything, we'll pass it on but for now, we'll keep this filed under rumors.

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