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3 years ago

MSN Autos app is ready for a test drive

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Into cars? Neither are we. But that shouldn't stop those of you who are from taking a look at MSN Autos which just went live in the Marketplace. The app is basically a shopping guide for new or used cars and features the worlds longest app description, even though we just told you what it does. Here's a snippet, from page 128 of said app description:

MSN Autos for Windows Phone is your resource for new & used car news and research, whenever and wherever you need it. Check out photos, car specs, reviews and videos; tag cars as Favorites and catch up on the latest news and tips. The MSN Autos app is your resource for onsite research and comparison, so you’ll be more confident when stepping onto car lots.

Whether you are seriously shopping or simply browsing for a new or used vehicle, the MSN Autos app lets you easily find cars by:

  • Make & model.
  • Criteria, including price, new/used, fuel economy, body style, convenience, and safety (even down to rain-sensing wipers).
  • Category, such as economical commuter cars, affordable performance, fuel-efficient SUVs, etc.

The app is just like every other MSN app out there--black, minimalist and for some seriously stupid reason, populated with ads. We say that out of love (MSN Movies is a nice app) but the ads really ruin what should be a free experience on Windows Phone. But putting our late morning gripes aside, MSN Autos is quite a useful app if you're in the mood for car shopping. If that's you, you'll want to head here to the Marketplace. Thanks, Ryan S., for the tip!

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3 years ago

Windows Phone Game Review: Astro Flare

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Astro Flare is a space shooter game for your Windows Phone. It's a fast paced game with plenty of bad guys to blast into smithereens.

Astro Flare has six game modes, unlockable ships, and plenty of power ups to help you battle against pesky enemy ships. Astro Flare is also an OpenXLive game that gives you access to the OpenXLive leaderboards and social network. If you like action packed, space shooters you might want to take a look at Astro Flare.

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3 years ago

Xbox Live: Enigmo update finally available, despite the certification process

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Since its release in May, Chaotic Moon’s Xbox Live title Enigmo has suffered from an unattainable Achievement. I noted in our Broken Achievements article that the developers had submitted a patch to fix the problem immediately after the game’s release. As the months went by, it seemed like Microsoft would never approve the update.

Today things finally change, as the Enigmo version 1.1 patch is now live! The patch regrettably does not add Fast App Switching support – after all, it has languished in certification hell since May, long before Mango became a reality. But it does fix the broken Achievement, ‘Mad Scientist,’ meaning the game’s full 200 GamerScore can now be earned by all. Just beat level 50 or start a new game and complete a level after having beaten level 50 to unlock it.

The length of time it took Microsoft to approve a very simple fix (7 months) is extremely worrying. Whenever a major problem arises in a game, be it a broken Achievement or a game-killing glitch, the big MS’s first priority should be getting the fix out to consumers. Having a sandwich, taking a nap, having about 200 more sandwiches, and then publishing the update is not good for anyone involved. The developers loses sales from negative word of mouth and awareness of the game’s issues, Microsoft themselves lose the cut they would get from those sales, and gamers become dissatisfied with developer and publisher alike. A rethinking of the update certification policy may be in order.

But enough complaining! Let’s just be happy that Enigmo is working right at long last. As our review states, it’s a fine physics-based puzzler with 3D graphics and a catchy soundtrack. Enigmo costs $2.99 and you can find it here on the Marketplace.

Thanks to Selas Dray for the tip!

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3 years ago

Fuse & TVShow dev releases MyEncyclopedia app to the Marketplace

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If you don't recognize the name Rudy Huyn, he's the developer behind TVShow and Fuse, two of the most popular apps on our platform. The reason why those apps are so popular (and revered) is due to his excellent design and coding skills. Even our own developer, Jay Bennett, called him one of the top devs on Windows Phone these days.

So with that intro, how do you not want to take a look at his new app MyEncyclopedia, which according to him is his "...little Christmas gift for all Windows Phone users"? The app is a Wikipedia front-end for Windows Phone, which in of itself is not unique, but the design, features and speed of it make it top notch. For one, it's extremely fast on loading articles which are formatting perfectly for our screens. Second, he's enabled the ability to pull down your location, show it on Bing maps and then show you Wikipedia entries around you--pretty slick. He also used his excellent sharing-screen from Fuse, which allows you to post the article to email, SMS, Facebook, Twitter and our favorite, generate a QR code for others to scan with their phone. Other features on board are:

  • Search in 100 languages
  • Offline mode to view article without internet connection
  • Display the summary of the article
  • Find your favorite articles
  • View previous versions of article

The crazy thing? He developed it 18 hours (3 nights). The app is not only free, but ad-free as well. So if you need any kind of Wikipedia app, we have to give our highest recommendation for this one. Pick it up here in the Marketplace or click the QR code below to enlarge and scan.

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3 years ago

Matt Bencke shuffled within Microsoft to Xbox Live

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Matt Bencke, General Manager for Developer and Marketplace, has been moved (within Microsoft) to the Xbox Live department. The move was announced internally at the end of last month, ZDNet learned from contacts within the company. Bencke had been in the role at Windows Phone since November 2010 (according to his LinkedIn profile - which has not been updated with his new Xbox position) and was part of the team that worked on Microsoft's partnership with Nokia.

Prior to his previous position, Bencke had been a General Manager on the Premium Mobile Experiences (the team responsible for the Kin). The reasons behind the shuffling are speculated to be either technology advancement or simply marketing. For technology, Microsoft is strongly believed to be making alterations to the engineering side of Windows, substituting components of the platform for Embedded Compact guts currently powering the Windows Phone OS. ZDNet notes that the software giant could make the change as early as mid-to-late fall 2012 with its "Apollo" Windows Phone release. On the other hand, it's hypothesised that Microsoft could be preparing to move the Windows Phone team under the Windows umbrella.

The move fits in with Andy Lees being replaced, which we reported on earlier this month. Whatever the outcome is, we're definitely going to see more fusion between Microsoft products. 

Source: ZDNet

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3 years ago

Phonegap framework v1.3 brings full support to Windows Phone

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Developing cross platform apps just got that bit easier with the announcement that the PhoneGap community have released v1.3 of their open source framework for Windows Phone, bringing with it all features of the API.

For those wondering what PhoneGap is all about, the simplest explanation is that it's a development framework based around HTML5, CSS and javascript. This means that if you feel comfortable creating web pages in HTML5 you can now try your hand at Windows Phone Development (or if you wanted an alternative to C# and XAML coding). Of course as the framework is available across several smartphone operating systems you can then port your application to the majority of the smartphone-weilding public.

Going one step further, there is some plugin support for searching with Bing maps as well as live tile implementations, allowing PhoneGap developers to take advantage of some of Windows Phone's unique features should they so desire. Finally, as Jesse MacFadyen details in his blog, existing Silverlight controls (such as advertising banners etc) can be integrated with PhoneGap apps.

What does this mean for consumers? With the Smartphone market expanding whilst still supporting so many ecosystems, developers are increasingly keen to keep things cross platform, rather than write an app for each OS. With frameworks such as PhoneGap now supporting Windows Phone fully, we will start to see these apps finding their way to our devices of choice.

Are you keen to try developing a Windows Phone app using web tools, or do you have an oppinion on cross platform apps versus bespoke developed apps? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: MSDN, via WMPowerUser

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3 years ago

Poll: Does the Lumia 900 exist? (And what about that Lumia 719?)

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In thinking about Nokia's announcement yesterday for their CES event in January, we began looking for more any evidence of the "900"'s existence. There really hasn't been any solid info about the 900, just lots of un-sourced specs and rumors without any hard evidence. That's not to say it doesn't exist, but if you think back before the 800 and 710's release, we had plenty of leaked video footage, isolated pics and more. And that was from over in Europe. Now we are a few weeks from January 9th and outside some questionable renders, there's nothing really to hang our hats on.

So when we looked at Occasional Gamer's "stats" page and we saw a single instance of the "Lumia 900", our interest piqued a bit. Then again, we're not ready to call this a confirmation as even that info, which is quite generic, could be faked. Likewise, there is a "NOKIA Lumia 719" and "800c" listed there as well--those however, seem more plausible if only because they're less interesting sounding. The "800c" is most likely a carrier-variant and the "719"--yeah, that's a bit odd.

Where does any of this leave us? Lots of speculation and little to go on, unfortunately. At this point, Nokia could really surprise us or just give us what we expect (a Lumia 800 on AT&T). But lets see what you folks think:

 

Is the Nokia Lumia 900 real or a unicorn phone?
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3 years ago

BBC News Mobile is looking for beta testers

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If you use BBC News Mobile, the free and beautiful news app that's in the Marketplace, you may want to take the new beta for a spin. Besides being able to try all the new features, you can also give the dev some feedback before submission to the Marketplace, making this app even better for others.

Version 2.8.2 beta has a main focus for improvements: speed. Sure, the app is already pretty zippy, but why not squeeze some more performance out of it by streamlining some aspects, eh? Some other features include:

  • Background Cache Service
  • Better Live Tiles
  • Faster Loading
  • Reworked GUI
  • Picture quality improvement

Heck, there's even a snooze function for notifications (between 10pm and 8am) that we really dig too. Overall, the app is certainly faster on our end and we like the new UI layout for articles. But you can lend your opinion if you have a dev unlocked devices by heading to Gripper's blog and grabbing the XAP file from his server. And if you just want the current version in the Marketplace, here ya go.

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3 years ago

Nokia announces CES press event--new phones on the horizon for the US?

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Nokia has just sent out invites for their press event next month at CES in Las Vegas. While word is mum on what they plan to show off in the 45 minute event, rumors have been swirling for some time that an AT&T (and maybe Verizon) device announcement could be on the agenda. Such a device (or devices?) could be the rumored Nokia 900 "Ace"--a 4.3" screen device akin to the Lumia 800--destined for AT&T and featuring LTE. Other possibilities include an LTE-enabled Lumia 800, which may lack the punch of a 900-esque device but we think would still be a large seller here.

Verizon is also rumored to be picking up a Nokia device or two, presumably because it would feature LTE on board, satisfying their demands.

Either way, this announcement can only be good news for Windows Phone and Nokia, both of which are vying for the public attention. Landing on AT&T and/or Verizon would be a huge boost in numbers and visibility for both companies, in addition to giving customers what they really want, a high-end "classy" Windows Phone that can compete with the iPhone and Android. It also seems to us that Nokia has really put into high gear getting these devices to the US market, especially with the launch of the T-Mobile Lumia 710 and their media campaign dubbed "Rolling Thunder".

Good news for our readers is we'll be front and center at CES for this press event and others, so we'll have your coverage that you deserve.

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3 years ago

AT&T withdraws bid to buy T-Mobile

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AT&T withdraws bid to buy T-Mobile

There is no joy in Dallas tonight.

After thoroughly reviewing the matter, AT&T has decided to end its bid to acquire T-Mobile. Even though the Justice Department, Federal Communications Commission and other industry members may disagree, AT&T still holds the position that such a merger would have been a good thing citing the need for more spectrum.  Spectrum needed to handle the growing consumer demand.

AT&T pledges to continue to be aggressive in leading the mobile revolution but took the opportunity to challenge policy makers to do their part. Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson stated,

“To meet the needs of our customers, we will continue to invest. However, adding capacity to meet these needs will require policymakers to do two things. First, in the near term, they should allow the free markets to work so that additional spectrum is available to meet the immediate needs of the U.S. wireless industry, including expeditiously approving our acquisition of unused Qualcomm spectrum currently pending before the FCC. Second, policymakers should enact legislation to meet our nation’s longer-term spectrum needs."

The penalty for withdrawing the acquisition proposal.. $4 Billion that will be charged against the 4th Quarter of 2011. On the plus side, AT&T will enter into a mutually beneficial roaming agreement with Deutsche Telekom. So while the sale fell through, an AT&T and T-Mobile partnership may still be a possibility.

Source: AT&T

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3 years ago

Windows Phone App Quick Look: Egg Timer

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Egg Timer by MaginSoft is a handy application for your Windows Phone if your trying to boil an egg just right. The mango app is based on scientific methods and taps into your Windows Phone's GPS to calculate the time an egg needs to cook in order to reach your desired doneness.

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3 years ago

Episode 5 of the 'Little Amazing Show' goes live: Paris

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Nokia has posted episode 5 of the 'Little Amazing Show', which is shot in Paris and focuses on happiness. A pretty neat stunt was on Parisian street, where bubbles flooded the area and excited the public with contagious smiles. The video is perfect media for a rainy day, or to simply lighten the mood. Nokia really is going all out with marketing and advertising, and these video montages compliment their efforts.

Be sure to check out the previous episodes if you haven't already:

Source: YouTube (Nokia)

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3 years ago

The Misfit Toys and Hermey play with Bing on Windows Phone

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In a nice nod to nostalgia, Microsoft has made a Bing commercial featuring the toys from the 1964 TV special 'Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer' in addition to that troubled little elf, Hermey.

While Yukon Cornelius drags the misfits on a sled, he soon pops his back. Hermey, now technologically modern, whips out a little clay-mation Windows Phone and Bings 'hot yoga'. Both hilarious and informative, the commercial is our new favorite. But that's the power of childhood memories for you.

Source: Discover Bing; Thanks, Vector555

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3 years ago

Rumor: HTC introducing 4G LTE Windows Phone early 2012 on AT&T

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According to a report published over at BGR, HTC is set to launch a 4G LTE Windows Phone in early 2012, on AT&T. According to 'trusted sources' (get the pinch of salt ready), HTC will be releasing fewer handsets next year, leaving the release schedule "shockingly quiet" (makes sense to focus on quality). Two new devices were revealed, a flagship Android handset and the manufacturer's first LTE Windows Phone. The latter is questionably going to be Titan-like, sporting a 4.7" screen.

The new 4G LTE Windows Phone is slated for an apparent release on February 5th. Should the rumours prove to be true, as well as the ones surrounding the upcoming Nokia LTE device, 2012 will be an exciting year for the platform to move on up. Of course if a 4G LTE Titan is right around the corner, how many of you will be a little annoyed that you just bought the HSPA+ version? Needless to say, CES in January should be interesting...we'll be there to cover it live.

Let us know your thoughts below.

Source: BGR, thanks TheWeeBear for the tip!

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3 years ago

Nokia Lumia 710 coming to Three UK

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Nokia Lumia 710 coming to Three UK

Things have changed at Three UK, as it was only a few months ago that we ran the story of the carrier making the decision as to whether or not the company should continue to stock Windows Phones. The carrier was on the wagon back in 2010 with the Samsung Omnia 7, but has now been effectively pushing the Nokia Lumia 800 since its release. Should you be waiting for the Lumia 710 and be on Three, then you'll be happy to learn that the carrier is bringing Lumia 710 back.

Be sure to head on over and register your interest for updates.

Source: ThreeUK, thanks TheWeeBear for the tip!

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