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3 years ago

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I dashes to the Marketplace

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Windows Phone isn’t swimming in platformers, but thanks to Sega we have a new one today. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I is now available on the Marketplace.

Sonic 4 is the first numbered, 2D Sonic game in several years. It features four zones with three acts each, seven special stages (bonus rounds), and five bosses to fight. Fans of the Sega Genesis games will instantly feel at home with the gameplay. Sonic runs at blazing speeds, twisting through loops, jumping from spring pads, and spin-dashing to gain momentum. While the gameplay adheres very closely to the 16-bit Sonic games, Sonic does now have a homing attack to make attacking enemies easier.

Having played a few areas in the Windows Phone version of Sonic 4, I’m extremely pleased with this version. It looks and plays almost exactly like the Xbox 360 version. The touch screen controls (a virtual d-pad and a single button for jumping and spin dashing) are some of the best I’ve encountered in a mobile platforming game. Sonic 4 has all the same Achievements as the Xbox 360 version, plus a few new ones for completing the individual zones. One of the returning Achievements, awarded for beating the final boss without taking any damage, was super tough on the Xbox 360 game. Be prepared for a challenge if you want the full 200 points here.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I costs $6.99, which is a lot, but remember the console version is $15 and this version has just as much content. The free trial contains the game’s first act so you can see for yourself if it’s worth the price tag. Grab it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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3 years ago

Rise of Glory is the Xbox Live Deal of the Week

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We recently mentioned Rise of Glory in our article about broken Achievements in Windows Phone games. The long-delayed update to fix the game’s Achievements hasn’t been released yet, but on the positive side, the game is the Xbox Live Deal of the Week. It’s on sale for $1.99, down from $2.99.

Rise of Glory is the Windows Phone version of iPhone flight simulation Skies of Glory. It puts players in the cockpit of a World War I-era fighting plane. Our review praises the game’s tilt controls and 3D graphics. The controls are challenging, in a realistic way. I pretty much just crashed repeatedly when I tried it, but hopefully you’re more coordinated than me.

Rise of Glory is on sale for $1.99 for one week only. If you’re itching to take to the skies, pick it up here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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3 years ago

Microsoft getting ready to hand out Mango-developer-devices next week? [Rumor]

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WinRumors is appropriately running a rumor story that states Microsoft is getting ready to send out the first-wave of Mango developer devices as early as next week. The article cites anonymously "sources familiar with the company’s plans" so take it with a grain of salt. Still, this is just a matter of when not if for Microsoft, so next week sounds as good as any other week (we also know that Microsoft is getting ready to show of the latest build and features soon, more on that later).

Previously, it was speculated that since most WP7 devs actually own Windows Phones now and they can sideload apps, Microsoft would opt to distribute early Mango builds via a ROM update. But between the number of devices, drivers and the problem of returning the device back to an initial state (if there's a problem) has made such a process implausible, not to mention logistically challenging. Instead, new dev devices with the OS pre-loaded look to go on loan to developers who want them. 

Who gets them first, how to qualify and what type of devices is currently not known, but at least on the latter, modified HTC Trophys (with gyroscope), possibly the HTC Mazaa and something from Asus are possible.

Source: WinRumors

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3 years ago

Rogers takes $100 off the no-contract Focus

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Good news if you're on Rogers and have been wanting to purchase the popular Samsung Focus: it's now $100 cheaper for the no-contract version, bringing the price down to "just" $499 (yeah, it was $600 before, ouch). That may not sound too much of a deal, but some would rather pay that lower price than commit to a massive three-year contract, which still blows our mind. 

Of course if three-year contracts are you thing, then it's only $20 for your time.

Source: Rogers; via MobileSyrup

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3 years ago

Windows Home Server WP7 Connector

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Windows Home Server WP7 Connector

Microsoft has announced the Release Candidate for the Windows Server Solutions Phone Connector for Windows Phone Server 2011. Basically, it's a Windows Phone app that gives you remote server management for your home server.

We mentioned some time ago that Microsoft was working on a connector for the Windows Phone, code named "Vail", and it looks as if all the hard work is about to pay off.

The app will enable remote server management tasks and relay media streams for Windows Home Server 2011. Once authenticated with your home server, the Windows Phone connector will:

  • Give you access to system alerts
  • User management features that include viewing user accounts, enable/disable accounts and password management
  • View server joined computer details including initiating system backup and viewing backup status
  • Stream media stored on your server to your phone (music, pictures, and videos).

The Connector App will also have Live Tile support allowing you to view a variety of "at-a-glance" information that includes count and type of network alerts, storage used on main server, and the server name.

You find out more information on the Windows Phone Windows Home Server 2011 Connector (WP7WHS2011 for shor?t) and access to the Release Candidate download here.

Source: WindowsTeamBlog Thanks goes out to Tim for the tip!

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3 years ago

GPS Voice Navigation scheduled for major update

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GPS Voice Navigation, one of the few voice navigation apps for your Windows Phone, is slated for a hefty update. Developers tell us that they have submitted v2 to Microsoft for certification. If all goes well, the updated version should be available in a few days and will improve upon or add to GPS Voice Navigation in the following manner.

  • Added multilanguage support for both UI and routing for all currently supported WP languages (EN, FR, DE, IT, SP)
  • Significantly improved voice guidance behavior on the road including small features such as roundabout support, composite directions such as Turn left then turn right, timing, etc
  • Improved numerous layout features including better landscape view, smoother animations, more stable behavior of the map
  • Improved searching and favorite destinations functionality
  • Significantly improved map loading performance
  • Addressed a common issue with not being able to find a route in situations when the GPS is not ready yet, or there is an internet connection issue
  • Improved overall stability of the app.

The developer shares that many of the tweaks and improvements are based on user reviews and responding to user feedback. We have been working on a voice navigation round up with GPS Voice Navigation, Turn by Turn Navigation and aSPass. In using v1 of GPS Voice Navigation, we found it to be a very good voice navigation app but with a few glitches. Glitches that should be addressed with v2 and we'll update the round-up before it goes to print.

There is a free trial available for GPS Voice Navigation with the full version of the app costing $6.99. You can find v1 here (opens Zune) and hopefully in the next few days the link will take you to v2.

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3 years ago

AstroSwag and InterSceptre hits the Marketplace

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Leda Entertainment has released to interesting Windows Phone gaming apps over at the Marketplace, AstroSwag and InterSceptre.

AstroSwag is described as a space salvage action game for your Windows Phone. The game features twenty levels of game play, two game modes (Survival and Challenge), un-lockable content and a companion website where you can post your progress and compare it with other players. The premise is that you control (controls line the bottom of the screen) a salvage ship that collect space items that are launched against enemy drones. The Survival Mode has you trying to survive the various rounds to rack up the highest, cumulative score. The Challenge Mode allows you to replay the individual rounds to improve your score within that particular round/level.

InterSceptre is an arcade game that is described as a blend of Pong and Breakout. You face a computer opponent with the goal of making a hole in the computer's wall and get a shot off the screen. You chip away at your opponents wall by bouncing a ball into the bricks (much like you would do with breakout). You can block shots from the computer with your paddle (much like you would do with Pong) to protect your wall. There are obstacles within the various levels of play along with black and white holes that cause shots to curve across the screen or warp from one point to another. To make things challenging, as you win each round, you lose a line of bricks to your opponent.

There is a free trial version available for AstroSwag with the full version running $1.29. There isn't a trial version for InterSceptre with the full version running $1.29. AstroSwag can be found here (opens Zune) and InterSceptre here at the Marketplace.

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3 years ago

Apple to pay off Nokia in patent suit

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Apple to pay off Nokia in patent suit

Nokia announced today that they have reached a settlement with Apple in what was a long string of lawsuits and counter suits filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission involving alleged patent infringement by Apple in their iPhones.  Last month, the ITC ruled that no infringement had been committed, but then followed up by saying that they would investigate the matter further.  It seems that Apple was not confident enough in their case to let the investigation go on, so they have agreed to pay an undisclosed one-time sum to Nokia to close the case.  In addition, Apple will continue to pay royalties to the Finnish phone giant to prevent further infringement claims involving the same patents.

In a press release this morning, Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop, smugly welcomed Apple to the party:

"We are very pleased to have Apple join the growing number of Nokia licensees.  This settlement demonstrates Nokia's industry leading patent portfolio and enables us to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market."

This is a much needed win for Nokia, who has seen more than its fair share of turmoil in recent weeks.  Amongst dropping stock prices and departing execs, it was just recently projected that They would lose their crown as the world's top smartphone manufacturer to Samsung, as soon as the end of the quarter.  This may be the end of legal road, but it may embolden the struggling Nokia to expand their claims to other companies. 

Source: Nokia (full press release); Via: BGR

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3 years ago

More anti-WP7 retailer bias, a fan responds as does Microsoft

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A few days ago we reported on PC Mag's "study" (we use that terms loosely since the sample was so small) on carriers and how they are pushing/not-pushing Windows Phone 7 in the stores, specifically if retail associates were supporting the platform or undermining it. Unfortunately, between their report and your user reports in comments (something we've heard from months too in forums), it seems that the retail associates are far from endorsing the new OS, even to those who are directly asking for it.

Now, two more reporters have run the same tests (more or less) and have had the same results. Jessica Van Sack of the Boston Herald shares her story doing the same experiment:

"I tested that theory at several Verizon, AT&T and Sprint wireless stores in downtown Boston on Friday, every sales rep, without fail, tried to sell me an iPhone or an Android phone while inevitably dismissing WP7 with vague phrases like “In terms of productivity, it’s just not there yet,” or “I’m not really sure about that one. I haven’t really used it.”

Likewise, Joe Romaine of International Business Times relates his story going back a few months ago to a T-Mobile store in Manhattan. The salesperson stated: "Windows Phone 7 is very unreliable. Its has many problems. We get complaints all the time from people who bought them from us." and proceeded to try and talk him out of the device.

All of this, while still anecdotal, seems to back up readers' experiences in the stores as well. However, Microsoft has responded to the matter to PC Mag directly. Greg Sullivan, Windows Phone product manager noted:

"It's true that there's work to do from a marketing standpoint, and we have teams in place that are doing retail salesperson training, providing them with evaluation devices so they can use it and become more familiar...There's a whole host of efforts that are being undertaken to help get the work out, and it does take a little time."

Sullivan finally concludes with hope that the Nokia deal helps in this regard, noting Nokia's strong retail presence. Also, perhaps disappointingly, Microsoft is not yet prepared to offer cash-incentives for retail associates who successfully push Windows Phone. For us, we're still convinced that we won't see any real 'breaking point' in Windows Phone in terms of marketshare till late 2011. By that time, we hope to see such reports of retail sabotaging on the decline.

For now, you can document your experiences by using this website, Windows Phone Tattletale, started by Robert McLaws (This replaces the earlier OneNote method that we reported on).

Source: PCMag, Boston Herald, International Business Times; Thanks, Brianna, for the heads up on 'Tattletale'

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3 years ago

'Breakout' marked down to Free in the Marketplace [Gaming]

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We covered 'Breakout' back in February and gave it high praise for its smooth and addicting gameplay, noting it was one of the best 'brick breaker' type games available (the other is 'Blockbuster'). At the time, the game was fetching for $1.29, a price we felt was well worth it.

Well, like that 'Orb' deal this game has dropped off to completely free--however, we're not sure if this is a time-limited offer or permanent, so we'd recommend downloading now to lock in that price. Highlights of the game include nice graphics (Metro-esque), ability to save mid-game, unlock on-board achievements and even create custom levels. In other words, give it a go, whaddya got to lose?

Grab it here in the Marketplace.

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3 years ago

Windows Phone featured in Havana Brown's new music video

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Confession: We have no idea who Havana Brown is, mostly because we're old and listen to punk. Still, that doesn't mean we can't be a little excited to see some obvious but schweet product placement, namely our prized Windows Phone, in a video by Ms. Brown who we're told is an "Australian DJ".

Her new video, 'We Run the Night' features a unidentified Windows Phone at the beginning for some serious screen time and a focus on Xbox LIVE, some texting and Facebook action. Skip to 0:13 and go up through 0:32 for the main scene. Stay for the dance song, if that's your thing (2nd confession: we love cheesy dance music). Anyways, this kind of exposure is always good to see.

Thanks, Danny A., for the heads up!

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3 years ago

Seidio vs. Mobi: Hard Shell head to head

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Seidio vs. Mobi: Hard Shell head to head

If you want to give your Windows Phone a little protection, a hard shell case is one option that won't weight you down. Mobi Products and Seidio both offer a hard shell case for various Windows Phones. These cases offer an extra layer of protection to the back and sides of the phone while adding very little overall bulk to your Windows Phone.

But does one stand out from the other? Is the Mobi case a better deal than the Seidio? Or is the higher priced Seidio hard case worth every penny?

Make the jump past the break and see how these two cases perform when used with the HTC HD7s.

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3 years ago

U.S. Cellular to offer first WP7 phone tomorrow - the HTC 7 Pro!

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It was just days ago that we reported that U.S. Cellular would be offering their first WP7 phone, an unspecified HTC device, "between now and the end of the year."  Well, it turns out that it would be less than a week later, on June 14th, that customers will be able to get an HTC 7 Pro (aka, HTC Arrive--see our coverage here) sporting Windows Phone 7.  The 7 Pro is available for $199.99 with a Belief Plan w/Data and/or a new 2-year contract.  The final price is also after a $100 rebate in the form of a Visa debit card.

Today's press release hyped the 7 Pro as a great device for multi-taskers and multi-media/gaming enthusiasts who are looking to "simplify their busy lives and have fun too."  It's not clear why the initial forecast was so murky, but the sooner the better for Microsoft, who is trying to break into a smartphone market dominated by Android and iPhones.  It's a good sign that another carrier is bringing WP7 onboard.

You can get yours here.

Source: U.S.Cellular

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3 years ago

Windows Phone Team shows off new Skydrive in Mango

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As a Windows Phone 7 user, you shouldn’t be jealous of Apple’s iCloud service. Most of the functionality in iCloud is already baked into your phone via SkyDrive and Hotmail. The good folks from the Windows Phone Team posted a story to show us how it all works together. It’s a great primer for SkyDrive/Hotmail integration in general (if you don’t already have a Push capable email account, they link off to explain how to forward your current email to Hotmail, which does), and to sweeten the deal they have included screenshots of the improvements we mentioned a week ago. Those features include:

  • Share photos stored on SkyDrive by way of email, text messages, IM - "SkyDrive lets you store thousands of pictures in the cloud. You can show them off to friends on your phone in the Pictures hub, and now you can share SkyDrive photos with anyone over email, text, or Messenger/Facebook."
  • Share videos on SkyDrive - "With Mango, all the goodness you had with photos has been extended to videos. Once you’re finished shooting your video, you can caption it and share immediately on SkyDrive, and the upload will happen in the background while you move on to other things."
  • Browse and search documents stored on SkyDrive - "Windows Phone lets you view folders and files directly on your phone, so when you group things on SkyDrive, you know they’ll be available with the same folder structure on your phone."
  • See what’s been shared with you - "More than 70% of the folders created on SkyDrive are shared with other people, which makes it all the more important to see everything shared with you on your phone. This pivot view will show you the complete list of documents shared with you, letting you open and edit in Excel, Word, and PowerPoint."
  • Search your SkyDrive documents - "If you store a lot of stuff on SkyDrive, being able to do a quick search is important. In the Office hub, you can easily search across your SkyDrive for the document you need without having to wade through your folders and other files."

Overall, a nice little package. Of course, it's already been mentioned by Micrsoft themselves that Skydrive will probably fold into the general LIVE services, including Xbox. So this is just the beginning of Redmond's big "cloud push".

Source: Inside Windows Live

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3 years ago

PlusPoints - App Spotlight

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PlusPoints - App Spotlight

HopNet Software has an interesting Windows Phone app on the Marketplace design to help those looking to lose a little around the middle. PlusPoints is designed to track your diet by a point system, the same point system used by Weight Watchers in their PointsPlus Program. To complete the Weight Watchers tie in, if you use the Weight Watchers eTools, you can access Weight Watchers' mobile site (Weight Watchers account required) from within the app.

For those not enrolled in Weight Watchers, you can still take advantage of the PlusPoints app by tracking your dietary points. Points are based on the fat, carbs, fiber and protein content of food. There is a calculator within the app that can be used to determine a food's points. Daily recommended points are calculated from your sex (male or female), age, height, and weight. From there you simply keep track of your daily intake, trying to eat within the daily point allowance.

PlusPoints is a free application (ad supported) and you can download it here (opens Zune) at the Marketplace. If your dieting and need a way to track your calories, PlusPoints might be worth checking out.

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