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3 years ago

ESRB game ratings start to appear in Windows Phone Marketplace

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The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) recently launched an initiative to expand their converge to mobile games. Meant as a guide for parents, the system boasts that familiar "Rated E for Everyone" slogan we hear during TV commercials for PC and console games. Whether you agree with it or not, it is a system (albeit arbitrary) that serves as a framework for keeping parents in the know.

Microsoft signed up for the mobile ESRB system while interestingly Google and Apple have both skipped out. Now, we're finally seeing the first rollout as a few games are receiving their "E for everyone" stamp in the Windows Phone Marketplace. Our only concern is that this is one more hoop for Xbox LIVE developers to jump through to get their games approved thereby potentially slowing down the process of publishing. So far, we've seen Angry Birds and the indie game MathZia Free with the ratings being displayed.

So why are Apple and Google eschewing such a system? Mostly because they already have age-restricted controls for parents in the Marketplace that can serve as a cutoff. Devs supply info for "ratings" when their app is submitted and that is what qualifies the app for age requirements. In other words, it's self policing and both companies seem okay with that method. The ESRB is an outside, independent board that "parents can trust" but it too relies on devs filling out "a detailed questionnaire" which then results in an automated rating. The big gaming titles are fully reviewed by the ESRB while smaller titles are left up to self-policing, making it an analogous system to what Apple and Android already have. Granted, if a game receives complaints the ESRB will investigate and review the game in question, but for the most part it is based on the honor system.

Personally, we'd rather see Microsoft implement their own system with age-restrictions so that parents can be best served and adults could get more "mature" games on our platform. Because right now, the ESRB-mobile rating system seems to confirm what we know: Microsoft will only allow "E for Everyone" type games on the Marketplace and that to us is an unnecessary limitation (we're looking at you, "green blood"). [Evidently, Twin Blades is now "T for Teen" though we're not confident that games with red blood and/or "M for Mature" will be allowed on the Marketplace]

Additional ESRB-mobile information via GigaOm; Thanks, jc_agga, for the Angry Birds tip

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3 years ago

Nokia Lumia Windows Phone launch party in Prague [Video]

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Taking note of a number of Lumia 800 launch parties occurring across the world, the Czech Republic has joined in with Nokia putting on a show in Prague on January 26th to celebrate the launch of the 710 and 800 (February 1st). Two hundred journalists, developers and devoted fans were selected for the event, which featured a number of cool presentations and gimmicks.

From Windows Phone cakes to a water-rippling Lumia 800 floor projection, it looked like a unique experience to say the least. Nokia also began advertising the 710 and 800 in Prague (and beyond) as can be seen in the below photo, taken by Martin Suchan in a subway. 

Source: YouTube, @MartinSuchanthanks Thomas for the tip and video!

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3 years ago

Windows Phone Game Review: Bubble Eyes

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XIMAD has a new Windows Phone game over at the Marketplace. Bubble Eyes is a chain reaction, puzzle game that is well animated and rather challenging.

The goal is to remove all the eyes from the playing field within the allotted moves or touches. The fewer the touches, the higher the score. Bubble Eyes has Scoreloop integration to manage the online leaderboard and has two game modes, Arcade and Challenge. Plenty of gaming to keep you entertained.

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3 years ago

Timelapse Pro updated with Skydrive support

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Timelapse Pro is a handy app for your Windows Phone for time lapse photography. We took a look at it a while ago and found it to be a very nice photography app for your Windows Phone. Timelapse Pro was recently updated to version 2.5 that adds Skydrive support and the ability to create animated .gif files from your time lapse footage.

You can still create videos from the time lapse photos through third party apps such as Windows Live Movie Maker. But if you need a quick way to generate an animated presentation from your pictures, the .gif creator comes in handy.

Once you finish capturing your photos, when you go to preview the footage you will still see the options to record more photos, save photos, or delete the picture set.  With version 2.5 the option to upload the video comes into play.

When you choose to upload the video you will be taken to an upload wizard where you choose the resolution size (up to 480x360).  Once the .gif is created you can choose where to upload the .gif file to. You can choose your Skydrive account or upload the file to Timelapse Pro's server (20mb size limit). Once uploaded you will be provided a link that you can share as you wish (email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

All in all, the update improves Timelapse Pro rather nicely. There is a trial version available (doesn't support the .gif upload feature though) and the full version of Timelapse Pro will run you $.99.  You can find Timelapse Pro here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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3 years ago

Lumia 800 Windows Phone confirmed for Australia carriers, also coming in white

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Nokia has confirmed the upcoming arrival of the Lumia 800 to Australia in a press statement today. Not only that, but the manufacturer stated that the handset will be available in cyan, magenta, black and the rumoured white. Australian carriers (Optus, Telstra and Vodafone) have shown interest in Nokia's Windows Phone (possibly due to the launches that have been hosted across the world), which is good news for those who are looking for better platform support and more generation two handsets.

We've continuously seen reports of frustration from consumers in Australia due to the lack of support from not only the carriers, but Microsoft itself. With Nokia tackling world domination, looks like this commonwealth nation will be seeing some love. If you're interested as to when Telstra will be sporting the device, be sure to register your interest.

Check out the press release after the break.

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3 years ago

Voice controlled music playback comes to Windows Phone with Speak To Play

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The ability to play your music via voice command was something that Windows Mobile users were accustomed to back in 2006. To not have the ability to say "Play <insert artist>" on a Windows Phone in 2012 is a bit absurd but we'll assume that something had to be cut for those 500 new features in Mango.

However, an app is now available that fulfills this task: Speak To Play by developer Puno-Z. The app is a clean, minimalist design with a large microphone graphic that you "push to speak". From there you can tell it to play an artist, song, album, playlist or even genre.

In our usage with it tonight, we'll agree with those multiple five-star reviews in the Marketplace--it works very well. We had no issues with it recognizing what we wanted to do and it gets the job done. It's of course still not as nice as being able to run TellMe via the Search button "from anywhere" in the OS--having to launch an app and then push the button is still more task-intensive than we'd like. But until Microsoft blesses us with this function, Speak To Play is the next best thing.

The app fetches for $1.99 in the Marketplace with a free trial. That's a bit high in our mind but if you think you would use this feature a lot then it's probably worth it. You can of course trial it before you buy to make sure you're getting what you want. Pick it up here in the Marketplace. Thanks, Ben H., for the tip!

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3 years ago

Windows Phone Summary of the Week: January 23 - 29 2012

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Because it's Sunday we have our weekly Windows Phone news recap. Everything that's worth knowing from our news stream, which you may have missed, will be included in this roundup for your convenience. Before we crack on with the summary, we simply must plug our own app. Jay Bennett has been hard at work bringing version 2.1 to the table, which is now available on the Marketplace. It's the best way to get Windows Phone news while on the go.

As well as our app being updated, we have the latest discussions taking place on our WPCentral forum. We have a section of the community completely dedicated to the general discussion of the operating system itself, which has proven to be pretty darn popular with not only members, but visiting guests too. Be sure to head on over and engage with other members of the Windows Phone community. Let us move on with the summary, join us after the break.

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3 years ago

Wordfeud now available on the Windows Phone Marketplace

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Seems as though we've been taken by surprise with Wordfeud as the title is now available on the Marketplace. We previously looked at the app when the developers noted that they were looking at a February 1st release, but one could assume they couldn't wait much longer.

The multiplayer Scrabble clone comes packed with push notifications, Live Tiles, opponent chat, cross-platform support and more. Check out some highlighted features below:

  • Choose to play with friends or be matched up against random opponents
  • Play in 30 simultaneous games
  • Random board option to mix up the DL, DW, TL, TW tiles
  • Push notifications informing you of opponent's latest move
  • Uses English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish dictionaries
  • Chat with your opponents

You can download Wordfeud from the Marketplace fully functional and free with ads or $2.99 with no ads. (Update: Link fixed)

Via: WP7.nl, thanks Mark for the heads up!

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3 years ago

Official SnapCrowd cloud app headed to Windows Phone [Video]

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SnapCrowd is a popular cloud-sharing/hosting service for digital media that was introduced late last year. What makes SnapCrowd different though from say Dropbox or even Skydrive is the ability to upload content unaltered/resized, support for 300 different photo formats (including RAW), resume of uploads, streaming of video and music and the best part in our opinion--subusers for your account. What that last part means of course is that you can have multiple users share and access the same account which is certainly unique feature for many. Finally, the service also has some of the best security around including SSL / TLS and HTTPS protocol layers, for you privacy gurus.

So we're quite excited to see an official app headed to Windows Phone with a planned release date of March. The app features all the main aspects of the cloud service including video, music, photos, contacts and document support in addition to streaming of media.

What makes SnapCrowd great, from our perspective, is how robust and feature-rich their service is--it's not just file storage, but the playback ability, the generation of album art, the option to stream whole movies, share with multiple users, etc. that seemingly makes it a good sell. The service is free for 10GB of storage (for a limited time) and one subuser account and then goes to $59 for 50GB of storage and $99 for 100GB of storage with increased subusers.

We will keep you posted on its progress. Read more on SnapCrowd at their website: Snapcrowd.com

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3 years ago

Marriage proposal using Wordament and a Windows Phone

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An active player (munkiiyebee) of Wordament has built a custom version of the game, which was used when he proposed to his girlfriend. The word search type game puts the player up against others from around the world where every player competes on the same board to achieve the fastest time. So how did he use it for the proposal?

In the above video, we see the fan/developer's custom port of Wordament that was used by his girlfriend, and as you can see the words required to be found spell out "Will you marry me?". A cheesy, but original touch since they both play the game frequently. To wrap up this story positively, his girlfriend (now fiancé) said yes. Awwh.

Source: YouTubeWordament, via: WPSauce, thanks HD7guy for the tip!

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3 years ago

Official Foursquare app gets more languages, push notifications

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We haven't seen the official Foursquare app get an update in quite some time. In fact, we've heard some isolated reports that the leaderboard tile stopped updating for some. So it's nice to see the official team update their app (and play catch-up to 4th & Mayor).

Version 2.9 is now live in the Marketplace and features the following changes:

  • Portugese, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese and Russian language support
  • Push notifications to get instant friend check-in updates on pinned tile
  • Leaderboard pinned tile backside to see where you stand compared to your friends

The extra language support is great, especially as Windows Phone expands globally to those new markets. The push notifications we've seen before in 4th & Mayor and quite fun to keep track of your friends's updates. Finally, hopefully this update will fix that stuck leaderboard for some of you. You can pick up the updated Foursquare app here for free in the Marketplace. Thanks, Rob and Aaron, for the tip!

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3 years ago

Nokia Lumia 910 with 12MP camera listed on Dutch site

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We've been hearing rumblings of a Nokia Lumia 910 recently--basically a Lumia 900 but with a 12.1MP camera instead of the 8MP on the AT&T version. That's not too shabby if true, especially for our European friends who are rumored to be getting the updated version by mid year.

Now we have the Lumia 910 showing up on a Typhone.NL a Dutch retail site for smartphones. The phone is clearly marked as the 910 and low and behold even has a matching 12MP camera to match those rumored specs. Could be coincidence, could be a retail site drumming up some hits or it could very well be the first solid evidence that this bad boy is coming sooner than later. Everything else is there too: 16GB of storage, front facing camera, HSDPA (21 Mb/s) and that 4.3" screen, of course.

In fact, dare we we say we're expecting Nokia to show of the Lumia 910 next month in Barcelona? They're not going to just re-hash a 900 release are they? We think not...

Source: Typhone.NL; via WPSauce

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3 years ago

WhatsApp gets hot fix for broken media with v1.7

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WhatsApp hit v1.6 the other day and right away many of you noticed that you lost the inability to view media--specifically received photos and videos--within the app. That sure is a deal breaker. As we reported the next day, the developers had a mea culpa, confessing that an errant build of the app was submitted to the Marketplace causing the problem.

Now, v1.7 (technically v1.6.2) is live in the Marketplace and it fixes (hopefully) that media-messaging issue and in addition, you get two new functions as well:

  • Able to read and change group icon
  • Improved scrolling behavior

Sure, the app still lacks some personality in regards to the UI in our opinion but at least the developers quickly fixed what could have been a disastrous release. Hopefully we'll see some more added functions in future updates.

Grab the updated version of WhatsApp here in the Marketplace for free. Thanks, Kirk, for the tip!

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3 years ago

Windows Phone 7.6 "Tango" to feature native Google+, Skype in alleged screenshot [Updated]

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File this under rumor, folks, as these screenshots can easily be faked, but PocketPC.ch is reporting that Windows Phone "Tango" will be known as Windows Phone 7.6 and has the build number starting at 7.20.1050.5. More importantly, they allege that it will include Google+ in addition to Skype. Via Bing Translator:

"In this early beta phase, the implementation of Skype and G + is still rather experimental. Telephoning via Skype seems to work not as yet, but it is prepared. G + chat and Skype chat work but already well. The front camera, which will be the next generation of Windows phones standard, is included in the Skype video calling. It is thus possible to receive video calls and to make, but in the pre beta with some problems and crashes. That Google Hangout, the video calling G +, will also follow, is likely, but the timing is still unclear, given that the API of G + is still not so far advanced, to make this possible."

In other words, the reason we have not yet seen an app for Windows Phone is because Microsoft has evidently pushed up the integration from Apollo (Windows Phone 8) to Tango (Windows Phone 7.6), making this update much more significant. In addition, Microsoft is also evidently pushing out Google+ into the mix which makes sense from a "cover the market" perspective, but should be surprising to many including those on Android, assuming it is true.

Hopefully we'll find out more in the coming weeks as to the validity of this leaked image and the content therein. But if accurate, "Tango" looks to be quite major, indeed.

Edit: As pointed out in comments by J45PER, the font for the o's in "Google" look and are spaced differently than "Facebook", calling into question the validity of the image. However, it's not clear if PocketPC.ch is claiming the screenshot is real or were just using it for illustrative purposes.

Edit 2: The source, PocketPC.ch, is denying that they faked the story or image. We of course have doubts like you, but we'll find out soon enough. Link to the "new" watermarked image, for what it's worth.

Source: PocketPC.ch; Thanks, Benjamin, for the tip!

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