3 years ago
Is "Xbox Live Music" the future of "Zune"?
A recent job posting over on Microsoft Careers has caused a wave of speculation that Zune music services may be getting renamed to "Xbox Live Music." The posting, entitled "Business Manager-IEB-Xbox Live Music Marketplace," calls for a candidate who is "passionate about driving [Microsoft's] first party Music business in the US across multiple tuner end points; Xbox 360, Windows Phone 7, PC, WWW and Bing." Most notably, the would-be Interactive Entertainment Business team member would be "responsible for management of relationships with two of the four major record labels as well as a number of high profile indie labels, and creating strategies around content to drive the Zune Music business."
The new moniker seems to be in line with Microsoft's decision to kill off the Zune music player back in March, followed by the guarantee that their Zune Hardware Business Developer would "be going to work tomorrow." The Zune media player never quite took off the way MS would have liked, but the marketplace was a great infrastructure in which to base WP7's app store. Perhaps the potential name change is simply the first step in a re-branding to bring Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, and Zune together. One green ring to rule them all!
Source: Microsoft Careers; Via: WPSauce
3 years ago
Pocket God and Puzzle Quest 2 updated, just in time for the Royal Wedding
It’s Xbox Live game updates day at WPCentral. First we covered the news of Full House Poker and Hexic Rush’s updates, and now we’re revealing the recent update contents of Pocket God (review) and Puzzle Quest 2.
Pocket God version 1.1 changelog:
- Added the Double Rainbow All The Way Across The Sky episode
- Miscellaneous bug fixing and optimization tweaks
The iOS version of Pocket God receives regular updates, called Episodes. It has 38 episodes so far. Prior to the version 1.1 update, the Windows Phone version only included the first 32 episodes. Double Rainbow is actually episode 35, which means two episodes have been skipped. The missing episodes both involve a new area, Ape Mountain, that hasn’t made it to WP7 yet.
What changes does Double Rainbow All The Way Across The Sky bring? According to Wikipedia, it "adds the ability to draw a double rainbow in the sky (referring to the internet meme). The Pygmies will react to the rainbow. This is the first update where the Pygmies can actually talk, when showing reactions from the double rainbow.”
Pocket God’s Achievements are notoriously difficult, which is surprisingly given the game’s utterly casual nature. NGMOCO, the developer who handles the Windows Phone port of Pocket God, assures us that Achievement difficulty will be addressed in a future update. Hopefully Ape Island makes it into the next update too. At any rate, Pocket God fans should be glad to know that NGMOCO hasn’t forgotten them.
Puzzle Quest 2 version 1.1 update includes:
- The Cheating AI and PWNT! Achievements are now attainable.
Nobody likes glitched Achievements, so it’s good to see Namco has fixed Puzzle Quest 2’s. Now if they’d only fix the game’s lofty price… Puzzle Quest 2 is a puzzle RPG, not unlike Castlevania Puzzle. The original console Puzzle Quest is one of my all-time favorite games. We’ll review the slightly less impressive Windows Phone sequel sometime soon.
You can find Pocket God for $2.99 here (Zune link) on the Marketplace. Puzzle Quest 2 is a much steeper $6.99 here. Both games have free trials. God save the Prince, gov'nah. Cheerio!
3 years ago
AppMakr Gaining Popularity
If you're interested in developing a Windows Phone App, there's a terrific online source that will allow you to build Windows Phone 7 apps using a point and click solution. We've mentioned AppMakr before and the online app building resource is gaining popularity with developers of all levels.
AppMakr will offer developers a Windows Phone Mashup Application template where you can create apps that will pull from one or more RSS/Atom based feeds. You have generic artwork or you can create your own to personalize your app.
Just checking out the comments on various Microsoft's MSDN developer blogs, Susan Todd posts,
"AppMakr is really quite easy to use. It is fast, with the most time taken on finding the content to include, making the feeds (if necessary) and doing the artwork."
Joe Healy adds,
"I think AppMakr is viable for crunch-n-munch type RSS applications. Experiment with it. Certain application styles will work well with appmakr."
Other MSDN blogs offer similar positive comments on the online development resource as well as tutorials. Personally, I've tinkered with AppMakr enough to agree that it is a very good resource for app development. AppMakr was recommended at a recent App Garage workshop as a great starting point for those interested in getting involved with app development.
You can find out all the details over at AppMakr's website. If you've had any experiences working with AppMakr or tips to share on building apps with AppMakr, feel free to share them in the comments.
3 years ago
Full House Poker and Hexic Rush receive minor updates, but we cheer them on anyway
Two Microsoft Game Studios titles recently received software updates – Full House Poker (review) and Hexic Rush (review). We’ve worked tirelessly from the moment they were updated to find out just what was changed, and it has finally paid off. Don’t say we never did anything for you!
The following issues were fixed in the Full House Poker version 1.1 update:
If listening to Zune music while playing the game, and you turned the game music volume all the way down (in the game settings), after exiting the game, you could no longer turn up the volume on your Zune music without rebooting the phone. The game music slider no longer controls the Zune music volume as that’s what the phone volume buttons control.
If you tombstoned during a tournament at the right time, when you went to continue your game the blinds would reset to 5/10. This was very frustrating in a high buy in game or late in a tournament where they should be much higher.
It’s great to have both of these issues fixed. However, Our own George Ponder has recently experienced a separate problem with his temporary save game (not the permanent one) disappearing, so we hope to see that tackled in the future.
Hexic Rush version 2.3 update:
The Hexic update was to fix a NoDo media playback change in XNA.
What’s that, you want more details? It’s pretty technical … Microsoft XNA developer Nick Gravelyn’s blog explains that post NoDo update, Windows Phone applications and games are no longer able to mute or alter the volume of the Zune media player, should audio files be presently active. Not a very exciting title update, but it’s nice to see that Microsoft hasn’t forgotten about Hexic Rush.
There you have it! You can get Full House Poker here and Hexic Rush here. Both games cost $2.99 and have free trials.
Thanks to WPCentral’s Richard Edmonds for help in deciphering the XNA blog post.
3 years ago
Nokia's Elop talks Windows Phone: it's "possible" to see first WP device this year
Nokia's Stephen Elop sat down for a fairly extensive interview on all things Nokia. Of course a few tidbits about Windows Phone 7 came up as well, plus Nokia's general strategy going forward.
Elop is still making the distinction between shipping in volume and when we'll 'see' the first Nokia-Windows Phone handsets--the former being in 2012, the latter end of 2011. But the distinction is a little more clear now with 2012 looking to not only be when we see mass shipping, but a whole range ("portfolio") of devices coming from Finnish company. The other date is the last quarter of 2011 where there's a good chance, according to Elop, that we'll see at least a Nokia-Windows Phone. That strategy seems to make sense to us as they want something, anything out their ASAP.
Elop also noted that release dates will be announced very close to product availability, meaning we won't be getting any large lead times on new devices, but possibly only weeks before launch (this is to aid any "delays" that may occur e.g. the Verizon router, ahem).
Edit: if the video doesn't play, just hit the link in the title above or go to the source
Source: Areena; Thanks, Aki Antman, WPSauce for the tip
3 years ago
Flickr goes to v1.4, finally fixes 'black screen issue'
Funny thing: the 'black screen issue is actually white if you use the "light" theme for Windows Phone 7. But that's not really what you want to hear, is it? You want to hear that Flickr finally manged to get rid of one of the most pesky bugs with their otherwise sweet app: the blank screen when launching. (Which we thought was fixed in v1.3...har har)
Well, good news is v1.4 is now live in the Marketplace and it address exactly that problem. Having tried it ourselves, we can vouch for its authenticity--it really just works now. So go ahead and grab the update or hit the link here in case you want to re-install. And if you don't care for their official version, we have to give mad props to the 3rd party app Flickr Manager, which is even better in some ways (e.g. viewing your stats). Grab that app right here.
Thanks, deeper2k, for the heads up
3 years ago
Microsoft hosting 'Mango' event, will feature ‘wall of live tiles’
We just got word that Microsoft is sending out some invites to developers regarding the Live Tile in their apps. In short, Microsoft is looking to host a 'Mango' event (possibly TechEd 2011) and they want a big 'ol wall of Live Tiles to show off to the crowd. Sounds a bit similar to the 'Developer Wall' at MIX11 recently, though this would obviously be digital with the Live Tiles in action. From the email:
I am reaching out to you to gauge your interest in having your app participate in an upcoming ‘Mango’ event. If you are interested in participating, please reply by Thursday of this week (April 28, 2011); we will need to receive the files by noon PDT on Thursday, May 4.
As a Windows Phone developer, you are likely aware that we unveiled the developer platform for the next major release of the Windows Phone, codenamed ‘Mango’. We have an upcoming event where we would like to feature your app as part of a ‘wall of live tiles’ display to highlight the interactivity of the Windows Phone. For this display, we will be using a series of three screens, side-by-side, to create a single logical screen that demonstrates a subset of WP7 app live tile in action. The live tiles on the screens will update at a relatively frequent pace, providing the experience of live tiles in action.
If you have an app (or apps) that you want to include in this live tile display, please respond to this email by Thursday (April 28, 2011) just so I know you are interested. Then, upload the ZIP file (described above) no later than noon (PDT) on Thursday, May 4th using the following:
I realize this is short notice but this opportunity has just come up and I want to extend the opportunity to you to show off your Live Tile vision at the event.
Sounds like a cool idea and although we probably just ruined Microsoft's plan for a surprise with a cool display (sorry guys!), we're still interested to see what it'll look like. Also, it sounds like there will be more of the 'Mango events' coming up on the road to release, which makes sense--during this time we expect to hear about new features as they become locked in to the milestone builds.
Related: Check out 'Mango's updated Live Tile/push notification system as demoed during MIX11
3 years ago
Verizon.com launches WP help forum--Trophy launch imminent?
We don't want to get your hopes up too much but it's starting to look like Verizon is gearing up to really, really (for reals) launch the HTC Trophy.
Earlier today we saw a hidden listing at Best Buy for the Trophy and now Verizon Wireless has removed the previous, generic "smartphone/pda" section on their help forum with a...wait for it... a cleaned up Windows Phone area.
As Morpheus said "I do not see coincidence, I see providence. I see purpose. I believe it our fate to be here. It is our destiny.". Or perhaps we're just being over geeky and dramatic. Nah....
Source: Verizon Wireless; big thanks to Jay for the tip!
3 years ago
Microsoft promises HTC Surround NoDo update is in the works
Although the Focus, HD7, Dell Venue Pro and even Quantum have all received their NoDo updates, it looks like the HTC Surround (see review) is still lagging behind, much to the frustration of users.
Good news though as Microsoft says they are "scheduling" updates for the Surround's February and March updates. Translation? You should have it within in the next 10 days.
HTC also tends to have a thing for delivering firmware updates as well, so we'll be expecting a few other "fixes" around the same time.
3 years ago
Verizon HTC Trophy shows up on Best Buy online (but you can't order it)
Pocketnow is reporting that the long awaited Verizon HTC Trophy has showed up on Best Buy's website, though not available/in stock. Usually this would be an indication of a near-launch. When we looked though, we were unable to find the device on the site, meaning the URL may still be hidden (or we're consistently spelling 'Trophy' wrong).
The price, out of contract, is listed as $600, but that's probably just a placeholder figure and nothing official. In addition, the model number MWP6985 is also confirmed for Verizon's first Windows Phone, which is as mythical as the unicorn at this point.
So, does this mean Verizon folk will be able to pick up their phone shortly? With this device's track record, we're going with 'no'. Still, hope spring eternal that Verizon will someday launch this device and complete the Windows Phone presence in the U.S. Seriously Verizon, this looks just sad now.
Source: Best Buy; via Pocketnow
3 years ago
Pitfall! now available on Xbox Live. Are you old enough to appreciate it?
We were originally told that two Game Room titles, Asteroids Deluxe and Pitfall!, were coming to Xbox Live on April 20. The date rolled around and Pitfall! was nowhere to be seen, breaking my fragile gamer heart. I can stop crying man tears now as Pitfall is finally available on the Marketplace.
Pitfall! was originally an Atari 2600 game from Activision. It was a huge hit in 1982 thanks in large part to its groundbreaking graphics. The lead character, Pitfall Harry, is made up of 4 unique colors, a level of detail so amazing that - I believe - it used to give children nosebleeds. Harry must run, swing from vines, and jump on top of alligator’s mouths across 255 unique screens as he searches for 32 lost treasures. Pitfall! is an adventure so exciting that Activision legally had to include an exclamation mark in the title so as not to fatally surprise people with its awesomeness.
Being a Game Room title, Pitfall! includes a 3D recreation of an Atari 2600 console, historical data and detailed instructions, friends and global leaderboards, and 10 Achievements.
You can purchase this slice of platform gaming history for $2.99 or try the free trial. Grab it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.
3 years ago
Earthworm Jim HD is the Xbox Live Deal of the Week. Groovy!; Assassin's Creed too...
Last week, a game that’s meant to multiplayer but isn’t went on sale and the Xbox Live gaming public collectively yawned. This week, we get something a little more interesting…
Earthworm Jim HD is on sale for $2.99, down from the regular price of $4.99.
Earthworm Jim is a faithful port of the classic Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo platforming game that was originally developed by Shiny Entertainment. It stars an earthworm who has been given super powers by an alien space suit. EWJ (as his friends call him) thwarts enemies both with a pistol and by whipping them with his own earthworm body. The creative cast of bosses includes Bob the Killer Goldfish, Evil the Cat, and Queen Slug-for-a-butt. In addition to lovely hand-drawn art, Earthworm Jim also features a stellar soundtrack. Just be warned that the touch-screen controls aren’t the best and the Achievements are fairly hard.
Earthworm Jim is $2.99 for one week only, and there is a free trial. Snap it up here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.
Update: Also, Assassin's Creed - Altaïr's Chronicles HD (see our review) has also dropped from $6.99 to $4.99. That's here in the Marketplace.
3 years ago
Avatar Gadgets now free as a bird
Avatar Gadgets has always been an odd piece of software. It’s lumped in with the Xbox Live games, but it’s not a game. It’s just a collection of utilities. If you buy it, it sits there at the top of your games list, mocking you with its non-gameness and lack of Achievements. It does use your Xbox Live avatar though, so there is a tenuous Xbox Live connection.
Avatar-Inspector-Gadgets is also the only Xbox Live product on Windows Phone that regularly sells at the 99 cent price point (everything else starts at $2.99). At least, it used to be 99 cents… Avatar Gadgets is now free! Our review praises the Zippo lighter gadget and the product’s overall novelty. Now that it’s free, you have no excuse not to try it for yourself - other than the aforementioned space it takes up at the top of the games list, natch.
Grab Avatar Gadgets here on the Marketplace for the low price of zero cents. Will it be free forever? Probably, but we have contacted Microsoft just in case and will update this article when we know for sure.
3 years ago
AT&T Yellow Pages app hits the Marketplace for WP7
While we don't have any immediate complaints about Bing and finding "stuff", including anything local e.g. businesses, we suppose options are always good. Today, AT&T Interactive (see site), launched their YP Yellow Pages mobile app for Windows Phone 7:
Need a cup of coffee, want to find a good pizza place in town? Like to read reviews before choosing a restaurant? The YP app is your easy-to-use guide for local info near you. Search. Find. And Save Local!
- Search 18MM+ businesses quickly by typing or browsing popular categories including restaurants, bars, hotels, mechanics, dentists, and even AT&T® Wi-Fi Hotspots
- Find businesses faster with predictive text, and quick links to top categories.
- Location detection pinpoints where you are to automatically deliver nearby search results.
- Get the scoop from other locals. Access comprehensive business listings including ratings, reviews, business details, open hours, videos or click to the website.
- Browse through great money-saving local deals and redeem directly from your phone*
Personalize & Share
- Share businesses you find with friends via text, email, Facebook or Twitter.
First impressions? Not too bad actually. We like the 'Metro' theme they went with and while it's a little "busy" in some areas the app actually has a lot of features and info in it, including local "deals". So we recommend giving it a go if you're constantly looking for things in your neighborhood and more so if you travel. It's here in the Marketplace.
3 years ago
Rowi Twitter hits v1.1, loads more tweets and gets a few bug fixes
Looks like Rowi Twitter app is doing very well in the Marketplace, averaging 4.5 stars on 62 ratings--not too shabby at all. The paid version, which features push notifications and was demoed here (video), just hit v1.1 moments ago in the market. Changes include
- Bug fixes (probaly related to DM's not clearing on the tile)
- Load more tweets (when there are gaps in your home timeline)
Considered to be only a "minor" update, we're still liking where this is all going. We're also expecting a larger update in the future and even multiple account support (no pressure guys!) Grab it here.
Show More Headlines