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apps

Here's a cool little update: Microsoft has pushed out, seemingly in addition to the AppHub features, changes in categories to the Marketplace for Windows Phone.

Simply launch your Marketplace and head to Apps. You'll see a few changes including replacing "and" with "+" signs, making things surprisingly easier to read. In addition, we now have a dedicated "Books" and "Business" category (we're not too sure if the latter is new).

We bet this has something to do with the AppHub's "private beta market" launching tonight as well as MS just wanting to further divvy up their 26K apps they have available. Let us know if you find any other little changes that we missed in comments!

Edit: Games too, have new, more detailed categoreis as well, including things like "shooter" "classics", "strategy + simulation", etc. Very nice.

(Thanks, Tahiti Bob, for the heads up!)

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GroupMe now available for WP7

GroupMe, the popular group-texting service, has hit the Marketplace.  The WP7 version, which was the second-most requested platform by users, was actually spear-headed by an intern HackNY's Summer Fellows Program.

Using a data connection and/or texting, GroupMe allows users to create different user groups.  Any time a member of the group sends a message, the other members will be notified.  In addition, GroupMe assigns each group a common phone number, so any single member can start conference calls on the fly.  And while you can use this snazzy app to communicate with your friends through GroupMe, it is not necessary.  Any phone that can text can create groups and get started.  Best of all, the service, just like the app, is free.

The current iteration only supports the group messaging, chat and conference calling, but more features, such as location tracking and photo sharing are expected to follow in the near future.  The startup has gained a fast following, and has even gotten the attention of celebs, like Paris Hilton, who recently tapped them as her go-to forum for viewers of her upcoming show on cable network Oxygen.

Get GroupMe here.

Source: GroupMe

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Maintaining one's diet, er...lifestyle change, can be pretty tricky when you're on the go.  However, the newly-designed Weight Watchers official app, PointsPlus Calculator, makes it easier.  Whether you're out to dinner or picking up groceries for the week, all you need to do is enter the nutritional information into the calculator to find out how many points-per-serving an item will be.  The app will also let you log activity to see how many points you have burned by exercising.  The interface is simple and sleek.  PointsPlus is free to download, but is only available for Weight Watchers Online and eTools subscribers.  Due to the nature of the subscriptions, users are required to log into the app on a monthly basis.

Weight Watchers is just one of a plethora of companies to release "official" apps for for WP7 in recent weeks.  Microsoft likes this one so much that they listed it as one of their "must-have" apps in their Best of Marketplace.  Click on the Via link below to see the others that made the list.

Download the PointsPlus Calculator here (opens Zune).

Source: Weight Watchers; Via: Microsoft

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WP7 PlentyOfFish app released

What's that? Yet another official app? Of course it is, this is international official app release week for Windows Phone 7 remember? It seems even the WP7 users who are seeking love will be able to use their handsets to find romance with the official PlentyOfFish app entering the Marketplace.

While no information is detailed in the description as to what features are presently available in the app (apart from search and profiles), we'd assume messaging and more is included. You can download the app (Zune link) from the Marketplace for free (as well as register and use the service) but be aware that a payment is required to use advanced features.

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The stereotype of Xbox 360 gamers is that they’re only interested in first-person shooters and games with lots of violence. People like that wouldn’t give Nintendo’s Pokémon series a second thought. Stereotypes are often wrong though, as plenty of 360 gamers like me enjoy all kinds of games. Besides, while it’s very common for Windows Phone gamers to also own Xbox 360 consoles, that doesn’t mean they don’t also have a DSi or 3DS. What I’m trying to say is that while the crossover between Windows Phone owners and Pokémon fans may not be tremendous, such people do exist. Pokédex Mobile from indie developer Imaginary Pocket aims to be a useful tool for active Pokémon players.

The Pokémon series of games revolves around collecting a large variety of Pokémon (Pocket Monsters), training them to learn new abilities, and commanding them in battle against rival Pokémon teams. While the original GameBoy Pokémons contained 151 different monsters to catch, each generation of sequels adds to the pot. The current DS offerings have pushed the total number of monsters up to a whopping 649. That’s a lot of Pokémon to keep track of! When you consider that even the same monster may appear in different places and have different abilities in each sequel, the need for an all-encompassing resource becomes readily apparent.

Journey past the break for our full review.

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Smartphone OS shapes

This is an extremely interesting observation. Many would ignore shapes used on smartphone handsets, simply because those shapes would be tied to app launchers or tiles which all contain either images or information. As one can see in the image above, Clayton Miller, a graphic and interaction designer (creater of 10/GUI), has aligned the different shapes adopted by the smartphone market.

From one perspective, you could assume that the shapes shown above is an illustration of the transformation from a square to a circle. Microsoft use the simple four-sided approach with the Metro UI, Apple keep things aesthetically pleasing with a roundrect, Nokia use a squircle and HP have a full circle to play with. Clayton states that Android doesn't have a unified shape, a possible symptom of fragmentation?

It's worth noting that smaller competitors use same shapes as the big players, Bada from Samsung makes use of squares but can't come close to Microsoft's tile implementation and RIM use roundrects throughout but are no match for Apple's iconic design.

Source: Clayton Miller

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Orange is kicking off the launch of their new Orange Selects Marketplace feature by giving away apps for free throughout July.  Selects is a list of the carrier's "top apps" and appears as a folder in the Marketplace on their customers' phones.  Orange announced the offer to customers today via text messages:

"Celebrate the launch of Orange Selects and get a free app every day throughout July from the Windows Marketplace - exclusively for Orange customers. That's 31 apps for free. Check out today's free app by choosing Orange Selects from the Marketplace hub on your phone.  3G connection required. Data charges may apply."

Unfortunately, the month-long offer is only for Orange customers and not O2 or Vodaphone.  Today's free app is Krashlander, with more to follow, for a total value of about £70. The launch of Orange Select comes right on the heels of the quickly-growing Marketplace hitting 25,000 apps.

Source: Orange; Via: Paul Boocock (Thanks for the tip!), Pocket-Lint

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Samsung, HTC, and LG all have apps that are dedicated to their particular Windows Phones. Manufacturers offer these apps as a selling point, hoping that such apps will attract consumers to thier Windows Phone.  There are some really nice apps from each of these manufacturers but they are confined to that particular device.  I can't load Samsung's Photogram on to my HTC HD7s or HTC apps to a Samsung.

In a recent interview, Nokia's Senior Vice President of Developer and Marketplace, Marco Argenti, said this won't be the case with Nokia Windows Phones. Quoting,

"Every Nokia App will be available on every phone."

He would later clarify his comments by saying that while the Nokia apps will work on any phone, there will be exclusive to Nokia Windows Phones for a set time. Argenti didn't get into specifics about what Nokia apps will be available but did comment that they are working hard to enhance areas such as mapping, commerce and discovery.

We'll have to wait and see what apps Nokia has up their sleeve but maybe having access to Nokia apps from other Windows Phones will be a catalyst.  Maybe other manufacturers will follow suit and we'll see HTC, Samsung and LG apps popping up on the Marketplace.

Source: Pocket-Lint Thanks goes out to stuart for the tip!

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WP7 Marketplace hits 25,000 apps

Awh yeah! The Windows Phone Marketplace is now reportedly featuring 25,000 apps according to Windows Phone app list. While we still seem to be experiencing some uncontrolled app injection (all providing the same features/functions such as RSS feeds), it's been just over a month (since the 20k milestone) to bring 5,000 apps to end users.

Another app featuring website is WP7Applist, which is currently tracking 24,784 apps with around 4,000 of the counted apps being inactive. Moving on up, according to the weekly growth chart over at Windows Phone app list, we had a spike yesterday with a fairly large number of apps being pushed through.

If you missed our coverage, we now have the likes of DC Comics, Vevo, American Airlines, E! and more that were recently published.

Head on past the break for the charts. 

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Fox News App now at the Marketplace

"The Most Powerful Name in News" is now available at the Windows Phone Marketplace. Fox News Networks has released the Fox News app that brings the latest news stories, video clips and news images to your Windows Phone.

Key features include:

  • Live Tile support that provides a snapshot of the top news story
  • Fox News shows airtime schedules and video clips from recent episodes
  • Videos and Photos from the top news stories of the day as well as from the world of entertainment, politics, health and more
  • Breaking news banner

The best part about the Fox News app is that it's a free app. You can download your copy here (opens Zune) at the Marketplace.

Thanks goes out to sasa for the tip!

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Back in February, Microsoft held a contest to name the top healthcare and medical apps available for WP7.  The results were announced earlier this month and are as follows:

What is interesting to note here, is that the winners listed above fit more into the Health and Fitness category, rather than Medical.  Dan Buckland from MedGadget is quick to point out that WP7 is somewhat lacking when it comes to straight-up medical apps, especially some of the big names that medical professionals often use.  While users can find a couple of well-known names, like Unbound Medicine and Microsoft HealthVault (of course!), others like Skyscape, Medscape and Epocrates remain absent.  When MedGadget put the question to an Epocrates representative of whther or not a WP7 version was in the works, they vaguely replied that they are “currently investigating the Windows 7 platform and will update website with more details as they become available.”

Microsoft has been touting the wide-range capabilities of Windows Phone for business use, but it seems that they would be well-served to make that include specialized fields, such as medicine.  It is certainly a large enough market to help the platform gain ground on its competitors.

What do our medically-inclined readers think?  Is WP7 falling behind early?

Source: Microsoft; Via: MedGadget

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FoodSpotting app hits Marketplace

The official WP7 app for FoodSpotting has made its way to the Marketplace.  Just like the site itself, the new app helps users find nearby restaurants and review them, right down to the individual tasty tidbit.  Take photos of your favorite dish, upload it, and share it with others.  You can search by map or genre and even bookmark foods you want to try.  And all of this can be shared with other FoodSpotting users.

You can get it here.

Source: FoodSpotting Thanks goes out to Nicolas for the tip!

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Zune HD apps to be ported to WP7

It's been revealed that there are plans for some apps on Zune HD to be ported onto the Windows Phone platform. This is fantastic news if this goes ahead at some point due to the quality of apps available to Zune HD users is pretty high and the WP7 Marketplace could always use a slight positive boost (especially with recent spam).

In a Zune Insider podcast, Zune senior business development manager, Dave McLauchlan explained that Zune HD apps could make an appearance in the WP7 Marketplace.

"A question I keep getting around apps on Zune [HD] is, what about porting to Windows Phone? There are many thousands of apps on the Windows Phone Marketplace, it’s going gangbusters and not so much on the Zune HD Marketplace. And that’s by design, we designed the system such that we would have a very public, very open marketplace for Windows Phone. But hey, what about the apps that are on Zune [HD]? We had some very good apps there. When are they coming to Windows Phone?

The answer to that question is two-fold. Number one, we actually have some developers that have developed titles for Zune [HD] that aren’t Microsoft employees or aren’t on the Zune team. And those guys are very welcome to go and create apps for Windows Phone any time they like. The apps that we have built internally for Zune [HD], we’re actually looking at porting those over to Windows Phone. Right now, our focus for the app team is, more apps for Zune [HD]. Zune [HD] owners would like to hear that there’s more stuff coming. So that’s definitely the case."

You can check out the podcast where you can witness the banter surrounding the topic. What apps would you like to see ported?

Via: AnythingbutiPhone and Windows Phone Secrets

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Security is always a cause for concern, whether it be with online banking or simply ordering a Domino's pizza. Passwords used online for applications or services are no different, especially with the amount of cyber crime occuring since the boom of the world wide web. Google have published an article on their blog outlining recent attacks being made on Gmail accounts and how users can protect themselves further.

One way to further protect your email account is to use OTP (One Time Password) via the web interface when logging on across multiple machines, networks and/or locations. For your Windows Phone (and other devices) you can use application specific passwords, which are password that are randomly generated and are used per device. You don't need to remember it and it doesn't affect your main login credentials. Think of it as an access key your device requires to be able to gain access to your account.

Check out the video after the break for the step-by-step walkthrough on using two-step verification and creating an application specific password for your Gmail account on your device. 

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Not so long ago, 1800PocketPC reported that the Marketplace ranking system which moves apps and games up and down within a category depending on popularity and rating was broken (probably Chuck Norris had his app declined at certification and decided to round-house kick the Marketplace). Everything now seems to be back to normal and rankings reflective of respective ratings.

The problem was most notable with Lunar Lander, released on 11th May, has a two and a half star rating and was frozen at 68th position, while newly released Hydro Thunder GO, which has a four star rating was stamped at 1277th position. While this may not affect big developers much in terms of reach, indie developers who don't have Live titles in the games category would have found this particularly worrying, especially since they already have problems with Live titles getting more coverage.

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Windows Phone apps magazine

The Windows Phone UK blog have just posted a new entry about their digital guide to the Windows Phone 7 for consumers. This magazine covers topics including; social networking, games, FAQs, Marketplace and an introduction to the operating system.

Perfect for all users, especially those who have just made the leap to WP7, the magazine features over 140 apps. Some of which are sorted into twelve categories: news & weather, travel, maps & search, games, productivity & tools, business, entertainment, music & video, lifestyle, reference & books, social networks and photography. Not to mention a list of ten apps that will help improve ones life.

Some helpful tips on getting yourself started with both Zune and setting up a Live ID are included as well as some tips and highlights of WP7. Head on over to the blog via the link below to check out the publication.

Source: Windows Phone UK Blog

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We haven't tossed this one around in a while and with Verizon customers coming on board soon with the HTC Trophy, it was suggested (thanks Sam) that we touch on the top apps over at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

We've got two sources to draw upon (actually there's more but we decided to settle on these two). First there's Bing's Visual Search (as depicted above) that lumps free with paid apps in their list. Then there's the Marketplace top ten that breaks things down into a list for free apps and a list for paid apps (see below).

Follow the break to read what apps stood out from both lists.

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If you are looking for a good YouTube app for WP7, head over to XDA and check out the latest version of LazyWormApp's YouTube.  This stunning client is packed with features, including customized searching, favorites, full comment support and streaming of HQ videos over 3G and Wifi.  You can watch videos in preview form, or rotate your phone for full size.  There are a number of new features and improvements over the previous version:

New features
- Lazylist (customizable video feed)
- Author details and subscription
- Regional settings
- Recently played videos (history)

Improvements
- Subtle interface animations
- Selectable description text (Nodo only)
- Preview playback while browsing comments & author
- Usability improvements
- Bug fixes

You can download the Marketplace or from the original thread.

Source: XDA

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WP7 now features a sex offenders app

With all the 'bad people' out there and how smartphones solve Human problems (wireless communication, entertainment values, etc.), one would hope that an offering would reach Windows Phone 7 to combat sex offenders. Well, it has.

An app called Sex Offenders Search is slightly like Bronseal's slogan; "It does exactly what it says on the tin" (if you don't know Bronseal), where it displays to the user all registered sex offenders in and around your area (using GPS and maps). The app allows you to select an offender and view a photo, name, address and offenses. 

Sex Offenders Search is currently only available in the US, bit of a pain for us Europeans, and can be found on the Marketplace for $1.99 here.

Source: WP7 Connect

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Although we have seen some MIX11 apps for Windows Phone in the past, it looks like Microsoft rolled out their "official" one yesterday, called 'Conference Helper'.

The app is a great tool for those attending the big Microsoft sponsored dev conference next week in Las Vegas, as it gives a way to mark events to attend, has a floor map, news and general info. No outstanding features e.g. live tiles or notifications are present, but it's not bad for what it is either.

  • Browse and search sessions
  • View sessions filtered by speakers and tags.
  • Manage your favorite sessions.
  • Access sessions and schedule information even without Internet access.
  • View maps of the conference center and the neighborhood.

The alternates, MIX11 Explorer (from eDefine) or MIX11 from ConceptDevelopment.net are also good choices, with MIX11 Explorer getting the highest reviews of all.

Here are the links to the Marketplace for each: Conference Helper (Microsoft); MIX11 Explorer and MIX11

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