connectivity

Since Windows Phone 7 launched, there have been numerous attempts by developers to create the perfect settings and connectivity shortcut solution, but many have either fallen short and/or ceased development. So which app should you look at if you're wanting such a download? Cue Status Tiles.

The app itself has been available since November, but we've somehow missed it and the developer has just pushed out a small update.

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On May 21st, when Microsoft officially announced the Xbox One a lot of questions still remained. Will I be able to sell my games? Share my games? Do I need an internet connection once a day or once a month? These were questions we did not expect answered until E3, but Microsoft has decided to attack these concerns head-on and has shared their plans on all these fronts and more. That leaves E3 to be focused on games (a good call in our book). Details on the Xbox One after the break.

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Earlier this week we addressed the ongoing connectivity problems users are experiencing with their Nokia Lumia 920s, specifically on AT&T (global users do not appear to be affected, though we’re not certain). The issue results in slowed down data connections, missed calls/test messages or on occasion no data at all, even if only temporarily and it is tied directly to the recent firmware update that rolled out in the last 10 days on AT&T.

Nokia Care US has now responded in a tweet to a customer regarding the update (and future fix) with the following:  “We're aware & update has been temporarily paused. New update will be available in the near future. We'll keep you posted.”

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We aren't sure as to the "when" but the Windows Phone app/tool for Windows 8 was recently updated. The update adds the ability to transfer playlists and ringtones to your Windows Phone 8 device and watch videos you've taken with your Windows Phone.

Ringtone files must be .m4r format any non-DRM protected music file that the phone can play, no larger than 30MB and can not be protected with digital rights management. When you transfer the ringtones to your Windows Phone 8 device, they will appear in your Settings under Ringtones and Sounds as any other tone would be.

If you haven't installed the Windows Phone app to your Windows 8 computer or tablet, it's a free app that you can find here in the Windows Store.

Thanks, Andy, for the tip!

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Windows Phone is very careful with how much power it uses. Normal behaviour for the OS is that whilst running on battery it will drop the Wi-Fi connection after a short period in order to conserve as much juice as possible. We have seen reports that point the finger at some apps which are seemingly overriding normal power saving behaviour. Is this a feature or a bug, I decided to do some tests.

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For Windows Phone gamers, the most exciting moment of Microsoft’s E3 2012 press conference was the announcement of Ascend: New Gods, an upcoming XBLA and Windows Phone title from Signal Studios. Boasting impressively detailed graphics and a smattering of graphic violence, it certainly caught our eyes. Later on during the Expo we had the pleasure of speaking with lead designer Ian Scott as we played the Xbox Live Arcade version of the game. Even better, he went on to detail Ascend’s cross-platform connectivity.

Head past the break for more Ascend hands-on gameplay footage and Windows Phone connectivity details!

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8

Sonic 4 Episode II Xbox 360 Impressions

Windows Phone Central has eagerly covered SEGA’s Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II ever since its first official announcement. The Windows Phone version is still due out in July, but the console and PC versions have already arrived. As such, here are my impressions of Sonic 4: Episode II on Xbox Live Arcade.

Episode II has a larger budget than the original game and it shows. The game starts out with an actual intro sequence, followed by more story bits later on. Graphically, Sonic and Tails are fully 3D and look great in close-ups like those in the bonus levels. The backgrounds feature more interesting and varied locales than before, such as White Park’s snow-covered theme park. New lighting and show effects impress as well. These graphical improvements extend to the currently-available iPhone version, so expect a similar boost on Windows Phone as well. I wish I could say the music had improved, but it sounds as unimpressive as the last game. Can’t have everything, I guess.

As with Episode I, there are four zones, each with three acts a piece. My favorites are the third and fourth zones, Oil Desert and Sky Fortress. The desert stage involves features unique set pieces like sliding down oil slicks, jumping to avoid sinking into quick sand, and frantically climbing silos as they fill with more death-dealing sand. Sky Fortress starts out with Sonic riding along on Tails’ biplane, just as he did in Sonic 2. After that engaging aerial sequence, look forward to navigating the exterior of an airship, running along walls, and firing Sonic from cannons to reach new areas.

Head past the break for more Xbox 360 impressions and details on the upcoming Windows Phone port!

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This, ladies and gentlemen, is the definition of a win-win. See, there's been this little bug in the Lumia 900 (by the way, you've read our Lumia 900 review, right?) that has been causing some early adopters -- regular consumers as well as reviewers -- to lose all data connectivity. As in, the phone kinda forgets the fact that, in fact, it is a phone. Not good, to say the least.

Nokia, in a blog post this evening, starts off on a positive note. "Award-winning CES product" blah blah blah. "Stars aligned for a successful sales start on AT&T" blah blah blah."Very positive response on Day 1" blah blah blah.

Oh, and, yeah. A "memory management issue was discovered that could, in some cases, lead to loss of data connectivity." That's kinda a biggie. The good news is that Nokia's found the issue. Here's what's going to happen next:

  • On or around April 16 (that's next Monday), an update will be made available via Zune. That should fix all this nonsense.
  • Or, you can swap your current phone for a new one that will already have the updated software.

And Nokia's doing even one better. If you've already bought a Lumia 900, you're getting a $100 credit on your AT&T bill. If you're going to buy a Lumia 900, do it before April 21. Because you'll also get a $100 credit on your bill. That covers the cost of the phone on contract. So, you're basically getting a free Lumia 900 for your troubles. Or for trouble you might have had. Either way. It's a sweet deal.

And good on Nokia for making it right. But that doesn't change the fact that black eyes do sting for a little while. Read more on the issue and join the discussion in our Lumia 900 forum.

Source: Nokia Conversation

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Microsoft has kicked off "Project Detroit", a concept car using various connected technologies including Windows Phone to give developers ideas for next generation automobiles.

Currently, Microsoft has embraced the SYNC/OVO system which curiously has little Windows Phone support at all. However, they are looking to change that with Project Detroit which extends Microsoft's vision for an all-connected future. The project is built off of Ford SYNC but it incorporates just about everything Microsoft has control over including Kinect for Xbox 360, Xbox 360, Windows 8, Windows Phone, Windows Azure, and Bing.

The demo car should also raise some eyebrows for fellow car enthusiasts:

"To create Project Detroit, a 2012 Ford Mustang with a 1967 fastback body, Microsoft teamed up with Ryan Friedlinghaus, an award-winning automotive designer based in Corona, Calif., and star of the Discovery Channel's Velocity network reality TV series "Inside West Coast Customs."

Just as exciting is the Windows Phone app that was created to control everything in the car,

"Using a Windows Phone, remotely watch and listen to the live video stream and audio from the Kinects embedded in Project Detroit. From this same application, your Windows Phone becomes like a microphone for the car’s external audio PA system."

More impressive is the ability to control other added functionality to the car including the accent lighting, the horn sound “ringtone”, activating the “projector screen” and sending a message to the rear windshield all using the Windows Phone app.

While such a car-system is merely for demonstration purposes, it really sets the imagination on fire thinking of all the different things one could do with a car (and some money). We don't imagine Ford or other car companies will be throwing all of these technologies in the car in the near future, but safe to say system like Microsoft Kinect as they become miniaturized will be inserted into more and more everyday applications. Likewise, with Windows 8 running on ARM processors, the ability to transplant these various systems should be easier as time goes on.

To see "Project Detroit" in action, tune into Inside West Coast Customs Sunday, March 25 at 6 p.m. PDT (9 p.m. EDT).  We'll try to bring you the video when it goes up.

Source: Microsoft; Thanks, Amir, for the tip!

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The potential of connectivity between Windows Phone and the Xbox 360 console is vast. We’ve seen mobile Xbox Live games function as companions to their console counterparts (Full House Poker, Kinectimals, and Fusion: Sentient) and a couple of apps that connect with the console (Halo Waypoint, Xbox Companion App). The Dance Central 2 Dance*Cam, which WPCentral first discovered in December, falls in the latter category... Unfortunately, the app comes from a developer called AKQA rather than Harmonix, and they don't seem to understand what Dance Central fans would actually want from an app like this.

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4

Xbox Live - Fusion: Sentient connectivity demonstration

Few things inspire as much excitement in dedicated Windows Phone gamers as connectivity between mobile Xbox Live titles and their Xbox 360 counterparts. Having logged a number of hours with the latest ‘connected’ Windows Phone game, Fusion: Sentient, as well as its Xbox 360 big brother Fusion: Genesis, I thought a demonstration might be in order.

As explained in the video, Fusion: Sentient players can auction or transfer (gift) Sentients (mechs) to Xbox 360 players. In the console game, Sentients provide a number of useful services, including attacking enemies, healing and buffing players, mining for resources, and grabbing loot. Not all Sentients are created equal, and the rarer, more useful types can command a high price in the Auction House.

Windows Phone players don’t benefit much from shipping and selling off their Sentients other than earning credits. What do can you do with those credits on the go? Nothing at all. But there is an Achievement for selling over 200,000 credits worth of Sentients. That would take either tons of raising and selling the little guys, or simply getting somebody to big crazy amounts on one or more of your auctions.

The most ideal connectivity between a console and mobile game would involve both the Windows Phone and Xbox 360 versions benefitting equally from the exchange of data. Fusion: Sentient’s connectivity could be better since it leans heavily towards the console game. Still, Fusion: Genesis players will appreciate the influx of rare Sentients that the phone game brings to the table. Let’s hope future Xbox Live titles on Windows Phone evolve the cross-platform connectivity even further.

Fusion: Sentient costs only $2.99 and there is a free trial. Score it here on the Marketplace. Fusion: Genesis for Xbox 360 costs 800 Microsoft Points ($10) right here. We’ll have a full review of Fusion: Sentient soon.

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10

Kinectimals - Review

Is there much crossover between Kinect-toting Xbox 360 owners and Windows Phone gamers? Sure, lots of people buy into more than one of Microsoft’s gaming platforms. And even smartphone users without a console could still have a heart, and thus love kitties. Surely developer Frontier Software and publisher Microsoft Studios banked on both of those points when deciding to bring Kinectimals to Windows Phone. It squeezes much of the console game’s fun into much smaller mobile devices.

Dash past the break for our full review.

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Microsoft is really starting to make true on the promises of connectivity between Xbox 360 and Windows Phone titles. This week’s Xbox Live release, Kinectimals allows gamers to transfer their personalized kitties to the console version and vice-versa. Next week we’re getting another ‘connected’ title in the form of Fusion: Sentient from developer Wahoo Studios (aka NinjaBee) and Microsoft Studios.

Fusion: Sentient is the portable companion to Xbox 360 title Fusion: Genesis (developed by Starfire Studios). Both titles release on the same day, but unlike Full House Poker, the Fusion games are much more distinct from each other. Sentient is a third-person strategy game. Visually, it closely resembles The Harvest but the gameplay is closer to BioWare RPGs like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic thanks to the turn-based nature of the combat.

Head past the break for more details on connectivity between Fusion: Sentient and Fusion: Genesis, screenshots, a trailer, and a free MP3 soundtrack.

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Yesterday we mentioned that Orbital would be this week’s Xbox Live release, and that has proven to be true. But it turns out that wasn’t the whole story. Microsoft has gone and sneaked Kinectimals onto the Marketplace as well!

Kinectimals is the portable version of Frontier Software and Microsoft’s feline-themed Kinect game. Players can choose one of five kitties or import an existing cat from the 360 version (which we haven’t tried just yet). Then it’s time to teach your kitty tricks by performing swiping motions, play catch, complete challenges, and buy lots of accessories. So far Kinectimals is a surprisingly faithful port of the retail Xbox 360 version, and it doesn’t even have the original’s obnoxious announcer, always a plus. The Achievements are also super easy. And last but not least, it’s Nodo compatible!

As for Orbital, it’s a Mango-only game. The simple concept, multiple gameplay modes, sci-fi graphics, and techno music all make for an addictive experience.

Both games are only $2.99, so buying both won’t break the bank. You can find Kinectimals here and Orbital here on the Marketplace.

UPDATE: Kinectimals' early release was a mistake. The game has been pulled and will return on November 2.

Thanks to TheWeeBear for the tip!

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The Halo Waypoint app is a useful way for gamers to check on their accomplishments in the Halo Xbox 360 games while on the go. But the mobile version of Waypoint lacks a few of the Xbox 360 version’s features, such as viewing campaign progress. That will change this fall, when 343 Studios overhauls all three versions of the Waypoint (Xbox 360, WP7, and PC) to more closely match each other in looks and features. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

Halo Waypoint will soon gain the ability to create custom challenges in Halo Reach. The game already features daily and weekly challenges, but now players will be able to make their own (such as scoring a certain number of head shots or grenade kills in specific maps) and share them with friends. Sure, that feature could have just been patched directly into Reach, but including it in Waypoint will encourage more players to check out the Halo-themed portal.

Head past the jump to learn about the Halo ATLAS app and Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition.

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9

SSH Client released [Mango]

Some really functional apps are appearing for Mango, which is superb news. SSH Client is no different, providing server administrators and geeks the tools to connect via SSH (Secure Shell) to installations. While this is something easily achieved via terminal, it's a feature that I'm sure many would love to see come to Windows Phone.

The app itself supports an on-screen keyboard, private key support, terminal font and the ability to save connections for future use. A paid version is on the way which will include Telnet support, Url parsing, more configurable settings, portrait mode, live tiles for pinning connections, backlog support, customisable click-areas on screen for quick commands, support for common commands including Ctrl, Alt, Esc, Tab, Cursor keys and much more. You can download SSH Client over at the Marketplace.

Thanks for the heads up Tommi!

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When gamers learned that Xbox 360 Kinect game Kinectimals is coming to Windows Phone, undoubtedly many of us wondered whether there would be connectivity between the two versions. Wouldn’t it be cool to take your existing Kinect kitty on the go?

A Microsoft representative shared these details with us:

“The answer is yes, Kinectimals for Windows Phone does share connectivity with the Kinectimals for Xbox 360 version. You can import your favorite pet to your Windows Phone from your Xbox 360 by simply holding the phone up to the TV screen and capturing the QR code from the pet. The phone will recognize the code and add the pet to the mobile experience. Players can export their favorite mobile pets into their Kinect for Xbox 360 Kinectimals game by holding their Windows Phone up to their Kinect sensor which will read the QR code assigned to their pet and add it to their console experience. If players are logged onto their WP and Xbox 360 consoles with the same Xbox LIVE credentials, this process will happen automatically.”

That’s great news for Kinect owners. Kinectimals’ connectivity isn’t exactly using your Windows Phone and a Kinect simultaneously to control an Xbox 360 game, but it is the first interaction between the two devices. The last time we saw Xbox 360 connectivity of any sort was in Microsoft Game Studios’ Full House Poker.

Kinectimals on Xbox 360 is a combination adventure title/mini-game collection/pet simulator in which players adopt an exotic kitten on a mysterious island. It’s targeted towards kids, but I enjoy most of the mini-games and the overall sense of progression as new areas of the island, items, and animals are unlocked. I do wish harm on the narrator though, as his voice should be illegal in civilized countries. Thankfully his blithering can be turned off! Anyway, the Windows Phone version retains just about everything the console version is known for and adds a few new elements into the mix too. We’ll have more details soon.

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Pitfall! - Review

Many younger gamers’ first exposure to Pitfall! came from the console title Marvel Ultimate Alliance, which featured a Pitfall! minigame. But Pitfall! started its life way back in 1982 on the Atari 2600. The product of a single Activision developer, David Crane, it sold over 4 million copies and skyrocketed Activision to stardom. Now developer Krome and publisher Microsoft Game Studios bring the ‘Fall! To Windows Phone as both an Xbox Live and Game Room title. Is it better suited to mobile play than cranky ol’ Asteroids Deluxe? Yes!

Pitfall! stars the adventurer Pitfall Harry. His sprite was comprised of four separate colors on a platform in which most sprites were made of only one or two colors. Harry’s surplus of colors produced such a realistic effect at the time that many people thought an actual human being had somehow become trapped in their game cartridge. Thanks to modern computer technology we now know that this was not the case, but Harry still retains a certain visual charm after all these years.

Grab onto a vine and swing past the jump for our full review!

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Centipede - Review

Gamers and critics alike panned the first two Xbox Live retro arcade games for Windows Phone, Pac-Man and Frogger, for several reasons. Both games have sub-par touch screen controls, shoddy presentation, and annoyingly difficult Achievements. Pac-Man even has an audacious $5 price tag. But those shoddy ports are Namco and Konami’s wrongdoing. How would big and powerful Microsoft handle bringing a classic arcade game to their mobile platform? Surprisingly well, as Centipede proves.

Centipede is not as fondly remembered or highly sequelized as its contemporaries Pac-man and Space Invaders. But when it debuted in arcades in 1980, there really was nothing like it. Instead of a joystick, players controlled the main character with a trackball. The hero, a tiny garden gnome, could move in any direction and at greatly varying speeds thanks to the analog control input.

The goal is to destroy the titular centipedes as they descend from the top of the screen. If the centipede hits one of the many randomly-placed mushrooms, it moves down a little faster. Each shot the player hits the centipede with destroys one of its segments, but also spawns a mushroom and usually splits the centipede in two. Destroying an entire centipede causes the screen’s color to change as a new, faster centipede begins its attack. As if death by centipede wasn’t enough, jumping spiders and mushroom-dropping fleas and scorpions also threaten the pitiably outnumbered gnome.

Squash a few bugs and head past the jump for our full review.

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1

Full House Poker - Review

One of the most exciting benefits of Xbox Live games on Windows Phone 7 is the possibility of connectivity. Crackdown: Project Sunburst unlocks a few bonus features in Crackdown 2 on Xbox 360, but that’s only the tip of the ice berg. Full House Poker, developed by Krome Studios and published by Microsoft, integrates more fully with its Xbox 360 counterpart than any game yet.

Full House Poker is a Texas hold ‘em poker simulator. Poker is very well-suited to mobile game play as you can play a hand in no time at all. Full House Poker’s affordable price and the fact that practically everybody loves poker means the game was bound to sell well on Windows Phone 7 no matter what. Thankfully the developers went the full mile and made not just a mobile poker game but a top-notch one as well.

Head past the break for our full house review.

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