sneak peek

True fact, we were just hit with a blizzard here in the North East. It’s routine for this part of the country, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need a good weather forecasting app.  Step in Weather+, a forthcoming app form developer Bailey Stein. Due for release on January 10th, we got a sneak peek of it and want to give you a tour.

So what makes this app so special? Well, it does a few unique things that we haven’t seen in weather apps, plus it has a very clean design. Head past the break to see our video tour, some screen grabs and what to expect!

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You’ve asked for it, and we’ve finally got around to doing it. Yes, the Windows 8.1 app for Windows Phone Central is nearing completion. Or at least complete enough show you the app in action as we prep for beta testing!

Although that beta isn’t starting today (we tried, we really tried!), it will be happening in the coming weeks. In the meantime, take a look at our video tour, hosted by your cherub cheeked developer, Jay Bennett, plus a few screenshots and photos of the app in action.

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It was just a few days ago that 6tag, the unofficial Instagram client for Windows Phone 8, received a robust update with version 1.2. That update included the premier feature of multiple-account support. Now we can share with you the long-rumored new UI for version 1.4, which is due in the Store in the next twenty-four hours.

Responding to some critics who would prefer a swipe / gesture based system for 6tag, developer Rudy Huyn has obliged those users by offering them a second UI. The new choice is called ‘Modern’ while the old design is now called ‘Polaroid’.

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We announced a few weeks ago that the popular electronic music streaming site Digitally Imported (www.di.fm) was beta testing their official app for Windows Phone. Tonight, we figured we show you the current status of the beta and how it all works.

Digitally Imported is a free music streaming site, though users can opt for a paid “Premium” experience like on Pandora. That feature enables 256kbps streaming with no ads and that membership level is reflected in the app.

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It’s been a few days since we’ve mentioned anything about Instagram and Windows Phone, so we figured we would update you on one of the most anticipated projects: 6tagram from developer Rudy Huyn.

Starting last Friday, the app went into private beta with a few thousand lucky users getting early access to hunt down and find bugs. Since then, the app has had a steady stream of updates (sometimes two a day) as Rudy has added new features and refined any usability issues.

The app is planned, roughly, for a release next week though that’s not a guarantee. Still, at the rate at which the app is progressing and the positive feedback so far, we’re confident that the app will be making a lot of people happy.

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Here in the North East, we’re dealing with a kind of nasty heat wave, so weather and apps seems appropriate (our “real feel” is 109F, which is crazy). That’s why we’re kind of excited to see the app InstaWeather Pro headed to Windows Phone in the coming weeks.

We’ll give you a sneak peek, including video of it in action, in addition to launch details and what’s it all about.

InstaWeather Pro, found on iOS and Android, is part of that new crop of apps that allow you to take a photo and overlay your current location and weather with just a few clicks. You can then easily share those images to Instagram, Facebook, Foursquare or email.

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When it comes to the calendar app on Windows Phone, there are generally two camps: those who don’t mind it and those who yearn for a different, more configurable experience. And let’s face it, a lot of that comes down to how complicated (and scheduled) your life is.

Simple Calendar, currently available for Windows Phone 8 as a free app, is about to get a nice update to version 2.0. We’ve been using it over the weekend and you can color us impressed.

Check out our video below to see what's coming next!

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What’s that? You need some more Instagram news for Windows Phone to keep going? Well, we don’t have any more info on an official app, though May keeps popping up. In the meantime, it looks like a new contender is getting ready to enter the field: Itsdagram.

Made by developer Daniel Gary (who also makes the popular Pinsation app), Itsdagram steps up its game against the current uploader Instagraph in that it allows unfettered, direct access to Instagram’s service. That means you can create an account, upload directly for posting, deleting, commenting, liking, searching, tagging, etc.--just about everything else an official client can offer. Check out the video below to see it in action.

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One of the first and the best photo editing apps for Windows Phone, Pictures Lab, is getting ready to be updated to version 5.0 to better support the latest version of the mobile operating system.

The developers have been consistent in delivering updates since its release and with the latest incarnation we grab some performance improvements and support for all the Windows Phone 8 screen resolutions. Read on past the break for more details on this impending update!

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You know we love showing you folks what those crafty devs have planned for their apps. That’s the case here with Twabbit, yet another solid and recommended Twitter client currently available for Windows Phone. The team is actively working on a Windows Phone 8 update for their client and we figured we would show you what they have going on.

Twabbit is a relative new comer to the Windows Phone Twitter field. It has a minimalist, Metro UI look to it but don’t let that fool you as it is packed with features and options. Yes, if you like tinkering with every notification, color for the UI, streaming choices and more then Twabbit is for you. It’s really amazing how many things you can manipulate with this client and hey, if you don’t want to you could just leave it on the basic settings and still have a blast.

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MetroTube for many Windows Phone users is the be-all, end-all for your mobile YouTube experience. With a slick design and excellent performance there’s little wonder.

Here at BUILD we were able to catch up with the developers behind MetroTube (and the new Windows 8 Twitter app Tweetro) for quick look at the upcoming update that will bring some new Windows Phone 8 features, including doublewide tiles and a new preloading feature (basically downloading for offline viewing).

In addition, we got a preliminary look at MetroTube for Windows 8 RT, which we can confirm is now officially in the works for your Surface.

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Hey look at that! Mush is finally here, at least here in Los Angeles at E3. We've talked about Mush before as the game looks to fill the gap for "super cute, slow paced, causal game" on Windows Phone, one that appeals to mom, your kid and heck, even ourselves.  From our earlier description of the game:

"A puzzle platformer that gives you control over how your character feels. Change their emotions by drawing smiles and sad faces, and by rotating or shaking the Windows Phone. Mush will be a Windows Phone exclusive."

Mush was announced last August as one of 14 new Xbox LIVE titles coming to Windows Phone. While we don't have a release date, seeing as we have a solid working demo being displayed, our bet is "within weeks". 

We really like this game from what we've seen. It has well done graphics and unique character controls which should appeal to a lot of people. Seeing as it's a Windows Phone exclusive, we're excited for this release.

Check the demo video of the game after the break for another look...

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We showed you some of the early screenshots from the EA/Hasbro game Battleship and now the game is set for releases in the next day for all. 

Here at E3 which just started within the last hour, we managed to track down a working version already loaded on a phone. Our impression? We like it. It's actually quite fun and we can see how this game will be quite addictive to play--it's simple, has neat little cut screens and the game is familiar to all.

But you're wondering about multiplayer, right? From what we saw, it has two modes: pass-n-play and Xbox LIVE. Unfortunately with the latter we were unable to try it due to the phone having no connectivity (and not being signed in). But it at least looks like you can challenge and play your Xbox LIVE friends giving a real turn-by-turn gaming experience. 

Look for Battleship for Xbox LIVE to hit the Windows Phone Marketplace in the next 24 hours. We think you're going to like it.

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We've covered the popular "jumper" game MonsterUp previously on Windows Phone Central--published by Karios, the game features great music, bold, adorable graphics and interesting twists on an old concept. Though Doodle Jump gets the headlines, MonsterUp to us was always more creative. Now, Karios has returned with MonsterUp Adventures and we got a little sneak peek of the upcoming tile.

Instead of just a straight sequel i.e. yet-another-jumper, MonsterUp Adventures is more like a proper video game now. It features:

  • Levels you need to complete
  • Multiple "bosses"
  • Gems, jewels and coins to collect to unlock new monsters
  • A shop to purchase new monsters (who each have unique powers)

Whereas before the goal was to just jump as high as you can, now on each level you need to "jump to the end" to complete it. It takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes per level and yes, it's quite challenging at times (especially on the 2nd half of the island). The collecting of jewels to purchase new monsters is well done as it gives you motivation to try new combinations, plus it adds to the replay value.  The bosses, while not very difficult, add a nice break to the jumping and the exquisitely drawn and unique backgrounds keep the visuals fresh.

Sadly, MonsterUp Adventures as submitted to be an Xbox LIVE game but was denied by Microsoft. Like Karios, we're not sure what the criteria is for making into that coveted camp but compared to the last few stinkers on Xbox LIVE, MonsterUp Adventures more than makes the cut in our mind.

The plus side is MonsterUp Adventures will get to your phones sooner than if it were on Xbox LIVE and Karios can deliver more updates, more frequently.

So our verdict? We really like this game. Jumpers are fun but they can get old fast. Karios Games have taken that concept to a new level with 'Adventures, breathing new life into the growing franchise. With fantastic graphics, a catchy tune and high re-playablity we're impressed.

Look for MonsterUp Adventures to arrive in the Marketplace very soon. Check out the promo vid after the break...

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We've had the chance to look at an upcoming app from Igneous Software, who are responsible for the BBC Radio apps available on the Marketplace. Their latest project, BBC Podcast Lounge, does exactly what it says on the tin. The UI and design of the app is superb and follows on nicely from their previous radio apps, but it's the functionality and end-polish that shines in BBC Podcast Lounge.

On app launch you're greeted by the featured screen with tiles of top recommended podcasts. From here you can pan across and view all the genres (the BBC reportedly contains over 300 unique programmes) available, from Jazz and Rock all the way to Science and Soap, there's something for every taste. If you'd rather select shows by stations and / or region, a full list is present to break down the catalogue.

As well as the selection lists, programmes can be added to the favourites for more convenient access, but unfortunately they (or the radio stations) can't be pinned to the home screen. Search is also available, which will enable the user to filter through the programmes available in real-time. As well as the breakdown categories, featured, and favourites the main app screen also sports miscellaneous links for rating the app, etc. and providing feedback to the developers.

Playback is just what you'd expect from a generic media / music player, and with the included background playback functionality one can continue to battle zombies or help defeat Dr. Robotnik while listening to a gardening talk show. BBC Podcast Lounge also integrates itself into the list of applications in the Music and Video hub. Check out our quick walkthrough of the app below.

We expect BBC Radio Podcast to be hitting the Marketplace soon (we'll announce exactly when it's available). Note that features present in the video and covered by this preview article are subject to change. Igneous Software have stated they have plans to introduce a download manager and functionality for offline playback in the next version. Positive times ahead!

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We've been waiting for a long time for an Audible client for Windows Phone and that day is finally almost upon us. Currently the popular audio-book app is in limited beta testing but we managed to get our hands on a copy and to be honest, we're impressed. The folks at Audible have given time and consideration when making this app as opposed to rushing some basic player to the market and it shows.

The Audible app is fast, nimble and to the point allowing you to purchase your favorite audio books on the go and with ease of listening. Some of the highlights of the app include:

  • Primary Live Tile that flips with recent history on the back
  • Secondary Live Tiles based on book title; enables 1-touch playing of audio; flips to show bookmark history
  • Configurable "jump back" feature to re-hear a section (default is 30 seconds)
  • Button-less playback which uses gestures instead of buttons to control the audio
  • Badges and statistics viewer
  • Sharing of book info and general news via the Windows Phone built in social networks
  • Gorgeous UI

One small downside is that it uses the built in browser/embedded IE9 for book purchasing as opposed to a dedicated native marketplace. The embedded option works well enough but it feels a little jarring to be ejected momentarily from the app-experience.

The design of the app is really striking and in our mind, Audible has done a knock out job here. In addition, there are enough options to keep most users happy but not too much as to overwhelm. While purchasing audio books may not be everyone's cup of tea (gosh, they're expensive!) we know many of you really insist on this service and for you , we have just a few words: you won't be disappointed.

Look for the official Auidble app to hit the Marketplace in the next few weeks. We'll of course keep you abreast of when it finally is released here at WPCentral. Thanks to Jack K., for the assitance!

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It's been awhile since we've seen WeatherLive get some major new functions, so it's with great joy to see version 4.0 beta making the rounds.

While the poplar weather app has grown in functionality, it has also become a little sluggish too. In addition, some people missed the simplicity of the the versions 1 and 2 of the app over the more busy 3.x. Luckily, the developer has been listening and 4.0 looks to make everyone happy. Here are the major changes:

  • Faster - the app's transitions and loading times are much zippier and more fluid
  • Theme support - With three themes, including Metro Minimalist, Metro and the new Glass, users can choose how they want the app to look
  • Animated radar - the radar map is now animated with 'pinch and zoom' built right in
  • Graphic tweaks - improved and cleaner UI

We really like where 4.0 is heading with the themes support as it will seemingly make everyone happy who has used this app in the past. The performance increase is also welcomed as the app was getting a big bogged down with the latest updates.

Look towards version 4.0 hitting the Marketplace in a few weeks. In the meantime, take v3.5 for a trial in the Marketplace or buy it for $1.49.

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With about 18 hours before this week's Xbox LIVE game goes live for y'all to download, we figured we would tease you a little bit with some gameplay from DODONPACHI MAXIMUM.  Yes, it's in all caps because this game is yelling at you...with bullets.

What can we say about this game?

  • It's $4.99
  • It's Japanese, from studio Cave
  • It's ridiculously crazy, fun and challenging
  • May induce seizures

Yeah, we like it even if it's going to take time to get good at. This is the kind of game where you can just pick up, blast away and pray you last longer than the last time you did. We're digging the graphics and all the little details throughout, meaning you should get a little excited about this is if shumps are your thing. (And yes, I'm still suffering from a head cold from Barcelona, hence why I sound sick, ahem).

Look for the Marketplace link later tonight right here at WPCentral to try it yourself...

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It's been awhie since we've talked about Ask Ziggy, the Siri-like app from developer Shai Leib. Powered by Nuance for voice-search and some backend tweaks to customize how things work, the app is a great example of developer ingenuity.

Since the app went viral, Leib has gone back to the drawing board and reworked a lot of the app in response to user feedback. For instance in the new version expected in a few days, it's much more Metro influenced with the SMS chat bubble. But more importantly, the feature list has greatly expanded to include using your geo-location ability to pinpoint weather/time/search requests. You can even set reminders (it will create a Live Tile and alarm), call people, pull up calendar information for any day upon request and much more. (You can see some more screenshots here)

The app should be hitting the Marketplace in a few days and it is still free as far as we know. This is also just the beginning as Leib has much more planned for new and unique features. For now, you can watch out video though to get an idea of what's coming and you can download the old verison here in the Marketplace.

We'll keep you posted when version 2.0 goes live probably next week, so stay tuned.

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This week's "Must Have Game" is Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction. We wrote about this game way back in June 2011 and it was even announced before Windows Phone 7 launched, making this one of the longest "in gestation" games we have seen yet. We wrote back then:

"Another Gameloft title, Conviction was announced prior to the Windows Phone launch and then disappeared off the radar. This title provides a surprisingly faithful rendition of the Splinter Cell series, with great 3D graphics and stealth game play. The Mark and Kill allows players to select multiple targets and perform instant kills on them. This is definitely a game to look forward to, but don’t be surprised if it costs $6.99 at launch."

Now the game is just $4.99 and finally will hit our phones early tomorrow morning. So is it worth it?

Yeah, actually it's pretty darn good. It's great to have this type of game finally our our phones instead of the traditional casual arcade games that we've had as of late. This is a much slower paced, cinematic style game where you take your time...murdering people. We're all for that (don't judge us!) and what we've played so far we like. The controls are pretty intuitive, the graphics are pretty snappy and it's quite a bit of fun.

Will it hold up after a few levels? Will the gameplay be challenging enough? Too early to tell and that's why we have Paul around to tell us. But so far, we're quite happy with it. Look for the game to land in the next 12-20 hours in the Marketplace for $4.99. Of course, we'll let you know when we have a link for it, so stay tuned.

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