windows phone

The official Times newspaper app for Windows Phone

Good news for our UK friends as the Times official newspaper app for Windows Phone has just gone live in the Marketplace. The app is well designed and brings the daily paper and even the Sunday Times right to your favorite Windows Phone all for free.

Well, it’s free if you have a subscription. That’s right, much like the New York Times app for Windows Phone, the Times of London will allow you to test drive their services for 30 days but afterwards you will need a subscription to continue the service.

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Whilst at the Windows Phone Dev Day in Bournemouth we got a chance to meet Ross Gouldthorpe, who has been developing for Windows Phone for two years. Ross was kind enough to give us a walkthrough of his upcoming Windows phone game, Atoms.

The game is also currently in development for the Xbox 360 and has a Nintendo DS homebrew counterpart. The game Atoms has roots as an old Amiga game of the same name. It started life as freebie on the cover of a magazine, which is where Ross first discovered it.  Ross tells me he still has his Amiga machines but these days they are locked up in storage, he does still have the Amiga CD32 connected to his TV though.

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Yesterday saw the start of a new developer group, this time not based in London but on the south coast in Bournemouth. Scott Lovegrove of Ferret Labs and Dan Thomas of Moov2 conceived the meet up. The core idea in creating the group is simple, to bring developers interested in both Windows Phone and Windows development together. With the looming releases of both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 now seemed like the time.  We signed up to attend the event and were invited to present a short talk. With everything from games development to a platform overview of Windows Phone 8 from a Microsoft evangelist, it proved a very worthwhile trip.

The event was generously hosted by local digital agency redweb. As well as the excellent space, they were able to provide a great meeting room and a fridge stocked with refreshments for the ever-thirsty developers. We arrived after a very early start to make it for 10am to find that the place was already buzzing with devs. We took our places and the talks began, first it started off with a show and tell section.

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Good Technology has released their annual report detailing the spread of device activations for Q2. Good are well known for being at the forefront of providing technology for IT departments to facilitate users who wish to use their own devices for work, commonly referred to as BYOD, or to allow departments to use technology that's not quite as secure or manageable out of the box. The premise is simple; the software provides a heavily encrypted shell to keep corporate email private and secure. Windows Phone is making its presence known in the workplace according to this report.

The Good Windows Phone client was only debuted in April 2012 but already it’s showing as accounting for 1.2% of the overall activations. Bear in mind that the lion’s share of activations are currently going to the non-enterprise friendly, but current executive fondle-thing-business toy, the IPad. The iPad is accounting for a whopping 94.5 of all activations.

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The seaside is a wonderful place for sun, sea, sand and Windows Phones! Looks like Nokia are at it again, but this time they've teamed up with Quiksilver and a load of Surfer dudes to promote Windows Phone. If the images and video in this article are anything to go by, it looks like they had a hoot at Biarritz in France, this time hosting the Roxy Pro surfing tournament. Nokia have teamed up with Sosh and Quiksilver to launch a youth oriented variant of the sleek and stylish Lumia 610.

It’s would seem that no Windows Phone event by the sea is complete without a pair of oh-so-trendy Windows Phone endorsed white sunglasses. Microsoft and Nokia were there in force showing off the full range of Windows Phones, giving the beach boys n girls plenty of hands-on time. Of course no Windows Phone event would be complete without the “Smoked By Windows Phone” team smoking peoples phones so you’ll be happy to know they're at it again. If that's not enough, looks like spray on ‘I love Windows Phones’ tattoos were being dished out. Lets hope they come off this time?

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When it comes to games on Windows Phone we have quite a few puzzlers, lots of zombies and a plethora of tower games. But one area we sometimes overlook is the class strategy game—the one where every move counts and requires some thought akin to chess.

Nova by Jeffrey A. Voigt fits the bill nicely and for $0.99, it’s well worth the investment.

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Nokia has reportedly shipped 6.9 million Lumias

Sales numbers and estimates are always a tricky thing, especially when you don’t have concrete numbers to work with. We also tend to boast the good news and downplay the bad so with that caveat we’ll provide you the latest in “market analysis”. Don’t worry, this one is mostly good.

Strategy Analytics is making quite the name for themselves this day if only because they tend to buck the trend when it comes to Nokia and Windows Phone. In their latest report (available here to subscribers), they claim that Nokia shipped (not necessarily sold) 6.9 million Lumia Windows Phone since its launch in Q4 2011 and up through Q2 2012. 

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During last night’s WPUG meet in central London, we got a chance to catch up with Richard from Igneous Software. BBC Podcast lounge is a must-have app for those that want to catch up on all the amazing and free content from Auntie Beeb. Richard was able to give me a quick walkthrough of the latest update that is currently in testing.

The current app is great but with this update, Richard looks to be taking a logical and very welcome next step. From 1.4 onwards users will be able to subscribe to podcasts. Great news, even better is that it offers options to keep up to 3 podcasts of each. That is very similar to the options presented on the Zune desktop client. Whilst the Zune music hub in Windows Phone is great, it’s not possible to subscribe to podcasts or even browse and download manually. The only way to get podcasts on your device through Zune is to first connect to the computer, subscribe to the podcast and then sync with your phone, once that’s done it will grab them. It’s a far from convenient solution, something better needed to be found.

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If you just tuned in to our latest podcast, you probably heard Jay and myself discussing when we expect Windows Phone 8 to actually come out—especially since we now know that Windows 8 Desktop will be here October 26th.

Going on simple history, the last two release cycles for Windows Phone have occurred in the October/November timeframe and we expect that to repeat again this year. Throw in the October 26th street date for Win 8 and it should be obvious what Microsoft’s overarching strategy will be—a dual launch where two of their main products dominate headlines. Or what lame business folk call “synergy”.

Over at ZDNet, Mary Jo Foley is hearing from a trusted source the following dates for Microsoft:

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Today Nokia revealed its interim financial results for Q2 2012.  Nothing too shocking, really.  Keep in mind that this is a company that was once the largest phone manufacturer in the world, driven by Symbian and feature phones. Nokia now has to find its place in the smartphone market, and this position will really depend upon the market success of Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform. 

With that in mind, Nokia shipped 4 million Lumia phones during Q2.  It may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to iPhone or Samsung (Android) numbers, but when you compare it against RIM’s latest quarter (the shipped 7.8 million BlackBerry phones), it shows some forward momentum. 

Overall, Nokia sold 73 million phones. That’s 69 million non-Lumia phones. The company’s huge challenge is to hang onto the low end of the feature phone market (under attack from Android) while also converting many of its Symbian smartphone users onto Nokia-branded Windows Phone products in the future.  It’s a tall order, but Nokia has a pretty good fighting chance...

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SoundGecko is coming to Windows Phone soon

With today's busy world, sometimes finding time to read you favorite article or keep up with the news can be difficult. Luckily, there may be a solution for some of you on the horizon. 

SoundGecko is a new, amazing service where you find any article, email it to them, and they will send you back an MP3 file of that article. The service can connect up with your SkyDrive or DropBox service to automatically deposit audio files of new articles, allowing to you to pull them down on-the-go. The smartphone app is simply a method to flag articles for the service for conversion.

Currently, the app is only available on the iPhone and Chrome browser (via an extension) but fear not, a Windows Phone version is in the works and we'll have some information on that coming soon...

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Microsoft is rolling out another update to its SkyDrive Windows Phone client today. Not a huge amount has changed in the latest version but it does bring some welcome graphical changes.

The logo has been updated to now fall in line with that seen on the web and on the desktop version  of the client, gone is the swish and onwards with the ‘flattening’. It is also adhering more to the Metro feel, dropping the rather dull skeuomorphic yellow folder icons and replacing them with their authentically digital counterparts. Yes, that means blue squares to you and me.

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Although we cheered at Nokia dropping the price of the AT&T Lumia 900 a few days ago, many detractors in the tech media looked for a negative angle to the story, resulting in some damning headlines this past week.

What was the other tale they were spinning? That the Lumia 900 must not be doing well—after all, why would Nokia (and AT&T) cut the price “so soon” after launch? Forgetting the fact that “so soon” is exactly 3 months or we’ve seen price drops after launches before. That didn’t stop various media outlets like this example which boasts

“Finnish phone maker Nokia has been forced to cut the price of its Lumia 900 by half, just weeks after launching it”.

Forced? Just weeks? That story went over the ANI wire to a lot of news outlets. One problem though: they were wrong.

Read more after the break..

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You can run, but you can't hide on Xbox LIVE

Although Contract Killer was known to be coming to Xbox LIVE today (and sure enough, it’s out) it looks like Microsoft slipped in a 2nd title—Lode Runner Classic.

The game fetches for $2.99 and is a throwback to the old school arcade games from the 1980s. In fact, many of you will have childhood flashbacks with this one as it was quite popular with home PC systems which include the Apple II series, the Atari 8-bit family, the VIC-20, the Commodore 64 and the IBM PC and it’s known to be the first game with a level editor.

Gameplay is straightforward—run through mazes and do things. Okay, we’re way oversimplifying as this game actually has a lot going on for it (just see the tutorials). There are an included 150 levels which should keep people busy for a long time and it seems like a fair amount of gameplay versus what you’re paying for it.

Check our video hands on and more details after the break...

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[+] Lock Screen is a stellar app and a must-have

Looks like it’s a good week in the Windows Phone Marketplace for deals as we just got tipped that Snack Studios have made their pay-apps free for an undisclosed time.

The developers have numerous apps in the Marketplace and in our opinion, all are top notch with an elegant design and useful functionality.  Those are apps are the following:

  • [+] Lock Screen – This app comes with a surprising array of gorgeous wallpapers for your Start screen but you can also add a physical calendar and other graphics on top before you save. A must-have app, trust us.
  • [+] Lomo Cam – A standard camera app that has pre-set filters including Lomo, Black and White and others giving your photos a unique look. Also very well done.
  • [+] Note Plus – A unique note taking app with elegant backgrounds, this app uses AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) and has SkyDrive backup. Huzzah!
  • [+] Moments – This app merges photos with notes to allow you to save your memories
  • [+] Emoji – A helper app that allows you to easily insert emoji into text messages

All of those apps are normally $0.99 but dropped to free on July 7th. There are ‘lite’ versions for some of these apps but you can evidently have the full ones for zero—so hop to it as these are some seriously nice programs.

Hit the links above which take you to the Marketplace or just search for ‘Snack Studio’ to find all of their apps. Thanks, Nettwerk, for the tip! 

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A few days ago a fairly major bug has been found in the latest Skype update—the client app on your computer can crash upon sending an IM and what’s more, it may even send the IM to the wrong contact (Skype tries to re-send it but it may have logged you in under a secondary account, should you have one). From Skype:

“Skype client crashes during a Skype IM session, which may in some cases result in the last IM entered or sent prior to the crash being delivered to a different IM contact after the Skype client is rebooted or logged in as a new user.”

Personally, we haven’t seen this bug but it has made some headlines as it’s a quite major and can obviously have some dire privacy issues. The Skype team is on it getting ready to roll out a hotfix very soon.

The odd part is Skype is reporting that this bug is also found on Windows Phone (in addition to Windows, Mac and Linux). We haven’t had any reports of users complaining of crashing—our bet is most of you use Skype for the VOIP part and not so much the IM half which may be biasing feedback.

Regardless, if we see an update to the Skype client for Windows Phone in the next few days, you can be certain it is tied to this situation and there probably won’t be any new features.

Source: Skype; Thanks, Tagliaerbe, for the tip

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Microsoft continues to flesh out their Xbox live app for those of us that have iPads. The latest update brings more of the once exclusive features of the Windows Phone Companion App to iOS users. Unlike Windows Phone, which has a combination of apps to take care of Xbox live business, the iPad rolls all the functions into one. Personally, I like it all integrated into one whole and have been a little confused as to why the Windows Phone has essentially stuck with the Xbox Hub plus the two addition apps called Xbox Companion app and Xbox LIVE Extras App.

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Last we reported that Compal was seeing a reduction in orders of Lumia smartphones from Nokia, fueling some speculation that either Nokia was winding down production in general or they were transferring production to their own shops.

It looks like the latter may now be the case as some of the Lumia 900s coming onto the market are now coming from Argentina. Nokia opened a factory there some time in 2011 and it now looks to have completed its transition to producing Lumia 900 phones albeit as a savings from making it directly in Finland.

Nokia is also set to launch the 900 in Argentina presumably in a few weeks, corroborating earlier reports that the device was to launch their “second half” of the year.

Source: Celularis; Thanks, Esteban T., for the link!

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