windows phone

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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It's pretty but do you use it?

We’re not going to deny that in today’s smartphone world, if you’re going to sell a high-end Windows Phone (or even mid-range) a front-facing camera is a must. Presumably used for face-to-face video call, the technology has been around for years but is only becoming mainstream since 2011.

In Windows Phone 8, users will have Skype and other VOIP options built seamlessly into the OS, offering a fluid experience akin to making “regular” phone calls. And with 4G LTE finally gaining ground nationally here in the US, data bandwidth seems more than adequate for video conferencing.

While all of that sounds good the question for us to you who currently have a front-facing camera is do you use it?

It seems silly to ask but we never use ours except for a few times to test Tango Video or Skype. Other than that we can’t be bothered with the technology. But we’ve often seen those with children using FaceTime on the iPhone to keep in touch, so perhaps we’re in the minority here. The view seems to be that everyone wants a front-facing camera and it's a must-have feature but few of us are actually using it. Are we wrong?

So go forth people, be honest and take our poll. If you do use it, tell us in comments how often. If you don't, let us know why you don't. Too awkward, not enough data speed? Will widespread adoption of Windows Phone 8 and Skype across Microsoft change things?

 

Do you use your front facing camera on your Windows Phone?
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It's estimated that with each Lumia 900 sold in the US for $49, $450 is used to market the Windows Phone for the consumer to actually make the purchase. So we're looking at a fairly expensive US launch should reports be accurate. Is it really all doom and gloom for the platform and Nokia?

Blogger Horace Dediu suggests the push in the States has had negligible impact on the market so far, which we'd agree with. It has been pretty poor. The Lumia 900 received "hero status" from AT&T and is the largest marketing effort by the carrier to-date. But according to recent marketshare numbers, the Windows Phone platform is still struggling in the up-hill battle. We can't just look at the Lumia 900, we have to really look at the perception of Windows Phone as a platform.

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Great news for you instant messaging fans; Nimbuzz is now available to download in the Windows Marketplace. The popular cross platform app was a personal favorite of mine back in the Windows Mobile days and has also been a success on other operating systems. Now it is our turn on Windows Phone and the it will not cost you a penny to download. It is free.

Nimbuzz offers the following features:

  • Free messaging - Replaces SMS with unlimited free chat.
  • IM Community - Connect with multiple IM accounts and have them all in one list. Nimbuzz supports Facebook, Yahoo Messenger, MSN/Windows Live Messenger and Gtalk.
  • Picture sharing - Click and share you favorite pictures with friends and family.
  • Chat history - Keep your conversations handy for use later.
  • Chat Buddies - Use popular chat buddies for Twitter, Cricket, Astrology etc.
  • And much more - Guided tour, contact management, Presence management, Message typing indicator, N-Word, Free avatars and much more.

 

More information/Download Nimbuzz for Windows Phone  via: WMPoweruser

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Yes, dear reader it's summer, to celebrate the fact, those nice people at the Carphone Warehouse are generously running a Windows Phone flavoured prize draw. Included in the prize is the chance to win a Lumia 900 and a couple festival tickets to a major unnamed UK based festival. I am personally waiting for summer to start here in London, but am lead to believe its in full swing around the UK presently.

Carphone Warehouse excitedly describes the Lumia 900 like this:

  • A dazzling 4.3" touchscreen
  • An amazing 8MP Carl Zeiss lens camera
  • Crystal clear video calling
  • A super long lasting battery life

Nokia are offering the festival tickets as part of their July Music Promotion. Currently new purchases of the Lumia 610, 800 and the 900 are eligible to receive Music vouchers from Nokia on standard purchases. Whatever the reasons for the promotion it’s good to see both Nokia and the Carphone Warehouse working together to raise awareness of Windows Phone. Interestingly CPW are only offering Windows Phones from Nokia at this point.

Unlike O2 Carphone Warehouse seem to have a good knowledge of the platform and correctly name it as Windows Phone 7.5 on their website. They have also moved to dispel myths about Microsoft’s current mobile OS.  Offers like these are only going to increase awareness of the brand and with the addition of the festival tickets appeal to the hipster demographic amongst us. Not sure I’d take my Lumia 900 along to a muddy festival mind..

Source: Carphone Warehouse

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Nielson has released their second quarter numbers for 2012 and while 54.9% of U.S. mobile subscribers opted for smartphones, 1.3% opted for Windows Phones. This is a jump from Q1 2012 for smartphones (50.4%)and a slight decline for Windows Phones (1.7%).

Android still has the lion share of the market with 51.8% and Apple is a distant second with 34.3%. RIM is holding steady at 9% with Windows Mobile pulling in 3% of the market.

Nielson's 1.7% is somewhat less of a market share than we saw last month from Comscore who has Microsoft holding on to 4% of the market. Then again, Comscore's numbers combine both Windows Phone and Windows Mobile shares in the market.

Regardless, both reports show that Microsoft still has some work ahead of them. The slight decline in the Nielson report could be from consumers holding off on the platform until Windows Phone 8 is released later this year. It will be interesting to see how these numbers change once the new devices hit the store shelves.

Source: Nielson

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2012, Microsoft’s Epic Year?

Steve Ballmer took to the stage yesterday at Microsoft’s annual powwow, the Worldwide Partners Conference. Steve was as bullish as ever calling 2012 an “EPIC!” year for Microsoft. Steve is always excited but this time Microsoft does have it ‘going on’. Why is Steve so pumped, and what makes 2012 a year of “epic”?

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In addition to announcing the availability of the new Pink Lumia 900, AT&T today have also confirmed that the Tango update (either build 8773 or the slightly newer 8779) will also be coming to the Lumia 900. From the AT&T blog:

“Nokia is also bringing a lot of new enhancements to the Lumia 900. Nokia Lumia users will begin to see software updates for Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh in the coming weeks, which will add several new capabilities to their devices including flip-to-silence.”

We detail some of those new capabilities here in a previous post--in short, enhancements to MMS including multiple messages, voice notes and some minor fixes are included. In addition, AT&T reiterated that Nokia will be bringing a usage tracking counter and a new contact sharing feature in the near future as well, continuing Nokia’s trend to “fill the gaps” in Windows Phone for its customers.

Finally, it has been confirmed that those super popular Zynga games—Draw Something and Words with Friends—will be coming this fall exclusively to Nokia Lumia phones for the first 60 days. While these exclusivity agreements often annoy non-Lumia owners, the 60 day wait should not be too bad of a wait and seems fair to us (assuming Nokia was vital to the deal and assisted Zynga financially).

Overall, not bad news at all and it at least the Lumia 900 is continuing to get direct support from Nokia. 

There’s no word if other AT&T Windows Phones will be getting Tango as well but seeing as the Focus S, Focus Flash and unlocked Dell Venue Pro already are we’re confident that the HTC Titan II and Titan I will as well. If you haven't received an update for your Samsung device, you can try our guide here to get it now.

Source: AT&T; Thanks, Alexander, for the tip

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The overwhelming majority of Lumia 900 users are loving their phone

We know from personal experience that owners of the Lumia 900 (review) have a lot of pride in their device and that feeling has now been quantified in a new study commissioned by Nokia. Nokia hired Nielsen’s back in April to survey US buyers of their flagship Windows Phone to see how happy they were with their purchase decision. The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 96 per cent of owners are extremely satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their Lumia 900
  • 95 per cent of owners are willing to recommend the Lumia 900
  • 83 per cent say that their expectations are better or much better than expected
  • 85 per cent say they would repurchase the Lumia 900
  • 91 per cent think their phone is better than other mobiles out on the market
  • 95 per cent thought downloading an app from the Marketplace was easy to do

The survey was the online one we reported back in May and consisted of 810 people averaging 18 minutes to complete the questionnaire. Of course we wonder now how many of you skewed the results lending a sampling bias to Nielsen by not necessarily representing the average consumer (as opposed to “enthusiasts”). Ahem.

Results from the Nokia-Nielsen study (April 27, 2012 and on May 18, 2012)

Interestingly, nearly two-thirds of the people sampled had purchased their Lumia 900 through AT&T in a store as opposed to an online dealer like Amazon Wireless. We don’t have any numbers for comparison but it’s clear that in-store purchases are still king even when heavy-discounts are offered online (Amazon Wireless is routinely cheaper than AT&T direct).

Having said all of that we don’t doubt that many Lumia 900 users, either average or enthusiast, are very happy with their purchase. Nokia tends to garner brand loyalty and we’ve already seen how “Lumia” trends higher than “Windows Phone” reinforcing that notion. Today’s results are just as impressive.

Source: Nokia Conversations/Nielsen

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In last decade there have been many great rivaleries: Tyson Vs. Hollifield, Baggy pants vs Skinny Jeans, Alien VS. Predator - the list just goes on and on. Now a new fight is brewing: Google's Nexus Q and Microsoft's Xbox 360.

Google has recently announced their new form of media consumption for their users. It's small, round, glows like Tron, and  looks a bit like the Death Star. This sphere will go head to head with the Xbox 360. Microsoft has been rebranding the Xbox 360 for the last few years, turning it from an exclusive gaming system to your main media device. More and more people have been using the console to watch movies, stream music, and to video chat. With Smart Glass coming out hopefully in the fall, Microsoft will be integrating your phone or tablet as both a second screen and remote control.

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Co-found of Apple Steve Wozniak thinks Windows Phone is a convergence of "art and technology"

Speaking at a press conference after his talk at the Entel Summit (Entel is Chile's leading telecommunications operator), co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak gave his thoughts on Microsoft, Surface and their new Metro UI. Having previously spoken positively of the Lumia 900 and what Microsoft was up to with their refocus on usability and visual appeal, "the Woz" continues to give praise to the company and what appears to be their new direction, noting that he wants a Surface tablet.

During the Q&A session, Wozniak gave his thoughts on how the Lumia line of smartphones and Windows Phone 7 have such a "...strikingly good visual appearance which is a lot of what Steve Jobs always looked for, the art and technology, the convergence of art and technology." Back in April, the technology guru famously heaped praise on the Lumia 900 and Windows Phone and evidently he continues to like it.

Regarding Surface, Wozniak says he wants to "own one, to use one" so he can see for himself how good it is and not have to rely on what he's read—a fair and respectable stance to have on an un-released product.

The video Q&A where Wozniak responds to a Microsoft question during the Entel Summit '12

As far as Microsoft, he had some interesting observations that seem to be aligning with a lot of people's thoughts today on the company: Microsoft has changed and are entering a new era.

"But I'm glad that Microsoft is starting to show maybe they're a different company than before, I don't remember this sort of thing happening in a long, long time with Microsoft, so I'm very happy."

Of course Wozniak has always been quite "technology neutral" and he used whatever device that he thought was the best, without any allegiances. This is why he's respected amongst many as he brings true insight from an engineer's perspective as opposed to a partisan with a product to sell. Either way, it's good press for Microsoft.

Source: TechNews; Thanks, Eric, for the tip!

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File this under old news but good news but T-Mobile is pleased as punch with the companies selection of Windows Phone. Since adding the HTC Radar 4G and Nokia Lumia 710, T-Mobile has seen sales of Windows Phone double in the past eight months.

Brad Duea, Senior Vice President of Product Development at T-Mobile, comments,

"We continue to see strong sales and adoption of the platform with the Nokia Lumia 710 consistently being one of our top five selling smartphones since it launched in January 2012. Not only that but, as expected, we’ve seen a large number of first-time smartphone users select a Windows Phone as their device of choice with 55% of all upgrades to the Lumia 710 coming from a messaging or feature phone."

According to T-Mobile the Lumia 710 has some of the highest handset satisfaction scores and feedback from customers has been very positive on Windows Phone software. With regards to the future of Windows Phones at T-Mobile Duea notes,

"We’re bullish on the future of Windows Phone. In fact, IDC’s report out earlier this month predicts Windows Phone will surpass iOS by 2016 – and we expect Windows Phone to continue to play a prominent role in our product portfolio and marketing efforts."

T-Mobile is slated to be a launch partner for Windows Phone 8 later this fall. Maybe we'll see more of Carly carrying a Windows Phone in the future.

Source: T-Mobile Blog

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Last month Nokia sponsored a Windows Phone developer workshop in St. Louis that was very successful. On the heels of that success, Nokia is sponsoring two more developer workshops. One in Orlando, Florida and another in Nashville, Tennessee.

According to Nokia Ambassador Rich Dunbar,

This workshop will be focused on the tools and resources you have available as a developer/potential developer for Windows Phone development from Nokia and Microsoft. The event will begin with a brief presentation from Nokia and will then focus on ensuring all the proper tools are introduced. We will review some of the tutorials and quick start projects and then allow time for the attendees to work on the projects they choose and ask questions along the way. The goal of the workshop is to help developers get started on their first Windows Phone app.

The Nashville event is scheduled for Saturday, July 28, 2012 from 8:00am until noon at the Microsoft Offices. The Orlando event will be held on Friday, August 10, 2012 from 6:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. at the Doubletree Inn. There is a possibility the Nashville event will be pushed up to the evening of Friday, July 27th if space becomes available.

Each event have food provide along with Nokia swag to be given away including at least one Windows Phone. You'll need to register to attend (so Nokia will know how much food to order).

You can register for the Nashville event here and the Orlando event here. If you are close to either location and are interested in Windows Phone development, this will be a great opportunity to network with other developers and get a jump on your app development.

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The return of MetroTube!

We told you a few days ago that YouTube app MetroTube was due to return to the Marketplace for Windows Phone after a six month hiatus and sure enough, version 3.1 just went live.

The app itself is as smooth and buttery as you may have remembered. If you don't remember you’ll really enjoy the superb, fluid UI design which is obviously heavily inspired by Metro design language. Features include streaming of video content, pinning videos to your Start screen, like/dislike, comments, favorites and playlist support and sharing.

You may not get the ability to rip videos for downloading or play in true HD but the app itself is a joy to use and now that it’s free, it’s hard to not give it serious consideration.

Pick up MetroTube here in the Windows Phone Marketplace for free. Let us know in comments your thoughts. Thanks, Rahat M., for the tip

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Nokia Lumia 900 with Android 4.x?

Should Nokia have chosen Android over Windows Phone? Many think so, including one former Apple executive.

Things are getting rough for Nokia. Today, their stock hit the historic low of $2 a share before closing at $2.02.  That’s bad, very bad for a company who traded for over $40 a share just a few years ago. What’s more, the “no Windows Phone 8” for current devices, especially the high-profile Lumia line, is doing nothing to inspire confidence in the company, whose primary business is selling phones. See RIM.

Recently though, some people have been clamoring for Nokia’s heyday and stating that Nokia should have gone with Android instead of Windows Phone. Others think they abandoned Symbian way too early even though Nokia’s stock crashed below $10 back in 2009. News flash: Symbian was dragging the company down and their stock price reflected this years before they announced they were going with Windows Phone.

In an interview with Computing.co.uk, a former Apple executive named Jean-Louis Gassée (he left in 1990, before the company became interesting) threw Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and the Board under a bus noting that the company should have chosen Android, like he recommended, instead. Sour grapes?

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Nokia is the first to bring Kaliki to a mobile platform

Nokia is back at it again, giving customers the most bang for their buck by releasing two more exclusive apps today in the Nokia Collection for Lumia Windows Phones. Today’s apps include the Batman Origins comic and the truly unique Kaliki.

Batman Origins is a straight up prequel comic to the new movie Batman: The Dark Knight Rises due in a few weeks. There’s not much to the app as it’s just a straight up digital comic featuring two sides—Batman or Bane—and you can just go through and read it. The gorgeous artwork is provided by DC Comics of course and it’s a fun little read, especially for you fans.

What’s more, under “Links” for the app there is evidently another app coming called “The Dark Knight Rises: Prologue”. That app is not yet available but we imagine it’s just a matter of time. This marks the third app from Nokia featuring Batman with the other being the TDKR App, now this origins-comic and soon a Prologue.

Next up is the even more interesting Kaliki app from Nokia. This was something we did not see coming and boy is it cool.  In essence, it’s a news app that reads the news to you but not in some mechanical robot voice. No, Kaliki takes highlight news stories from various sources like the NY Times, CNN, USA Today and has a professional voice actor narrate it to you, making all news sound much more epic.

If you like Audible and/or National Public Radio, this app is for you.

Kaliki includes various types of news including headlines, sports, celebrity, science & technology and more too, so you have a wide selection of headlines to choose from.  The app requires a data connection and you can’t save any of the recordings for offline use—heck, there are basically no options within the app. But for you commuters with constant data connections, Kaliki is killer.

Kaliki is actually a new service not exclusive to Nokia (but they have the app first). The company (http://www.kaliki.com/) wants to be “Pandora for magazines” and will be coming to other platforms. But as far as we can tell, Nokia and Windows Phone is the first mobile iteration of the new service which hasn’t officially launched, until today.

No doubt both apps will continue to cause consternation amongst those who don’t have a Nokia Lumia phone, but for those who do, you’ll be quite pleased with both offerings.

Pick up Batman Origins here and Kaliki for Lumia Windows Phones here in the Nokia Collection.

    

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