windows phone

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A curved 'Arc' keyboard for Windows Phone?

I must say I am not overly keen on the above. It just looks weird to me but that maybe just because it is a new concept. WMPoweruser has managed to get hold of the image of the Arc keyboard and it is suggested that this may well be something that Microsoft are looking to introduce to Windows Phone in the future.

Apparantly this picture has come from a leaked Microsoft Research presentation. Will we see this in the future? Who knows, but what we can be certain of is that all operating system providers will experiment with altenative keyboards from time to time.

In my opinion I am not sure this one is needed and if it will even be a selling point for Windows Phone. If we are given a choice of which keyboard we use on a device could work. That wouldnt do any harm for sure.

What do you think? Please let us have your opinions in the comments.

Source: WMPoweruser; Thanks, Gordon, for the tip!

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The offiical Twitter app's new Toast push-notification in action

If there was one nagging issue with the official Twitter app for Windows Phone, it was the inability to get Toast notifications for new mentions or re-Tweets. Even after receiving a new update just 3 weeks ago, there was still no sign of any of these advanced features.

So we were a tiny bit flabbergasted to actually see a new notification section in the latest update, version 1.2.4555.39631 (or just v1.5 in the Marketplace) which just went live tonight. The updated Notification area has the following options

  • Mentions - Off, From people you follow, From anyone
  • Favorited Off, From people you follow, From anyone
  • retweetsOff, From people you follow, From anyone
  • Direct messages
  • New followers

That's actually a fairly robust selection of possible notifications for Twitter these days and yes, they are the Push type i.e. nearly instant. What's more, while there is seemingly no Live Tile counter, the Tiles does flip to show you new mentions or notifications in addition to the Toast alerts (which work quite fast from our experience).

While there is no counter, the Live Tile flips to show mentions

While it may have taken nearly two years to get this feature on Twitter, we are just going to sit in awe now and enjoy what we have.

Pick up the official Twitter app (v1.5) for Windows Phone now in the Marketplace. Thanks, Osvaldo C., for the tip

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163

Editorial - Windows Phone getting fragged

Fragmentation is the modern day Darwinism. Only the strong survive and technology is not above this rule. Every three months there is something, bigger, badder, better. There is no doubt in any ones mind that there is always something more amazing coming out when you buy a new phone. Back in the 1990's and early 2000's, when you bought a phone, you expected it just to work. Smartphones were called PDA's and they were like a mini computer. They were big, expensive, clunky and were complicated to learn for the average consumer. Then the iPhone was born and took the world by fire.

After the iPhone, there was Android with their unshackled operating system. There were many promises with both operating systems that there would be improvements with hardware, software, and how you would interact with their devices. No one thought they would have to buy a new phone every two years to take advantage of the newer software and hardware.

The older generation of cell phone owners keep their phones for as many years as they can. They will duct tape, glue, rubber band, their phone together because they feel they shouldn't have to buy a new phone. It should just work forever.

We can all agree, technology moves at a fast pace. Currently Android has five versions running ( Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich, Donut) in the market. with Jelly Bean just announced. The iPhone has about 3 versions of its operating system, and Windows Phone also has 3 (NoDo, Mango, Tango) which are hardware independent.

The current generation of Smartphone users are use to the 2 year cycle and getting new hardware and software at the end of their contracts. Even newer smartphone users that get their phones in 2012 always want the next big thing now!  

They don't want to wait 2 years for a new phone, because when they see what they missed out on, they get upset and sometimes cancel their accounts and start a new contract with another carrier, just to get the newest phone.

Android and Apple started the fragmentation game and we are all playing by its rules. Microsoft recently announced that current Windows Phone will not get Windows Phone 8, but will get a version of it called 7.8. Twitter users reacted with outrage because Windows Phone was the last OS that kept everyone phone current with updates. Microsoft delivered the Mango update to 100% of eligible phones last year. It is safe to say that every Windows Phone is running the current software. For most people this was a great change. No more fragmentation for a platform.

At the Windows Phone Developer Summit, Microsoft announced that with Windows Phone 8, there will be a change for hardware. This leap in technology is giving the platform, NFC support, dual core processors, higher resolution displays, and removable SD card support. The current Windows Phones hardware doesn't have any of these new specs. In order to give customers what they want, there had to be a change. It created fragmentation, but Microsoft is completely upfront about these changes.

Unlike Android or iOS, where you have to read the fine print, or scour the internet looking for clues to what devices will receive the latest software. Microsoft is being honest and telling their customers why this is happening. I can empathize with people who just bought Lumia 900's or the Titan 2, but a large amount of regular users never ask about updates. They see the phone, love how it works, and are satisfied with what they have now.

With greater hardware comes, greater responsibility, and that is exactly what Microsoft is doing when they said that "Windows 8 devices will be supported up to 18 months of release".  Microsoft is being forthright with its community and telling them their update life cycle of each device.

At the end of the day, fragmentation is Darwinism at it's finest, because we all want the best of the best.

Windows Phone is giving us what we want, so no hard feelings, because you know up front what Microsoft is bringing to the table, can Android or Apple say the same? I think not.

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A few weeks ago at E3 2012 in Los Angeles, we managed to get some hands on with the upcoming Xbox LIVE title 'Mush'. The game is from studio Angry Mango and it looks like it will finally bring some new life into some of the slightly boring and repetitive titles of late. 

Mush is a fairly adorable and cute casual game where you use tilt controls to move your character around the board. Full of puzzles and bold graphics, the game has a unique trick up its sleeve: you manipulate the character's emotions to get by the levels.

What was that again? 

Basically if you draw a smile on the screen, he floats. Draw a frown and he sinks. Shake the device and yes, he gets angry (and he will smash through things). Call us crazy but with the LocoRoco-esque graphics, the unique animation and the creative way to control your character, we're super excited for this title. It should appeal to the regular gamer, kids, the ladies, fans of Ilomilo and anyone who enjoys some fun challenges.

Look for Mush on Xbox LIVE for Windows Phone next week on July 4th. See their website here and check our hands on with the game after the break on what to expect.

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File this under: Experienced users only

Warning:  We’re just going to say that Windows Phone 7.5 Tango is not that big of a deal. It’s a tiny update with a few MMS enhancements and some minor tweaks (most of which are undocumented, but see our hands on video to get an idea). So we’re not sure that trying to manually update your Windows Phone with Tango 8773.98 is a high priority. Nor is the risk of damaging your phone and blocking the upcoming 7.8 update.

And let's be honest, a lot of "fixes" and "tweaks" for your Windows Phone will come from the OEM firmware which this does not provide. Finally, this does not provide the new Start screen. That's Windows Phone 7.8 this is still 7.5.

Having said that, user bobzero on the XDA Forums has posted the Tango OS cab files direct from Microsoft and the needed language files to get the update started. It will break inter-op unlock (for the tiny few of you who have that) but you can go through the process again re-enable it.

The big question for many of you will be How do I do this? It’s not Android-custom ROM hard, but it does require a little prep work and some careful reading.

Luckily for you we wrote a nice little tutorial on how to manually update your phone to 8107 to get the much needed “disappearing keyboard fix”. That same process should work here so long as you replace the 8107 CAB with the 8773 one, obviously. Likewise, you’ll need the language packs too which bobzero has given you.

We haven’t done this yet ourselves but we do have our trusty Samsung Focus 2 and a bottle of Wild Turkey that says we’re going to try it soon.

As usual, sound off in comments on your experience and please, don’t blame us if you damage your phone. Remember: read, ask questions and take your time. And if you're on OS 8107 you need to go to 8112 first.

Source: XDA Forums; Thanks, bobzero for this tip and your past ones ;-)

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Good news for you Xbox LIVE game fans as the huge version 1.1 update planned for the super popular (and WPCentral favorite) Chickens Can't Fly (review) by Amused Sloth is now available. The update was planned months ago and like usual, the update has taken literally months to pass Microsoft's rigid certification process for Xbox LIVE games.

You can hop to the Marketplace to grab it now. To refresh just what this update entails, we'll report the changelog:

  • Dive deep in the new Aquarium Laboratory
  • Xbox LIVE Multiplayer: Challenge your friends and see who's better!
  • Customize your chicken with new skins
  • Unlock Avatar Awards!
  • PDLC: The Dojo Laboratory and more skins
  • A new ringtone
  • Option to change the game's language manually
  • Performance improvements

A new ringtone, Avatar Awards (detailed here) new levels, chicken customization...what doesn't this update have? As always, we're impressed with Amused Sloth's dedication to the platform and this game.

If you haven't tried Chickens Can't Fly, then you can do so by clicking the link here for the Marketplace. The game is chock full of fantastic animations, hilarious levels and innovative obstacles which will keep you plenty busy. While the early levels are very easy, once you enter the other labs you'll have a challenge on your hands.

What's more, the game is at the low-low price of $0.99 which is one heck of a deal. Grab Chickens Can't Fly here in the Windows Phone Marketplace. Video of our hands on after the break...Thanks, DarkSynopsis, for the heads up

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Say what you will about the official Facebook app for Windows Phone but they are trying hard to fix things and improve it. Rapidly too.

Version 2.6 just landed in the Marketplace and you can go get it now. Don't expect a slathering of new features like the last few updates but instead it addresses a couple of bug fixes that many of you have been sending into them. These include:

  1. An image posted to a group was appearing on your own wall rather than the group
  2. Users with custom privacy settings set as their default were having their updates created with "Only Me" permissions

Nothing thrilling but hey, at least they're listening and tweaking things with rather a quick turn around. You can grab the latest version of Facebook here in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Source: Facebook; Thanks, jbarinas & Todd, for the tips

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Nokia's Lumia Windows Phone now in mini-size

We all love those free Xbox Avatar Gadgets, especially when they're Windows Phone focused. And for those in Italy, your day just a got a little brighter.

If you follow this link code (LINK) you can download and add a Nokia Lumia gadget to your avatar all for free. It's wee little Windows Phone with Nokia emblazoned on the top and ties win with the Lumia 610 launching over in that region.

Unfortunately when we tried here in the US, we were told it's not available in our region. Heck, even changing our region settings on our 360 didn't help but if any of you clever blokes figure out how to bypass this limitation, hit us up in comments.

via: Plaffo

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Join us for our special Windows Phone Summit podcast as we discuss Windows Phone 8 and Microsoft's new vision for our mobile OS. We answer your questions, cover the main points and clarify some others. 

Join Daniel Rubino, Rafael Rivera and special guest, Paul Thurrott of SuperSite for Windows for an exciting and authoritative discussion on today's announcements.

Full HD video after the break...

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We brought you the news, even before it was official, that T-Mobile and Nokia were teaming up here in the US for Batman the Dark Knight Rises promotion. The promo involves specially crafted Lumia 710 Xpress-on covers in cyan, magenta, yellow, black or white and feature the iconic Batman logo.

Nokia has now officially announced the availability and details of the promotion and we like what we hear:

  • The promotion will run exclusively at T-Mobile stores from June 20 – July 31, during which customers can pick up their covers in T-Mobile stores
  • TDKR Xpress-On covers are free to existing Nokia Lumia 710 customers, as well as with the purchase of a new Nokia Lumia 710
  • Learn more about the exciting 4G Nokia Lumia 710 Windows Phone and the TDKR Xpress-On cover offer here:  www.nokiausa.com/us-en/thedarkknightrises

What's more if you tweet the hashtag #Lumia710NYC starting on June 20th, you'll be eligible to win a ticket  to the US World Premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in NYC on July 16.  But really, how cool is it if you already own a Lumia  710 on T-Mobile you can evidently walk in and pick one of these bad boys up for free? 

Don't have a 710 yet? Now through the end of July and after a $50 mail-in-rebate you can get T-Mo's Lumia device for free on contract. Not a bad deal at all. And besides this T-Mobile offering there is the Dark Knight Rises app from Nokia to complete the movie experience. Read our T-Mobile Nokia Lumia 710 review right here if you're thinking about buying this phone--we rank it rather highly.

So the question we have for you of course is which color are you going to get?

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Is your Windows Phone a health risk?

Could your Windows Phone be a health risk? According to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (London, England) the health risk is a concern.

We've seen concerns over radiation exposure but the Society is more focused on neck and back pain as well as stress related illnesses that develops from poor posture.  Try as we may, we often end up hunched over our Windows Phones which isn't really good for the lower back.

A recent survey of 2,010 office workers conducted by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy which indicates that nearly two thirds of those survey continue to work on smartphones, laptops and tablets outside office hours. Society Chairwomen Dr. Helena Johnson views the results as a huge concern.

"While doing a bit of extra work at home may seem like a good short-term fix, if it becomes a regular part of your evening routine then it can lead to problems such as back and neck pain, as well as stress-related illness. This is especially the case if you're using hand-held devices and not thinking about your posture."

The survey concluded that workers are risking their mental and physical health by working more than two hours extra every night.

While the survey focused on time spend on our mobile devices for work purposes, it doesn't make any reference to time spent for entertainment purposes. Granted the stress of work isn't necessarily present when playing games or watching videos but the posture issues might be.

What brought the story stand out was that an HTC Radar was used to illustrate smartphone use. Which makes us wonder is it fair to group smartphones in with laptops and tablets? Is anyone using their Windows Phones for work issues for two hour stretches?  Outside testing apps and games, I typically use my Windows Phone to keep up with email, check a website, manage my appointments but only for short periods of time.  Any heavy lifting is done from a laptop or desktop.

So is this a legitimate concern or a problem that just isn't there as it relates to our Windows Phone?

Source: CSP.org Via: BBC; Thanks, everyone, for the tip!

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Microsoft's live-survey app code named 'BrushFire' is in early alpha stages of development

The notion of using live feedback and crowdsourcing during events isn't new--heck your teachers probably did when they asked you to "raise your hands" when voting on something as a kid. But this is 2012 and we need something with a little more bite to it. BrushFire is such an attempt.

Made by Microsoft (and technically for internal use only at the moment) the app is is still in the "alpha" stage meaning don't expect it to actually work. But the concept here is what's neat. From the app description:

"This is for internal MSIT use only. The application allows users to complete surveys by supplying a provided code. The application is alpha and only demonstrates the first activity type of survey. Future versions will include other types of activities. You can use the code MSIT to sample the application. "

How BrushFire works, in theory, is when a presenter at a conference wants to get feedback or interact with the audience in some e.g. a survey, they can fire one up and have it broadcast through this app to the audience. The audience can then take the survey on their phones and the info is calculated in real time. This type of feedback is often done with product testing and audience screenings of movies but now the technology can go anywhere and be configured nearly on the fly.

There's no word if the app and service will go forward, be cross-platform etc (though it'd make sense to be on iOS and Android if maximum audience participation is wanted) but the idea behind it seems extremely useful. It's always nice to take a peek behind Microsoft's curtain a bit.

Thanks, anon, for the info

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AMC Theaters, who were just sold to Wang Jianlin, a Chinese multi-billionaire, has finally jumped on board with Windows Phone by releasing an official app. AMC has been around since the 1920's and it swallowed up many theater chains along the way including Loews Cineplex and Sony Theaters to become one of the largest distributors in the US.

And truth be told, it's a fairly nice app.

Well designed and fast loading with a gorgeous layout the app is well done. Focusing on movie posters for graphics with stripped down text for areas, the app gives you a wide assortment of features including:

  • My Profile where you can store your favorite theaters and movies
  • Get synopsis of the latest films including watching previews
  • Pin movies and your favorite local theater to your Start screen
  • Get offers (there were none when we tried)

You can buy tickets but it just launches IE9 and pushes you to Fandango which is a little rough for our likes. We would have preferred to buy our tickets directly. Heck, you can't even manage, use or interact with AMC Stubs, their rewards program, which is a bit of a let down.

But for a version 1.0 it's not too shabby. Being free also helps so if you frequent AMC you'll want to certainly pick this up. Or just use the Fandango app.

Pick up AMC Theaters for Windows Phone here in the Marketplace. Thanks, Jose, for the tip!

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The big rumor flying around today is that Microsoft is looking to buy Yammer (www.yammer.com) for a hefty $1 billion dollars making it one of the largest acquisitions by Microsoft of late (the other being Skype). 

For those who don't know, Yammer is a social messaging network built for enterprise. It may seem kind of niche but in this services area, Yammer is the top provider and we can see why Microsoft would want to acquire the company.

For one, between Skype, Lync, Messenger and GroupMe, Microsoft is gobbling up a lot of social media services and building quite an messaging empire. Combined with their close relationship with Facebook and LinkedIn and you can see how Redmond is angling against Google for both consumers and enterprise.

The Yammer deal is expected to be completed today or tomorrow and if so, we could see Microsoft integrating Yammer directly into Windows Phone in the near future. After all, they already have Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Messenger in Windows Phone 7.5 and they're expected to add Skype and numerous other social networks to Windows Phone 8 "Apollo".

What's more, Windows Phone 8 focuses heavily on enterprise including Bitlocker encryption, secure boot and new Office 365 policies. Yammer and Windows Phone 8 seem like a perfect match, if you ask us.

You can pick up the official Yammer app in the Windows Phone Marketplace in the meantime.

Source: Bloomberg

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The NY Times official app version 2.0 for Windows Phone

If you're a fan of the "Old Gray Lady" aka the New York Times (www.nytimes.com), you'll want to make sure to grab version 2.0 of the app which should be hitting the Marketplace soon. The official NY Times app for Windows Phone came out last July 1st and hasn't had an update until now.

The app has had a nice revamp with the latest version, bringing it up to date with some of the latest functionality in Windows Phone. We've been running it a couple of days now and really like the added performance, new scrolling and video feature which lets you watch special clips of certain news events and cultural pieces. Here's the full changelog of what's new:

  • Live Tile Integration - users can pin any of the sections and blogs as Live Tiles to quickly see the latest headlines at a glance
  • Pivot Navigation – users can see articles, videos and blogs in each section
  • Cloud Integration – users may save articles to the cloud for access from multiple devices
  • Updated and refreshed design
  • Improved performance and fast application switching

Of course the only downside is the "pay wall" for some articles--while you can get the latest headlines and videos for free the rest will require a NY Times membership. But even for free the app is worth taking a look at and a must-have if you already subscribe.

    

We'll have a more full-featured review coming up a bit later when the app hits the Marketplace.

Full press release after the break...

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This morning, Nokia has announced that it has acquired imaging firm Scalado for an undisclosed price. Nokia will be picking up everything including their specialists, intellectual property and technology from the company and will be incorporating them into the company sometime in Q3 2012.

Scalado has been working with Nokia for the last 10 years but they've also done work with HTC and most recently RIM on their upcoming BlackBerry 10 and it's new camera functions. That is certainly interesting because RIM itself is in dire straits and they just lost what many considered to be a key partner for re-igniting their brand. Of course what RIM already had in motion with Scalado will probably remain but the Waterloo company should start looking elsewhere for future camera development.

The good news here of course is that Nokia is clearly aiming to get some of the best camera functions on Windows Phone. Currently, HTC is in a bit of a renaissance with their ONE series which focuses heavily on cameras and media capabilities, giving Nokia and others a run for their money.

Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how Scalado's know-how pays off on future Windows Phone 8 devices.

Read the full press release after the break.

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Another rumor we want to squish is that there will be a new version of Windows Phone for "low-end" devices called "Neon".

The information first popped up on TWiT's Windows Weekly with Paul Thurrott, Mary Jo Foley and Leo Laporte.  On Episode 264 (June 7th) at around 1:47:45, Thurrott brings up some developer documentation pertaining to Windows Phone 8 with four main points:

  • Avoid free for all multitasking, aka Android and Windows Mobile
  • Allow Mango customers to upgrade to Apollo (later mis-reported as "A lot of Mango customers won’t get upgraded to Apollo")
  • Allow Mango apps to support Apollo resolutions
  • Lower end devices support for Neon

The site Insideris then received an "anonymous tip" on the 13th with the same list and they reported that "Neon" may be the next version of Windows Phone for non-Apollo devices. This resulted in numerous emails here at Windows Phone Central and various people contacting us to comment on it.

So true or false?

False. For one, the current code-name schemes for Windows Phone all have the milestones ending in "O": NoDo, Mango, Tango, Apollo, etc. So "Neon" does not fit with that history. Second, Neon here is referring to ARM® NEON™ a "general-purpose SIMD engine" for ARM chipsets. 

Let's head back to MIX 2011. Back then, Microsoft pre-announced support for ARM NEON for Windows Phone Mango. NEON is basically high-end multimedia support or in technical jargon it can  "...accelerate multimedia and signal processing algorithms such as video encode/decode, 2D/3D graphics, gaming, audio and speech processing, image processing, telephony, and sound synthesis". 

Funny thing though--it never happened (evidently NEON is there, though it is unclear if it works in Tango or early builds of WP8). A smart reading is that Neon support is coming for "low end" devices which is a good thing. That's actually very interesting news. But it is not a code-name for a new version of Windows Phone, sorry.

As a side note, Insideris reported the second point as "A lot of Mango customers won’t get upgraded to Apollo" but if you listen to Thurrott, he says "Allow Mango customers to upgrade to Apollo" and that seems more credible.

To paraphrase Ned Stark: "Brace yourselves, silly season is coming"

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We're getting a flood of emails from users noting that on Yahoo! News, specifically the "Upgrade your life" segment, Becky Worley is stating that current Windows Phones with Mango won't be able to get Windows Phone 8 "Apollo".

So did Yahoo! News just spill the beans on Microsoft's plans?

Not quite. For one, very few if anyone in the media knows what Microsoft has planned for current phone. More on that later. So the notion that someone from Yahoo! got the scoop is a bit funny.

Second, pay attention to her wording in the video segment: "...and Mango phones won't be able to upgrade to Apollo's new features"

Well, technically that is true. Windows Phone 8 is confirmed as supporting two new high resolution displays--768x1280 and 720x1280--in addition to the current 480x800 (Microsoft recently dropped support for 480x640--you heard it hear first). In addition, things like multi-core and NFC support will also be included. All of those features are new and no current Windows Phones will support them, obviously.

So technically what Yahoo! is saying is accurate and we're confident that is what they meant too. Is that a reason to hold off on a purchase? For some, perhaps. But it doesn't mean that current phones won't get Apollo. For that, we're at the mercy of Microsoft and the OEMs for a decision and we still don't know their plans there (scout's honor).

And regarding that "late summer" release, we're still hearing that Apollo will be finalized by late summer but devices won't be ready till the fall. Microsoft for the last two years has had launches and refreshes in October/November, so that's a safe bet as to when you can actually have a Windows Phone 8 device in your hands.

Source: Yahoo! News; Thanks for everyone who sent this in

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Official CNN app now available for all Windows Phones

"This is CNN...on all Windows Phones"

Well look at that, it looks like Nokia's 90 day exclusive on the official CNN app has finally expired--certainly a rare sight to see. The CNN app, which was developed in conjunction with Nokia and announced back at CES 2012, embraces the Metro design with unique features like the iReporter function for reporting news on your own.

For many on Windows Phones, the stranglehold on "exclusive" apps by Nokia was a thorn in the side--well, at least for those without a Nokia Lumia. But now you can download the exact same app with push notifications and local news to your non-Nokia device, resulting in what we imagine to be a loud cheer.

The CNN app ranks up there with the USA Today app as far as elegance and functionality. It's great to see it displayed on other Windows Phones for all. 

Pick up the official CNN app for Windows Phone here in the Marketplace. Thanks, Scott H., for the tip!

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