Xbox Live Extras

Just like our London busses, you wait around for ages and then they all come at once. It seems that someone has flicked a switch somewhere and released a few updates today for Windows Phone.

Of particular note, Amazon Mobile on its way up to version 1.9.1 and picks up support for the oh-so close Windows Phone 8. It’s good to see some developers with early access readying their apps for the shiny new operating system which is only days away.

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Released too early to the Store?

We’re not sure what’s going with the Windows Phone Store, but there sure are some oddities occurring. Last week we reported that the amazing Adobe Reader update to version 10.1 was being downgraded in a follow up update—that is still the case with version 9.0 being the only version in the Store for some regions, including the US.

Now, Xbox Extras, which we had reported as being refreshed to remove the “LIVE” branding is now also either being reverted in a second update or is gone altogether from the Store. When we try to search for the app we have found it’s been de-listed/hidden from public view. Trying the direct link display the old version but it is unable to be downloaded just yet.

We’re starting to suspect that these were actually Windows Phone 8 app refreshes to coincide with the big launch at the end of the month—after all, they were both major makeovers or re-brands—but maybe they were set loose a little too early in the Store and now Microsoft is trying to put the genie back in the bottle.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft for clarification for both apps and will post an update if we have something to add. Thanks to everyone who has sent this in…

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A new update for the Xbox Extras app for Windows Phone is being seeded out to the Store. What makes this interesting is the continued purge of “LIVE” from the Xbox brand on the mobile platform.

The latest update has resulted in a few changes (1) The name is just Xbox Extras now (2) the load screen simply says Xbox with the logo and (3) within the app, it just says Xbox.

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The Summer of Arcade officially kicks off today, and we’ve got a big batch of Xbox Live Arcade news to share with you.

First off, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is now available for 1200 Microsoft Points. The HD version takes seven classic stages compiled from the first two Tony Hawks and adds true HD visuals, new physics, and online multiplayer. Opinions are divided on this one, with some lamenting the new physics, stage selection, inability to customize the musical playlist, and lack of split-screen multiplayer.

Personally, I’ve had a great time with it so far. The levels have lots of stuff to collect, providing great incentive to explore. The robust arsenal of moves gives players lots of freedom and variety. And while you can’t fast-forward or customize the songs, the soundtrack still rocks – especially the song from Bad Religion! My only serious complaint is the lack of a tutorial mode or in-game moves list, two modern standards that would make the game much easier to learn for new players. Heck, even those with Tony Hawk experience could probably use a refresher after all these years.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD costs 1200 Microsoft Points ($15). Get it here on the Xbox 360 Marketplace. More Summer of Arcade and XBLA news after the break...

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Two popular apps have just been updated: Xbox Live Extras (version 7.3) and Netflix (version 2.1). Both updates appear to be under the hood, i.e. no new features or noticeable changes. Netflix just received a more significant update two weeks ago, and the release notes for that update still appear, unmodified, on the app’s Marketplace page. It’s likely that after rolling out version 2.0, the development team discovered one or more bugs that needed fixing.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft about the Xbox Live Extras update and will report back if they provide any details. If you guys discover any changes in these two apps in the meantime, please let us know in the comments below.

Both Xbox Live Extras and Netflix are free apps, though Netflix obviously requires a subscription to use. Xbox Live Extras is a fairly important tool for gamers, so make sure to get it here if you haven’t already. Netflix subscribers can get the app here on the Marketplace.

Thanks to everyone who tipped us on both app updates!

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We've had quite a few updates to some major apps today, so lets recap on what we got, shall we?

First up is Netflix, gets bumped to version 1.5. Is this the big Mango update with tons of cool new features that we've been hoping for? Nope. Just a plain Jane "bug fixes" update with nothing new, as far as we can tell. Find something we missed? Let us know in comments. Pick up v1.5 here in the Marketplace.

Next is MSN Movies. A nice freebie app from Microsoft that for some reason has ads (how tacky for a MS app, sorry), this baby though got a nice Mango update today. Hooray! So you get some fast-app switching and the ability to pin movies (but not theaters?) to your start menu. This is actually a pretty nice, minimalist movie show times app with trailers and movie news on board too, so it's worth checking out. Give v1.3 a spin here in the Marketplace.

USA Today goes Mango! Yes, one of the most popular apps on Windows Phone, USA Today finally gets fast app switching, double live tile (with weather on the backside now, just like they promised) and the ability to pin the sub-sections Pictures, Sports and Celebrities to your start menu. An already beautiful app gets even better, though we now have too many weather apps on our Start screen! Get your US and World news right here with v1.5 in the Marketplace.

And finally, Xbox LIVE Extras goes to v7.2. No new features are on board as far as we can tell, though we imagine this goes a long way in fixing a bug some of you reported to us, namely it erasing your avatar if you modified it. Ouch. Hopefully that's fixed now. Pick it up here in the Marketplace.

Thanks, Luis R., Vic and ej lee, for the tips!

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Although Xbox LIVE Extras is now basically just the Xbox LIVE Marketplace app (seriously, they should just rename it), we're sure there's a handful of you who may need to dress your avatar on the go. If that's the case, the Mango version of the app went live recently, hitting v7.1.

Since loading Mango back in June, there has always been a "beta" version for Mango in the Marketplace, but this looks to have been recompiled with the latest SDK, enabling fast app switching and more language support including Japanese. It's also significantly smaller now, weighing in at just 8MB as opposed to the old version which was 30MB--of course that's partially because Extras is more stripped down now. But if you need this badboy ASAP, grab it here in the Marketplace.

Thanks, András Velvárt & Vlad D., for the heads up!

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So the big E3 gaming convention is going on today, with Microsoft set to reveal tons of Xbox goodness. It may not be a coincidence then to see Xbox Live Extras get updated today to v1.6 with a significant addition, namely the ability to buy and change your avatar's appearance within the app itself.

As you can see from the image above, you can now change your avatar and purchase new items from the Marketplace (using MS Points)--this is quite the update and nearly completes the Xbox LIVE experience on the phone. The ability to use MS Points is interesting only because we're expecting the usage of actual money and MS Points to overlap, eventually, in the Marketplace as an option for purchases--perhaps this is the first sign?

Finally, we can't help but notice the usual speed-tweaks, making the app a bit zippier than before (though perhaps that's placebo). We've reached out to Microsoft for an exact change-log, so expect an update to the post later on.

You can grab Xbox LIVE Extras for free in the Marketplace here.

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Halo: Nation coming to WP7?

Halo has been previously reported to be coming to the Windows Phone 7 platform, especially around the list of planned releases last year prior release of the OS. At CES, which we were able to cover, Steve Ballmer presented and discussed a number of games coming to the mobile platform. Among these were Fable: Coin Golf and PES 2011 along with many already-confirmed titles, but there was one mention that caught some attention – Halo: Nation.

For any Halo fan, this could mean two things. First (and hopefully correct) there could be a potential Halo title arriving to Xbox Live on WP7 named Halo: Nation. What’s exciting about this prospect is what genre it could be: FPS (probably unlikely), RTS (Halo: Wars on-the-go anyone?) or even a racing alternative (Rocket Race game type on Halo: Reach?). The system and available resources from the devices that run WP7 have enough power to provide the foundations of a truly epic game from Bungie.

A second scenario could be the Halo: Nation podcast is making an appearance on Waypoint that is already available in the Marketplace, and could in-fact not be the extension to the franchise that many of us are hoping for. Although Ballmer was reportedly "confused” with the projects he was discussing, Halo: Nation is noted as being developed separately from Waypoint but a Halo title coming to WP7 is all continued (hopeful) speculation.

Could Halo: Nation be the WP7 title that us Master Chief fans have been waiting for? Or did Ballmer just get the name wrong?

Source: Electronic Theatre

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If you use Xbox LIVE Extras on Windows Phone 7, you may have noticed an update pushed to you today, specifically v1.50012.0 (up from v1.3). And if you're like us, you're wondering what changed? Don't worry, we got you covered:

New countries, new languages! We’re making Xbox LIVE Extras available in new languages including French, Italian, German, and Spanish. This also means that Xbox LIVE Extras will now be available in all the official countries where Windows Phone and Xbox LIVE are available!

Manage friend requests inside Xbox LIVE Extras! You’ll now be able to accept, or reject friend requests inside of Xbox LIVE Extras. Additionally you’ll be able to manage your friends’ lists as well as requests to others.

Even more additional features! We’ve also added a bunch of additional features such as new Avatar animations and configuration options, and displaying your motto on your profile. We’ve also worked to improve overall stability of the application!

We also can't help but notice it's finally faster to load, which is a welcomed change as well. We're going to bet that some of our Euro friends will be happy with the additional language support, allowing them to join in the party.

Go here on your phone or desktop to grab the app.

Source: Michael Klucher's Blog

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Microsoft is starting to roll out a Xbox Live Extras update for Windows Phone 7. Extras will allow you to view, access and launch your game library from one easy-to-navigate hub on your phone. Xbox Live Extras is only available in the United States, United Kingdom, India, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong. More Countries will be added to the list as things progress.

There were a few bugs reported when it was first released a few days ago, such as the Xbox hub hanging on a black screen and then returning to the Start screen. It was also taking some time to convert Avatar Props for the Windows Phone. Those bugs were quickly addressed by Microsoft and the update should be hitting the Marketplace now.

If you start to tinker with Xbox Live Extras on your Windows Phone and still encounter any issues, you can report them here.

via Twitter (@mklucher)

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