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Windows Phone News

For the most part, the camera hardware on the new Windows Phone 7 devices perform really good (save the HD7's pink color cast). The biggest headache the Windows Phone 7 camera presents is on the software side. Tweak the settings and when you exit the camera, the phone reverts to the default settings.

MobileTechWorld recently put the latest unlocked emulator through the ropes (which reflects the pending WP7 update) and discovered that the update doesn't address this feature. Camera settings continue to revert to the default settings when you exit the app.

No official word from Microsoft if this "fix" ever made the drawing board for the update or, like the screen capture feature, wasn't brought up enough in research groups. There is a long shot that adding the ability to retain camera settings made it to the update after the emulator was updated but we're not holding our breaths on that one. We can only hope it makes the next update.

Oh and if Microsoft is listening, this (along with screen captures) is a feature we'd like to see.

Source: MobileTechWorld

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Surfcube wins for one of the most innovative browsers on the Market with its 3D effects, smooth transitions and full-screen browsing.

But one thing that was missing and has been promised for awhile was tabbed browsing. That along with a new way to navigate (the "joystick") looks to be quite the step up for the 3D browser. We especially like the options for tabs (on the left side of the cube or actual tabs) though we are a little unsure about the joystick--but being able to move it around looks petty nifty.

Anyways, we like innovation around here, so nice to see the developer (Kinabalu Innovation) thinking outside...the cube (ba dun dun!). Look for the update in the next few weeks and we'll take another look.

Thanks, Jancsika, for the heads up

Kinabalu Innovation
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If your a developer, you've probably already received word about the new "January refresh" to the Windows Phone developer tools. The main feature is of course copy and paste in the emulator, allowing devs to dry run their apps with the new function (in fact, here are the directions on copy & paste for those curious). In addition to copy and paste, the tools also include "...updated reference assemblies, a new version of the Windows Phone OS emulator image, and several minor bug fixes", which should keep devs busy poking and prodding for awhile. (Note: Microsoft is not "seeding" NoDo updates to developers as far as we know). The updated tools can be downloaded right here.

Microsoft's Brandon Watson goes on to note that most apps won't need to be recompiled/resubmitted to the Marketplace---they should be just fine with copy and paste and the other changes. For those devs whose apps are non-standard, MS has scanned the market for them and will be contacting the devs. The third bit of info is that the Windows Phone developer tools have been downloaded over one million times--quite the big win.

Finally, Microsoft has made it "easier" to get developer phones (HD7, Focus, Surround) by partnering with Zones. All this really means is they gave an outlet to buy unsubsidized Windows Phones with no carrier contract, but the phones are still locked.

So when will anyone actually get the famed NoDo update? Rumors suggest February 7th, but we're not so confident just yet...

Source: Windows Phone Developer Blog; Thanks, Eric R., for the heads up

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Board Express Pro (see site) just went 2.0 this week and it was quite the major overhaul of the Tapatalk message board client. Featuring a new UI, faster scrolling and just overall smoother operation, it seems to have finally hit the "recommend zone" by us.

We just took v2.1 published the other night for a spin and were quite impressed. The app is compatible with thousands and thousand of message boards around the globe and even our own forums right here. Enabling you to log in, post messages, check your PMs, favorite forums for quick access--it seems to have it all from our end. Also new in 2.x is themes support--from dark to light, to using your accent color, to some presets, it gives a nice, custom look to your message board.

The app does fetch for $2.99 which is a bit high, but if you're a forum junky, we can say it is money well spent. There is also a full-trial that limits your to 60 characters per post and you can only favorite three boards--but it is certainly robust enough to let you decide if it's for your. Download the trial here in the Marketplace and post your thoughts in our thread on the topic--great way to get your feet wet, eh?

Grab Board Express Pro here and the read-only-but-free Board Expres here.

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Star Wars: Battle for Hoth (review) and Rocket Riot (review), two Xbox Live games for Windows Phone 7, both received updates this week, but no release notes in their store descriptions or anywhere else. So we contacted their developers, Fluffy Logic and Code Glue, for details.

Star Wars: Battle for Hoth v1.3.0.0 changelog:

  • Minor tweaks to difficulty of some levels based on user feedback
  • Fix for rare crash bug affecting players resuming paused games
  • Fix for trial version bug

Which levels got tweaked? The boss waves in the last five or so levels now have less health. It may not sound like much, but Battle for Hoth is a very challenging game. Every little bit helps!

Rocket Riot v1.1.0.0 changelog:

  • Controls improved

Rocket Riot controlled pretty well to begin with, but it’s nice to see Code Glue continuing to support the game after release. Now if only Namco would fix up the Windows Phone 7 version of Puzzle Quest 2…

Star Wars: Battle for Hoth is a tower defense game based on the iconic Hoth battle from The Empire Strikes Back film. It costs $4.99. Rocket Riot is a side-view shooter with retro-inspired graphics (full review soon). Though Rocket Riot had previously dropped to $4.99, its price is back up to $6.99. Both titles have free trials. You can grab Battle for Hoth here (opens a link to your Zune software) and Rocket Riot here in the Marketplace.

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The reports of Dell Venue Pro owners experiencing crashes and freezes on their devices have been plentiful, usually when downloading files over a WiFi connection.  The good news is that a user named zeevDVP over at the Dell Community seems to have isolated the source to faulty MicroSD cards being shipped out with the phones, which could explain why it does not happen to everyone.  The bad news is that if you decide to resolve the issue by replacing the card it will void your warranty.  If your Venue Pro is continuously freezing, you might be ready to chuck it against a wall, which would also void the warranty, so this fix just could be the right fit for you.  In any case, reports are that it works. 

Here is the process zeeDVP outlines, using a class 2 32GB Sandisk card (Sandisk part number SDSDQM-032G-B35):

1. Fully sync your phone with Zune, replacing the card requires hard-resetting the device (essentially formatting it).

2. Go to "Settings->about->reset your phone", click "Yes" for both questions, then just as the screen goes dark (as the phone is going for a restart) remove the battery.

3. Replace the micro SD card. The card slot is located next to the SIM card slot and covered by a black warranty sticker, you'll need a tool like a very small flat head screwdriver or a safety pin to remove the card as it's not spring loaded (again, since it wasn't designed to be user serviceable). You can see the location of the card slot here (if you don't want to watch the whole thing skip to 3:00 to see how to remove the card)\

4. Reinsert the battery and power up the device. You'll be presented with the welcome screen guiding you through the initial device setup and you're done.

Good luck! 

Source: Dell Community; Via: PocketNow

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Today must be "Windows Phone 7 update day". Every time I check my Windows Phone, it seems as if a new update is listed in the Marketplace. The latest is for the popular gaming app, Kill the Duck.

The update includes some improvements on the graphics and feels as if it has some performance tweaks as load times seem to be faster.

The most noticeably change with the Kill the Duck update is the addition of a new game mode. You still have your original Classic Mode where you blast as many ducks out of the sky, but now you have a Funny Mode.  While the goal is still to shoot as many ducks (and avoid the doves) when you shoot a duck in the Funny Game Mode, randomly they will drop eggs as they are shot.  If you can shoot the egg before it reaches the ground you receive bonus points.

Kill the Duck is an enjoyable game to pass the time with and the new game mode adds a little variety to the Windows Phone 7 game. You can find your free copy of Kill the Duck here (opens Zune) at the Marketplace.

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Although there are official product placements on TV, there are sometimes non-official ones. The former are clear mini-commercials where the latter are just things we notice but you can't tell what it is.

Unless you're an eagle-eyed Windows Phone owner like @Hendo427, who let us know he spotted the Focus the other night on Grey's Anatomy (S07E13).

We went to tape and grabbed some more screenies and it sure looks like a Focus...whose had it's carrier label taped over. No features of the OS were shown either, meaning this wasn't MS sanctioned. So this is just for you insiders out there ;-)

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Although Windows Phone is still growing and early on in the launch, some developers are at least reporting a relaive hit. One of those is Halfbrick, makers of Fruit Ninja (see our review), the super popular citrus slicing game available also on Android and the iPhone.

In an interview with Business Insider Shainiel Deo, CEO of Halfbrick Studios said that game is having "moderate" success on the new OS noting that paid downloads (an important distinction) is in the "high tens of thousands". Halfbrick seems to be pleased overall with Microsoft but does note "I think Microsoft could be doing more to promote the phone and hopefully we’ll start seeing that soon."-- a common complaint we hear these days.

Deo also took a shot at Android stating that compared to Windows Phone "There are a number of varying devices but there is nowhere near the fragmentation issues that Android has." Zing. We've seen that before from Ballmer and Netflix.

Bottom line is although Windows Phone is still commanding very little market share, both developers and users seem to be quite happy from their respective sides--and that's important for driving growth.

Source: Yahoo! News/Business Insider

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If you've been following the Forum discussion, it's no secret that an update has been in the works for the popular Windows Phone game SpellIt. Well, the wait is over and the update was released this morning.  Just launch your Marketplace app and click on Updates.

Improvements include players scores and last move fields are more readable and as well as the customary performance tweaks.  The update also brings a few new features to the table that include:

  • Players can now shake their Windows Phone to shuffle their game tiles. This is a great way to give players a refreshed look at potential words that can be created.
  • There is now a score preview window to let you know how many points you will score. It will appear next to the Play Button and if you're spelling a word that is invalid, the score will remain zero.
  • There is also a visual cue for pending tiles that highlights the tiles you are placing. As the game progresses, the board can get a little busy and highlighting these tiles helps as you build words.

The new features only add to a very entertaining game. If you haven't tried SpellIt, you can find it here (opens Zune) at the Marketplace. It's a free game and very addictive.

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We first broke the news about Flory IM last week and it's been just smashing for us since. The developer contacted us to let us know it has been submitted to the Marketplace and sure enough, here it is. The IM app offers free Google Talk IMs plus using the jabber protocol, you can do Facebook IM, ICQ, etc.

The good news, it's still free. The bad news, it's still in German :-P No big deal though, you're all smart enough to get through the simple username/password menus to figure it out and if not, we can help in our forums.

Scan the Tag barcode above (via WP7Applist) or grab it here in the Marketplace here.

Update: Looks like Flory is going multilanguage...very soon in fact. From their Facebook page:

Important: when you update from 1.5 to 1.6, first close your gtalk connection! The servers for the worldwide release are nearly ready. We hope that all language versions get certified, so we can publish on sunday. Because we need to change dns and ip settings, there will be a serverdowntime for about 1 -2 hours. Sorry for that!

Update 2: Direct Facebook IM support is also coming in v1.6, no more jabber trickery

Thanks, Alan, for the Facebook info!

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The U-Stream viewer has been out since the launch of Windows Phone, so nothing new there. But version 1.1 just hit and it looks to be quite the overhaul. For one, it works much better now. They've also look to have re-done much of the UI, making it easier to read, search and find new streams. Searching seems better, but we're not sure if it still finds everything.

What's really kind of neat though is if you have a (free) account, you can of course subscribe to your favorite shows or upcoming events. But the program goes one step further now with push notifications to let you know when your "event" is about to start--that's a nice addition. Though we haven't tried it, we imagine it's a Live Tile too with a counter.

Video quality is "ok"--hardly HD even over WiFi but it gets the job done and the app is still a big sluggish here and there (pauses between actions) , so we still see some need for improvement, but it's a big step in the right direction.

Anyways, grab it here in the Marketplace if interested. Thanks, Tahiti Bob, for letting us know

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Microsoft this morning published a new app called Windows Phone Insider to the Marketplace. The tiny app is a great starting point for those new to the Windows Phone world though numerous features and tutorials. Here's what it can do:

  • Top picks - most popular apps in a genre (this week appears to be fitness)
  • Wallpapers - pulls down Bing images for use as wallpaper (nice)
  • Follow Us - Latest Facebook and Twitter posts from Windows Phone
  • Tour - short web tutorials on how to use your phone/make the most of it

The app is actually really slick and the Bing wallpapers feature is huge for many--it'swell worth the free download just for that option. Of course, we couldn't help but think this would be great on the phone to begin with, which makes us think that with the upcoming software update, you'll see this stock on your device after that first flash. Anyone wanna bet?

You can grab the app here in the Marketplace; Thanks, David M., for letting us know!

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We've heard a lot about Microsoft and their "3 screens" idea for the future--specifically that you will interact primarily with your TV (Xbox), PC (Windows) and phone (Windows Phone) and that software should be interchangeable and seamless between the three platforms.

RC-AirSim, a cool little remote plane game, is one of the first to reach all three mediums, offering users the ability to have the same exact experience on their TV, phone or PC (well, the Xbox technically has some better graphics options, but still). The Xbox version has been out since 2009 and at that time had over a quarter million downloads, making quite the XNA hit. The game actually looks like it could be quite a blast and it's nice to see that even small developers can quickly code a game for all, with little hassle.

RC-AirSim goes for $2.99 on Windows Phone, but there's a free "lite" version as well. It goes for 240 points($3) on Xbox here and for PC here for $8.95. Of course that's the rub--as of now, if you want all three version,s you'll be dropping $15--which admittedly is not much, but not ideal either.  And as of now, there's no continuous game play, which hopefully we'll see some day. Read more at the RC-AirSim page.

via: The Windows Phone Guy who also made the above video; Thanks, Rob L., for the tip!

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It started with an open letter from financial analyst Adnaan Ahmad, addressed to CEOs Steve Ballmer (Microsoft) and Stephen Elop (Nokia), explaining the mutual benefits that could arise from the two tech titans teaming up.  What came next was a flurry of rumors that it might happen and show of confidence from stock traders.  In the days since Ahmad posted his letter, Nokia's stock prices have risen more than 4%, a sign that those in the market may be trying to show a vote of confidence in Ahmad's wishful thinking.

Though these rumors have been bubbling ever since Elop left his post at Microsoft to take over as Nokia's CEO, Elop said last week that the phone maker might "create and/or join other ecosystems," lending further credence to possibility.  Spokesmen from both companies have refused to comment on the validity of the rumors, but there is speculation from those in the know that Elop is going to announce the news during an upcoming speech on February 11.

Be it true or not, Nokia needs to do something soon.  They have been steadily declining in market share, and according to some recent analytics, have already lost the number one spot to Android. 

Source: New York Times; Via: Seattle Pi Blogs (Nick Eaton)

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Metro UI theme on iPhone

Are you someone who loves Apple products but has envy for Windows Phone 7 owners for the interface they have the privilege in staring at for hours of each day? Or do you already own a WP7 device and wish to expand the deployment?

This has now become reality from just a possibility thanks to wyndwarrior, a theme designer at Titled OS7, this theme for the iOS platform will transform your grid style Apple interface into a live tile enabled, aesthetically pleasing design that is found on WP7.

Before you begin to wander about the quality of the theme, or if functionality such as pinning (and unpinning) tiles to the main screen is missing, then fear not. Basic functions look and work very well, but the best feature? Live tiles are supported with more support on the way such as Facebook pulling live data etc. Although the theme requires you to mess with your device, which some people don't feel comfortable doing, it really is simple to install and get cracking...

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HTC Mozart launches in Thailand

The HTC Mozart, a swell little device that we look to be getting here in the U.S. soon, received quite the red carpet launch event in Thailand today. Recently we were asked about new hardware launches, specifically the lack of new devices and to that we'll say that Microsoft and partners are more about augmenting that 30 countries/60 carriers figure than the nine different devices.--Thailand and Canada are good examples of that focus.

Oh and the above video is in Thai but it doesn't mean you can't appreciate the fun it looks like they're having. Did we ever mention we want to go there? The place looks awesome.

Source: WinPhoClub; Thanks, Ton Hor, for the heads up

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By now, it's no secret that the data problems some Windows Phone users were experience was the result of Yahoo! email sucking the life out of your data. Yahoo! has apologized for the problem and is working with Microsoft on a fix.  However, in an effort some see as deflecting the blame, Yahoo! released the following statement,

"The issue on the Windows Phones is specific to how Microsoft chose to implement IMAP for Yahoo! Mail and does not impact Yahoo! Mail on these other mobile devices. Yahoo! has offered to provide Microsoft a near-term solution for the implementation they chose, and is encouraging Microsoft to change to a standard way of integrating with Yahoo! Mail, which would result in a permanent fix."

Well... it now appears that this problem isn't as exclusive to Windows Phone 7 as Yahoo! would hope. Within Windows programmer Rafael Rivera, who helped identify the initial problem, has done further testing to see if the problem existed on other platforms.  Rivera  discovered that the standard IMAP protocol Yahoo! that is used with the iPhone (the protocol Yahoo! feels Microsoft should use) also returns excess data.

So much for Windows Phone 7 exclusivity.

Source: WithinWindows  Via: BGR

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MyBookie, the fantasy betting app for your Windows Phone, is getting updated. The update will offer Facebook expansion by adding Office Pools into the mix.

Office Pools are designed to add a competitive spirit to the game allowing you to bet against your Facebook friends as well as betting against the house. The update will allow you to join existing Office Pools or design your own.

For those not familiar with MyBookie, it's a fantasy sports betting game that has you betting virtual currency against real-world sporting events. The game pulls in real-time betting lines for events and covers NFL, NCAA Football, NBA, NCAA Basketball, MLB and NHL games.

The update is expected to be available on Super Bowl Sunday through your Marketplace updating system. You can catch the full press release after the break and you can find MyBookie here (opens Zune) as well as MyBookie Lite (the free version) here at the Marketplace.

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While Windows Phone 7 is doing less than expected with LG, T-Mobile feels that the new Windows Phones are doing well. While no specific numbers were mentioned Josh Lipe, product manager for T-Mobile said,

"We’re continuing to look at options with Microsoft how to move the platform forward. The customers are very satisfied with the experience. We’ve done well with the devices that we sold."

And T-Mobile is planning on building upon that satisfaction. There are rumors that T-Mobile will be adding the HTC Mozart to their Windows Phone 7 lineup. T-Mobile is also planning on installing their Family Room application on their Windows Phone 7 devices. Family Room is a social network for family members that includes a message board, shared calendars and photo spaces.

Source: SeattleTimes via: WindowsPhoneThoughts

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