Apps

Since Windows Phone 8.1’s preview release this week, you folks can’t enough of the new Start screen backgrounds. And here you thought you’d hate them ;)

We covered a cool little app dubbed Transparency Tiles earlier this week, as it’s used to re-create Tiles for your 8.1 Start screen for native and popular apps. On first release it covered just Xbox Games, Music and Video, but we told you more apps would be coming. Since that time, the app has had a few updates, with the latest just going live a few moments ago.

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One of the complaints cropping up with Windows Phone 8.1 was performance issues with the Xbox Games app. Like Xbox Video and Xbox Music, the Games hub is also no longer in the OS, but rather a separate, updatable app.

Some users recently complained that the app wouldn’t load their profile or worse, games would not populate. (We didn’t see it ourselves, but it was reported in our forums often enough).

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Top Star Wars Games for Windows Phone

Windows Phone Central Game Roundup: Star Wars

There is little argument that the Star Wars franchise has had its fair share of success. From the movies to action figures to video games the Star Wars logo always seems to draw a crowd. I can remember watching the first installment, Episode IV: A New Hope, countless times in theaters and being amazed at the special effects (that seem to pale in comparison with what we have today).

This week we’re taking an easy approach to the roundup, focusing on the top Star Wars games (and a few apps) that are available for the Windows Phone platform. While Star Wars is a popular genre, its presence in the Windows Phone Store is a little on the thin side. There are some entertaining and challenging Star Wars games but some rather obvious omissions. Hopefully that will change.

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We are absolutely loving the translucent Live tiles in Windows Phone 8.1. Don’t worry, we’re just as confused by how much we love this new feature. It’s one thing to see it leaked in videos recorded with a potato, but it’s another to actually use it. We’re not alone, a lot of you seem to love the feature and developers are moving to support the translucent tiles in their own applications. Looking for a weather app that plays by the translucent rules? Then check out the updated version of Vieather.

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Update 7:45 PM ET: As predicted, the beta app has now been unpublished from the Store

After the dust has settled with the Preview of Windows Phone 8.1, early adopters are noticing quite a few changes, some of which are causing some speed bumps. For instance, Twitter. The app works quite well on 8.1, but the ability to Share to the app has disappeared and it doesn’t fully leverage the capabilities of the 8.1 operating system.

The beta build of the app is circulating in an open beta, though it's sure to be closed now that it has leaked publicly. Regardless, here’s what to expect in Twitter for Windows Phone 8.1...

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We’re not IP lawyers by a long shot, but we know when a company appears to be making a spurious claim. Such is the case with the French site Weave.eu, who have filed a complaint against the developers behind Weave News Reader on Windows Phone.

The claim looks to be IP trolling for a few reasons, including the fact that the French site isn’t a news, or a news aggregator that uses RSS technology. What’s more, their "community trademark" was established in 2012, which is about two years after Weave hit Windows Phone way back in 2010.

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We've previously looked at how bad Xbox Music is on Windows Phone 8.1 (in the Preview for Developers, anyway), but the experience has never been flawless on Windows Phone. Microsoft evidently knows this as the company is looking to roll out an update next week (April 22nd), which will kick off bi-weekly releases for the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview client.

This is superb news for Xbox Music Pass holders who wish to have a decent experience on the phone.

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While the vast majority of changes to Windows Phone 8.1 have been a welcome gust of fresh air to our phones, there are some things that take getting used to. The fact that Cortana doesn’t have Bing Vision may be chalked up to it being in ‘beta’, although we hope Microsoft at some point brings the feature back to search. The Bing service is used by many people on this site for scanning our app QR codes at the end of articles, so not having it readily available is a turnoff.

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We love updating our apps, even though we don’t manually do it anymore in Windows Phone 8.1. Now apps can automatically be downloaded and updated in the background. That means you’re going to need to pay extra attention to when there’s new features in your favorite apps. Today we’re looking at updates for Tile Me!, Instafont and Surfy.

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Today is evidently Start screen day, as more and more developers are quickly pumping out apps for Windows Phone 8.1. Last night we gave you a guide on some ways to make your Start screen shine on 8.1, and this morning we gave you two more apps (Tilesparency and Clock Hub) to add to your list.

Now, we have a third one to share. No worries, it does something different and I think you’ll like it. Transparency Tiles is an app from developer Matthew Miller and it’s free to use. Its purpose? It generates new Tiles for Xbox Music, Xbox Games and Xbox Video that are now transparent.

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Age Calculator is a Windows Phone app that will break down your age into years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds. The app doesn’t do much beyond that.

The Windows Phone app has a simple interface and does come across with a bit of a novelty feel. Still, it is somewhat interesting see how those years can translate into seconds. It may surprise you how quickly those seconds can add up.

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One of the fun features of Windows Phone 8.1 is the ability to add a background image to your Start Screen and let it shine through transparent Live Tiles.

There is a new Windows Phone 8.1 app in the Windows Phone Store that lets you take this customization one step further. Start Screen Customizer provides you with the ability to choose a solid colored background or adjust the tones of a background image to give your Start Screen a little more pop.

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Hobby Lobby is a popular arts and crafts retail chain here in the United States. They are in the news right now due to a bit of controversy, but that doesn’t stop them releasing a new app for Windows Phone! Head to hobbylobby.com and you’ll see a big banner promoting their new app. Talk about support for Windows Phone! There are over 561 stores in the United States and now one app for your phone.

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Cortana is full of personality (maybe not as much as Arsenio might like you to think), and the developers that built out the assistant's library of responses were sure to build in some good doses of self referential humor. A lot of times what a tool really needs to do to connect with users is put a smile on the user's face. And what's not to love about Clippy?

Wait, Clippy?

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Microsoft has today unveiled a cheaper subscription option for Office 365 – Personal. Previously, consumers had to fork out $10 a month for the Home package, allowing up to 5 installations of Office. With the new iPad suite now available, the company has launched a package that limits installations, but opens up support for iPads and comes with a more affordable price tag.

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Color Weather is a no-nonsense weather app for Windows Phone 8. The minimalistic design changes the background color dynamically depending on the current temperature.

Along with the current conditions, Color Weather offers a five-day forecast so you can better plan your week. The weather app does have Live Tile support and while Color Weather’s simple design has a certain level of appeal, it may be too minimalistic for some.

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The next time I’ll meet evangelism folks from Nokia or Microsoft, I’ll give them a tight hug. Forget the market share discussions and fanboy arguments, the Windows Phone ecosystem is thriving in India. It’s a great time to follow the ecosystem, and makes my job easier (I hope Daniel is not reading this!).

Yet another key example of how Windows Phone continues to do well in India is the release of Airtel Money for Windows Phone 8.

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Those who grabbed Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers have been greeted with a collection of new features and updates to drool over, but one of our past beloved features has also seemed to disappear. After downloading the Developer Preview, you will notice that Bing search has been replaced by the very capable Cortana, but the ability to scan QR codes has seemed to disappear along with her arrival.

The well-loved Bing Vision featured has not been removed, but simply placed elsewhere. We are going to show you how to access Bing Vision on your device running Windows 8.1, along with three alternative third party apps that can get the job done!

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