Apps

We know you’re eagerly waiting for the next WhatsApp update. And why not? After all the beta leaks, it’s looking to be a doozy. From custom notifications, media download controls, custom backgrounds, privacy controls to many subtle UI changes, the next version of WhatsApp is looking to be a wow-worthy update.

Tonight, another private beta update has gone out (build 398), and it brings something even better than the ability to set a background image for all your chats: the ability to set custom images for individual contacts. Give your best friend one image, your significant other another and yet another for your colleagues, the choice is yours.

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It has been a rather quiet week so far with the news, but we're looking at more app updates being pushed through the Windows Phone Store. Updating your arsenal of content will surely make up for the lack of hardware announcements and help you through the wait for Windows Phone 8.1.

Today, we're looking at both 2flicka and Cal, not to mention some other apps worth noting. Slip past the break for more details.

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While telephony has changed through the years – from landlines to mobiles to VoIP – voicemail has remained pretty much the same with plain vanilla functionality of receiving recorded audio messages when you can’t answer the phone.

Smart Voicemail aims to alter this perception, and attempts to be the next evolution of voicemail with status updates & availability to quickly let callers know why you missed their call.

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Although the app-gap for Windows Phone dwindles each and every day, there are still a few banner apps missing. One of those is Starbucks for the US market (there’s already one for Mexico and Russia, who are managed by different companies).

The Starbucks apps aren’t just store locators, like the well-done app we covered this morning, but they help manage your account, keep track of awards and lets you replenish your pre-purchase card. The apps on iOS and Android are quite popular, but Windows Phones in US are left on the sidelines.

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Latté Locator is a simple, nicely laid out Starbucks finder app for Windows Phone. Latté Locator will not only discern the closest Starbucks but also map out directions to get you to that next cup of joe and pull up contact information for that particular café.

What makes the app unique though is where it gets its data. It’s not scrapping it from Google or Bing like other apps, but rather it is connecting directly to the Starbucks server via their private API. Think of how 6tag and Instance work with Instagram, and you have the same model for Latté Locator. The result? Highly accurate information and no “noise”. Throw in a nice UI with some cool features and we like what we see.

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Location Finder is a handy Windows Phone 8 app that will find, save and share your current location. With Location Finder you can record locations such as a campsite, where you parked your car, the location of a business you need to remember or simply sharing your location with friends/family so they can find you.

Location Finder was updated to version 2.6 last night that includes a handful of changes that are user driven. For example, many users asked for shorter URLs to make sharing your location easier. You can opt for the shorter URLs in the app’s settings.

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Top five Windows Phone apps for music fans

If there’s one form of media smartphone owners enjoy access to it has to be music. Windows Phones and music go hand in hand with numerous solutions available on the store, whether it be local library management, cloud services and music stores. From Xbox Music to Nokia MixRadio, we take a look at five popular music apps for Windows Phone.

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If you’re a fan of Weave, the popular news aggregator app for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8, get ready to start checking for updates. Version 8.6.5 should be hitting the Store anywhere between the next few hours and tomorrow. That’s the Windows Phone 8 version and it has some swell additions, making it one of the more visually appealing news readers at your disposal.

Version 8.6.5 is not a major overhaul, but it does finally bring Pocket support (www.getpocket.com). With great apps like Poki or Pouch on Windows Phone, we find ourselves using the Pocket service more and more. With this update, when you hit the Share button, you’ll have Pocket and Instapaper as saving options. We’ve also heard there’s room for “one more” service, so look for that in another update.

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Taking amazing photographs on your Windows Phone is one task. Printing them off is another, but luckily Zoomin (www.zoomin.com) now has an official solution now available on the store. Photo Prints is a sweet app, enabling consumers in India to order prints anywhere in the region, perfect for those who wish to keep a physical copy of captured memories. 

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Niche apps are always tough to write about. For some, they’re indispensable. To others, they don’t make sense. DayGlance is one of those apps, designed specifically for Lumia devices running Nokia’s Glance screen.

You may not have noticed, but Nokia’s Glance screen omits the date. Instead, it just shows the time and any notifications. While I understand the logic – keep it simple – for some, knowing the calendar day is important. Luckily DayGlance fills that gap by let users show the date in the notification bar.

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Another week has flown by. We didn’t have a busy week in the Windows Phone Store, but we did pick up a few high profile applications. Facebook Messenger is now available and there’s a brand new Dropbox client that’s worth downloading if you’re a big fan of the service. Let’s check out all the best new app, app updates and new games from this week available in the Windows Phone Store.

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There are certainly plenty of weather apps on Windows Phone, and everyone has their idea of the perfect one. One of my favorites is Vieather, which hails from Vietnam. The app is lean, mean and it’s free (ad-free too). It doesn’t have Doppler radar or breaking weather alerts, but it does offer a nice visual approach to your current conditions. Did I mention there’s also a Windows 8 app for your Surface?

Version 2.0 just landed on the Store the today and if you already use the app, then you may have been alerted to the update.  The changelog is a partial carry over from the last few updates, though I’ll tell you exactly what’s new.

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While the leading shopping portals in India like Flipkart and Amazon still don’t have a localised Windows Phone app, another popular online marketplace – Tradus – has arrived on the Windows Phone Store.

Tradus (www.tradus.com) brings local markets online for shopping. You can choose from over 10 million products from thousands of sellers. You can buy from sellers nearest to your location, while also checking out daily deals and discounts.

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We've gone through a rather busy week and while we're sure many of you are battling through both Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare and South Park: Stick of Truth, there are some Windows Phone app updates you may not be aware of. Pass the break to learn what's new in Maxthon, SongArc, Fhotolens and more.

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Design Me is a Windows Phone 8 app that is a collection of personal management tools designed to help you make it through the week. Released last Fall, the app snuck in under our radar but, luckily, a recent update and a few tips alerted us to Design Me.

The Windows Phone 8 app comes across as a well-designed, feature rich Windows Phone 8 app. Design Me will not only help you keep track of your appointments but also has the ability to let you know what the weather should be like, set alarms so you won't sleep through the next appointment and record notes to preserve thoughts and other items you want to remember.

After using Design Me for a few days, we can see why it gets such good reviews in the Windows Phone Store.

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The best messaging apps on Windows Phone

When Windows Phone first launched back in 2010 there weren’t too many messaging apps available. Over the years we’ve seen most major messaging platforms join the ecosystem. Today we have great services like WhatsApp, Skype, Kik, Facebook Messenger, Line, GroupMe and Telegram. Others, like BBM, are on the horizon and will join Windows Phone sooner than later.

We’re curious though as to which messaging platform you use the most. We also want to know which messaging platform you prefer. It’s completely possible to have a different app that you prefer over one that you use the most. The majority of your friends might be communicating through FB Messenger, but you’d prefer if they were on something else like WhatsApp or Telegram.

We’re going to look at seven major messaging platforms today. Skype, Telegram, GroupMe, WhatsApp, Kik, Facebook Messenger and Line are being given our full attention. They’re the apps we see the Windows Phone community coalescing around the most.

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HD Photo Viewer updated, dynamic zoom added

HD Photo Viewer is an interesting Windows Phone 8 photography app that lets you view and share your images at full resolution. When viewing images through your Windows Phone Pictures Hub, image quality is reduced to improve performance when you pan and zoom. HD Photo Viewer presents the images in full resolution for a more quality viewing experience.

HD Photo Viewer was updated today to version 3.4, which includes a dynamic zoom feature and a few other enhancements to improve the app's overall performance.

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A few days ago Rudy Huyn released his new Dropbox client for Windows Phone – CloudSix for Dropbox. It’s the first of many cloud storage apps that Rudy will be working on in the near future. Not only does it bring all the functionality of Dropbox to Windows Phone, but it also offers up new opportunities for developers to add cloud storage to their apps with minimal effort. CloudSix for Dropbox has also just picked up its first update. Let’s see what’s new.

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There are lots of apps out there that use the local network trick to facilitate data transfer. You may have your favorite, but there’s always room for another. Music Drop, made by Codeceptive Studios, is a relatively new app that received a necessary bug fix update today. It’s a neat app if only because of its laser-like focus: send music from your PC to your Windows Phone.

Music Drop is simple enough. You launch it and it generates a specific URL, which you then type in your desktop browser (HTML5). From there, a Music Drop page is generated where you can simply drag and drop music off of your computer. Those tunes then get sent to your phone and voila, you have music on your device without a wired file transfer.

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Top Rated Beer Apps for Windows Phone

Windows Phone Central App Roundup: Beer Apps

Beers and breweries have seen a rise in popularity over the past few years, to the point it can be a challenge to keep up with all the brands, styles and breweries that are now available. Luckily, we have a small collection of Windows Phone apps in the Store to help those who indulge in the sudsy beverages keep tabs on things.

This week’s Windows Phone Central roundup focuses on a handful of these beer apps. We’ve picked four of the top rated beer oriented apps to shine the spotlight on. Three the help you search and find the various beer brands, styles and breweries and one to help those who dabble in home brewing.

As with all of our roundups, if we have over looked your favorite beer app sound off down below in the comments and share your recommendation.

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The highly popular podcast app for Windows Phone, Podcast Lounge has received a substantial update today. If you're not familiar with the name, the app enables users to stream and enjoy a variety of podcasts covering multiple genres.

Originally starting off as a unofficial BBC podcast client, Igneous Software has broadened the appeal of Podcast Lounge by adding in a new catalogue of podcasts, bringing with it international support. Should you be an active user, you’ll love what’s new in version 2.

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One sign of a healthy app ecosystem? Developers giving their apps frequent updates. We love waking up and seeing that tile count on the Live tile for the Windows Phone Store. Big or small, we love app updates. Today we’re looking at updates for CamScanner and Car Dash. Two apps on Windows Phone that fulfill niche needs, but do it well. Let’s check out what’s new.

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WhatsApp is in many ways the go-to messaging app for many these days. Even more so after its momentous purchase by Facebook, who released their own highly-acclaimed messaging app this week.  

We’ve been covering the beta recently, showing you what’s in store for the upcoming public release. Since our last coverage, there have been a few updates, including one just this morning bringing it to build 390.

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