Apps

Speedtest.net is the must-have app if you’re curious about data speeds on your Windows Phone. Based off of the site of the same name, the official app finally came to Windows Phone 8 in January and quickly received a bug fix shortly thereafter.

Version 1.1 is now live in the Store and it brings two new tings to the table, including a fix to a bug that “caused cell network tests to be seen as Wi-Fi tests”. That’s certainly useful and good to know.

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NearSpeak is an interesting Near Field Communication (NFC) app for your Windows Phone 8 device that lets you record voice messages and store them on NFC tags.

There are a couple of neat aspects to NearSpeak. First, NFC tags typically lack the storage space to hold audio files. To record your voice, NearSpeak uses speech recognition to convert your spoken word into text. When played back, the text on the NFC tag is converted back to audio through NearSpeak's speech files.

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Good news for those of you who watch Netflix “on the go” and who also have 720P devices like the ATIV S or HTC 8X. Netflix version 3.0.0.1 is now out on the Store, and it adds at least two things that we can see right off the bat: support for 720P resolution (meaning no more “black bars” for viewing) and double wide tile support.

That first one is pretty huge as being able to see full HD video on a 720P HD screen is kind of a big deal for Netflix fans. Now that the app has the full resolution support, videos can be watched “wide screen” and boy do they look great.

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We’ve covered the blurring technique that some of us have adopted on Windows Phone recently. The trick is to find an image you want as your lockscreen and then to blur it using a filter in Photoshop or something similar. The effect is to basically add ‘bokeh’ to the image, allowing you to still see it, but making the text (and notifications) more legible.

We also recently posted Lock Widgets by Jaxbot from the site Windows Phone Hacker. That app added some cool weather and battery info, and when we ran the story, we showed it with a blurred background.

Evidently a light went off in Jaxbot’s head as he’s gone forward to create a freebie app that simply takes whatever image you want and adds “blur” to it. Intensity is based on a slider scale, and users can either save directly to their phone or instantly make it a background.

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Samsung has released a number of updates for its collection of Windows Phone apps, found on the Samsung Zone. We can confirm that a number of notifications have been received for multiple apps. It's good to see Samsung continuing to support Windows Phone with updates to its core list of apps exclusively available to customers. So what's been updated?

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Microsoft has a new trick up their sleeve to promote apps and games in the Windows Phone Store: weekly deals. Referred to as ‘red stripe’ offerings because the apps/games have a red boarder, users can purchase these games at a heavily discounted price. It should be a great way to move more inventory, so to speak, as well as highlight some top-quality apps or games in the store.

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Wallet integration in Windows Phone is a useful way for credit / debit and other cards to be stored for use, without carrying around the pesky wallet (hence the naming of the app itself). Software developer Scott Lovegrove (@scottisafool) has created an app called Store Card Buddy to further expand on this functionality and provide a means for consumers to store and generate retail / store cards.

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PhotoWeather Pro is a Windows Phone photography app that lets you create, more or less, picture postcards with a weather/location information overlay. The weather information is based on your current location and can be added to photographs in several shapes, forms and fashion.

PhotoWeather Pro also includes a basic photo editor to help you fine tune your photos before saving. PhotoWeather Pro isn't too shabby of a photography app for your Windows Phone 8 or 7.x device but will likely be held back due to the lack of a trial.

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Good news if you’re a fan of the wildly popular Weather Flow apps for your Windows Phone or Windows 8/RT as both apps have received updates to help make the experience bettter.

First up, the Windows Phone version gets a nice bump for all of those on 7.8 and who want a fancy double wide tile. Version 1.5 now adds the ability to have Rich or Metro double wide tiles, including minimal data or the full weather cast for the week, matching the Windows Phone 8 abilities.

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Oni has published a new blog post covering the most recent update to the company's Windows Phone app. Should you not be aware of what Oni: Light Control is all about, we last looked at the app back in February. It's a solution for those of us who happen to have Philips Hue bulbs installed throughout the home. Think home lighting, but more fun.

The rather expensive lighting equipment supports a variety of colours and is wireless enabled, making it easy to control the output using a smartphone. This is where Oni (www.oni.io) and its Light Control Windows Phone comes in. Unfortunately, the Philips bulbs are rather expensive, so this is only suited for those who can afford to throw money at the home.

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Back In The Day is an interesting Windows Phone 8 app that lets you pull up photos or status messages from your Facebook account that were posted a year ago.

Back In The Day's interface is rather simple and straight forward. You have to sign into your Facebook account and give the app authorization to view your photos and status messages. Back In The Day does the rest by going back a year to see what you were doing.

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Update: Pricing alterations for Windows 8 apps should now be live for the next 24 hours (note that Windows Phone apps offer has passed).

To celebrate the launch of Unification, Liquid Daffodil's answer to a notification center for both Windows and Windows Phone platforms, the developer has altered pricing for numerous apps so consumers can download highly rated content that are Unification ready and prepare themselves for when the Unification app is finally listed on the respective stores.

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By now you should know that we’re not big Facebook users around here. Hey, if everyone can critique the stupidity of Instagram, we can do the same for Facebook. Regardless, we know many of you love the service and rely on it to stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues. So it’s exciting to see the app get a nice 0.1 update to version 4.2 today (last update was for 7.8 in December).

Unfortunately there is no change log with this update, as it instead relies on the old update info from when the app got some Windows Phone 8 features. Also a cursory look around the app did not reveal any major new features but figuring out the labyrinth like feature-set of the world’s largest social network is never easy to begin with.

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Camera360 for Windows Phone 8 has landed in the Windows Phone Store. Camera360 is a popular photography app over on the Android and iOS platforms that presents a unique user interface that applies various filters and effects to your images.  The interface takes a little time to get used to but after a few minutes, it's rather nice.

Tapping into a "less is more" concept, Camera360 has a central dial, a creative compass, that lets you scan through the various shooting themes and then side swipe the screen to choose the effects for each theme. You also have several frames to choose from and a photo diary to review your photos by date taken.

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Last night we cruelly teased about a potential way for Windows Phone 8 users to post to Instagram right from their devices. To be honest, we did that because it was just too late (too dark) to shoot video and yes, it was a good warm-up.

The good news is no, it is most definitely not a (late) April’s Fools’ joke. It’s 100% legitimate and yes, it will be submitted to the Windows Phone Store very soon.

Read past the break for our video walkthrough and images to serve as a teaser...

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Noted VOIP client, Viber, which just submitted its beta 2.1 version for approval a few days ago, has already gotten a significant makeover that adds a bunch of features for Windows Phone 8. Most notably, version 2.2.2.0 adds free calling with HD sound quality, but it also adds Live Tile support. You can now pin conversations to the Start screen and receive lockscreen notifications.

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The Windows Phone 8 app Location Finder is an simple app to find, save and share your current location.

The app was recently updated to version 2.0 to bring a whole slew of Windows Phone 8 features including enhanced voice commands and fast app resume. We decided to a look at things and found Location Finder to be a handy Windows Phone 8 app to record everything from campsite locations to where you parked your car at the mall to sharing locations with friends/family.

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The First Tech Federal credit union has released an app for Windows Phone. Enabling consumers to remain in control of deposits wherever they may be, the app matches other mobile banking solutions in terms of features and available functionality. The highly rated app will be a great addition to the arsenal of apps on Windows Phones owned by those who hold accounts.

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LockWidgets 8, the side project by Jaxbot from the site Windows Phone Hacker, has been bumped to version 1.1 after being out for just a few days. The app has had numerous bugs fixed with this update and the big feature: added Celsius support.

Yes to the dismay of many, the original version only had Fahrenheit, meaning a good portion of the globe was not inclined to use the otherwise stellar app. That has now been fixed with an override function found in the settings menu for the app. [Edit: see Jaxbot's comment below for clarification]

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Need a little help keeping track of your favorite television shows? Series Fan for Windows Phone 8 will help you manage all the episodes in your favorite series by tracking what you've watched, when what you haven't might air, and give you quick overviews of the entire series.

Series Fan has Miso to let you see what your friends are watching, earn points and badges for checking in and share your check-ins on Facebook or Twitter.  The app has potential but has a bit of room for improvement.

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