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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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Ever since the arrival of the Preview for Windows Phone 8.1, we’ve been documenting frequent questions posed by you, the eager user. One of those topics deals with ‘Background tasks’ having been seemingly removed from the OS by Microsoft. But here’s a secret: it hasn’t.

The ability to control how programs behave in Windows Phone 8.0 was found under Settings > (swipe right) > Applications > background tasks. In that section, you could easily see which programs installed on your phone were doing things in the background e.g. checking for updates, or pushing Live Tile refreshes. It’s a useful tool used by many to help save on battery power. After all, if you have installed a few weather apps due to changing preferences, you don’t want all of them running at once!

In Windows Phone 8.1, many users are under the impression that this feature has been removed, but it has not. It has, however, changed, both in function and where it can be found.

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Nokia has been known to run various gaming promotions since it came to Windows Phone a couple of years ago. Most obviously they sponsored the production of more than 20 Xbox Windows Phone games; titles that we probably would never have gotten otherwise. There was also a brief period last year in which a non-Xbox version of Sonic CD became available for Lumia owners. We never found out why the giveaway game lacked its Xbox features, nor would Nokia comment on it.

Fourteen months later, it looks like Nokia has a new promotion going on. Owners of some very specific handsets (Nokia Lumia 625, 1020, 1320, Icon, and 1520) can get free versions of nine games from mega-publisher Gameloft! These aren’t stripped down versions, either. They’re the full Xbox titles with working Achievements, albeit with different Store pages than the general versions. Head past the link for more details on how to find the free games!

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Nokia and Microsoft have sent out an email to customers today detailing alterations (namely, the transfer) made to data protection, privacy and service terms. This is all due to the sale of Nokia's devices and services division to Microsoft, which both parties expect to complete by the end of this month. There's not a whole lot of information contained in the email, but it's nice to know Microsoft will take care of your data just as well as Nokia.

Essentially, you shouldn't expect to see any changes to how your data is collected and what it's used for.

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One of the more popular endless running games out there, Subway Surfers, has had a big update in time for Easter. Players can now run through the subways of Rome, and access a new local racer, Roberto. There are also weekly egg hunts with unique rewards, plus a new unlockable costume for Zoe and a new Kick-off board to earn. To top things off, there’s a fresh series of Spray Can Awards for rising to particularly tricky challenges.

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Universal game purchases have long been one of the most requested features from avid Windows Phone gamers, right behind SD card support (at last!) and more Xbox games (no luck yet). Already popular on iOS, the universal app concept allows users to buy a game or app once and then play it on both Windows Phone and Windows 8 and RT.

Yesterday Microsoft and 343’s Halo: Spartan Assault officially became the first universal app on Windows Phone and Windows 8. It turns out that several more Windows Phone/Windows 8 Xbox games also went universal alongside Halo. Most are technically free and thus the universal label is more symbolic than anything. But another paid game is now universal as well: Skulls of the Shogun from 17-BIT. Head past the break for more details and word on which mobile Xbox games still need to go universal!

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Start backgrounds are probably one of the more interesting changes we’ve seen in Windows Phone 8.1. It’s another step Microsoft has made to allow users to customize and make their Windows Phone experience unique and personal. We happen to be very big fans of the Start backgrounds and have seen the community respond to them positively as well. A lot of you were timid and curbed your enthusiasm when Start backgrounds leaked a month ago, but the response after actually using it has been the opposite.

Today we’re going to highlight some tips, apps, resources and images to make Windows Phone truly beautiful with a unique Start background.  

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Apple, Google, and Microsoft are but a few of the names that have announced a commitment to including features to deter smartphone theft in all future products. Even the carriers are on board, with the big four announcing support and commitment as well.

What they're all committing to is the "Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment." All phones sold by the signees after July 2015 will offer, at no additional cost, the following tools and services:

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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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Despite the fact Windows Phone 8.1 has been garnering some fantastic reviews from both tech pundits and the masses, it’s not all roses and ponies. I was reminded of this last night when playing with the Xbox Music app that comes with 8.1.

On the surface, the app looks decent. It’s a continuation of the new app structure started late last year by Microsoft, which replaces the ‘built in’ Music + Video hubs of the past. Microsoft is changing the architecture so that the Windows Phone Team can quickly add new features and fix bugs, all without an OS update.

But let’s not mince words: the music experience on Windows Phone 8.1 is subpar, and it has become worse since 8.0.  In fact, it sits with a pathetic 2.5 stars (out of 5) on the Store, which is awful for a Microsoft app.

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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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There are so many new features in Windows Phone 8.1. Of course Cortana and the notification center will steal the headlines, but it’s the other features that help make this a momentous update. We’re going to highlight quiet hours and show you how to get the most out of it. Quiet hours is the new “do not disturb” feature in Windows Phone 8.1 that’s powered by Cortana.

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The Windows Phone keyboard became even better with the 8.1 update. A few enhancements that you may not know about include auto-importing of names from your contacts, which improves the auto-complete feature in Word Flow. Another is the awesome Shape writing, which we’ve come to love in our daily usage.

But what about swearing? (Warning: curse words ahead).

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Rogers has announced some new roaming add-ons for Canadian travelers. Not too long ago, Rogers unveiled a $7.99 daily roaming plan for the U.S. (which already faces stiff competition against WIND’s $15 unlimited plan), and this new one is built for roaming worldwide. But don’t get too excited; it’s $9.99 for a day for up to 20 MB (depending on where you're going), with no voice or text. That’s better than the $10 - $15 they’d normally charge per megabyte without a package. This add-on will be applied automatically after you start using data abroad, though you’ll get SMS alerts about usage.

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For those in the US whom also have Windows Phone 8.1 installed, Cortana is probably one of your most frequented new features on your phone. If you’re outside the US, you’ll have to wait a little longer for Microsoft to localize your language (unless you follow our simple tutorial).

When sharing images of my 8.1 screen, a lot of people have asked me why I pin Cortana as a wide Tile. After all, I could just hit the dedicated Search key (Tip: you can long press the Search key on the Lock screen to call up Cortana). On the surface, it’s seems like a simple question, but I’ll explain why if you have Cortana, making her a permanent Tile on your screen may be a good idea.

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Windows Phone 8.1, released yesterday through the Preview for Developer program, sure has a lot of new features. We tried to document most, if not all, of those in our colossal review/overview of the OS, but as suspected some items will fall through the cracks.

Reader of the site Nicholas M. brought to our attention that 8.1 not only has independent volume levels for Ringer + Notifications versus Media + Apps, but also a separate volume slider for headphones. We looked into the finding and also discovered that there’s a fourth volume slider, one for Bluetooth.

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Last fall, I had the pleasure of traveling to Casual Connect USA and interviewing Polish game developer Artifex Mundi. They announced three upcoming games to us during the event: Nightmares from the Deep: The Siren’s Call, Deadlings, and Enigmatis: The Mists of Ravenwood. Siren’s Call came out in November, followed by Deadlings in February, leaving only Mists of Ravenwood unreleased.

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