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Get Microsoft Silverlight

Apps on Windows Phone boot up fairly quickly and the user only has but a few seconds to wait for the software to fully load, but what if the operating system itself could predict what app(s) you're likely to run that exact second? Cue FALCON, a project undertaken by Microsoft Research. The "Fast App Launching with Context" allows the faster execution of apps by preloading the software in memory (multitasking stack).

One of the researchers, Tingxin Yan, describes FALCON as:

A context-aware mobile app preloading component for mobile OS. Based on intensive data analysis of app usage across multiple mobile users, FALCON presents a decision engine which exploits temporal and spacial characters of user behavior to pre-load apps ahead of time, thereby improves the responsiveness of smartphones.

How FALCON would achieve this is by anticipating what apps the user is likely to launch using algorithms, and is part of a larger project called "Context Data OS (ConDOS)". Microsoft Research aims to improve the mobile experience with ConDOS by integrating context into the platform OS.

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Trapster for Windows Phones

Trapster is finally making the move to Windows Phone. For those not familiar, Trapster first came onto the scene back in the Windows Mobile days (here's our review from way back when) and is a rather interesting app.  The driving app has left the Beta Stage and is headed to the open Marketplace.

Trapster is a social network app for your Windows Phone designed to alert you of speed traps and other road hazards. Trapster relies on a network of over 15 million users who have reported a total of 5 million Traps to date. Keep in mind though, Trapster isn't intended to help you skirt the long arm of the law but rather drive more safely.

Along with reporting the Traps you see via the convenient Report button, Trapster will also have these features:

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Game emulators are a lil' pastime around WPCentral. What can we say other than we like our old games as much as our new Xbox LIVE ones? We've covered Purple Cherry (Gameboy) and Blue Tomato (for you Sega fans) and now we're very happy to see Nudua's vNESLight come to the Windows Phone Marketplace for emulating games from the Nintendo Entertainment System (abbreviated as NES).

Version 1.0 of the emulator actually arrived two weeks ago after a two-month hold up by Microsoft and v1.1 is about to go live in a few days with some minor bug fixes. Version 1.0 now features Skydrive support,  including recognition of ZIP and RAR files making ROM imports very easy. You can also save your games to Skydrive too in case you want to switch devices and the UI has been re-worked to be more "Metro".

Emulation of Nintendo games also now supports sounds from varying bitrate quality (8000, 22050 and 44100 Hz) as well as Auto-frame skip for older Gen 1 devices. But if you're like us with a Titan, Titan II, Focus S or Lumia device, you can easily run at no skips and max bitrate. Audio emulation is pretty good but there are distortions here and there, but since we know sound emulation is hard stuff, we're just glad it's here.

vNESLight

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Lumia 710 and Tango

Just yesterday we reported that China was destined for some Tango ROM goodness for the Nokia Lumia 710. This was verified by peeking in on Nokia's own servers where they like to toss up the ROMs before they're pushed out (yet another reason to like the company, we suppose).

Tonight, with a quick cache refresh of our NaviFirm software we were able to seen yet another Tango ROM show up, this time destined for Belgium operator Proximus. This ROM has a slightly different firmware as it's labeled 8773.12120 versus the 12111 we saw for China.

We haven't loaded this one up but we feeling a little safer about English being on board. The big question everyone is wondering is Will the bring tethering to the Lumia 710? Our hunch says yes, at least for those carriers who want it.

It was speculated that Nokia did not tie the battery-saver update in the Lumia 800 (and 710) to the tethering feature for fear it could limit adoption by carriers. By separating them, Nokia could get the important battery fix out to the most users while it separately delivers the tethering update.

We imagine we'll find out soon enough. At least it's a good sign that Nokia is pushing out these updates on a wide-scale and we imagine the Lumia 800 will follow soon too.

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Wordament

Lately we’ve been fortunate enough to receive release dates for new Xbox Live games a week or two in advance – including this week’s release, Monster Island. Naturally Windows Phone gamers are already anxious to know about next week’s new game, and we can now put those anxieties to rest. Microsoft Studios has officially announced that the Xbox Live version of Wordament launches on April 25. The game prematurely appeared on the Marketplace’s list of Xbox Live games last week, but was not Live-enabled.

Wordament is already available as an indie game. The gameplay involves trying to find as many words as possible from a field of 16 letters, all within a time limit. The hook? You’re competing against hundreds of others in real-time over the internet. Visually it’s quite plain, but the multiplayer/leaderboard aspect is compelling.

Head past the break for the full story and an update from the game's developer.

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From the Forums: Nokia Lumia 900 cracked screen

It just 'sploded

"The Horror! The Horror!"

Soldier down! That's right, even with the Lumia 900's Corning® Gorilla® Glass it seems that just the right drop at just the right height can shatter the beautiful 4.3" display.

Forum member fig dropped his Lumia from waist high and the screen darn near 'sploded. If he has the AT&T insurance, the best he can hope for is spending $200 on the deductible. That is rather high but it's a lot better than paying full price for a new device, so let us hope he has the insurance!

Get the full story in our forums: cracked display.....what should I do? Let us know in the comments if you have insurance on your device and if you think the $200 deductible is, you know, too high?

Remember, the forums are more fun when you register, so sign up today.

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Nearly 60% of those switching to Windows Phone due to the Nokia Lumia 900 or HTC Titan II were former iOS and Android owners. Apple brand-loyalty? We think not.

WPCentral Poll results

We ran a poll the other day asking users if they switched to Windows Phone due to the Lumia 900 or Titan II, what OS were they coming from. And although the poll is still technically open, with 3,462 votes tallied so far we can discern a distinct pattern forming from the results.

The majority of users, nearly 60%, are coming from a combo of former Android and iPhone owners with it neatly divided at a close 30% each. Blackberry users are evidently still holding on with just 10% and a nice healthy 14% of adopters were coming from non-smartphones.

While our pals at Crackberry spun it as hope for Blackberry 10 users, we imagine a lot of folks jumped that ship last quarter to either the iPhone or Android, leaving the diehards (or still contract-bound) behind. Personally, we think RIM is DOA and look forward to a Microsoft acquisition at a rock bottom price (insert maniacal laughter).

The Android/iPhone results are interesting only because we're seeing what looks to be equal amount of folks taking up Windows Phone, leaving in the dust the notion that Apple has stronger brand loyalty than any other company.

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WP Central

The Windows Phone team has taken the Smoked by Windows Phone challenge to Italy with a steady stream of contestants attempting to best the platform. Should they lose they would (as usual) have to hold up a sign and announce they've been smoked by a Windows Phone. But should they win, and this is the interesting part, they'd pocket a pair of headphones.

What's so interesting about the headphones? They're shaped like a giant phone.

Italy Smoked 5

Possibly the coolest prize from the challenge? The Windows Phone Italy team has been keeping everyone up-to-date with latest happenings on their Twitter account, paying particular attention to the charts which record the wins / loses. According to the photos published, Windows Phone appeared to have been holding its own successfully.

Check out more photos after the break. Via: Plaffo

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Kinect Star Wars for Windows Phone

Kinect Star Wars for your Xbox 360 was released just a short while ago and yesterday the Kinect Star Wars app for your Windows Phone hit the Windows Phone Marketplace. And it's not what you think.

You may be thinking that the Kinect Star Wars app turns your Windows Phone into a light saber or monitors your progress in the Xbox 360 game. Nope.

The Kinect Star Wars app is a social network app that will pull feeds from your Facebook and Twitter accounts, giving your social networking a Star Wars feel. You also have a Kinect feed full of posts from your favorite Star Wars characters.

Kinect Star Wars App

On each of the Twitter and Facebook pages, you have button controls to post, view your profile, search and view the Kinect Star Wars Xbox 360 website. The profile pages breaks down your Twitter account rather nicely with pages for your account details, your tweets, mentions, messages, favorites and following/followers lists. You do have live tile support to pin your profile to your Windows Phone Start Screen.

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Nokia readies Lumia 710 Tango OS update for China

WP Central

Look what just popped up on Nokia's Care Suite servers. Why it's Windows Phone 7.5 Consumer Release (CR) 3 aka "Tango" for the Nokia Lumia 710 in China. Specifically the ROM build is 1600.3029.8773.12111 where the "8773" denotes the OS version and the "12111" is the firmware build.

Windows Phone OS 8773 is the "gold" version of Tango which adds support for 256 MB devices, MMS enhancements and other smaller, under the hood changes. A lot of phones today are sporting Mango CR1 (8107) or Mango CR2 (8112) and AT&T is expected to rollout CR3 (8773+) for its devices in the future.

Lumia 710 ROM 1600.3029.8773.12111

With the addition of this ROM on Nokia's servers it's a safe bet that those with a Lumia 710 in China will be seeing an update notification from Zune Desktop in the next few days.

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WP Central

The My Verizon Mobile app has received a makeover, but not the type of makeover that improves visual appeal. With the recent Verizon HTC Trophy update, which was warmly welcomed, the carrier also rolled out an update to their Windows Phone app. Should you enter the app you might be surprised by what you're presented with.

As one can see in the above image, something's gone terribly wrong. The reviews on the Marketplace are heading downhill as one could imagine, so if you're a frequent user and enjoy an aesthetically pleasing experience, we advise you stay away from the app update.

Via: WinSource

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Nokia's debt rating takes a nose dive

Today, credit-rating agency Moody's, cut Nokia Oyj's debt rating to the lowest investment-grade level.  This comes on the heels of Nokia's announcement last week that they would be posting a 3 percent loss this quarter and would likely see a loss in Q2 as well.  Citing deteriorating sales of low-end phones, Moody's dropped Nokia's debt rating one step, to Baa3, with a negative outlook, which means that the rating could be lowered even further, if things don't pick up for the Finnish manufacturer.  Moody's decision affects an estimated $5.2 billion in debt and puts their rating more in line with those of Standard & Poor and Fitch, who were much quicker to lower their ratings.

“Moody’s believes that the structural change facing Nokia’s Mobile Phones segment may not be easy to address, such as the market share gains recorded by makers of very low-end phones or new promotions by Chinese carriers,” Moody’s analyst Wolfgang Draack said in the statement.

The change in Nokia's rating has obviously affected the company's stock.  Shares have been trading down 2.4% in Helsinki and credit-default swaps jumped to a record-high 516, up from 354 at the beginning of April.

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ChatOn

As if the world needs yet another instant messaging service, last year Samsung introduced their ChatON app on Android which now boats a few hundred thousand users. The app is nothing too remarkable as it allows group messaging, photo, music and location sharing and the usual other chat tidbits you expect from such a service.

In January, Samsung released a version for iOS and subsequently one for RIM's Blackberry too. There was also mention from a TNW article that a version for "Windows Mobile" (sic) was in the works as well. Later, Samsung somewhat denied this but now it appears that Sammy may indeed have something for Windows Phone.

From the Italian version of the website for ChatON, Samsung now list "Windows Mobile" under app availability with it currently grayed out indicating future support (even if they have the platform name wrong).

ChatON coming soon?

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Microsoft Translator updated to version 2.0

WP Central

Microsoft has recently updated the official Bing Translator app for Windows Phone, which reportedly adds functionality enabling users to translate from speech, via the camera or through keyboard input. With the camera, Translator allows users to simply capture a sign, menu, newspaper or any printed text on their Windows Phone for instant translations.

Language and phrase books can be downloaded within the app for offline usage, especially handy for when traveling abroad in supported countries (voice translations still require data connectivity). A variety of languages are available and results are fairly accurate. The in-app translators can be pinned to the home screen for convenient access when requiring fast results.

Microsoft Translator App

The interface is straight forward and functions are available straight from the main menu, there's little clutter in the Translator app. We've not touched on the Translator offering from Microsoft since the Windows Mobile days, but overall, it's not too shabby for a free app.

You can download Microsoft's Translator from the Marketplace for free.

Thanks Alexander for the heads up!

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WP Central

Viber has been busy creating an app for Windows Phone, and we previously looked at an early 2012 release timeframe. Now we're stuck in the middle of early 2012 and it's time for the community to see some light at the end of the tunnel. If you're not familiar with Viber (official website), it's a VoIP service that's used by millions of Android and iPhone owners.

In response to an email inquiry from a Windows Phone enthusiast, Viber had the the following to share:

You will be pleased to know that Viber for WP7 is coming very soon. Please stay tuned within the following week. We will be announcing its publication, system req. and more, at that time.

We'll keep our eyes open and ears tuned for any further details on an imminent release for Viber. It'll be positive to see yet another popular means of communication for Windows Phone.

Via: WMPU; thanks Mark for the tip!

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99 cent Xbox Live games

Remember that huge Easter sale on Xbox Live titles we were so enthusiastic about a short time ago? It took a little while to receive confirmation on this, but we’ve learned that the seven featured games have permanently dropped in price to 99 cents. That’s good news to Windows Phone gamers as it means we have a new (and more competitive) price point for games!

The seven games that dropped in price from $2.99 to 99 cents:

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Windows Phone Basics: The People Hub

WPCentral's Guide to the Windows Phone People Hub

Windows Phone People Hub

Our next helpful article for those who are new to Windows Phone covers the People Hub - the one stop for all your social requirements when on the go. The People Hub, as the name suggests, is where all your contacts are available to communicate with. Upon launching the hub from the home screen (tile is present by default - a mosaic of randomly generated photos) you'll be presented with your profile summary with latest Facebook status or tweet (if not simply swipe to the right - we'll keep things simple and start from the contacts list).

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WP Central

Should you live in (or be simply visiting) London there are a number of useful Windows Phone apps out there to aid you while using public transport. We've covered London Travel before but here's London Travel Live, which has just been updated to version 3.1. London Travel Live goes further than similar apps on the Marketplace by sporting multiple Oyster card support, Barclays Cycle Hire stand statuses, and more.

A London Underground map is available within the app that clearly shows what zone stations are located in, as well as what lines connect to them. Live departure boards as well as live tiles are supported, with majority of information found in the app available offline (perfect for when actually traveling on the underground where signal is a myth). Some of the features present in London Travel Live (prior to the recent update):

  • Tube status live tile updated every 15 mins (not one hour like other apps).
  • Tube status toast notifications.
  • Oyster balance and season ticket details.
  • Live tube departure boards.
  • Tube Station facilities.
  • Tube map and line maps.
  • Most information available offline.

WP Central

So what's new in version 3.1?

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Boxfiles queue

We last wrote about Boxfiles for Dropbox back in December. The app comes into two flavors (a free version and a paid one) and has undergone numerous updates since then.

The latest just hit the Marketplace and it brings a really neat feature that many of you may enjoy: automatic camera uploads to your Dropbox account.

This is very useful and desirable because although Windows Phone can do this for Skydrive, it re-scales images automatically leaving you with a "just good enough for the web" sized memory. That's a problem though if, like us, you want to back up your photos to "the cloud" but at their full resolution. Even more so if you have a device like the Titan II with a 16MP camera and photos averaging around 2MB in size.

Boxfiles for Dropbox

Version 3.6 of Boxfiles brings this feature but we should point out that it's not entirely 100% automatic meaning you snap a shot and off it goes. Instead you do need to open the app for a few seconds as it will scan your camera directory on the phone and upload and new pics to your Dropbox account.

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WP Central

It has been an extremely busy week with Windows Phone so let's jump straight into it with episode 140 of the WPCentral Podcast. Dan and Jay are joined by George Ponder for an in-depth discussion about photography the Lumia 900 and TITAN II. We've kicked off our set of handy tutorials for new Windows Phone owners. You can find articles including a walkthrough of the Pictures Hub over at our tips section. Also, our forum also sports insightful discussions for new owners.

Should you have a few minutes of your time to spare, there are a number of developers who are in need of beta testers for their apps. The WPCentral forum is a perfect place for developers to recruit Windows Phone users who are up for becoming beta testers, so be sure to head on over and sign up to help the community and platform grow.

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Cyan Lumia 900

We reported yesterday that AT&T had listed both the black and cyan Lumia 900's as backordered on their site and it was increasingly harder to find them in the stores (though we have heard that certain stores still have stock). However, we were a bit cautious to suggest that it was because the Lumias were selling out due to popularity. After all there was a good chance stock was being pulled to be re-flashed with the new firmware to fix those data-connection issues.

While we're still not prepared to call the Lumia 900 a best-seller without firm numbers, there is seemingly more good news. On Amazon Wireless, the matte-black Lumia 900 has been holding the #1 spot under "AT&T phones with contracts" for one week now with the cyan variant close behind at number two. Just as impressive, the matte-black Lumia 900 has the #1 spot across all carriers. Yowza.

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Nokia and AT&T have gone forward with another "Beta Test" commercial. The controversial ad campaign started off my mocking the iPhone (those videos have since been pulled) and have now moved on to teasing how all other smartphones look the same.

In their latest TV blip, a smarmy gentleman is seen proclaiming how his phone defines him as an individual. Moments later a nerdy girl runs up squawking how she has the same phone.

It certainly elicited a slight chuckle from us and it goes to the heart of how a lot of us feel about Android and iPhones, specifically that they're not unique anymore due to their domination in the market. Here in New York City having an iPhone is about as original as being a Yankee's fan, so pushing the line that Nokia's are "beautifully different" could work.

Heck, even we've been critical of the Black-Slab™ phenomena going back to 2009 which may be why we're so enamored with Nokia's Cyan and Glossy White Lumia 900's. (Bonus: the Glossy White Lumia 900 peeks out at the end of this new ad for the first time).

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WP Central

Do you have a Windows Phone in your hand? Do you think you know everything it can do? Wouldn't it be nice to get some helpful hints, some insight in to what functions are available in Windows Phone?

That is exactly what today's hot thread is all about. In his thread "Not so well known WP7 functionality" (started originally on Reddit), WPCentral Forum member saintforlife has summarized a thread for us that covers a lot of these points. With the help from other forum members contributions his thread is quickly filling up with a lot of helpful Windows Phone functionality tips.

Here are a few that forums member Jet Life added to the list.

 "I've got a couple for the Zune player: 

  • When a song is playing in the Zune app you can tap the artists name and go to their albums list. 
  • If your playing music in shuffle mode and add a song to now playing through a tap and hold, it will be the next song to play. Same thing for an album
  • On the now playing screen in Zune you can tap below the song playing and it will list upcoming songs.
  • If you pin an artist to the home screen, you get the double tile."

Do you listen to the FM Radio in your Windows Phone? Forum member Winterfang added this one to the list.

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Samsung Haden?

Way back in September we reported on three new Windows Phones -- the HTC Ultimate, the HTC Radar and the Samsung Haden --  all appearing in the logs of the app "I'm a WP7!".

As it turns out, it was very accurate. The HTC Ultimate became the Titan (but for Brazil), the Radar of course is very well known today being on T-Mobile and in international markets but that Samsung Haden never really came forth.

For awhile, we thought maybe this was that rumored Samsung LTE device or perhaps something for Sprint. But as it turns out the 4G LTE Samsung phone is actually the "Mandel" (which we're starting to think has been nixed from AT&T's lineup) and of course there's nada from Sprint (or Verizon and T-Mobile.).

Site reader Bailey S. recently had some problems with his Samsung Focus S so he sent it to Samsung for repairs. Evidently there was something wrong with the motherboard so Sammy replaced it and sent the phone back to Bailey. Case closed.

But upon booting up the device for the 1st time, he was greeted with the traditional welcome screen for Windows Phone but instead of SGH-i937 or Focus S it said "Welcome to your SAMSUNG Haden". Even more curious, it says as much in the About screen of the device as well.

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