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Online media marketing for indie developers

Ignition Studios, developer of Monkey Mini Golf (see our review), has completed a white paper on marketing experiences with pushing their brand and products through media promotion. Starting today, the games studio will use the next few weeks to publish points from this document to aid other indie developers who are looking to promote their own titles.

The article takes the reader through the history of the video game industry and what limitations are imposed as an indie developer or an established studio. Next, strategies are discussed surrounding social media and how a game developer interacts with consumers. Lastly, we're walked through some marketing metrics:

  • Exposure
  • Influence
  • Engagement
  • Action
  • Retention

It's certainly worth checking out, even if you don't develop games the information can be applied for apps as well.

Source: Ignition Studios

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The Halo Waypoint app is a useful way for gamers to check on their accomplishments in the Halo Xbox 360 games while on the go. But the mobile version of Waypoint lacks a few of the Xbox 360 version’s features, such as viewing campaign progress. That will change this fall, when 343 Studios overhauls all three versions of the Waypoint (Xbox 360, WP7, and PC) to more closely match each other in looks and features. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

Halo Waypoint will soon gain the ability to create custom challenges in Halo Reach. The game already features daily and weekly challenges, but now players will be able to make their own (such as scoring a certain number of head shots or grenade kills in specific maps) and share them with friends. Sure, that feature could have just been patched directly into Reach, but including it in Waypoint will encourage more players to check out the Halo-themed portal.

Head past the jump to learn about the Halo ATLAS app and Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition.

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easyRing - App Spotlight (Updated)

We received several tips to take a look at the Windows Phone app easyRing. So we did.

easyRing is a ringtone app for Windows Phones running Mango (Windows Phone 7.5) that taps into millions of free and legally obtained mp3 tones that are on Amazon.com and Mobiles24.com.

easyRing lays everything out nicely with a page to search ringtones by keyword or browse by about a dozen categories. Once you find a ringtone you are interested in, there are two button controls at the bottom of the page. One to preview the tone and one to download it to your phone.

Once you've downloaded a few tones, you can review what you've collected through easyRing from the Downloaded page and save them to your phone or delete them from your collection.  Once saved to the phone you can find them under settings>ringtones+sounds as a custom ringtone.

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Progressive cellular company CREDO Mobile (web site) told Kevyn, over at Glance and Go Radio, that they will be adding a WP7 handset to their lineup later this year.  While they did not specify exactly what models they will be offering, the HTC Arrive is a likely candidate, as CREDO is a reseller of Sprint's network, and not a carrier themselves. Still, we could see the CDMA Trophy or even perhaps a new Mango device as well.

For those of you unfamiliar with CREDO Mobile, they are a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) who donates a portion of their proceeds to non-profit groups such as Rainforest Action Network, Project Vote, Human Rights Watch, and the American Foundation for Equal Rights.  Every year, members nominate what groups they would like to support and then vote on how much funding each group gets.  You can see a list of organizations that they currently support here.

In addition to supporting social change groups, CREDO also plants 100 trees per ton of recycled paper they use, offer solar chargers, recycle old phones, and work with Carbonfund.org to offset their own electricity usage.  And if doing good for the world weren't enough, they also offer contract buyout credits and phone number porting for prospective customers.

Being that Sprint seems to be giving up on the Windows Phone for the time being, it's wonderful to see that the HTC Arrive could get put to some good use.

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HTC Surround being discontinued

A rather depressing way to finish off the weekend, but it seems as though the HTC Surround is being discontinued at more than one source. On AT&T and Telus, both websites report that the Windows Phone handset is no longer available, although AT&T simply removed the product page with a substitute notice of unavailability. This news is almost as sad as Sprint deciding to use the HTC Arrive as a "handset recycle" example for the iPhone 4S.

What can we hope to see in the near future? Nokia, HTC and Acer to name but a few should look to push the platform harder in the US (with Microsoft's marketing support) as well as on a global scale. First-generation handsets appear to be the old with Mango devices ready and able to take their place.

Source: Telus Cell Phones, AT&T, via: Windows Phone Daily

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Note this as a strange, but useful app. See Through Messaging for Windows Phone allows the user to create SMS messages and emails on an overlay on top of a real time view of what's behind your handset via the camera. Basically, you can type while looking through your phone.

We've seen this before with TransparentTXT, which runs for $2.49, but See Through Messaging goes for the low, low price of free. (And of course LG users have had 'Look N Type' for free for ages through their app store).

Should you find yourself on the move while contacting other people, See Through Message could save you some embarrassment when not paying attention to what's in front of you. Only downside we noticed was there's not auto-correct nor word suggestions, which means your texting perambulations will be filled with errors, unless you're careful.

Download See Through Messaging from the Marketplace for nothing at all.

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It seems as though Microsoft isn't taking the platform's position in terms of marketshare seriously as they've missed a prime opportunity to promote Windows Phone at CTIA, according to Jessica Dolcourt, Senior associate editor at CNET. Dolcourt explains in-depth how the software giant could have used CTIA to capitalise on Google and Samsung's delayed announcements for the Android Ice Cream Sandwich and Galaxy Nexus. Heck, we were expecting Samsung to show off the Focus S, finally, at the big event but alas, it was no where to be seen as confirmed by our own folks who were there.

While a lot is banking on what's to be unveiled at Nokia World later this month, the team should use more resources for advertising and promotion at events and stores across the world. Relying solely on manufacturers and carriers is going to prove tough with the iPhone and Android locked in battle for the front display and this report is an interesting read to say the least.

Head on over to CNET to read up on Dolcourt's review of Microsoft's marketing efforts.

Source: CNET

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Microsoft launches their own Skype site

While it doesn't contain the Windows Phone app for Skype, Microsoft has gone ahead and made their marriage to the VOIP company official by launching their own site.

Nothing new is revealed outside of some future promise of deep integration, which is the most obvious outcome of the billion dollar acquisition:

"Together we will bring innovative technology to friends, families and colleagues everywhere. And now the future possibilities for our customers are even more exciting. We will enable more people to connect in more ways that transform and enhance their lives. And this is just the beginning."

Still, it's kind of cool to see those two names together finally. Here's hoping to the Xbox 360 Fall Dashboard refresh contains some Skype goodness as earlier rumored.Find the site here. Thanks, TheWeeBear, for the heads up

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PAC MAN CE DX and Twin Blades get updates

A dirty open secret about Twin Blades (see our review), even after it returned to the Marketplace, was that it didn't work on phones with Windows Phone 7.5--it literally would crash upon launch. That made it the first (and to our knowledge only) game/app that would completely die in Mango.

Now with version 1.3, all of that seems to be behind us as the game now works in Mango. We say works in Mango but it is not, we repeat not Mango-ready. Yeah, super lame. No fast app resume here folks. Although a somewhat repetitive game, it's well worth a trial run and you can grab that here.

[Correction: Hey, look at that. For some reason our fast-app resume was not working but now it is. So yes, looks like Twin Blades is Mango ready--so that's something.]

Likewise PAC MAN CE DX version 1.1 got updated but there's no clear indication of what was fixed, so we'll have to try to find out for you. You can pick up that game here--and as far as Pac Man games go, that one is pretty great (see our review). But at $6.99 and no fast-app switching, ouch, we think waiting for a deal-of-the-week may be apropos here.

We're reaching out to both companies to try and pry a full change log from their hands and will post if there's anything significant regarding achievements or bug fixes.

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We're kicking off this week's summary with Dave Blake listing hot discussions you could be missing out on over at our Windows Phone forum. If you're residing in the UK and are an owner of a Windows Phone, have you heard about the new review section at the official Windows Phone UK website? A small competition is being ran which we're helping to judge! Simply review your experience and be in with a chance to win. Head on past the short break for the full summary.

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It's always kind of cool when Microsoft updates that back-end of Bing Maps because you don't need to, you know, do anything. Sure, it's not better voice-navigation nor Ovi Maps, but the changes are not exactly subtle either. Instead, what we have in the mobile version of Bing Maps more closely matching the desktop version.

Most of the changes deal with the color scheme of roads, with purple denoting major highways, blue secondary roads and grey for back roads. Text looks a bit easier to read and perhaps its just us, but the app seems to handle downloading and caching maps a lot easier, resulting in faster scrolling. Other than that, we're not noticing too much else but we're betting this may be a regional thing too.

Shout out in comments if you noticing anything and we'll add it.

Source: MobileTechWorld; via Pocketnow

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Love it or hate (we're the latter, but whatever), Groupon is big and their official app just got the Mango treatment is rightly deserves. So for those of you who have it or for those who didn't know about it, you'll want to go and get this admittedly nice looking app a spin.

Hitting version 2.0, the developers went beyond the usual fast-app switching which is automatic for a Mango app. Instead, they've embraced a bunch of Mango features, making this quite a worthy update:

"You can now browse, purchase, and redeem Groupon Now! deals, as well as pin any division or Groupon Now! to the home screen as two-sided live tiles. We've also updated our push notification service so that you get notified when deals are available for you!"

What's to not like about all of that? Not much, so head here to the Marketplace and get it now. Thanks, Matthew S., for the tip using our app!

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We've reported on the Nokia 703 Windows Phone in the past and even a possible image, but a 710? That's certainly new but it does hint that this may be a variation of the 703/Sabre, perhaps for a carrier or maybe unlocked international edition.

The info comes way of My Nokia Blog note that it was found on Nokia's developer page. They're not 100% sure if it's a Windows Phone, but all the specs suggest that it is:

  • 1.4GHz Cortex A8
  • 3.7″, 800×480 Clear Black TFT
  • 119 x 62.4 x 12.48mm
  • 125.5g
  • 28mm wide angle but 5MP camera
  • 720p, 30FPS
  • 8GB Internal memory
  • 512mb RAM
  • Browser undisclosed
  • Bit scary - BL-5B 3.7V 820mAh (820mAh) – 400 hours standby (more than iPhone 4S), 5H 3G browsing, 7H GSM talk time. MicroSIM.

Yup. That's pretty much in line with everything else we've been hearing about Nokia's offerings for their Windows Phones. But there are some anomalies, like the Cortex A8 which we don't think goes to 1.4 GHz and the Java/Flash part certainly doesn't fit. But perhaps those are just fillers or errors.

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To make the Windows Phone situation even sadder on Sprint than it already is (seriously, they pretty much tie Verizon), Sprint is now using the HTC Arrive, arguably one of the better Windows Phones, as the example for their buyback program. In short, when you go to the iPhone 4S page on Sprint, scrolling down reveals the Sprint Buyback program and the HTC Arrive, a phone that is just six months old, is wrapped in age-inducing ivy.

It's as if Sprint is digging the knife in a little deeper. Sure, we could hope that this is because they're getting ready to reveal one or even two new Windows Phone for the holiday season, but honestly, it's been pretty quiet on the rumor front so far.

Lame Sprint, just lame.

Thanks, EJ Lee, for the heads up

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Now that Mango has come to a lot of Windows Phones, there's still a few big things to look forward to this year: Skype, Nokia and of course ChevronWP7 Labs. For those new to the site or community, ChevronWP7 Labs is the little project by Rafael Rivera, Chris Walsh and Long Zheng who originally unlocked Windows Phone in the pre and post NoDo era (with Microsoft's indirect and humorous approval).

The Labs project has one goal:"......to allow hobbyist developers to install, run, and debug unsigned applications on their personal Windows Phone". That is, it's a way for you, the regular user, to toy around with some advanced tools without breaking the bank and while being sanctioned by Microsoft.  And now that day is nearly upon us, meaning you can soon join the homebrew community to side-load some apps on to your Windows Phone.

Here's how the process will work when launched in a few weeks:

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Here's a cool little site you'll want to bookmark: www.playxbla.com

The new site is described as "the official voice for Microsoft Studios’ Xbox LIVE Arcade and Windows Phone games" and looks to be a neat little place to get the latest info on gaming as well as interacting with developers and Microsofties. They've been on Twitter for awhile, linking to other gaming sites, but now they have a home of their own.

The site looks nice enough and features exclusive articles on new and upcoming games. And while our own Paul Acevedo often gets the scoop first, it's always nice to see what the official team has got going. Plus, you can probably gripe to them (instead of us) about missing Xbox LIVE games for Windows Phone. We keed, we keed...

So head to their websitexbla and follow 'em on Twitter here @PlayXBLA. (Thanks, TheWeeBear, for the heads up!)

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Funny Faces augmented reality app for Mango

Schulte Software Development has released Funny Faces, one of the first Mango apps to use augmented reality.  Using your phone's camera, Funny Faces will detect people's faces and overlay your choice of ridiculous head wear.  Choose from Afros, mustaches, different hats, or the famed internet hero himself, Chuck Norris. 

Once you have sufficiently sillied-up your target, Funny Faces allows you take a picture with the camera and save it to your photo album.  Better yet, you can share your snapshot with friends  directly via email, Twitter and FaceBook.  There are already quite a bit of overlay options, with more on the way. The devs are also asking for suggestions, so if you have any ideas, feel free to share them right through the app itself.

You can get Funny Faces from the Marketplace for $.99, or try it free first.  The trial version has a few overlays to try and a one-time ability to save/share your creation.

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About two weeks ago, on "Mango day", Microsoft quietly sneaked out a neat little app that's especially useful for those on limited 3G data plans. The app is simply called Cellular Data and all it does is create a Live Tile that directly links to your Data Settings page. This gives you a quick and easy shortcut for toggling your data on and off, instead of drilling down the Settings menu.

What makes it a Live Tile though is that it updates every 30 minutes with an on/off notification in the corner, letting you "glance and go" to see if your data is on or not, possibly racking up costly roaming data.

The app is free and certainly worth the install. Pick it up here in the Marketplace.

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Bing search and speak recognition [How To]

We've looked at Local Scout among other improvements brought to the user in Windows Phone Mango, but nothing beats a British walk through of how to search, use Bing services and the speech recognition. Take a quick look at the above video for a brief overlook in what's new with the search functionality in Windows Phone, while the below how to takes us through running commands with voice in favour of touch.

More information can be found at the Windows Phone UK blog, link below.

Source: MykindofPhone

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One of our top Twitter apps, Birdsong, has finally gone all Mango on us which is now live in the Marketplace. Birdsong has some unique fetaures in it, making it worth considering if you're browsing for a new Twitter client. For one, it has detailed controls over the Live Tile (mentions/messages) as well as Push Notifications (mentions/messages) and it even has a "do not disturb" option so you don't get any alerts during specified hours.

Version 1.6 brings a host of Mango features as well as some other fixes and additions:

  • Fast switching - One of Mango's biggest features, allows you to return to Birdsong from another application quickly and with the application state entact.
  • t.co link wrapping
  • Browser configuration - You can now configure whether to use the internal browser or launch IE directly. The default is now IE as fast app swtiching makes this a much nicer experience.
  • Toggling Favourite had broken due to a change in the Twitter API
  • Added Japanese Language support
  • Added integrated picture viewing support for http://instagr.am/

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Call frequent contacts more easily with 7Dialer

Do you find that you can't pin enough contacts to the home screen for quick access? Introducing 7Dialer, by JDBPocketware, a solution for those who wish to create a contact wall where frequently contacted people can be pinned and accessed within seconds. The app features two main panes, the first is an intelligent search, while the second is the people wall.

A few limitations are present unfortunately. These include the inability to edit, remove or add contacts from the app (official People hub will need to be used, followed by  synchronising 7Dialer) and phone numbers for contacts pulled from Facebook will not be available due to privacy policies.

Some highlighted features include:

  • Smart dialling/filtering either with number pad or characters pad
  • Option to call, SMS or email
  • "Call later" reminders
  • Pin contacts as Live Tiles to start screen, as a to-do related to a contact
  • Fullscreen People wall (aka favourites) with customisable layouts
  • Dial tone sounds
  • Breathing effect for contact tiles
  • Live tile display options

7Dialer can be downloaded from the Marketplace for £1.49 ($1.99) and a free trial is available.

Source: JDBPocketware, thanks TheWeeBear for the tip!

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Just in time for the holidays, Microsoft has given Nokia a gift of their own, £20 million to advertising Nokia's new line of WP7 phones in the United Kingdom.  The money will fund a barrage of advertising across all media, focusing on different aspects of the phones' capabilities, including social media, gaming and wide variety of apps.  It comes as part of Nokia's agreement to scrap its proprietary operating system, Symbian, in favor of Windows Phone.  The partnership is huge for Microsoft and make or break for Nokia.  According to one source:

"Microsoft is funding a massive campaign with Nokia across every single media you can imagine. It’s the last roll of the dice for them. They must go big, bad and boldly. Microsoft is desperate to kick the hell out of Android. If they can get across how amazing Mango is they could really crack it this time."

And shortly after making their own financial commitment to marketing WP7, Samsung is receiving some help from Microsoft as well.  The Korean handset manufacturer has partnered with MS for a £8 million holiday push for the Omnia W, touting it as a multimedia device for everyone.  Details on how much of the £8m Microsoft contributed are scarce, but in a statement Windows Phone Division president Andy Lees said:

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Anyone who's used the Dell Venue Pro know its a love-hate relationship. And  just as things were looking up for the device with Mango and some new firmware, a new issue has cropped up, one that has been bothering us too.

The compass doesn't work. For any app. No Stars 3D, no compass, no augmented-reality, nothing.

The compass drive and API are up to the OEM to provide which is why when you update to Mango you get two updates: the OS and the firmware. And while Dell did deliver the firmware (jumping from 212 to 219) they evidently botched it with the compass driver, as is becoming obvious for many users.

Now at XDA, some sleuthing has in fact shown this to be the case. Mitchell S., has taken a look at the log during the Mango setup and found this:

**** Starting IMGFS Update @ 16:46:58 ****

Deleting file compassDrv.dll.  &$^4?!

CustomSettings.cab.pkg->5E542BF4-046F-41AA-8BB7-FFB031E0F024.rgu @ 16:46:59

Setting invalid OS state

QC_8x50_OS_SHIP.cab.pkg->D3F0E60E-DE7C-11DF-930A-3D26E0D72085.rgu @ 16:46:59

CustomIcon.cab.pkg->05E12A31-F993-40A4-8A58-136879E5CCEC.rgu @ 16:46:59

Even if that wasn't the reason, it still doesn't explain why our compass is locked at 100 degrees. What say you, Dell? Are we going to have to wait another six-months for this to be fixed?

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Pumpkin Smash arrives in time for Halloween

A spooky pumpkin-catapult-undead-smashing indie title has flung its way onto the Marketplace and is available for free (ad supported). GlowPuff, the developers behind the likes of Gridrunner Girl and Impossible Mountain, are the brains behind this thriller, which will have you firing pumpkins to keep the enemy at bay. The gameplay is simple, but addictive.

Some highlighted features:

  • Engaging hand drawn graphics and animation
  • 30 levels of increasingly challenging battles
  • Normal and Easy mode for each level
  • Attack with Fire pumpkins, Ice pumpkins, and more!
  • 12 different monster types, each with unique weaknesses
  • 5 epic boss battles against famous movie monsters!
  • Score Combos and Multi-Kills for bonus points and extra candy rewards
  • Full musical soundtrack

You can download Pumpkin Smash from the Marketplace for absolutely nothing at all.

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