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Hiroyuki Kimura

Dodonpachi Maximum recently arrived on Xbox Live and is currently wowing hardcore gamers with its old-school design and difficulty. It’s also notable for being the first mobile Xbox Live title developed exclusively by a Japanese developer: CAVE Interactive CO, Ltd. Windows Phone needs more Japanese games; hopefully CAVE’s support encourages others to follow suit. WPCentral is proud to bring you a new installment of our Xbox Live Developer Interview series as we speak with Hiroyuki Kimura, Dodonpachi Maximum’s producer. Enjoy this rare look into the development of a shoot-em-up.

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WP Central

Nokia Lumia handsets are all set sport WiFi tethering with an imminent update, according to a report by Plaffo. We previously touched on the lack of tethering support found with the Lumia 710 and 800, and an FAQ article for the Lumia 900 stated the two handsets should be receiving an update in the near future to activate said feature.

The Lumia 610 and 900 both reportedly support Internet sharing out the box, which was introduced in the Windows Phone "Mango" update. Should Plaffo's source for this news, who's employed by Three in Italy, hold out we should see Nokia work with carriers to push out a firmware update that will address the issue of not being able to create a hotspot with a Lumia handset.

We do not expect to see tethering enabled in any of the current firmware released, which all sport battery improvements. This is due to Nokia ensuring carriers continue to roll out new versions with important stability fixes and do not skip an update to avoid tethering.

Source: Plaffo

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Force Update

With the latest info from AT&T regarding the 8107 update (specifically that they don't have plans to offer it) and news that the HTC Titan and Samsung Focus S are reportedly going to be discontinued soon, the issue about force-updating the OS has been brought up as an alternative.

Indeed, there is a relatively easy way to force any Windows Phone to 8107 in about 15 minutes (after you get all the right files in place) and in fact, we just did it to our Samsung Focus S, mostly because we have a crap-ton of Windows Phones here and can take risks.

We're going to assume you don't have extra phones and therefore we can't really endorse this because:

  1. You may "Walsh" your phone, meaning you'll bugger your chances for future updates (if they ever happen, ahem)
  2. It is a bit stressful
  3. You really shouldn't have to do this, amirite?

Having said that, if you still want to go down this path we can say it does work and if you follow the directions to the letter, you'll have 8107 on your Windows Phone (you just won't have any "tweaked" OEM firmware to go with it).

Once again, we must stress that we're not endorsing this method and we would much rather see AT&T just deliver an update. Should you screw up your phone, this is all on you.

So against our better judgement (and Rafael's ire), we're going to post our tutorial on the subject.  Read on, if you dare...

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Ah yes, unboxing the videos, the smartphone tradition that will go on forever, where we all gather around and remain transfixed on our shimmering screens like children during Christmas as someone literally takes a phone...out of a box.

We usually skip these here at WPCentral because even we have our limits on how much phone pr0n we can watch, but we'll make an exception here for the AT&T Lumia 900. Over on YouTube, a user has posted a video where he meticulously removes the much anticipated phone from its recalcitrant packaging.

SIM Unlock tool

Not too much more is learned, though we do see the micro SIM removal tool (which we have a closer shot of above), the super sleek wall charger and we notice how there are no headphones on board, which is a bit of a bummer. The packaging, unfortunately, is still very "AT&T" as opposed to Nokia's designs for the Lumia 800 but c'est la vie on that one.

Anyways, hopefully this will keep you folks satiated for a few more weeks till that April 9th release date.

Charger

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WP Central

Are you a member of the Xbox Rewards program? No? Then you could be missing out on promotions such as this, which includes 10,000 Microsoft Points. Yes - you read correctly, 10,000 Microsoft Points. But that's not all. The grand prize includes a limited edition Xbox 360 & Kinect Star Wars bundle, Xbox 360 Media Remote, 12-month Xbox LIVE Gold Membership, Kinect Sports: Season 2, Dance Central 2 and Mass Effect 3. 

How does one get the chance to win such a prize, worth over £550? As mentioned above, you need to be enlisted on the Xbox Rewards program. Should you not have an account, it's pretty easy to set up with your Live ID. After your account has been verified, etc. all that's left for you to do is use your Gold Xbox LIVE Membership as you normally would. Purchase points, answer surveys, renew your membership, use services on your Xbox console (Sky, etc.), to name but a few.

You'll then be with a chance of winning some great prizes, such as the above promotion bundle. Should you require more information on the Xbox Rewards program, be sure to check out the FAQ section of the website (as well as the rewards table), which features a handy video walkthrough.

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Come check out our new Windows 8 Tablets Forum

WP Central

We don't have a Windows 8 tablet just yet but they are coming soon. What we do have is plenty to talk about and where better to discuss all things Windows 8 Tablet than here at WPCentral? Come join us in the Windows Phone Central Forums where we are preparing for full support of all the new Windows 8 tablets. Our Tablets Discussion and Upcoming and Rumored Tablets forums are live and filling up fast.

Some of the more popular threads in our Tablets Discussion area are threads like "Will you get a Windows 8 tablet?" (Take the poll) and "How Windows 8 Tablets Could Seriously Challenge the iPad".

WP Central

Likewise, in our Upcoming and Rumored Tablets forum the most popular thread is our "Nokia to launch Windows 8 tablet later this year"

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WP Central

So far, custom ROMs for so-called Gen 2 devices like the HTC Titan and Radar are nonexistent. This has to do with changes to the bootloader which has proved to be a difficult beast to unlock and therefore, reflash a new ROM onto. As a result, devices like the HD7 and even the HD2 are getting some of the latest, cutting edge OS builds while Gen 2 devices are left waiting with official releases.

That may (we stress, may) all be changing as the Dark Forces Team (DFT) are reportedly working on getting those custom ROMs for the Titan and Radar, or so says Cotulla (@CotullaCode) who recently tweeted "DFT team is working under ability to flash custom ROMs for Omegenka and Titanchik"

WP Central

Nothing else was revealed like an ETA or progress of such a project, but honestly what more can we ask other than those fine DFT folks at least try to work on this? DFT has made a lot of headway in making custom ROMs for Windows Phones in the past (and even for Samsung devices), so if any group can do this, it'll be them.

We'll keep you posted if and when any developments occur.

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First look: Visual Voice Mail for the AT&T Lumia 900

Visual Voicemail on the 900

Yup, good news for those who are waiting to get the Nokia Lumia 900 (and presumably the HTC TITAN II), Visual Voicemail on AT&T is finally supported with these new phones.

As you can see above, it's the same visual goodness that many of you have come to expected (and yet is evidently difficult for carriers to instantiate). Regardless, for such a flagship phone, it's a darn good thing that this feature is on board as Windows Phone can't have any more holes in the OS, especially with the stiff competition out there.

Oh and word of warning: you'll need a 4G LTE plan to have this feature enabled. We're told by Jeffrey B. who is using the device:

"...Make sure u get an LTE data plan w/visual vm feature or you won't get it. The LTE SIM comes in box with tool so no worry there but a clerk in a hurry could miss the LTE data plan w/vis vm feature. Check."

The "tool" he's referring to is for opening the micro-SIM drawer on the phone and indeed, make sure you get that 4G LTE plan (it doesn't cost extra, but it is a technical change that needs to be fixed on your account).

No word if or when other Windows Phone on AT&T will get this feature.

Thanks, Jeff, for the pic!

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Laaaadies....

Okay, the Lumia 900 doesn't actually bare all in this months Hustler Penthouse magazine, but it does make a brief (ha) appearance under the 'Spring Loaded' gadget section where the editors sing the praises of the device.

Hey, publicity is publicity and it's good to see the phone getting covered by everyone these days (and evidently the TITAN II is camera shy).

Thanks, Sébastien B., for the images

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4th & Mayor: one year later

WP Central

Jeff Wilcox, senior developer at Microsoft and developer of the 4th & Mayor Windows Phone app, has published some statistical data on his blog covering the app's usage in the past year. Wilcox publicly released 4th & Mayor one year ago today, and the app quickly become an extremely popular choice with consumers.

The Foursquare client, which currently sits at version 3.2 / 3.3, boasts some bold statistics:

  • Used by over 60,000 people, most every single day.
  • Over 35,000 people have push notifications enabled.
  • Of users who’ve opted into sharing usage information, the app has been used to check-in over 7,650,000 times.
  • The app's been run over 8,000,000 times.

It's interesting to note that 4th & Mayor has been run over 8 million times in 365 days. That's almost 22,000 times a day. While one would expect a high level of use due to the nature and functionality of the app, it's still a positive sign for Windows Phone itself.

As for 4th & Mayor, Wilcox is set to release version 3.4 soon which will "add a lot more features for international users, including more map choices such as OpenStreetMap and Google Maps, plus business hours support".

Should you not have 4th & Mayor installed on your Windows Phone, you can download it from the Marketplace for free.

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WP Central

We're going to batten down that hatches on this one for the comment storm that is sure to follow, but at least according to an AT&T Community Manager, the company is not planning on supporting the famed 8107 Windows Phone OS update. That's the one that fixes the super frustrating "disappearing keyboard" bug as well as some other security fixes.

The word comes from Jamileh, a Community Manager on the official AT&T support forums. In response to an ongoing discussion about the update and whether or not it will be coming, Jamileh finally chimed in today with what sounds like a definitive answer:

AT&T

"I got some news about the Windows Phone 8107 update and wanted to share it with you all. We are not currently planning to offer the Windows 8107 update. I don’t have any additional information right now. If and when I get details, I will update the thread."

While we can leave some wiggle room here for the company (Jamileh does work for AT&T but obviously is not an official PR person), her response does sound like a fairly black and white one with little room for reinterpretation.

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GPS Calculator for Windows Phone

GPS Calculator is a tool box of sorts for your Windows Phone GPS.  The app won't appeal to everyone but it helps you determine distances, coordinates, and areas of maps (here's our review).  If you are in need of such tools, it's a very nice app and was recently updated to version 5.0.

GPS Calculator's new features include:

  • Sharing of location in any supported format via sms, email or social
  • Time zone, local time and sunrise-sunset calculations for any location
  • A new Altimeter function where you can not only view elevation profile graphs and get current GPS elevation, but also compare it using five different elevation data models.

The GPS Calculator Version 5 update also adds support for:

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We've had the chance to look at an upcoming app from Igneous Software, who are responsible for the BBC Radio apps available on the Marketplace. Their latest project, BBC Podcast Lounge, does exactly what it says on the tin. The UI and design of the app is superb and follows on nicely from their previous radio apps, but it's the functionality and end-polish that shines in BBC Podcast Lounge.

On app launch you're greeted by the featured screen with tiles of top recommended podcasts. From here you can pan across and view all the genres (the BBC reportedly contains over 300 unique programmes) available, from Jazz and Rock all the way to Science and Soap, there's something for every taste. If you'd rather select shows by stations and / or region, a full list is present to break down the catalogue.

As well as the selection lists, programmes can be added to the favourites for more convenient access, but unfortunately they (or the radio stations) can't be pinned to the home screen. Search is also available, which will enable the user to filter through the programmes available in real-time. As well as the breakdown categories, featured, and favourites the main app screen also sports miscellaneous links for rating the app, etc. and providing feedback to the developers.

BBC Podcast Lounge App

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The Lumia 900 is available unlocked in white on eBay for £499, with an availability date of April 9th. The seller is sunnydayshopping, who has a positive rating history, and the location is Manchester, UK. Bands supported are: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 and HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100. An unlocked international version of the handset was previously available on eBay from the U.S. not so long ago for the same price.

The Lumia 900 is also destined for AT&T on April 9th, when we'll expect consumers will be able to get their hands on the device, which sports a 1.4Ghz chip, 1830mAh battery, 4.3" AMOLED ClearBlack display and 8MP shooter (with FF camera).

Three have been sold already, so be sure to check out the listing should you be interested in the high-end Windows Phone. Of course, WPCentral cannot take any responsibility for your purchases on eBay, and we always recommend caution.

Source: eBay; thanks hamza for the tip!

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WP Central

There has been a lot of talk today about Angry Birds Space and whether or not it will find it's way to the Windows Phone platform (see our earlier post). First we had reports from Bloomberg that Rovio were not bringing the new fowl-flinging iteration of the game to Microsoft's platform, information received from Peter Vesterbacka, Rovio's chief marketing officer. Analyst Richard Windsor speculated this meant that Rovio may not have confidence in Windows Phone looking into the future, more on that shortly.

However, the story has since been contradicted by Rovio's CEO, Mikael Hed as quoted on Reuters:

"We are working towards getting Angry Birds Space to WP7"

Whilst Mr. Hed's statement is somewhat lacking in detail one would be inclined to believe that the CEO's position on the company's intentions would be the more reliable source. No release date or expected time of arrival has been communicated.

Here at WPCentral we've been discussing this story in some detail, particularly around suggestions from the Bloomberg article that the lack of Angry Birds on Windows Phone would make it difficult for Nokia to "attract gaming-oriented users and persuade developers that [Windows Phone] is growing".

It's an interesting point, can one app make or break Windows Phone alone? The answer of course is no, but it is a very important game which will be seen as important to the average phone owner. Whether you're a fan of Angry Birds or not, the game is huge, successful and a marked influence in the rise of Smartphone popularity. Just look at what Rovio can afford to do for publicity:

Photo Credit: Rod Mar via Engadget

Angry Birds Space is the first major innovation the game has seen since the original version found it's way on to mobile screens everywhere. The game is superb, new gravity mechanics genuinely do create a completely different experience to the game, this time it's not just some new textures or types of bird, it's an almost entirely new way to play.

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Nokia UK announced a new TV advertisement for the Lumia 800 today, which follows the recently unveiled U.S. Lumia 900 commercial with the "Beautifully Different" theme. The video focuses more on the visual appeal of the Windows Phone itself and how live tiles can help the consumer.

This could be the beginning of the second wave of marketing from Nokia. We've become used to seeing "The Amazing Everyday" campaigns on a global scale, so perhaps it's time for something different to keep interest peaked? We do agree with the new advertising though - Windows Phone (especially the Lumia handsets) are "beautifully different".

Source: YouTube

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AT&T Lumia 900 shipping ROM

For those curious as to what OS version the AT&T Lumia 900 was shipping with, wonder no more. It is version 8112 which is just a few builds higher than the current release of 8107, an update that brought the much needed keyboard and security fixes to the OS. That release started rolling out last month to numerous phones and is currently still being pushed out to devices as we speak.

Likewise, the firmware for the AT&T Lumia 900 is at 12082, which is slightly higher than the 12070 firmware that dramatically addresses current battery issues on the Lumia 800 and bug fixes on the Lumia 710.

What makes 8112 OS build interesting is that it's not Windows Phone "Tango" which is thought to start around build 8731 and is shipping at 8773 in China. In fact, even the Lumia 610 has 8763 (thought to be a beta build) which was back at Mobile World Congress.

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To celebrate the launch of the Lumia 710 and Lumia 800 in Brazil this week, Nokia has teamed up with Microsoft to host the Smoked by Windows Phone challenge. Although the presentation is in native tongue, most of us can still follow the cheesy music and the humiliation of challengers.

It has been relatively quiet on the Brazilian front with Windows Phone, but both the Lumia 710 and 800 are now officially available for purchase. 

Via: Microsoft Insiders Brasil; thanks to everyone who tipped us!

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Official Audible app for Windows Phone

We've been waiting for a long time for an Audible client for Windows Phone and that day is finally almost upon us. Currently the popular audio-book app is in limited beta testing but we managed to get our hands on a copy and to be honest, we're impressed. The folks at Audible have given time and consideration when making this app as opposed to rushing some basic player to the market and it shows.

The Audible app is fast, nimble and to the point allowing you to purchase your favorite audio books on the go and with ease of listening. Some of the highlights of the app include:

  • Primary Live Tile that flips with recent history on the back
  • Secondary Live Tiles based on book title; enables 1-touch playing of audio; flips to show bookmark history
  • Configurable "jump back" feature to re-hear a section (default is 30 seconds)
  • Button-less playback which uses gestures instead of buttons to control the audio
  • Badges and statistics viewer
  • Sharing of book info and general news via the Windows Phone built in social networks
  • Gorgeous UI

One small downside is that it uses the built in browser/embedded IE9 for book purchasing as opposed to a dedicated native marketplace. The embedded option works well enough but it feels a little jarring to be ejected momentarily from the app-experience.

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WP Central

Telerik, the company behind the RadControls suite for Windows Phone Developers, has released an interesting update to their software. The introduced RadHubTile will enable developers to create live tiles within their application (just like the home screen) to further increase the good looks meter.

There are a number of hub tile classes available, which include: RadHubTile, RadMosaicHubTile, RadSlideHubTile, RadPictureRotatorHubTile and RadCustomHubTile. More information about each class is available in the Telerik blog article, do check out some of these supported tile effects in the below video demo. 

RadControls for Windows Phone is a suite for developers that will set you back by about $99 ($1,200 for the full bulk - .NET controls, analysis & data tools, etc.), although there is a free trial available. While it's pretty expensive for the odd garage developer, the results can be absolutely stunning (just look at Tasks - a free todo app by Telerik).

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Nokia Music updated to version 2.0

WP Central

While Nokia appears to be on an OEM app updating spree, the Finnish manufacturer has also included their Nokia Music app for Windows Phone, which has now been bumped to version 2.0. This follows both Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive that were both recently updated.

Nokia Music enables Lumia Windows Phone owners to listen to genre mixes, and is the manufacturer's attempt to provide consumers with a solution should Zune not be readily available. The said mixes are available to play offline and can be pinned to the home screen for convenient access. Background playback is supported, but there are some limitations such as the inability to rewind the mix, it's best to think of this app as a personal radio.

The mixes are updated every so often with new tracks included and the best part of the service is it's completely free. "Progressive downloading" is taken to the next level with the included functionality for "Music DNA" to scan your PC library and tailor the mixes to your personal taste. If you'd like to have even more control over what content is available to you, you can even select individual artists for the app to take into account.

Nokia Music App

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The Lumia 900 AT&T 4G Windows Phone has been spotted in an advertisement that we've not yet come across. What makes this different than the countless other videos we've already covered? It's a unique approach to show off the award winning polycarbonate design, with an emphasis on being "beautifully different" when compared to other handsets. This seems to be the new tag-line for the flagship phone as AT&T is also using it on their webpage for the device.

The AT&T 4G Windows Phone is set to launch on April 9th in retail stores, where consumers will finally be able to pick up their own Lumia 900. Nokia and the U.S. carrier are prepping everything for the release, so we expect the dates to be relatively accurate for early April.

Source: YouTube; thanks Ellis for the heads up!

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To celebrate the launch of the Lumia 800 in Denmark, Nokia and carrier Telia have teamed up to pull off an interesting stunt - the "Human Keyboard". We've previously seen the scale of the country's Lumia handset launch with an event being held in Copenhagen back in January, but it's good to see carrier support added in.

The Human Keyboard features a keyboard mat laid out on the pavement in front a store. We then have five musicians stood in the store window who play corresponding music notes with instruments in the attempt to match the members of public who step on the mat.

Of course, you'd have to have some fun and try to trick the musicians, which is exactly what we see in the above video. You can purchase the Lumia 800 in cyan at the Telia online store.

Source: YouTube; thanks Ellis for the tip!

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Microsoft's ever increasingly famous marketing campaign, Smoked by Windows Phone, is really stepping up the game by improving the $100 prize for beating a Windows Phone with a competitor handset. The challenge, which originated at CES 2012 where Ben (the 'PC Guy') Rudolph began taking on smartphones from other platforms (the iPhone, Android and Blackberry handsets), puts handsets against one another to see which is more efficient at common smartphone tasks.

Those who lose against the Windows Phone have to publicly announce their defeat, "I've been smoked by a Windows Phone", but for those who manage to best Microsoft's OS, they're handed $100. Things are heating up as Microsoft has raised the reward to $1,000. Yes, $1,000. But not in cash.

WP Central

Should you manage to beat a Windows Phone in the Smoked by Windows Phone challenge at the participating Microsoft Stores, you'll walk away with a Hunger Games Special Edition PC, valued at $1,000, to celebrate the release of the upcoming film. What if you lose? You can swap your smartphone for a Windows Phone (excluding the Lumia 800), right there, right then. It's a "win win" situation.

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WP Central

Microsoft has announced the opening of AppHub submissions to the 23 new countries added to the pool of support. Developers in these countries (and beyond) will be able to submit their work to the localised Marketplaces, which will open up to consumers in the near future.

To recap on the newly added countries: Bahrain, Bulgaria, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Estonia, Iceland, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Vietnam. The total number of supported markets is now at a respectable 63.

A quick reminder to developers - it's now reportedly taking more than 7 days to approve Marketplace submissions. Something to consider when keeping to announced release dates.

Source: Windows Phone Developer Blog

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