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As many of you may have noticed, two somewhat major apps for Windows Phone received updates in the last 24 hours, so we’ll pass on the news in case you missed it.

First up is Facebook, which has been receiving quite a few updates lately, generally a good sign…unless you consider everything so broke that it needs even more fixing. The last update was just a week ago for version 2.6 and now version 2.7  has landed in the Marketplace bringing with it some new fixes though no new features:

  • Notifications now show updated time instead of created time
  • Corrected thumbnail display on likes
  • Now respecting except clause on posts with custom privacy settings

That’s nothing terribly exciting though if you were experiencing any of those issues, hopefully you’ll be a bit pleased with the update.

WP Central

Next up is Amazon’s Kindle ebook app. That app is now on version 1.2 which shows you how often that one gets updated (seriously, it has had one update in the last year). The good news here is this update is more significant:

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WP Central

Windows Phone 8773 still has a few hidden things in it

While users around the world are slowly getting the Windows Phone Tango 8773 update, a few under-the-hood changes are being noticed by users. We forced manually installed the update onto our Focus 2, Titan II and Lumia 900 with the Focus 2 (review) being our main device these days. As a result, we have had some experience running Tango and noticed a few little nuggets which we'll share below.

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WP Central

Should you be an avid Sainsbury's supermarket shopper and love earning the ol' Nectar points, you'll want to check out the Sainsbury's app for Windows Phone. The app, which is available for free, is a portal of information accompanied by quick access to the mobile version of the online store.

Unfortunately you'll not be able to do the weekly shop through the app, but Nectar details, special (and some exclusive) offers and a store locator is included. While more functionality would complete the experience, it's good to have such an app available on the platform.

Should you wish to order groceries online, you'll be taken to the mobile version of the supermarket's website in Internet Explorer, which will require a separate store login.

WP Central

You can download the Sainsbury's app from the Marketplace for free. Thanks, Dan J., for the tip!

WP Central

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Today, Nokia has released their official Six Flags app exclusively for Lumia Windows Phones. The app was announced back at the beginning of May and it is now available. Six Flags is one of the largest US operators of amusement parks and is the go-to place for riding roller coasters, rides and general entertainment. The timing is perfect too as the July 4th week/weekend is the busiest time for such parks and Nokia has nailed it with this app.

The app features an interactive map of your local Six Flags, where you can tap on an icon to grab more info. What’s more, you can use the augmented-reality feature to find specific rides, bathrooms, restaurants, events or just shopping. The map has layers where you can filter specific rides (mild, moderate or maximum) etc. so you only see what you want. In addition, you have a satellite view and a general augmented-reality view to as well,

Six Flags

Park shows and their schedules are also listed including a calendar of events, which makes planning a snap and videos of various rides gives you a sneak peek of what to expect. Finally, you have Foursquare and Twitter feeds built in so you can checkin and or follow any local trends going on with the Six Flags hash-tag.

The app is fast, fluid and very well designed. We don’t go to Six Flags very often but if we had a season pass or we were heading to one, grabbing our Lumia Windows Phone would be a must.

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Windows Phone Apps Magazine #3 readily available

WP Apps Magazine 3

The Windows Phone UK team have released two editions of the Apps Magazine so far that is focused on helping new adopters get started with their new Windows Phones. Edition #3 is readily available should you find yourself in the dark and haven't quite yet got round to checking it out for the rich content available.

The edition follows #2, which was released back in November. As well as running through a number of apps (160 to be exact) available on the Marketplace, the magazine does feature highlights of Windows Phone itself, from Live Tiles to Bing and local services. Whether you're an experienced fan or have just jumped from a competitor platform, it's well worth a read.

Be sure to check out the Windows Phone Apps Magazine on Facebook.

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Fixing Background Task problems

Recently here at Windows Phone Central we've received a few help requests through our app from users whose live tiles all appear to have stopped updating, including our own. Previously there have been bugs in our app that would cause its tile to fail, but when all live tiles on a device that rely on Background tasks get stuck, there's a bigger problem.

Up until this point I have been unable to reproduce the issue myself so I've been struggling to assist those of you asking us for a solution. In a stroke of luck though my Lumia 800's tiles recently stopped updating at all (excluding those updated through push notifications), and after a simple restart of the phone didn't help I have a solution to share with you all.

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WP Central

With the announcement of Windows Phone 7.8 and the parallel announcement that current devices won’t get Windows Phone 8 Apollo, many have wondered if the new Start screen with customizable Live Tiles is all it will contain.

In essence, there are two camps on the matter—those who say Microsoft have only promised the new Start screen and those who pin their hopes on the “all we’ve announced so far...” line often touted by Microsoft when asked about the update.

Microsoft recently and directly told a few of us who cover tech media that Windows Phone 7.8 will only be the new Start screen with nothing else hinted at or mentioned. This is why we find many of the big players who cover Microsoft news taking this more conservative position because they are reporting, correctly, what they have been told.

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WP Central

This week we've had the pleasure of being joined by Fisayo Adeleke from Exnesys. He's the brains behind Markets & Me, a financial Windows Phone app for those who enjoy keeping up with stock levels and reports for personal interest. 

We think highly of Adeleke's app, which follows Metro to the letter. Be sure to check out what he has to say about Windows Phone as a platform, as well as the development process. Head on past the break for the full interview.

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Windows Phone UK Dare to Live challenge tackles Brighton

WP Central

We've been following the Windows Phone UK Dare to Live tour, which is challenging the public in a number of major city across the UK. Previously, we looked at how the campaign was progressing with the win / loss ratio, and it was revealed that Windows Phone certainly was the leading platform with a considerable lead.

Now the Dare to Live challenge has made its way to Brighton in the south of England. Should you find yourself in and around the area this week, be sure to pop down and check out the event. If you're reading this and use a competitor smartphone, why not try your luck and potentially pocket £20 by beating Windows Phone? Should you lose, well, you know what happens by now.

Thanks, Neil, for the tip and photo!

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WP Central

In a somewhat surprising move, Nokia and Vodafone New Zealand have released the Lumia 610 for $449 (off-contract) and it is now available on that carrier for purchase.

The somewhat low-cost Lumia 610 features a 3.7” non-ClearBlack LCD display, 256MB of RAM and a 800Mhz CPU with 8GB of storage. While not the most exciting device in terms of specs, the build quality is quite high—at least higher than anything LG has put out recently (Quantum being the exception).

We say "somewhat low-cost" only because while the Lumia 610 is affordable (we bought ours unlocked for less than $300 US), some would argue that it’s still not cheap enough when up against some Android devices or even up against the superior Lumia 710.

WP Central

But at least according to Nokia ANZ's sales director, Steve Lewis, the company was seeing "real momentum" with their Lumia phones. Of course Steve may be a little biased here and it’s certainly not enough to boost Nokia’s stock but hey, we kind of like the 610 and what Nokia is doing, so let’s hope it sells in New Zealand.

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SkyManager from JDB Pocketware

JDB Pocketware has a nice selection of Windows Phone apps over at the Marketplace including Handyscan, SkyManager and 7Dialer. To celebrate reaching 1,000 likes over on Facebook, the Windows Phone developer has decided to share the joy by offering all their titles for just $.99 this weekend.

Just head on over to JDB Pocketware's Facebook page and "like" them. You'll then be sent to a page that has the link to JDB Pocketware's software sales page where you can send the app links to your Windows Phone.  The sale covers JDB Pocketware's entire app catalog including the latest title Fat You (a photo morphing app) and their financial app, MoBudget.

JDB Pocketware Software Sale

For many of the Windows Phone apps, this is a $2.00 savings. So if you were thinking about moving from Handyscan Free to the paid version, now's your chance to save a few bucks.

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WP Central

While Samsung has not exactly wowed many with the Omnia M announcement a few weeks ago, the low-end Tango phone is important for the company and the platform as it allows them to compete with Android. Such is the reason why their launching of the device China Mobile and China Unicom is quite inspiring (China Telecom is supposed to get one too, but it was not yet announced).

The phones are slightly different due to the radio difference and they also vary on memory, with the Unicom version have 8GB of storage while Mobile gets 4GB. Other than that we're talking about 1GHz CPUs, 4" 800x480, 5MP rear and 0.3MP front facing cameras and everything else we expect from a Windows Phone these days. Interestingly, these are not technically Tango phones as they have 384MB of available RAM though they will run the Tango OS.

No pricing or release dates were revealed by either carrier, which is unfortunate. It should be interesting to see how Samsung prices their device against the even more low-end Nokia Lumia 610.

Source: MyDrivers; via Unwired View

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RIM said thanks, but no thanks, to Windows Phone

WP Central

Reuters reports what we kind of knew back in December, that Microsoft boss, Steve Ballmer approached RIM about making a Nokia-style deal to scrap its own operating system in favor of adopting Windows Phone. Unlike Nokia, however, RIM decided it would sink or swim on its own, declining an infusion of cash from Microsoft, in exchange for a stake in the company. During a conference call yesterday, RIM CEO, Thorsten Heins, shot down the idea of moving to another company's OS, be it Android or Windows Phone:

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US Cellular throws its support behind Windows Phone 8

WP Central

US Cellular has informed PCMag that they are looking forward to Windows Phone 8, which will play a major part of the carrier's lineup. The carrier currently holds a single Windows Phone - the HTC 7 Pro. It's a positive sign to see the smaller US carriers positive announce their support for Microsoft's mobile platform.

"We believe in giving our customers the latest technology and device options and we are excited about the Windows 8 phone. It will be an important part of our device lineup going forward."

It's going to be exciting to see which Windows Phone 8 devices go where, and how the carriers play their part in the marketing and promotion of the platform. We're yet to hear anything from Sprint, which has the potential to disappoint loyal Sprint Windows Phone owners who are arguably amongst the most dedicated.

Source: PCMag, via: Engadget; thanks, Michael, for the tip!

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WPCentral Ringtone Contest winners!

While we had hoped to announce the winners of the Windows Phone Central Ringtone Contest yesterday, judging proved to be more difficult than expected. We had a lot of quality entries submitted over in our Forums Discussion.  Nonetheless, after listening to all the entries our Ringtone Contest Winners are:

All have won a Nokia Play 360! We are dispatching emails to get everyone's shipping information and will get the Nokia Play headed their way shortly.

We would also like to extend our congratulations to Elvis7 and Kyle H for being randomly selected for our weekly prizes, WPCentral Accessory Store gift card, during the contest period.

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Windows Phone Game Round-up: Platformer Games

WPCentral Platform Game Roundup

This week's roundup takes a simple approach on things. We'll take a look at the top platformer games for your Windows Phone. With no rhyme or reason, we tapped half a dozen of the top fifty platformer games. We have a rolling ball, a running dude, ninjas without legs and temples of death.  Most are fast paced, entertaining games that are challenging enough to keep you interested without being too frustrating.

Keep in mind that if an app doesn't make the roundup it should not reflect poorly on things. These are just a collection of apps or games that have stood out to us. If we've missed an app that you think should have been included, sound off in the comments.  With 100K titles, we'd be scrolling for hours to cover them all in one round up.

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WP Central

Todd Brix has announced on the Windows Phone Developer Blog that Windows Phone 8 will support 180 countries at launch. The platform currently covers 63 markets, making this a fairly sizeable improvement. Developers will also be able to make full use of this added support, which will be a bonus for consumers in those markets.

So which countries are being added? Check out the chart after the break for all the juicy details...

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WP Central

The offiical Twitter app's new Toast push-notification in action

If there was one nagging issue with the official Twitter app for Windows Phone, it was the inability to get Toast notifications for new mentions or re-Tweets. Even after receiving a new update just 3 weeks ago, there was still no sign of any of these advanced features.

So we were a tiny bit flabbergasted to actually see a new notification section in the latest update, version 1.2.4555.39631 (or just v1.5 in the Marketplace) which just went live tonight. The updated Notification area has the following options

  • Mentions - Off, From people you follow, From anyone
  • Favorited Off, From people you follow, From anyone
  • retweetsOff, From people you follow, From anyone
  • Direct messages
  • New followers

That's actually a fairly robust selection of possible notifications for Twitter these days and yes, they are the Push type i.e. nearly instant. What's more, while there is seemingly no Live Tile counter, the Tiles does flip to show you new mentions or notifications in addition to the Toast alerts (which work quite fast from our experience).

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BaconSync is a really neat feature coming to the Windows Phone app Baconit . The feature is still in beta form and should be released to the masses shortly.  For those not familiar with Baconit, it is a Reddit.com app for your phone which we have been impressed with and BaconSync looks to make it even more impressive. 

BaconSync is a in-browser extension for Baconit that synchronizes read links across multiple phones and browser. It is currently only compatible with Chrome browsers. The extension not only lets you review what you've read from your Windows Phone on your PC but you can send web pages from your PC to your Windows Phone. In these situations you'll receive a toast notification on your Windows Phone that will send you straight to the web page.

BaconSync is an handy extension that will extend the capabilities of Baconit rather nicely. The BaconSync extension should be ready shortly and in the meantime, if you haven't tried Baconit, you can find the free version here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.  There is also a donation version that you can find here for $1.99 to help support the developers efforts.

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WP Central

Windows Phone Central and Stephen Elop at Nokia World 2011

Just when you thought the situation couldn't get any better for Nokia, or CEO Stephen Elop, some positive news has come out the HQ with Risto Siilasmaa, Nokia's recently appointed chairman, reaffirming faith in the Windows Phone strategy. The chairman also backed Elop's performance thus far.

"For the first time in the history of technology, the Windows Phone 8 operating system makes it possible for users to have the same experience on a PC, tablet or smartphone, and for many people on their televisions via their gaming consoles, and to do the same thing almost seamlessly from one screen to the next."

The switch of focus from the dwindling Symbian to Microsoft's new vision of the smartphone has been continuously questioned, but with the brand development the manufacturer has carried out with the Lumia line of Windows Phones, the future is looking at least slightly more bright. Siilasmaa commented on Elop's performance:

"Extremely analytical, critical, open and transparent."

Many would agree. What do you make of the performance of Nokia's CEO with the transition to Windows Phone?

Source: MarketWatch

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WP Central

Seeing as Microsoft is busy showing off the new Start screen for Windows Phone 7.8 and knowing so far that it is the only announced feature coming with that update, speculation as to when we will get the update is on the tips of everyone's tongues.

We just received a copy of an internal AT&T document which reveals that the 7.8 update won't come out until after new Windows Phone 8 devices launch. New Windows Phone 8 devices are not expected until the fall, putting the 7.8 update off untill very late in the year.

The document was for specific AT&T employees and it breaks down to the reps what the Windows Phone Summit involved including details on Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 7.8, updates and more. Regarding the 7.8 update, the document states the following:

When will Windows Phone 7.8 be available?
Windows Phone 7.8 will be made available sometime after the Windows Phone 8 is released. 

WP Central

Although we have verified that this was from AT&T and it seems quite definitive on the matter, we should leave a little wiggle room here for Microsoft. We have seen a lot of changes recently, including the dropping of one display resolution (480x640) just a few weeks ago from Windows Phone 8. That modification happened just two weeks prior to the Summit demonstrating how fluid Microsoft can be on these matters.

Having said that, it's not looking too good for consumers if the 7.8 update is that far off, especially if Microsoft and AT&T tease current Windows Phone users with new WP8 hardware. In addition, AT&T reaffirms that it is only the new Start screen that is coming to WP7.8. Then again, perhaps Microsoft is planning to add more with all of that extra time. We can only hope.

Update: Joe Belfiore actually says the same thing on the Windows Phone Blog "So we’ll be delivering it to existing phones as a software update sometime after Window Phone 8 is released"

Read the contents of the internal memo after the break. Thanks to our source for the info.

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WP Central
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Editorial - Windows Phone getting fragged

Fragmentation is the modern day Darwinism. Only the strong survive and technology is not above this rule. Every three months there is something, bigger, badder, better. There is no doubt in any ones mind that there is always something more amazing coming out when you buy a new phone. Back in the 1990's and early 2000's, when you bought a phone, you expected it just to work. Smartphones were called PDA's and they were like a mini computer. They were big, expensive, clunky and were complicated to learn for the average consumer. Then the iPhone was born and took the world by fire.

After the iPhone, there was Android with their unshackled operating system. There were many promises with both operating systems that there would be improvements with hardware, software, and how you would interact with their devices. No one thought they would have to buy a new phone every two years to take advantage of the newer software and hardware.

The older generation of cell phone owners keep their phones for as many years as they can. They will duct tape, glue, rubber band, their phone together because they feel they shouldn't have to buy a new phone. It should just work forever.

WP Central

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Windows Phone Geek opens Developer Marketplace to all

WP Central

The folks over at Windows Phone Geek have finally made their Developer Marketplace open to all. We last looked at the Marketplace when it was released in beta to a select few. The Marketplace enables Windows Phone developers to pick up (or sell) components, tools, templates, frameworks, and more.

The scheduled month to open up the Marketplace to all developers was September 2012, but with increasing interest Windows Phone Geek have decided to bring the release date forward a few months. Boryana Miloshevska, Founder and CEO, had the following to add in the press release.

"Previously, we announced that the private beta was expected to continue until September 2012. I am pleased to announce that, due to the huge interest, we are starting the public beta two months earlier! Starting today, our component marketplace is open to everyone."

Should you be interested to share any supported projects to the community, you can either give items away for free or publish a price tag to fund some beers. Be sure to check out the Marketplace regardless as the purpose of such a place is for developers to create better quality apps for consumers.

Source: Windows Phone Geek

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WP Central

The chaps at Microsoft dropped us an email this morning to let us know that an international update of Bing Venue Maps is rolling out.

The update brings us over 2700 venue maps across 30 countries which predominantly are shopping malls. While the update may not be a huge benefit to us daily it may well come in handy for planning visits to new shopping centers. Google rolled a similar service out not too long ago. It's nice to see Microsoft keeping on their toes.

All new Venue Maps are now available through www.bing.com/maps. Simply zoom in over your favorite mall to enter the experience. You can also browse all the available Venue Maps and countries at www.bing.com/maps/venues.

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WP Central

Microsoft has published a sneak peek at what a potential redesign could look like for the software giant's online property. With Windows 8, Xbox and Windows Phone all making use of the new Metro design language, it only makes sense that they further improve other products and properties.

We see this as a superb move. Microsoft appears to be improving all aspects of the company to match upcoming product releases. It's also essential to have an aesthetically pleasing website design to attract potential customers, as well as increasing the number of returning visitors.

Let's just hope the company actually rolls out the new design across the entire network of websites for consistency. What do you guys make of the direction Microsoft is heading with the design? 

via: LiveSide

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