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Three Screens, Metro and a Cloud is the future

We lightly touched on the three screens dream of Microsoft back at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles earlier this year. CEO Steve Ballmer wrapped up his speech with a slide that showed the tight integration between products, seen above. For a good example of the "three screens" vision, check out the RC-AirSim demo.

Tim Carmody at Wired has published a superb write up of the integration we are starting to witness between Microsoft's product line. He spoke about the Xbox Companion app for Windows Phone that Microsoft’s Derek Snyder demonstrated. Derek created a scenario where you are watching an animated film on the Xbox but can't put a name to one of the voice-actors. The first call would be to get out a smartphone and search on Google or IMDB. With the Xbox Companion app, you can see all the relavant information about that film you're watching right in your hands.

"What’s more, it doesn’t just do this over Wi-Fi, if the Xbox and WinPhone are on the same local network. It can do it completely through the cloud, using the common Windows Live ID on both devices. If the Xbox had 3G/4G cellular data like the Windows Phone does, you wouldn’t even need a local router."

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We mentioned the Geo Augmented Reality Toolkit (GART) it back in September. The toolkit was designed by some folks at Microsoft and aims to make it extremely simple for developers to make augmented reality apps for Windows Phone 7.5 Mango. As we wrote back in September:

"The best part about these tools, once again, is Microsoft's emphasis on simplicity. With as little as six-lines of code, developers can begin to make their own AR layers to existing apps. All the sensors are handled for them and there's a "drag and drop" design"

The tools have finally been reviewed internally and v1.0.1 is now available for download. So what say you, developers? Can we have some kewl new AR apps? Get those creative juices flowing and make us a proud.

Source: Codeplex; Check the demo video after the break...

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We've heard of this deal before but now we can see the flyer for itself to verify: if you live near a Microsoft Store and you spend $499 or more, presumably on a new desktop or laptop PC, you can pick up a free Windows Phone, carrier free.

Eligible phones include the discontinued HTC Surround, LG Quantum, HTC HD7 and Dell Venue Pro. No word if this will extend to cover Generation 2 devices, though we'll keep an eye out for anything. Here's a list of all the Microsoft Stores to see if you live near one.

via: Fat Wallet; Thanks for everyone who tipped us in the past on this

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We mentioned it yesterday that Jet Cart Stunts was coming to Xbox LIVE for Windows Phone and sure enough, the game has landed.

"Jet Cart Stunts is an award winning, over the top, addictive, 3D driving game, with massive jumps, mid-air hoops, floating platforms, spiral roadways and outlandish maneuvers in impossible environments.

Jet Car Stunts is not your typical driving game, the challenge isn't to race your opponents, the challenge is the insane stunt courses themselves. It's not just about driving, it's also about flying. To reach the finish line, you will need t one your skills."

The game features 70 levels and three different game modes (Platforming, Time Trial and Freestyle) and runs for the low price of $2.99 which seems quite fair for that many levels. Of course, it has a free trial, so just grab it here in the Marketplace and hit us up in the comments on your thoughts.

PS Did we mention this game is already Mango 7.5 ready? Because it is...sweet, sweet fast-app resume it is!

Also make sure to read our interview with the developer!

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File this under rumor, but one that makes sense. Back in the day, we heard about three chassis requirements for Windows Phone. And while Chassis 1 (800x480 screen, 1GHz CPU, 256MB RAM etc.) has come to fruition, Chassis 2 and 3 have not been seen. When we asked Andy Lees back in February, it was clear that Chassis 1 was the focus:

"We haven't announced any details on when that form factor is coming out. We are seeing is more interest in larger screens as opposed to smaller screens...but that doesn't mean we're not going to do it but we haven't announced anything yet."

Now MS nerd, who often gets some good information, has leaked some supposed details. For one, adding Qualcomm's Scorpion CPU (Cortex A8), gyroscope and front facing camera constitutes Chassis 1.5. Chassis 2, long thought to be the front-qwerty/BlackBerry style device, will reportedly offer 480x320 resolution in the "Tango" release as well as LTE support, sometime in early 2012. Finally, Chassis 3 will add dual core CPUs as well as 1280x720 resolution, but not until Windows Phone 8 aka "Apollo" sometime in late 2012.

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We mentioned Google's User Experience Director for Android, Matias Duarte, earlier as he had just showed of 'Roboto', the new design-language for Android 4.0 which will hopefully make it less geeky. A noble challenge.

Not too surprisingly, he has some choice words both for Apple and Microsoft in terms of UI design. We were under the impression that Microsoft's approach was unique, stunning and generally pleasing. And you folks certainly go critical if an app we cover is not authentically Metro enough. But not for Duarte, he's no fan. In an interview with This is My Next/Verge, he had the following pot shots at Metro:

“There’s this thing that’s happening right now in user interface design that I find kind of shackling. The faux wood paneling trend, and the airport lavatory signage trend.” He laughs when he says this and pulls up a slide on his computer, a split screen of an Atari 2600 and… airport lavatory signage. It’s an obvious dig at both Apple and Microsoft.

But what about Microsoft and their “authentically digital” design? “The problem with going too starkly systematic, forcing everything into this completely constrained, modernist palette, for both of them, you’re not leaving any room for the content to express itself.”

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We received numerous tips that Windows Phone and SkyDrive were shown off, prominently, on Hawaii Five-0 recently. So we went ahead and found those clips for your viewing pleasure. Turns out they used it twice, with what looks to be the HTC HD7 and while the exact usage of Windows Phone is suspect, we suppose it can't hurt to show off some of those features, eh?

This is the third time, at least, that Windows Phone has appeared on Hawaii Five-0. See earlier last November here and here.

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Babaroga’s Minesweeper and Sudoku both launched on August 10. Both are free, ad-supported Xbox Live titles that sport a sleek Metro look. The only problem with the August launch is that it applied to the US only. Minesweeper came to other territories a short while later on August 23, but Sudoku has been MIA in those places – until now. Sudoku is finally available outside of the US! (Note: it may take a few hours before it shows up on your Marketplace.)

Sudoku is a logic puzzle game in which players must fill in each square of a 9 x 9 grid with the appropriate numbers. While sudoku is traditionally a pen and pencil game, Babaroga’s version adds a nice leveling system and powerups to the mix. It also includes a unique and challenging Lightning Mode with a timer and combo system, should regular sudoku not be exciting enough for you. For more details, check out our full review.

Remember, Sudoku is free and has 50 GamerScore worth of Achievements, so you have no excuse not to download it. Pick it up here from the Marketplace.

Thanks, DarkSynopsis, for the heads up!

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Information is still coming in but Google and Samsung just showed off Android 4.0 aka Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). Coming first to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus which will feature a 4.65” HD Super AMOLED display technology at 720p resolution and a 1.2GHz dual core CPU, ICS looks to finally bring a little pizazz to the robotic OS.

A lot of the new "look" to Android 4.0 can be tied to Matias Duarte, who worked on Palm's ill-fated webOS UI till he was snagged by Google about a year and a half ago. Because of that, it seems quite obvious that things like Android's new calendar and especially the "card view" for multitasking look very familiar (something that even Windows Phone "borrowed"). We not sure making the card-view vertical instead of horizontal is going to fool anyone though. Other things like the People App and even the camera also look heavily borrowed from Windows Phone. Heck, they even said "Putting people at the heart..." instead of "Putting People First", so yeah.

Reader Anthony submitted the following observations he noticed during the recently YouTubed Keynote:

  • Swiping between menus instead of tapping them is Metro
  • action bar is copied from wp7 (especially making it common between apps, is exactly what Metro is)
  • photo album UI looks exactly like WP7 gallery
  • contact groups is from WP7
  • people app is direct copy of wp7 people's hub
  • folder creation method (dragging two icons together to make a folder) is from iOS
  • Lock screen to camera is from WP7/iOS (which iOS copied from WP7)
  • switching reply method between email/sms/call in contact card is WP7 (Actually, webOS did that 1st -ed.)

And in general, the consensus at least from the Twitter-sphere seems to be yes, Android borrows a lot. We always said Android was pretty ugly so this at least goes a long way to addressing that though we're not convinced that it's as elegant, smooth or as unified as the Metro design language. Just see the Windows Phone version after the break for comparison...

Loads more at our sister site, AndroidCentral.com

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Fan love from the ladies: The Windows Phone rap

If it's one thing our platform needs is fan love--that unabashed desire to share and espouse the greatness that is our OS. For that, we'll always encourage people to show their devotion, no matter how geeky or nerdy.

So it's with great pleasure and a hearty smile we bring to you the Windows Phone 7 rap. The idea was spawned by @MobieChick on Twitter, who pinged us with the idea if anyone would watch. We basically dared her saying we'd run the video and the rest is history. What made this fun of course was that MobieChick solicited lyrics from other Windows Phone fans on Twitter, making this a community project.

Lets give the ladies a big hand, especially for putting themselves out their on Vimeo like this. Takes guts! (And lets be kind in comments to our sistahs!).

So do the guys now want to make a response video?

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...at least according to Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft at the recent Web 2.0 summit. Now, we suppose we can engage in a semantic debate about what constitutes a "bunch" combined with social-linguistic and pragmatic uses of the term, but up till this point, we were only really expecting maybe two devices from Nokia: SeaRay/800 and the Sabre/703/710.

But perhaps we need to re-think what Nokia may be doing. We know at the very least the SeaRay will be going on sale in various countries in November e.g. France, Italy, so for certain we'll see those devices for respective carriers. But Nokia has always talked about "shipping in volume" in 2012 in addition to bold claims like a new device every three months (remember that one?). So maybe, just maybe we'll see more than just 2011 devices but also what's in store for 2012--like perhaps that rumored Nokia Windows Phone for AT&T?

Then again, if Ballmer was just being colloquial, perhaps a "bunch" really is just two. We'll be live in London next week at Nokia World to find out, so stay tuned...

Source: Mary Jo Foley (Twitter)

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We've been following the development of BBC News Mobile for months now as it was in beta since July. Now, you can finally get your hands on this top-notch free news app.

We're not going to mince words, as far as news apps go, this one is the creme of the crop. You get an excellent news source, a slick looking app and now with Mango, you get some awesome features on board. Some of those features in version 2.6 are:

  • Double Sided Live Tiles
  • Pin individual feeds to home screen
  • Background service meaning improved live tile and breaking news notifications
  • Background caching if WiFi is available to speed up the app

Pick it up here in the Marketplace, nao. Hey and combine it with the BBC Radio Player for Mango and get the whole BBC experience. And check out our early hands on video after the break to see it in action. Thanks, Christopher L., for the heads up!

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Windows Phone Camps

Last year we had Windows Phone App Garages. This year, we've got Windows Phone Camps. Regardless of the title, these developer workshops, hosted by Microsoft, are a great resource for Windows Phone developers of all skill levels.

The all day event includes sessions on:

  • Silverlight and XNA
  • An overview of Mango features (Fast App Switching, Live Tiles, Multitasking, etc.)
  • How to make money with your Windows Phone app (ad supported vs. paid type discussion)
  • An open lab for hands-on app development
  • Q&A Session with the Experts

There are door prizes, catered lunch, and a room full of Windows Phone developers to network with. You can find a full listing of Windows Phone Camps over at the Microsoft's Events page. The events are free but seating is limited.

If your interested in developing Windows Phone apps these workshops are a valuable resource to get you on the right track. Attendees range from the beginners to the "Been there, Done that" crowd. You can share your experiences getting an app off the ground and tap into other's experiences to find an approach that may work better.

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AT&T tags Focus and Quantum with EOL status?

Shouldn't be a shocker if this is true but we've received word from our AT&T double-naught spy that the Samsung Focus and LG Quantum's status has changed to "End of Life". A status reserved for devices no longer carried by the wireless provider or in production by the manufacturer.

We've already seen signs that the HTC Surround is on it's last leg and our tipster notes the HD7S is slated to drift into the sunset as well.

This is likely being caused by the manufacturers shifting production efforts on the new Windows Phone models and AT&T wanting to make room for the new models.  It's likely the case where AT&T will continue to offer these models, they just won't be replenishing the stock room. 

So, how will AT&T's Windows Phone line-up look in a month?  The HTC Titan would replace the HD7S.  The Focus S would replace the Focus.  But what would replace the LG Quantum?  Maybe the Focus Flash or Nokia Sea Ray?  Or is there a new sliding keyboard Windows Phone hiding in the shadows?

Hopefully whatever happens with AT&T's Windows Phone line-up occurs sooner than later and we start seeing the second generation Windows Phones on the shelves soon.

Thanks goes out to our tipster on this!

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And now, HTC Radar's turn...

Earlier today we mentioned that the HTC Titan was getting a little ad time in London newspapers. Well now, it the HTC Radar's turn.

@alexb8 spotted this print ad on the back cover of Nuts Magazine in the UK. The ad highlights the Windows Phone's live tiles.

Not sure if the doodled-up hands helps the cause but it's nice to see the new Windows Phones getting some exposure.

Thanks goes out to Alex for the tip!

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Cool Tools - Mango App Spotlight

Cool Tools is a toolbox of tool or utility type apps for your Windows Phone.  Need a stopwatch?  There's a tool for that.  How about a need to covert inches to millimeters?  Need a countdown timer for the kitchen?  Cool Tools is a rather simple app that delivers seven useful tools that most will find a use for.

The tools include:

  • Stopwatch with lap time
  • Countdown timer
  • Flashlight with Emergency Strobe setting
  • Ruler
  • Accelerometer with x, y, and z axis
  • Soundcheck with THX clips (moo cows!)
  • Converter

The converter will convert length, liquids, weight, speed, temperature measurements from metric to english (and back/forth). It will also convert calendar dates to age.

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LazyTube 3.0 in the works

LazyWormApps is gearing up to release version 3.0 of their popular YouTube client LazyTube. Version 3 gets a major overhaul to improve performance and the overall user experience.

LazyWormApps will be offering a series of "What's new" videos over at their YouTube Channel that will highlight all the changes in store for LazyTube.  Expect the updated version of LazyTube to hit the Windows Phone Marketplace sometime in mid-November.

LazyTube is a very nice YouTube client app for your Windows Phone and the updated version looks to carry on that level of quality.

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HTC Trophy on sale at Verizon

We're not sure if this is a way to clear out inventory for new Windows Phones or just Verizon being generous. Regardless, Verizon is offering the HTC Trophy for $29.99 through October 20, 2011.

The deal is web only so you'll probably not see the $29.99 price tag in your local Verizon stores. The discounted price does call for a two year contract and minimum data package of $30.  Oh and if you're so inclined the Casio G'zOne Commando is also on sale.

You can find all the details on the three day web sale over here at Verizon's website.

Thanks goes out to Reese for the tip!

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Nokia to alter strategy and "rejuvenate" brand

Nokia is reported to be looking to change the strategy used when marketing upcoming Windows Phones to include the youth of today and get more 'young people' on board. The manufacturer is set to increase social media usage and presence with a more direct connection to consumers. It may be no coincidence that the winning ring tone from the contest is dub step.

John Nichols, Nokia’s head of marketing for the UK and Ireland, had the following to say about their vision of a younger Nokia:

"This isn’t a standing start, we already have a huge youth market but for teenagers we need to ensure that we create the content and partnerships that matter. As a teenager, the brands I loved had an opinion and told me whether to engage with them or not. The trick is to remember to not just wade in; otherwise our personality could look like the drunken uncle dancing at the wedding."

Nokia is also set to spend a reported £80 million on advertising in the UK and Ireland, so the Finnish handset maker is pulling out the big guns.

Source: MarketingWeek

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Coming out of WPXAP forums, a fairly reliable source for leaked information, are the base prices for Samsung's Generation 2 devices.

  • Samsung Focus S = $649
  • Samsung Focus Flash = $549
  • Samsung Omnia W = $569

There's not too much else to say about this story outside of the base price of Samsung's new phones are certainly expensive. Of course, those Super AMOLED screens don't come cheap, so we guess fair is fair and besides, hopefully most of us will be paying the subsidized carrier price instead. Obviously the Focus S is the flagship device with the Omnia W and Flash running for the mid-grade tier.

We bet the Focus S will hit $199 on AT&T though, so there's not too much to worry about.

Thanks, Talan1314, for the heads up!

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WPCentral Podcast 127


With one week before Nokia World, Dan and Jay take on this week's rumors, Mango news, software updates and an odd discussion on sneezing. Tune in now!

Full show notes after the break!

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When Namco Bandai’s Puzzle Quest 2 went on sale a few weeks ago, it wasn’t actually the Xbox Live Deal of the Week. Fast forward a bit and this time it really is the Deal of the Week. Starting Wednesday it will be on sale for $4.99, down from $6.99.

Puzzle Quest 2 is a puzzle role-playing game. Players explore large dungeons, take on quests, and collect plenty of loot. Whenever a battle occurs, the fighting is done via Bejeweled-like match-3 gameplay. It’s an extremely long game with beautiful art, multiple playable characters, and a few nigh-impossible Achievements. Ignoring the Achievements, the gameplay is just super addicting. If you like Bejeweled and RPGs, you really can’t do any better. We’ll have a full review soon.

Puzzle Quest 2 will be on sale for $4.99 for one week only. This gaming treasure can be found here on the Marketplace.

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Jet Car Stunts Mini-Interview

With the announcement that Jet Car Stunts is at last coming to Xbox Live tomorrow, we thought it would be a good time to speak with the game’s developer, True Axis. Several years before starting to make games, Luke Ryan, one of the company’s founders, first developed the True Axis Physics SDK. In 2008, True Axis took advantage of their physics engine to make Jet Car Stunts on iPhone. Today we grill Luke about the Windows Phone version of his company’s debut game.

Head past the jump for the full interview and exclusive first screenshots of the Windows Phone version of Jet Car Stunts!

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The last two weeks haven’t been great for Xbox Live gamers since no new games were released during that time. Things will take a turn for the better this Wednesday with the release of Jet Car Stunts from Australian developer True Axis.

First announced before Windows Phone 7 actually launched, Jet Car Stunts has been a long time in coming. It’s a stunt-oriented racing game whose best along might be XBLA/PS3/PSP title GripShift. Players hop in a race car take on jump-filled floating tracks in Platforming Mode, take part in more traditional races in Time Trial Mode, or just go stunt-crazy in the brand-new Freestyle Mode. Jet Car Stunts uses simple touch-screen controls which can be configured in 6 different ways.

Check back later today when we’ll present a mini-interview with the developer and the exclusive premiere of more Jet Car Stunts screenshots. Jet Car Stunts launches on Wednesday October 19 for $2.99.

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