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Windows Phone coming to Colombia in December

We know Brazil is ready for Windows Phone, so it only makes sense that Colombia get some love too. And according to Jorge Silva Luján, Microsoft Colombia GM, Windows Phone is heading there in December. So was the news conveyed to by him over all things, Twitter, a few days ago.

"Windos Phone en Colombia. Diciembre!! Las personas son el centro,no los iconos ni las aplicaciones. Como tiene que ser. Listos?"

"Windows Phone: People at the center, not apps or icons. They way it should have always been. Colombia available in December. Are you ready?"

From later tweets, he reveals that the carriers Comcel and Movistar will be getting the devices and that both are involved in the approval process at this point. While it's not clear which phone or phones will be available, it looks like the Samsung Focus may be one of them.

Source: Twitter; Thanks, Elmo C., for the tip!

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WhatsApp hits v1.3.2 gets a new feature

Yeah, everyone's favorite chat app, WhatsApp, just hit v1.3.2. As you can probably guess, that's hardly a big version change meaning there's not too much in the way of new stuff. What we noticed:

  • Settings --> Auto-save incoming pictures (new)
  • Version number is now correct (woo!)
  • Performance feels faster (unverified)

Other than that, nothing else. So looks like it's baby steps for WhatsApp, but hey, we'll take what we can get, right? Pick up WhatsApp here in the Marketplace. Thanks, Mosammey, for the heads up

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Windows Phone Marketplace ratings are broken

Here's something we've noticed over the last few days and was brought to our attention by some developers: basically no new ratings/stars are being calculated. If you have 200 ratings before a few days ago, they're essentially frozen there. If you're a new app or game introduced in the last few days, you may be getting reviews from users, but the star-rating and counter are not being updated to reflect new reviews.

Many users, including ourselves, use the star ratings (and review count) to get a first impression of an app. You see a game with 4.5 stars with 50 reviews, well, you know that's a game to download. Vice versa, if a game has 2 stars and 121 reviews, you know to avoid it. In other words, these ratings and their accurate reflection are key to an app's success in many ways.

Case in point: Jet Car Stunts, released this past Wednesday, has plenty of 4 and 5 star reviews but the overall rating for it? No stars, zero reviews.

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Comparing cameras: HTC Titan vs. iPhone 4S

One of the weaker aspects of HTC Windows Phones has been the camera. We keep hearing reports that the camera has dramatically improved on the second generation Windows Phones from HTC.  We've seen comparisons with the HD7 and Titan and now we are seeing a comparison between the Titan and the new iPhone 4S.

Les Numeriques did a comparison of these two smartphones and based on the photos the Titan appears to be capable of holding its own. For the most part, the Titan produced sharper images than the iPhone but the flash seemed to be harsher.  Color saturation seemed to be a draw and overall one could make the case that the Titan is the better performer.

The test photos were taken from a distance of three meters and all settings were automatic.

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GoodMovie - Mango App Spotlight

Trying to find a good movie? Look no further. The Windows Phone app GoodMovie is the app you want for such occasions. GoodMovie could easily be a must have app for your Windows Phone. If you're a movie buff, it's definitely a must have app.

GoodMovie taps into the Rotten Tomatoes film website and brings all the movie data to your Windows Phone. You can search movies by keyword or by a wide range of categories that include theatrical releases, movies just opening, upcoming titles, movies out on DVD, top rentals, and your recently reviewed titles.

When you pull up individual movie titles you will get pages that cover reviews, information about the movie (actors, synopsis, rating, etc.), images from the movie, news items, and YouTube videos (typically the movie trailers).

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Microsoft’s official Windows Phone UK blog recently posted about Xbox Live features that gamers may have missed. I can tell you why most gamers wouldn’t have noticed these features – all but one of them aren’t active yet!

Here’s a quick rundown:

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The Walking Dead zombie sweepstakes

Windows Phones are used by the walking dead as well as the living. AMC and Bing are running a sweepstake that will see the lucky winner take part in The Walking Dead season 3. For more information on how to enter and what the rules are, head on over to the sweepstake page below. Note that this is open for U.S. residents only.

Source: The Walking Dead, via: WMPU

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Folders coming to Windows Phone via Homebrew?

This should be pretty exciting once it's finalized. The chaps at Windows Phone Hacker (site) have been working on a "Folders" solution to Windows Phone, analogous to the fan concept we ran back in July.

The image you see above is purportedly the real deal and not a mockup--those tiles are "dynamically generated". The only issue we're told is that it's a little "clunky" on the setup which is to be expected with this level of homebrew activity. The good news is the device only needs to be unlocked and not the deeper, more difficult interop-unlock, which is a bit tricky to instantiate.

Windows Phone Hacker is looking to release this and was gauging the desire/want for this type of hack. Basically they don't want to invest time in cleaning it up, making it more streamlined if there's no one to use it, which is understandable. We suspect demand will be quite high for this feature, so let them know in comments and via Twitter @wphonehacker.

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Free Ringtones - Mango App Spotlight

Okay. We've covered a lot of ground lately with ringtone apps for your Windows Phone. We've got one more ringtone app to spotlight for you. Free Ringtones is a free ringtone downloader for your Windows Phone that gives you access to thousands of tunes and sounds.

Free Ringtones is laid out in simple fashion with a main page highlighting Hot Ringtones, a keyword search page, a page listing all the tones you've downloaded and another page to show the download progress of your new tones. From the Hot Ringtones page you can access a dozen or so categories of ringtones that range from Blues to Holiday tunes to Sayings.

To preview a tone, just tap the headphone icon and a preview of the tone is streamed to your phone. You'll also find a Play and Pause button at the bottom of the screen to manage your preview. 

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Samsung Focus Flash/Omnia W lands at the FCC

The GT-i8350 aka Omnia W, which suspiciously looks a lot like the Focus Flash for AT&T, has taken its spot at the FCC and looks to have cleared any remaining hurdles for release here in the States.

The Flash is expected to hit shelves sometime in November but no release date or pricing has been revealed. The "mid range" device features a 3.7" Super AMOLED screen, 1.5GHz CPU and a 5MP rear camera. Although mid-range, it looks like a nice little device to us, especially for those who don't want a large phone.

Source: FCC; Thanks, bancza, for the heads up

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It wasn't long ago that ...I'm a WP7! was updated to version 3.2 that brought gamer meetups, wallpapers and ring tones, and much more. Now we have version 3.3 available for download. Highlighted features in this update:

  • Gamer Achievements and profile fixes
  • New easter eggs
  • Mini game "Match-Atar"
  • More "pinnable" live tiles
  • Numerous updates and fixes to all areas

Version 3.3 is a fix-focused update with the mini-game being the main feature added.  It's a free app and you can download ...I'm a WP7! from the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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Don't want to wait for Skype to come to Windows Phone? Have a developer unlocked device? Then you can head over to XDA to grab the XAP file for Tango, the video calling and VOIP solution that costs nothing to use. Originally offered on the HTC Titan and Radar, it has been ported to older Windows Phones for some fun.

We loaded it up on our HTC Arrives and sure enough, it works. Sure, video calling is a bit choppy, even over WiFi and the audio is only routed through the rear speaker, but the novelty of it is certainly exciting.

The app seems to work on all HTC generation phones and LG phones, but only audio for Samsung devices (Focus, Omnia 7) and of course there's no love for Dell.

Head here to XDA for the relevant thread. Thanks, David, for the link!

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Can't think of that word and have no Internet connection at present to use the Dictionary.com app? Annoying, right? Well not any more with the app being updated to take advantage of Mango goodness with the addition of offline usage. Over two million words are available from Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com, putting the power of language and constructive writing in your hands.

Pick it up here in the Marketplace.

Via: @techjunky79

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File this one under big rumor/subject to change.

MS Nerd has published what he says is the timeline for a lot of Microsoft's major platforms, including Windows Phone, Windows Desktop and the launch of Xbox "Loop" aka next gen Xbox hardware.  While of course tantalizing, there's nothing really to back it up. Then again, when you read it, it's quite realistic and logical as to what you expect Microsoft to do. It even follows their current scheduling of things, so why not?

We'll just hit on the Windows Phone news:

  • CES 2012 - Tango1 Launch
  • Mobile World Congress '12 - Tango2 SDK
  • MIX 12 - Tango 2 launch, Apollo announce
  • E3 2012 - Apollo SDK
  • Mobile World Congress '13 - Apollo +1 teaser
  • MIX 13 - Apollo +1 teaser
  • Mobile World Congress '14 - Windows Phone Nine teaser
  • MIX 2014 - Windows Phone Nine SDK
  • BUILD 2014 Windows 9 Mobile RTM
  • November 2014 Windows 9 Mobile Launch (with Windows 9 and Kinect H2 release)

From what we've seen of how Microsoft releases things, this seems quite logical. The interesting change is of course in 2014 when Windows 9 and Windows Phone 9 merge and we get what MS Nerd lists as "Win9M". We're  assuming that means Windows 9 Mobile, but who knows.

Edit: No surprise, but Microsoft's Brandon Watson disagrees with the leak: "I love reading "logical" "leaked timelines" and laughing. #wronginsomanyways". Of course, no one was expecting him to confirm it either.

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HTC advertising in Norway

While HTC and Phones4U make a difference in the UK, we have Telenor, Norway's largest carrier, advertising the HTC Radar in a Norwegian newspaper. The photo above, sent in by a reader, shows the HTC Radar available on contract. Looking at the Telenor website, we can see the Radar is also available unlocked for 3,099kr (£349).

Source: Telenor. Thanks Morten for sending in the image!

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Phones4U Windows Phone store promotion material

HTC is going big with promotion and advertising for their Titan and Radar handsets. We've seen their commercial being aired on prime time TV, full page newspaper adverts and Phones4U has also been publishing advertising material in newspapers. We're aware of HTC and Samsung investing more funds in promotion, but it's good to see a store take part with the above photo from a Phones4U store in Norwich, UK. Purchasing the Titan will earn you 800 MS points and 12 a month Xbox Live subscription.

Thanks Joseph for sending the photo in!

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The Samsung Omnia W (i8350) has gotten it's price for consumers in the Netherlands, €329, slightly less expensive than its Italian counterpart.  The Omnia W, which just recently launched in India as well, is a nice mid-range phone at a mid-range price.  It sports a 1.4GHz CPU, along with a 5MP camera and 3.7" Super AMOLED screen.  It won't blow your socks off, like the HTC Titan, but it won't break the bank either.

Source: Belsimpel (Thanks for the tip, Relief!)

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Telerik Unleashed events special prize

Telerik, the brains behind the Tasks App and RadControls, have announced today the Telerik Special Windows Phone Unleashed Events Grand Prize. There is a selection of the top 25 submitted apps from the Unleashed events organized by Microsoft and local communities. On October 28th, the winner of the grand prize will be selected at random, which will pot the winning developer $5,000.

This is where things get interesting. Telerik is also offering a community favourite prize of $300 for the app with the most tweets. Visit the Telerik Unleashed page (link below) to check out the available apps and tweet your favourite. Do make sure, when tweeting, that "#telerikwp7prize" is included with your selected winner.

Source: Telerik Unleashed

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New Sonic CD Trailer remembers its roots

Sega's first Sonic CD trailer showed just enough gameplay footage to get Sonic fans salivating. This new trailer is even better. First it plays up the game's roots as a Sega CD/Mega CD title; Sonic CD stands out as one of the best games on that quirky, beleaguered platform, in fact. The rest of the trailer focuses on the game's unique time-traveling aspects, complete with plenty of footage of Sonic in action.

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Workaround for vanishing keyboard in Mango?

We recently covered a growing thread over at the XDA Developers forum with Windows Phone owners reporting an issue with the on-screen keyboard disappearing from view without accidentally pressing the "back" capacitive button. We were told that Microsoft is currently looking into the problem.

Greg Fonta, a French Windows Phone developer, has investigated the root of the problem. It appears to be related to a Mango feature (as seen in the above video), Background Agents. These agents allow apps to run tasks when currently inactive and not running in the foreground. 

According to the report at WMPU, disabling Background Agents appears to rectify the issue. This can be accomplished by navigating to Settings > applications > background tasks and disabling Background Agents on a per application basis.

Does this workaround work for you? If not, which handset do you own that experiences the problem?

Source: WMPU

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It’s been a while since we mentioned Square Off, the lovable twin-stick indie shooter from Gnomic Studios. I’m pleased to report that the developers have been hard at work updating their game with a much-requested feature or two. Most exciting for players who haven’t tried the game yet, though, Gnomic released a free version today!

Square Off Free contains the same seven levels of alien-blasting fun that we praised in our review. Players take control of the Square Avenger, who uses a jetpack and guns to defend the earth from obnoxious one-eyed invaders. The free version, as you might expect, displays ads at the bottom of the screen. I’d prefer the ad banner to be shorter height-wise and spread all the way across the bottom of the screen, but the current implementation is probably a limitation of the advertising software. At any rate, the free version is a great way to experience the game at no cost, and you can always pony up for the paid version if you tire of the ads.

Speaking of which, Square Off’s version 1.3 update also debuted today. It brings the following changes:

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Orange: Windows Phone's future depends on Nokia

Yves Maitre, senior vice president of devices and mobile multimedia at Orange, has told CNET in an interview this week that Windows Phone is the worst-selling platform in Orange's market (behind Android, iOS and Blackberry) in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

"Honestly, it hasn't been as successful as we expected."

I'm not sure if every Windows Phone owner shares the same view as Maitre, since we've already covered problems with carriers not displaying working demo units in stores and promoting the platform in the media. Do you see Orange adverts for Windows Phone on TV, online, on billboards, in newspapers or in stores? If the overall response is "no", then how can Orange expect the platform to sell well against competitors that get more reach to their customer base?

"By Barcelona [the site of February's Mobile World Congress conference], we'll know for sure if Microsoft is in the game or not. If Nokia/Microsoft is not successful in Europe then it will be tough in other countries"

He does remain cautiously optimistic that the Nokia brand will push forward the platform and will force other OEMs to compete with one another through advertising. Maitre views Nokia as an expensive vehicle, "it's like you're driving a Mercedes Benz". With smartphones counting for 50% of sales for Orange, the carrier is going to have to work hard, as well as Microsoft, if they want the OS to compete with Android, Blackberry and the iPhone.

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This is really interesting. In Walter Isaacson's authorised biography of Steve Jobs, the latest excerpt from the book explained that the Apple co-founder and technology genius was "livid" with HTC's entry with Android.

"I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong," Jobs said. "I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this."

It did seem strange as to why Apple was relentlessly attacking HTC, Samsung and Android in general, simply because Apple doesn't need the revenue or extra coverage since their products do sell. It all boiled down to Jobs closely guarding Apple's innovation against app-grid-layout copying Android. Jobs also reportedly told Eric Schmidt, Google CEO and former Apple board member:

"I don’t want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, I won’t want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that’s all I want."

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We just had another photo of the Nokia Sabre, admittedly heavily "masked", land in our inbox.

It looks remarkably like the earlier shot leaked today but this time we can see the lower buttons, which should make quite a few people happy: they're physical. Yup, the front-facing buttons look to be nice, clear gel type buttons which should alleviate a lot of accidental clicks that come from capacitive buttons.

Although the screen looks small (3.7") and this might not be the spec killer that many want, it sure looks like a solid little number. And we're sure Nokia's quality will shine through.

Update: Since the phone is in the camera app and it's running Mango, there's no switch for the front-facing camera. That can only mean one thing, that this lacks one.

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In case you wanted to take a closer look at their basic specs, all of the new Windows Phone announced so far, including the Samsung Focus S, Focus Flash and HTC's Titan and Radar 4G are listed on WindowsPhone.com.

The only thing "new" that we found was the mention of the Focus S's "wide-band AMR advanced sound quality", which we have no idea what it means, but we guess we should be impressed and it's down as having a 9-hour battery life (a regular Focus clocks in at 7-hours, for comparison).

Of interest is how T-Mobile Radar 4G is listed under "Other" for some odd reason and the Quantum is still listed, even though it's gone from AT&T's site.

Source: Windows Phone; Thanks, Justin S., for the heads up

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