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WPCentral's Mother's Day Gift Guide

It's that time of the year again to celebrate Mother's Day. Here's what to get her in our latest gift-guide.

WPCentral's Mother's Day Gift Guide

While it appears there won't be a Magenta Lumia 900 available for Mother's Day that doesn't mean we should forget good old mom. While we are sure many were dead set on getting the magenta Lumia 900 for their mother this weekend, we thought we'd give you a few options to fall back on.

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WP Central

Nokia has been a busy bee with bringing more big brand support to Windows Phone. We recently covered the manufacturer creating partnerships with a number of companies for new official Windows Phone apps to be developed, and to add one more name to the list we have Six Flags. For those who aren't familiar with the brand; Six Flags is an entertainment corporation that owns and runs multiple theme parks across the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

Lumia Windows Phone owners will be able to enjoy a custom app, which will be available for all U.S. states, and Nokia will embark on a marketing partnership with Six Flags -- providing opportunities for the Lumia 900 to be advertised in amusement parks. Additionally, both companies will partner on national sweepstakes and retail promotions.

What about the app itself? The Six Flag app will sport unique content for each theme park, including an interactive map, attractions / ride information, cuisine and shopping, as well as special event listings. A customisable day planner enables visitors to plan their day ahead and check out rich media from Six Flags TV. Nokia will also provide discounts each night on select in-park retail, restaurant or games locations with Nokia Nightly Offers.

Check out the press release after the break. Source: PRNewsWireThanks Brian for the tip!

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WP Central

According to Nokia's U.S. president Chris Weber, sales of the Lumia 900, which recently launched in the states, has been outpacing supply. We've covered how the LTE Windows Phone has been out of stock more-so than anything else, which is having an effect on other markets looking to stock the device.

It would appear as though the sellout on AT&T is indeed due to demand and not simply a case of not stocking anywhere near enough units for launch, with little demand / interest present.

"Demand has been outstripping supply for the first couple of weeks, and we've been working hard to rectify that. The demand for cyan [phones] is significantly outpacing supply. When you give people something different from a design perspective—colors, etc. —it really stands out, and consumers want that."

As well as discussing AT&T and how the Lumia 900 is selling, Weber also touched on actual AT&T retail store support for the Windows Phone.

"Generally, we’re seeing very good support. It’s a work in progress."

It would appear as though Verizon is on Nokia's goal list for the future with the understanding that having the CDMA carrier on-board as well as AT&T would certainly boost growth for both the manufacturer and Windows Phone. Unfortunately, no details were revealed surrounding Windows Phone 8 "Apollo" upgrades for Lumia smartphone owners.

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The Nokia Collection...of domination

Nokia has made moves to gain some big titles (and leverage) for their hardware. Who does it hurt? Who does it benefit and is it a good thing?

With yesterday’s announcement from Nokia describing a planned set of “exclusive” apps and even more games for their Lumia line of Windows Phones (and presumably anything else they have up their sleeve), Nokia has won both praise and some scorn for their bold move.

The concern, as echoed by some in the tech press, is that Nokia’s move will cause that dreaded “F word” to happen. No, no that one, the other one – fragmentation.

Fragmentation is the boogey word of the year due almost entirely to Google and their Android OS. But as ex-Microsoftie Charlie Kindel astutely pointed out, there isn’t just one type of fragmentation.  Rather, there’s at least six ways you can divide up the terms with some of it being positive and some of it negative, affecting consumers or developers. Point is, they're not the same and what is causing problems for Android is not the same as what Nokia is doing.

The real question is, will Nokia’s strategy to get these apps and games on their hardware hurt Windows Phone?  We say “no” and here’s why.

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TalkBox is coming

We've mentioned that popular messaging app TalkBox a few times here at WPCentral. The service is not only a way to send messages and photos to your contacts on the go but it also allows you to send those popular voice-clips, you know for those too lazy to type.

That'd be us, actually.

Speaking into your phone and sending the message, especially if you're like us and bathing in AT&T 4G LTE speeds, seems like the next logical step in instant messaging. TalkBox has that service down pat and what's more, it's cross-platform meaning you stand a good chance of your non-Windows Phone friends being able to use the service (it's available on iPhone and Android).

The app went into a public beta a few weeks ago and the developers behind it are putting on the final touches as we speak. Tonight they've released this teaser vid which shows you what to expect.

So should you be excited? Yeah, you should. We've been using it off and on for weeks now (going back to the alpha days) and the app is fast and sharp looking. It's just pretty. Plus it works well.

We'll keep you posted when the app is finally available on the Windows Phone Marketplace for all, which should only be a few weeks at most. Or if you wish, sign up at the TalkBox site to register your interest.

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From the Forums: Windows Phone Meetup (St. Louis)

WP Central

It’s that time again WinPhans, that's right, it’s time for another Windows Phone Meetup. What is a Windows Phone Meetup? Well that’s where we get together for eats and drinks while we talk about Windows Phones. Our first ever Windows Phone Meetup was held in St. Louis and was hosted by WPCentral forum member speedtouch. It was a big success. You can get all the backward info in this thread. “After Action Report from the April 14 St. Louis Meetup”

 WP Central

It’s time for round two in St Louis and speedtouch is up to the challenge again. He is a master at these things, even trying to get some gear together for us. On that topic he has this to say:

“I might be getting some gear from Nokia to give away. No guarantees yet, but I am in contact with some marketing folks at Nokia.”

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Pocket God

Now that some high quality games like Feed Me Oil are launching at the 99 cent price point, would you consider buying a crummy iPhone port for twice the cost? That’s what we get for the latest Xbox Live Deal of the Week: Pocket God from ngmoco:). It’s on sale again for $1.99, down from $2.99.

Pocket God started as an iPhone game from Bolt Creative. In addition to its cute art and humor, the iOS game is known for its frequent episodic updates, which add new environments, minigames, and other fun content, all for free (vanity PDLC packs are also available). ngmoco:), who handles both the Windows Phone and Android ports of Pocket God, simply hasn’t shown a commitment to maintaining parity with the primary version.

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The Caddie +

Looks like it's a big week for Nokia. First they release the beta for City Lens and now The Caddie + (aka Executive Caddie) is available for download, exclusively for Nokia users. And it too features some augmented reality functionality on board.

We've covered the popular Vertisan app extensively here at WPCentral earlier showing the first screenshots as well as a demonstration of the built-in Augmented Reality function called GolfScope.

The Caddie +

The app is an amazing win for serious golfers out there as it features some really great tools all wrapped up in a souped up, elegant little package:

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geoDefense SwarmNow that Feed Me Oil, this week’s Xbox Live release is here, we’re neck-deep in oily physics puzzle goodness. But that doesn’t mean gamers don’t look to the future as well – especially those who’ve had their fill of physics puzzlers already. Kudos then to Microsoft for announcing next week’s Live release: geoDefense Swarm from Critical Thought Games.

geoDefense Swarm is the sequel to fan-favorite tower defense game geoDefense. The new entry switches from predefined enemy routes to a grid-based field. Enemies can approach from all directions, so players will need to construct mazes in order to keep them at bay. Like its predecessor, Swarm features an appealing neon geometric look and easy to learn gameplay. It will also likely suffer from balance issues, but said issues didn’t keep its predecessor from winning many gamers’ hearts. Most excitingly, the Windows Phone version of Swarm includes a new tower, a new creep (enemy), and new challenges. We’ll find out what those challenges are next Tuesday or Wednesday when the game debuts.

geoDefense Swarm comes to Xbox Live on Wednesday, May 16 – if not the night before, as many Live releases have done lately. It will cost $2.99, the same price as its predecessor.

Source: PlayXBLA

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Xbox Live: Feed Me Oil splashes onto the Marketplace

Feed Me Oil for Windows Phone

WPCentral broke the news of Chillingo’s Feed Me Oil coming to Xbox Live last month, with the promise that it would release within the next 1-2 months. It looks like we were right on the money, as Feed Me Oil has just debuted on the Marketplace. Even better news? It costs only 99 cents, just like its iOS counterpart. Also of note: Electronic Arts published the game rather than Chillingo, their subsidiary.

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Wikitude

With all the hype Nokia devices get especially with their onslaught of custom software, we figured we'd throw a bone to the rest of you who aren't on the Lumia train.

In case you missed it, Nokia launched the beta of City Lens today. A nifty little app that uses the camera, gyroscope, compass, GPS and internet to show you in real-time where shops, coffee houses and restaurants can be found. It's certainly well done but not particularly original (see LG's ScanSearch app from 2011).

But in case you own an HTC or Samsung phone and want to have the same functionality there's a great free option already out there: Wikitude.

Wikitude

Actually, Wikitude does even more than City Lens since it's more robust with search features. It's been around for awhile and is found on competing platforms making it more widely supported. It hooks into Yelp, Twitter, Flickr, Starbucks and more. Heck, their system even has APIs so dev's can integrate Wikitude's services into their own apps.

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ZTE Tania

Back in January, ZTE was optimistic on bringing their range of Windows Phone to the US. At the time, they noted "The United States and China will be key engines driving our smartphone sales" which seemed ambitious, only because navigating the sea of US carrier approval is a tough goal to accomplish.

Now in a article on CNet, ZTE is once again promising to bring the Windows Phone Tania to US shores by the end of the year.

In of itself, this is not news at all. It is simply ZTE re-stating what they said five months ago to Reuters. What makes us scratch our head is if the ZTE Tania, a relatively low-end Windows Phone 7.5 device, is coming by year's end to the US--what OS will it be running?

It seems odd to want to sell what is at best a low-range phone from 2011 right when Windows Phone 8 is reportedly launching at the the same time. The Tania sports a 4.3" screen, 1GHz CPU, 5MP rear-camera and a measly 4GB of storage. Presumably some of that will be upgraded which is fine, we did like the Tania for what is was back at CES (see our hands on after the break).

But will they really launch a device with Windows Phone 7.5 by December? Or will it have perhaps another OS on board, like Windows Phone 8? We really have no idea as that status of Windows Phone 7.5 as an OS is unknown at this point, which makes ZTE's plans curious. Maybe they are planning on selling direct as a pay-as-you-go phone or maybe they are planning on updating the hardware and OS for the US, in which case are we really still talking about the Tania?

Like we said, this raises some interesting questions. Either way though, we're happy to see ZTE try their hand at the US market.

Source: CNet

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Sprint exec says he is "still bullish on Apollo"

Could we see Windows Phone 8 devices on Sprint?

When it comes to Windows Phone, we've been pretty hard on Sprint in the past, and rightfully so. After testing the waters with the first-generation WP7 HTC Arrive, they have been a non-player, even going so far as to make the Arrive the poster child for their buyback program. Well, we could possibly be seeing that stubbornness come to an end with the imminent arrival of Windows Phone 8 (Apollo) later this year. Speaking at CTIA, the carrier's director of consumer acquisition, David Owens, said that he's "still bullish on Apollo." 

This is the same man, mind you, who said back in January:

"We have a Windows device in our lineup, but honestly, it hasn't done well enough for us to jump back into the fire. We told Microsoft: You guys have to go build the enthusiasm for the product."

Microsoft certainly paid heed to his word, setting off on a monstrous advertising campaign with the help of its partners, like Nokia and AT&T. Since then, we've seen huge demand for other Windows Phone handsets, like the Nokia Lumia 900. Perhaps the shifting momentum has changed Owens' mind. Or perhaps he has caught a glimpse of Mango's successor, Apollo, and liked what he saw. Owens failed to elaborate on his comment, so we'll just have to wait and see.  However, it gives us some hope that we could see an Apollo device or two in Sprint's Fall lineup.

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Rabobank for Windows Phone

Rabobank, one of the largest banks in the Netherlands, has released a mobile banking app for Windows Phone. Like its counterparts for Android, Blackberry and iOS, the Rabo Banking App lets users take care of their banking needs, be it checking their balance, viewing account history or making transfers, wherever they may be.

Rabobank

In order to use the app, you must already have a Rabobank account and have your Random Reader and debit card handy. You can click here for more information about the Rabo Banking App, or here to download the mobile banking app from the Windows Phone Marketplace.

QR: Rabo Banking

Thanks for the tip, Lobbie 1978!

 

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Smoked by Windows Phone, new numbers and ads

Microsoft's Smoked by Windows Phone began way back in January at the 2012 CES conference. Since, it's grown by leaps and bounds traveling to various Microsoft Stores across the nation and world wide.  We've even seen the Smoke by Windows Phone challenges held by former Miss World, Priyanka Chopra.

Ben Rudolph, who started all this, has released some numbers associated with the Smoked by Windows Phone.

  • 95%: Windows Phone's global winning percentage
  • 36: The number of countries running Smoked by Windows Phone promotions
  • 50,000+: The number of phones that have been smoked by a Windows Phone
  • 8,000,000+: The total number of views the Smoked by Windows Phone has generated since it launched in January.
  • 100,000,000+: The estimated number of people who have seen, participated in or read about Smoked by Windows Phone. 

The Smoked by Windows Phone campaign will continue with a new set of internet ads hitting the web today. The ads are also available over at the Windows Phone YouTube Channel. While the Smoked by Windows Phone has had its moments of controversy, the campaign has brought a lot of attention to how well our Windows Phones measures up against the competition.

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WP Central

Nokia has today announced in a press release that a number of apps and games are to be exclusive to Lumia Windows Phones. At CTIA Wireless 2012, the manufacturer has focused on creating original app experiences to Lumia customers by building relations and forming partnerships with developers. Marco Argenti, SVP, Nokia Developer Experience, added the following comment.

"We are focused on delivering great, locally relevant apps, and importantly, those which offer unique, exclusive and original experiences. With Nokia Lumia smartphones now available in 48 markets, developers are rapidly recognizing the business opportunities and creating their best work for our consumers."

Nokia has already built a strong arsenal of apps in their OEM collection, including the likes of Nokia Drive, Transport, Maps, Music and the recently unveiled City Lens. Crawford Del Prete, EVP, Chief Research Officer, IDC, had the following to comment on Nokia's progress with moving to Windows Phone and building developer relations.

"Nokia has achieved much in a short space of time when it comes to key brands and partners creating apps for Nokia Lumia customers. We believe developers are now moving away from simply porting, to create new innovative and high-design apps that fully leverage the Windows Phone Metro UI and features such as live tiles. With new and exclusive apps launching on a regular basis, and Nokia Lumia rapidly expanding into new markets, Nokia and Microsoft are demonstrating meaningful differentiation for consumers, developers, operators and retailers."

So with al lthis talk of exclusive apps and games, partnerships and developing progress, what's on the horizon for Lumia Windows Phone owners? Check out the summarised list below of content that's destined to be exclusive for Nokia devices (and Windows Phone owners as a whole).

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WP Central

Nokia's Beta Labs has just made public City Lens, an augmented reality experience for users to find local points of interest. Much like Local Scout, but more realistic, City Lens provides a more user friendly overview of what establishments are located in the vicinity. Instead of guessing which building is which (should signage not be effective enough), Nokia Lens slaps a label on each to help you out.

Landmarks, restaurants, hotels, shops and more are listed in camera, list or maps view. This adds more options for the user, which will be handy should you not wish to wave your handset around at that exact moment and look like a tourist recording a video. Your location is loaded, much like any other app with similar functionality, and this can then be shared with social networks. Favourites can also be saved for more convenient access - pretty neat. 

Nokia Beta Labs is interested in receiving feedback on this experience, so be sure to download Nokia City Lens from your Lumia Windows Phone. City Lens isn't listed in the Nokia Collection so you'll need to open the link from your Lumia Windows Phone or scan the QR Code below.

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Verious adding Windows Phone to their lineup

Verious Inc is a leader in connecting developers with components and services for mobile app developer and they have a strong presence with iOS and Android development. Today the company has added Windows Phone development to their lineup giving developers even more tools at their disposal.

What's this mean? Hundreds of pre-built mobile app components, open source projects, HTML5 components and SDKs are now available to Windows Phone developers. It opens up the pool of resources developers have to tap into.  Verious has reportedly worked closely with Microsoft to identify the most valuable components to help accelerate mobile app development.

As described by Anil Pereira, founder and CEO of Verious,

"From Metro-styled icons to charting controls and mapping tools, we’ve worked with Microsoft to compile the world’s most comprehensive catalogue of pre-built components, open source libraries and SDKs for Windows Phone development. Now mobile app developers can leverage these resources to get their apps to market faster—just as they do for other leading smartphone platforms.”

Seeing that Verious already has a presence with iOS and Android development, the addition of Windows Phone to Verious's catalog may see more cross platform apps hit the Marketplace.

You can catch the full press release after the break and find out more on Verious here at their website.

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WP Central

In what looks to be another nice win under the belt of the Lumia 900, Nokia took away the top prize in DisplayMate's shootout of displays for tablets and smartphones.

The test involves shinning light on to the displays with various levels and then putting the screenshots onto their "Master Photo Grid" for direct comparison. For a more nuanced description, we refer to you DisplayMate:

"We photographed 4 Tablets and 5 Smartphones inside an Integrating Hemisphere using a powerful light source that uniformly illuminates the displays from all directions from 0 lux (Absolute Darkness) up through 40,000 lux (Indirect Sunlight), which is very bright. Direct Sunlight at noon is a blinding 100,000 lux."

We're just going to go ahead and defer to them on the science part.

The results have the Lumia 900 at the top with the Galaxy S just edging out the iPhone 4S for number two. There's no doubt that what contributed to the win for Nokia was their ClearBlack polarizng screen technology, which filters out the bad waves of sunlight, helping reduce glare and keeping the AMOLED colors super vibrant (some may say too vibrant.

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Viber for Windows Phone

Viber has finally pulled the sheet off of its long awaited VOIP and messaging app for Windows Phone (and Blackberry too) today, allowing users to download and try out the service for free on their device.

One major caveat though: there is no VOIP phone calls just yet.

According to the press release, the current version only allows Viber Messaging aka "allowing users to exchange text and high-quality photo messages and share locations with other Viber users."  Have no fear though, that VOIP service for making free phone calls is on the way:  "Viber’s signature HD-quality free voice calling, will be released as soon as it meets Viber’s quality standards."

Viber

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WP DevCon 2012

Back in January, we brought you the news of the first independent Windows Phone developer conference not sponsored by Microsoft called WP DevCon occurring October 22-24th in Burlingame, CA.

The listing and descriptions of the classes being offered during the conference hav been released and interestingly enough, there's a whole class on Windows Phone Apollo development. Seeing as the classes are in late October, perhaps we shouldn't be shocked that Windows Phone 8 will be discussed at length during such an event. But what makes it interesting is some of the details revealed.

The session is being led by Paras Wadehra, Principal Software Engineer at Good Technology and ex-Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft:

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ARMED! goes multiplatform

Sickhead Games’ ARMED! stands out as one of the most impressive indie games in the Windows Phone lineup – in fact, it even outdoes just about every Xbox Live title in graphics, UI, and multiplayer features. Even the title is extra exciting, with not only capital letters, but also an exclamation point! Why Microsoft hasn’t picked up ARMED! for Xbox Live status remains a mystery, but Sickhead continues to support their title, both with updates and plans to expand to other platforms as well.

Head past the break for the full scoop!

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Lumia 900

The Lumia 900 is on its way to Norwegian retailer Elkjøp and is set for a June 1st launch. Priced at 4,290 kr, the flagship Nokia Windows Phone was previously seen on a terminal at the retailer where orders of each colour where spotted. This availability date is some time behind the expected shipping dates for UK retailers, which is probably a knock-on effect of the "overwhelming demand" of the Lumia 900 in the states.

The Lumia 900 is available to pre-order in black, blue and white, with financing options should they be required. Will you be picking yours up?

Source: Elkjøp (blue - white, black); thanks, the_Enlightened, for the tip!

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WP Central

Arturo Toledo, a Senior User Experience Designer for the Windows Phone Design Studio who chose to leave Microsoft last month, has announced plans to finish the Windows Phone Design Series.  Toleda is set to turn the series into a free e-book.

More good news is Toledo plans to stay involved in Metro for the future, I guess we can't get rid of superb talent that easily?

The 31 “Weeks” of Windows Phone Metro Design series focuses on providing developers (and enthusiasts who are just starting on the Windows Phone development path) with resources to ensure app UIs follow suit and create a fluid Metro experience for consumers. One thing we here at WPCentral understand is that our readers (and the community as a whole) favours a complete Metro experience.

Should this series finally become available in free e-book format, it'll be the bible for Windows Phone developers. Exciting times ahead. For now we'll leave you with our no-so-famous Metro meme.

WP Central

Source: ux.artu.tv

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Samsung Focus 2 hands-on

Samsung Focus 2

First out of the gate from CTIA 2012 in New Orleans is the Samsung Focus 2. The follow-up to the (wait for it ...) Samsung Focus brings a 4-inch Super AMOLED display with a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, 8GB of internal storage and it's rocking a 1.4 GHz processor. And as was confirmed by the official specs earlier today, it's got a 1750 mAh battery. 

The Focus 2 actually is a tad heavier than its predecessor, but it's in a slightly smaller form factor. It feels decent enough in the hand. It's definitely got a plastic feel to it, which you'd expect from a Samsung phone. But, indeed, for an entry-level device, you're not going to be ashamed to pull this one out of your pocket. And it's always nice to see a dedicated camera button on the side of a phone.

Other items of note: It'll be available May 20 for $49.99 on contract ($19.99 on upgrade). We've got more pics and hands-on video after the break.

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