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August is closing to an end, and we're all gearing up for the imminent rumours, announcements and discussion that will take place over the next number of weeks in the lead up to Windows Phone 8. As we prepare for a hopefully eventful September, let's take a quick look at popular threads from the weekend on the Windows Phone Central forums.

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Wordament lead

Microsoft themselves didn’t have as much of a presence at Casual Connect Seattle this year as we would’ve liked, but they did stage a fascinating presentation on the effects that switching to Xbox Live has had on popular free word game Wordament. We all know Xbox Live has helped Wordament become more popular, but the specific benefits and results of the switch are extremely encouraging and could have wide-ranging effects on future Windows Phone games.

Windows Phone Central has the full presentation video to share, plus a detailed summary and anaylsis. Check it out after the break.

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Paul Thurrott Windows Phone 8 Book

Paul Thurrott, a very prominent blogger, writer and podcaster of all things Microsoft has decided to write another book on Windows Phone. Paul has already crafted one book titled Windows Phone Secrets, but this time he's aiming to self-publish.  

Paul is a huge fan of Windows Phone and with his new book he’s looking for the whole process to be more “conversational” with his readers. As it will be self-published, he’ll have more leeway to keep it updated and accept contributions from others during the process. We previously had the privilege of having Thurrott on a Windows Phone Central podcast episode.

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627.AM goes ad free for Windows Phones

627.AM is a popular daily assistant for your Windows Phone that helps you manage daily alarms, check in on the weather forecast and jot notes on daily tasks. Our initial impressions found 627.AM to be a simple, clever and gorgeous app. The original release had 627.AM being a free, ad supported app. If you liked the free version but didn't care for the banner ads, an updated, ad-free version hit the Marketplace recently.

Losing the ads will cost you a little but you will also get a few new features including a theme friendly Live Tile, refined navigation animations, and the alarm time on the main page will now pick up the right time format based on your Windows Phone settings.

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Sony and Samsung rumored Windows 8 Tablets surface

Samsung's Windows 8 Tablet

While Microsoft is busy readying the company's Surface tablets, it looks like others are working on tablets of their own.  We've heard of Lenovo working on tablets and even some speculation that Nokia is working on one as well.  Today we can add Sony and Samsung to the list.

Samsung is prepping what is rumored to be a 10" (or larger?) tablet with Windows 8 that will be revealed at the IFA 2012 (consumer electronics convention) that will be held in Berlin. The Samsung tablet will have a dockable keyboard much like you have with the ASUS Transformer tablets. We had heard rumors earlier of a Samsung tablet but this is the first we've seen of a dockable keyboard.  IFA runs from August 31st to September 5th so we won't have long to wait for more specs on the Samsung tablet.  We'll have Mobile Nations field agents at IFA and try to run down the low down on these and other tablets.

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GroupMe for Windows Phone

GroupMe v3.5 looking good

Although there aren’t many new major apps to announce for Windows Phone yet this week, two big titles just received some updates and one has some major changes.

First up is Audible, one of the more requested apps that took a long time to get to Windows Phone. It has now hit version 1.3 as of today. Unfortunately that is about all we can tell you at this point as there was no accompanying changlog. That’s not the first time Audible has done such and update.

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WP Central

Next Windows Phone 8 device or just the Lumia 719?

WP Central

We’ve already seen one Nokia patent application for a design of a new Windows Phone that looked a lot like the alleged ‘Phi’. Now a second design has come forward dated for August 21st, also revealing what maybe the next low to mid-range Lumia phone. Or is it just an old one?

Not much can be garnered from the images though it does look a bit like the leaked ALPS images for a recent screen bezel/digitizer. The phone to our eyes looks like a cross between the Lumia 610 and 710. (Update: Actually, it's a dead ringer for the Lumia 719).

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Windows 8 wallpapers converted to Windows Phone

While Windows 8 is still slated for an October 26, 2012 release we are discovering that the desktop wallpapers make for some really nice Windows Phone lock screen wallpapers.

Our friends over at 1800PocketPC have converted the Windows 8 collection of Start Screen wallpapers into Windows Phone lock screen wallpapers. The Windows 8 collection includes 69 of these colorful wallpapers and so far, 23 have been converted to 480x800 images.

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Freemium Xbox Live games have gotten off to a rocky start on Windows Phone. Bug Village is sort of ho-hum and Glu’s two follow-up titles Gun Bros and Contract Killer sadly released in extremely buggy states. Hopefully the low quality and/or bugginess of those three games hasn’t completely soured our audience from the freemium business model... After all, iOS and the PC overflow with high quality free-to-play games.

The reason I’m talking up the freemium model is because Microsoft has finally started allowing free-to-play games to come to Xbox 360. Several such titles are in the works (including one extremely promising action-RPG that I can’t name just yet), but the first will be an online multiplayer-oriented XBLA title called Happy Wars from Japanese developer ToyLogic.

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Somee for Windows Phone

SoMee is a photo editing app for your Windows Phone that was recently updated to version 1.3 and it appears the $1.99 paid version is now free for a limited time.

SoMee lets you crop and apply various filters, effects and frames to your pictures. SoMee will also let you share your photos on Facebook, Twitter or simply save them to your Pictures Hub.

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WP Central

Some users are complaining of connection errors

Over the last few days we’ve been receiving some complaints about the two Xbox LIVE titles from Glu Mobile: Contract Killer and Gun Bros.

Both apps require online-server access in order to play them, which is certainly a lame requirement (e.g. no airplane usage). That’s on top of the numerous bugs that people have opined about with both games since their release.

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LG Optimus 7 to 3D

The team over at Plaffo have been experiencing issues with the LG Optimus 7. The Windows Phone would lock when booting and appear to 'freeze' on the LG logo, rendering the device useless. The problem is reportedly due to faulty boards in affected smartphones, but one would assume a simple return would solve everything with a shiny new Optimus 7, right? Wrong, or so it seems anyway.

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Video Out WP

We've continuously seen Microsoft make use of video output from a Windows Phone when demonstrating features and functionality at past events. This is a feature we'd all like to see at consumer level for somewhat obvious reasons To make use of the big screen using nothing more than a USB cable would be handy in certain situations. While the likes of SmartGlass is on the horizon, it would be beneficial for Windows Phone owners to be able to make use of supposedly supported video output.

The folks over at XDA Developers Forum have since decided to investigate and see whether it's possible to get video output working on Windows Phone. Marsrogers heads up the team, which was formed back in 2011, and the progress made in the designated thread looked as though the project wouldn't pick up and would eventually stop dead in its tracks. Marsrogers has continued to publish updates to the thread and keep readers up-to-date with progress and findings regardless.

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WP Central

As we kick off another Monday in what looks to be the calm before the storm, another slow week punctuated by bursts of breaking news. Yes, it's the last week of August as summer winds down.

And although we missed last night’s deadline for this post (sorry, we finally went to go see Batman, which was after our all-night horror movie marathon on Saturday), it’s still time for this week’s Editor’s rant and ramblings.

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Android Samsung

We're already aware of the result for the Apple versus Samsung US patent battle, which left Samsung with a $1 billion bill. It really couldn't have gone worse for the smartphone manufacturer who has interest in both Android and Windows Phone (the penalty phase returns on September 20th though). Google remained fairly quiet on the front, but has released a statement that details an expected stance on the court results.

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BetVictor Advert

The Nokia Lumia 800 has been featured in a recent BetVictor television advert, which we spotted on Comedy Central. BetVictor (Victor Chandler International) is a leading British bookmakers and has a strong television presence. At the 16 second mark in the advertisement, we can clearly see the Lumia 800 on the table, but unfortunately both the Windows Phone UI and Nokia branding are absent for brand-free purposes.

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SkyDrive Music

SkyDrive and punk rawk go well together, says our editor

Microsoft has reportedly added support for album art in its SkyDrive cloud storage service, which could be the first step in the direction of a Windows integrated Xbox Music solution. Xbox Music is set to replace the current Zune Pass that many have grown fond of with unlimited access to a large library of music. Should one happen to upload music files to their SkyDrive account, album art is reported to be automatically added once detected. 

Like Liveside.net who first reported this, we're not entirely sure if this is new or we're just noticing it for the first time. Either way, consider it as more evidence that indeed SkyDrive is quite awsome.

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Ascend: New Gods Windows Phone

During my recent trip to Casual Connect Seattle, I enjoyed a fantastic visit to Signal Studios, the developer of upcoming Xbox Live title Ascend: New Gods for Windows Phone, Xbox 360, and PC. We’ve already posted a photos and video interview with studio president D.R. Albright III, and now it’s time to share something even more exciting: the first hands-on footage of Ascend: New Gods running on Windows Phone 7!

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WP Central

Thrill seekers, rejoice!

Nokia keeps trucking along with their exclusive apps and the latest coming in the form of their exceptionally well done official Six Flags tool.

The update found in version 1.26 just went live in the Nokia Collection and it has some added new features in addition to what appear to be standard performance enhancements (the app feels less sluggish to us now).

The two new additions we saw right away were on the Menu screen near the bottom: day planner and family locator.

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WP Central

One of the big news items this week was the announcement that Microsoft has updated their corporate logo for the first time in 25 years. While logo designs are not the most exciting topic we can think of, this change in appearance is also a continuing sign of a shift for the company, including a reimaging of the Microsoft brand.

The new logo (which looks to have ties to the past) fits in with Microsoft’s new Metro/Modern UI that is being rolled out across Windows 8, Windows Phone, Xbox 360, Outllook.com and even SkyDrive. The look is clean, minimalist and the opposite of gaudy. In fact, some have complained that the new logo may be too plain. That’s an odd criticism, especially since one of the top technology companies today, Apple, hardly has the most exciting logo either—yet no one complains.

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WP Central

Last year we mentioned the game Gears on the Windows Phone Marketplace, noting it was quite a fun little puzzler. The goal of the game is to connect two stationary gears on the screen with a finite selection of variable sized gears from your collection. You simply drag-n-drop them on screen, connecting them up to each other and the gears start spinning.

The game starts off easy but quickly ramps up to being more challenging. With 100 levels it should keep most users busy for sometime but replay value is obviously low since the puzzles aren’t randomized.

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WP Central

From homebrew to err...publicbrew

A few days ago we reported on a new homebrew app called Keep Alive from Windows Phone Hacker. The app basically pings a server every once in awhile to maintain a constant Wi-Fi connection. It’s better than having to reconnect to your Wi-Fi connection each time you turn the display back on and has little impact on battery.

The app though was homebrew meaning only those with developer-unlocked phones could take part by sideloading the XAP file. Since the program itself does not use any illegal hooks, Jaxbot, the developer behind it has submitted it to the Marketplace and almost surprisingly it has passed.

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WP CentralThis Week: Buy the Mobi Products Crystal Case for Samsung Focus Flash and save $13.00!

Reminder--this deal ends Sunday night!

This slim, lightweight case is molded specifically for the Samsung Focus Flash and is completely transparent, allowing all the original features of your device to shine through.  This two-piece design easily snaps around your Focus Flash and features cutouts for the camera, screen, buttons and ports.

List Price: $19.95     This Week: $6.95

Learn More and Buy Now

Never miss a deal. Sign up for Weekly Deal alerts!

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Windows Phone Central App Roundup: Hurricane Season

WP Central's Hurricane App Roundup

Windows Phone Central's Roundup of Hurricane Apps

We've touched on Windows Phone apps to help everyone stay up on Hurricanes at the start of Hurricane Season back in May. With Tropical Storm Isaac brewing in the Caribbean we thought it would be a good time to revisit the Hurricane app roundup.

These Windows Phone apps keep you informed of the tropical systems as they develop into hurricanes, monitor the storms track, help you weather out the storm, and monitor any systems that may follow Isaac.  So far this season tropical activity has been light and hopefully it will continue to be quiet once Isaac passes.

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