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Fling late

As Windows Phone gamers know, every Wednesday we get a new Xbox Live release and Deal of the Week to keep us entertained. Microsoft has actually been updating a little early lately – often on Tuesday evenings. But every now and then the Marketplace doesn’t update by Wednesday morning - the last few instances happened in January this year and September last year.

Unfortunately, today looks like one of those days – Fling has yet to show up on the Marketplace. Perhaps not the most hyped Xbox Live title, but it’s set to cost only 99 cents, which pretty much assures it will be a sales success. Likewise, the new Deal of the Week has yet to appear. Both of these problems could be rectified any minute, or it may take several hours yet. We’ll be sure to let you know as soon as Fling and the new sale pop up.

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5

Wordament update addressed connectivity woes

Wordament French

Wordament, Microsoft’s popular Xbox Live exclusive, just received an update a couple of weeks ago. That doesn’t mean the development team at You vs. the Internet has rested on their laurels though. Not only have they recently unlocked the French language dictionary within the game (in beta form as with other non-English languages), but another title update has just gone live.

The Wordament version 2.2 update doesn’t add any new features or options. Instead, its sole purpose is to improve the game’s network connectivity and performance. As a result, errors such as “Can’t connect to Xbox LIVE” and “Can’t connect to Wordament.net” should appear much less frequently. I never encountered those problems myself, but I’ve been up to my neck in newer Xbox Live titles like Final Fantasy and Battleship recently. I still love Wordament with more than nine-tenths of my heart though, so it’s great to see the developers still working to improve the experience for players.

Wordament is a free-ad supported game that requires a constant online connection to play. Check out our review for more details, or get with the program already and download it here from the Marketplace.

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Skype for Windows Phone updated

An update for the Skype has been released taking the Windows Phone app to version 1.2. The update fixes a handful of issues with the previous version and adds the following improvements.

  • All phonebook contacts with at least one number are shown in Skype contact list.
  • Ability to edit phone number in dial-pad before calling.

The update fixes cover issues involving calendar notifications ending Skype calls and instant messaging crashing the app. There still remains issues such as the app requiring a minimum of 512mb of memory on your Windows Phone, no Bluetooth support for audio or video calls, and answering an incoming call will end your Skype call.

The updated version hasn't appeared on the Marketplace just yet and we don't know if the Skype app was released for Marketplace certification or released from Marketplace certification. If the app has cleared certification, look for the update to be pushed out shortly. Otherwise, we're still looking at a few days, barring any issues with the certification process, until we see the v1.2 update.

In the meantime, you can find Skype for Windows Phone here at the Marketplace. It is a free app for your Windows Phone.

Source: Skype Blog; Thanks, Jay, for the tip!

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Windows Phone Summit

A sneak peek of what's beyond the escalator for Windows Phone 8

We're here in lovely (and surprisingly chilly) San Francisco for the other big Microsoft event this week--the Windows Phone Summit

During this one-day event, Microsoft are expected to show off bits of Windows Phone 8 aka Apollo. The big question though is what are they going to talk about specifically and what do we already know? We'll give your our thoughts and expectations below. Some of this we've been revealing over the last few weeks and hopefully you were clever enough to catch it.

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WP Central

This evening at the Turbine Hall in Newtown, South Africa, Nokia and MTN announced the launch of the Nokia Lumia 900 in South Africa.

It will be available on MTN Anytime 200 for R369 per month on a 24 month contract. It also comes with a pitiful 75MB of bandwidth per month that you can use to check your email a couple times. The phone should be in stores across the country around the 28th of this month. Other contracts should be available but MTN is not releasing any details just yet.

We knew about the launch, but something that we hadn't expected was that there are 200 Limited Edition Batman phones available to the first 200 customers at a branch in each main city. So we suggest you get down to any of the following stores when it is available to snap one of those up: Morningside (Johannesburg), Gateway (Durban), Canal Walk (Cape Town) and Port Elizabeth.

Vodacom was the first service provider in South Africa to offer a Lumia device when it launched the Nokia Lumia 800. Since then they have also started offering the Lumia 710, but for some reason will not be stocking the Lumia 900. MTN is on the opposite end of the stick offering only the Lumia 900.

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Nokia 808 with Pure View camera

While Microsoft took center stage yesterday with the Surface tablet, Nokia had an announcement of their own to make. We briefly mentioned this with speculation that Nokia might be a party to Microsoft's event but quickly learned that these were two separate events. Even though it doesn't deal with Windows Phones, we felt the need to come full circle with things.

Yesterday, Nokia announced that the Nokia 808 with 41 megapixel Pure View camera will be released in the U.S., unlocked, through Amazon.com. The 808 will run $699 and will be compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile networks.

There is still some speculation that we'll see the Pure View camera make the jump from the 808 to a Windows Phone later this year but for the time being, Pre-orders for the Symbian phone should begin later this week. You can sign up for notification here at Nokia.com.

Source: Nokia Conversations

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WP Central

We brought you the news, even before it was official, that T-Mobile and Nokia were teaming up here in the US for Batman the Dark Knight Rises promotion. The promo involves specially crafted Lumia 710 Xpress-on covers in cyan, magenta, yellow, black or white and feature the iconic Batman logo.

Nokia has now officially announced the availability and details of the promotion and we like what we hear:

  • The promotion will run exclusively at T-Mobile stores from June 20 – July 31, during which customers can pick up their covers in T-Mobile stores
  • TDKR Xpress-On covers are free to existing Nokia Lumia 710 customers, as well as with the purchase of a new Nokia Lumia 710
  • Learn more about the exciting 4G Nokia Lumia 710 Windows Phone and the TDKR Xpress-On cover offer here:  www.nokiausa.com/us-en/thedarkknightrises

What's more if you tweet the hashtag #Lumia710NYC starting on June 20th, you'll be eligible to win a ticket  to the US World Premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in NYC on July 16.  But really, how cool is it if you already own a Lumia  710 on T-Mobile you can evidently walk in and pick one of these bad boys up for free? 

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Microsoft Surface Tablet

Those nice folk at Carphone Warehouse here in the UK dropped us an email this morning detailing their excitement following on from yesterdays Microsoft Surface tablet announcement.

According to Carphone Warehouse, the Surface will 'trigger a new tablet race' which is quite possibly true. With prices and dates still yet to be announced I hope that Microsoft either rectify that or at least keep up the hype with TV advertising etc.

With Carphone Warehouse being the largest independent mobile phone retailer in the UK, with over 800 stores nationwide, it is sure to push the Suface heavily. In its larger stores they already seem to sell as many tablets and notebooks as they do phones so I see the 'Surface' being a great marketing tool for them.

Graham Stapleton, Chief Commercial Officer at Carphone Warehouse, says,

“Microsoft’s first foray into producing both tablet hardware and software is an exciting addition to the market, which has been relatively quiet over the last few months. Today’s news is really going to shake things up. Microsoft’s Surface is going to appeal beyond the existing tablet community and draw in new tablet users, especially with the new Windows 8 software. Microsoft Office functionality and the dual-purpose cover keyboard should go down well with professionals who may have been put off by touch screen keyboards in the past.”

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Nokia Monster Headset Offer

That keyword that everyone loves so much - FREE.  

Nokia are feeling generous and for the month of June are giving away Purity headphones by Monster when consumers purchase a Lumia handset. 610 and 710 buyers will get the in-ear Purity Headphones where as if you buy the Lumia 800 or 900 you will receive the HD on-ear Purity Headphones.

Considering the price of the devices and the fact that the headphones are worth up to £199 this really is a bargain and may do Lumia sales a world of good. It is just a case of heading over to www.nokiamonsteroffer.co.uk and following the simple instructions. The offer ends June 30th and you must be at least 18 years old and a U.K. resident to be eligible.

Nice idea Nokia.

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Is your Windows Phone a health risk?

Is your Windows Phone a health risk?

Could your Windows Phone be a health risk? According to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (London, England) the health risk is a concern.

We've seen concerns over radiation exposure but the Society is more focused on neck and back pain as well as stress related illnesses that develops from poor posture.  Try as we may, we often end up hunched over our Windows Phones which isn't really good for the lower back.

A recent survey of 2,010 office workers conducted by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy which indicates that nearly two thirds of those survey continue to work on smartphones, laptops and tablets outside office hours. Society Chairwomen Dr. Helena Johnson views the results as a huge concern.

"While doing a bit of extra work at home may seem like a good short-term fix, if it becomes a regular part of your evening routine then it can lead to problems such as back and neck pain, as well as stress-related illness. This is especially the case if you're using hand-held devices and not thinking about your posture."

The survey concluded that workers are risking their mental and physical health by working more than two hours extra every night.

While the survey focused on time spend on our mobile devices for work purposes, it doesn't make any reference to time spent for entertainment purposes. Granted the stress of work isn't necessarily present when playing games or watching videos but the posture issues might be.

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Netflix App to be available for the Surface Tablets

Microsoft Surface Tablet

We overlooked an interesting feature mentioned last night at the Microsoft Surface tablet event. The Netflix app.

Microsoft showcased the Netflix app during last night's presentation saying it supported semantic zoom and that the Netflix app would be ready when Windows 8 launches later this year.

We're guessing that with SmartGlass you could start a Netflix movie on your Xbox console, pause it and resume watching the movie on your Surface tablet or Windows Phone. With the kickstand feature on the Surface, the tablet sounds ideal for mobile movie watching.

Details are still sketchy on how our Windows Phones will interact with the Surface and hopefully we will be able to shed a little light on things after tomorrow's Windows Phone 8 event. In the meantime, you can catch a brief glimpse of the Netflix app, in the full video of Microsoft's Surface announcement around the 14:25 mark.

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Windows Phone App Review: myHealthbox

WP Central

 

Ever given much thought about the medicines you are taking and needed bit more information about them? Well you can easily access all that and more with myHeathbox for Windows Phone.

The application is an extension of the myHealthbox.eu and will allow for not only quick and easy access to medicine information, but in addition several extra cool features.

The application contains the following features:

  • Instant medication search by name and country.
  • eLeaflets
  • Alerts on drug recalls
  • News on new products
  • Instant access to local pharmacies using Bing Maps with the option to telephone the pharmacy from within the application

When opening the application for the first time you will be required to create an account. This is painless as only basic information is required such as an email address and a password. Once completed you will be emailed a link to verify your account. You will then have access to both the application and the myHeathbox service on the web.

myHealthbox

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Although no live recording was allowed during the Microsoft-Ballmer reveal of the now famous Surface tablets, the Redmond company has gone ahead and put it online for your viewing pleasure.

The full video chimes in just under 48 minutes, so grab yourself your favorite beverage of choice and relax as you're shown what looks to be "the next big thing" in mobile computing.

We'll save our thoughts for later tomorrow but for now let's just say we're feeling pretty good about where Microsoft is heading.

Make sure to check out our other coverage on the Surface below:

Source: Microsoft

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Fling for Windows Phone

Actual Windows Phone screenshots free of marketting text!

It’s getting down to the wire, but we do at last have details of this week’s Xbox Live release. This Wednesday, prolific Swiss developer Miniclip’s latest game Fling makes its debut. Fling’s Achievements were first discovered back in early May, along with Battleship and Mirror’s Edge. This will make two down and one to go, won’t it?

Fling is a puzzle game that plays much differently from Miniclip’s previous Xbox live releases. In each level, players must flick furballs into each other with the goal of leaving only one monster on the board. Furballs can only travel horizontally or vertically and they only stop when they hit another furball, so you’ll need to experiment and/or think a few moves in advance to win.

Fling packs metric tonnes of puzzles spread across four game modes. Free-play lets you play at a relaxed pace without time constraints; Arcade challenges players to solve as many puzzles as possible before time runs out; Challenge breaks groups of levels up into timed sets; and Frenzy is a never-ending survival mode. Arcade and Frenzy each have several specific Achievements, while the other modes do not.

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Surface rear facing camera

While we aren't sure what the specs will be on the Surface tablets camera, Microsoft refers to the camera as a LifeCam, the branding for their webcams. This likely means the Surface will be loaded with the typical LifeCam software as well.

But here's an interesting aspect of the camera. It is positioned at a 22 degree angle and when you flip out the kick stand, you basically create a tripod for hands free recording.  This will be a nice feature for recording meetings, your child's birthday party, opening presents at Christmas and all the other situations where you need to have your camera stationary.

Surface front facing camera?

The Surface is also fitted with dual microphones for decent audio for your videos or audio quality for Skype calls. Based on the images we've seen on the Surface, it appears there is a front facing camera to help with those Skype calls as well.

It will be interesting to see if Microsoft goes beyond the typical laptop styled camera on the Surface.  Would it be too much to hope that Microsoft borrows HTC's 16mp BSI sensor from the HTC Titan II?

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Surface website for all that is the Surface

Surface Website

The Surface website has... well... surfaced.

It launched shortly after Steve Ballmer introduced the new tablets to the world and is slowly becoming populated with details on the Surface.

You've got a gallery, video and downloadable spec sheet currently on the site. Hopefully, we'll see pricing and availability popping up on the Surface website.  As well as more details of what's in store with the Surface.

Just point your favorite browser to Surface.com for all the details.

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WP Central

One of the biggest decisions some of us are going to have to make is which Surface device to get--the zippy and light RT version or the big Win8 Pro one?

Of course price, of which we have no idea, will certainly come into play as will your needs. We're a bit torn ourselves between the two but are leaning towards the RT for a "play" device while we keep our Lenovo laptop for our hardcore writing and reporting duties.

To help make it easier (or perhaps harder), Microsoft has gone ahead and done a side-by-side of the two devices and their respective specifications in the above image. We'll also repost them below:

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What does the new Microsoft Surface tablet cost?

Microsoft Surface Tablet

And that's the real question, isn't it? When it comes time to put up or shut up -- and Microsoft's not yet saying when or where you'll be able to buy one of the new Surface tablet laptop thingies -- just how much are you going to have to shell out? Here's the official line.

Suggested retail pricing will be announced closer to availability and is expected to be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC. OEMs will have cost and feature parity on Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Not exactly long on details, is it. But even if it's competitive with a comparable ARM tablet (of which there are a scant few, by the way) or an Intel Ultrabook, you're still going to be handing over several hundred dollars. What's more is that nobody's saying whether the Surface Touch Cover -- that's the official name for the keyboard cover -- will be optional, or if it'll come with the tablet. 

That's long been a complaint about tablets like the ASUS Transformer Prime. By the time you buy the tablet and optional keyboard, you're well within laptop costs. But we'll all keep our fingers crossed.

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Microsoft Surface Tablets to sport VaporMg casing

Surface Tablets VaporMg Casing

Microsoft made a point in their Surface tablet presentation to bring attention to the tablets casing, VaporMg. We are told it is pronounced Vapor-Mag but what is it and why is it so special?

According to Microsoft the casing is created by molding metal and depositing particles that creates a finish similar to a luxury watch. Using magnesium, parts can be molded as thin as .65mm. Much thinner than your typical credit card but lighter and stronger.  The end result is a 10.6" tablet that weighs in at 32 ounces.

Combined with the Corning Gorilla Glass protecting the front of the Surface tablets and VaporMg casing protecting the back side, these tablets appear to be Lumia tough. I just wonder when we'll see the first video of someone driving a nail with a Surface tablet.

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Microsoft Surface Tablet

Microsoft this afternoon in California breathed new life into its Surface line, taking the table-top wonder and scaling it down into pair of Windows 8 (and Windows RT, but more on that in a minute) tablet/latop hybrids.

First things first: The new Surface is based on a 10.6-inch display. The Windows 8 Pro version is an Intel-powered beast, while the Windows RT version, as you'd expect, is powered by an ARM processor. The former squeezes things into a 13.6 mm-thick magnesium chassis, while the Windows RT version, with its more traditional mobile architecture, takes things down to a mere 9.6mm. Either way, these things are thin.

But addding a little bit of bulk -- 3 mm to be exact -- is the Touch Cover. Think iPad Smart Cover, only with a full multitouch keyboard built in.

Source: Microsoft; More: Surface gallery

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Microsoft Surface PC promo video

Two tablets -- erm, laptops -- one epic video. Microsoft obviously is throwing its full weight behind its reimagination of Surface, which is coming in the form of a Windows 8 hybrid that runs the best of the Windows of yesterday in a form factor for tomorrow.

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WP Central

Is Windows Phone a  "potential competitive threat" to Android?

We all know that there is a great war going on right now in the smartphone world. Apple and iOS continue to be taking most parts of the world by storm, where as in North America RIM's numbers have plummeted over the last year or two. So where does that leave Windows Phone?

Well it would seem that for most people it is apps that are important and that is where Flurry comes in, where we found this interesting report. Flurry is an analytic company that tracks developer support across all the major smartphone operating systems. The statistics are easy for Flurry to trace as when a company creates a new project in Flurry Analytics it will need to download specific SDKs.

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Photosynth version 1.1 update is a must have update

Photosynth v1.1 update mandatory

The other day we saw an update for Photosynth for Windows Phone get pushed out taking the app to version 1.1. We didn't know what all the update involved but today we are being told the update is mandatory or the app will stop working after June 20th.

Apparently the update was necessary to correct an oversight with the original version that was released about a month ago. Version 1.0 was released with a safety feature designed for beta tests that calls for the app to expire automatically within 30 days. Anyone running version 1.0 of Photosynth after June 20th will receive a "application expired" message and the app will shut down automatically. So, if you've been putting off the update to version 1.1 now is the time to update your copy of Photosynth.

If you haven't installed Photosynth to your Windows Phone, it's a free app that you can find here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Source: Photosynth Blog

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T-Mobile update for Lumia 710

A leaked internal T-Mobile memo shows that the carrier will begin pushing out the Windows Phone Refresh (Tango) update for the Nokia Lumia 710 in two short days. Windows Phone update 7.10.8773 will begin rolling out on June 20 and will continue in a staggered fashion through July 31.

Users will be notified over the air and through Zune that an update is available. The memo describes the following fixes and improvements:

  • Enables tethering hotspot
  • Resolved keyboard disappearing
  • Resolved unlock screen getting stuck
  • Improvements to uplink speed
  • Improvements to camera quality
  • Improvements to proximity sensor
  • Improvements to software stability

The memo itself also states that Microsoft is responsible for pushing the update and that T-Mobile has no control over who gets notified when. So even if you are feeling antsy and try to call them, T-Mobile customer service will not be able to help you out.

Source: T-Mobile; Thanks, Jacinta, for the tip!

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