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Retro

We always like to spice things up around here with some kitsch and rock it like it was the early 80's (we are that old after all). So it's with pleasure to find these wallpapers created by Go Windows Go for your Windows Phone lock screen.

Retro

You get three colors to choose from: black, white and navy blue, which should suit most of your needs. If they sound like something you'd like, head over to Go Windows Go to grab 'em.

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Hey DJ

We covered the app Speak to Play at the end of January as being one of the first voice-controlled music apps for Windows Phone. In short, you tap the button, tell it to play <artist>, <song>, <playlist> or <genre> and the app will start up whatever matches in your music collection.

From our opinion, the app worked quite flawlessly but we lamented that you still had to find the app, launch it then hit the microphone button--a few too many steps in our mind. Luckily, the app has under-gone a little makeover since we last reported on it and it has the following new features:

Hey DJ

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Sydney's giant Lumia 800

Speaking of Australia, it shouldn't be a surprise that Nokia has ramped up advertising what with the Lumia 800 launching there this week (see WPDownUnder's coverage of the launch).

Now we're seeing some of that creativity pay off with a few "giant" interactive Lumia 800s on bus stops throughout the city. It's a great way to show off the UI by simply going, touching and interacting with it right there on the street.

If you want to see it yourself, according the Nokia Australia Facebook page, you can find them in Sydney at these locations:

  • Martin Place
  • Pitt St.
  • Darling Harbour
  • Haymarket
  • Circular Quay

Hopefully this will gain some attention for the fledgling device.

Source: Nokia AU Facebook; Thanks, Doktor G, for the tip

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HTC TITAN II destined for Telstra in early April

TITAN II

Though we still don't have a confirmed release date here on AT&T for the HTC TITAN II with its 16MP camera (rumored: March 18th) and we haven't heard officially that it's going overseas, WPDownunder reported last week that Australia will be grabbing the device very soon.

Now however, we have a time-frame for release: Telstra will begin advertising the device on March 27th with an anticipated release date during the first two weeks of April. That's even ahead of the Lumia 900 (unlocked) which is expected to ship at the end of April (no word yet on a carrier release, though mid-year has been talked about).

It will be certainly interesting to see if Australia does indeed get the TITAN II this early. We reported yesterday that the first TITAN had been removed from some UK online stores, perhaps in anticipation of the TITAN II's launch--things do seem to moving in that direction.

Source: WPDownUnder

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Symbio created a 12x12 Windows Phone formed display, totaling 144 devices, at the TechDays 2012 event in Helsinki, Finland. The display is able to take input from a single Windows Phone for control and relay content beamed from a web server (over WiFi). The result is pretty spectacular and is also a world record. 

Impressive stuff. What do you guys make of this? 144 phones would be a fairly expensive investment (in cost and power), so we'd still recommend a decent 50" TV instead.

Source: YouTube, via: WMPU, thanks to everyone who tipped us!

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The Nokia Lab at SXSW [Pics]

Nokia Lab SXSW

Nokia has uploaded a number of photos from the Nokia Lab at SXSW (South by Southwest), showing devices, coloured test tubes, live music, presentations and general enjoyment. There were some photos in the album of particular interest, including a "SmokedbyWindowsPhone" type promotion. "Are you the fastest draw at SXSW?" provided guests with the opportunity to try and best the Lumia 900 at snapping a photo.

The manufacturer gave Windows Phone developers the opportunity to have their app showcased on Lumia demo units in the Lab for more exposure. Check out some more shots after the break, as well as the rest of the slideshow at Nokia's Flickr album.

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Low cost Lumia 610 headed to India for Rs 11,000

Lumia 610 coming to India

According to a MWC12 announcement made by Nokia India’s marketing director, Viral Oza, Nokia "will be launching Lumia 610 soon in the Indian market and at an affordable price.” It turns out that the price for the affordable Tango-equipped handset will be Rs 11,000 (about $220), which is almost a third cheaper than its current Windows Phone brethren, the Samsung Omnia W and Nokia Lumia 710 and about half as much as most Android phones.  Though the Lumia 610 will be running Tango, a less feature-rich version of Windows Phone, it is still nothing to sneeze at, sporting a 3.7-inch screen, 8GB memory, and a 5 megapixel camera.

India has historically been a huge market for Nokia, so it makes a whole lot of sense for them to offer a sensibly-priced Windows Phone option in order to hold on to that.  Of course, it's just one front in the battle for Nokia to regain its one-time dominance, since lost to competitors like Samsung.

Source: MobileIndian.com; Via: WMPUTechin5; Thanks for the tip, jubbing!

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Weatherbug

It's been awhile since we've seen WeatherBug get an update, let alone a significant one. So it's nice to see version 2.0 finally (finally!) land in the Marketplace with some advanced Live Tile and Mango support. The full change log is as follows:

  • Live Tiles - New standard live tile and Live Cam views.  We've also added detailed one-day forecast and two-day summary forecast secondary tile options.
  • Visual Forecasts - Easy-to-read, at-a-glance displays of essential weather information you need quickly and easily.
  • Bad Weather Warnings & Alerts - Receive dangerous weather alerts faster from both the National Weather Service and our exclusive WeatherBug Network
  • Live Cams - Scroll through and view live shots from HD cameras in the WeatherBug Network

New tiles

Of course the new stability (and hopefully reliable background updates) should be the real story here, but those new Live Tile options are quite nice as well. This app falls nicely after the Microsoft Weather app in that it offers many more functions but has ads for support. The app seems zippy enough and we really like the layout (though we'd gladly pay $0.99 to remove those garish ads).

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UC Browser for Windows Phone

UC Browser is an alternative to Internet Explorer on Windows Phone, one of the first of its kind. It's been around for some time (it was on Windows Mobile) but only supported Chinese for the Windows Phone build which under went beta testing a few months ago. The browser was recently updated and now has language support for English.

UC Browser is a well designed web browser and pages loaded with a little zip. There's still some work to be done to complete the transition to English and a few features we've yet to discover. But all in all, if you're looking for a change of pace from IE9, UC Browser is worth a try.

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Ronny Gydar and Gydar Industries, the developer behind the fantastic Windows Phone Game Trine's Hangman, is working on a new Windows Phone project. Nope, the new app isn't another word puzzle game but a contacts search engine for your Windows Phone.  What started out as a project to help his mom with her Windows Phone has become People Search (Finn Folk for those in Norway).

People Search Beta for Windows Phone

People Search is designed to make the process of searching for contacts and contacting them with your Windows Phone a little easier.  People Search indexes all your contacts by user selected fields (name, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.) and as you dial the number, name, email, etc. a list of contacts is generated above the dial pad.  People Search reminds me of the old Windows Mobile type that would pull up a list of contacts as you began to dial out the number.

As you see the contacts and tap on the contact of choice, you will see options to call, text, email, and other options depending on how much information you have on that particular contact.  People Search looks like it could be a useful app but Gydar Industries needs your help to iron out all the kinks.

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It's been awhile since we looked at iHeartRadio, the popular radio app available across devices and for the web. It was in October that the app went to v3.0 and received Mango support and a few days ago, version 4.1 hit the Marketplace bringing a nice make over with some bonus features on board.

Gone is the grey photo background and instead we have just pure black with red text. The UI now is much more minimalist and Metro, giving the app a fresh new bold look which we really like.

iHeartRadio

But the biggest feature is the addition of "custom radio" which is very similar to Pandora. You choose a station to create based on a song, artist or genre and iHeartRadio will select tunes based off of that criteria. You can then thumbs up/down songs and from that, refine your musical selection. Likewise you can still pull down lyrics, pin the station to your start screen and purchase/download tracks from the Zune Marketplace.

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Smoked

Microsoft has pushed out yet another update for their Insider app--the app that gives you free Bing wallpapers, ringtones, tips and more from the Windows Phone Team.

What's unique about this update though (and smart) is the inclusion of the Smoked by Windows Phone logo/wallpaper which you can then use for your Lock screen. Pretty cool idea, although if we could offer some criticism: the text on the wallpaper overlaps with the Lock screen info, making it perhaps not the smartest decision for reading visibility.

Smoked

A smaller, notable change is also the new Bing logo in the wallpaper info-bar area. Don't worry, it doesn't save like that.

The Insider app is updated about once a month to include new ringtones and wallpaper and seeing as its free, we see no reason to not have this on your phone (we really like 'Aphex' for our ringtone). Pick it up here in the Marketplace. Thanks, @WobblyChair, for the tip!

QR: Insider

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easyRing&Music for Windows Phone

A while back we took a look at the Windows Phone app easyRing. easyRing is an app that allows you to download custom ringtones to your Windows Phone. It was a nice, simply app at the time but has since been updated and given a name change. easyRing is now easyRing&Music, adding the capability to play/download music, as well as creating custom ringtones, to the Windows Phone app.

The update not only changes the name but also gives the app an entirely new look and some rather nice features. You now have pages for Hot Music picks and Active Music Groups to help you build/listen to playlists.

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Summary of the Week

It's Sunday, so what time is it? It's time for the Windows Phone Summary of the Week! This is where we bring you all you a digestible list of everything you need to know from the past week, should you have been lost or absent. Kicking us off, as always, are WPCentral announcements. 

We've selected selected our winner (and runner-up) for the WPCentral Nokia 710 Photo Contest! Our Dave is back with the forum roundup for the recently held Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, as well as a number of top threads that contain hot discussion. That's all on the website front, let's head on into the summary. 

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WP Central

We've received reports from some readers that the recent update to Ask Ziggy version 2.0, the Siri-like SkyNet-type app for Windows Phone, has left the app unusable. The recent update addressed some issues and fixed some bugs, but it seems that users may experience problems when launching the app after updating.

Like many apps that experience issues when launching with crashes or errors, a simple way to fix the problem (especially if it's after an update has been installed) is to re-install the troubled app. We advise Windows Phone users to troubleshoot before reporting issues to prevent frustration. This should fix Ask Ziggy too.

Thanks to everyone who sent in troubled reports.

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WP Central

Ubisoft, who already have the Your Shape: Fitness Evolved companion app for Windows Phone, is set to introduce a free Just Dance companion app to the platform - Autodance. According to the description published on Monwindowsphone, the app will enable users to record dance routines performed by friends and family, synchronise saved performances with Just Dance 3, and upload the results to YouTube and share on Facebook.

Just Dance 3

Description of upcoming Autodance (translation):

"Save your friends doing the movements and synchronise Autodance to make real choreography. Then, like magic, your friends will move their bodies to a memorable music video. Share the talents of these new stars on Facebook, or publish them on Youtube so that they receive the glory they deserve. No need to be gifted to play Just Dance, simply use Autodance."

As mentioned above, Autodance is expected to be available (for free) on the Marketplace soon. We'll have a video up with more information shortly, so stay tuned. For now, see an example dance video after the break.

Via: Monwindowsphone (translation)

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Updated Microsoft Weather app optimized for Tango

WP Central

In a small post on his MSDN blog, Microsoft's Mike Battista let us know about the recently updated Weather app which hit version 2.0 yesterday. Your response to it has been overwhelmingly supportive of the new version with many giving it high praise.

What's interesting though is how the app was redesigned from "the ground up" to take advantage of the new Tango guidelines:

"In addition to having new features, this version was architected from the ground up for performance following many of the guidelines I call out in my recent blog post Optimizing Apps for Lower Cost Devices.

I encourage you to follow the same performance/UX principles demonstrated by this new Weather update.  Following these principles will ensure your apps perform great regardless of the device."

Lead by example. Granted the app is hardly pulling a lot of info but it's still very fast. And it's nice to know that those on Tango will get the same experience. So devs, heed Mike's advice and take a second look at your app and performance using those guidelines. For those curious, here is a listing of Tango limiations

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Logo

Whether or not Sony Mobile Communications (previously Sony-Ericsson) will commit to a Windows Phone has been a back and forth for some time now. They dipped their toe into the ecosystem back on 2010 with the "Julie" prototype which was then canceled and since then, have been open but not committed to the platform.

A recent rumor suggested that they would make a device but not till late 2012 i.e. when Windows Phone 8 "Apollo" hits--a reasonable decision in our mind. However, Phone Arena, in a meeting with Sony Mobile Communications during Mobile World Congress, managed to get a little more info from the company and it doesn't sound too positive on the prospects.

While Sony are still "open" to the idea evidently they're not too keen on it either. If you wonder "why not" Sony's answer is "Because no one really cares about WP".

Harsh words from a company struggling to turn a profit in 2011 and 2012 (they're down 20% in shipments from a year ago and lost 247m Euros, according to the BBC). While they will still push forward with Android, the prospects for a Windows Phone from them still seems slim, at least for the near future.

Of course in a mobile world dominated by Samsung, HTC, Nokia and Apple, one has to ask: Does anyone care about Sony anymore?

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HTC TITAN quietly removed from online UK retailers

WP Central

It would appear as though some UK retailers and carriers are silently ditching the HTC TITAN (our review) Windows Phone from their online properties. Retail chains include The Carphone Warehouse and Phones4U, as well as O2, Vodafone, T-Mobile and Orange. Searching the websites for the handset yield no results. We've reached out for possible confirmation of / reasons behind the sudden removal.

Could the TITAN not be selling well enough, or will we be seeing a compatible TITAN II hitting the UK shores? Should you be interested in the TITAN I, you can still pick one up from Amazon UK (eXpansys), Clove UK and BuyMobilePhones to name but a few.

Thanks Sam for the tip!

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From the Forums (Windows Phone Meet Ups forum is live)

WP Central

Do you have a Windows Phone? Do you like to share your experiences with others? What better way than to sponsor a "Meet Up" in your area? Plan your event, then when you have the details post your Meet Up in our Forums so others can join in on the fun. Come join us in our Windows Phone Meet Ups area and post your event. We would love to see you there.

Remember, the forums are more fun when you register, so sign up today.

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WP Central

We all find it humorous when carriers and retailers get things wrong, especially when it comes to Windows Phone. From mistaking specifications, to calling the platform "Windows Mobile" - it's all fun and games. Cue Future Shop, a Canadian chain of electronics stores.

As you can see in the above photos, Future Shop have got their minds muddled with the Lumia family of Nokia Windows Phones. The Lumia 800 is now the 710. Either that or Canada is getting a slightly confused selection of handsets. We still wonder just how it's possible for marketing / promotion material teams to get this so wrong.

Thanks Lucas for sending in the photo! 

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Nokia's "Little Ideas" marketing campaign is taking them around South Africa with the same approach as "The Amazing Everyday" in other pats of the world. We've already had the manufacturer hand out free coffee as well as other promotion efforts in Cape Town. In Episode 4, we have a flashmob heading to an intersection in Joburg to showcase an interesting performance.

It's good to see the "Little Ideas" series rolling on, especially in South Africa where promotion is steadily becoming increasingly noticeable. Episode 3 of "Little Ideas", which sees Nokia providing complimentary carwashes, is located below.

Source: YouTube, via: MyNokiaBlog

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GroupMe

Here's one that will cause some confusion: there are now two GroupMe apps in the Marketplace. The first one is v3.0 which reported on back during Mobile World Congress. That's the version 3.0 overhaul that we really like as it includes a Live Tile, notifications and a complete UI redesign.

But it also had a few bugs and quirks as many of you had pointed out. Luckily, version 3.1 is now out and it reportedly fixes a lot of those issues. Problem is, you won't see the update notification for the Marketplace.

Two GroupMes?

The reason? There is a second, newer GroupMe app in the Marketplace but it's listed under Microsoft Corporation. For those keeping track, Skype bought GroupMe in 2011. Microsoft bought Skype, so by the transitive property, Microsoft owns GroupMe. And we guess they are now claiming it as their own, re-releasing the official app under their account (in fairness, there's no other way for them to get around this issue, so two it is).

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Lumia 900

For our friends Down Under, you may want to head to Mobicity's website and take a long hard gander at their new Nokia Lumia 900 preorder page. You can now slap your cold, hard-earned $799 down for your choice of black, white or cyan Lumia 900, fully unlocked. Ka-ching!

What's more, they have a date of "late April" as when to expect your device which puts you right about where AT&T is going to be offering the flagship Nokia phone to US customers.  Guess that rumored 45-day exclusive for us is out the window.

This Lumia 900 has some nice network support too so it should work in most places: GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, 3G 850 (NextG/Vodafone 850/US3G), 3G 1900, 3G 2100.

Source: Mobicity; Thanks, Doktor G., for the heads up

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