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Gather The Harvest, the Xbox Live Deal of the Week

The Harvest

If you’re not interested in spending $4.99 for a multiplayer racer like Pac-Man Kart Rally this week, perhaps an action-RPG at the same price would be in order. The Harvest, from the recently-restructured South African developer Luma Arcade, is on sale for $4.99 (for the second time), down from $6.99.

The Harvest is an action-RPG set in a distant future in which aliens have conquered humanity. Thanks to the development of armored mech suits, the remaining pockets of humans finally have a chance to fight back. Our review praises the game’s beautiful 3D graphics, easy controls, multiple playable characters, and diversity of upgrade options.

The Harvest was one of the first quality Windows Phone-exclusive games. But many gamers passed over it or don’t know about it due to the lofty $6.99 price point. I would argue that a price drop is in order by now, but the sale price is fair enough for a game of this caliber.

The Harvest is on sale for $4.99 for one week only. Get it here on the Marketplace and start harvesting! Or stopping the aliens from harvesting, whatever.

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ESPN app

Although Nokia's ESPN app available in the Nokia Collection gets some mixed reviews partially because it relies on Internet Explorer for some advanced stats, overall fans seem to like the co-branded offering.

One feature that was missing however was a Live Tile for sports score updates and now that has been addressed with version 2.1. The new update came out in the last 24-hours and users seem to be quite happy so far with the ability to just glance-and-go with the app on their Start screen.

No other tweaks or fixes are known with version 2.1 but needless to say, if you follow sports, like ESPN and love your Lumia than you'll want to grab this app ASAP. Pick it up here in the Windows Phone Marketplace but only if you're on Nokia.

Read our review of the Nokia ESPN app here.

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HTC Sound Enhancer for Windows Phone

HTC has pushed out an update for their Windows Phone Sound Enhancer. While no change log is available to let us know what all the update accomplishes, it appears to improve the graphics lag.

The graphics lag appears when the SRS Enhancements are turned on in the Sound Enhancer and can be a little on the annoying side. The graphics lag wasn't present in every app, mainly the games that had greater graphics animations (e.g. Fruit Ninja, Line Birds, etc.).  We've never received official confirmation that the two are related but after applying the recent update, the lag doesn't appear to be present.

The Sound Enhancer has been updated several times and with each update, the graphics lag issue seems to get a little better. Maybe this update did the trick.

For those who have installed the update, see any changes?

Thanks, Yodani, for the tip!

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Skype gets an update for the app and network

Skype for Windows Phone

First the Windows Phone news on Skype. The app has been updated to version 1.1.0. It is our understanding the updated is mostly "under the hood" stuff to improve performance and fix some bugs. If you haven't seen the update being pushed out, as is the case in my area, hopefully you'll see it soon.

The other news on Skype is that it appears the Skype network has received a slight overhaul. Microsoft is replacing some peer to peer client machines with Linux boxes to provide a more stable and secure network. These supernodes will handle a significantly larger traffic load.

According to Microsoft the network improvements are a part of their ongoing commitment to improve the Skype user experience.

This has not changed the underlying nature of Skype’s peer-to-peer (P2P) architecture, in which supernodes simply allow users to find one another (calls do not pass through supernodes). We believe this approach has immediate performance, scalability and availability benefits for the hundreds of millions of users that make up the Skype community.

It's nice to see Microsoft invest in Skype's infrastructure. If you haven't downloaded Skype for your Windows Phone, it is a free app that you can grab here at the Marketplace.

Source: ARS Technica; Thanks to everyone who tipped us on this!

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Pac-Man Kart Rally now live in the Marketplace

Pac-Man Kart Rally for Windows Phone

We mentioned Pac-Man Kart Rally was heading to the Windows Phone Marketplace on May 2, 2012. Well... it arrived just a wee bit early.

The Windows Phone game from Namco Bandai went live just a little while ago and brings all the goodness of Wifi Multiplayer to your Windows Phone. Pac-Man Kart Rally is the first Xbox Live title with local Wifi multiplayer which allows two players to compete against each other in the same room using two phones connected to the same network and two copies of the game.

Pac-Man Kart Rally

Pac-Man Kart Rally includes ten characters, thirteen tracks, and plenty of power-ups and upgrades. There is a trial version available with the full version of Pac-Man Kart Rally running $4.99. You can find Pac-Man Kart Rally here at the Windows Phone Marketplace. Keep tabs on the site and we'll have a full review up as soon as we can get Paul off the race track.

Thanks, Zebrasqual, for the tip!

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Nokia Lumia 900 Dicota Hard Shell Case Winners!

Dicota Hard Shell Case

Over the past twenty four hours we received 144 comments from readers on how they carry their Nokia Lumia 900. There were plenty of case recommendations plus several who simply carries their Lumia 900 in a pants or shirt pocket.

The turn out was great and as promised, we randomly drew three commenters to win a Dicota Hard Shell Case for the Lumia 900. Our three lucky winners are ajithinnet, ousooner314 and ricanchuloinfla!

We've sent out email notifications to the winners and we'll be shipping the hard shell cases out shortly. Thanks again for the great turnout and some helpful recommendations on cases.

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Pac-Man Kart Rally title

When you play every single Xbox Live game that comes to Windows Phone, it’s easy to become jaded. I mean, how many physics puzzlers and Angry Birds clones do we really need? Still, today I write about a genuinely exciting game that I can’t wait to play: Pac-Man Kart Rally from Namco Bandai. It comes out this Wednesday; and WPCentral has some exclusive details to whet your appetite.

First, a little history. Pac-Man Kart Rally originally debuted on older mobile phone platforms in 2010, including Windows Mobile and Blackberry. The title drew inspiration from Pac-Man World Rally on Playstation 2-era consoles, but was not a direct adaptation. In late 2011, Pac-Man Kart Rally received a serious graphical upgrade when it made the trip to the Android platform, exclusively for Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play handset.

Head past the break for the full scoop on Pac-Man Kart Rally's characters, tracks, and multiplayer!

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UK based Windows Phone User Group presents WPBarCamp

WPBarCamp

The Windows Phone User Group, a meetup that's organised by platform developers for developers, is changing for the next calendar entry. On Saturday, May 19th, the WPUG will be held at the same premises as the previous event, but instead of starting in the evening and only lasting the best part of two hours, WPBarCamp will kick off at 9:30 in the morning for a beer-centric 6 hours.

So who's invited to such an event? Experienced Windows Phone developers - ie. those with either an app in development or available on the Marketplace. The main goal is for Windows Phone developers to learn from one another to improve quality with end results for consumers. WPBarCamp will be held at The Vibe Bar on Brick Lane with nearest stations being either Aldgate East (London Underground District and Hammersmith & City lines) or Shoreditch High Street (London Overground services).

You can register your interest (and seat) at the next Windows Phone User Group meetup at EventBrite. WPCentral will be there to cover the event, so if you're an attending developer be sure to say hello so we can look to help with app promotion and reach, as well as possible interviews and reviews. Our Jay Bennett will also be providing a presentation that will cover his previous experiences on the platform.

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Get Monster headphones free with a new Lumia 800

Clove has a monster of a deal for its UK customers. For the entire month of May, those who purchase a new Lumia 800 will get a free pair of Nokia Purity headphones, manufactured by audio powerhouse Monster. The headphones, which normally retail for £199, are designed to match the color of your Lumia, but surely you can opt to go two-tone if you desire.

To take advantage of this month-long deal, simply purchase a Nokia Lumia 800 from Clove, then follow the steps below:

  • Text ‘lumiamonster’ to 64446, receive text back: “congrats on Lumia purchase, wait 28 days, then visit www.lumiamonster.co.uk to redeem’
  • Visit www.lumiamonster.co.uk and enter IMEI number, receipt number, name, address, headphone color  preference and phone number.
  • The microsite ‘looks up’ original SMS from phone number to confirm 28 days has passed, if so, IMEI is validated (if not,you will be told to come back later)
  • Within 30 days, headphones are posted to you.

You can click the source link to view the offer or click here for the full set of terms and conditions.

UPDATE: This deal is not actually exclusive to Clove, but rather from several "authorized retailers."  We don't have a list of who those retailers are, so shout them out if you come across others.

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WP Central

Yesterday we posted a story from the Korea Herald that quoted an LG spokesperson saying that they were backing away from Windows Phone and putting their efforts towards Android instead. LG did say they would “continue research and development efforts” on Microsoft's OS but had no immediate plans for any new devices.

Today, LG has reached out to Pocket-lint to clarify the message and they're taking a strong position that the Herald, who literally quoted someone from LG was speculating:

"None of it is true. Korea Herald is showing its speculative side again. We are still on board with Windows Phone, but right now, we're focusing on Android because that's where the demand is. Regardless of which OS, LG is committed to offering consumers as wide a choice as possible."

Pocket-lint is reading that as a denial but call us crazy, we're not seeing to be that different from what we reported yesterday.

The tone of the article from yesterday made it clear that LG is certainly backing away from Windows Phone and the fact they have had no new Mango phones and nothing launched here in the US backs that up. In fact, when we were at Mobile World Congress we asked an LG spokesperson where were their Windows Phones and they said they had none, just Android (there was one but it was in Microsoft's booth).

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Seriously?

We get a lot of tips here at WPCentral, some amazing, some lame and some that confuse us as we actually don't know every silly app ever made (which is why we pay attention to you guys). So tonight when we got an email from a reader named Amiel stating "Talking Tom Cat finally made it to WP7" we were a little perplexed.

Fact is, we still are but yes, Talking Tom Cat is now on Windows Phone. What is Talking Tom Cat? It's one of those silly novelty apps that features a cartoon cat that you can pet, poke, prod and harass. Oh and he repeats everything you say back to him. In a funny voice.

With 150,000 ratings in the iTunes store and nearly 400,000 ratings on Android (seriously?) there is something about Tom that people just love. Or maybe it's the kids.

Either way, the app is now available on the Windows Phone Marketplace for the low, low price of $0. It's not our thing but hey, we're not here to judge so if you want it, you can pick it up here. Combined with the official Cleverbot app we guess Windows Phone is winning? Thanks, Amiel, for the tip!

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WP Central

Ben Rudolph has taken a break from the Smoked by Windows Phone marketing campaign and kicked off a humorous Twitter competition that had users sending in entries to win a Lumia 900. To be in with a chance of winning, an ingenious caption had to be created for the above photo. Should the entry be original and witty then Rudolph would take it into account. Today, the winner was announced on the official team blog.

So what was the winning tweet / caption? See below:

"It took a heck of a lot of scrubbing, but I finally got all the cyan out."

Yep. We approve. That is a pretty good caption. Congratulations to @dnanian for the submission and winning a Lumia 900. Check out the #captionthalumia hashtag for more caption entries. Some good news that followed this contest is Rudolph stated that he'd like to do something similar in the future. Perhaps we'll see some more spontaneous marketing from the team to compliment the smoked campaign?

Source: Windows Phone Team Blog

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Microsoft moving to maintain Marketplace quality

We all want to see quality apps and games in the Windows Phone Marketplace.  With that in mind Microsoft is working to beef up the enforcement of existing policies to keep the "quality bar" high with the Marketplace.  While policy compliance will be expected across the board, Microsoft notes four areas where the concern is slightly higher.

Trademarks: While trademark complaint investigations find that the violation is unintentional, most can be avoided. Microsoft reminds developers to do their due diligence in researching any potential trademark issues. Resource suggestions from Microsoft include the Marketplace's content policy and the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office.

Bulk Publishing: We've seen plenty of bulk publishing where developers submit hundreds of similar apps with slightly different titles. While Microsoft has reduced the number of titles a developer can submit per day, they are still seeing violations.

Developers are submitting the same app to multiple Marketplace categories (a policy violation). Microsoft's position, if a developer submits the same app to multiple categories, the app will be pulled from the Marketplace.

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WP Central

Windows Phone Hacker has published an announcement on the blog detailing the version 1.0 release of Folders for Windows Phone, a homebrew app that enables users to create folders for apps, and more. We previously looked at the app while it was in development, starting off as a concept that took off with community interest.

Some notable changes in version 1.0:

  • Bug fixes / UI changes
  • One application for all - enable root privileges for application selection, otherwise Marketplace searching will be used
  • Added tilt effect in folders
  • Pin folders to your start menu (root only - experimental)

Check out the video below for a quick introduction. You can download Folder for Windows Phone from the Windows Phone Hacker website.

Source: Windows Phone Hacker

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Windows Phone Summary of the Week: April 23 - 29 2012

WP Central

It's Sunday, which means it's time for the WPCentral Windows Phone summary of the week. In this weekly recap we cover the news that matters most to you and combine all the headlines into one digestible article. But before we head into the summary itself, we've got a few WPCentral related headlines to advertise. First up is our Windows Phone community. The forums is a superb place to meet other owners and join in the latest hot topics.

After purchasing your shiny new Windows Phone; what apps are worth downloading for photo editing and whatnot? Our George Ponder takes a look at the top photography apps for your handset. Episode 144 of the WPCentral Podcast has gone live, which has our Daniel Rubino, Jay Bennett, and Rafael Rivera discussing stormtroopers and the cloud. Enough of us, head on past the break for the full summary.

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Nokia Lumia 900 Dicota case giveaway

Dicota Hard Shell Case

We've got three Dicota Hard Shell cases for the Nokia Lumia 900 sitting around collecting dust and felt it was time for a giveaway contest.

Keeping things simple, if you are using a Lumia 900 and have a case to recommend, sound off in the comments. Be it a belt case, shell case, one of those bumper cases that Nokia is offering or if you prefer pocket carry, let us know that as well.

We'll give it twenty four hours (May 1, 2012 at 9:00am CST) and then randomly pick three comments as winners to receive the Dicota hard shell case. You'll need to be registered to be eligible to win and that easy process can be found here and there are no residency restrictions.

Good luck everyone!

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Comments are closed

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From the Forums: New applications this week

WP Central

We are taking a look at some of this week’s new applications posted in our Applications Spotlight forum. What are these spotlight forums? They are our forums area we dedicated to developers. It’s a place for developers to pimp their new apps.

Gym PocketGuide - 70+ workouts all with HQ guides from Bodybuilding.com - This is what Dominic_W has to say about his app:

“Hey everyone, I recently found a passion for making WP7 apps so I thought why not combine it with my other interest, going to the gym. I wanted to make a quality app for fellow users so I contacted Bodybuilding.com to seek permission to use their high quality workout images (which I received).”

This is a nice app. It includes Programs for different body types, workouts for target areas and even includes stretches to help you get warmed up. You’re going to be listening to Zune music while you work out, right, so why not have an app on your phone to help you with your training?

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AT&T HTC Titan II on backorder from Amazon Wireless

WP Central

Despite being the phone of choice for a few of us here at WPCentral, the HTC Titan II on AT&T with 4G LTE, a 4.7" screen and 16MP camera has not been the hottest selling phone. Due in part HTC all but ignoring it (from a marketing standpoint) and it largely being overshadowed by the "hero" Nokia Lumia 900, the Titan II may go down in history as the least appreciated Windows Phone.

So it's a bit surprising to see it backordered on Amazon Wireless with a 8 to 9 day wait on the phone where it is selling for $150 on a two year contract, $50 less tha direct from AT&T.

Perhaps sales are better than expected? Probably not. The phone is sitting at #76 for top selling across all carriers and #23 on AT&T indicating that the device is not exactly pushing massive inventory.

WP Central

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Barnes & Microsoft

This morning, Microsoft announced a new partnership with Barnes & Noble for their eReader business having settled the previous litigation on claimed patent infringement.

The new subsidiary of Barnes & Noble called Newco (not the real name, just a placeholder to be determined later) will focus on the digital and college business of the company. Microsoft is investing $300 million into the venture and will maintain a 17.6% equity stake in the new company.

Of course it should come as no surprise that a NOOK eReader will be one of the first priorities of the nw partnership with a client for Windows 8 in the works. Barnes & Noble commented on the newly announced deal noting:

“The formation of Newco and our relationship with Microsoft are important parts of our strategy to capitalize on the rapid growth of the NOOK business, and to solidify our position as a leader in the exploding market for digital content in the consumer and education segments,” said William Lynch, CEO of Barnes & Noble. “Microsoft’s investment in Newco, and our exciting collaboration to bring world-class digital reading technologies and content to the Windows platform and its hundreds of millions of users, will allow us to significantly expand the business.”

Although lots of pundits like to criticize Microsoft for "patent trolling" others would claim that the company is looking out for their shareholder's interest by defending what they see as their intellectual property. Despite this, some saw in B&N as standing up to Microsoft, fighting them publicly in the matter. Instead, B&N made a deal with the devil perhaps even angering Google along the way (Android powers the new Nook eReader).

Either way, Microsoft's strategy seems to be paying off for although B&N does not have to admit any guilt for the claimed violations, they clearly were forced to the table for what looks to be an exciting deal for both companies. In fact, this could be the lifeline the fading book retailer needs in its life and death struggle with adversary Amazon.com.

No mention of a Windows Phone client has been announced which has been missing since Windows Mobile and the HTC HD2. However, rumors suggest that Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are based on the same kernel and have large amounts of overlapping code. As a result the announcement of a Windows 8 client may in fact be a dual one for Windows Phone.

Regardless, you can imagine B&N will be getting some favorable treatment from Microsoft in the future. Something that Apple and Google will have trouble in matching. For this, we' very excited by this deal (even if we're Kindle fans here).

Full press release after the break...

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LG e740

This morning LG Electronics reported to the Korea Herald that they have no immediate plans to introduce new Windows Phone to the market. Instead LG are focusing on Android for their future smartphone releases noting that "The total unit of Windows Phone sold in the global market is not a meaningful figure."

The company claimed that the partnership between it and Microsoft remains good but the plan to focus on Windows Phone, announced in 2009, has not worked out for them financially. LG ended up losing money for seven straight quarters and only recently turned a profit. As a result they lost a lot of market share, especially with HTC and Samsung having a winning portfolio of Android devices.

Regarding Windows Phone specifically, a spokesperson for the company told the Herald that they will “continue research and development efforts” on Microsoft's mobile OS.

This news comes on the heels of an announcement of Steve Ballmer headed to Seoul Digital Forum on May 22 where he will be meeting with various business and developers. Though LG claims to not know his business schedule the implication is that Ballmer may meet with LGE for some damage control regarding their recent smartphone decision.

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If you have a few minutes you can watch the video above of reader Oli Gill bravely modifying his Nokia Lumia 800 to enable wireless charging ala Palm/HP and their Touchstone charger.

There is no doubt that any of us, especially with the more high-end Lumia 900 would love to have this feature in our Nokia Windows Phone. In fact, we wonder if and when Nokia will take the big plunge and be the first Windows Phone OEM to do this officially. After all, if there was one hardware company that could do this on a wide scale it'd be Nokia (though HTC and Samsung are fully capable too).

We're not going to lie though, this mod is quite advanced and we're pretty sure we won't have the time or skills to do this. But we also know a lot of our audience is highly educated and love to do things like this, so for you folks, here you go!

Oh and Oli, if you ever want to start a small side business, we're sure many of us would gladly send you our Lumias to have this warranty-voiding hack. Anyone else?

Thanks, Oli, for the tip and video

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Zune Desktop

Microsoft removed the ability to browse or purchase new apps for Windows Phone in the Zune Desktop app last week causing a stir amongst users. While Windows Phone users can still get podcasts, videos and music, the only apps available are for Zune HD users (who have no other method to get apps). Instead, users are instructed to use the Web Marketplace or the store on their phone, which is how most users are doing it anyway.

We reported on an interesting hack the other day to bring back the Marketplace but it was a bit convoluted requiring a server intercept of a config file.

Today though, reader Thomas W. sent us a simple registry trick on your PC that can instantly bring back the Marketplace. All it requires is adding a new Key with a new DWORD and you'll be good to go. If you have a registry editor on your PC, simply do this:

Registry

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Developer Interview

This week in our Windows Phone developer interview series we're joined by David Hamilton, CTO and Co-Founder of Pepper. We took a quick look at Pepper from a recent Windows Phone User Group meet-up and were intrigued by both the idea behind the app and the vision for future cross-platform development.

So what's the deal with Pepper and how did it come to be? We threw Hamilton a set of questions for an insight into not only app-specific development, but how the team views Windows Phone against competitors. Head on past the break for the full interview.

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Nokia Lumia 900 listed at Amazon UK

While the Nokia Lumia 900's release in the U.K. has been slightly delayed, we're seeing signs that the May 14th date is holding firm. The black Lumia 900 has popped up on Amazon.co.uk for pre-order. The Windows Phone is being offered Sim-free for £479.99 (about $780 USD). The cyan or white models of the Lumia 900 are not listed.

The shipping information notes that the Lumia 900 is due to be released on May 14, 2012.  We're not sure if the phones will ship on the 14th but delivery in the U.K. is free with Amazon's Super Saver Delivery. 

Lumia 900 at Amazon UK

Amazon U.K. joins Clove in offering the Nokia Lumia 900 for pre-orders. Clove's pre-order price for the unlocked Windows Phone is a little more attractive at £458.40 (about $745 USD) which is down from the original price of £486. Clove is still indicating the first stock of the Lumia 900's is expected on May 16, 2012.

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