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Good old Jaxbot from Windows Phone Hacker has managed to get his hands on a pre-release version of the Windows Phone "Tango" emulator (build 8731, which is earlier than the shipping 8757).

In addition, he's gone an unlocked the whole thing making it available for others to download and use. But for those of us who don't want to bother they can just watch the above video walkthrough demonstrating the few changes that are present in "Tango" (most of the changes are under the hood). Things like voice-notes in MMS or the location-icon detailed earlier though are nice little changes.

All in all, not too much to get excited about but if you want the emulator, head to Windows Phone Hacker for more info and the download links.

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It’s Official: Windows Phone Users Hate Macs

WP Central

Two weeks back Mobile Nations ran a survey asking all of you to tell us a few things about your computing and mobile device ownership and buying plans.  I’ve been digging into the data which is especially pertinent given today's iPad announcement.

Admittedly, those of us who fill out these surveys in the first 48 hours are often the most enthusiastic tech people of the bunch.  So we can’t go too crazy drawing conclusions.  But still, the data is interesting.

We had just over 1100 Windows Phone users fill out the survey.  The percentage of those people who use a Mac versus a PC is quite small, at only 5.1%

Across the entire survey population (over 7500 results), Mac has 17.7% market share. Without doing the math, this sure looks like a statistically significant result to me.

This may not be too shocking of a result to many of you, but I think we can safely say that Windows Phone users dislike Macs more than the average person.  A lot more.

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WP Central

Nokia has finally finished up a ROM and firmware update for the Lumia 710 for India and Singapore (we also see one for Brazil's TIM network on their servers). This next update will finally bring the Windows Phone 8107 OS update which address the disappearing keyboard issue as well as security flaws. In addition, the firmware will fix the end-call bug and bring the ever vague ""minor performance and usability improvements".

Unfortunately, this update is dependent on "market requests" meaning we don't know who else will get this, though T-Mobile would seem to be a likely candidate (they did push out 8107 for the HTC Radar recently and the Lumia 710 is still rocking the old 7740 OS). We'll keep an ear out for any rumblings.

Likewise, the Lumia 800 is currently getting the 12070 firmware update which we detailed the other day. That too has an official changelog which is similar to what we reported. That update also is dependent upon "market request" so we'll just have to wait and see who gets it:

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We're just going to come out and say it: Zero, the new to-do list app from tomzorz labs, borrows heavily in inspiration from an iPhone app called Clear (see the iMore review). What makes that funny is Clear is understood as borrowing heavily from Microsoft's Metro UI design language meaning we're finally coming full circle with Clear Zero coming back to Windows Phone.

The to-do list/task manager app is very minimalist in design with zero chrome, ahem. It is primarily gesture based forgoing the traditional bottom-bar method found in most Windows Phone apps--in that sense, it actually deviates against Metro UI but only because it's going more minimalist instead of less. Gestures are simple and universal: up/down to create, left to delete, right to check off, pinch in to go back, pinch out to re-order lists. Because of the gestures, you'll need to tap through a brief (but well done) tutorial at first but you'll lean the system quick enough.

Zero

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Google Search app redesigned for Windows Phone

WP Central

Google has just published a new post on the official mobile blog detailing a redesigned Google Search app that is available on the Marketplace, which sports the following features:

  • Google Autocomplete: As you type in your search, our autocomplete feature offers search predictions that often match your intended search term making search entry easier and faster.
  • Voice Search: With our voice feature, you can avoid typing all together. Simply press the microphone and begin speaking your query.
  • My Location: With your permission, Google can use your device location to provide nearby results easily and accurately. For instance, a search for “coffee shops” quickly displays the nearest places you can go to for a cup of coffee.

This is available in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German. Although it appears the app is only available in the U.S. You can download the Google Search app from the Marketplace.

Source: Google

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Some Pig

Last weeks’ three-peat sale might have left a bad taste in bargain hunters’ mouths, but this week’s special should wash that right out. Yes, Farm Frenzy 2 is now the Xbox Live Deal of the Week - for the first time. It’s currently $1.99, down from $2.99.

Farm Frenzy 2 is a light farm sim that plays a bit like a time management game. Keeping your animals alive, harvesting the goods they produce, battling off wild bears (the game was developed in Russia where I guess they have lots of bears?), selling goods at town, and having other supplies flown in… It’s all a day in the life of a farmer.

Farm Frenzy 2

This here farmin’ game’s levels are nice and short, but shucks, finishing them quickly enough to earn the Gold medal can sure be a challenge. You might want to use this guide. Think of it as a Farmer’s Almanac!

Farm Frenzy 2 is on sale for $1.99 for one week only. Just watch out for bears on your way to the Marketplace.

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Nokia Lumia 710 scores high on customer satisfaction

Nokia scores high on customer delight

It shouldn't come as a big surprise but owners of the Nokia Lumia 710 are delighted with their Windows Phone. If there was doubt, we now have a customer survey to prove it.

Argus Insights, a leader in product innovation analytics, has released the results of a customer satisfaction survey that places satisfaction and delight with the Nokia Lumia 710 ahead of the iPhone 4S, Motorola Droid RAZR 4G and competitive with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Argus believes that the lower priced Lumia 710 pushed consumers who were waiting for a lower priced smartphone off the fence.

The survey results took into consideration responses on such issues as connectivity, quality/reliability, usability, display, speed/performance and functionality.  All of which reflected overwhelming positive comments on the 710.  

It would appear that consumers, based on Argus's findings, see the Lumia 710 as giving them the biggest bang for their buck.

Source: Argus Insights; Thanks, damthman, for the tip!

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Three UK Plans

Three UK has announced plans to remove all 'out-of-bundle' data charges that may occur when customers go over contract data limits and to introduce new tariff families. The carrier will now cut off the Internet for customers should they hit the limit, as well as send warnings prior to inform of heavy usage. New customers (and those who wish to upgrade) will be able to take out a plan from one of the new tariff families (see above image for more details on each plan) - Ultimate Internet Plans and Essential Internet Plans.

Both new tariff families will replace all available plans sold by the carrier, excluding The One Plan and SIM only packages. The Essential Internet Plans will suit light usage smartphone owners, whereas the Ultimate Internet Plans (as well as The One Plan) will sport an all-you-can-eat data allowance.

This move is welcomed to further simplify contract browsing and provide consumers with more scope to accommodate the increase in Internet usage while on the go. Three UK has been officially awarded "UK's Fastest Growing 3G Network", and with the recent alterations and improvements made by the company, it's easy to see why.

Find the press release below.

Source: Three UK, via: Androiduknewsetc

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WP Central

Microsoft has updated the how-to section of the official Windows Phone website to include a small tip regarding when location based services are currently active. A small indicator (see above image) will be included in a future update, which be displayed with the other disappearing status indicators that will alert the user as to when apps are using the phone's location.

Microsoft informed The Verge that the update will be included with handsets shipping with Windows Phone "Tango" with existing devices receiving the update once the company has finalised the update with carriers.

"After the new devices are out, we’ll start the process of working with mobile operators to bring an update to current customers. It’ll be a few months before we have specifics on that roll out,

Just how long existing consumers will have to wait for the update hasn't been specified, but it's a positive move to fight privacy concerns. We could well see the update including this location indicator being bundled with the new features in "Tango" for Mango users.

Source: Microsoft, via: The Verge@WPUG

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Metro Studio 1: Thousands of Metro icons, FREE [Developers]

Metro Studio 1

  

Every so often we cover tools that help out developers, but this is in another league. A company called SyncFusion has created a product called Metro Studio 1 which looks to be invaluable to developers and designers alike. The company traditionally develops .NET components for ASP.NET, WPF, WinForms, Silverlight, WP7 and others.

Metro Studio 1 comes with 600 unique metro icons that can then be customized through the interface. You can change the size, padding, background shape, and colors of any icon. Plus, the XAML source is provided for the icons, or you can save the PNG. Every icon is vector based (hence why the XAML source is available), so exporting at any size is possible.

Best of all, the studio is totally free, and every icon is royalty-free and can be used in commercial projects.


  

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Ask Ziggy

We showed you the latest version of Ask Ziggy, the Siri-like app knowledge app, last week and we told you it'll be here soon. Sure enough, the app has now been updated in the Marketplace, bringing all that new re-designed goodness free to your phone.

As we remarked and showed in our video, Ask Ziggy v2.0 brings a new Metro look, geolocation localization to answer questions about whereabouts, weather, time and searches. It's also a bit smarter, allowing the developer to update certain features from the backend.

Ask Ziggy

So how much attention is Ask Ziggy getting? A lot. Our first video has 166K views, Microsoft has taken an interest in it. And now we have word that that Nokia has personally invited Ask Ziggy to give a special demo of their voice recognition technology at its 3-domed “Nokia Lab” at the SXSW (South by Southwest) Festival on March 12th. What's more they've doubled their staff from one to two people, which is quite impressive when you think about what they're up against.

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Smoked by Windows Phone coming to Singapore

Smoked

No word in what form, where or how but the Smoked by Windows Phone campaign is coming to Singapore "soon...very soon". So says the official Microsoft Singapore Facebook page.

SMoked

The Smoked by Windows Phone campaign started off in CES, moved to some stores in California and most recently appeared at the Mobile World Congress. In addition, Microsoft said they would expand the campaign to include TV and presumably other areas and this looks to be the case here.

It should be interesting to see what happens.

Source: Facebook; Thanks, Naz, for the link

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DoDonPachi Maxium

It’s been a long time in coming – Japanese developer Cave first announced their exclusive shooting game for Windows Phone way back in July. Many months later, DoDonPachi Maximum has finally debuted on Xbox Live.

DoDonPachi Maximum is a vertically-scrolling shoot-em-up that borrows elements from previous games like DoDonPachi Resurrection. The twist is that the entire game is supposed to be a computer simulation, so the backgrounds and enemies have all been given a retro graphics makeover. At the start, you select from two different ships, each with its own weapons and abilities. Tip: the Delta Sword kills bosses much faster. Two more ships are supposedly unlockable, but I shudder to think about the requirements for doing so…

DoDonPachi Maximum

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AT&T's gearing up for TITAN II and Lumia 900 release

Lumia 900

The HTC TITAN II and Nokia Lumia 900 are rumored to drop on Sunday, March 18th and last we checked it's getting close to that date.  Two things have happened within the last few hours to make us think that AT&T is starting up their Windows Phone gears again:

  1. The AT&T site is teasing something big as "Coming Soon" on their site with signups to be notified
  2. The Microsoft Windows Phone site now lists the TITAN II and Lumia 900 as "coming soon"

WP Central

AT&T

Sure, it's no firm pricing (Lumia 900 is rumored for $99) or official release date but c'mon, if those phone aren't launching in the next two weeks then we'll eat our vegetables. Start saving your pennies, folks.

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Nokia increasing advertising efforts in Chile

WP Central

The above photo was captured at the Parque Arauco shopping mall in Chile, which displays Lumia 800 advertising banners being hung from the ceiling for maximum exposure on all floors. This may signal an imminent release of both the Lumia 710 and 800 into the country.

We'll keep a look out for launch parties and announcements for further detail. Good to see the manufacturer prepping the handset arrivals.

Source: @BLeavellB, Nokia

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HTC Desktop Cradles available at Expansys

HTC Cradles at Expansys

While third party desktop cradles are available for the HTC Titan and Radar (here's our review of the Mobi cradle), we haven't seen a massive distribution of the HTC cradles for these Windows Phones here in the States. 

One such place you can find both the HTC Titan Cradle (CR S600) and the HTC Radar Cradle (CR S610) is over at Expansys USA. Not sure if these are European imports or are U.S. models.

Nonetheless, the cradle for the Titan can be found here and the Radar's cradle here. Both are running $38.99. If you know of any other vendors carrying the cradles, feel free to sound off in the comments.

Thanks, Clifton, for the tip!

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WP Central

Rumor has it that Nokia is working on two new handsets due to arrive on AT&T later this year.  Unnamed sources have told The Verge that the Prodigy and the AC/DC will be the first of Nokia's Windows Phone 8 handsets.  The Prodigy, as the code name implies, will be a high-end "superphone," along the lines of the Lumia 900, while the AC/DC is expected to be more of a mid-range offering.  Sadly, this vague report came without any details on hardware or features, though a Nokia-partner video has recently revealed that multi-core processors and a NFC-based "wallet experience" could all be part of the equation.

With Apollo's likely arrival later in 2012, the rumors will be flooding in.  Hold on to your hats, folks.  We've only just begun.

Source: TheVerge; Thanks for the tip, damthman!

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Nokia Lumia Live events to be held in Australia

Nokia Lumia Live launch parties

Nokia is planning to hold a number of launch events in Australia this month to celebrate the release of the Lumia 800. As one can see in the above image, an event is planned in three major cities - Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne. The events are set to sport a number of Lumia (both 710 and 800) demos to allow the public to test drive the experience of Windows Phone and Nokia.

While we're not aware of exactly what the Finnish manufacturer has planned, but if London is anything to go by it should be an impressive day in each of the selected cities. The full event schedules are as follows:

As well as the above official launch parties, both Techin5 and WPDownUnder are collaborating to arrange a meet up at Melbourne, on the day of the Nokia Live event. Should you be interested in meeting up with other Windows Phone enthusiasts as well as the two websites, be sure to head on over to Techin5 (link below) and the WhirlPool thread for more details / updates.

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WP Central

Nokia has announced the dates and location of this year's Nokia World - the event that covers everything 'Nokia'. While Nokia World 2011 in London was a blast, we're looking forward to the next event from the manufacturer as it's most probable that Windows Phone 8 ("Apollo") handsets will be unveiled. All we know for the moment is that it's going to be a fairly sizeable show with it being held on Nokia's home turf in Helsinki, Finland.

September 25-26 are the set dates and the Helsinki Exhibition & Convention Centre is the designated venue. 2012 will be the first year that the event has been held in Finland, which couldn't be better timed with Helsinki being officially titled as the World Design Capital for the year.

For more information, be sure to hit the links below.

Source: NokiaNokia Conversations

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Baconit v1.8 now in Marketplace

We here at WPC love us some Reddit (as if you couldn't tell) and we're also big fans of Baconit, the metro-style Reddit app.  The oft-updated app has just been upvoted to version 1.8, which packs a whole lot of additions.  Among the major ones is Image Mode for subreddits, which allows full screen viewing, endless image scrolling, comprehensive viewing options (pinch to zoom, drag to pan, double tap to reset) and the ability to save images to your phone.

Other significant changes include:

  • Added landscape support for subreddit, web page, and comment viewers, as well as submit a link
  • Added story domain in to story list
  • Added orientation lock
  • New comments are tracked on stories that have been viewed
  • Fixed long self-text / comment cut off problem
  • Improved web page viewer
  • Improved up vote and down vote hit boxes

There are other changes and fixes as well, which can be viewed in their entirety here.  And as you can see in the change log, version 1.9 is already in the works.

You can download the free version, or reward the developer for a great app with a $1.99 donation.

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With about 18 hours before this week's Xbox LIVE game goes live for y'all to download, we figured we would tease you a little bit with some gameplay from DODONPACHI MAXIMUM.  Yes, it's in all caps because this game is yelling at you...with bullets.

What can we say about this game?

  • It's $4.99
  • It's Japanese, from studio Cave
  • It's ridiculously crazy, fun and challenging
  • May induce seizures

Yeah, we like it even if it's going to take time to get good at. This is the kind of game where you can just pick up, blast away and pray you last longer than the last time you did. We're digging the graphics and all the little details throughout, meaning you should get a little excited about this is if shumps are your thing. (And yes, I'm still suffering from a head cold from Barcelona, hence why I sound sick, ahem).

Look for the Marketplace link later tonight right here at WPCentral to try it yourself...

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HTC TITAN II 4G Windows Phone coming to Telstra

HTC TITAN II

WPDownUnder has reported that Telstra staff have received confirmation of the HTC TITAN II making its way to the Australian shores and onto the network. With the Lumia 800 being stocked at multiple sources across the country, as well as on Telstra itself, the situation is starting to pick up with regards to available hardware.

At an event last night, it was revealed that the HTC TITAN II (as well as another unnamed Android 4G handset) will be launching on Telstra this coming April. Even some lucky members of staff attending the event got the chance to take home a Lumia 800 with door prizes being handed out. 

WPDownUnder expects the TITAN II to be available on the $79 /mo Freedom Connect plan, using the MRO bonus (no handset fee), and would total $1896 across the 24 month contract. Although, the site notes that should the HTC Velocity be anything to go by, then the TITAN II may also be available on the cheaper $59 plan, with a $5 /mo MRO free, totalling $1536.

What's more is that Nokia has reported that they're still in talks surrounding the introduction of the 4G international Lumia 900, which would further strengthen Australia's range of Windows Phones. Who would have thought last year that we would be seeing prosperous moves from both Microsoft and manufacturers in Australia?

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WP Central

Nokia seems to be wrapping up testing of their much anticipated firmware update, 12070. The update brings better battery life through better controlled screen-brightness and ~70 mA discharge when idle.  In addition, the update tweaks the camera's white balance a little and sound is improved via the bass response.

We can testify that 12070 has nearly tripled our battery life since we forced-upgraded from 11401, making this a worthy and important update for Lumia users.

Those in Singapore seem to be the lucky ones tonight as they are now getting 12070 official through Zune Desktop, making them the first group to get the honors. So if you're in Singapore, y'all need to stop reading this and go get your update as it is totally worth the 15 minutes.

We expect the rest of Lumia 800 users to start to get their updates later on this week. Stay tuned.

Thanks, VoodooKing for the heads up; See XDA forums for further confirmation

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AT&T TITAN

We're still expecting the HTC TITAN II to drop in the next few weeks and perhaps in an attempt to clear some stock, AT&T has dropped the behemoth Windows Phone to just one cent with a new contract.

That's pretty amazing for a 4.7" screen device with a 1.5GHz CPU and the best camera yet on a Windows Phone (yeah, we're calling it). The TITAN has been a big success, according to the folks at HTC we spoke with back at CES and we can't argue with that as it has been one of our favorite devices around.

WP Central

The TITAN though is not being discontinued as far as we know as HTC told us that it will still be sold alongside the TITAN II (which is slightly redesigned, has a 16MP camera and LTE 4G on board), so we think this is more of a sale to push Windows Phone rather than an end-of-life scenario. Either way, it's a great deal.

Source: AT&T; Thanks, Reece, for the heads up

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Hotmail refresh

Well, it certainly took long enough but it looks like the folks at Hotmail finally realized that Windows Phone is their company's OS, not the iPhone. What we mean of course is when you navigate to Hotmail.com you used to be greeted with the three smartphones: Samsung Focus, iPhone and some Android thing.

Now, in an ever-so-slight refresh, the Nokia Lumia 800 has taken front and center moving the iPhone to the back.

Sure, most might not even notice but it's still a nice nod to Windows Phone users and the success Nokia is bringing the ecosystem as a whole. It's great to see Hotmail at least acknowledge that much.

Thanks, Patrick, for the heads up!

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