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Samsung Focus 2 from AT&T

AT&T has announced yet another 4G LTE Windows Phone, the Samsung Focus 2 which looks exactly like the SGH-i667 "Mandel" we saw this weekend.. The Focus 2 will be available May 20th in pure white for $49.99 after contractual discounts.  The Focus 2 will run $399.99 off contract.

Spec wise, the Focus 2 sports a 4" Super AMOLED screen, 5 megapixel camera with 720p video capabilities, front facing VGA camera and is 4g LTE compatible. The Focus 2 measures only .43 inches thick and weighs in at 4.3 ounces.

The Samsung Focus 2 joins the HTC Titan II and Nokia Lumia 900 on AT&T's 4G LTE Windows Phone lineup and presents customers with an economical entry point for the Windows Phone experience.

You can catch the full press release on the Samsung Focus 2 after the break.

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Games

According to a Brazilian Nokia blog, Microsoft has reportedly added over 300 games to the regional Marketplace boosting it from just over 90 games the other day. Most thoughts will now be: "wait, what?" and rightfully so. It would appear as though the Brazil Marketplace is restricted by tighter certification regulations than other markets. This requires a clear guide to be published on each title that is available on the Marketplace detailing censorship (much like PEGI) and approval by the Ministry of Justice.

Google with their Android Play market reportedly gets around this by hosting the content in the US and having it only accessible via web (and paid in US dollars).

We'd like to chime in with a quick search performed by us reveals that some of these newly added titles don't sport visible ratings -- The Impossible Game being a good example, though it's good to see more content being added for markets to download and enjoy. There's nothing worse than owning a smartphone, yet not being able to access the catalogue of content.

With the new additions, the Brazilian Windows Phone Marketplace now boasts over 7,000 titles which is a start.

Source: TouchNokia (translation); thanks Little Angry for the tip!

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WP Central

We've reported in the past that Samsung was sitting on the sidelines during the summer with Windows Phone, concentrating on their new Galaxy SIII release for Android (which so far has garnered negative impressions). Devices like the Mandel (SGH-i667) are believed to have been canceled or put on hold till Microsoft is ready to update their OS.

That's not to say Samsung doesn't have a strategy, one that takes aim right at Nokia. According to the site SmartHouse who spoke with a Samsung senior executive, Samsung will be introducing at least four devices that span the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 spectrum come this fall. None of the proposed devices should be shocking as Samsung is one again sticking to what it knows:

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There's a new Windows Phone game on the horizon and the developer is looking to recruit Beta Testers. Rum Run is a strategy game where you sail the high seas trading goods from village to village. You try to make as much profit from buying and selling rum, goods and food. Use your profits to upgrade ships and increase your fleet.

Rum Run reminds me a lot of the old Windows Mobile game Tradewinds which was a very nice game to pass the time with.  It will be interesting to see if the developers can match Tradewinds entertainment value.  Based on the trailer, it looks like Rum Run is on the right course.

Rum Run for Windows Phone

Rum Run has made it to the third round in Microsoft's Imagine Cup and Turtle Games, Rum Run's developers, are looking for beta testers to help ironed out any bugs that are in the game. If you're interested, just shoot Rum Run Games and email at info@rumrungame.com with your Live ID and why you want to join the beta test team.

You can find more information on Rum Run and Turtle Games here at rumrungame.com

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WP Central

It's time for our weekly Windows Phone news summary, where we round-up all the stories that are worth reading should you be in a position of missing some headlines on the site. Before we kick off with the summary itself, we've had some insightful gaming discussion on our Windows Phone forum covering titles that have been published into our spotlight.

With all the issues surrounding the Lumia 900 since launch, we've asked the community what problems have been experienced through usage. To close off the WPCentral introduction, we've also announced the winners of our Lumia 900 Dicota Hard Shell Case competition. Head on past the break for the full run through of this week's Windows Phone news.

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WP Central

Nokia: "We have identified the issue and will be addressed through a future SW update."

While we haven't heard any official details, Nokia support via Twitter is reporting that they have identified the purple-hue problem that is occurring on some Lumia 900s. The screen irregularity is very obvious and easy to induce: simply disable automatic brightness and turn the screen down to "low" in Settings. Doing so on some devices will cause the grays to look purple throughout the OS.

We reported on this and other minor issues for the Lumia 900 a few days ago and even polled to see what percentage of you are affected. The information and poll were passed onto Nokia engineers along with our defective glossy-white Lumia 900 (we received a perfect replacement in return). Curiously, only about 10% are having the problem which is still quite high but we actually expected the number to be higher.

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Nokia Lumia 610 now for sale in Malaysia for RM699

Lumia 610 now available in Malaysia

The Nokia Lumia 610 has hit the shelves in Malaysia at Nokia stores and other retailers. The 610 comes in four different colors and is averaging RM699 ($229).  The budget-friendly handset sports Windows Phone 7.5 Tango (build 8773), which is designed to run on devices with less RAM.

Inside you will find:

  • 3.7" screen
  • 800MHz CPU
  • 256MB of RAM
  • 8GB internal storage
  • 5-megapixel rear camera

Don't be fooled by the hardware.  The Lumia 610 is an impressive phone that offers the same style and quality of it's higher-end siblings. The Lumia 710 and 800 went on sale in the region back in February and the 610 looks to ride upon that success.

Source: Soyacincau; Thanks for the tip, Anil!

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Pirated version of Guitar Hero Mobile?

Guitar Hero Mobile ($6.99), an Xbox Live title, was released over on the Windows Phone Marketplace back in October 2010. Guitar Hero Mobile ($2.99), a non-Xbox Live title, hit the Marketplace a few days ago.

Microsoft recently announced an increased effort to maintain Marketplace quality which included looking closer at copyrighted material. Is this a discounted version of Guitar Hero Mobile or a pirated copy that slipped in under the Marketplace radar? 

Our first impression is that the $2.99 is a pirated copy. First, the Marketplace description for the non-Xbox Live version comes up in Chinese where the Xbox Live version is not. Then you have the developer listed as Glu Games Inc. and it is the only title under Glu Games Inc.

Glu is the developer of the Xbox Live version but is listed as Glu. Glu also has other titles on the Marketplace listed in similar fashion.

Lastly, the Xbox Live version has a trial version, the non-Xbox Live version does not. It doesn't make sense for one to have a trial and the other not to if they were coming from the same source.

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A few weeks ago we broke the news that Executive Caddie, the premier and highly rated golfing assistance app for Windows Phone, was getting a makeover and an upgrade for the Nokia Collection. That means that if you own a Lumia 610, 700, 800 or the big 900 you're entitled to a custom version of the app made for your phone for free.

WP Central

At the time we reported on those "exclusive" features for Executive Caddie +:

  • Tournament scoring
  • Real-time leaderboards
  • Group heckling with toast notifications
  • Additional social features
  • Themes to match the Lumias, including Cyan, Magenta, White and Nokia Blue

But the biggy was an augmented reality tool called Golfscope described as

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Snotify

It's been awhile since we've seen some solid homebrew pop out from developers so it's with great interest for us to find Snotify version 1.0 floating around.

Billed as an "application that silences notification sounds based on a schedule" the concept should be very familiar to anyone who used the fabulous Windows Mobile app PhoneAlarm or PhoneWeaver. Anyone else just have a technology flashback?

In short, the app allows you to schedule your email and test/IM notification sounds so they won't disturb you in the middle of the night. For instance, you could have email on "silent" from 10pm to 6am or have SMS only with sound--your choice.

The free tool made by JMD Software needs to be "sideloaded" on to a fully interop unlocked phone meaning a lot of folks including developers won't be able to use it. That's a bummer but it's still a fascinating contribution to the homebrew scene.

Of course we know what many of you are thinking and even more of you will comment on -- why didn't Microsoft just include this in the OS? It's a good question as we'd kill to have this built into our Lumia 900 or Titan II, but alas even we have to sit this one out as our phones aren't capable of being fully unlocked just yet.

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HTC Mozart Update

We just got a report in that the venerable (and underrated) HTC Mozart is receiving a Windows Phone "Tango" update. The news comes form the personal blog of Aviraj Ajgekar, who is a Technology Evangelist at Microsoft Corporation.

That puts him pretty high up there as far as credibility. What's more, he documented the whole experience noting that his Mozart (we assume un-branded) received no less than three updates, going from OS build 8112.7 to 8773.98 to 8779.8, putting it just slightly ahead of what we understand to be "standard" Tango or Windows Phone Mango, Commercial Release 3 (CR3).

Tango Update

The whole update only took a few minutes to download mostly due to the fact that "Tango" only offers a few fixes and updates to the OS (mostly around enhancing MMS).

No word if HTC is pushing this out for their other devices but we have a feeling we'll be reporting on this a lot more for HTC phones very soon.

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WP Central

A Russian Windows Phone community has published some details regarding upcoming updates for both Nokia Drive and Transport. The manufacturer has been praised by Lumia smartphone owners for the inventory of apps available in the Nokia Collection. So what's new in version 3 of Nokia Drive?

  • The application "learns" based on the style of driving by
  • Time travel and the density of traffic movements are tracked in real time, displaying information on the "live" tile
  • Automatic determination of time of day, with the change of color scheme cards
  • Manual adjustment of routes
  • Off-line favourite lists with the possibility of fixing tiles on the desktop.

As for version 2 of Nokia Transport, which is dedicated to public transportation (including bus and train schedules for more than 500 cities):

  • Search for public transport user's location with respect to
  • Displaying a nearby transportation: buses, trains, trams, subways, taxis, marked stops
  • Show the route with transfers
  • Support Schedule in 87 countries around the world
  • Support for fast access to Favourites
  • Advanced Search
  • Saving query history
  • Change the query without a new route
  • Faster search and installation of the route
  • Optimised application performance

Unfortunately no dates have been revealed as to when the updates will be released.

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glƏƏk! for Windows Phone updated to version 1.5

WP Central

The popular (and rather unique) Twitter client for Windows Phone glƏƏk! (see our review) has been recently updated to version 1.5, which introduces a number of new features. The functionality that's included in this update includes user colour coding, which will please those who are arriving from other platforms and are heavy Twitter users. When browsing through tweets, users can now add colours to specific accounts they're following.  

That's not all as the developer has bundled a number of extras into the app, including custom ringtones. Ringtones for Carbon, glƏƏk!, Meadow and Rowi can be found in the extras section. Adjusting the font size is now available, and finally a number of performance improvements have been applied. Not a bad update, right?

As well as the above features, there is a public service announcement the developer asked us to publish. An issue has been located and subsequently fixed, but the update containing this solution is not going to be live for another handful of days. Should you encounter this issue, we ask that you simply ignore it for now until the patch is rolled out. The problem is when users attempt to save their accounts / settings while their Windows Phone is configured for a region that uses commas (",") for numerical separation / decimal marks.

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WP Central

Microsoft is set to close down the Bing 411 service on June 1st, 2012. Bing 411 is a toll-free number for American residents that enables callers to search using voice and Tellme technologies. The free service provides users with local business search, weather and traffic reports, driving directions, sports scores, and stock quotes to name but a few.

Should you attempt to use Bing 411 (1-800-246-4411) you'll be greeted by a message stating the service will cease operations on the provided date. This follows the closure of Google's GOOG-411 back in October, 2010. With Bing services integrating into Windows Phone, will we miss the Bing 411 service? 

Source: LiveSide

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From the Forums: Games Spotlight for May 5th

WP Central

It’s time to talk games and our Games Spotlight Forum has them. We all want quality games for our devices and our developers are hard at work getting them ready for us. We are going to take a look at a few that are available in our Spotlight area this week as our developers need your helpful comments to make their games the best around.

Paint Stuff: WP7 Pictionary  - Available in the Marketplace for $1.99 with a trial version this is a nice turn based game where you are given a word to draw (sound familiar?). Then your opponent has to guess what you have drawn. There are quite a lot of drawing options including colors, line thickness and even offers screen capture. These and other advanced options are only available in the paid version which also removes the advertisements. This is how baflink describes his game:

“I have tried a few of the pictionary games and they are pretty buggy to say the least. My girlfriend was getting flustered with playing with me because of the bugs. She wanted a simple pictionary game that didn't make random lines in your drawing, that was fast, had colors, took screenshots, could undo/redo and didn't have a time limit. So I sought out to make such a game.”

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Pac-Man Kart Rally

Prior to its release, I was enthusiastic about Pac-Man Kart Rally for a number of reasons: it’s a kart racer (fun genre), it features Pac-Man and other Namco characters, and it’s the first mobile Xbox Live game with wireless multiplayer (local Wi-Fi only). Then it launched to mixed reactions – the poor frame rate and repetitive music seem to be major turn offs for many gamers.

Frankly I find the negative reactions largely hyperbolic, as it’s still a competent and accessible racing game, light years ahead of the only other Xbox Live kart racer, Cro Mag Rally in quality. In any case, it seens someone at Microsoft may have noticed the tepid Marketplace ratings and reacted quickly. For whatever reason, Pac-Man Kart Rally has dropped from $4.99 to $2.99 just two or three days after its release.

Is this a price drop, random sale, or simply a marketplace glitch? We won’t know for sure until next week, when Microsoft will hopefully respond to our queries. It’s mostly good news, as gamers who were turned off at the relatively high five dollar price point now have more incentive to snap the game up right away. It’s probably wisest not to price a game with so many rough edges above three dollars, regardless of brand recognition or a novel multiplayer feature.

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Unofficial list of new Microsoft Store openings

Microsoft Store

With the announcement of a new Microsoft Store being built for Boston, lots of our readers anxiously await to see if Redmond will be coming to their areas soon. While Microsoft does not pre-announce these stores too far in advance, one way you can easily figure out is by simply looking up where they are hiring.

Yup, on the Microsoft Store Careers site they have many positions open and looking to be filled. What's more, these jobs are in cities not yet announced (but you can bet they will be soon). So, are you lucky?

We are. A store is opening in Huntington Station, NY, most likely at the Walt Whitman Mall. What else is at that shopping center? Why one the busiest Apple stores in New York (besides the Manhattan store). It certainly appears that Microsoft is gunning for Cupertino on their own turf and we'll be there to cover it.

Without further ado, the unofficial Microsoft Store list as compiled by reader Travis:

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WP Central

Microsoft is slowly expanding their branded "Microsoft Stores" and Boston, MA is the latest city to finally get one (hooray for the East coast!). Currently being built at the Shops at Prudential Center in Copley Square, the store should be ready sometime this summer though no specific dates were given.

Reader erzhik was kind enough to send us some photos of the "box" that surrounds the work space at Copley (Fun fact: I used to do film projection there). It should be of no surprise that the Lumia 900 is featured on the outside artwork along with some Windows PCs.

We've also heard that an Apple Store is right across the street which seems to us like some nice strategic planning. You can read more on the announcement at the Boston Herald. Thanks, erzhik, for the pics (click to enlarge)

WP Central  WP Central

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WP Central

Nokia has been a relatively busy bee when it comes to promotion, especially when you consider the scale of their global campaign. We've now got some photos of the advertising madness in action at New York subway stations and the promotion material appears to be everywhere. The Smartphone Beta Test is being slapped on walls, pillars and even staircases with the recently launched AT&T Lumia 900 by its side.

As well as this advertising push, we've also had a live performance by Nicki Minaj take over Times Square and the Lumia 710 launch by T-Mobile - you can safely say it has been a blast thus far. We've seen Nokia also take the "Amazing Everyday" to Madrid's Estación de Ópera, a fairly popular train hub in Spain, as well as handing out cupcakes in Belgium.

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ProClip now available for the Nokia Lumia 900

ProClip now available for Lumia 900

ProClip is now offering a vehicle mount for the Nokia Lumia 900. Three models are available starting at $34.99.

ProClip is a vehicle mount designed for those who don't particularly care too much for suction cups and double sided tape. ProClip mounts are self-installed into your dash or console quickly and without damaging anything.

The four models available include a holder with swivel, an adjustable holder with swivel mount, a charging holder with cigarette lighter adapter, and a charging holder with fixed power cord (installed to your vehicle's power system). You will need to purchase a separate mount for the holder/cradle that is designed for your specific vehicle (about $30).

Holders are also available for the Lumia 800, 710 and other popular Windows Phones. If you're looking for a more permanent vehicle mount solution for your Windows Phone, ProClip might do the trick. After the break you can catch a video demo of the ProClip Mount.  You can find the full line up of Lumia 900 ProClip models here.

Thanks, anonymous, for the tip!

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Nokia sued by investor

While Nokia has filed a patent lawsuit against HTC and RIM, the Finnish company is now on the receiving end of litigation. Robert Chmielinski, a Nokia investor, has filed a class action suit in U.S. Federal Court claiming Nokia made false and misleading comments on its Windows Phones and how the new phones would effect the company's position in the market.

The complaint was filed in the Southern District of New York and cites several statements from Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop where he spoke of the company's plans for success with the Lumia Windows Phones.  The claim also cites industry experts who claimed Nokia had all the right tools to win the smartphone game.  Chmielinski sees these as false statements and fraud because Nokia's market shares have declined and the Lumia 900 had a software glitch which resulted in $100 credit to customers, making the Lumia 900 basically a free phone for most consumers.

"Defendant's statements set forth above were materially false and misleading because Nokia's migration to a Windows platform was not going as well as represented. The Lumia 900 had a glitch which forced Nokia to offer a $100 credit and earlier Lumia offerings were not as well accepted as represented"

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WP Central

Business Insider is reporting that Skype is causing Microsoft and by extension Nokia problems in terms of sales of their Lumia line. The information comes from the shareholder meeting held yesterday in Finland but since it was not open to the public or recorded, there's a lot of second hand "reporting" going, some of it dubious.

Reportedly a question was raised about Skype from a shareholder. From BI:

"Nokia seems to be having a problem with the distribution channel due to Skype" asking how will Nokia deal with this problem. Elop answered "If the operator doesn't want us, it doesn't want us. We will appeal to them with other arguments. We have more to offer to them. It is a good point to start the discussion from Skype."

Both BI and an awfully written personal blog called 'Communities Dominates Brands' spin this as Nokia having problems selling Lumias because of carrier opposition to Skype.

While we have little doubt that carriers don't like Skype and are concerned about how Microsoft pushes it on them, it seems like flat out ignorance to claim this is why Nokia may be having trouble selling their Lumia line. 

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Nokia Lumia 610 NFC is now PayPass Ready

MasterCard announced that seventeen near field communication (NFC) enabled smartphones have been certified to work with their PayPass mobile phone payment system.  Among the bunch is the Nokia Lumia 610 NFC. The approval essentially means that the device has been tested by MasterCard and is confirmed to work with PayPass. 

In addition to giving the thumbs up to the group of smartphones, MasterCard also unveiled their PayPass Ready identifier, "a way for mobile device manufacturers to differentiate products that have undergone testing for MasterCard PayPass and received a Letter of Approval."  Manufacturers will have the option to use the PayPass Ready logo in advertisements, or even as a decal on the devices themselves.  Nokia and RIM are the first two phone makers to embrace the new branding.

"Nokia is honored that the Nokia Lumia 610 NFC will be one the world's first smartphones to include MasterCard's PayPass Ready brand mark," said Andrea Bacioccola, NFC Lead Program Manager, Nokia. "This sends a clear message to operators, banks and other service providers that Nokia is able to quickly enable their payment services on this smartphone."

NFC hasn't quite made it into the mainstream, though services like Google Wallet are making a lot of headway.  That being said, it's a positive sign that Nokia is jumping on the bandwagon and becoming a player in the game.

You can check out the full press release below for details on the PayPass program and the other companies and devices involved with it.

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WP Central

MegaTile is a Windows Phone app by Linknode that enables users to customise their home screen with personalised live tiles. The app allows the user to create live tile grids using a single photo that can then be configured for action calling. Supported grids are 1x2, 2x2, 2x3 or 2x4 with multiple sets of images and each tile with its own function. 

MegaTile is perfect for those who wish to add more style to their home screen in favour of vanilla tiles (messaging, calls, etc.), while adding more convenient access to WiFi settings, aeroplane mode, and more. Pictures used for the live tiles can be centered, cropped or stretched to fit accordingly, and are selected from the on-device library.

WP Central

What actions are available to choose from? Over 15, including the usual wireless setting shortcuts found in other apps. But MegaTile goes further by offering actions to make a call, call a contact, individual or group SMS, take a photo, post a Social Network update, launch a browser, or even start a search. Should the user get carried away with updating multiple tiles within the app and forget to re-pin them to the home screen, MegaTile will show a small alert icon next to the tile that is reportedly out-of-date.

Once "MegaTiles" are created, they're persistent old chaps between app updates, ensuring customisation and time spent getting everything perfect are not lost in the process. Unfortunately, the "launch any app" feature that is frequently requested is protected by Microsoft in Windows Phone, but with developers making good use of live tiles for their own individual apps, this shouldn't prove to be much of a problem.

Check out the below video for a quick demonstration of the app in action.

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