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GroupMe returns to Windows Phone with an improved app

WP Central

Can we have a drum roll? Because GroupMe is back! The group-texting app for Windows Phone (which is also available on Blackberry, iOS and Android) went MIA late last year and not much has been officially said surrounding the app since, until a callout was published on the Twitter account looking for Windows Phone users who reside in New York.

Today we have an article announcing the app's return on the official GroupMe blog. So what's new in version 3? With the company being purchased by Skype (Microsoft), the team has been working closely with the software giant to revamp the app. As well as a visual (and code) overhaul, which looks much more fluent with the Metro UI, GroupMe also supports deep-link live tiles (with notifications) to chats and groups, photo sharing, contacts integration, and more.

WP Central

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SEGA officially announced Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II way back in December, but the reveal didn’t include a true glimpse of the game. We can now get much more excited over Episode II thanks to a proper trailer that shows off the game’s beautiful new graphics engine.

Sonic 4: Episode II marks the return of Sonic’s sidekick Tails, who sat out the previous game. The console versions will include 2 player co-op play, while we can assume the mobile versions won’t. Either way, Sonic and Tails seem to have some new co-op moves, which should make Tails a more valuable partner than he was back in Sonic 2.

The physics engine has been given a complete overhaul in response to fan feedback, which should improve Episode II’s reception. Similarly, the new graphics will likely elicit smiles from Sonic fans. The backgrounds are simply lush with colors and detail. The characters match the backgrounds much better than before thanks to being rendered in full 3D (the gameplay remains 2D). Phone versions will likely fake the 3D characters with 2D sprites, but you never know.

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Lumia 900

We reported a few weeks ago the site Carphone Warehouse was taking pre-registrations for the Nokia Lumia 900 with an expected June release. Now the site has quietly update that to May signaling perhaps an accelerated schedule or newer, more detailed information.

Carphone

Either way that's good news for those of you looking to get this phone sooner than later. While this isn't a pre-order and no money is exchanged it's a relatively safe way to register your interest in the monster Nokia phone.

Source: Carphone Warehouse; Thanks, Robert M., for the tip

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Goal.com

We know some of you need a nice dedicated app for your favorite football (cough, soccer) teams out there, a way to follow the latest scores and stories. No one does it better than Goal.com so it's with great pleasure to see them release an official app for Windows Phone yesterday.

Goal.com

"The Goal.com app gives you all the latest breaking news, exclusive interviews, transfer gossip, live scores and much more. Whatever and wherever the story is, Goal.com offers the most comprehensive and expert coverage from the major domestic leagues and competitions, as well as all the major international tournaments."

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WP Central

Unlocked Mobiles has listed the Nokia Lumia 610 Windows Phone as available for pre-order. The 3.7" devices is being offered for 164.98 pounds (inc VAT).  The Windows Phone will be offered SIM free and unlocked.

The Lumia 610 is expected in stock on May 14, 2012 and available for next day delivery.

You can find the Lumia 610's product page here with all the details on ordering.  Oh and remember if a larger screen is more your style, the wireless phone vendor is also taking pre-orders for the Lumia 900.

Thanks, James, for the tip!

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Zombies!!! 3.5 Not Dead Yet

The first 'Not Dead yet!' image reveals the new Meat Cleaver item.

Babaroga’s been hard at work updating their mobile Xbox Live titles, as evidenced by the recent Minesweeper and Sudoku updates. Now Zombies!!! -  the developer’s only self-published Windows Phone game so far – has received a new update as well.

Zombies!!! version 1.2 release notes

  • Added a free ringtone (found under Options)

Free ringtones are always nice, but the really exciting news is what the next update will bring. The first Zombies!!! PDLC expansion pack should debut within the next month or so. ‘Zombies!!! 3.5: Not Dead Yet!’ adds 18 new cards, new animations, five new Achievements worth 50 GamerScore, and more. Yes, this officially makes Zombies!!! the first Windows Phone game to break the 200 GamerScore barrier.

All five new Achievements are worth 10 GamerScore each:

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WhatsApp Video

Just as Kik gets an update so does the popular alternative WhatsApp which has now surpassed the former in features. Hitting version 1.8 the WhatsApp team is slowly but steadily adding many new features to the app on Windows Phone and version 1.8 will make many happy.

For one, it finally brings video recording and sharing to the table. Hit the video record button, make a video and off it goes to your contact. Pretty seamless and it should be a big hit for those who want such a feature. Other notable changes include:

  • Enhanced location support
  • Set group icon with web search
  • Abe to block contacts and manipulate block list
  • More accurate "last seen" time
  • Other bug fixes

Quite a huge update when you think about it, so kudos to the WhatsApp team for the continued development and support. You can pick up WhatsApp here in the Marketplace for free.

QR: WhatsApp

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Windows Phone Party

Although Microsoft didn't have any big press conferences or news releases regarding the future of Windows Phone at Mobile World Congress that hasn't stopped them from throwing a little thank you party to all of their supporters (and if you remember we gave away some ticket to the exclusive event).

Held at the famous El Molino, the event was suppose to have 400 attendees but Microsoft was expecting many more and indeed as the night went on it was certainly packed (especially on the roof). With free drinks, thumping dance music, delicious h'orderves and contests, the night was quite a blast.

Speaking of contests, Microsoft had a few last night including a Twitter/Speed contest where you had to type and post a catch phrase with hashtag as fast as you can. The fastest 10 all won a Windows Phone and even had a choice between an HTC Titan, Radar or Nokia Lumia 800. There was also the favorite "Fruit Ninja" contest where users can play the game on numerous Windows Phones with the top scorer winning a new device.

All in all it was a great time and below we have a few photos of the event just in case you couldn't make it. (Oh and we even briefly ran into one of our readers there, which was very cool).

Remember, keep track of all of our Mobile World Congress'12 news here: wpcentral.com/tags/mwc12

Head past the break for some pics...

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Minesweeper and Sudoku

A short while back, Babaroga updated their free, ad-supported Minesweeper and Sudoku Xbox Live games. At last we’ve got the details for both updates to share with you.

Minesweeper version 1.2 and Sudoku version 1.3 release notes

  • Added Fast App Switching support
  • Increased the maximum number of tokens players can earn to 110
  • Switched ads around based on user feedback
  • Minesweeper: Fixed a bug that stopped players from earning more time when resuming Speed games
  • Various bug fixes

Nothing major there, but Fast App Switching is always appreciated (especially if you’re cheating at Sudoku). The new token limit allows players to use powerups more freely, highlighting the unique powerup feature these games have while making the game a bit easier to boot. Gamers now have even less excuse not to earn each title’s 50 GamerScore of Achievements.

You can pick up Minesweeper here and Sudoku here on the Marketplace.

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Kik

Last time Kik Messenger, the popular IM app that we use a lot around here, received an update was way back in October. That was the big Mango update which was very popular due to all the new features.

Just now we got the notice that version 2.1 is on the Marketplace though there's no changelog to be found, leaving us to guess what has been altered. The one thing we notice right away is it seems faster to us e.g. a "performance update" but we're human and prone to placebo effects, so perhaps not. Other than that there's no new features to be found which is a bit dissapointing...then again we're really not sure what we're missing either.

Update: As noted in comments by ptosan, their blog has the details:

"Now, you can have longer conversations without interruption and the app (conversations, included!) will load faster. We’ve also updated the keyboard for smoother typing. We’ve taken measures to improve the overall WP7 experience and performance."

Grab Kik here in the Marketplace for free.

QR: Kik

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Mobile Nations Podcast: Mobile World Congress Day 1

Mobile Nations Special: MWC 2012 Day minus one

Phil, Dan, Alex, and Simon talk Mobile World Congress day one, including Nokia on both Windows Phone and Symbian (biggest. Camera. Phone. Ever.), Galaxy Note 10.1, the return of the Padphone, Huawei, and yet another plethora of Android devices. Listen in! (And send food!)

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Carphone Warehouse Lumia 900

The European Lumia 900, which was announced at MWC earlier today (or yesterday for those GMT and beyond), is now available for interest registration at the Carphone Warehouse. The Lumia 900 is also going to be stocked at other retailers including Unlocked Mobiles, and sports a 4.3" AMOLED (with ClearBlack technology) display, 16GB storage, 8MP camera (with FF), 512MB RAM and a 1.4Ghz chip.

No word on the pricing as of yet, but we suspect it'll be competitive and will look to be around the £450 mark. According to the registration page, they are looking at a June 2012 launch.

Source: Carphone Warehousethanks, Richard, for the tip!

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Save My Spot! gets updated, drops ads

Save My Spot: Look Ma' No Ads!

Save My Spot! is a decent app for your Windows Phone (here's our review) to help you remember and get back to various spots in your life. Be it a favorite restaurant or where you saw that special something something for your wife, Save My Spot! will record the GPS coordinates for the spot as well as tons of descriptive elements to get you back there.

Save My Spot! was recently updated to version 1.1 to add functionality to manage categories in the settings and to remove the banner ads. The latter is a welcome fix in that Save My Spot! may have been the only paid app that had ad banners. Kudos for the developer to stepping up and taking corrective action on this oversight.

The developer tells us that there is more in store for Save My Spot! with future updates (maybe a trial version?). Save My Spot! is running $.99, is now ad-free and you can find it here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

QR: Save My Spot

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runtastic App Lead

It's Fitness Month here at WPCentral and Mobile Nations, as you all already know, so we thought we'd take a look at some health-related apps for your Windows Phone that can be used to keep on top of those pesky New Year resolutions you may have made for 2012. I've personally been using runtastic for Windows Phone, a fitness tracking app / service that's also available for Blackberry, iOS and Android. So, just how can this app help keep owners fit?

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WP Central

Earlier today we called attention to new changes being brought about with the release of Windows Phone SDK 7.1.1, the release supporting 'Tango' in all it's low-end/budget glory.

We also mentioned in that article that only 5% of apps wouldn't run in the new hardware configuration, which is down to the amount of memory they utilise whilst active. However looking over this msdn page we wanted to make it crystal clear to our community that in fact there is a limitation for our new friend the Lumia 610: it won't run Background Tasks.

Specifically, generic background tasks are not supported for devices with 256MB of memory. A perfect example would be the background task used to update the live tile and cache in our own app. These types of tasks are known to developers as Periodic tasks and Resource Intensive tasks (if you want to understand the difference I recommend reading this overview). The potentially good news is that some types of background task, such as the background Audio agent which is used for playing music or podcasts after the app has been de-activated, look to be supported still.

A question therefore which I put to our readers, is this the first sign of platform fragmentation? Can we still state that "you get the same great Windows Phone experience on any handset"? Or is this a reasonable omission for the sweeter price spot?

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State of the Mobile Nations Survey

We love our communities! Each of our individual sites -- Android Central, CrackBerry.com, iMore, WPCentral and webOSNation -- has its own incredibly passionate and knowledgeable community of forum users. Each has its own strong identity and we never want to compromise that. Which is why we went with Mobile Nations as our community network brand. It allows us to continue to respect the culture of our individual communities while continuing to push all of the sites forward and making it more welcoming for users who switch between platforms to find their way into another Mobile Nations site. All combined, we truly are the United Nations of Mobile!

Help Us Improve Our Forums: We want to continue to make our communities even stronger. We've put together ten quick questions that will help guide us on that mission. Whether you visit the forums often or just casually lurk, we want want to hear from you. The survey will only take a minute or two, tops. Thanks for participating!

Take the Survey!

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ZTE Orbit

Although overshadowed a bit by Nokia today, ZTE who earlier released the Tania has also put out the Orbit which was announced early this morning. The Orbit is yet another low-cost phone presumably for emerging markets and East Asia though the company has expressed interest in coming to the US and Europe as well.

The Orbit features a new Qualcomm processor to Windows Phone: the Qualcomm MSM7227A-1 which is described as a "low cost, low voltage" CPU for sub-$150 devices. In addition, here are the other specs just released:

  • EDGE 900/1800/1900
  • HSDPA 900/2100, DPA 7.2Mbps
  • RAM 256MB, User 4GB
  • 4-inch, WVGA (800x480), 65K colour, TFT, capacitive
  • 5MP AF/flash camera
  • GPS, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth 2.1 + A2DP
  • Accelerator, compass, proximity light
  • DLNA, NFC, FOTA, HD Voice, Dual Mic, FM Radio

Interestingly the press release from ZTE notes that it has 512MB of RAM but we confirmed that this is a 256MB device as seen in our pics below. The phone has the same nice feel as the Tania including a slick chrome finish. The screen is a little washed for our liking but we're a bit spoiled with Nokia ClearBlack, Samsung Super AMOLED+ and HTC's S-LCD.

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Reminder: Only a few days left in Fitness Month

March is just a few days away and that will signal the close of Mobile Nations' Fitness Month. Over the past few weeks all the Mobile Nations sites have focused on the fitness and health uses for your smartphones.  

We've seen inspirational videos from Crackberry Kevin and the iMore staff.  We couldn't let the month pass by without offering our own video on the subject.  Oh and shooting a video from a treadmill is tougher than it looks.  It doesn't take many takes before you get short of breath.

We've covered a wide variety of fitness and health apps for your Windows Phone as well as sharing our fitness experiences over in the WPCentral forums. Three readers have already walked away with gift certificates to the WPCentral Store and in a few days we'll select our grand prize winner and two runners up.

Just remember for your chance to win the grand prize (Xbox 360 and Kinect) or one of the runner up prizes (Nokia Luna BT headset or $50 gift card to the WPCentral Store) all you need to do is comment on one of the two Fitness Month discussions (Week 1 &2 and Week 3&4).

We will announce the winners sometime on Friday, March 2, 2012. 

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Nokia Lumia 610

Call it low-end but don't call it cheap. That's how we feel about the Nokia Lumia 610 which in our opinion is a buttery smooth and elegant little number (see our hands on), despite being a bit neutered to keep costs down.

One area though Nokia is not skimping on is the use of Corning's Gorilla Glass which according to the device specs is on board. Sure, it may not have ClearBlack screen technology (it's a straight TFT instead) but that Gorilla Glass is a good thing to keep some light scratches away as you throw this in your pants or purse. Some other notable specs:

  • Quad band: GSM 1800, 1900, 850, 900; data 1900, 2100, 850, 900
  • HSPA - But no "+" on board so it's limited to 7.2Mbps
  • 2 Microphones
  • No compass
  • Talk time: 10.5 hours
  • 120g/4.2 ounces
  • 1300mAh battery

Not a bad little number and we think Nokia can do well with this phone, especially in those emerging markets. The build quality on this device is better than most mid-range offerings available today, which says something about Nokia and their ability.

Source: Developer Nokia

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Hands on with Nokia Transport and Reading [Video]

Nokia Transport & Reading

Besides all of the new phone goodness today, Nokia also showed off a few new apps heading down the pike for their Windows Phone users. One of those is Nokia Transport, an app dedicated to public transportation including bus and train schedules for more than 500 cities--something us urban folk desperately need. The app nails down your position and shows you the nearest stops and schedules around you, allowing you to save and even pin to your Start screen a route of you choices. That Live Tile can then flip around showing you the next train or bus always keeping you in the loop.

Nokia Reading is an eBook app that also supports audio books. It turns out it runs through Nokia's store where you can browse for new books, including a lot of free ones, save and basically use it as solid eReader. The selection of books looks decent enough but we'll have to see more when it is closer to launch.

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Hands with the White Nokia Lumia 900 [Video]

White Lumia 900

Of all the big news that came out today, one little nugget that slipped by was the announcement of the all-white Lumia 900. "Leaked" accidentally a few weeks ago by Nokia themselves on their Facebook page, the glossy white beast had been expected to launch here at Mobile World Congress and sure enough it has shown up here on the floor.

The phone is what you expect it to be: a big ol' white whale of a phone, similar to the Lumia 800 but obviously more grand. Now the White Lumia 900 will launch internationally in a few weeks to join its Cyan, Black and Magenta siblings. AT&T is currently only offering the Cyan and Black versions but we're told Nokia has given AT&T the choice for the white version, but it is up to them to offer another SKU for the device.

In practical terms that means don't expect a white AT&T Lumia 900 but should the glossy version sell well and gain momentum the option is certainly there for them. Likewise with Magenta which could see a roll out on AT&T with a "refresh" of the phone later in the year.

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WP Central

Carbon version 1.2 is now live on the Marketplace after being submitted twelve days prior. We covered what's new in this update previously, which includes video preview (on the timeline) and a new quote screen gesture (tap on a tweet with two fingers). As well as improvements made to the app (speed, performance, etc.), the team has also introduced a trial mode that wasn't present in v1.1 - this trial has limited functionality but sports no advertising.

What else has been patched in version 1.2? Check out the bug fixes and changes below:

  • Read It Later bug that failed to save links to Read It Later service
  • Timeline context menu bug
  • Camera share bug that did not select pictures from Pictures hub
  • Broken image upload
  • List Timelines on Quickline Bug where it didn’t load older Tweets when tapping on “More”
  • Minor changes & bug fixes with Live Tiles
  • Default Image service changed to Twitpic instead of Twitter(to be reverted back soon)
  • Quickline bug that did not load all of the lists
  • General cache, and storage fixes/enhancements
  • Smoother Timeline scrolling experience and faster image fetching

You can download Carbon (and the trial) from the Marketplace for $1.99.

Via: CarbonWP

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Rogers expands LTE Network

Rogers expands LTE Network

On the heels of Nokia announcing that the Lumia 900 Windows Phone would be headed to Rogers, the Canadian wireless provider announced a bit of news themselves. Rogers launched their LTE Network to St. John's being the first to provide LTE speeds to Newfoundland.

John Boynton, Rogers Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer stated,

"We are proud to be the first carrier to bring our LTE network to St. John's. With Rogers LTE wireless network coverage, customers have access to speeds similar to broadband connections, making it easier for people to use their mobile devices to download apps, stream HD videos and music or play on-line games, with virtually no delays or buffering."

Rogers was the first to launch an LTE Network in Canada last summer in Ottawa followed closely by Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver last fall. LTE expansion doesn't stop with St. Johns. Rogers plans to double its LTE coverage later this year expanding to more than twenty five cities including Atlantic Canada and Halifax.

LTE Network expansion and the Lumia 900. Sounds like good times are in store for Rogers' customers.  You can catch the full presser after the break.

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WP Central

Now that we know the European Lumia 900 is on its way to Europe (and beyond), will you be getting your paws on one? Unlocked Mobiles, a UK retailer specialising in unlocked mobile phones, has published a Lumia 900 product page with the price tag of £445.98. They expect to stock the SIM-free handset and have it available for delivery by May 21st.

The Lumia 900 sports a 4.3" AMOLED display (with ClearBlack technology), 512MB RAM, 1.4Ghz chip, 8MP camera (with FF), and 16GB storage. The handset will -of course- support the usual GSM Quad band 850/900/1800/1900 3G & HSDPA.

Source: Unlocked Mobiles

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