Articles

It's no secret if you follow my occasional mini-game reviews here on Windows Phone Central that I really dig old school arcade games e.g. Decimation X2, Imposisble Shoota and the various console emulators). There's something about the retro style graphics with updated particle explosions on our phone that grabs me.

Break MORE Aliens! is a sequel to BreakTheAliens! and is made by the same crew who made Corona (see review). It's a mash-up of Space Invaders and Arkanoid with some power-ups and boss battles to make a fun, well designed arcade super classic.

The game features 3 fantastic chiptunes by Multifaros (www.multifaros.info.se) which go very well with the title's theme, it has hilarious scrolling text during the game, 26 levels, 6 bosses and 16 power-ups. What's neat though is the power-ups have a downside to them--sure nuking everything is sure way to clear the board but for a moment, you're blinded. That creativity is one of the reasons I like it so much.

Break MORE Aliens!

Controls were fast and fluid. Moving the "bat" with my finger was simple and intuitive causing no frustration. The ability to choose between difficulties, survival mode or enabling "super mode" (extreme power-ups) keeps the replay value quite high.

The game is free with ads or you can unlock it for $0.99 which is a fair price (I always pay when I can). For those reasons alone, I have to give this game a strong recommendation, especially if you love casual gaming, old-style arcade titles and want something fun to pass the time.

Pick up Break MORE Aliens! here in the Marketplace. QR code and promo video after the break...

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Nokia Lumia 800 makes a cameo in M83's latest video

Besides Flo Ridia (who digs the Lumia 900) it looks like French act M83 also has a hankering for the glossy-white Nokia Lumia 800. The phone makes a brief appearance in the new video for "Reunion" and while the cameo is not as involved as Flo Rida's, the phone is still clearly displayed for a few moments before the bald gent grabs it.

Though clearly not a full on commercial, it's still nice to see the Lumia 800 seeping into pop culture in these short, almost hidden appearances. Plus M83 is pretty good (though we still like their earlier work better, ahem).

M83 Reunion video

Source: YouTube; Thanks, Stuart A., for the tip

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Windows Phone Central comes to E3 2012

Microsoft E3 2012

E3 2012 – the Electronic Entertainment Expo takes place next week from June 5-7 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Windows Phone Central is proud to be attending for the first time, so we thought we’d let our readers know what to expect.

E3 is the annual gaming convention open exclusively to members of the industry, including kindly journalists like us. The first E3 took place in 1995 – a simpler time for games, filled with Toshindens and Jumping Flashes. Since then, the Expo has remained the largest gaming event in the world, weathering competition like the Games Developer Conference, the Tokyo Game Show, and more recently, The Penny Arcade Expo. It’s sometimes criticized for failing to adequately spotlight mobile and social games, but that doesn’t mean those important categories will be totally unrepresented.

While the actual Expo starts on Tuesday the 5th, several large publishers will hold their own press conferences the preceding day. Microsoft’s conference starts Monday, June 4th at 9:30AM PST. Naturally we’ll be in the audience, reporting first-hand.

Head past the break to learn our E3 predictions and just what coverage we’ll bring you over the course of the show!

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Marketplace Tango Compatibility

It's no secret that there will be compatibility issues with some Marketplace apps running on Windows Phones with only 256mb of RAM (like the Nokia Lumia 610). Up until now, finding out which app is or isn't compatible with the 256mb Windows Phones was done by word of mouth.

Not sure when the switch was thrown but now Microsoft has added an asterisks under system requirements in the Marketplace (website) listing for any incompatible app or game. Any app or game that won't run on 256mb devices will have "*Not available for all phones" listed beneath the required operating system.

Marketplace Listing 256mb incompatibility

There will be a link for more information that explains,

Some processor-intensive apps have memory requirements, and won't work on phones with 256 MB of RAM.

Some developers (such as Rovio and Angry Birds) are working on updates that will optimize these apps and games for use with the 256mb devices. Hopefully the number of asterisks on the Marketplace will start to decline.

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Mobile Nations 16: People who do things

Kevin from CrackBerry.com, Phil from Android Central, Derek from webOS Nation, Daniel from WPCentral, Gary from Mobile Nations, and Rene from iMore talk iPhone 5 and iOS 6, BlackBerry 10, Samsung Galaxy S III and Jellybean, Windows 8, ecosystems vs. best of breed, and... the Facebook Phone. This is Mobile Nations!

 

Agenda

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Just some Buddy that I used to know...

If you're a Windows Phone 7 developer, you would probably have heard us talk about this Kirkland, Wash. startup. To recap, it was founded by David McLauchlan (CEO), and Jeff MacDuff (CTO). Both are former Microsoft employees with Dave doing work on the Zune hardware business amongst others, and Jeff working on a range of products including that Windows Phone 7 you're clutching.

Although the platform has been out since last year, up until now it has been in beta. But today they have finally hit v1, along with a bunch of exciting announcements.

So what's new? Well, in addition to the info in the quote below, Buddy has now got support for the Aviary image filters - which has recently been included in Rowi. Along with that, there is now a native .NET SDK which makes it absolutely painless to use the platform in your own app, plus is the first SDK that supports Windows 8! I have personally used the SDK in a Windows 8 app, and it was simpler than the time I stole candy from a baby (I didn't really, promise). The SDK also successfully passes the Windows App Certification Kit (WACK), which is required to publish apps into the Store, and is failed by pretty much every other 3'rd party library due to broken dependencies.

We know what you're thinking though...what good is a press release without an infographic? So we have two, just for you (and the thousands of others like you)...

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Nokia announces availability of Lumia 610 in the UK

Lumia 610

Nokia has today announced availability of the low-end, most affordable Lumia Windows Phone in the UK - the Lumia 610. The device is available in white, cyan, magenta and the usual black variants. As well as being a Tango targeted handset (only sports the minimum specifications), the Lumia 610 comes with tethering out of the box, as well as a flip-to-silence feature.

Should you be interested in purchasing one, the Lumia 610 is priced from just £15/mo on contract reportedly with O2, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and is stocked by both Carphone Warehouse, Clove and Phones 4u. Expect to see some stock being promoted at each supporting source. Sporting a 3.7" display, 256MB RAM, 5MP camera, 8GB storage and is powered by a 800Mhz chip. 

Originally, June 11th was on the cards for the release date, so it's good to see Nokia coming forward with the Lumia 610 a week or two in advance.

Head past the break to check our unboxing and hands on video of the Nokia Lumia 610 from a few days ago...

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MonstaFish

MonstaFish is the latest Xbox Live release from IronSun Studios, makers of IonBallEX. Windows Phone Central first revealed the game to the world two weeks ago, and now it’s available on the Marketplace.

In MonstaFish, too much toxic waste has been dumped into the water, resulting in gnarly mutations known as MonstaFish. Naturally these toxic fish aren’t too tasty and must be removed for the good of the ocean!

MonstaFish Time Attack

This mode will kill you. A lot.

MonstaFish features five distinct game modes:

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Chickens Can't Fly Lead

Chickens Can’t Fly from Amused Sloth is regarded by many as one of the best games on Xbox Live. How do you make a good game even sweeter? Put it on sale! That’s right; Chickens Can’t Fly is now the Xbox Live Deal of the Week at $1.99, down from $2.99.

In this tale of science versus nature, players control a hapless chicken as he’s harangued by cruel scientists. In each level, the chicken falls (not flies) through more than 60 massive obstacle courses while trying not to get sliced, fried, or electrocuted along the way. Great tilt controls, sharp artwork, and a subversive sense of humor make Chickens Can’t Fly a joy to play. Check out our review for more details.

Chickens Can’t Fly is due for a major title update anytime now, adding new features like Avatar Awards and asynchronous multiplayer.  Check back tomorrow when Windows Phone Central will provide an exclusive peek at how the update tweaks the difficulty for the better as well.

Chickens Can’t Fly is on sale for $1.99 for one week only. Don’t stand their crowing – get it here on the marketplace right away.

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Magenta Nokia Lumia 900 dummy phone shows up in Italy

WP Central

A non-working, magenta Lumia 900 for Italian Nokia stores

Although the rumored Magenta Lumia 900 never materialized on AT&T for Mother's day there is still plenty of evidence that the pink legend exists and someone will be getting it soon. Whether it's from Nokia's own Facebook page, a Finnish online retailer or Australia, the magenta 900 is certainly on the horizon.

Now, magenta "dummy" phones have begun appearing at Italian Nokia stores suggesting that Italy may be one of the first areas to get the device. No word on availability of anything else for that matter, just the above picture of one.

Our guess is Nokia still working to fulfill orders on the cyan, matte-black and glossy-white versions and ramping up production for magenta is taking some time. Hopefully though we'll see it soon enough here in the US and elsewhere.

Source: Nokia HD Blog; Thanks, simone, for the tip

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 WP Central

We were just mentioning how Microsoft was teasing Photosynth for Windows Phone and sure enough, the popular and creative photo stitching app is now available!

"Photosynth for Windows Phone is the panorama app that makes it easy and fun to capture and share interactive panoramas of the places, people, and events that are important to you. Using the latest in computer vision techniques, Photosynth is the acknowledged leader in mobile panorama creation. It is the only app available on any mobile platform that allows you to capture 360 degrees horizontally and vertically, making a perfect “sphere."

Once you’ve created a Photosynth, you can share it as an interactive panorama experience on Facebook and Twitter (using the free Photosynth.net service) or as a simple image. You can also publish your panoramas to Bing where millions of people will see your panoramas, on Bing Maps and in Bing search results for the places you've captured. And check out our featured list, where we show off the best of what you and your fellow users create and share."

The app seems very fluid on our Focus 2 and we'll be sure to share some test shots as soon. But for now, go forth and enjoy the latest creation from Microsoft, we're sure you'll be impressed. Leave comments on your thoughts below.

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WP Central

 

Update: Photosynth for Windows Phone is now on the Marketplace. Read here for more info and download link.

It was about two weeks ago we demonstrated that Microsoft had bumped Photosynth (photosynth.net) to version 1.0 seemingly making the release imminent for Windows Phone. The popular photo stitching app has been in the works for well over a year as we had to watch iOS users take advantage of Microsoft's panoramic software.

At the time, we speculated that the app was coming out of beta hence the 1.0 designation and now we believe that to be accurate. The Twitter account for Windows Phone just tweeeted this little bit of info in the last hour:

"If only there were a great new way to stitch your photos to create a panoramic image. If only we had something to announce soon. IF ONLY :)"

Indeed. We can't think of many apps that would be worthy of such an announcement except for Photosynth and when combined with the v1.0 status from two weeks ago, dare we say we really think it's about to happen.

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WP Central

We wrote up quite a lengthy article the other day detailing the possibility of a Facebook smartphone, or "FacePhone" for giggles, so we wont go into too much detail here to save your eyes some repetition. According to a report over at Computerworld, a mobile marketing expert based in Paris has predicted such hardware will emerge in 18 months. Yep, we know what you're thinking. Take this with a truck-load of salt.

Paul Amsellem, managing director of Mobile Network Group and the soul who believes such a device will become reality, also states that Facebook could buy Nokia with the state the manufacturer is in, which would give the social network an easy opportunity to get into the mobile market. This in itself is a wild prediction.

"Facebook will launch the FacePhone. And whether it has a blue color and a logo with a big F on it, it will definitely be disruptive. Even at this moment, Facebook doesn't know what it will look like, but they need to do it. Facebook needs somebody with an understanding of networking, technology, carrier relationships and logistics. They can acquire one of these two players [Nokia / RIM] for not a lot of money." 

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Amazon Instant Video comes to Xbox 360

Amazon Instant Video comes to XBox 360

Amazon and Microsoft have joined forces to bring Amazon's Instant Video to the XBox 360 console. Not only will users have access to Amazon's 17,000 film and television titles, but they will be able to control it all using Kinect voice and gesture commands. Speaking of the new joint venture, Ross Honey, general manager of Xbox LIVE Entertainment and Advertising at Microsoft had this to say:

“Working with Amazon.com marks a significant milestone in our mission to make the entertainment you love more amazing on Xbox. By bringing the Amazon Instant Video app to Xbox LIVE and adding voice search and voice control through the magic of Kinect, we’re transforming the way people discover and experience entertainment.”

Amazon' put out a comment of their own via their vice president for video, Anthony Bay:

“Amazon Instant Video on the Xbox 360 console is among one of the most requested video features from our customers, so we are excited to offer yet another way for customers to enjoy Amazon Instant Video.”

This is a significant move for Amazon, as XBox 360 continues to be the top-selling gaming console in the country. Microsoft, too, will benefit greatly from Amazon's huge media catalog as they strive to make XBox a one-stop place for gaming, music, video and social media.

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WP Central

Sometimes in the Windows Phone Central Forums we discuss serious issues which brings us to today’s hot thread. Today we are talking about the Lumia 900 and more specifically we are debating about the Lumia 900 "BP-6EW 1830mAh" standard Li-ion battery. Forum member ninjaap wants to know “Did your battery life get better?” as he has a Lumia 900 and he thinks his battery has become better over time.

“The first 2 weeks my battery life was terrible. It only lasted about 8hrs with normal use before wanting a charge. Then it consistently got better after every week, averaging about 12hrs. Now fast forward a few more weeks, about a month after purchase, I'm getting about a day and half on a single charge! I take it off at 8am every morning, and usually put it back on the charger at around midnight for overnight charging.”

The Lumia 900 runs on a BP-6EW 1830mAh standard Li-ion battery which is non-removable. Nokia states that this battery should provide you with 7 hours of  talk time and 300 hours of GSM standby (you can get more information at Nokia). What we want to know is how your battery is and more important has your battery become any better with time? Forum member Mayoo agrees with ninjaap:

“I noticed this as well... Battery is getting better and better”

Forum member jimski has a different opinion. He thinks that heavy use of our new phone alters our perception e.g. when we first get our new phone we use it more thereby wasting more battery. We guess it could be true but how do we really know if we're using our phones less?

“Just a guess, but it is probably related to honeymoon syndrome. The first week you had your L900, like me you couldn't put it down. A few weeks later and now you are into a more normal routine. Think that plays a big part in perceived battery performance.”

Continue reading...

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Skype

The trusty New York Times just ran a nice behind-the-acquisiton piece on Microsoft on Skype discussing how the deal is panning out between the two companies. The article is mostly positive but it does of course address a few shortcomings of the MS-Skype deal that haven't materialized so far.

Windows Phone users are no stranger to the current limitations on the Skype app for Windows Phone, specifically the inability to receive calls or messages in the background. We outlined why such a system can be problematic for the mobile OS in a separate piece though it still doesn't alleviate disappointment for those wanting a richer VOIP experience.

Addressing that criticism, a Skype spokesman told the New York Times that such a shortcoming would be addressed in a future version of the software. While certainly positive sounding it still leaves many questions for us. For instance are we still talking about on Windows Phone 7.x or Windows Phone 8? Is there a distinction between the two development branches? What about devices like the Nokia Lumia 610 who can't run Skype? And of course, when will said update come?

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WP Central

Well colour us all surprised. O2 Germany has confirmed, via Twitter, that the 32GB Lumia 900 is actually what's on offer and is not a typo on the website as we first presumed. The Windows Phone in question isn't just any old Lumia 900 either, it's the glossy white version, which has been listed on the carriers website as "coming soon"

There's still no word on pricing or availability just yet, and it'll be interesting to see if this 32GB variant makes its way elsewhere, especially with some owners demanding more storage.

Check out O2's tweet below (ignore the rough translation):

O2 32GB Lumia 900

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Talkbox

The mobile messaging service TalkBox had a nice little launch last week and has since racked up some solid reviews grabbing 4.5 stars out of 5. Not bad for a version 1.0 though clearly the app can use some fixes and features e.g. landscape for typing, Toast notifications that take you directly to the message, perhaps pinnable contacts, etc.

The good news is an updated version should be coming this week. We're not entirely sure on the changes but we'll get you that list as soon as possible. One thing we're certain of, the TalkBox team seems set on delivering a rock-solid experience on Windows Phone, which leads us to Windows 8...

As you can see below, the TalkBox team is evidently working on a a desktop application for their push-to-talk messaging service, which will allow you chat via texting or voice clips to all of your contacts on Windows Phone, iOS, Android and eventually even BlackBerry.

TalkBox for Windows 8 Desktop

No word on specific features but as you can see from the images, it looks to support everything the mobile clients handle. The design also looks bright and minimal which should keep the Metro-peeps happy out there.

It's great to see developers taking the ability to co-develop for Windows Phone and Windows 8 seriously as we can only imagine such a strategy will be very helpful to their brand. We'll keep you posted on any more info that we get, so stay tuned.

WP Central

Pick up TalkBox for Windows Phone for free here in the Marketplace.

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WP Central

UK mobile phone retailer Phones 4u has published their pre-order page for the limited edition Batman Lumia 900. Available for pre-order today, the special Lumia 900 is set to be in stock online and in selected flagship Phones 4u stores from June 1st.

As well as receiving the limited edition Windows Phone, each purchase will be bundled with cinema tickets to see The Dark Knight Rises, with a chance to win a VIP experience at the premier. Phones 4u states this offer is also available to those who purchase standard Lumia 900s (in case black isn't your colour).

The device itself features a Nokia app for The Dark Knight Rises that packs wallpapers, trailers, ringtones and a location-based game using Foursquare. The limited edition Batman Lumia 900 is available for free on contracts starting at £30/mo on Orange and Vodafone, but should you wish to purchase one without a plan, you'll be set back by £599.95.

Selected flagship Phone 4u stores, which will all stock the Batman Lumia 900 are as follows: Merry Hill (Dudley), Newcastle upon Tyne, Metro Centre (Gateshead), Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Plymouth, Oxford Street (London), Stratford (London), Manchester, Luton, Portsmouth, and Cardiff.

Source: Phones 4u; thanks, Alex, for the heads up!

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Nokia has an enticing television advertisement for Germany, which sports an identical theme to commercials aired in other countries. What's special about the Lumia 900 in to Germany is a 32GB version (16GB only - was a typo on O2's end), which appears to be exclusive to O2 DE thus far, is on its way.

This Windows Phone will feature the amount of storage that has been continuously requested by consumers. Still no word on when the device will be available for order, but for the meantime (should storage not be an issue) you can always pick up the 16GB version from Amazon.

Source: YouTube; thanks, Jan, for the heads up!

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Sonic 4 Episode II Xbox 360 Impressions

Sonic 4 Episode II Red Ring

Windows Phone Central has eagerly covered SEGA’s Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II ever since its first official announcement. The Windows Phone version is still due out in July, but the console and PC versions have already arrived. As such, here are my impressions of Sonic 4: Episode II on Xbox Live Arcade.

Episode II has a larger budget than the original game and it shows. The game starts out with an actual intro sequence, followed by more story bits later on. Graphically, Sonic and Tails are fully 3D and look great in close-ups like those in the bonus levels. The backgrounds feature more interesting and varied locales than before, such as White Park’s snow-covered theme park. New lighting and show effects impress as well. These graphical improvements extend to the currently-available iPhone version, so expect a similar boost on Windows Phone as well. I wish I could say the music had improved, but it sounds as unimpressive as the last game. Can’t have everything, I guess.

As with Episode I, there are four zones, each with three acts a piece. My favorites are the third and fourth zones, Oil Desert and Sky Fortress. The desert stage involves features unique set pieces like sliding down oil slicks, jumping to avoid sinking into quick sand, and frantically climbing silos as they fill with more death-dealing sand. Sky Fortress starts out with Sonic riding along on Tails’ biplane, just as he did in Sonic 2. After that engaging aerial sequence, look forward to navigating the exterior of an airship, running along walls, and firing Sonic from cannons to reach new areas.

Head past the break for more Xbox 360 impressions and details on the upcoming Windows Phone port!

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WP Central

Unlocked Mobiles has joined Amazon by offering the Lumia 900 Windows Phone for £445.98, a fairly attractive price. The recently launched flagship device is also available at Clove UK for £468 after a delay due to high demand present in American markets.

Sporting a 4.3" display, 1.4Ghz chip, 512MB RAM, 8MP rear shooter (with FF camera) and 16GB storage, the black Lumia 900 is available for next-day delivery with optional insurance from Unlocked Mobiles.

Will you be picking one up?

Source: Unlocked Mobiles

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BBC says no to iPlayer for Windows Phone?

WP Central

Say what? It was only Friday when we reported that Nokia had told The Inquirer that a BBC iPlayer app is on the way for Windows Phone, and should arrive within the next few weeks. Now we have Pocket-lint publishing an article stating otherwise with a response from the British corporation.

"BBC iPlayer is already on over 500 platforms and devices including Virgin Media, BT Vision, FreeSat, Freeview, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, and hundreds of mobile phones, tablets and Internet-connected TVs,” said the BBC spokesman. 

We are always looking at new and existing platforms to bring BBC iPlayer to, but have no plans to launch a BBC iPlayer native app in Windows Phone Marketplace in the immediate future.”

We'd like to point out that we believe the above statement to be a template response, and shouldn't be taken as what's final on the status of such an app. It would be strange for Nokia to confirm that the BBC iPlayer is coming to Lumia Windows Phones when it isn't, especially since the manufacturer has been superb with public and developer relations thus far. But then again, anything can happen.

We've contacted the BBC and Nokia for more information. We'll update accordingly.

Source: Pocket-lint

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Lumia 610 and Angry Birds?

A few days ago some sites made some hay over the fact that the Nokia Lumia 610 (and any other 256MB devices) can't run certain apps or games. Some of the big titles thrown out include Tango Video Calls, Skype and and Angry Birds which at first blush appears to be bad news. Insert fragmentation commentary, yadda yadda.

While certainly true, the situation is far from permanent or dire. In short, neither app has been updated for 256MB devices as requested by Microsoft. There's no real reason why Angry Birds can't be optimized for 256MB devices, nor presumably Tango Video Calls. Heck, Angry Birds has barely been updated at all on Windows Phone.

That's about to change though as Rovio is working on a 256MB optimized version for the Luma 610 and any other low-end Windows Phones. Heidi Lemmetyinen, Editor-in-Chief, Nokia Conversations, responded in comments on Nokia's Blog with the following (translated):

"The Rovio team is currently being Angry Birds Lumia 610 for the optimized version. Yet it is not therefore available to the public but we've known about this.  We will notify you, of course as soon as possible."

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