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Independent gaming developer Epic Pixel is scheduled to release their fish-eat-fish game Grow later this week. Grow has been a hit over on the Android Marketplace and based on the trailer video, it should see similar success here on the Windows Phone platform.

The goal is simple; eat everything in sight. You start in a jar, progress to an aquarium and eventually you'll end up in the ocean. Grow has 78 levels that spans 7 environments.  There is also a seven level survival mode to keep you on your toes.

 

Grow heading to Windows Phone

To help you along the way there are power-ups and upgrades that can be unlocked. Six types of enemies will appear to try to ruin your day.  You have three options to move your fish around in the water.  You can use the Windows Phone tilt sensors, a virtual joystick or a touch-move set up. 

Grow is slated for release on April 27th for $2.99. We'll keep an eye out for the new Windows Phone game and follow up with our first impressions and Grow's Marketplace link.

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WP Central

We've just received word that the Lumia 710 and 800 are on sale in Mexico City on Iusacell. Sales teams are reportedly pushing both Windows Phones positively with recommending the devices as "excellent phones". Booths are available in-store for customers (and potential buyers) to experience interactive demos.

We previously covered both devices heading to the country in the week just gone. The Lumia 710 is available at Iusacell from just $320 (pesos) on 24 month plans while the Lumia 800 is priced at $729 (pesos).

Lumia 710 Mexico Lusacell

The Lumia 710 is also featured on the Iusacell home page. It's positive to see the carrier in Mexico actively promoting Windows Phones, both online and off.

Source: Iusacell (Lumia 710 / Lumia 800); Thanks Pablo for the tip and photos!

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Although the "Smoked by Windows Phone" campaign will always be controversial due to its selective nature, they're still fun to watch and occasionally surprise us. Malaysia is now getting in on the action and while this contest business is a bit "old" for us we have to understand that for a lot of folks, it's not.

In the above video, a different Ben from Microsoft takes on others in the challenge to beat Windows Phone during various predetermined tasks. Nothing new there but at 1:50 we do see a challenger with the brand new quad-core HTC One X, considered by many to the new top of the line Android phone (see AndroidCentral's review). The challenge was simple: take a photo of yourself, upload it to Facebook and tag it, but due to some fumbling around with the One X, the poor participant gets his beat fairly easily.

Of course it doesn't make the One X any less impressive as this contest is a bit fixed with tasks that favor Windows Phone. And perhaps with a different user the One X would have been a lot more effective at competing. But the purpose of the "Smoked" campaign is not to be fair but rather to demonstrate the efficiency of Windows Phone for common tasks that users are likely to use everyday. That focus on simplicity is important and while Windows Phone may not be the absolute winner, it does hold its own against Android and iOS.

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SkyDrive app for Windows Phone

Busy day here at WPCentral and for Windows Phone. While we just reported the official Skype app going "gold" and hitting version 1.0 users can also go get the official SkyDrive app which is now at version 2.0. Coming out last December, the official SkyDrive app was a long over-due addition to Windows Phone and this update coincides nicely with the recent backend changes, including more friendly URLs.

There doesn't seem to be that many new features but there are a few that we've noticed. The UI has been re-worked a bit especially for dialogs and menu options. In addition, the ability to batch-select items for deletion or moving will come as a great tool for many

SkyDrive v2.0

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Skype for Windows Phones goes gold and hits v1.0

Skype

Just as folks are buying up the Glossy-White Nokia Lumia 900 on this fine Sunday, Microsoft has finally pushed the button the official Skype app for Windows Phone.

While it was at v0.2 in a private beta since the end of February, the finalized v1.0 has just gone live in the Marketplace. Bringing the ability to now search for and add new contacts, call to landlines, some optimizations and other minor improvements, the app is a fairly solid performer allowing video and VOIP calls over 3g/4g and WiFi connections.

Skype

Of course users will still be disappointed with no background functionality, making the service still a bit of a novelty for most people. Not being able to receive calls in the background is a bit of a deal killer, especially when rival service Tango Video Call is out on the market allowing this functionality (the latter also has better video quality for us).

Still, for those new to Windows Phone or who absolutely need to use Skype, go get your official v1.0 app now in the Marketplace here. Thanks, Andreas, for the tip!

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Sonic 4: Episode II Bonus Level

For a few short hours yesterday, anyone who preordered Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II on Steam (the most popular provider of downloadable PC games) had the chance to download and play a near-complete beta version of the game. Not long thereafter, somebody realized the error, removed the beta, and deactivated it from users' Steam libraries. Before that happened, several players managed to rush through the game, capturing some lovely new screenshots and videos for the rest of us to see.  This sneak peak gives us a feel for what's in store for our Windows Phone later this summer.

Head past the break for new gameplay details and videos.

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Marketplace down!

What could be a very temporary glitch, we're seeing the Windows Phone Marketplace erring out for new downloads of apps. Numerous reports have just been sent in to us that users cannot download new apps to their Windows Phone.

Upon trying it ourselves, we repeated the error, listed as c101abb9, numerous times on a few devices.

We're not going to get too worked up about this as Microsoft could be updating some of those backend servers (and Saturday nights are probably lowest in traffic) or maybe it could be something bigger.

Update: Seems to be widespread as it is affecting Xbox 360 and some general LIVE services at the moment. Hotmail is working though.

Update 2: As of about 9:45pm EST, the Marketplace on our phone and others has started to work again

We'll keep an eye out but for now, if you're experiencing the same, you're not alone. Thanks, XboxOmac and Kalet B., for the tips

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WP Central

Although web browser IDs can be easily faked, these data strings from DSLReport's mobile site look fairly legit, if only because they don't push the boundaries too far. According to WMPU, a few instances of Windows Phone 8 OS (aka "Apollo") have been caught doing some download tests on both T-Mobile and Verizon, with the later using LTE.

The names "Nokia Fluid" and "Qualcomm Fluid" are used as device IDs with Internet Explorer 10 caught as the browser in question doing the test. No details are currently known about that device though it's safe to presume it'll be a killer "premier" phone to kick of the new OS, assuming the info is accurate. And that's a big "if".

Nokia Fluid

Along the same lines, WMPU notes that their server logs have showed numerous device resolutions showing up that have WP8 as their ID. Those two resolutions include 768×768 and 480×480 which are ideal options for BlackBerry messenger phones.

On WPCentral, we too have had some Windows Phone 8 visits (56 unique to be exact) and like WMPU we see similar info, listed below:

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Developer Interview: Pratik Kothari of Techark Solutions

WP Central

For this week's developer interview we've had the pleasure of being joined by Pratik Kothari of Techark Solutions. The company has produced some high quality (and highly rated) Windows Phone apps with Social Mints, Mood Swing and RedMinder to name but a few.

As well as having Social Mints winning the Core77 Fast Track to the Mobile App International Design Challenge and being featured at Mobile World Congress by Microsoft, the developer has also been selected for the "Your App Here" campaign.

Head on past the break to read the full interview.

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WP Central

Today marks day one of the Dare to Live marketing campaign by Microsoft and Nokia that will have the teams tour the UK challenging the public to see if their smartphones can beat Windows Phone (white Lumia 800s were used at today's event). Much like the Smoked by Windows Phone challenges that have been held across the globe, participants will pocket £20 on the street if they can beat Windows Phone at standard tasks.

Should they lose, participants will have the opportunity to take on the Microsoft team with a dare. Whether it be tightrope walking or the Big Air, the dares are fear destroying. We went down to the Westfield shopping centre in Shepard's Bush to see what was happening. As one can see from the photos, it was quite a sight to see inside the building. There were a number of losing contestants who took to the ropes and bagged themselves a "DARED" Windows Phone shirt.

Be sure to view the tour calendar to be sure as to when the team will be at a city near you. For now check out more photos after the break.

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Update!

We heard rumblings that the some Lumia 900s are shipping with an earlier firmware than the data-fix one pushed out last Friday. Our Glossy-White Lumia 900 came with a green-dot on the box, meaning it should be "ok" for data usage. But a quick glance of the firmware and we noticed a discrepancy: it was 2175.1000.8112.12082.

That's the old firmware. The one that had a memory issue causing errant data connections with the Lumia 900.

Indeed, when we plugged into our trusty Zune Desktop we were quickly prompted that an update was available. A quick 10 minutes later and we were on the latest firmware with the important data fix on board which is 2175.1002.8112.12084.

Firmware

So take heed everyone, don't trust the green dot on the box. Double check your firmware and make sure you sync up with Zune to see if there's an update, otherwise you're likely to have problems.

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The Stormtrooper!

Though it technically goes on sale tomorrow, we reported yesterday evening that some stores were selling the super limited and highly coveted Glossy-White Nokia Lumia 900. A device which has already earned the nickname 'The Stormtrooper.' We likey.

We managed to track one down (literally, it was the only one) here in midtown Manhattan and we picked it up for quite a steal ($99 and all we did was extend our contract by 3 months). To celebrate the latest addition to the Lumia 900 family, we figured we'd snap a couple of photos for you to get you drooling a bit and even do an old-fashioned unboxing video for giggles.

Many have concerns about the durability of the Glossy-White polycarbonate shell of the Lumia 900, specifically if it scratches or gets dirty. While we can't answer that now, we'll be putting it through its paces of the next few weeks.

The Stormtrooper

For what its worth, the AT&T representative told us that Nokia's flagship phone has been selling very well, basically clearing off the shelves. That's a big deal for a store smack in the middle of the Big Apple. There are no Cyans around but we were told that customers were still ordering them and getting them direct fulfilled in about 2 days time, which ain't half bad.

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Battlewagon, Deer Hunter, Glyder price drops

A short while ago, the prices of seven Xbox Live titles permanently dropped to 99 cents each – the lowest a paid Live game has ever cost. But seven games was not enough for some people. “More!” you cried. Microsoft and a couple of publishers heard your cries, and now three more games have dropped to 99 cents.

Now, I'll abstain from commenting on the quality of these games, but the lower prices should certainly make them more palatable... Especially Deer Hunter 3D, which launched at $4.99 even though the iOS version has long cost 99 cents. And it has one broken Achievement which Glu Mobile officially decided not to fix. Okay, so I picked on one of the games. I do it because I love you guys. If you’ve been looking cheap games to play, at least your options continue to expand.

Thanks to TNTJudbud for the tip!

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Executive Caddie for Nokia

Last week we reported on the possibility of the popular and highly rated golfing app Executive Caddie coming to the Nokia Collection in the Marketplace. Today, WPCentral can confirm that this is indeed correct and we'll see a new edition, called Executive Caddie +, headed to Lumia devices in the first two-weeks of May. What's more, we have all the details below including exclusive screenshots.

Boasting the "largest and most accurate Golf Course Database in the World", the app is very well done and has even won a Windows Phone app challenge. Evidently it's so good, Nokia decided to add them to their growing list of exclusive and unique apps for Lumia phones, including the popular Lumia 900.

Executive Caddie for Nokia

Executive Caddie + builds off of the current app in the Marketplace (available for free) but adds some new and unique features, including:

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White Lumia 900

Although we're expecting the white Lumia 900 to go on sale this Sunday, Nokia's North American President, Chris Weber, posted on Twitter a couple of photos with customers buying the phones today (see below).

We called six corporate stores (and one affiliate) here in metro New York to find out what the situation is for selling them early. Most stores received one demo unit to be put on display but aren't allowed to sell that one (obviously). Those same stores are expecting a second shipment of white Lumia's either today or tomorrow for purchases, however it is as their discretion if they will let them out the door early.

Most stores we spoke with seemed to be adhering to the "launch date" of Sunday the 22nd but of course, exceptions abound.

WP Central

The glossy-white Lumia 900 will sell for the same $99 price point ($450 of contract) as the near impossible to find cyan and abundant matte-black. Should you be so lucky as to get one early, hit us up in comments.

Source: Chris Weber (Twitter 1, 2); Thanks, Motorcycle Jim, for the lead image

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TalkBox

We mentioned TalkBox way back in November coming to Windows Phone. The popular messaging app derives its name from the ability to do press-n-hold a button to send mini-voice clips to your friends, basically making it a lazy man's chat program.

The app was in private beta for the last week and we've been running it during that time on our Titan II. It's undergone quite the makeover from its alpha days and we have to give the TalkBox team a nod for making it well designed (we really like the splash screen).

The service is free, it can scan your contacts to find other TalkBox users, allows you to send pics, type back and fort, share location and of course send those voice clips.

TalkBox

The service has been on iOS and Android for some time, is in beta on BlackBerry and even alpha on dying webOS. That's good news as it means it's not a new service, allowing you to connect up to the rest of your non-Windows Phone users.

The app won't be in the Marketplace for a few weeks as the company has just opened up its pilot program for all of those who can side-load (aka developer unlocked devices). So if you feel like lending a hand or just want to give it a go, head to the source link to read the details and grab the XAP file.

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Nokia Lumia 800

We've previously reported on how the Lumia 710 and 800 do not support Internet Sharing, but the 610 and 900 do. It's a slight pain that has separated Lumia Windows Phone owners. Thankfully Nokia has confirmed that tethering will be available on both the Lumia 710 and 800 in a future firmware update - something we're currently on the lookout for.

The folks from Plaffo are reporting that the official Nokia Lumia Update section of the website is reporting that Lumia 800 firmware on Vodafone in Italy is currently in development. The site notes that they've already received 12070 so this alteration on the update page has to be a future version. As well as Italy, both Vodafone Spain (thanks SmartphoneApps.es) and UK are also "software under creation".

WP Central

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Cyan Lumia 900 sells out on Best Buy's website

WP Central

Though the past few days have looked fairly grim for Nokia, who posted a €590 loss for Q1, there is some positive news for the Finnish manufacturer.  It appears that signs of strong sales of the Lumia 900 have proven true, especially for the cyan model, which has now sold out completely on Best Buy's website.  We saw the same thing happen a few days ago over at AT&T, who initially sold out of both the black and cyan, but has since restocked their black models.  The cyan, however, still remains "temporarily out of stock." 

Lumia 900 sells out on Best Buy's website

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AboutOne to be released exclusively on Windows Phone

WP Central

AboutOne (official website) is a Philadelphia-based, Microsoft BizSpark featured startup that helps families securely organise themselves online or with the upcoming Windows Phone app. AboutOne CEO Joanne Lang will speak at Philadelphia's Women in Tech Summit, showcasing the service and app.

The event will see the launch of the beta version, which incorporates a year's worth of customer feedback. Lang explains what the Windows Phone app will bring to the mobile platform:

"AboutOne turns Windows Phone into a remote control for everyday tasks by adding online filing and reporting to customers' existing calendar and contact tools to provide fast, easy access to family memories and household paperwork. AboutOne automatically combines and formats this information so it's instantly useful - anytime, anywhere."

AboutOne App

The service uses patented technology that the company, which specialises in cloud-based computing, uses to:

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Monster Island PDLC Achievement

Monster Island’s Xbox Live launch on Wednesday was odd for a couple of reasons. First, only people located in the US could buy it, even though past Miniclip games launched worldwide. Second, one of Monster Island’s Achievements, ‘Big Spender,’ is tied directly to purchasing $3 worth of PDLC. That raised my eyebrows pretty much off my head, and I know I’m not alone.

Only a couple of days after its US-only release, Monster Island no longer shows up while browsing or searching the Marketplace. For all intents and purposes it has been pulled, though you can still grab it from the link in our previous article. Why was it pulled? No official word on that yet, but we do know that Microsoft is actively investigating the Achievement issue, thanks in part to yours truly. The Big Spender Achievement breaking well-known Xbox Live rules and the seemingly erroneous US-only launch are the most likely reasons for the game’s removal.

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The Smartphone Beta Test - Carl Zeiss Optics [Video]

The Smartphone Beta Test is the latest marketing campaign from Nokia that's to be continuously rolled out in the U.S. The videos highlight key features of the Lumia handsets, with the above commercial focusing on the Carl Zeiss optics. Nokia is set to release more firmware updates to introduce Internet sharing among other features missing from the Windows Phone experience.

It's interesting that the ad states the Lumia handsets sport better camera specifications for low-light photography, which we'd agree with. But we've said before that it would appear as though the hardware is a slight let down with regards to performance on the Lumia 900.

Source: Youtube; thanks Konstantin for the tip!

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WP Central

The Windows Phone UK team are giving away four Windows Phone mugs to those who send in the best photos representing Spring. With the constant weather alterations we're currently experiencing, now would be a perfect time to get snapping to win your own brew server. The winning photos will be selected based on originality and how eye catching they are compared to other submissions - check the above photo for inspiration.

To put forward your entry, simply follow the Windows Phone UK team on Twitter and tweet them your photo. Be sure to include what app you used (if any) to add effects. On the official announcement post the team have encouraged the use of photo editing apps for Windows Phone. There are a number available, some which we've recommended ourselves. Also, why not check out our Windows Phone camera tutorial to make sure you get the most out of your camera's performance?

You've got until April 26th (17:00) to get your submissions in and note that this competition is open to UK residents only. Check out the terms and conditions for more information.

Source: Windows Phone UK

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Best Weather Apps for your Windows Phone

WPCentral's list of the best weather apps for Windows Phone

Best Weather Apps for Windows Phones

Your Windows Phone is a great way to stay in touch with what is happening in the world and with things that impact your daily grind. The weather is one thing most of us will have a need to keep track of.  There are plenty of weather apps to choose from over at the Windows Phone Marketplace but which one will work out best with your shiny new Nokia Lumia 900 or trusty old Samsung Focus.

We've tossed together a small collection of weather apps we like that offers a wide range of choices.  What might be useful for your needs might not match someone else's. We have the basic weather app that shows you the current conditions and extended forecast and the weather apps that would make your local weatherman jealous.

So hit the break and see out selection of the best weather apps out there for your Windows Phone.

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If there is one thing you can count on, it's Nokia throwing a great launch party regardless of the location. From London to New York, Nokia has some great flair for device announcements.

A few weeks ago we broke the news of Nokia launching the Lumia 710 and 800 in the Philippines -- an important region for the Finnish company and Windows Phone. The Lumia 710 was launching on Smart while the Lumia 800 was going to carrier Globe. Tonight that launch happened and globe-trotter Mark Guim who runs The Nokia Blog (and the always interesting Married 2 Travel site) was there to film it.

Besides DJs, a great light show and...is that the Blue Man Group?...Nokis seems to have thrown together a popular and successful launch. Kudos to Nokia and to the Philippines -- welcome to the Amazing Everyday.

Source: The Nokia Blog

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Windows Phone Marketplace

If you're an extremely busy developer with little time available to submit your app(s) to emerging markets that are being added to the ecosystem, then Microsoft is ready to lend a hand. Developers (including our Jay Bennett) have or will be receiving an email from the software giant requesting permission to submit apps to the new markets with no effort required from the developer. From the email:

"We are reaching out to ask your permission to cross-submit each of your Windows Phone apps into the markets* identified below, which includes more than 25 new markets.  We realize that the process to cross-submit takes time out of your busy schedule, so we are requesting your permission to submit all of your applications on your behalf to save you time and effort.  This will provide an opportunity for your apps to get additional exposure in new markets which may lead to more downloads and more revenue for your app(s)."

Markets included in the cross-submission are Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Croatia, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine, and Venezuela and will announce UAE, Bahrain, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Israel, Thailand, and Vietnam. For paid apps, Microsoft will convert the base USD pricing set to local currencies.

Developers who receive the email have until April 27th to respond. It's good to know the team is looking at ways to aid the app building community whenever possible.

Thanks Scott and Dave for the tip!

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