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InstaCam is a Windows Phone Instagram client

InstaCam is now in the Marketplace

InstaCam is a Windows Phone Instagram client that just hit the Marketplace yesterday.  It allows you to take pictures on your phone, add different effects, and then share them via Facebook, Twitter or email.  You can log into your Instagram account to check "likes" and comments on your uploaded content.  You can also view other people's photos and leave comments, or follow them if you're a fan of their work.  The search function can find photos based on key words in pictures' tags.  Not an Instagram user?  No worries, you can still use InstaCam to browse content anonymously.

This first iteration of InstaCam contains a lot of features, including a couple exclusive photo effects.  However, there are more features on the way.  The developers are already planning on adding geolocation search, view changes, and more.

InstaCam is free and can be downloaded here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Thanks, peestandingup, for the tip!

QR: InstaCam

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Jet Car Stunts

With this week’s Xbox Live release of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, racing fans have a lot to keep them busy. But the Xbox Live Deal of the Week, Jet Car Stunts, is worth a look too. Even though it’s got cars, it couldn’t be more different than a traditional racing game.

In Jet Car Stunts, you pilot the titular flying automobile across tracks that are suspended in the air. The goal is not just to get good completion times on each track, but also to stay on the track and avoid plummeting to your doom. It’s not my cup of tea, but people who like difficult challenge-based games like Trials will probably enjoy it. Don’t forget to check out our mini interview with the developer! Also note that the first Achievement you’ll get is worth only 2 GamerScore, which might annoy OCD gamers.

Jet Car Stunts is on sale for $1.99 (down from $2.99) for one week only. Grab it here on the Marketplace.

QR: Jet Car Stunts

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VP of Design at Nokia interviewed by The Guardian

WP Central

The Guardian has interviewed Marko Ahtisaari (seen above), executive vice president of design at Nokia. Being responsible for the look and feel of the Lumia family of handsets, Ahtisaari was questioned on how the unique polycarbonate body design (Lumia 800 and 900) came to be, the partnership (and integration) with Microsoft, and what will be brought to the table by Nokia next. 

"Live Tiles; they're abstractions of data, a panoramic view of your data. It's a different approach - 'glanceability', such as in the People Hub. Our goal in the studio is to design so that people can have their head up again. Touchscreen designs are often immersive; we'll often see couples in a restaurant pinching and zooming, but not interacting with each other. And there's a trend of having smaller and smaller targets on screen so you have to get closer and closer.

If we can make the interfaces more direct, so you can have your head up again – this is something that, while it would never come up in a focus group, is deeply appreciated by people, because the most important things are happening not only in the vessel of your phone, but also with the people and the environment around you."

Discussing MeeGo, iOS and Android, Ahtisaari speaks highly of the platform UIs, but notes fragmentation and lack of evolution since  innovation (especially the case with iOS). We shouldn't view what's currently available as the end of user interface development, he continues:

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SJ7

The Sega Master System and Game Gear emulator for Windows Phone which allows you to load up ROMs is now live in the Marketplace! Going by the name of Sonic's Jewels (SJ7), the app fetches for a fair $1.29 with a free trial.

In our preview a few days ago (see video after the break) we gave the emulator high praise for being extremely well designed with fluid transitions and numerous options including:

  • Pinnable games to the Start screen with Live Tiles
  • Three save slots per game; instant resume
  • Skydrive support for importing games
  • Frame skips for 1st Gen devices
  • Portrait & Landscape support

Needless to say, we really like it. The one down side that as of right now, there is no sound emulation. But guess what? The developer has solved this problem and the next update brings full sound emulation to the mix. Don't believe us? Head past the break for a demonstration.

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WP Central

The official Vimeo app is now available in the Marketplace, which allows users to upload, manage and view content on the network. While there's already an unofficial app available by Ashtech Software (our review), it's good to see some more big brand love for the platform (plus the official offering is free). 

The app itself looks great, the development team really have used the Metro UI to create a unique experience for Windows Phone users. Some feature highlights:

  • Watch and manage all your existing Vimeo videos
  • Watch videos from your Vimeo inbox, Watch Later queue, or videos you have liked
  • Easily like, comment on, and add videos to your Watch Later queue
  • Discover new and fascinating featured videos
  • Quickly search for videos on Vimeo
  • Easily upload your footage in HD
  • Pause and resume uploads
  • Replace existing videos
  • Edit titles, descriptions, tags, privacy settings, and credits
  • Share via Facebook, Twitter, email, or SMS
  • Add videos to your Groups, Channels, and Albums
  • Get stats on plays, likes, and comments

You can download Vimeo from the Marketplace for free. 

Thanks everyone who tipped us on this!

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Portals 2D is a free download until February 7th

Portals 2D

Should you enjoy Portal on the consoles and PC, then you'll love Portals 2D (by Weesals) on your Windows Phone. Taking an interesting 2D birds-eye route, this indie title feels like a unique game due to the different camera angle from 1st person to the clouds. The concept is exactly the same with cubes, portals, lasers, a portal gun and the requirement of a quick thinking mind.

The most intriguing feature of this Portals 2D is not the superb graphics (vaguely reminiscent of GTA China Town Wars?), but the price - it's available for absolutely nothing until February 7th. You can download Portals 2D from the Marketplace. Note that there are two entries for this app, be sure to download the one we link to.

Thanks gh8421 for the tip!

QR: Portals 2D

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Nokia Lumia 710 and 800 lands in Malaysia on Feb 10th

Nokia Lumia 800 and 710 to Malaysia

Nokia's global launch of the Lumia line of Windows Phones continues with the Malaysian wireless market set to get both the Nokia Lumia 710 and Lumia 800 on February 10, 2012.

No word on pricing for the new Windows Phones and according to Lowyat.net you can find the Lumia 710 and 800 at the Nokia Store in the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur shopping mall and in Gardens Mid Valley.

source: Lowyat.net; Thanks, Chapree, for the tip!

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NFS

This week's Xbox LIVE title, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, is now live in the Marketplace.

Fetching for $4.99 with a trial, the game is one of the must-have's coming over the next few weeks to our trusted OS. The game itself looks like a lot of fun and should be a nice addition for you racing junkies:

FEEL THE RUSH OF THE ESCAPE AND THE THRILL OF THE TAKEDOWN! Outrun the law as a Racer in supercars like the Pagani Zonda Cinque – or stop racers cold as a Cop in high-speed police interceptors like the Lamborghini Reventon. Enabled for Xbox LIVE®, experience pulse-pounding action as you make the escape or make the bust with Need for Speed™ Hot Pursuit on Windows Phone 7.

TEAR UP THE LEADERBOARDS!
Use your existing Xbox LIVE Gamertag or create a new one via the Windows Phone 7 main menu to track achievements and access leaderboards.

CHASE ACHIEVEMENTS
Drive up to 20 precision-performance cars in adrenaline-fueled showdowns across 24 day-and-night tracks. Take it to the limit in 48 total Cop and Racer Career Events, collect bounty, and rise to the top of the ranks.

DUEL IT OUT ON THE ROAD
As a Cop, lay down the law with roadblocks and spike strips – or fry the Racer’s electrical system with an EMP lock. As a Racer, make the getaway with overdrive, jamming, and oil slicks.

Grab NFS: Hot Pursuit here in the Marketplace. Let us know in comments if it gets a 'yay' or 'nay'. We'll have a review up soon!

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Ask Ziggy Overhauled!

We covered Ask Ziggy last month and it sure gained a lot of attention. While the Siri-like app itself was a great first start, it certainly lacked the ability to do some basic functions like tell the weather or what time it is. Still, for being done by one guy it did do some neat tricks as our video pointed out (see after the break for a refresher).

Currently though, Ask Ziggy's Nuance engine is on the fritz. It's a temporary problem that has to do with basically too many people using it. The exceeded limits though should be restored soon, so sit tight. And it's fixed already!

But the big news, as you can peep from the screenshots, is the huge overhaul the app is getting for the next version. Ask Ziggy is getting all "Metrofied" as many of you had requested and boy, do we like the look. On top of that it handles a lot more functionality, including:

  • Weather
  • Time
  • Reminders
  • Maps/Geolocation

Ask Ziggy Overhauled!

And we hear there's a lot more in the works. In fact, the developer, Shai Leib, is now working full-time on this project meaning we can expect some serious changes in the coming months.

Ask Ziggy: maps

No word on ETA for the next version but we'll keep you posted with a hands on as soon as we can. Certainly though we're very excited about where this is going. Folks, take our word, you haven't seen anything yet.

You can pick up the current version here in the Marketplace for free, but until Nuance resets their limits, it may not work.

Updated: Added Map/Geolocation pics. Also, Nuance is working again!

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VSA

We mentioned Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Phone just over a month ago. The pet project by developer Den Delimarsky picks up where Microsoft's Channel 9 left off. In short, these are achievements...but for developers! And now you can track them easily on your Windows Phone, thanks to Den's app.

Nerd alert!

Having said that, the app itself is pretty awesome with the ability to track your achievements as well as sharing and comparing your scores to others for ultimate bragging rights.

Read more on Channel 9's Visual Studio Achievements here and read more at Den's blog over yonder.

Grab the free app here and now in the Marketplace.

QR: VSA

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Indonesia

It only takes a few hours to go by before we get a new report of a Nokia launch somewhere. While the info may not be of interest to all of our readers, it's important for the OS to spread as far and wide as possible. And having Windows Phone with Nokia's backing land in Indonesia is nothing to ignore either. With nearly 240 million people, it's a fairly large population yearning for some smartphone technology from the likes of Redmond and Finland.  So it's with great interest to see Indonesian news site Detikinet reporting that the Lumia 710 and 800 are both headed to that country within in weeks:

"Anvid Erdian, Product Manager Nokia Indonesia stated that Nokia is still as planned in the series Lumia brought to Indonesia in Q1 2012. "Approximately in February"...The price is pegged in the range of Rp 5 million to Lumia 800 and Rp 3 million for Lumia 710."

We're also told by reader Rahadyan that Nokia has two events in preparation for the launch that may interest some locals:

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Microsoft does Chinese New Year with a Metro twist

Red Envelope

For those of you near China/Hong Kong (or like ourselves, in New York City) Chinese New Year is a pretty big deal and tends to be a lot of fun. So it's very cool to see Microsoft getting into the mix by distributing traditional Chinese "Red Envelopes" to the media as a New Year's gift. In case you're unfamiliar with the ritual, here you go from MIC Gadget:

"Traditionally, the married Chinese will give a red envelope with certain amount of money inside as a monetary gift to children and unmarried adults during the Lunar New Year. The red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and the money was known as “ya sui qian”, meaning “money warding off evil spirits”. It was believed to protect the elderly from sickness and death too. In modern day, the envelopes are not just in red color, some will used gold color. Gold represents good luck and wealthy, that is another favorite color for the Chinese. "

Red Envelope

As noted though, there was sadly no money in those envelopes meaning the press had to find other means for cash. We're not going to lie though, we'd like to get our hands on one of these for a souvenir!

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Now that's cheap...

Just in case $39 was too much at a T-Mobile store for the Nokia Lumia 710, you can head to your local (har har) Microsoft Store and pick up that bad boy for the low-low price of FREE. Of course, they're just not throwing free phones at customers as you do have to commit to a 2-year contract. But hey, that's not a bad deal.

And since the chances of you actually living near a MS store are a bit slim (you can check here though), you can also order by phone or online, making this a pretty good deal to share with others.

Source: Microsoft Store Online; Thanks, Justin W., for the tip

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Nokia Lumia 710 and 800 coming to New Zealand in March

Telecom NZ

Good news for those in New Zealand--you'll be getting both the Nokia Lumia 710 and the Lumia 800 come March, finally bringing some solid Gen 2 devices your way.

The big winner is Telecom NZ who will be getting both devices with the "exclusive" interestingly on the 710, while Vodafone NZ will be getting the Lumia 800 for their customers. The info comes by way of two sources: Nokia NZ who Tweeted as much earlier today and reader Matt H. who sent us this flyer from his local Telecom store, proudly featuring both Lumias as "coming soon".

Nokia NZ

Unfortunately, no word on either carrier getting the Lumia 900 although we must say, the chances for New Zealanders is getting better. You can also pre-register on Telecom right here.

Thanks, Tom M. Liam O. and Matt H., for the tip!

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ExtrasIt's been sometime since Samsung tweaked up their Extra Settings app for their Focus S and Flash devices. The mini-app found under Settings controls the auto-display intensity, key vibration feedback and echo cancelation.

But what really matters is Extra Settings are thought to control how much the screen dims/adjusts to ambient light. In the past, this app has slowly fixed what many us have perceived as a "too dim of a screen" on the Focus S resulting in a much more responsive changing of screen brightness.

Of course like usual, version 1.7 does not come with a changelog so your guess is as good as ours. We could mention how our Focus S looks a little brighter now but honestly, that's not very scientific and we're prone to placebo effects at times. Hit us up in comments if you noticed any improvements. Thanks, Jarrod J., for the heads up

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Windows Phone Garage local event

Some time ago Microsoft launched a Windows Phone App Garage tour to select cities across the U.S. to bring developers together to learn more about the Windows Phone operating system and help them with their development efforts. It was also a great networking resource for the development community.

In the same spirit as the original Garage events, a group of local developers in the Birmingham area will be holding a Windows Phone Garage event on February 18th. The local community event will be a free, all day event to help developers but in a less formal manner.

There is no set agenda and the local Windows Phone experts will provide impromptu assistance as requested throughout the day.   You'll need to register for the event in advance and bring a notebook computer to the event. Lunch and a light breakfast will provided.

If you're interested in attending, you can find all the fine details and registration information here at the Birmingham Windows Phone Garage website.

Thanks, Glen, for the tip!

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Nokia Lumia 900 headed to Rogers Canada?

Nokia Lumia 900 headed to Rogers?

We've already seen indications that the Nokia Lumia 710 is heading to Rogers Canada sometime in February. It now appears that the Nokia Lumia 900 will be joining the Roger's lineup in May.

No details on pricing but if true, Rogers will have a decent Windows Phone line up with the Lumia line joining the Samsung Focus

Rogers Samsung Focus Listing

Now if we could just get them to start referencing things as "Windows Phone" instead of "Windows Mobile".

via: Mobilesyrup; Thanks to everyone who tipped up on this!

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Bing Get Me There

The Microsoft "Bing Get Me There" app, a helpful tool for anyone who's considering to travel through or/and around London, has been updated to now be able to report live updates for the DLR (Docklands Light Railway), London Overground and London Buses. The app is useful should you also require quick assistance to get home (or to a rail terminal) with a pinned tile opening up directions from your current location to the configured "home" in the settings.

Note that the LiveSide article is incorrect by stating that this is the only service that bundles together London's transport networks with the DLR, Overground and London Buses, as London Travel also sports live updates across the board (and is a must-have good app for anyone residing in/traveling through the big smoke).

One can download Bing Get Me There from the Marketplace for free.

Via: LiveSide

QR: Bing Get Me There

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T-Mobile Lumia 710 now $39.99 with free accessories

T-Mobile's Lumia 710 is now just $39.99

It was pretty exciting to hear that the Nokia Lumia 710 would be debuting on T-Mobile at a dirt-cheap price of $49.99, but it's even sweeter to hear that it's even cheaper now.  T-Mobile has dropped the 710 down to $39.99 and is also throwing in some free accessories to boot.  If you switch to T-Mobile or add a new line of service, not only will you get the Lumia 710 for forty bucks, but you will receive a black gel skin, car charger and a Motorola Bluetooth headset for free.  If you are looking for a solid 4G phone at a reasonable price, this just might be the deal for you.

Source: T-Mobile; Via: PocketNow

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Nextgen Reader

Sorry folks, the contest is now closed!

Here at WPCentral, we're pretty big fans of Nextgen Reader which is billed as "the fastest Google Reader client around" (we tend to agree). That's why we're excited to team up with the developer, NextGsoft, to give it away to all of you for $0 for the next 36 hours.

That's right, normally this highly rated app fetches for a $1.99, but for the next day and a half you can get it for nothing at all. The app hit v2.0 back in September with Mango support (see our video review) and since then it has received numerous updates, including version 2.4 which just went live in the Marketplace today. That version brings a bunch of new features and fixes to the table:

Nextgen Reader v2.4

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Numberz

Dialing numbers listed on websites is supposed to be an easy task on Windows Phone. The OS basically highlights the numbers (like a hyperlink) and when you tap them, you get the standard "Edit phone number" screen and the option to call said number. The system is based on detecting sets of 7,10 or 11 numbers with their appropriate hyphens, periods, etc.

Interestingly, some folks at XDA have discovered that this seemingly only works for US devices. More specifically, devices who's 'Region format' settings under 'Region + language' are set for English (United States). Even folks in Canada evidently have this issue which is odd, to say the least.

call?

We tried the list of numbers found in this post at XDA with our US region settings and they all worked fine except for the last number--just as expected. When we switched to Estonia (and rebooted) those numbers were now un-clickable just as others are reporting.

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Study: Apps not that important to smartphone users

Apps

We've seen the headlines, we've heard the pundits (looking at you, Scoble) that tout apps as the "big" thing on smartphones. And while initially this may hold true for new users, the novelty wears off, or so suggests a new study by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.

In that study, 68% of users only use five or fewer apps at least once a week. Furthermore, 17% don't use any apps on a regular basis while only 42% of respondents even have apps on their phones. Those are certainly interesting numbers and what it suggests is people are downloading lots of apps but rarely use them on a regular basis. In fact, we hear this often from developers who don't get many ad-hits in their apps after a few weeks despite seemingly large numbers of downloads. Speaking of, the study also points out that judging an app's popularity by number of downloads alone is probably not a good metric (though app reviews and number of them may be).

In other interesting stats from Nielsen, Android users spend about 90 minutes a day on their phones, two-thirds of that time in apps (probably customizing their UI, just kidding). That suggest that even though few use many apps, the ones they do use, they use often and on a regular basis.

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WP Central

For some the Nokia Collection area of the Marketplace has been featuring all of the OEM apps available for Windows Phone (much like HTC, Samsung, LG, etc. have on their handsets), but for others this collection of apps has been missing since the Lumia handsets have been released. 

We've had the Nokia Collection missing from our European handsets, but our U.S. colleagues have had access to the collection. Our Jay Bennett has just noticed the additional menu entry just above 'applications' (see above screenshots) being made available, but I still can't see anything on the Lumia 710 (unlocked) or 800 (unlocked and carrier locked). Though the Nokia apps can be found via Marketplace search, should a reinstallation be required.

Let us know if you're able to access the Nokia Collection on your Nokia Windows Phone in the comments.

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My Starbucks Card for Windows Phone

My Starbucks Card is a new app over at the Windows Phone Marketplace that lets you use your Starbucks card right from your Windows Phone. No need to fumble around for the card, just run My Starbucks Card and your card can be scanned straight from your Windows Phone.

My Starbucks Card

When you first launch My Starbucks Card you will be prompted to enter your card number and Starbucks.com credentials. A virtual card will be generated on My Starbucks Card's main screen and the app will even pull up your current balance.  

While My Starbucks Card isn't an "official" Starbucks app, it does looks like it would come in handy if you are a Starbuck's frequent flyer. The app will run you $.99 and you can grab it here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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From the WPCentral Forums...

WP Central

Who would of thought that one of the most talked about topics of the week in the WPCentral forums would be Google? If you don't know what I am talking about check out this from our front page: Google is watching every step you take. I started this thread: "Google... It's over for me" wanting to know if I was the only one but the answer seams to be that I am not alone. What is it all about? You will just have to read the thread. Once you have absorbed all of that you might want to know how to Switch from Gmail to Hotmail in three steps. What are the advantages? This thread has some helpful information that might answer some of your questions: "Any reason to switch to a live account instead of Gmail?"

Forums member SebLC wants you to know "Metro is not just a pretty face for Microsoft" resulting in an interesting discussion about our favorite design philosophy.

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