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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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TripAdvisor

For those who travel a lot, the official TripAdvisor app seems like one of those things that you would want to have on your Windows Phone. Providing info on hotels, restaurants, reviews, detailed descriptions and the ability to dial directly, the app in theory is great. In reality, the previous version received many complaints and it maintained a low 2.5 stars out of 100 reviews.

TripAdvisor

But anyone can turn things around and TripAdvisor has done that with version 2.0--a major overhaul of the app itself in terms of functions and UI. The new UI is very Metro influenced and looks great in addition to being very smooth with transitions and data loading. We've been playing around with it for the last hour and we think it's a keeper. Kudos to the TripAdvisor devs for making a solid app update.

Pick up TripAdvisor for free here in the Marketplace. Thanks, Steve F., for the tip!

QR: TripAdvisor

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Fed up Droid users could win a free Windows Phone

Following what looks to be a massive adware outbreak on the Android marketplace, Microsoft's Ben Rudolph is looking to ease the pain of 20 affected users by giving them free Windows phones.  Rudolph asked what may be 5 million victims to share their stories via Twitter today, in hopes that their "Droidrage" might be cured.  Those who have the best stories (or worst, depending on how you look at it), will receive one of the 20 devices.  It's not clear what kind of phone winners will receive, but hey, a free WP7 phone is a free WP7 phone!

Microsoft has been pretty keen on these light-hearted promotions, pitting Windows Phone up against other mobile operating systems.  This is the second time that Android users have received such an offer, the first being back in December, when a smaller malware outbreak occurred.  And at CES, Ben Rudolph was challenging attendees to speed tests in the "Smoked by Windows Phone," which may even become a traveling affair.

Source: Ben Rudolph (Twitter)

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Nokia's 'The Amazing Everyday' in Austria

Nokia Austria is attacking the public with effective marketing and dominant advertising with "The Amazing Everyday". From covering trams in Lumia advertisement material, to handing out small packages containing food. The video montage illustrates how the manufacturer is working with retailers to set up stands and ensure the Lumia handsets are getting maximum exposure.

The Nokia Arch also makes a return in a shopping centre, sporting interactive demos. An interesting video that's well worth checking out.

Source: YouTubethanks, Ellis, for the heads up!

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Murtazin vs. Watson -- Round 1 *ding*

In response to circulating rumors regarding Windows Phone 8's lack of application backwards compatibility, Microsoft's Brandon Watson -- Director of Developer Experience -- confirmed today that the upcoming OS revision will run older Windows Phone 7 applications. Yep, that means Sally's Salon will port over just fine.

But from a technical perspective, how existing apps will work unmodified is fuzzy. For example, if the new resolution rumors pan out, should we expect some sort of zooming functionality akin to Apple's iPad (running iPhone applications)? And what about those awesome premium apps (e.g. Youtube, Tango, Navigon) with native hooks into the underlying OS? We presume everyone using native code is on Windows Phone for the long haul, but it's worth asking.

Anyway, stay tuned. We expect both Windows Phone "Tango" and "Apollo" to be detailed at Mobile World Congress next month. Rest assured we'll have feet -- at least Daniel Rubino's -- on the ground providing updates.

Source: WinSuperSite

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ESRB

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) recently launched an initiative to expand their converge to mobile games. Meant as a guide for parents, the system boasts that familiar "Rated E for Everyone" slogan we hear during TV commercials for PC and console games. Whether you agree with it or not, it is a system (albeit arbitrary) that serves as a framework for keeping parents in the know.

Microsoft signed up for the mobile ESRB system while interestingly Google and Apple have both skipped out. Now, we're finally seeing the first rollout as a few games are receiving their "E for everyone" stamp in the Windows Phone Marketplace. Our only concern is that this is one more hoop for Xbox LIVE developers to jump through to get their games approved thereby potentially slowing down the process of publishing. So far, we've seen Angry Birds and the indie game MathZia Free with the ratings being displayed.

Ratings

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Taking note of a number of Lumia 800 launch parties occurring across the world, the Czech Republic has joined in with Nokia putting on a show in Prague on January 26th to celebrate the launch of the 710 and 800 (February 1st). Two hundred journalists, developers and devoted fans were selected for the event, which featured a number of cool presentations and gimmicks.

From Windows Phone cakes to a water-rippling Lumia 800 floor projection, it looked like a unique experience to say the least. Nokia also began advertising the 710 and 800 in Prague (and beyond) as can be seen in the below photo, taken by Martin Suchan in a subway. 

Lumia Prague advertising

Source: YouTube, @MartinSuchanthanks Thomas for the tip and video!

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Timelapse Pro updated with Skydrive support

Timelapse Pro is a handy app for your Windows Phone for time lapse photography. We took a look at it a while ago and found it to be a very nice photography app for your Windows Phone. Timelapse Pro was recently updated to version 2.5 that adds Skydrive support and the ability to create animated .gif files from your time lapse footage.

You can still create videos from the time lapse photos through third party apps such as Windows Live Movie Maker. But if you need a quick way to generate an animated presentation from your pictures, the .gif creator comes in handy.

Timelapse Pro .GIF Export Tool

Once you finish capturing your photos, when you go to preview the footage you will still see the options to record more photos, save photos, or delete the picture set.  With version 2.5 the option to upload the video comes into play.

When you choose to upload the video you will be taken to an upload wizard where you choose the resolution size (up to 480x360).  Once the .gif is created you can choose where to upload the .gif file to. You can choose your Skydrive account or upload the file to Timelapse Pro's server (20mb size limit). Once uploaded you will be provided a link that you can share as you wish (email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

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WP Central

Nokia has confirmed the upcoming arrival of the Lumia 800 to Australia in a press statement today. Not only that, but the manufacturer stated that the handset will be available in cyan, magenta, black and the rumoured white. Australian carriers (Optus, Telstra and Vodafone) have shown interest in Nokia's Windows Phone (possibly due to the launches that have been hosted across the world), which is good news for those who are looking for better platform support and more generation two handsets.

We've continuously seen reports of frustration from consumers in Australia due to the lack of support from not only the carriers, but Microsoft itself. With Nokia tackling world domination, looks like this commonwealth nation will be seeing some love. If you're interested as to when Telstra will be sporting the device, be sure to register your interest.

Check out the press release after the break.

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Speak to Play

The ability to play your music via voice command was something that Windows Mobile users were accustomed to back in 2006. To not have the ability to say "Play <insert artist>" on a Windows Phone in 2012 is a bit absurd but we'll assume that something had to be cut for those 500 new features in Mango.

However, an app is now available that fulfills this task: Speak To Play by developer Puno-Z. The app is a clean, minimalist design with a large microphone graphic that you "push to speak". From there you can tell it to play an artist, song, album, playlist or even genre.

Speak to Play

In our usage with it tonight, we'll agree with those multiple five-star reviews in the Marketplace--it works very well. We had no issues with it recognizing what we wanted to do and it gets the job done. It's of course still not as nice as being able to run TellMe via the Search button "from anywhere" in the OS--having to launch an app and then push the button is still more task-intensive than we'd like. But until Microsoft blesses us with this function, Speak To Play is the next best thing.

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WP Central

Because it's Sunday we have our weekly Windows Phone news recap. Everything that's worth knowing from our news stream, which you may have missed, will be included in this roundup for your convenience. Before we crack on with the summary, we simply must plug our own app. Jay Bennett has been hard at work bringing version 2.1 to the table, which is now available on the Marketplace. It's the best way to get Windows Phone news while on the go.

As well as our app being updated, we have the latest discussions taking place on our WPCentral forum. We have a section of the community completely dedicated to the general discussion of the operating system itself, which has proven to be pretty darn popular with not only members, but visiting guests too. Be sure to head on over and engage with other members of the Windows Phone community. Let us move on with the summary, join us after the break.

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Wordfeud App

Seems as though we've been taken by surprise with Wordfeud as the title is now available on the Marketplace. We previously looked at the app when the developers noted that they were looking at a February 1st release, but one could assume they couldn't wait much longer.

The multiplayer Scrabble clone comes packed with push notifications, Live Tiles, opponent chat, cross-platform support and more. Check out some highlighted features below:

  • Choose to play with friends or be matched up against random opponents
  • Play in 30 simultaneous games
  • Random board option to mix up the DL, DW, TL, TW tiles
  • Push notifications informing you of opponent's latest move
  • Uses English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish dictionaries
  • Chat with your opponents

You can download Wordfeud from the Marketplace fully functional and free with ads or $2.99 with no ads. (Update: Link fixed)

Via: WP7.nl, thanks Mark for the heads up!

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Snapcrowd

SnapCrowd is a popular cloud-sharing/hosting service for digital media that was introduced late last year. What makes SnapCrowd different though from say Dropbox or even Skydrive is the ability to upload content unaltered/resized, support for 300 different photo formats (including RAW), resume of uploads, streaming of video and music and the best part in our opinion--subusers for your account. What that last part means of course is that you can have multiple users share and access the same account which is certainly unique feature for many. Finally, the service also has some of the best security around including SSL / TLS and HTTPS protocol layers, for you privacy gurus.

So we're quite excited to see an official app headed to Windows Phone with a planned release date of March. The app features all the main aspects of the cloud service including video, music, photos, contacts and document support in addition to streaming of media.

What makes SnapCrowd great, from our perspective, is how robust and feature-rich their service is--it's not just file storage, but the playback ability, the generation of album art, the option to stream whole movies, share with multiple users, etc. that seemingly makes it a good sell. The service is free for 10GB of storage (for a limited time) and one subuser account and then goes to $59 for 50GB of storage and $99 for 100GB of storage with increased subusers.

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An active player (munkiiyebee) of Wordament has built a custom version of the game, which was used when he proposed to his girlfriend. The word search type game puts the player up against others from around the world where every player competes on the same board to achieve the fastest time. So how did he use it for the proposal?

In the above video, we see the fan/developer's custom port of Wordament that was used by his girlfriend, and as you can see the words required to be found spell out "Will you marry me?". A cheesy, but original touch since they both play the game frequently. To wrap up this story positively, his girlfriend (now fiancé) said yes. Awwh.

Source: YouTubeWordament, via: WPSauce, thanks HD7guy for the tip!

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