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Windows Phone Marketplace back in business

Whatever the reason for the Windows Phone Marketplace had for not playing nice earlier, the problems appeasr to have been resolved. We've been able to access the Marketplace online as well as from our Windows Phones.

Even the links to Marketplace apps are behaving as they should. The glitches we've experienced today as well as over the weekend could simply be the result of Microsoft working under the hood.

None the less, all appears to be corrected and we hope everyone is now able to access the Marketplace.  Sound off in the comments if you're still having problems.

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Vodafone rolling out Nokia Lumia 800 update

Vodafone updating the Lumia 800

Vodafone is rolling out a firmware update for the Nokia Lumia 800 Windows Phone. The update, 12072, is primarily a bug-fixing release that will address the battery issue, updated the camera software and address the volume problem. The firmware update lacks internet tethering which is still slated for a future update.

According to Vodafone Australia, this update supersedes the previously announced 12070 update that began rolling out earlier this month in other markets. Apparently there was an issue that prevented the wide scale roll out of that update. It sounds as if this update picks up where the earlier roll-out left off.

We are getting tips that Vodafone Spain, Australia and U.K. customers are receiving the update. If you've received the update, feel free to share your experiences in the comments.

Thanks, everyone, for the tip!

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WP Central

The Windows Phone Web Marketplace seems to be currently down at the moment resulting in the error page above. The issues started within the hour as a number of readers and Windows Phone Daily pointed out to us, including how our Marketplace web links redirected users to the Zune:// desktop protocol instead of the site.

Ironically, since Microsoft disabled the Zune Desktop Marketplace, this leaves users with little recourse for browsing apps except for their phones.

@WinPhoneSupport said they were looking into the issue and we expect this to be a temporary glitch. Needless to say it's a massive one resulting in many users becoming frustrated.

This is the second outage this week with the last occurring on Saturday night and affecting the phone's Marketplace.

Update: Web Marketplace seems to work if you go through WindowsPhone.com and head to your localized site. Web links still redirect to Zune Desktop

Update 2: Those in the US can use this link: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-US/marketplace?wa=wsignin1.0  Thanks, William

We'll keep you posted.

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Palringo going solo and dropping 3rd party IM services

Palringo

Due to feedback on how users are actually taking advantage of their app, chat app Palringo is retiring support for 3rd party IM services like MSN, AIM, Google Talk and more. The company sent out a notification to users just a little while ago directing them to the website to read the full announcement:

"Further in our move to focus on the features our users love - our community of groups - we have decided to pull support for 3rd party instant messaging services. We've noticed that the vast majority of you no longer use this feature and instead prefer to invite your existing friends to signup to Palringo, which is now easier than ever."

That's obviously bad news for those who used the app only to connect to other networks but it sounds like the Palringo team were spreading themselves thin trying to support everybody. In addition, with competition like IM+ out on the market, it seems like Palringo would rather focus on their own IM service.

For those who haven't tried it, Palringo is currently in open-beta on the Windows Phone Marketplace since February and is now at version 0.7. Palringo has been around for years and has quite the fan base built up, including many from the Windows Mobile heyday. The service is unique in allowing users to create chat rooms and send voice clips

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AT&T Lumia 900 update reminder

Leaving no stone unturned, AT&T is sending out text messages to wireless customers reminding them of the Lumia 900 update. While at first you may think it is another update, the message is for the connectivity fix that launched back on April 13, 2012.

The message reads, 

A software update may be available for your Nokia Lumia 900.  To see if your phone has an update available, visit www.nokiausa.com/lumia900update for instructions.  Nokia is providing a $100 AT&T bill credit for any inconvenience.  Credit may take up to 60 days to appear on bill.

The message also sheds some light on the $100 credit Nokia is applying to Lumia 900 owners who purchased their Windows Phone on or before April 21, 2012.  If you don't see it on this billing cycle, it should show up on the next.

Thanks to everyone who tipped us on this!

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Shuriken Ninja for Windows Phone

Microsoft Advertising is one way developers can earn revenue from Windows Phones. It looks like the Windows Phone game Shuriken Ninja and Taptitude have done rather well with the Microsoft Advertising SDK.

Shuriken Ninja

Geekworks, Shuriken Ninja's developer, has reported that the game receives 900 to 1,200 downloads a day with a total of 436,349 downloads since the game launched. The game accounted for almost 40 million impressions during 2011. All totaled, Geekworks games reached 145,000,000 impressions. On average the company earns $1.69 eCPM (essentially earning per impression) which gives Geekworks an earnings total of $245,000 a year.  Not too shabby at all.

Shuriken Ninja

Shuriken Ninja was originally a paid app for Windows Phones but Geekworks (a two-man team) saw limited success with the game. As with other developers, Geekworks changed the game over to a free, ad-supported game. The game took off and is currently sitting at the top of the Windows Phone Marketplace free strategy/simulation list.

Taptitude

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Viddy

While we're still waiting on Instagram to show up on Windows Phone (it hasn't even started development yet) another popular niche app may be heading to our Metro devices sooner than later.

VIddy, available on iOS and Android soon, has been called by many to be the "Instagram of video" allowing users to apply filters to their 15-second video clips, giving them an artsy feel. In addition, videos are featured on the site's feed which are then viewable within the app and videos can be uploaded and shared to Facebook.

What's interesting though is if you go to Viddy's site page (http://viddy.com/) next to the Apple and Android links we see a clear Windows flag, strongly indicating a Windows Phone client is just around the corner. Seeing as Viddy is strictly a video-making app for mobile devices, we don't see this as a Windows 8 move either.

We've reached out to the company for comment but so far have not heard back from them. If Viddy is coming to Windows Phone (and we believe it is) that's a strong vote of confidence for the OS and will be one more feather in its cap.

Thanks, Amir, for the tip

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Contract Killer

Last year WPCentral broke the news that Glu Mobile would be releasing the first freemium Xbox Live game on Windows Phone (Bug Village). We even interviewed them about all the particulars. Now we’re back with the exclusive announcement of two more Glu Mobile freemium titles coming to Windows Phone. The first of those games is Contract Killer.

In Contract Killer, you’re a sniper who takes on jobs for the mob and other tough customers. Each mission requires you to take out one or more targets as they walk around unaware. You simply aim at the target, zoom in the scope, steady your breath if necessary, and shoot to kill (or capture with tranquilizer darts).  Watch out though, because the enemies will shoot back if you miss or they see one of their friends go down.

Contract Killer

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HTC Titan Windows Phone, any deals out there?

Any price drops on the HTC Titan?

Now that AT&T has the new Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II Windows Phones the question some may have is, "Are there any deals on the HTC Titan?"  

With the launch of new Windows Phone, it's not odd to see price drops on yesterday's models. Sometimes the price reductions make the off-contract price more appealing to avoid being tied down to a two year contract.  HTC has a strong consumer following and I can see the appeal of upgrading from the HTC Surround to the Titan while saving a little in the process.   We did a little looking around to see if the off-contract pricing has fallen any.

You can still find deals on the Titan for as low as a penny but that's with a two year contractual obligation. AT&T is still offering the Titan for $549.99 off contract and $199.99. At that pricing point you might as well get the Titan II.

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Nokia Lumia 800 now available in Panama via Movistar

PanamaJump back, what's that sound? Here it comes...

We've seen Movistar get some Windows Phones in Mexico and Columbia in the past but lets not forget about Panama. Reader Andrés C. lets us know that you can now pick up the Lumia 800 in that lil' country which sports a fancy canal.

Movistar evidently has the phone, taking out a nice full page ad to show it off. No word on pricing The 800 fetches for 549.99$ off contract or with a 18-month, 30$ plan at 265$ and still no idea when Panama will get a Windows Phone Marketplace.

Thanks, Andrés

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Baconit

For those of you who use Reddit.com, the social news aggregation site, you may have heard us pimping the Windows Phone client Baconit in the past. It's one of a few clients available for Windows Phone and while the others are certainly solid we've been fond of this one partly due to the frequency of updates.

A mere four months after its premier we're getting v2.0 with new options, aspects of it re-written for optimization and other new tweaks. Here are the main changes:

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White Nokia Lumia 900 back in stock at ATT.com

WP Central

Good news if you're looking for a white Nokia Lumia 900. It's back in stock over at ATT.com!

With the two year contractual discounts the white Lumia 900 will run you $99.99 and off-contract the Windows Phone will set you back $449.99.  Additionally, it looks like retail stores are receiving inventory as well. In sampling three local AT&T Stores in my area, all three had the white Lumia 900 Windows Phones in stock.

On the down side though, the cyan model is still being listed as "Temporarily Out of Stock" online and local stores did not have any either.

Thanks, 5tephen, for the tip!

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Chase app for Windows Phone in the works?

Chase Bank coming to Windows Phone?

There has been a discussion going on over in the WPCentral Forums for some time about the hopes of a Chase banking app would find it's way to the Windows Phone platform.  A recent email response one of our readers received from Chase gives us hope that a Chase Bank App is in the works for Windows Phone. Currently Chase only offers an app for the iPhone and Android devices but in an email response to one of our readers, that may change.

According to the email a Chase Internet Service Center Rep, states:

As of right now, the Chase application is only applicable with the Android and iOS platforms. We have consulted our Online Management Team and they will be implementing an application for Windows phones this July 2012.

Several European banks already have apps available over in the Windows Phone Marketplace but for the U.S. Market, Bank of America and USAA seem to be the only two currently available. Hopefully with Chase jumping on board, other banking and financial institutions will follow suit.

You can chime in on the WPCentral Forums discussion here or sound off in the comment section below if the thought of a Chase (or any other bank for that matter) app is something you'd like to see.

Thanks Sed for the tip!

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Like Bing? Go get Bing Desktop now for your PC.

Bing Desktop

Yesterday, Microsoft released a new app for Windows 7 PCs called Bing Desktop (it was in beta for the last few weeks). It's an interesting move as Google as had their Desktop app for years (it's also a little creepy as it can search your hard disk).

Luckily, Bing Desktop does no such thing and darn it all, it's awesome to boot.

For one, it can download the Bing wallpaper daily to your PC and makes it your desktop background. Next, there's a nifty Bing Search bar that sits on your desktop and allows super quick access to Microsoft's increasingly awesome search service. Pro tip: pin it to the top of your screen and you can tap to bring it down anywhere for quick lookups-- Microsoft really nailed the interaction here in our opinion.

Enough chit chat though, go and download it here and read the Bing Team's description of it here. We think it's awesome though. You?

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Zune Desktop

Although we're of the camp that doesn't mind that the Windows Phone Marketplace for apps has been retired from Zune Desktop, we imagine some of you think otherwise.

Luckily, Windows Phone guru Den Delimarsky has you covered. He figured out exactly what the change was that Microsoft pushed on to us all yesterday. More importantly, he also figured out to block that change so you can get back the Marketplace for those apps.

Unfortunately the change is a little tricky. Evidently the "update" comes from a simple modification in the configuration.xml that is sent from Microsoft every time you launch Zune Desktop. All you need to do is switch a "disabled" setting to "enabled" but the tough part is you have to intercept that .xml file.

Configuration

That's where you'll need a mini-server (or something analogous). Basically you redirect your Zune Desktop to a local server where you can have it fetch your modified .xml file and boom, you're in business. Now of course, this is only works so long as you stay with version 4.8. If you update the Desktop client (and Microsoft is sure to push one eventually) you can probably kiss this trick goodbye.

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WP Central

Pandora have unceremoniously altered their undocumented APi (written up for Windows Phone users by Justin Angel) allowing outside access to their service, rendering unofficial 3rd party apps like MetroRadio, Radio Controlled and WPFandora temporarily useless.

The developer of MetroRadio, Mustafa Taleb, notified us of the situation noting:

"The user can no longer login using the 3rd party applications. Message from Pandora's servers:"org.apache.xmlrpc.XmlRpcException: 000.000.000.000|0|INCOMPATIBLE_VERSION|Pandora does not support your client version."

Possible reason: They changed their encryption keys.

I am currently working on a fix and it should take me no longer than 2 days to update the app, and 5 to publish it."

That's certainly a bummer especially for us who have the MetroRadio Pro app. The good news is devs should be able to once again fix this issue and push out an update. Needless to say, it's a pain and would be easier if (a) Pandora just let 3rd party apps use their service or (b) they had an official app for Windows Phone.

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NBA Game Time Lite adds League Pass support

NBA Game Time Lite for Windows Phone

Just in time for the playoffs, NBA Game Time Lite has been updated to add support for your NBA League Pass that will allow you to watch games live from your Windows Phone.

Should you not have a League Pass, NBA Game Time Lite will still bring you all the scores, highlights, schedules and standings for the 2011-2012 NBA Season. The app is nicely laid out with scores and schedules of today's games greeting you as you launch the app. Swiping to the right of the today's games listing, you can view video highlights, standings, and the "more" page that has settings, league pass sign in, links to the NBA store and more.

NBA Game Time Lite

From list of today's games, tap on a game and you'll be able to check out the game's box score, play by play details, team stats, player stats, and a game preview. If the game is available through the League Pass, you'll have a button bar at the bottom of the box score page to launch the video.  Plus the game will be highlighed on the today's game page.

There is also game alerts available through the alert button control at the bottom of the individual game screens and you can surf the calendar by tapping the little calendar button at the bottom of NBA Game Time Lite's main page.

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WP Central

Microsoft is set to unveil a sneaky preview of its upcoming service at this year's E3 that will replace Zune, according to unknown sources familiar with company plans. The new service, code named Woodstock, will add a few more nails to the Zune coffin and continue Microsoft's move from the Zune brand to either the Windows or Xbox umbrella. The sources also revealed that the service replacing Zune will support multiple platforms, including: Windows 8, Xbox, Android, and iOS. No word on what's planned for Windows Phone.

Much like the current music streaming service, Woodstock will feature browser playback. As well as not requiring any browser plugins, it is reported that the plan is to integrate the service into Facebook, enabling friends to build group playlists and share music. Similar matching functionality, much like iTunes Match, is also being tested that will allow users to identify existing music tracks on the service. It is expected to launch later in 2012. Unfortunately, no details surrounding pricing has arisen yet, but we'd expect it to compete with other services available on the market.

Source: The Verge; thanks everyone who tipped us!

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Grow sees a price drop

The other day we made mention of the upcoming Windows Phone game, Grow. Grow is an fish-eat-fish game that offers 78 levels of play that crosses seven environments. The game is due to launch on April 27th for $2.99.

We were recently informed by Epic Pixel, Grow's developer, that the Windows Phone game will now be offered for $1.99. A price that matches the cost of the full version over on the Android Marketplace.

After reading the comments on the press release, we decided the right thing to do is to lower the price of Grow to $1.99 to match the full price on the Android Market.

It's nice to see Windows Phone developers take consumer input into account and make adjustments to keep things equitable. Once Grow hits the Marketplace, we'll take a look at the game and share our impressions of things.

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Xbox 360 Impressions: Bloodforge

Bloodforge

As part of WPCentral’s ongoing Xbox 360 coverage, we’ll sometimes discuss console titles of interest to our readers. We previous reported on the Arcade Next promotion: a series of five Xbox Live Arcade games coming to Xbox 360 in April and May. Trials Evolution was last week’s XBLA release, and now Bloodforge, the second Arcade Next title has launched today.

Bloodforge is an Xbox 360-exclusive hack-and-slash title from UK developer Climax Studios. The story takes place in a cold, unnamed Scandinavian location, probably somewhere in the 8th to 11th century. It revolves around Crom, a warrior who has left behind his raiding days to settle down with a family. When an evil god causes Crom to lose his family, the warrior sets out on a single-minded quest for revenge. Along the way he is aided by a crow goddess and others who seek to shift the balance of godly power.

Head past the break for our full impressions.

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WP Central

Scientists from the University of Southampton took to the clouds, and beyond, with a Lumia 800. The Windows Phone (attached to a balloon) flew into the stratosphere as a tool to help create balloon flight trajectory prediction software that can then be used to guide future missions, such as weather balloons.

The ASTRA project (Atmospheric Science Through Robotic Aircraft) investigates new technologies that can be used to make low cost parameter observations of the atmosphere. Stephen Johnston and András Sóbester from the ASTRA project chose the Nokia Lumia 800 for the ASTRA 10 series of flights.

"We knew the Lumia was very robust. With other phones we’ve had to include an extra battery and a heater. We didn’t need to do that with the Lumia – it was the best. It still had data connectivity at 8km above the earth, it’s definitely got a good aerial in there."

A suitable device is required to be light enough to ascend to heights of 32km above the earth, robust enough to survive in temperatures of -70C with atmospheric pressure a thousand times lower than on the ground, and be able to use GPS (and beam the data to the ground teams), log data by recording measurements taken by connected instruments, as well as snapping a few photos. The Lumia 800 really is a sturdy ol' chap!

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Instagram alternative EyeEm hits the Marketplace

EyeEm for Windows Phone

EyeEm is a photo-sharing app, much like Instagram, for your Windows Phone. However, unlike Instagram EyeEm is available for the iPhone, Android devices, through a web portal and on Windows Phone. This gives EyeEm a potentially larger user base than Instagram which means you can find more users with similar photographic interests.

EyeEm allows you apply ten photo filters (or none if you prefer) to existing photos in your Pictures Hub or to photos just captured by your Windows Phone camera. Filters range from sepia to magic to strawberry. From there you can share your images on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Tumblr.

EyeEm

Along with capturing, editing and sharing your photos EyeEm lets you browse photos from other EyeEm users. There is a search engine to search for photos or photographers by keyword, an Albums page that highlights random and "liked" photographic subjects (fashion, retro, etc.), and a Popular page that shares... well... the popular images on EyeEm.

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Dysentary

The Windows Phone Marketplace differs by region, with some games and apps available in one area but not another. This is typically due to translation costs or licensing issues - hence why Who Wants to be a Millionaire? is not available in the US.

Up until now, the reverse has been true for Gameloft’s The Oregon Trail. It launched in the US in November 2010 but was not available in outside markets. Thankfully, the game has just expanded to other territories as well. We can’t confirm each individual Marketplace, but it’s definitely available in the UK. That means our British friends (including WPCentral’s own lovably patriotic Rich Edmonds) can finally learn about the challenges that early American settlers faced as they braved the Oregon Trail.

The Oregon Trail

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Assassin's Creed Duplicate

Some of our readers have a duplicate listing for Assassin’s Creed: Altaïr's Chronicles in the Marketplace. Here is the game’s proper Marketplace page, and here is the duplicate. Sharp-eyed readers will detect some differences between the listings. The text formatting on the duplicate page is actually much better than the proper one’s; the game is simply titled Assassin’s Creed with no subtitle; the publisher is Gameloft SA instead of Gameloft; the OS requirement is Windows 7.5; the file size is 10 MB greater; and finally, the version number is 1.2 instead of 1.1.

That last clue may be the explanation for the duplicate’s appearance. In rare cases, a game update may briefly have its own separate listing, possibly for testing purposes. The same thing happened with I Dig It’s long-delayed title update last year. An updated (and purchasable) version appeared separately from the main game, and then disappeared when the main game’s actual update went live. It’s likely that Assassin’s Creed is due for a version 1.2 update (with Mango support) now as well.

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