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WP8

Despite all of us not knowing much about Windows Phone 8 "Apollo" we're sure discussing a lot about it this week.

Netbook News ran a story today about a supposed summit meeting between Microsoft and its partners happening in Reading, UK with the delicious details of the agenda. While no specifics were given, we can of course garner some information from the list itself, presented below:

  • Apollo Review
  • Windows Phone Schedules and release plans/processes
  • Customization & Differentiation opportunities
  • New Windows Phone 8 application development capabilities
  • What’s new feature review of Apollo
  • Connectivity and APN management
  • Better together with Windows 8

Some sites have spun the part about "Customization & Differentiation opportunities" as Microsoft giving more leeway to carriers and OEMs. To that we say "perhaps" but that's certainly an assumption. For all we know, it could be the same Accent color changes and some un-installable carrier software as with Windows Phone 7. But it is very possible that Microsoft is now loosening the reigns a tad to garner more favorable cooperation with carriers and OEMs.

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Behind the Tiles with Windows Phones

Just a quick reminder that Behind the Tiles with Windows Phone is heading to Best Buy. Well, twelve Best Buy locations to be more precise.  The events will be held through mid-May in the following locations (and yes, Birmingham is left out again).

  • Charlotte, NC
  • Chicago, IL (Yorkshire Plaza)
  • Dallas, TX (Farmer's Branch location)
  • Houston, TX (Galleria Mall)
  • Costa Mesa, CA
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • New York, NY (Union Square)
  • Portland, OR
  • Seattle, WA (Lynnwood location)
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Waltham, MA

What is Behind the Tiles with Windows Phone you ask? It's an opportunity to spend some quality time with Windows Phone and learn more about the system. There will be free food and drink along with training sessions such as,

  • Hands-on deep dive with the Nokia Lumia 900
  • Windows Phone for IT and Developers
  • Metro UI and the Future with Windows Phone

Plus you'll have a chance to play with different Windows Phone devices. Rumor has it that there might even be a few Nokia Lumia 900s given away.

The events are invitation only with a limited number of open seats still available. You'll need to register here to be eligible for an invite and use mscust as the RSVP code.

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Dell Venue Pro Windows Phone

For those hoping for a sequel to the Dell Venue Pro Windows Phone, the stars don't seem to be in your favor. In a recent interview with Forbes, Michael Dell re-affirmed his companies position discontinue smartphone sales and development.

But what would it take to get Dell back into the smartphone business? When asked, Dell's response was,

"If the market changes so that a vendor like Dell can compete with smartphones more successfully we’ll likely reenter but, until then, our focus is going to be on managing, securing, and keeping these devices fed."

While conditions may develop to see Dell re-enter the smartphone market, there's no telling what OS they would choose. On the plus side, Dell thinks Windows 8 is exciting and we can expect to see a lot of activity when Windows 8 becomes available.

Seeing that Dell is enthusiastic about Windows 8, could we eventually see a Windows Phone 8 device from Dell?  Or should Dell concentrate on computers and tables, leaving the Windows Phones to others?

Source: Forbes; Thanks, Tryggr, for the tip!

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More signs that Nokia's Lumia 900 is doing well

Nokia Lumia 900

While we've already seen signs that the AT&T Nokia Lumia 900 is doing well. The Windows Phone has reached the top of Amazon.com's Best Seller list and finding the Lumia 900 in-stock has been a bit of a challenge.  Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was out shopping for the Lumia 900.  

Even with the connectivity glitch, sales seem brisk and Nokia is scrambling to keep up with demand. Nokia spokesperson Karen Lachtanski states,

"We are producing more devices to satisfy demand as quickly as possible.”

To help Nokia keep pace with inventory demands, Nokia is seeing more customers opt to update their Lumia 900's to address the connectivity issues than exchanging them.

“The inventory situation is primarily a function of demand because we are seeing that most customers are opting to keep their units and simply update via Zune."

We are already seeing inventory of the black Lumia 900 being replenished and based on comments and AT&T retail store reps, the cyan model should be back in stock any day.

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Tango

Speaking of Windows Phone updates and rumors, our friends over at Mi Movil Windows have confirmed with two sources that Windows Phone Tango (finalized as OS build 8773) will be released officially at the beginning of June. (We've been told who the sources are but have been asked to not name them).

Even though ROMs of Tango have been floating around for awhile (and we've seen some for the Lumia 710 as of late) Microsoft reportedly pushed the April time-frame for release back to June so that more operators could finish testing and Microsoft could target a more universal roll-out, much like Mango. This becomes self-evident when you realize that no Tango updates have happened yet, even though the ROM has been finalized.

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Taptitude

Last time we touched on Taptitude they had just hit 100'000 download, and were doing pretty well for themselves. And it's only gotten better from there.

Taptitude is a game made by four brothers, which is a collection of mini-games. As you play through the games you gain points, which you can use to unlock more games. In total there are now over 60 mini-games, and more are added each update.

Over on their blog, they have detailed what the last year has been like for their game, as well as how much revenue they have made through Microsoft PubCenter ads in the game. So how much have they actually made? As of yesterday, they have pulled in slightly over $100'000 through ads.

And from the graph below (ad impressions), it's pretty obvious that it is not slowing down - in fact, in the comments on the article, one of the developers mentions that over the last few days they have been pulling in around $1400 per day.

Advert impressions

They also give lots of other stats about the ads, impressions, and download so we recommend you go check out the source below.

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Warnygo for Windows Phone released to the Marketplace

WP Central

Warnygo, a social alert system-type app, has been released for Windows Phone. We previously looked at Warnygo back in 2010 where we explained the idea behind the app and what users can achieve with included functionality. So what is Warnygo all about? In a nutshell it's an alert app, which allows you to publish alerts for other users to receive, as well as read up on subscribed zones.

From road incidents to weather alerts, and spotted celebrities to someone who requires medical attention, Warnygo covers a wide variety of categories to choose from. Zones can be created when announcing "warnies" to limit who can see your posting depending on their location - you might not be interested in road incident alerts for another county.

Warnygo App

As mentioned above, users are able to subscribe to certain zones (for example: New York) to filter through alerts for more relevant results. As well as using the app, "warnies" can also be viewed on the Warnygo website with an interactive map available. It's an interesting concept for a social network and it'll be interesting to see how this takes off.

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Windows Phone

With conflicting stories back to back, people want to know if Microsoft will update their current devices to Windows Phone 8. We weigh in on the matter.

Yesterday was quite the rollercoaster ride in the bubble word of tech-media. First there was a Microsoft employee stating on camera that yes, all Windows Phones will get the an update to Windows Phone 8 aka "Apollo" which is expected to drop on the fall. Then came a story on the Verge from our old boss and friend Dieter citing a trusted (but unnamed source) that no phones will be getting the update.

Well, that's certainly a 180 on the issue.

And what does Microsoft have to say? Well, not much of course. From a Microsoft spokesperson we were told the same thing as every other site:

“We have stated publicly that all apps in our Marketplace today will run on the next version of Windows Phone. Beyond that, we have nothing to share about future releases.”

Their contention is that Silva, the Microsoft Evangelist on video claiming all phones will get the update, was possibly mistaken or confused when talking about updates versus app compatibility. (Microsoft recently confirmed app compatibility with Windows Phone 8).

As our own Rafael Rivera said on Twitter: "Come on, we seriously believed a developer evangelist from Portugal had close guarded core information on Windows Phone? ". Indeed.

A few months ago we personally heard from someone with direct contact at Microsoft that jives with what the Verge claimed: no phones will get the update. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley has also heard the same thing lending more credence to the claim. However, since none of us share our sources for all we know we're all citing the same person, which doesn't really confirm anything so long as they want to remain anonymous.

So why is there such a discrepancy in these stories?

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Kinectimals

You know what calms me down after a game charges me for one of its basic Achievements? Seeing a game get discounted that has never been on sale before. The new Xbox Live Deal of the Week certainly fits the bill. Kinectimals is now on sale for $1.99 for the first time, down from $2.99.

Kinectimals is the portable version of Frontier Software and Microsoft’s feline-themed Kinect game. Players can choose one of five kitties or import an existing cat from the 360 version using the phone’s camera. Then it’s time to teach your kitty tricks by performing swiping motions, play catch, complete challenges, and buy lots of accessories. There’s not much depth here, but the kitties are cute and the Achievements are super easy. Check out our review for more details.

Kinectimals is on sale for $1.99 for one week only. Get it here on the Marketplace.

QR: Kinectimals

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WP Central

The Lumia 900 has been out for a little over a week now and as people start to get over the "new phone wow factor" they start to notice the little things. Some of those little things become more of a big thing if that is the feature you need or use most. That leads us to today's hottest thread in which we are discussing the Lumia 900's camera.

Nokia made the Lumia 900 without a BSI (backside-illuminated) sensor and this sensor (which is included in most high end smartphones) increases the amount of photons captured in low light situations. Without this sensor, the Lumia 900 camera struggles for greatness. But in well-lit situations the camera is on par with other comparably priced phones. You can get more information about the Lumia 900 camera in our review here.

"Anyone Keeping Lumia 900 past 30 days?" Is the title of today's hottest thread in the WPCentral Forums. Forum member nokia4life wants to know a few things including will you be keeping your Lumia 900 and what about the Lumia's camera:

Okay so i left iOS and Android to comeback to WP and I do love WP. Can i ask an honest question, will any of you be returning the Lumia 900 before the 30 days is up? I ask this because since our phone has been released (rushed to market) its been plagued by some issues.

I thank them for getting a software fix out asap to address the data issue however no one from Nokia or Microsoft has even addressed the camera which is a big selling point. You just don't throw Carl Zeiss around and make statements at CES and Mobile World Congress about how powerful this camera would be for it not to be true. I am going to try and tough it out until the next Nokia release but this is starting to upset me that they are not even addressing how bad this is. And for those folks that say this is a cell phone not a camera i agree however if they advertise it one way it should perform that way. what are your thoughts folks?

You can imagine that this thread has received a lot of replies some good and some bad.

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Monster Island

It’s time to take a break from Sid Meier strategy games for a while and settle into some nice throwing things at other things. I am, of course, speaking of Monster Island, the latest Xbox Live release from Miniclip.

Monster Island is basically a monster-themed version of Fragger. Instead of a grenadier, you’re now a monster who must defeat invading monsters. Aim and throw five different kinds of monster grenades to destroy your stationary enemies. With a whopping 262 levels (and more promised in a future update), it offers plenty of bomb-throwing fun.  

Monster Island features a robust in-game shop in which players can purchase new characters, level unlocks, level skips, and level solutions using in-game currency. Being a Miniclip title, it also allows users to purchase coins with Microsoft Points. That’s not so bad in and of itself, but the Big Spender Achievement actually requires players to purchase not one, but three coin packs!

Monster Island

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While everyone is anxiously awaiting the Winodws Phone 8 aka Apollo update for Windows Phone, the twenty dollar question everyone is waiting for Microsoft to answer is "Will all Windows Phones be eligible?" A recent interview with a Microsoft Evangelist may shed some light on the subject.

The Portuguese mobile forum Zwame interviewed Evangelist Nuno Silva and in the above excerpt, Silva was asked if all current Windows Phone devices will receive the Apollo or Windows Phone 8 upgrade. His response, as translated by WMPU, was:

"What Microsoft said/stated and what I’m allowed to tell you is that all actual devices will get upgrade to the next major version of Windows Phone (we´re talking about Apollo)"

Silva would clarify "all actual devices" to mean:

"Are all that came out. Since the first generation that were bought. The LGs and SAMSUNGs.. OMNIA 7 which were the first devices with Windows Phone reaching the market."

So take it for what it's worth and while we have no reason to doubt Silva, it sure would be nice if the likes of Joe Belfiore would come out and confirm what Silva has offered.  What do you guys and gals think?  Will all Windows Phones from the Samsung Focus to the Nokia Lumia 900 get a taste of Apollo?

Update: We reached out Microsoft for a comment regarding this interview and while we weren't expecting a confirmation, we still wanted their statement. A Microsoft spokesperson did get back to us with this:

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WP Central

It would appear that mobile operators in Europe aren't impressed with what Nokia (and Windows Phone as a whole) has to offer to battle Google and Apple in the market. According to Reuters, four operators have stated that Nokia handsets have not been 'good enough' to compete with the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy devices.

One operator executive (who wished to remain anonymous) had the following to say:

"No one comes into the store and asks for a Windows phone. Nokia have given themselves a double challenge: to restore their credibility in terms of making hardware smartphones and succeed with the Microsoft Windows operating system, which lags in the market."

Now, we'll be the first to agree with the fact that not many customers will walk into a store and ask for a Windows Phone as the platform hasn't had the promotion or momentum that it so desperately requires. Microsoft has started their Smoked by Windows Phone campaign in a number of countries to build this momentum to a respectable pace, and Nokia has been hard at work with "The Amazing Everyday" and hosting live events. Cue "Rolling Thunder"? The trouble is there's just too much to do.

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WP Central

Are you a fearless tribesman, ready to lead the pack? We bet you are you animal, you. Microsoft and Nokia are looking to unleash a number of "code warriors" in 14 cities to pack a punch on the Marketplace by building, crafting and basically reaching their inner-zen. Cash, devices and prizes will be on-hand for those who attend so it'll  be more than worthwhile.

What's this "code warrior" hackathon all about? In each city the two companies will be hosting a number of events that will see a number of developers building apps specifically targeting gaps in the Marketplace. Apps that should be in those gaps, and are present on other platforms, will be developed by participants.

The Code Warriors is expected to be one of the pushes Microsoft will make in their plans to bring big brand developers / apps to the platform. Should you be interested in attending one of the events, be sure to check out what cities are being visited and when over at the Eventbrite listing.

Source: The Code Warrior, via: GoWindowsGo

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SkyDrive adds Open Document and Twitter features

Microsoft has made some pretty significant upgrades to SkyDrive, among them, one that adds capability to Windows Phone. The big announcement that Redmond is touting is that SkyDrive will now support Open Document format. While this is cool and all, what piques our interest more is the newly-added ability to post to Twitter using your Windows Phone and have the URL automatically shortened using the SDRV.MS suffix. This nifty little feature makes it easy to snap a quick pic and share with friends. It illustrates Microsoft's drive to deeply integrate Windows Phone with social media.

In addition to Open Document and Twitter support, the SkyDrive update also allows users to upload files up to 300MB using their web browser. The SkyDrive Team also reports that they "have some really big things coming soon." Hopefully that means some more stuff for Windows Phone!

Source: Microsoft

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Nokia Lumia 900 back in stock

The Nokia Lumia 900 is showing back in stock over at AT&T.com. Good news if you're looking for the black model. Not so good news if you're looking for the cyan model.  It still showing as "temporarily out of stock".

Not sure if the newly in-stock black models have been updated to address the connectivity issues. Our guess is yes. And remember if you have purchased a Nokia Lumia 900 before April 21, 2012 you will be getting a $100 credit to your AT&T wireless bill. Additionally, if you don't want to bother with the update that launched last week, you have the option to exchange your current Lumia 900 for an updated Lumia 900.

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Get Microsoft Silverlight

Apps on Windows Phone boot up fairly quickly and the user only has but a few seconds to wait for the software to fully load, but what if the operating system itself could predict what app(s) you're likely to run that exact second? Cue FALCON, a project undertaken by Microsoft Research. The "Fast App Launching with Context" allows the faster execution of apps by preloading the software in memory (multitasking stack).

One of the researchers, Tingxin Yan, describes FALCON as:

A context-aware mobile app preloading component for mobile OS. Based on intensive data analysis of app usage across multiple mobile users, FALCON presents a decision engine which exploits temporal and spacial characters of user behavior to pre-load apps ahead of time, thereby improves the responsiveness of smartphones.

How FALCON would achieve this is by anticipating what apps the user is likely to launch using algorithms, and is part of a larger project called "Context Data OS (ConDOS)". Microsoft Research aims to improve the mobile experience with ConDOS by integrating context into the platform OS.

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Trapster for Windows Phones

Trapster is finally making the move to Windows Phone. For those not familiar, Trapster first came onto the scene back in the Windows Mobile days (here's our review from way back when) and is a rather interesting app.  The driving app has left the Beta Stage and is headed to the open Marketplace.

Trapster is a social network app for your Windows Phone designed to alert you of speed traps and other road hazards. Trapster relies on a network of over 15 million users who have reported a total of 5 million Traps to date. Keep in mind though, Trapster isn't intended to help you skirt the long arm of the law but rather drive more safely.

Along with reporting the Traps you see via the convenient Report button, Trapster will also have these features:

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Game emulators are a lil' pastime around WPCentral. What can we say other than we like our old games as much as our new Xbox LIVE ones? We've covered Purple Cherry (Gameboy) and Blue Tomato (for you Sega fans) and now we're very happy to see Nudua's vNESLight come to the Windows Phone Marketplace for emulating games from the Nintendo Entertainment System (abbreviated as NES).

Version 1.0 of the emulator actually arrived two weeks ago after a two-month hold up by Microsoft and v1.1 is about to go live in a few days with some minor bug fixes. Version 1.0 now features Skydrive support,  including recognition of ZIP and RAR files making ROM imports very easy. You can also save your games to Skydrive too in case you want to switch devices and the UI has been re-worked to be more "Metro".

Emulation of Nintendo games also now supports sounds from varying bitrate quality (8000, 22050 and 44100 Hz) as well as Auto-frame skip for older Gen 1 devices. But if you're like us with a Titan, Titan II, Focus S or Lumia device, you can easily run at no skips and max bitrate. Audio emulation is pretty good but there are distortions here and there, but since we know sound emulation is hard stuff, we're just glad it's here.

vNESLight

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Lumia 710 and Tango

Just yesterday we reported that China was destined for some Tango ROM goodness for the Nokia Lumia 710. This was verified by peeking in on Nokia's own servers where they like to toss up the ROMs before they're pushed out (yet another reason to like the company, we suppose).

Tonight, with a quick cache refresh of our NaviFirm software we were able to seen yet another Tango ROM show up, this time destined for Belgium operator Proximus. This ROM has a slightly different firmware as it's labeled 8773.12120 versus the 12111 we saw for China.

We haven't loaded this one up but we feeling a little safer about English being on board. The big question everyone is wondering is Will the bring tethering to the Lumia 710? Our hunch says yes, at least for those carriers who want it.

It was speculated that Nokia did not tie the battery-saver update in the Lumia 800 (and 710) to the tethering feature for fear it could limit adoption by carriers. By separating them, Nokia could get the important battery fix out to the most users while it separately delivers the tethering update.

We imagine we'll find out soon enough. At least it's a good sign that Nokia is pushing out these updates on a wide-scale and we imagine the Lumia 800 will follow soon too.

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Wordament

Lately we’ve been fortunate enough to receive release dates for new Xbox Live games a week or two in advance – including this week’s release, Monster Island. Naturally Windows Phone gamers are already anxious to know about next week’s new game, and we can now put those anxieties to rest. Microsoft Studios has officially announced that the Xbox Live version of Wordament launches on April 25. The game prematurely appeared on the Marketplace’s list of Xbox Live games last week, but was not Live-enabled.

Wordament is already available as an indie game. The gameplay involves trying to find as many words as possible from a field of 16 letters, all within a time limit. The hook? You’re competing against hundreds of others in real-time over the internet. Visually it’s quite plain, but the multiplayer/leaderboard aspect is compelling.

Head past the break for the full story and an update from the game's developer.

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From the Forums: Nokia Lumia 900 cracked screen

It just 'sploded

"The Horror! The Horror!"

Soldier down! That's right, even with the Lumia 900's Corning® Gorilla® Glass it seems that just the right drop at just the right height can shatter the beautiful 4.3" display.

Forum member fig dropped his Lumia from waist high and the screen darn near 'sploded. If he has the AT&T insurance, the best he can hope for is spending $200 on the deductible. That is rather high but it's a lot better than paying full price for a new device, so let us hope he has the insurance!

Get the full story in our forums: cracked display.....what should I do? Let us know in the comments if you have insurance on your device and if you think the $200 deductible is, you know, too high?

Remember, the forums are more fun when you register, so sign up today.

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Nearly 60% of those switching to Windows Phone due to the Nokia Lumia 900 or HTC Titan II were former iOS and Android owners. Apple brand-loyalty? We think not.

WPCentral Poll results

We ran a poll the other day asking users if they switched to Windows Phone due to the Lumia 900 or Titan II, what OS were they coming from. And although the poll is still technically open, with 3,462 votes tallied so far we can discern a distinct pattern forming from the results.

The majority of users, nearly 60%, are coming from a combo of former Android and iPhone owners with it neatly divided at a close 30% each. Blackberry users are evidently still holding on with just 10% and a nice healthy 14% of adopters were coming from non-smartphones.

While our pals at Crackberry spun it as hope for Blackberry 10 users, we imagine a lot of folks jumped that ship last quarter to either the iPhone or Android, leaving the diehards (or still contract-bound) behind. Personally, we think RIM is DOA and look forward to a Microsoft acquisition at a rock bottom price (insert maniacal laughter).

The Android/iPhone results are interesting only because we're seeing what looks to be equal amount of folks taking up Windows Phone, leaving in the dust the notion that Apple has stronger brand loyalty than any other company.

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WP Central

The Windows Phone team has taken the Smoked by Windows Phone challenge to Italy with a steady stream of contestants attempting to best the platform. Should they lose they would (as usual) have to hold up a sign and announce they've been smoked by a Windows Phone. But should they win, and this is the interesting part, they'd pocket a pair of headphones.

What's so interesting about the headphones? They're shaped like a giant phone.

Italy Smoked 5

Possibly the coolest prize from the challenge? The Windows Phone Italy team has been keeping everyone up-to-date with latest happenings on their Twitter account, paying particular attention to the charts which record the wins / loses. According to the photos published, Windows Phone appeared to have been holding its own successfully.

Check out more photos after the break. Via: Plaffo

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Kinect Star Wars for Windows Phone

Kinect Star Wars for your Xbox 360 was released just a short while ago and yesterday the Kinect Star Wars app for your Windows Phone hit the Windows Phone Marketplace. And it's not what you think.

You may be thinking that the Kinect Star Wars app turns your Windows Phone into a light saber or monitors your progress in the Xbox 360 game. Nope.

The Kinect Star Wars app is a social network app that will pull feeds from your Facebook and Twitter accounts, giving your social networking a Star Wars feel. You also have a Kinect feed full of posts from your favorite Star Wars characters.

Kinect Star Wars App

On each of the Twitter and Facebook pages, you have button controls to post, view your profile, search and view the Kinect Star Wars Xbox 360 website. The profile pages breaks down your Twitter account rather nicely with pages for your account details, your tweets, mentions, messages, favorites and following/followers lists. You do have live tile support to pin your profile to your Windows Phone Start Screen.

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