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New device names hint at upcoming Windows Phones

Elbert Perez, game creator for Windows Phone (who's finishing up his latest, Air Dagger), has once again posted a screen shot of some new devices ID'd running his games.

The big two are the Acer M310 and the Nokia 800, which is for all intents and purposes probably the Sea Ray. As to what the Acer M310 is, we don't have any idea.

Of course we've seen this before, namely devices like the Samsung GT-I8703, the Dell Advist and the HTC-MWP6885 which seemingly never came to fruition. Hopefully that's not the case here, but either way it's nice to get teased a bit.

Source: Elbert Perez (Twitter)

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While we're still banging away on this gaming news filled day, lets take a brief look at the upcoming Xbox 360 dashboard update. Taking the Metro UI design cue, the new Xbox dashboard is reportedly coming this September or October and will feature YouTube, Bing and even supposedly Skype integration, making this quite a massive addition.

In a "video" shown on YouTube by iTzLuPo (since pulled by Microsoft), a series of images showing the new dashboard design and features were demonstrated. Evidently the Skype integration will work with Xbox LIVE friends and Xbox parties, which should be a lot of fun. In addition, a new "discoverable mode" was shown though its exact function is still a bit of a mystery. Certainly Bluetooth comes to mind (see the new headset) though WinRumors mentions Windows 8 support as a companion device and we can't help but wonder if Windows Phone won't be added to that feature set as well--makes sense, after all how else are you suppose to use your phone as a controller?

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We covered Polar Mobile awhile back. They were set to bring 500 apps to Windows Phone after they were hired by Microsoft last October. At last count, they still seem to be under 100 and we're gonna call a spade a spade here, they're not the most awesome apps we've seen. In fact, Polar Mobile basically makes "template apps" which are just RSS feeds. Meh.

So why are we revisiting this? Evidently, Nokia sees something in them as they've been hired to make some Symbian apps, apps for the N9 and some apps for Nokia's Windows Phones. This time around, they're contracted for another 300 apps over 12 months for these various platforms, which we expect to include Nokia's Windows Phone store--whatever form that ultimately takes.

Hey, we guess this is good news for Canada's luckiest software house, but we can't help but think that Nokia and Microsoft hire these guys to bump up the Marketplace count with some mediocre offerings. Maybe that's just the cynic in us though.

Source: Polar Mobile; via Mobile Syrup; Image via WP7Applist; Thanks, Colin, for the heads up

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When gamers learned that Xbox 360 Kinect game Kinectimals is coming to Windows Phone, undoubtedly many of us wondered whether there would be connectivity between the two versions. Wouldn’t it be cool to take your existing Kinect kitty on the go?

A Microsoft representative shared these details with us:

“The answer is yes, Kinectimals for Windows Phone does share connectivity with the Kinectimals for Xbox 360 version. You can import your favorite pet to your Windows Phone from your Xbox 360 by simply holding the phone up to the TV screen and capturing the QR code from the pet. The phone will recognize the code and add the pet to the mobile experience. Players can export their favorite mobile pets into their Kinect for Xbox 360 Kinectimals game by holding their Windows Phone up to their Kinect sensor which will read the QR code assigned to their pet and add it to their console experience. If players are logged onto their WP and Xbox 360 consoles with the same Xbox LIVE credentials, this process will happen automatically.”

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Fantasy Ferret - App Spotlight

Into Yahoo Fantasy Sports? Bushwood Studios has released Fantasy Ferret that will let you view and manage all of your Yahoo Fantasy Sports teams. The initial release includes full features for your baseball and football teams. Additional support for hockey and basketball teams will hit with future updates.

Key features of Fantasy Ferret include:

  • View league details including Standings, Teams, Transactions and Messages
  • View a team’s roster
  • Edit your current lineup
  • Add and Drop players
  • Support for Head to Head and Rotisserie leagues
  • View Scoreboards and current standings
  • View match-up scoreboard

You also have the ability to view detailed match-ups for baseball teams with this feature being extended to the other teams in the near future. Fantasy Ferret is a free app for your Windows Phone and you can download it here (opens Zune) at the Marketplace.

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Our friends at WP7Connect have released the second article in their series about Xbox 360 indie games coming to Windows Phone 7. This time, the focus is on why individual developers do not plan to port their XBLIG titles to WP7.

I’ll summarize each developer’s response:

Novaleaf Game Studios, makers of The Sprit of Khon:

Spirit of Khon is unlikely to come to be ported due to its reliance on custom rendering shaders that WP7 can’t replicate. However, if interest is high enough, Novaleaf would consider porting it anyway.

Milkstone Studios, makers of Raventhorne:

The game uses too many buttons to be ported easily. Besides, Milkstone is located outside of the US and still hasn’t even been paid for their first WP7 game, Epic 7 Free.

Dannobot, makers of Pajamarama:

Dannobot really isn’t sure how to go about developing for WP7. But even then, they would want to wait for official multiplayer support (which is coming in Mango) before entering the fray.

DoubleDutch Games, makers of Speed Runner:

The game’s controls would be difficult to adapt to touch screens. Still, maybe someday.

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Today at Gamescom, Microsoft announced a ton of upcoming Xbox Live games. They have since provided a video that shows many of these games in action.

In the video:

  • Chickens Can’t Fly from Amused Sloth
  • Mush from Angry Mango
  • Fight Game Rivals from Khaeon Studios
  • Kinectimals from Frontier Studios
  • Toy Soldiers Boot Camp from Signal Studios
  • Orbital from BitForge
  • Shoot1UP from Mommy’s Best Games
  • Cro-Mag Rally from Pangea Software
  • Burn the Rope from Big Blue Bubble
  • Farm Frenzy 2 from Alawar Entertainment

You’ll notice that Shoot1UP wasn’t actually included in today’s announcement. But we do know it’s a 2D shooter and a port of an Xbox 360 indie game. We’ll have more details about the game soon.

Thanks Colin for the tip!

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Fujitsu IS12T pricing revealed--it ain't cheap

Even though Microsoft is reportedly shooting for that low-end price range, eventually, with Windows Phone, the Fujitsu IS12T won't be the phone to do it. In fact quite the opposite.

Pricing for the phone in various contexts i.e. out of contract, in contract, etc. have been revealed on the website for KDDI-AU, the carrier launching the device. From NanaPho who was kind enough to do the math for us:

  • IS12T New retail price $958
  • IS12T MNP retail price $753
  • IS12T New price with 2-year contract $458
  • IS12T MNP price with 2-year contract $252

(USD/JPY = 76.715)

(MNP price is for NTT docomo and Softbank users who want to switch to KDDI)

Yowsers that's a lot, even for a waterproofed, brightly colored, 32GB, 13MP camera phone running Mango. So far, this is the only announced device for Japan, so a lot is riding on it for success. While it's nice to have a flagship high-end phone, we're hoping that some other companies can bring some more mid-range offerings to Nipppon for competitions sake.

Source: Official AU Blog; via NanaPho

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More new Games Hub features for WP7 en route

Back in May, we heard about some of the great new features and streamlined integration that the Mango Games Hub will bring to Windows Phone.  Today at Gamescom in Germany, the team announced four more things that mobile gamers can expect to see in the coming months.

  • Avatar Awardables: You can think of these as "wearable achievements." Unlock items during game play and they will become available in your avatar closet.  One of the first games to have these will be "Chickens Can't Fly."
  • Game Add-ons: Players will be able to enhance their gaming experience by purchasing in-game add-ons and downloadable content, like extra weapons and new levels, using MS points.  "Beards & Beaks" is one of the first to have this feature, but more are on their way.
  • Parental Controls: Pretty self-explanatory. This will come in handy with M-rated games, like “Splinter Cell: Conviction,” (Coming this Fall).
  • Fast Async: This service will improve multi-player gaming for turn-by-turn (or asynchronous) Windows Phone games.

Check out the entire Gamescom Press Kit for more details, and info on stuff like Xbox 360, Kinect, and more.

Source: WindowsTeamBlog

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Gotta give 4th & Mayor developer and Microsoftie Jeff Wilcox credit--he's on fire lately, pushing out update after update.

Version 2.7 is now live in the Marketplace and brings some cool new features:

  • Fixes over 40 customer-reported bugs and crashes
  • Can now flag photos and delete your own photos
  • Exciting new features for early adopters

While fixing "over 40 customer-reported bugs and crashes" is itself no small feat (luckily we never saw 'em), those new features for early adopters are pretty awesome sounding. 

Yes, in v2.7 if you are running "Mango" you can pin your friends or favorite places right to your today screen--booya! [See image of Phil Nickinson for an example] Now, these are admittedly a tease--they don't yet "flip' to reveal information like most Mango secondary tiles do, but you can bet when "Mango" is officially released we'll be seeing these things happen. For now, when you tap on your friend's Foursquare tile, it'll bring you to their profile page as expected.

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SkyDrive Player - not great, but not bad either

We know there's a lot of SkyDrive users out there always looking for new ways to utilize the free storage service. A new freeware app in the Marketplace looks to augment that by allowing you to effortlessly and easily play music from your SkyDrive to your phone. Sounds pretty good to us but alas the initial version is a work in progress. Still, for what it is, what it costs and where it's going, you may want to pick it up or at least watch for updates. From the app description, written in some broken English:

"SkyDrive Player is music player with Sky Drive. At first, upload to SkyDrive which your a lot of music data. then you can download/listen music anytime. this app save your Windows Phone data space. Notice: when uninstall this app. clear downloaded files too. First version of SkyDrive Player is very simple functions. please feedback about this app."

This app tested Media type

  • [.mp3]
  • Up to 320 Kbps
  • Constant or variable bit rate
  • Up to 48 kHz
  • 1 or 2 channels

Next version plans...

  • Supports multiple Live ID.
  • Supports PlayLists.

Notice

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Beards and Beaks Cave DLC now available

Beards and Beaks is the only mobile Xbox Live title so far to feature downloadable content. The game launched with both a free set of levels (Forest) and a paid set (Mountains). And now, the fifth and presumably final set of levels, Cave, is available for purchase.

In our Beards and Beaks review, I noticed that a ninja gnome appears in some of the between-level screens but not as a controllable unit. The Cave DLC rectifies that, as it introduces both the Ninja gnome and Sorcerer gnome to Beards’ gameplay. The Ninja is fast and kills enemies with extreme precision, though he can’t take as much damage as other gnomes. Yep, he’s easily my favorite unit. The Sorcerer is no slouch either, launching fireballs over long distances. Neither of the new guys can be used in older levels, but they do make the Cave levels feel fresh.

Adding units to one side but not the other wouldn’t be fair. To keep things balanced, the Cave also introduces new enemies – a super strong Football crow and another crow that’s extra fast on its feet.

As for the levels themselves, I encountered a new environmental hazard – a gate that players can manually open to let the gnomes through. But the gate closes after a few seconds, treasure-carrying gnomes can’t pathfind through it correctly, and when it raises back up, it kills any gnomes who were attempting to passing through. You tell me if it’s a good addition or not. The overall difficulty of the Cave levels is harder than previous levels, which makes sense as players will have already honed their strategic flicking skills on previous levels before taking on the Cave.

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Reviews seem mixed on eWallet Go by Ilium Software, a long time player with Windows Mobile of yonder. And we're not here to tell you how to spend your money but if you were considering Ilium's eWallet Go (see our App Spotlight here), you may want to pick it up for $0.99 which is a $3 price drop. No word if it's a sale or permanent.

There's no trial so you'll be out that $0.99 if you don't like and our readers are certainly mixed on it, which is why we recommend checking their comments first. If you still want it, here's the linky.

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While the long term impact of Google's acquisition of Motorola (Googarola?) is still anyone's guess, one short term effect appears be to Microsoft and Nokia's benefit. Microsoft's stock rose 1.63% (up .41 points) and Nokia's stock rose 17.35% (up .93 points) in today's trading activity.

In comparison, Google's stock fell 1.16% (6.54 points) while Motorola Mobility's stock made the biggest jump at 55.78% (up 13.65 points).  We're pretty sure the jump with Motorola was due to the 63% premium Google paid for them but it is a little surprising to see Google sag. In addition, it's now been disclosed that Google has agreed to pay Motorola Mobility $2.5 billion if the deal doesn't go through, a figure that is six times the average according to Bloomberg.

Granted none of this could have a thing to do with the $12.5 Billion deal and the stock market these days may not be the best litmus test.  As crazy as Wall Street has been lately, tomorrow we may see completely opposite results. 

Still, it's nice to see Microsoft and Nokia stocks doing well.

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UberMage launches at the Marketplace

UberMage is a new game over at the Windows Phone Marketplace that has you pitted against an Evil Mage and his evil minions in search of Mana Stones. The game has a little bit of a Dungeons and Dragons feel with a touch of Zelda mixed in.

The initial launch of UberMage is being described as a soft-launch. The game is broken up into four worlds, with each world having a number of objectives to complete. The soft-launch has only twenty-one objectives with more in the works. The developer's goal is to have sixty five objectives across eight worlds by September. The ultimate goal is to have a total of one hundred sixty-one objectives to the game.

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According to a Gigaom "exclusive," Motorola Mobility was in talks with Microsoft, as well as other parties, to discuss acquisition.  Their sources tell them that Microsoft was primarily interested in Motorola's 17,000 patents and 7,500 patent applications, which would have have become a WMD of sorts against Google.  Acting in self-defense, Google moved about 5 weeks ago, opening talks of their own with MM, which included CEO Larry Page and Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha, though more recently, Android co-founder Andy Rubin was brought into the mix.  Allegedly, Motorola preferred a deal with Google because Microsoft was only in it for the patents, and no the hardware manufacturing.  The result, Google's $12.5 billion payout or a 63% premium over previous stock estimates of Moto. Good deal?

If these claims are accurate, it is the next giant step in a patent war that's been brewing between Google and Microsoft for a while now.  It is also a possible sign of the decline of Android and the rise of Windows Phone 7.  Google now owns one of the many companies that use its Android platform, and has become a competitor to itself.  Google's new position as a player in the manufacturing game could drive other companies away from Android and into the arms of another operating system, say, perhaps Windows Phone.  Throw Microsoft's deal with Nokia, and now you have what could be a huge boost for WP7.

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Astro Flare is looking for test pilots

Astro Flare is a new, fast paced, space shooter game for Windows Phone. The game looks good and the developer needs your help. If you're interested in becoming a test pilot of sorts (also known as a beta tester), Astro Flare is looking for a few good players.

To apply for the beta send and email to digitalmarsh@gmail.com with the subject "Beta Test" and include your Windows Live ID the your Windows Phone is registered under.

There is also a discussion going on in the WPCentral Forums on Astro Flare. If you'd like to share your two cents without diving into the beta, you can chime in here at the Forums or leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Thanks Joe for sending this in!

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Don't look now, but Verizon wants you to ditch your old "basic" cell phone and upgrade to a smartphone.  Between August 18 and September 30, customers who purchase new smartphones will be able to mail in their current phones to receive a $100 Verizon gift card three weeks later.  Current customers who are eligible for an upgrade can get the new devices at discounted prices, along with a new data plan and 2-year agreement, while those who are not may be able to extend their agreement for the deal.

After the purchase, users will receive a PIN for Verizon's trade-in site, which will walk them through sending in their old phone for the gift card. 

According to the source, information about the promotion pertained to Verizon's Western region.  It is not yet known whether or not other regions will be offering up the same deal.  Check out the leaked promo docs below.

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From the WPCentral forums...

This week we have a lot of interesting new topics.  Sometimes it surprises me what you folks want to talk about. Come on join us in the forums as you never know what we might be discussing. Heck, sometimes we even talk about Windows Phones. Have something on your mind or just a quick question about your phone? You never know what will spark the next great debate. Here are a few examples of the current hot topics.

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WPCentral Podcast 122


We're back this week with another exciting, in depth and over-extended Windows Phone podcast! This time around you can join Daniel Rubino and special guest-host Travis Lowdermilk, who's filling in for a vacationing Jay Bennett.

Travis is the co-host of Windows Phone Dev Podcast, a podcast for Windows Phone developers and enthusiasts. The show can be seen LIVE each week in HD video and found in the iTunes and Zune marketplace. You can find more info at wpdevpodcast.com.

Join us for a great episode and check the show notes after the break...

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AT&T has filed lawsuits in eight different jurisdictions to defend itself against a wave of arbitration cases filed by Bursor & Fisher on behalf of over 1000 AT&T customers.  The New York law firm started a website called FightTheMerger.com to find a horde of AT&T users to file individual arbitration cases against Ma Bell, in order to prevent the acquisition of T-Mobile.  The method of attack was chosen because AT&T's terms of service bar customers from filing lawsuits against them, instead offering the option of third-party arbitration.

AT&T issued a statement to each court claiming that Bursor & Fisher intend to proceed with each case individually, that they are actually launching a thinly-veiled class-action suit, which is prohibited by the terms of service as well.

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Eck. As IM+ themselves say, this is a good news/bad news announcement. Version 1.4 of their app has been submitted to the Marketplace, meaning we should see it in the next two days. This update will bring the following new and improved features:

  • Significantly improved contact list scrolling and overall application performance
  • Push-to-Email option allows incoming messages to be forwarded to your email
  • Autoreply feature will instantly notify your contacts that your are in Push mode
  • ICQ / AIM / AOL / iChat group chats
  • ICQ contacts can now be added into your AOL/AIM/iChat contact lists and vice versa
  • VKontakte and Yandex IM services are now supported

Now the bad news: no more MSN/Live Messenger. From their mouth, Microsoft has asked them to remove their service and alas SHAPE Service has to comply:

"MSN/WLM support has been dropped due to Microsoft request. For those of you who care more about MSN/WLM support than new features (again, new features list will follow), we strongly recommend to do not update once version 1.4 is released."

Ouch. We guess Microsoft didn't give them exception for v1.1 awhile back? So consider this your fair warning folks, if you need MSN/Live Messenger then you don't want to update to v1.4 when it hits. Resist it. At least you can get Mango on your phone and solve this problem that way.

Source: IM+ Facebook

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Google to acquire Motorola Mobility

Just as we were lamenting Motorola Mobility's position on using Windows Phone (and their stock situation), Google comes out of nowhere and buys them up out for $12.5 billion. From the press release they mention how they want to "...supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing. Motorola Mobility will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open."

Although Motorola is a dedicated manufacturer of Android devices, they also happen to have something that Google really wants--namely a large patent portfolio. Remember, Moto for all intents and purposes invented the cell phone back in the day resulting in a large arsenal of patents that Google can finally wield in defense of Android (seeing as that OS is evidently build on stolen IP). That's something that they will have to do a lot of as Microsoft is currently suing Motorola Mobility over patent infringement, meaning now they are suing Google over the same issue. That court case should get interesting, to say the least.

Google's Andy Rubin states that they remain committed to still working with other partners, although this obviously puts HTC in an odd position--they're not Microsoft's exclusive partner anymore and neither are they Google's. Various OEM partners have publicly come out in support of the deal, notably LG, Samsung, Sony-Ericsson even HTC paying lip-service with the same paraphrase of "We welcome Google‘s commitment to defending Android and its partners.” although you wonder what they have to be saying privately about the deal.

The big question is what does this actually mean? Too early to tell though clearly Google is stepping up things against Apple and to a lesser extent Microsoft. Apple already has the hardware thing down and Microsoft now has Nokia in their corner. As to our thoughts? We'll gladly take our Nokia deal over Motorola any day.

Full press release after the break.

Source: Official Google Blog; via AndroidCentral 1, 2

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IonBallEX is this week's Xbox Live game

Last week, WPCentral broke the news that IronSun Studios’ IonBallEX (yes, the developer is averse to spaces) would be coming to Xbox Live. We just didn’t expect it so soon! IonBallEX is this week’s Xbox Live release.

IonBallEX is an Arkanoid-style game in which players use a paddle and ball to break bunches of bricks. This game is more interesting than many of its brethren thanks to its darkly futuristic setting, a wide variety of block types and power-ups, lots of enemies and bosses to fight, and its experience system. Plus it’s a sequel to an indie game, which we don’t often see on Xbox Live. For more details and screenshots, check out our preview.

IonBallEX (boy I’d rather type that as Ion Ball EX) comes out on Wednesday, August 17 and will cost $2.99. Brick-breaking fans won’t want to miss it.

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