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Air Dagger soars into the Marketplace

Elbert Perez over at Occassional Gamer is at it again. He's released yet another fast paced, challenging, free game over at the Windows Phone Marketplace. Air Dagger joins his portfolio of popular Windows Phone games such as Traffic Cop, Impossible Shoota, and Armored Drive.

Air Dagger is an air combat game that has you flying for one of three corporations. When you first begin the game you've got to pledge allegiance to either the Rinko Group, Black Air Tech or the AeroSpek Union. This is your team as you work your way through the different missions or levels.

Flight controls are simple in that you tilt your phone to steer the plane left, right, forward or backwards. Tapping the screen will fire your main guns and tapping a enemy plane will launch missiles. You do have upgrades (40 in all) that can be purchased before and after missions to help you tackle your enemies.

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There's been a lot of speculation on when exactly Windows Phone "Mango" will launch--or even what that means exactly. The reason it is a questions is because there are device upgrades, there are device launches and there's no reason to think the two are tied together. Hence we've seen September 1st, August 25th and the vague "this fall" all thrown around and in fact, they're most likely all true for specific situations.

Microsoft's marketing chief for Scandinavia, Peter Wissinger has taken to Facebook to clarify the "Mango" launch. In short he tells WinMobile.se that it is completely up to the OEMs to decide the timeline for launch of the next-generation of Mango devices. In fact, as has been speculated, Microsoft came out ahead of schedule this time with "Mango' which is why OEMs, who just received the RTM version, may seem a little behind--perhaps they weren't prepared to have it all ready this early (although Fujitsu seems prepared).

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Russian Windows Phone dev podcast launches

Dobroye utro! Sure we're biased towards English around these parts, sorry about that. But that doesn't mean we can't give some love to our non-English speakers, after all we're pretty sure there's more of you than us. So we're pretty excited to mention that a new podcast in 100% Russian is now available for your pleasure (assuming we have some Russian readers, of course).

The podcast seems to focus on the developers perspective (so, it sounds analogous to the WP Dev Podcast here in the States) and hopefully it'll be a regular thing. Good lucks guys!

Head over to Windows Phone 7 Rocks #1 to give it a listen; Thanks, Alex K, for the heads up

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There's been a lot of talk about when the Fujitsu IS12T is launching exactly in Japan. There was mention of "end of August" and the "After September".  And to be clear, we're still not 100% sure. But what we do know is that the carrier, AU, who has the big exclusive deal to sell the phone, is taking reservations now for delivery on August 25th.

Japanese Windows Phone news site NanaPho reports on one AU shop in Nishikasai, Tokyo taking such reservations. Going further, one of our readers, Chris Loguidice, let us know that he too was able to place an order:

"Just reserved my Toshiba IS12T at AU yesterday arrives next week on the 25th. So I guess that's the official drop date for mango."

Indeed, translated from the AU Shop page:

"This title will be released in stores August 25, we accepted from today pre-ordered!"

So either one of two things: come August 25th there will be a lot of thrilled new IS12T owners, or conversely a lot of disappointed ones. We should note that the official site for the phone still lists "after September 2011", so who knows--it's not like we've never experienced Best Buy report a false sale date, amirite?

Update: Tezawaly from NanaPho sent the above shot (and a few others) showing the phone stocking up and ready to sell, so August 25th now seems like a go!

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After yesterday's news that HP is discontinuing all webOS mobile devices, many members of the very passionate and loyal webOS community, including myself, have been shocked into wondering what we are supposed to do next. While I'm not saying that I've already jumped ship to Windows Phone 7 from webOS already (I still love my devices and the community behind them), it's not uncommon to see that many of you are already planning your trip to the store to pick up a new smartphone to replace the soon-to-be-antiquated HP Veer, Pre 2 or even the original Sprint Palm Pre (what we back at PreCentral call the Pre-Minus). Let's get this straight, because I know how loyal you guys are to your platform, switching to a WP7 device is not abandoning the webOS platform - but HP has made it very clear that they're not making phones anymore, so what else are you supposed to do? 

I've been using WP7 on my Dell Venue Pro for a little while now, and even though it's not a shiny new HP Pre 3 running webOS 3.0, it does have a whole lot going for it. If I absolutely had to make the decision tomorrow (which I don't and I'm not... yet), it would be very easy for me to make Windows Phone 7, and WPCentral.com, my new home in the smartphone universe. Let me put it to you this way: If you're thinking about switching to another platform from webOS, WP7 is one of the best options, if not the best, out there for you to choose today.

It's easy to say all of that, though without backing it up; but that's why I've come to WPCentral today to help ease the pain and make things a little more comfortable for those of you joining this community. The webOS platform had a whole lot going for it as an operating system built on mobile devices. Synergy, Just Type, Multitasking, Touchstone Charging, Exhibition Mode, non-interrupt notifications system and other great features (just to name a few) made webOS wholly unique and intuitive - but to say that WP7 isn't already pushing forward with many of these concepts (and even jumping ahead in a few) is to be ignorant of the facts.

To be quite frank - WP7 over any other platform is probably the most similar to webOS as being intuitive and market-changing, and even though many of you might choose this platform simply because it isn't iOS, Android of Blackberry, you should also be choosing it simply because it's a great operating system to use.

Here, by popular request, is a guide to help your transition from whatever webOS smartphone you might be using over to a Windows Phone 7 device. Written by someone who has loved webOS since the day it was announced and will stick with it until the day that it is finally put to rest. 

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geoDefense, the Xbox Live tower defense game with Geometry Wars-inspired visuals, has been a bit buggy since its release. Chief among those bugs is the dreaded save data bug, which we reported on in June. This bug caused some gamers to lose all of their progress when replaying levels, and nobody likes that.

Thankfully today’s version 1.6 patch fixes the save data bug at last. No longer should anyone fear playing geoDefense and trying for higher scores. We’re glad to see Critical Thought Games continuing to hone its enjoyable strategy title.

If for some reason you want a more traditional tower defense experience than the exceptional Plants vs. Zombies, geoDefense is the place to look. It costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Get it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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File this under: very interesting

For those of you who used Windows Mobile 6.x, you'll remember a neat little Chinese browser called UCWeb. It was similar to Opera where it used servers to compress and reformat websites that were then passed to the phone. The design was pretty sharp, offering an all "black" theme that was great for reading and photos looked great on it. Plus it was free.

Surprisingly, in their help forum, the company has announced plans for a closed beta testing. They're taking applications via the forum, but since it's Chinese you may have a tough time registering and getting a spot. From the Google-translated post:

UC browser Wp7 platform closed beta began recruiting friends

"The UC long-awaited platform for closed beta browser Wp7 recruit friends, are welcome to join closed beta.

The recruitment only accept Windows Phone 7 platform Friends of Friends applications for Friends of Friends in the following format for replies, we will follow all mobile phone technology in the customer service area and the level of activity in the sector assessment, the results we will be a forum SMS notification to you.

Application requirements: Be sure the phone is unlocked, the deployment process on their own Friends of Friends"

This raises all sorts of interesting questions, like will this be allowed in the Marketplace? Will they localize the language for English (they've done it before, obviously)? When can we see it? We'll try to find out more and we'll keep an eye out for this one.

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The HTC Omega showed up on Elbert Perez's game stats page--there's only one, but there only needs to be one, right? Perez gets his data from the ton of high quality and popular games that he has on the platform. (See the Nokia 800 referenced just a few days ago).

Device information such as make and model are commonly collected and it's turning out to be a great source to know what may be coming next.

So. Omega. That sounds pretty epic and we've seen it referenced just a few weeks ago with a basic 1.5Ghz CPU, 800x480 screen and 16GB of storage.

Source: Occasional Gamer, via @elbertperez

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IM+ v1.4 is now live - reminder!

For those who use IM+, you'll be happy to know that v1.4 is now available. The big new features are faster loading/connecting (confirmed) and advanced push settings, including a sweet auto-responder and message forwarder:

  • 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

But, we must also remember that MSN/Live Messenger is also now gone, so you are warned--don't upgrade if you need that! Anyways, besides the loss of Live Messenger, we like the improvements and additions. Grab IM+ here in the Marketplace (if update doesn't show, just back out and head back in to the Marketplace to refresh).

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Hyper Defence XT - Preview

Hyper Defence XT is an upcoming gaming title headed to the Windows Phone Marketplace. We were fortunate enough to get a sneak peak at the game and found it to be an entertaining, slightly addictive tower defense game.

The premise is that you are defending Outpost 26 from invading aliens. Hyper Defence has 15 levels of play, 7 fully upgradeable turret defenses, collectable Hyper Energy power boosts, and an unlockable Survival Mode.

Game play is not unlike any other tower defense game in that you have to survive a certain number of waves in each level to advance. As you take out enemy forces, you earn credits to buy or upgrade your defenses.

Defensive placement is key (as it is with any tower defense game) and to purchase a weapon you tap, hold and drag the turret to the desired location. A green halo around the weapon indicates the location is suitable for placement. Weapons fire automatically when the enemy comes into range and to upgrade, simply tap on the weapon to pull up the upgrade menu.

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HP shutting down webOS device operations

HP made their quarterly fiscal report today and announced that they planned to discontinue operations for webOS devices including their TouchPad and webOS (formerly Palm) phones.  Wow.

In the press release, HP did leave the door open stating they will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward. What this means is anyone's guess. As our friends at PreCentral note, HP is discontinuing operations for webOS devices, not the OS itself.

Could we see HP follow suit and license out webOS to, say, HTC? Could HP take advantage of all the headaches/litigation Android is creating and offer manufacturers an alternative? Personally, I just don't see HP giving up on webOS after, only a year ago, spending $1.2 billion to acquire the system. On the other hand, who is interested in licensing an OS that has failed to catch on? Twice.

What does this mean for everyone else? I'm not sure if it will really impact Microsoft, Google, Apple or RIM. While webOS devices have a strong following, they were on a downhill slide when HP acquired Palm and never took off. With Mango just around the corner, Microsoft may be able to attract Pre customers with webOS's future being uncertain.

As a former Palm user (still have my first Palm Pilot) I hope HP finds a way to keep webOS as a viable system. One thing is for certain though, it seems these days the smartphone industry is constantly changing.

You can read HP's full press release on their quarterly report after the break.

Update: The Verge confirms that HP is not killling WebOS as a platform and they are looking for partners and options. In short, they're killing HP's attempt at hardware noting that they need to stop putting under-performing hardware in the market. Still, WebOS's future, even as an OS, obviously remains in dire straits.

via: PreCentral

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Developer Interview: Levi Fussell

Dalton Carl is a Windows Phone fan, an aspiring developer and a WPCentral reader. Dalton had the opportunity to interview Levi Fussell, developer of several Windows Phone apps, and shared the interview with us. We in turn thought we would share with you.

What caught Dalton's attention was Fussell's Windows Phone game Rooftop Rage (link opens Zune). According to Dalton, it was the only game outside the XBox Live titles that made him go "wow". According to Dalton, "It was such an interesting game, I had to know more about the creator".

Follow the break to read Dalton's interview with Levi Fussell.

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Update: Sorry folks, appears to be U.S. (and Israel) only for now :-/

We've always wondered whether Microsoft would launch a Google Latitude service--after all, they have Bing, a nice aGPS/WiFi location finder and a solid mobile OS. So it comes as a nice surprise to see them launching "We're In" today:

"We’re In makes organizing get-togethers, carpooling and trying to find people in a crowd a breeze. Any time you want to see where your friends are—We're In can help you. It's simple, invite your friends, and when they join, they'll see your location and you'll see theirs. When the invite expires, so does the shared location – no complicated process to worry about.

We’re In is a great way to save time and frustration when planning your road trip or meeting your friend at the mall – helping you connect with your friend faster."

The best way to describe the service is it's like Latitude combined with Glympse--the former because it allows you to see where your friends are, the latter because these events "expire" meaning you're not tracking people (or being tracked yourself) for eternity. The app allows you to

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A recently leaked Samsung roadmap is chocked full of Android phones and tablets but it does support the existence of one Windows Phone we've read about.

The i8350 Omnia W isn't new to the rumor mill but the leaked map indicates an October release and gives the phone a 3.7" WVGA (we're still going with AMOLED), 1ghz processor, and running Mango.  All of which we've seen in earlier reports along with the phone having 512mb of RAM and a 5mp camera.

The leak gives credence to our earlier thoughts that the i8350 and the Omnia W are one in the same. Now we just have to figure out how the GT-i8700 fits into the picture?  We still don't know where the i8350 will land and hopefully that will come to light in the next few weeks.

via: gsmarena; Thanks, JustVisiting, for the tip!

Update: In digging a little further, this appears to be old speculation on Samsung's Fall roadmap which was denied by Samsung a few weeks ago. So for the time being we'll re-file this under "extreme rumor". 

It's consistent with other reports but it is still uncertain if the i8530 will see the light of day. In a long shot, it could be an attempt by Samsung to test the waters to see how well such a device would be received. If that's the case, we'd like to see more in their next Windows Phone, such as a Samsung Galaxy S II running Windows Phone Mango!

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If you recall, Scott Adams of Dilbert fame was lamenting his iPhone and EVO 3D on Twitter and thus fell in to Brandon Watson's clutches. Watson famously offered Adams a $1,000 donation to his favorite charity if he would take Windows Phone for a spin and didn't like it.

Well, Adams received the phone and has written up a decent little review of it compared to his iPhone 3GS and HTC EVO 3D (Android). We'll just cut to the chase:

"The Windows phone has the best user interface experience, although the onscreen keyboard is problematic just as it is with the other phones I used. The Windows interface is intuitive, simple, and has a liveliness that I find appealing. Voice call quality was good, and battery life seemed good too. I declare it the winner compared to my iPhone 3GS with AT&T and my HTC EVO 3D with Android on the Sprint network."

..."If you want a smartphone that is easy to use, performs well, has a good battery life, and doesn't frustrate you, the Windows phone is the best choice of the three options I tested. All you give up is some hipster credibility and access to lesser-used apps."

Bam!

Now, having said that, it wasn't all gushing either. Adams did a neat breakdown of major features and gave pass/fail grades to all three devices. He confesses he's not a professional reviewer, nor a gadget geek like we in his write up, which we think is a good thing sometimes. Areas he didn't care for on the AT&T Samsung Focus running Mango:

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We've seen the improvement coming in "Mango" to Bing, which are nothing short of impressive: Vision, Scout, Music, info cards, images, etc. But (and it's a big but) some of those services won't work everywhere in the same fashion. We're talking of course about Scout and Bing Vision. Specifically on the latter, we know it won't do movie posters, books, CDs, barcodes etc only MS Tags and QR codes outside of the US. That's a huge bummer for many as Bing Vision works quite well.

Reader Leon Y. writes in to let us know that these services are not available in Canada--at least on the Mango 7712 ROM. It's actually very simple:

"I currently have the dev build 7712 and I don't know if it works in the RTM build. Also I think this works because I speak English and not another language.

Here's how to do it: Go into the Region+languages in the settings and change the browser & search language to English (United States) and hit the back button to save the changes. The local scout works like a charm and the Bing vision is amazing. I think this will work in other English speaking countries. I don't see a reason for Microsoft disabling this feature for other countries other that the US. I just wanted to share this discovery with everyone"

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No new Xbox Live game on August 24

While Microsoft recently announced 12-ish new games coming to Xbox Live, it looks like those titles may not be ready for release just yet. Prepare yourselves, Windows Phone gamers: there will be no new Xbox Live release next week.

I can’t remember the last time there wasn’t an Xbox Live release in the US. Sadly, our European readers already know what it’s like to not see a new game on their Marketplace. When Sudoku and Minesweeper came out for free last week, everybody was surprised that they were only released in the US.

I’m just shocked at this hole in the release schedule, as the last two Game Room retro games, Time Pilot and Shao-Lin’s Road, have almost certainly been complete for a long while. Hopefully the negative reaction to previous Game Room games (stemming largely from the ancientness of some of those games and releasing them all in a very short time span) hasn’t resulted in their cancellation. Some of us want those Achievements!

There will, of course, be an Xbox Live Deal of the Week, so many gamers will still have a reason to pick up a game they didn’t own before. Check back here on Wednesday and we’ll let you know what game is on sale.

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Yesterday we reported on some new features that are coming to Xbox Live when Mango rolls around. One of those was ‘Fast Async,’ Microsoft’s proprietary form of asynchronous multi-player. Geekwire reached out to Microsoft and published this interview with an unnamed representative:

“How will Fast Async work and how does it compare to the current approach for turn-by-turn gaming in WP7? 

Similar to turn-by-turn async gaming, Fast Async, coming this fall with the Mango update will expand on this experience by enabling Xbox LIVE games to manage game data and sessions in a faster and more flexible way. It will also provide a way for games to find players across screens, without having to wait and watch the matching happen, and will prompt players with clear messaging, when it’s their turn to move.

Will Fast Async be implemented by default in all turn-by-turn games, via the OS, or will it only come in some turn-by-turn games, when developers implement it? 

Fast Async will only be included in Xbox LIVE titles if implemented by the game developer.”

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As we know, just about everyone in the smartphone industry is suing everyone else. Microsoft is suing Motorola (which has been bought by Google) over patent issues involving Motorola's Android phones. Google stepped in last week and filed a motion to block Microsoft's Android Expert, Mr. Robert Stevenson, from testifying. Google asserted the claim that Microsoft violated confidentiality agreements and disclosed source codes to Mr. Stevenson.  Source codes on an operating system everyone thought was open sourced.

The U.S. International Trade Commission Judge handed down his ruling on Google's motion and Google got the short end of the stick.  However, the ruling may have opened the door for more litigation.

Judge Theodore Essex denied the motion stating that only parties in a complaint are allowed to move for sanctions. The Judge wrote,

"Google has not set forth any legal support for the proposition that a non-party may move for sanctions."

So the expert witness can testify and the wheels of justice can continue to grind.  Still there are two things to watch with this case.

First, will Google file a seperate claim against Microsoft so they can become a "party" and seek sanctions against Microsoft?

Second, if it is ruled that Motorola has infringed on Microsoft patents and Google's Android hardware partners have to pay royalties to Microsoft, would the $12.5 billion deal have been a bust?

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WPCentral is giving away a Windows Phone (Reminder)

The clock is ticking on the WPCentral Windows Phone giveaway.  You've got a week to get your video responses in to have a chance at an AT&T HTC HD7S.  The rules are simple.  Just post a video response to this YouTube Video telling us why we should consider you the biggest Windows Phone fan? What sets the Windows Phone apart from other systems? How does it make your life easier? Even if you don't have a Windows Phone yet, tell us how owning one would make your life easier.

Make it compelling, make it creative, and make it under three minutes. Only one entry per person and we'll give you until Wednesday, August 24th at 5:00pm EST to submit your entry. We will then take a few days to judge everything and pick three winners. The top video gets the HD7S, the first runner up gets a Qmadix Boost Pack and the third runner up get a $25 gift certificate to the WPCentral.com store.

Good luck everyone!

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Thankfully, Windows Phone "Mango" greatly enhances Bing on our devices (see video review), meaning we can be less jealous of the search service on competitors brands like the iPhone and even Android (with the latter always being more "meh"). Having said that, it's still nice to see Bing getting its due and in this case, Android just received a nicely new minted update to their Bing client.

It's an interesting design--not as polished as the iPhone/iPad version but it still has a certain flare to it. Less Metro, more style. Surprisingly, despite some of the anti-Microsoft pot shots that you would expect, users seem pretty impressed with it which goes to show you that on some level, Android and Windows Phone fans can agree on something.

Check our Phil's AndroidCentral video review of the client to see it in action after the break.

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Brandon Watson is persistent, we all know that. In his continued attempt to woo all potential-converts, especially those of a high celebrity profile, Watson is trying to get Windows Phones in the hands of those who can spread the word.

We've seen this before with CNet's Molly Wood and cartoonist Scott Adams and now basketball's Blake Griffin (of the LA Clippers) is the latest to be swayed. Complaining in a Tweet about his iPhone crashing, Brandon reached out to Griffin and his brother (the two are evidently close) in an attempt to get them to switch. Griffin has accepted the offer so we'll have to wait and see on what he thinks about it in a few weeks.

Our bet? We'll hear about how it doesn't have Words with Friends yet.

Source: Twitter; via Mobility Digest

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Windows Phone logo for Facebook gets a remake

We've mentioned before that with "Mango", Microsoft is updating their logo for Windows Phone to the square version, enhanced by the various accent colors of the OS. The new logo received mixed reactions from you the last time with most agreeing it makes sense but that you still liked the old one better.

Well, now you can see it even more as Microsoft has changed the lil' icon for when you post to Facebook--you know, that tiny guy that tells you what service you posted from. While seemingly a minor detail, Facebook is a great place to spread the word about new technology and the new icon certainly has some pop to it. Clicking the link of course brings you to the Windows Phone Facebook page to learn more. Not bad.

Thanks, Loopyeyes and Nick L, for the tip

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Number Guru - App Spotlight

Number Guru is a reverse phone number search engine for your Windows Phone. Described as the "biggest, baddest, and most handsome callerID and reverse phone service you've ever seen", the app claims to cover about 100% of the landlines and 50% of cell phones (excluding Verizon numbers).  Not sure about the "biggest, baddest, and handsome" claim but Number Guru does cover a lot of territory by tapping into 334 area codes in the U.S. and U.S. territories (including the 1-888 and 1-800 numbers).

So now you have a means to reverse look-up those mysterious numbers that appear on your Windows Phone. The app searches are free and unlimited. You also have the ability to add comments to the phone numbers to help other users identify the type of caller (e.g. telemarketer).

Number Guru also maintains a history of numbers searched for quick reference. The interface is independent of your Windows Phone in that you have to enter the number manually (the ID won't pull up when the phone rings).

Number Guru is a free app that can be downloaded here (opens Zune) at the Marketplace.

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