As we fast approach the 2012 mark, we just want to take a moment to wish everyone a happy new year. We'd also like to extend a big thanks to our readers who have submitted tips, app review requests, participated in our forums, used our official app and listened to our podcast--you've helped drive one of the largest Windows Phone communities in the world!
The other day we mentioned that certain props were on their way out for your XBox Live Avatar. Agree or disagree with Microsoft's policy you may find the need to control your child's access to explicit music, videos or games on their Windows Phone or XBox Live console. If so, here's how to go about it.
You'll need log into your (or your child's) Xbox Live account over at Xbox.com.
If your child's account is part of a family membership you'll need to go to the Family Center section that is listed under the XBox drop down menu at the top of the screen. Find your child's Xbox Account, hover over the name and a pop-up menu will appear. Choose the Privacy and Online Settings option.
If your child has a stand alone account, the Privacy and Online Settings will be listed on their profile page just below their avatar.
Happy Holidays everyone! With some of our readers finding a new Windows Phone under the tree or getting their Windows Phone Marketplace gift card in the mail, we thought it was a good time to throw out some app suggestions. We've polled our staff and have come up with a few games and apps that we think every Windows Phone should have. Or in the least, we highly recommend you give them a try.
A few days ago we received notice that the server powering the popular Windows Phone game, Trine's Hangman, crashed due to high traffic. It was one of those good news/bad news things. Good that traffic for the game was up, bad that it crashed the server. You could still play the game but all the online goodness wasn't available.
After diligent work by the developer, we have just been informed that things are back up and running. So every should have access to the online ranking, leaderboards, definitions and score updates.
Trine's Hangman Pro is currently on a half-off sale ($.99) through January 1st. In light of the events with the server, this sale has been extended to January 8th. So if you've been thinking of upgrading to the ad free version or tinkering with the free trial, you still have time to take advantage of the savings.
2011 has been a big year for our forums. We started out watching Windows Mobile fade away as Microsoft continued the roll out of Windows Phone 7. Yes, that all happened this year, though it really seems like it was longer ago. As we move forward to 2012, a year that we expect will be huge for our operating system, we just want to remind our members what threads were the most popular while making a couple of comments about why we think these topics were on everyone's mind.
Our biggest threads of the year was this one: 'Called Verizon Today'. Verizon was the last US Carrier to join the Windows Phone game and there were plenty of our forums members anxiously awaiting the release of the HTC Trophy, Verizon's first and only WP7 device to date. So we talked about it. That thread went 51 pages deep and has over 1,000 replies. Evidently, Verizon users want Windows phone too. Verizon are you listening? Probably not.
One of our other more popular topics in the forums was wallpapers. We have had many threads on this topic this year but none were more popular than this one: 'Post Your Wallpaper'. That thread was actually started in December of 2010, just making it to the one-year mark, so it earned its place in our 2011 review. Who doesn't love wallpapers? Heck for a lot of us the lockscreen wallpaper on our device is the first thing we see in the morning. This thread is 16 pages deep with over 300 replies and growing every day--maybe add yours?
While Mehdoh is dying and Tweet it! is not for everyone, the old standby moTweets by Panoramic Software is getting a nice update very soon. Yes, version 3.0 is being prepared for submission to the Marketplace and we have the changelog for you.:
- New: Background agent checks and updates the new Mango Live Tile
- New: Ability to add the Post screen to the Live Tile for quick posting
- New: Links now open in Pocket Internet Explorer
- New: Reply auto selects the account you are reading from
- New: Completely redesigned social engine, using https and much quicker response time
- Proper translation of t.co twitter links.
- Custom handling for Japanese font
- Link, Picture, and Timeline fixes for Twitter, Facebook, and RSS feeds
- Fixed ImageWall
- Better handling for Retweet, Spam
- Fixed Trends and Local Trends
On top of that, a second update will closely follow bringing the highly sought after Toast Notifications. Panoramic is also exploring adding GooglePlus and LinkedIn support, though they're not certain on the timing of those features just yet.
We broke the news back at the beginning of December that the wildly popular Twitter app Mehdoh had disappeared from the Marketplace. More ominous was the closing of the Twitter account and a Tweet from the developer, Chris Field, that working on the app was no longer enjoyable. Within a few hours though, all was back to normal and there were even a steady flow of solid updates, culminating with version 1.9 which will go live in the next few hours.
Yet all is not well. The app will be permanently discontinued very soon and pulled from the Marketplace. If you have it, it will continue to work for the foreseeable future, but we will no longer see any updates. From the Mehdoh website:
"Due to various reasons, at the start of December we took the decision to close our App Hub Windows Phone development account with Microsoft. Since then the request has been going through the various departments, and via GeoTrust (who digitally sign the application). It now looks like that process is coming to an end.
This will mean that Mehdoh will eventually be disappearing (unfortunately for good this time) from the Marketplace. You may be aware that we recently submitted 1.9 for certification... we are seeking clarification if this will make it to the marketplace or not.
The wildly popular Xbox title I MAED A GAEM W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!1 has been ported to Windows Phone as one of three games within the new title Z0MB1ES!!1 (on teh ph0ne), which we broke news of back in September. Now it looks like the game is set for release this coming week as the main Xbox LIVE title for Windows Phone. It will run for the very reasonable $2.99.
Back from our interview, the games within Z0MB1ES!!1 (on teh ph0ne) were described:
"Endless Zombies takes place in a little, infinitely looping labyrinth that has a room-by-room progression similar to that of Smash TV. It’s a neat challenge mode for some twin-stick time killing, but it’s definitely not nearly as epic as I MAED A GAM3."
Q: Gotcha. Time Viking, on the other hand, is a brand new game. How does it fit in with the two Z0MB1ES titles?
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I, the long-awaited return to 2D gameplay for the Sonic series, met with a mixed reception when it debuted on consoles in 2010. The Windows Phone version debuted several months later. In WPCentral’s Sonic 4 review, I praised its faithfulness to the console game (outside of a crummy pinball level exclusive to the mobile game) and touch screen controls. While the retro remake of Sonic CD is still due to arrive sometime (having already hit consoles and iOS), many fans have been left wondering about the fate of Sonic 4: Episode II.
Good news today then, as Sega has finally released a teaser trailer for Episode II. The trailer is devoid of gameplay footage, but it does at least promise the return of two popular characters: Tails the fox, Sonic’s young sidekick, and Metal Sonic, one of the main enemies in Sonic CD.
Head past the break for another video and more gameplay details!
We have a lot of Twitter apps for Windows Phones and everyone has their preference. And while we're hard pressed to name one as the end-all, be-all we're going to give a strong endorsement here for Tweet it! from the developers My Amazing Big Fork. Reasons?
- It has a lot of character--great animation effects, layout and a bold, unique design
- Lots of options and features not found on other Twitter apps
We've been using Tweet it! from its 1.0 days where it was a simple app that allowed you to just rapidly Tweet a message with a few clicks. But once it hit 2.x it received a major overhaul and a ton of features. Now sitting at v2.6, the app is really a fantastic option for those looking for something different, something that will make you smile when you use it. Some of the features of Tweet it! include:
Pocketnow have images reportedly from Microsoft-partner Christmas card and the featured item is a Nokia device with AT&T branding on board, presumably the Nokia "Ace" 900.
No other details can be discerned from the device except for a front-facing camera (upper left), which seems imperative for US markets now and for 2nd gen Windows Phones. The device is expected to feature a large 4.3" screen, AT&T LTE 4G and some other ample specs making it a decent competitor for the US and Windows Phone in general. Still, it is not clear if this device is just a revamped 800 with higher specs or truly a different device.
More info is expected in a few days as we approach CES where all is expected to be revealed. Our only criticism? We hope black isn't the only color option as it is getting a tad old these days--gives us some reds, whites and blues to make us really interested.
Source: Pocketnow; Thanks, pezman726, for the tip!
For the Xbox Live gamers in the house, Amazon has a 12-month XBox Live Gold subsciption for $39.99, about one third off the regular price. Click on the source link below and choose Online Game Code under the Format section. This is an instant code retrieval, as opposed to being mailed a card with the code on it, which will run you an extra $5. Even you aren't up for renewal, you can pick it up now and tack it on to your current subscription.
The popular Face Swap app allows you to take a photo with two people and then switch their faces. The app uses a sophisticated face recognition algorithm to accurately and seamlessly swap faces between your two victims, giving a bizarre and creepy effect. Likewise, Face Mask does the same but with goofy cartoon effects, making your victim look exceptionally silly.
Both apps got bumped to version 1.1 and finally fix the link to "other" Face Party apps (before it read "coming soon") and also addresses a common crash when there were too many photos within the app. No other changes are noted, but we can't complain for what are two of the most fun and free apps around. Grab it Face Swap here in the Marketplace and Face Mask here.
When these agencies release marketshare data at intervals throughout the year, it's never a particularly positive story for Microsoft's Windows Phone. The platform has seen a steady decline in share (but not as harsh as RIM), but what could be the reasons for the constant drop?
We shouldn't look into it too much, nor should the data be taken at face value. The total number of smartphones is growing, and Apple and Google are the two players that are increasing rapidly. Windows Phone isn't performing as good as the both of them so marketshare may drop to reflect the increase in the total number of smartphones in the market. Sure, RIM isn't doing too well (losing 3%), but Windows Phone is selling, perhaps just not well enough.
With about two weeks away from becoming reality, the T-Mobile Nokia Lumia 710 is making an appearance over at Ebay. The 3.7" screened Windows Phone is the all black model is listed as "brand new unopened".
We're expecting the Lumia 710 to run $49.99 after contractual discounts. At last check, after 28 bids, the current bid on the "out of contract" model is $565. You've got little over five days left on the bidding or you can wait just a tad longer and snatch one up directly from T-Mobile.
You can find the T-Mobile Lumia 710 Ebay listing here.
WhatsApp is continuing its slow and gradual ascent by going to v1.5 tonight. While once again nothing major has happened, it did manage to pick up the ability to create group chats, which we suppose will be important for many of you.
The popular chat client came to Windows Phone just over 3-months ago and since has received an update every few weeks. While it still lacks features of its iOS sibling, it's clear the developers of WhatsApp are committed to updating the app on a regular basis and that's a good thing. Other changes:
- able to delete large conversations
- faster insertion and removal of messages to and from local storage
- faster creation of favorites
Pick up WhatsApp v1.5 here in the Marketplace. Thanks, Jun H., for the tip!
Heads up folks, if you're looking to spice up your Internet Explorer experience, we should steer you towards Surfcube. A browser-wrapper of sorts (it uses IE9 as the core), Surfcube gives the user a whole new way to interact with their web browser with a 3D rotation cube that enables full-screen browsing and a simple way to access tabs and bookmarks.
The app is normally priced at $1.99 but is now 50% off till January 1st, which we think is a pretty good deal. The app of course has a free trial or you could use the free, ad-supported version if you want. But at $0.99 this is a pretty great price for one of the top-rated apps around. Grab it here in the Marketplace to take it for a spin.
TuneWiki is a pretty cool website where you can check out not only the lyrics for your favorite song but also discuss song meanings--always a favorite pastime. The site has apps for that are very popular on Android and iOS and now we're pleased to see it has arrived on Windows Phone too. Best part? We're not looking at some generic port but what looks like an honest attempt to embrace the Windows Phone UI. Here are the features:
- Listen to any music with synced lyrics
- Share lyrics from your favorite songs with your network of friends
- Get lyrics instantly translated into 40+ languages
- What does that song mean? Comment on and discuss the meaning of lyrics and songs
- Discover new music in your SongBox – songs that are being played and recommended by your friends
- Explore Song Maps and real-time Top Charts to discover popular songs nearby and around the world
We just gave the free app a spin on our phone and boy do we like it--its clean, bold, pulls down the lyrics and plays them "Karaoke style" i.e. no scrolling and even has a neat mapping feature. We can see now why ~5 million people are using the service as it's presented very well.
For those of you who are social-media junkies, you'll no doubt have heard of Klout (see site). It's a social-networking ranking system that basically tells you how influential you are based on amount of Tweets, reTweets, Facebook likes, who follows you, how many follow you and who you interact with. It's a weird thing and one more metric to worry yourself over ("OMG, I dropped a point! Why don't they like me!").
Still, it's important for some and Klout offers "perks" aka free offers to those who are socially powerful e.g. a free Windows Phone on top of being a free service that actually has a nice design. In that regard, it's great that Julien Dollon has whipped up an exquisite little app for the service that allows you to check all of your stats dynamically and even keep track of your Klout score via the Live Tile. It's free and amazingly was put together in just six-hours by Julien and his wife, so kudos to them for their talent. Other features include:
Paul Thurrott, over at his supersite for Windows, has revealed some information that will be later announced at the upcoming CES. In the article Thurrott notes the carrier will be shipping the Nokia Lumia 710 (code name "Sword" a name we've seen before) in April 2012, and it's not certain what the plan is with Verizon and an LTE Windows Phone. Hopefully a more powerful handset will be featured in the next year. We'll have to see how Microsoft and manufacturers plan to push forward.
What is clear though, assuming this is accurate, is that Verizon is not at all keen on Windows Phone, with our without LTE or with Nokia's backing. That's some cojones, in our opinion and a big middle finger to their customers.
The Lumia 710 will be available on T-Mobile in January 2012, which will provide the T-Mobile three months exclusivity before Verizon begins shipping.
We get a lot of requests from you folks regarding what's a good compass app for your Windows Phone. To be honest, there's quite a bit out there and while some are great, there's a lot of 'meh' out there too.
Palladium Power, the folks behind the popular game Orb (which is temporarily free again) have make what we think is a top-notch and exquisite compass app that will please your senses as well as show you where to go. The app, called Compasses, is very clean and minimalist, making you Metro-heads happy. It features two different modes: Analog and Digital with a third being reserved for Maps. The Analog mode looks like a standard compass including directional setting and highly detailed design. In addition, you can select from five different "skins" including Standard, Metro, Camouflage, Rusty and Contrast, which gives the compass a unique look. The Digital version also has these same five skins lending consistency to the design.
Metro, a commuter newspaper, is available in a number of cities across the UK and at major stations on a number of rail networks. Not only has the paper sported Windows Phone advertisements for HTC Mango handsets, but now we have an official app being made available. As is with the newspaper in its physical publication, the app is free of charge accompanied by advertisements. The app itself is well designed and effectively shows off the Metro UI.
Some available features:
- Comment on articles.
- Share articles with friends.
- Categories can be pinned to the home screen.
- Galleries from a variety of topics.
- Content is stored locally for offline viewing.
Being already present on Android and iOS, this is a positive step for Windows Phone. You can download the Metro app from the Marketplace for nothing at all (advertisement supported).
Thanks TheWeeBear for the tip!
It just wouldn't be late-December without a horde of "Top (fill in the blank) of the Year" lists. In that tradition, mobile analytics group Mobilewalla has posted their top-rated apps of 2011 list. However, where most list makers simply compile the most popular or their favorites, Mobilewalla took a different approach. Using an algorithm consisting of ratings, position within category, popularity, social media, etc., lovingly referred to as the "Mobilewalla Score," they compiled a list based on a score of 100. From greatest to least, here are the results (click links to download):
Some time ago we shared a sneak peak at the Windows Phone application Video Diary. Well it's now available over at the Windows Phone Marketplace.
Video Diary is an app that lets you create a private video collection of your daily thoughts and memories. Recordings remain segregated from your Pictures Hub and can be backed up through your Dropbox account.
Key features include:
- Full recording reminders where you can set to a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis. The reminder includes a deep link that will send you directly to the app.
- Live tile support that notifies of your reminder service.
- Automated save system that eliminates the need to name your recordings. Each recording is automatically named with the date and time when you leave the recording screen.
While Video Diary does not support the front facing cameras of the second generation Windows Phone, it is our understanding that such support is in development.
Video Diary is a free, ad-supported Mango App that you can grab here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.
Not too much of a shock here, but we surmise that the LG-E906 aka the Jil Sander phone is probably not selling too well. First made available at the end of November for £299.99 ($460) the phone dropped to £199.99 sometime before Christmas. Now the phone has taken an even further price cut, 50% from the original, to a pretty sweet £149.99 ($231) which ain't half bad for a phone with 16GB internal storage.
To recap, the Jil Sander phone is a collaboration between the famous fashion house and LG. In fact, it's the only "new" phone from LG with Mango and it's not even that original as it is basically an Optimus 7 with some new styling. In that sense, its stats are a little under whelming with a 1Ghz CPU, 3.8" screen and a 5MP camera.
Having said that it is rather stylish and for that low price with no carrier ties, something worth considering.
Source: Expansys; Thanks, Chris F., for the heads up!