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Are those tiles there for a reason?

Look, we're not going to beat around the bush here, this post is total wild rumor-mongering, but SE asked us to guess so we are. Sony Ericsson (Netherlands) has put up a Tweet teasing a big announcement next week, presumably at CES:

"We're getting ready for some very interesting news next week...what do you think it could be?"

Normally we'd pass this off as "just another Android announcement" and it could very well be. However and perhaps it is just coincidence but we seem to have caught a theme of tiles throughout the above picture which was posted in conjunction with the aforementioned statement.

SE Prototype from 2010

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Lumia 710 now available in Italy

Lumia 710 now available in Italy

As promised last month, Nokia's Lumia 710 is now joining its sibling Lumia 800 in Italy.  The mid-range Nokia handset is available for purchase on two different Italian sites.  You can get both black or white on NSStore for €299.90 or the same on Redcoon for €294.00, including VAT.  The Lumia 710 is a nice, entry-level WP7 phone, complete with:

  •     3.7-inch TFT LCD display at 800x480 resolution
  •     Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
  •     8GB internal storage, 512MB RAM
  •     Quad-band EDGE (850/900/1800/1900); quad-band 3G (850/900/1900/2100)
  •     1.4 GHz Qualcomm MSM 8255 processor
  •     1300 mAh battery
  •     5MP rear camera with autofocus and LED flash
  •     Dimensions: 119 x 62.4 x 12.5 mm
  •     Weight: 125.5 grams
  •     WIfi 802.11 b/g/n
  •     Bluetooth 2.1
  •     aGPS

Source: Plaffo; Thanks, Antonino!

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T-Mobile 2012 New Year Sale includes HTC Radar 4G

Tmobile 2012 Sale

T-Mobile is looking to kick-start 2012 with a bang, following some interesting deals closing off the year. A New Year sale will be activated on the first weekend of January, starting Friday 6th, through to Sunday 8th. The Windows Phone on sale is the HTC Radar 4G (our review) running Mango. The only catch is that the purchase must be accompanied by a two-year Value Plan contract.

Should you be interested in the handset, after a $50 mail-in rebate, you'll be able to pick one up for just $49.99. 

Source: T-Mobile

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More details on Nokia's Lumia 900 Ace

Comparison of the Lumia 900 and 800

PocketNow has gotten their hands on details about the Nokia Lumia 900 (aka, Ace), which is heading to AT&T.  Despite past speculation that it would ship with the version of Windows Phone known as Tango, it will indeed have version 7.5 Mango.  As Nokia's flagship phone, the Lumia 900 will sport:

  • 4.3-inch WVGA display
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 8MP camera
  • 1830mAh battery

The Ace weighs in at 160 grams, just slightly more than the Lumia 800's 142 grams.  This is doubtless due in part to the larger screen.  Despite the greater weight, both handsets look to have the same thickness, about 12mm.  PocketNow took the specs of both phones and used them to create the above comparison picture.

It's not yet known how much storage the Ace will have, but a supposed leaked spec sheet from October showed both a 16GB and 32GB option, though its veracity has been highly questioned.  Based on what we know of Nokia's other handsets, there is no evidence to support the theory that they would offer multiple storage options.  We should find out for sure at CES, where it is also expected that Nokia will unveil a mid-range offering, the Lumia 719.

Source: PocketNow

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Lumia 900 "Ace" featured on Nokia Pulse webpage?

Lumia 900 Nokia Pulse

We could be looking too much into this, or it could actually be the Lumia 900 being featured on Nokia's Pulse webpage. Looking at the above screen capture does reveal some notable differentiation when compared to the Lumia 800. The capacitive buttons are closer to the edge of the handset, it looks marginally taller, but no FFC can be spotted. We'll pass it onto you guys to decide, an interesting find nonetheless. This is -of course- running off the "modified 800" render rumour, but it could well be the "Ace".

Whatever the above is, we'll see the launch of Nokia's U.S. Windows Phone at CES.

Source: Nokia, thanks Jack for the tip!

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Windows Phone development on a Slate [Developers]

Taken with an HD7. Eeek!

Those of you who follow the Microsoftie world will probably know of the Samsung Series 7 Slate. Microsoft gave these out for free to every attendee of the BUILD developer conference in Anaheim this past September (press had to return them though). Roughly a month after the conference they popped up on the Microsoft Store available for pre-order - albeit slightly nerfed.

I finally bought myself one in December for Windows 8 development. Since then I haven't really touched any dev in Windows 8 (going to wait for the Beta) and have just been using it as my secondary Operating System. What I have been doing on the Slate though, is WP7. And it's awesome!

Take a look at the spec's below:

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WP Central

Welcome to the first weekly summary published in 2012 (happy new year everyone)! We've had a relatively busy week with Christmas and the New Year taking priority at WPCentral HQ, but we're back for a quick run through on this week's stories. While it's been pretty quiet in the land of Windows Phone, things are set to heat up as we draw closer to CES (which we'll be covering!).

Our forum Admin Dave Blake takes us through the most popular threads from our Windows Phone forum for 2011. Should you be tired of socialising, then perhaps a gift guide could be of interest? We've compiled a handy guide for anyone who's new to the platform and requires app/game suggestions. We're joined by the makers of Bug Village, Glu Mobile for a developer interview. Head on past the break for the full summary.

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If there was an over-hyped technology in late 2011 it was perhaps Apple's Siritheir voice recognition/information application for the iPhone 4s. Now we'll admit that Siri is quite a strong piece of tech one that we wish Windows Phone had built-in in addition to our Bing Voice service, but the marketing machine behind Siri was a tad overwhelming. Then again, there's no denying facts: Bing Voice while pragmatic for certain tasks is still behind Apple's Siri in some ways.

However, developer Shai Leib has given us Windows Phone users an option: Ask Ziggy. The new app is a free, ad-free and as far as we can tell, completely unique. We spoke with Leib about his project and how it works:

"Ask Ziggy uses Speech Recognition to translate human speech into transcribed text, which is displayed in a speech bubble. The transcribed text is analyzed for patterns to detect commands or general queries. Commands are interpreted and routed to routine phone tasks such as emailing, texting, calling, social network updates, and getting directions.

When a general question is asked, a mixture of mash up technologies and web scraping is employed to search the web for relevant responses. Pattern matching is used to summarize a direct answer from a web page. Several passes may be required to find a concise answer. A direct answer is then spoken out loud, and displayed in a speech bubble. When a direct answer cannot be summarized the user is prompted by speech to click on their search bubble to see web search results based on their spoken query."

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Games from Elbert Perez

There's little doubt that Windows Phone game developer Elbert Perez has had his fair share of success. With over a dozen games in the Marketplace ranging from Armored Drive to Steam Castle to Impossible Shoota, Perez has definitely left an impression over at the Windows Phone gaming aisle.

He recently posted his thoughts on the past year, reflecting on lessons learned.  2011 marks the year Perez became an independent developer, his own boss, and he shared a few of these lessons.

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Lumia 800

It's official - the Nokia Lumia 800 (our review) is set to be released into the wild in Sweden on January 23rd and you can pre-order it now.

The country has already seen the Samsung Omnia W being added to carriers, but now it's Nokia's turn according to an official statement. The Windows Phone will be on Telia, Tele2, Telenor and Three (Sweden), as well as a number of retail stores just three-weeks from now. The price tag of the handset is aimed to be around the 3900 SEK ($560) mark.

Source: Nokia, via: WinGadget.se

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31 Days

We previously covered 31 Days of Mango app development, a daily post on the best way to make apps on Windows Phone. Now we're kicking off the new year with a '31 Days of Windows Phone Metro Design' lead by Arturo Toledo, a Sr. User Experience Designer at Microsoft for the Windows Phone Design Studio:

"We usually refer to “Metro” as the UI design style Microsoft is using in their platform and the one Microsoft is exposing for developers and designers to create apps for Windows Phone (I’m focusing on Windows Phone in this series). But let’s delve a bit deeper into the term “Metro” and explore what it really means. To begin with, Metro is defined by two things: Metro Design Principles and Metro Design Language..."

The series looks to be pretty killer and we hope developers take note. One thing we have learned from user feedback here at WPCentral is that you folks are Metro-fanatics--if an app doesn't look Metro enough, a lot of you tend to rip it up in reviews. That's important for devs to remember when making apps as the more Metro it looks, the better the reviews tend to be (although there is room for going outside of Metro, see SoundHound, Shazam and Tweet It!).

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Mockup of Nokia 900 shows phone in new light

Nokia 900?

A few days ago we posted the leaked "holiday card" from Pocketnow that supposedly showed bits and pieces of the Nokia "Ace" or 900 with AT&T branding. Those images could be faked as renders are notoriously easy to spoof and let's be honest...black slab Nokia phones are not exactly too difficult to imagine.

But assuming that leak is accurate, we can finally see what the phone would look like in all its glory. One of the readers at The Nokia Blog took matters into his own hands and assembled a "full" image from those leaked shots, giving us a full frontal shot (Wait, we're still talking about phones, right?). Incidently, it does look more and more like that "mystery" Nokia phone from the Microsoft promotional video is this phone, no?

900?

Just off the cuff it looks like a modified Nokia Lumia 800 which is exactly what we're expecting. We'll admit though, it's hard to excited over a render even if it is accurate. Nokia phones are more about the quality in the hand and less about initial looks, so until we get our hands on one, we're going to remain less enthusiastic over this stuff.

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MTV Video features Windows Phone

Yet another cameo by a Windows Phone has surfaced. This time in a MTV Video Premiere from the music video "We Are Young" by the group fun.

Around the 0:29 mark you'll see a bar patron texting on her Windows Phone (an HTC Titan I believe). Then in a fit of rage she hurls the phone into the air and a slow motion bar fight/food fight ensues.  We're not sure if a stunt double was used in shooting this video.

If I'm not mistaken, there's also a Fruit Ninja reference around the 1:50 mark.

Thanks, Will, for the tip!

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If you recall, way back in November one of the events at Nokia World was the announcement of the Hackathon winner. Hackathon was a development contest where 40 developers had 40 hours to create an app for a Nokia Phone. Visiarc won the contest with their Windows Phone game Duudle. Why the recap? Well, Duudle is now available over at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Duudle is a Pictionary styled game for your Windows Phone where you have thirty seconds to doodle a picture describing a word. Then your opponents have to guess the word from the doodle. The quicker they correctly guess the word, the more points earned.

Duudle

Duudle is a multi-player, turn based game that is played online much like AlphaJax or SpellIt. You'll need to register (free) with Duudle to play online when you first launch the game.  If you signup with your Facebook account, you'll automatically see your Facebook friends who are Duudle players.  You then pick up games against your Facebook friends or in random games to make new friends. Being turned based the game takes on a relaxing pace giving players up to seventy-two hours to complete their turn.

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Chickens Can't Fly

Last week we learned that Konami’s upcoming sports Xbox Live title Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 would feature unlockable avatar awards in the form of a t-shirt and soccer ball. Now UK website Electronic Theatre is reporting that another impending title, Chickens Can’t Fly, will have avatar awards as well. They don’t say what the game’s avatar items will be, but it’s nice to know it’ll have something for our precious avatars.

Chickens Can’t Fly is the Xbox Live sequel to indie hit Chickens Can Dream from developer Amused Sloth. Players steer a falling chicken down a trench filled with all sorts of deadly hazards (and tasty corn). Think of it as a reverse Doodle Jump, but with powerups you can store and use later.

Chickens Can Dream is no longer listed on the Marketplace, but you may be able to grab it here (for free). Chickens Can’t Fly is due on Xbox Live sometime around February or March.

UPDATE: As one of the developers indicates in the comments section of this post, the avatar items will be patched in with the first title update rather than being included at launch.

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Beware fake Spotify app in Marketplace

Beware the fake Spotify app

On December 20, a fake Spotify app surfaced in the Marketplace.  It is published by a user called khanamish and is selling for $.99, as opposed the official Spotify, which can be downloaded for free.  Other signs to look for to differentiate between the two are that the real Spotify is listed with a capital "S" in the title and uses the Spotify logo, whereas the fake one's icon actually has the word "Spotify" as its icon.  The fake also only has two reviews, one of which flat out calls it a scam.  We're not exactly ready to do that ourselves, but we will question the developer's motives and tell you to steer clear of it.  At the very least, why pay when you can the official app at no cost?

Khanamish has two other apps in the Marketplace, Stock Today and AllSportz.  Both have the same look as the Spotify rip-off, but both are free, so maybe they are legit.  We're not looking to make trouble for any devs, but khanamish's Spotify app is dubious and warrants being called out.  If anyone out there has used this or any other app by this developer, we'd certainly like to get your feedback.

Thanks to Den for alerting us to this!

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LA Times adWell, it's nice to see AT&T kicking off the new year by once again promoting the Samsung Focus Flash. We guess the low-priced Windows Phone gets more advertising priority than the Focus S or HTC Titan--a decision we're not exactly thrilled with, but we suppose we'll take what we can get.

What you see to the side though is a full-page ad in today's LA Times. That's a pretty popular, widely read newspaper and full-page ads are fairly eye catching (not to mention expensive). Hopefully it will pay off for AT&T and Windows Phone but as we mentioned, we couldn't help but wonder why they're not pushing the giant Titan nearly as much--seems an easy sell with that 4.7" screen.

Thanks, Lawrence F., for the tip and scan!

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We like it when leaks happen. We like it even more when they come from Microsoft and are out in the open. Yes, on the Xbox LIVE for Windows Phone 7.5 page, Microsoft lists a bunch of games, most of which we already have or know about. But in the post, they also slip in a few new titles that get us excited:

Bullet Asylum - From UberGeekGames, Bullet Asylum was first announced for WP7, Xbox 360 and PC way back in late 2010. Looks like the Missile Command meets bullet-hell game will finally see the light of day soon though. We're not gonna lie, this looks awesome.

Bullet Asylum

geoDefense Swarm - geoDefense by Critical Thought remains one of our favorite tower defense games so we're stoked to hear of a sequel not only in the works, but evidently close enough to release that Microsoft is listing it. Swarm is available on iOS and is a proper sequel to the game, so nice to see it coming to our neck of the woods.

geoDefense Swarm

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MetroRadio v3.1

We like the little competition between MetroRadio and Radio Controlled for best 3rd party Pandora app and while the latter still has more features, MetroRadio's v3.1 update is looking quite nice.

As you can see above, the player itself now features the album art as a background which works weill with the minimalist layout and design of the app. The program's icon also got a refresh and looks a lot sharper now. Other changes include:

  • Added Live Tile for the main app, and for each individual pinned station.
  • Cleaned the player Interface.
  • Better Station-Adding experience.
  • Adding Coming Up for next songs in the player.

Nice changes for sure and it should make fans of this app quite happy. Can't wait to see what else is coming. Pick up MetroRadio for free in the Marketplace here.

QR: MetroRadio

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Reddit app Baconit now available internationally

“The Narwhal Bacons at Midnight”

The other week we mentioned the new app Baconit from Quinn Damerell as being one of the first Mango-enabled Reddit.com apps for Windows Phone. Not only that, it's quite slick with a Metro UI and a ton of options for an initial-release.

One snafu at the time though was the app was only available in the US. This however wasn't intentional on the dev's part but was instead a hiccup in the Marketplace which has now been rectified. So if you were looking to try it out, you'll want to head back to the Marketplace to give it another go. Did we mention the app was completely free with no-ads and a Live Tile? Pretty great stuff if you're a Redditor like ourselves.

Version 1.4 should be entering beta real soon as well. That version will fix a couple of issues in v1.3 as well as bring new features. Grab the current release here in the Marketplace or click-n-zoom the QR code below to get your Reddit-on.

QR: Baconit

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Supreme Shortcuts

We covered Supreme Shortcuts before, the homebrew app over at XDA by MJCS that allows you to add shortcuts to virtually anything on your Windows Phone. Unlike similar apps in the Marketplace, Supreme Shortcuts go waaay beyond what those offer by giving access to deeper level settings. How many shortcuts can you create? As of version 2.0 you can pin 71 settings/menus/apps. That's why it's supreme and now version 2.0 is out and looks even better:

Supreme Shortcuts 2.0

  • Major UI overhaul
  • Ability to select: Accent Color (both stock and custom), Library of stock Icons, Library of your own Icons, Library of stock Backgrounds, Library of customized Backgrounds

Sure, you probably won't even use a 1/4 of these but being able to have a shortcut to Internet Sharing for us is enough to sideload this free app (though donations are encouraged). If Supreme Shortcuts sounds like something you want, head to the source link below for more info, including a list of all the shortcuts.

Source: XDA Forums

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This is the end...

With Mehdoh going and this being MetroTube's last day, we figured why not go for the trifecta? Yes, in a late-breaking story here, ChevronWP7 Labs will be coming to an end as soon as those remaining "tokens" sell out. This was (and still is) the only sanctioned unlocking tool outside of Microsoft's $99 AppHub and was to serve as the gateway to a large homebrew community. Not to mention allowing new devs without the hundred bucks to play around before committing to the platform.

The team of ChevronWP7 Labs, made up of Long Zheng, Rafael Rivera and Chris Walsh, have put out a statement on the matter:

"ChevronWP7 Labs enters the New Year with 10,000 token sales under our belt. Hooah! Nearly 90% of the tokens we’ve sold have been used to successfully unlock a Windows Phone thus far.

Our agreement with Microsoft was to sell no more than 10,000 tokens. Our team doesn’t currently have plans to renegotiate this number, although it’s a matter we’re still discussing."

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Bug Village Title

Last week, WPCentral revealed that Bug Village would be the first freemium game on Windows Phone. We shared a few details about how it would work and promised more to come. Here then is the next installment of our Xbox Live Developer Interview series. This time, we grill Mike DeLaet of Glu Mobile about Bug Village’s revolutionary features and the challenges of bringing a freemium game to Xbox Live.

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