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WP Central

In a continuing day of large financial transactions, Ad Age is reporting that AT&T has budgeted nearly $150 million dollars to promote and sell the Nokia Lumia 900 (review).

We've heard before that AT&T is making this their biggest phone launch ever, even dwarfing the iPhone and we reported that Nokia is paying AT&T upwards of $25 million for exclusive employee-use of the flagship Windows Phone. But this figure for advertising really puts into perspective just how big a deal this phone is to Microsoft, AT&T and Nokia.

Of course there is a strategy involved for everyone and for AT&T, that is getting itself away from the iPhone (which is now on two of its competitors here in the U.S.). Whether or not "Rolling Thunder" , Nokia's campaign name for the 900, will pay off remains to be seen. We expect it to be a few months before the "beautifully different" slogan catches on and awareness to increase.

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Instabook

In a jaw-dropping deal that just took place, social network empire Facebook has bought photo-sharing hipster site Instagram for $1 billion in a combination of cash and Facebook shares.

Instagram as grown to be one of the largest mobile-photo sharing sites on the internet with 27 million users, almost exclusively due to the iPhone. Within the last week, the site finally launched their much anticipated Android client and it quickly shot up to the #1 free app under Social on the platform, showing just how popular it is amongst users. (In a funny blow-back, the über hipsters on iOS are evidently upset their retro-photo garden of Eden is being disrupted by the unruly 'Droid users, with some giving up the service. Yeah.)

However, one thorn in the side of Windows Phone is the fact that the Instagram service is unavailable to our audience. What's more, they evidently won't allow third-party access either, leaving us out in the dark. This deal, however frightening in size, is good news for Microsoft who own a 1.6% share of Facebook with a large investment made back in 2007 (when the young social network really needed the money and support). Even more recently, Bing search now shows up on the log-out page for the site and Bing Translator handles language translation within the network itself.

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We mentioned how Kourtney Kardashian will be in New York City today for the Free-Time Machine promotion going on in Bryant Park (more info on that here) and while she's in the city, she stopped by Fox and Friends for an interview.

In a smart move cross-promoting her ongoing reality show "Keeping up with the Kardashians", Fox and Kourtney weaved the Lumia 900 into the conversation starting at around 1:20 in the interview.

WP Central

Though it's somewhat forced (mostly because we're aware), she discusses how Twitter is built in and how easy it is to use the Lumia 900.

While some of you may be thinking "no big deal" we're actually quite excited about this as these little bits of celeb sighting and small, sneaky promotions will raise curiosity about Nokia's flagship phone. We can't help but think that this will create much more awareness of Windows Phone and just as importantly, Nokia.

PS Please keep comments on topic and non-inflammatory/non-political.

Source: Fox News; Thanks, @Nokia_Man_USA, for the tip!

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Tweaks for Windows Phone is a homebrew application by Windows Phone Hacker, the brains behind Lock Screen Widgets, that empowers the user with an array of customisable options. From hiding the clock to faking a Xbox Live Gold subscription, Tweaks will allow one to have some fun while on the go. The beauty of such an app is how it allows such alterations without diving into the registry or applying multiple hacks.

The app sports interesting functionality, including the ability to access OEM Marketplace collections (but not all apps will work on unsupported devices). Some highlighted features of Tweaks:

  • Toggle Dehydration
  • Toggle clock visibility
  • Toggle 32bit color
  • Enable 'never' screen timeout
  • Allow media access while the phone is syncing
  • Spoof Xbox "Gold" status and send messages without subscription
  • Change phone's voice
  • Charge your phone wirelessly (not really, but it'll make the OS think that)
  • Change your OEM Marketplace

Head on over to Windows Phone Hacker to download Tweaks. Note that this requires root access / privileges.

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Nokia Lumia 900 is $49.99 on Amazon

Amazon has the AT&T Nokia Lumia 900 4G for $19.99, complete with free shipping for existing AT&T customers who re-up their contract.  If you are adding a new line of service, either to an existing account or as new AT&T customer, the Lumia 900 can be yours for $49.99.  That's a pretty great price for a phone that jumped to the #1 and #3 spots on Amazon's Best Sellers list upon its arrival.  So if you missed Amazon's one penny pre-order period or Walmart's $49.99 sale, pop on over to Amazon.

If you are looking to pick up the Lumia 900 free of contract, you can also get it there for the full retail price of $499.99.

Source: Amazon

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Sid Meier’s Pirates! for iPad

Last week’s Xbox Live release, Civilization Revolution, is part of a series crafted by design genius Sid Meier. This week, 2K Games follows up with another of Meier’s creations: Sid Meier’s Pirates!

Pirates! is a strategy game/sim that debuted on the Commodore 64 computer in 1987. It was then remade for consoles and PCs in 2004. Unlike Civilization Revolution, Pirates! never came to iPhone, though the iPad version (pictured) is highly regarded by critics. Microsoft couldn’t provide screens for the Windows Phone version in time for this article; let’s hope the graphical fidelity hasn’t taken too much of a hit this time.

As for Pirates!’ gameplay, it primarily involves sailing around the Caribbean, attacking other ships and stealing their treasure. In addition to ship-to-ship battles, players can bombard towns with cannon fire and even take part in sword fights. Managing good and bad relationships with other nations is key; otherwise you’ll find nothing but hostile ports when you come to land. At port you can hire new crew mates, buy and sell goods, and talk to the locals for news.

Sid Meier’s Pirates! comes to Windows Phone on Wednesday, April 11. We don’t have an official price yet, but $2.99 is likely.

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Torchbear

Torchbear, the app that combines social networking and gaming, keeps growing and growing. The latest update greatly improves sharing features (important for such a social app), adds a new Live tile, and even performance enhancements.

Torchbear version 1.5 release notes:

  • MANGO Support including LIVE Tile Support & System Tray Progress control!
  • System Tray is now transparent which gives us more screen space!
  • You can now Luv, Lulz, Like or Dislike any torch update
  • You can now comment on any torch update on a torch you have previously held
  • Twitter Support - can now share any torch update with 1 click twitter sharing
  • Sharing - can now share any torch update on Linked-In, Twitter, Facebook, Windows Live, and Windows Hotmail
  • Improved Notifications (now supports live tile, also the in-app notification screen has improved)
  • Improved News, Local News, and My News pages
  • Speed Improvements
  • Uses less bandwidth
  • Bug Fixes

How do you guys like Torchbear these days? The 1.4 and 1.5 updates have really improved the interface and given the app an impressive level of visual polish. The nearest torch to me is 39 miles away, but users who live in big cities and areas in which Windows Phone thrives will likely have a great time with the app.

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SMART

We've already reported that Globe Telcom is slated to get the Nokia Lumia 800 in the Philippines on April 16th. Now on the same day, SMART Communications, another major carrier in the same region, is scheduled to get the Lumia 710 as an exclusive.

SMART

In addition, the carrier looks to be getting the Lumia 610 and the Lumia 900 as well, though no launch dates are given for those devices. The carrier is using the the slogan "Your social life, amplified" with a pretty cool graphic (see above) to show off the features of Windows Phone OS.

One thing is for certain, the carrier looks to be excited about getting these phones and so should customers. You can even pre-order the Lumia 710 and get a free invite to the launch party at Republiq. Anyone going?

Source: @SMARTCares; Thanks, Ryan D., for the tip!

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WP Central

Just as we predicted, Microsoft's Free-Time Machine promotion that coincides with the Nokia Lumia 900 launch on AT&T, has gone live. The site just changed over to reveal that you can win a trip to Hawaii for four as well as a chance for one of 200,000 other "instant prizes".

All you need to do is enter your email address and then you're almost ready to play. The next screen asks for your details "in case you win" and then you get to play a simple memory game with the Live Tiles. Match the tiles and you win something. (We won a free song download. Meh, not bad, we'll take it.)

Here are the other official prizes:

50 x $250 Best Buy gift code
100 x $150 Mollymaid.com gift code
1000 x $50 Omaha Steaks gift code
2000 x $30  Fandango gift code
7000 x $5 Amazon gift code
190,000 x 160 Microsoft Points <-- "Free song"

You can also enter twice a day to play but you can't use alternate email addresses (it'll void the contest if you win). Of course if you're New York City, Chicago or San Francisco you can also stop by numerous locations to see the "Free-time Machine in person". More on that here including info on special guests.

Sounds kind of fun and we'll try to be there.

Source: freetimemachine.com

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800 Walmart

We've got some feel good news for the Monday morning with a Walmart employee revealing that the Lumia 800 on TELUS is selling well. The employee explained that the store only stocked Android handsets with the iPhone on the side for the past number of months. It would certainly be refreshing to see the award winning polycarbonate design and unique Windows Phone operating system arrive in stock.

As one can see from the photo, the Lumia 800 is available with TELUS for just $23.83 on a three-year contract, which is cheaper than going to the carrier directly. It's a good sign to see an employee of a retail chain to openly state that indicators point to Windows Phones selling well, and even the salesstaff who are selling the handsets are impressed.

Thanks Aaron for the tip and photo!

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WP Central

Microsoft is offering student developers who reside in the U.S. a chance to win a Windows Phone. There are some superb ways to get involved with development on the platform whilst studying at university, and the rewards with both experience and networking are invaluable. But what if you could throw a free smartphone into the equation? Makes Windows Phone development even more appealing, right?

So how does one be in with a chance of winning one? Simply publish two apps to the Windows Phone Marketplace and enter your details on the Facebook page for the offer. There are some guidelines that need to be looked at prior to steaming ahead:

  • You are a student in an accredited university/college in the United States
  • You have developed two Windows Phone applications that are (or will be) published between March 26th and May 31st, 2012.
  • The apps are targeting Windows Phone 7.5, and support Fast App Switching
  • The apps are of high-quality and are not created with one of the "do-it-fast" tools, like AppMakr or FollowMyFeed
  • You have not received a Windows Phone device in previous student promotions from Microsoft

Check out the Facebook page for more details and -of course- to submit your apps.

Source: Facebook (Microsoft Tech Student), via: Den Delimarsky; thanks Den for the tip!

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Beautifully Different

Tonight when we're driving around Long Island, we passed no less than three AT&T corporate stores (Long Island is basically a giant strip mall but with attitude). All three stores had Lumia 900 banners hanging from the ceiling and were quite visible from the road -- no doubt an odd thing to see Windows Phone featured so prominently.

Now we have a sneak peek at what some of the in-store promotion will look like with this giant billboard hanging against the wall emblazoned with the slogan "beautifully different".

Beautifully Different

We've also heard there will be a lot more with the Lumia 900 (and Titan II) with an area to test out the phones (see above) and even a section with accessories for the 900. We'll be curious to hear feedback from you folks tomorrow on what your experience was and perhaps we'll even throw a few photos up if we come across 'em.

Thanks, Jeff B., for the images!

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Trophy update

While Verizon deservedly gets a lot of flack for their shunning of Windows Phone, especially with their single offering of the HTC Trophy, they at least seem set on keeping that phone up to date.

If you navigate to the support page for the HTC Trophy on Verizon's site, you'll notice that information regarding the previous radio update has been removed. Instead, users are greeted with details on the latest software update: 2305.13.20402.605.

While that number doesn't reveal the OS version (8107), reading the new features and fixes reveals that indeed it has to be 8107 since it fixes the disappearing keyboard. Here are the new fixes and enhancements:

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WP Central

It's time for another weekly recap of all the Windows Phone news we've covered on-site for the last 6 days. Before we get into the summary itself we've got a few WPCentral related updates to publish. First up, we have announced the winners of our MetroTwit Plus license competition. The WPCentral Store has a massive sale going on with a whopping 15% off all Windows Phone accessories until Monday.

This week we had the pleasure of interviewing Saleh Esmaeili and Nadeem Mardini from dots and lines, the developers behind the Carbon Twitter client. Should you be making the purchase of a brand new Windows Phone, whether it be the sturdy HTC Trophy, or the Nokia Lumia 900, the WPCentral forum is a superb resource to get started with the new platform. Be sure to head on past the break for the summary.

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FTM

Tomorrow, April 9th, is the kick off of the Nokia Lumia 900 for AT&T (most stores were closed today for the holiday) and as expected, Microsoft will be having their own promotional events coinciding with in-store availability of the new flagship Windows Phone. This of course follows Friday's kick off party in Times Square with superstar Nicki Minaj.

We reported on the freetimemachine.com website a few days ago and although details were scarce it was clear that it was some type of contest for the Lumia 900. Now that we're closer to the the 9th we have more information regarding the event. Besides the online portion (we expect the website to change over tomorrow), Microsoft and Nokia will be hosting events in three cities between 8am and 6pm:

New York City

  • Bryant Park (6th Ave between 40th & 42nd)
  • Madison Square Park (23rd & Madison)

Chicago

  • John Hancock Plaza (E. Chestnut & N. Michigan Ave)
  • Pioneer Court (401 N. Michigan Ave)

San Francisco

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WP Central

With the release of the Nokia Lumia 900 and the Titan II we are seeing a new group of Windows Phone users joining the fold. We'd love to welcome our new members and invite everyone to join our Forums as we have a great community full of people ready to help. 

Our Windows Phone 7 OS discussion forums is the place for your general Windows Phone questions. Think of "help and troubleshooting" when posting there. We even have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) thread stickied right at the top. For more information about Windows Phone (and a must tread for all new to Windows Phone users) check out our "WindowsPhone: Getting started!" thread.

Our Windows Phone 7 General Discussion forum is where we discuss just about everything else. We have some must-read stickies in this area as well. In our"Post Your Wallpaper" thread you will find lots of great wallpapers ready for download or where you can post your own to share with others.

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FatFingers.com

Yet another major app has landed for the Windows Phone Marketplace today. FatFingers.com is a well known website and service that specializes in finding misspelled items on eBay, which is a great way to bid on auctions that most people will miss when searching.

For instance, if a seller writes "Nokai" for "Nokia" this service will find just those items. In turn, you'll have a better chance of picking up that device or accessory at a lower cost, since others won't ever see it.

So if you're an eBay fiend, you'll want to go and grab the official FatFingers.com app for Windows Phone. The app has a free trial with some limited features while the full version, which fetches for $1.29 "for a limited time", has all sorts of goodies including:

  • List of recent searches (2 for trial, unlimited for full)
  • Save searches (2 for trial, unlimited for full)
  • Group search results by category (Full version only)
  • Pin search terms to Start menu (Full version only)
  • Add item to your eBay Watch List (Full version only)

We just gave the app a spin and find it to be quite solid. There are a couple of UI issue we'd like to see e.g. add a search button (in addition to hitting enter) and maybe a pull more for item lists. But those are nits. The core of the app works very well and is a great tool for help finding deals on eBay.

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Nokia Music updated to 2.1 with minor changes

WP Central

Nokia has released an updated for their Nokia Music Windows Phone app, which is available to Lumia handset owners. The music streaming app was recently bumped to version 2.0 and introduced a few UI and audio improvements. Fast forward to 2.1 and we've got a published change log detailing the following:

  • Overall performance and responsiveness
  • Nokia Music Unlimited – only available in selected countries and on certain devices
  • Controls for shuffle and repeat in the music player

Controls for shuffling and repeating tracks from your music library have been added in the top-right corner. Further improvements to the UI and layout of the app are also noticeable. Do note that some features are only available in some countries, and supported markets may not be able to download the app itself.

You can download Nokia Music from the Nokia collection of OEM apps on the Marketplace (Lumia handsets only).

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Tell Nokia what you think of the Lumia 900

Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone survey

Nokia is looking for feedback on the Lumia 900 Windows Phone and the first 500 eligible participants will receive a $50 Amazon.com Gift Card as a thank you.

If you've purchased a Lumia 900 over the past few days, just follow this link and sign up for the survey. A confirmation email will then be sent your way with links on how to register.

You'll need your Lumia 900's IMEI number (on the box label) and agree to the terms. You'll also agree to respond to a minimum of three web surveys about your Lumia 900. Once you fill in all the blanks and check all the boxes, you will then receive another email confirming your registration and let you know the survey links will be emailed out in a few days.

It's really nice that Nokia is reaching out to customers to see what works with the Lumia 900 and what could stand a little improvement (camera..cough..camera).

Thanks, Arun3, for the tip!

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AT&T HTC Titan II available at Wal-Mart for $149.99

AT&T HTC Titan II at Walmart

It was only a matter of time before we began to see the new HTC Titan II show up at third party retailers for a discounted price. Walmart.com is offering the new Windows Phone for $149.99 after contractual discounts.

The 4G LTE Titan II will still run you $549.99 off contract but if you're interested in saving $50, it might be worth checking out Walmart's listing.

Oh and on a side note, AmazonWireless is listing the HTC Titan II but is showing the Windows Phone as "out of stock" and due in soon. I wonder if AmazonWireless will have the Titan II for a penny?

Thanks, Janis, for the tip!

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Friday night we gave you a sneak peak of Nokia's launch party for the Lumia 900 that took place in New York City's Times Square. Surrounded by thousands of tourists and New Yorkers alike, Nicki Minaj took the stage to perform numerous songs in support of her new album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.

In addition to the show, a remix of her popular single "Starships" debuted along with a full-production video shot by Nokia to coincide with the AT&T Lumia 900's official introduction to the world.

WP Central

If one thing can be said of Nokia it's they know how to go big for a launch party (see London and the Lumia 800). For some reason, we can't imagine HTC, Samsung or LG ever throwing such a massive media event and for that we're excited to see Nokia championing Windows Phone (as opposed to Android).

While it remains to be see if the Lumia 900 will be the hit that it is expected to be, it certainly seems to be off to a very good start.

Source: Nokia (YouTube)

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HTC Titan II now available at AT&T

HTC Titan II now available!

While retail stores will likely be closed for the Easter Holiday, you can find the latest HTC Windows Phone at AT&T's website just in case you can't wait until Monday. The HTC Titan II went live just a little while ago.

The Titan II sports an impressive 4.7" Super LCD screen, 16gb of storage, and a really, really, really nice 16mp rear facing camera. The Titan II made a very respectable first impressions and we'll have a full review up on the site shortly (hint: the Titan II ain't shabby).  The Titan II joins another new Windows Phone that you might have read about, the Nokia Lumia 900.  AT&T has once again built up a very admirable Windows Phone line up and hopefully they will put up the marketing efforts to support it.

AT&T is offering the Titan II for $199.99 after contractual discounts and you can snag it for $549.99 off-contract. You find all the details and ordering information here at AT&T's wireless site.

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Now that we've seen some of the Smartphone Beta Test ads for the Lumia 900 from Nokia, AT&T has their standard fare commercial showing off the new phone as well.

This ad feels more traditional with a young gent named Colin trying to impress a girl he's pining for by using his Lumia 900 as a conversation starter. Not a bad move and the demographic seems about right.

The ad is humorous but also displays the phone's strengths like the bold cyan color, the unique design of the phone and of course those Live Tiles. Hopefully such an ad will begin to air on TV as we can see it being effective for getting the message out that Windows Phone is "beautifully different".

Source: YouTube (AT&T); via WMPU

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LaunchPad

We always like clever things around these parts at WPCentral. We also like free. So we gave "LaunchPad" a go and happen to think it's worthy enough of your attention.

LaunchPad is a web-app which basically means it is designed for use on Windows Phone's Internet Explore web browser. It's a search tool offering a quick and simple way to find basically whatever you want using specific search engines including:

  • Google
  • Wolfram Alpha
  • YouTube
  • Wikipedia

What's more, you can even pin it to your Start screen as a tile for quick, simple 1-touch access. Sure, it's not revolutionary and there are plenty of apps for searching on the internet, but we like the fluidity and layout of LaunchPad, so we're passing it on.

Simply navigate to http://portal.macpoint.be/wp/ on your phone's browser. Hit the pin in the top right to save it to your Start screen. Thanks, Shad.

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