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Today marks the end of what has been a monster of a week (possibly the most populated summary we've had yet?) but we shall remain vigilant, grab a strong drink and battle through this summary together. We can rejoice that Mr Rubino shares his wonderful voice with the public in another WPCentral Podcast. Yep, they're still going and this isn't a joke!

Head on past the break for our weekly breakdown. 

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Here's an odd little number: Dotastic hit the Marketplace sometime today and it's yet another official app from Microsoft, specifically their FUSE Labs, which specialize in social networking technology (see the WP7 'Project Emporia'). If you're not familiar with them here's their mission statement:

"FUSE Labs works in partnership with product and research teams to ideate, develop, and deliver new social, real-time, and media-rich experiences for home and work."

Dotastic is an app that mixes a to-do list with the fun and pressure of social networking--its motto is "Achieve Together". Think of it as broadcasting things to get done to your friends, where you then compete against each other by collecting points upon task completion. It's a method of using social pressure but in a positive way, which we think is pretty ingenious (so long as your task isn't too private, ahem). From the app description:

"Dotastic is a fun way to challenge your friends and help each other get things done. Earn points for completing tasks and compete with your friends to be at the top of the leaderboard. Incentives and social pressure helps you stay motivated as you complete your tasks and share your achievements with everyone."

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13CABS Taxi lands down under

13CABS Taxi is a free mobile cab booking app for Windows Phone users in Melbourne. 13CABS allows users to by-pass call queues and book taxis direct to their location using the Windows Phones' location services. Other features include:

  • Create multiple booking for future dates and times.
  • Use previous locations and maintain a library of favorites for quicker bookings.
  • Where's my Cab? feature allows users to check the real-time location of their cab.
  • Fare estimator to give you a good indication of how much a particular fare will cost.
  • Ability to sync with their my13Cabs account.

There is also a "shake to whistle" feature you can use to hail a cab to your location. All in all, 13CABS Taxi looks like a great app for your Windows Phone if you rely on taxis.

Again, this app is restricted to the Melbourne, Australia Marketplace. You should be able to download your free copy of 13CABS Taxi here (opens Zune) at the Marketplace.

Source: WPDownUnder

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Indie developer M80 Games may be hard at work on their upcoming puzzler Buzzwords, but they haven’t forgotten about their first Windows Phone title, Pirate’s Mind either. The game recently saw two new updates in the span of a week. Let’s check ‘em out.

Pirate’s Mind version 1.6 release notes:

  • This was a hotfix for unsupported characters in the font set preventing the leaderboards from showing.

Pirate’s Mind version 1.5 release notes:

  • Leaderboards added!!
  • Players will need to choose a username the first time the game is launched.
  • Each game mode has its own leaderboard.

In our review of Pirate’s Mind, I wished for online leaderboards, and they’ve finally become a reality. We initially expected the leaderboards to utilize the third-party Scoreloop system, but M80 switched to the open-source Mogade system during development. The results do not disappoint. The game’s leaderboard now lists the top fifty daily, weekly, and all-time scores as well as the player’s position in each category. This adds a welcome competitive element to an already enjoyable game.

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BBC News Mobile: Mango Beta [Hands on]

A few days ago we reported that the developer of the BBC News Mobile app was starting to play with the Mango dev tools and we saw what he had in plan for the app.

Now, he's gone ahead and released the beta XAP file for those of you with dev unlocked devices and Mango to side load. Of course he'd greatly appreciate if you could provide bug reports, insight, opinions, etc. so as to make the app even better. The current beta will work till September 1st at which point he'll update with a newer version, but you should also follow his blog for any new updates in the mean time.

We took it for a spin and even though it's just "beta" it feels pretty polished to us. Check out the video above where you can see the multiple Live Tiles in action, dual flip live tiles, feeds and get the over-all feel of the app. We're already really impressed with the new version and it's fun to see the power of Mango in action.

Grab the XAP and get more info here. Grab the free non-Mango version in the Marketplace here.

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What to do after submission? [Developers]

So you've created your Windows Phone app and you now have some presence building in the Marketplace, what happens now? Are there ways for developers to market and promote their app to users? You bet'cha! There are a ton of channels developers can take (some offered by Microsoft) to help bring in more potential users.

Sheeds has published two editorial pieces on his website, which are worth looking into by new and small developers. The first covers what I've mentioned already in this article, what should you do once you've submitted to the Marketplace? The second moves outside the WP7 sphere itself and explains how developers can promote outside the Marketplace.

Some points Sheeds covers include creating a website for your apps as a central hub for information, contact and to use for social media deployment. Twitter, Facebook and other networks will prove to be invaluable for developing your brand awareness and increasing reach. Remember to look around our site for more guides too that cover advertising networks and more. Just because the app (or game) is in the Marketplace, doesn't mean you can sit back and have a cup of tea. There's always work to be done!

Source: WPDownUnder

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Here's a pretty ingenious way for citizens to use the power of mobile phones, specifically the camera, GPS and internet, to take back their streets.

Giving a quick way for citizens to report vandalism, garbage and other such nuisances, people simply take a photo and upload it to a public message board where the appropriate authorities can then act on it. It's a smart way to get government to be more efficient and for citizens to take part in maintaining the community. As a result, the town has reduced graffiti by 73% and response time has gone from 2 1/2 days to just a 1/2 day--pretty impressive.

Goes to show how technology can really make an impact in people's quality of life. Too bad we can't envision U.S. politicians being so progressive about technology and implementing such a program. Head to the BBC site to see the video of it in action, pretty cool stuff.

Source: BBC; Thanks, Neil

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During WPC11, we saw the first glimpse of ZTE's entry into the Windows Phone field. Now a few more images have come forth, posted by ZTE's Dr. Luo Zhongsheng, who evidently is their head of smartphone development.

The phone can be seen sporting some art on the start screen as well as localized Chinese language support. In addition, it looks to have Weibo built in instead of Twitter, which is blocked in China. Weibo is described as "a Chinese microblogging site akin to a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook...". The device itself looks like a prototype as opposed to the more polished version demonstrated at WPC, though as NanaPho suggests perhaps different color schemes will be offered. No other device spces are currently known.

This coincides nicely with the leak about the Toshiba-Fujitsu phone release in August, suggesting that indeed these phones are coming earlier than expected an the Asian market is gearing up for release.

Update: Evidently it's not Weibos that's built, but rather a standalone app running the service.

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Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst is an Xbox Live title that can’t seem to catch any breaks. Sure, when it debuted we gave it a positive review. After all, its ability to use both a phones’ GPS locations and satellite photographs to create in-game maps is quite innovative. But even at launch, the game’s online servers (required to use many of its features) performed sporadically at best. A series of patches that should have fine-tuned its performance instead introduced new issues. It got so bad that one of Project Sunburst’s Achievements became unobtainable for new players, necessitating its inclusion in our Broken Achievements exposé.

This week, Project Treadstone, I mean Sunburst was pulled from the Windows Phone Marketplace without explanation. We haven’t received a comment from Microsoft yet, but it’s safe to assume that the game’s ongoing problems and customer complaints resulted in the pull. Given that the game started out semi-broken and never became 100% properly functional after several updates, it’s possible that the development team just can’t get it fixed, but that’s a worst-case scenario. Hopefully Microsoft Game Studios cures what ails Project Sunburst and gets it back on the Marketplace soon. In the meantime, people who own the game should not delete it from their devices as they won’t be able to redownload it until it officially returns to the Marketplace.

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Custom ringtones in Windows Phone Mango [How to]

The Microsoft team updated us awhile ago on how custom ringtones, a long sought feature, will work in Mango. And while quite a few of us (mostly devs, a few who are not) are running Mango with a beta Zune client, even we don't have the automatic ringtone maker on board.

Over at Mobility Digest, James Schneider has figured away for those running Mango now to make custom ringtones. All in all, while not as easy as the official version (when it arrives), it's not too hard either. In essence you'll need Audacity, a great freeware audio mixer (we use it for the podcast), some music and a few seconds to cut and export the file following those guidelines

  • 39 seconds or shorter
  • smaller than 1 megabyte (MB)
  • saved in MP3 or WMA format
  • not copy-protected (i.e. DRM free)

By simply adjust the HZ rate, mono/stereo, etc. you can alter the size to keep it under 1MB. Then you just drag-n-drop the file through Zune, creating a new category in your Collection called 'Ringtones' and walla, you're done. Check out the entire guide with screenshots at Mobility Digest.

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We've been waiting on Arcane's Tower Defense for what seems like forever. Actually, it was way back in October when we saw the first rumbling of the epic tower defense game, then a more detailed look in February

Well, the game is finally a go in the Marketplace, selling for a fair $1.99. Unfortunately, there is no trial (sad panda) but if you like tower defense, just watch the video after the break--the game kind of sells itself and we have to say with our brief hands on: wow, epic, [insert superlative here]

Amazing music, great sound effects, excellent tutorial, custom maps. Folks, we may be jumping the gun here, but this could be one of those games, you know, a must have? Sure, you can wait till our review goes up, but we're gonna go ahead and suggest that if you like these types of games then just go ahead. Now excuse us, we're off to kill some goblins...

Update: One of the developers of ATD let us know in comments that there should be a trial version and that there's probably an error in the Marketplace. They're trying to fix it as soon as possible.

Update 2: Trial is now available! No excuses now.

Grab Arcane's Tower Defense here in the Marketplace for $1.99. Video after the break. Thanks, Eric I., for the tip!

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Penny Arcade's Gabe reviews Windows Phone 7

The other day we ran Penny Arcade's comic on Windows Phone 7. Some found it funny, others did not. Regardless, Gabe is a pretty popular internet celebrity and he decided to finally post his thoughts on the phone and OS.

See, Gabe's actually a long time iPhone user but he was looking for something, well, different. Using his magical powers he was able to grab a Samsung Focus from Microsoft running NoDo (we presume, it's not Mango). We encourage you to read his whole review but the take away message could be summarized as follows:

"...the user experience is really the distinguishing factor in my opinion. I know how ridiculous it sounds to say that I switched to a Microsoft device because I prefer the UI design and the way it “feels” to use the device but it’s true. I’m not sure when MS became the scrappy underdog hungry to shake things up with a radical new idea but here it is. I really love the design elements and how consistent they are throughout the entire experience. I realize that probably isn’t enough for most people to change phones but as someone who loves design and "new art" it was enough for me."

He still needs to put though a road-test, which he's looking to do next week when he heads to Comic Con. Hey, publicity is publicity and if we can convert folks one at a time, so be it.

Source: Penny Arcade; Thanks, Matt B., for the heads up!

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Although Angry Birds (see review) is still the top game in the Marketplace right now and it is a lot of fun, lots of folks are still shaking their head at the $2.99 price tag versus our competition where it is either free or $0.99. Putting aside for the moment the eternal debate about Xbox LIVE titles and their value (we're actually okay with $2.99 games, sorry), lets look at another related issue: Angry Bird levels and updates.

For those familiar with the Angry Birds universe, you'll know it's not a static game. Both on the iPhone and Android it receives frequent updates in the form of new levels. Currently, the Windows Phone version comes with a seemingly ample 135 levels on it and to be honest, it is keeping us busy. But our version is based on v1.4.2 whereas the iPhone/Android version is at 1.6.1. 

Windows Phone Daily compared and contrasted the two versions and found that ours is missing about 105 levels on it, which...well, is a lot. Of course to cut Rovio some slack, they did have to get the game out by a certain time and matching updates is like shooting a moving target. Interestingly, when you max out all the levels in Angry Birds on Xbox LIVE for Windows Phone, you get the above "Coming Soon" screen. So that's a least promising as it looks like Rovio (or more likely their outsourced partner who made our version, Innogiant Ltd.) are planning on adding those levels in the future. 

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You should know by now that Windows Phone "Mango" has Facebook Chat built in to the Messaging app (see our full Mango review). Turning it on is actually pretty simple: navigate to the Messaging (SMS) app, hit Setting and enable. Or you can do it under Settings --> Applications --> Messaging. Easy enough, so why the how to? Well, this is more a "troubleshooting" thing i.e. you're one of the very few who can't it to work.

See, since I've been running "Mango"  (nearly a month next week), I could not get Facebook Chat enabled. Yup. Every time I'd throw that lil' switch, it would ask me to setup Facebook Chat, it would then open what looks like an embedded IE window where it would return with a "Page cannot be found". Seriously. It did this dozens of times and I just thought "welp, it's not enabled yet".

Long story short: I didn't have my Facebook account linked to my Windows Live one. Who knew it was necessary? It would have been nice for an error message to explain that but alas, I was lost till I ran across Mobility Minded's excellent step by step guide on setting this up. The guide was perfect right up to the point when I had to enable the feature and bam...it still didn't work.

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File this one under "curious", but it looks like Japanese carrier KDDI may be not only getting their first Windows Phone this August, but it'll be the first phone with "Mango" on board. The phone itself is a Toshiba-Fujitsu IS12T (catchy name!) which sports a 3.7" LCD screen and a water-resistant case. In fact, it looks to be the same phone first shown a few days ago at WPC11 by Microsoft.

The device also has FCC & Bluetooth clearance, which could mean a U.S. release at some point, but seeing a Fujitsu has little presence here, we're not too confident on that one.

Regarding that "first phone with Mango" bit, we would be a bit cautious on that as the OS hasn't gone gold yet and there are no firm dates yet for any release, let alone hardware. Microsoft for certain has projected "windows for release" but we would be surprised to see this actually happen by August. Then again, it could validate the whole Mango-in-September tweet from a few days ago, so who knows.

Source: Nikkei; via NanaPho; Thanks, tezawaly

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Last month, Microsoft made available the Release Candidate of their Windows Phone Connector for the Windows Home Server 2011. Today, the released the final RTM release of the connector.

The connector will enable remote server management tasks and relay media streams for WHS 2011 to your Windows Phone. You also have Live Tile support to allow you to quickly view network health alerts, storage percentage, and server identification.

You can download the Windows Phone Home Server 2011 Connector here at Microsoft's download site.

Thanks goes out to Shipwreck for the tip!

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Panoramic Software Celebration Sale

In celebration of reaching 100,000 followers on Twitter, Panoramic Software is holding a sale on it's Windows Phone software titles (as well as other platforms). It's a way of saying thank you to all their followers and customers.

The sale will start on Saturday, July 16, 2011 and end on Sunday, July 17, 2011. Every title in Panoramic's line-up will be on sale for $1. Panoramic's Windows Phone apps includes Mo Tweets, Ultimate Sudoku, Blackjack, Guitar Suite and Free Cell.

The celebration sale will end Sunday Night, July 17, 2011. You can check out all the Panoramic titles over at their website or simply type "Panoramic Software" in the Marketplace search field.  Oh and if you want to help Panoramic reach 150,000 followers, you can follow them here on Twitter and as always, you can follow WPCentral here on Twitter.

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I'm sure you're more than aware of certification offered by Zend, Microsoft and more, but were you aware of a Windows Phone developer certification? It seems Microsoft wish to offer a way for developers to validate their experience, knowledge and skill in time for the predicted 2015 overtaking of the smartphone market.

Why should you bother to become a Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD)? We'll allow the big M to explain the benefits:

"Earning an MCPD shows hiring managers your commitment to your own professional growth and to staying up to date on the latest technologies. Maintaining an MCPD certification complements your experience, providing a key factor that differentiates your resume from those of other job candidates who have similar experience."

As with all other certifications, applicants are to take examinations that test their knowledge and expertise in the field. There are three exams present, first two are prerequisites while the third is the MCPD required exam:

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Microsoft registers domains using Sony brand

Could Microsoft's recent domain acquisition signify a possible future collaboration between Sony Ericsson and Microsoft? It's surely debatable, but the domain names are so vague that it could cover a joint-venture between Sony itself and Microsoft (in entertainment etc.), as opposed to Sony Ericsson with Windows Phone 7. See the domains for yourself, sony-microsoft.com and microsoft-sony.com (both redirect to Bing SERPs), not really 'WP7 friendly' right?

Forum users at Neogaf discovered the domain names that were registered to Microsoft through Corporation Service Company (CSC), a corporate identity protection firm. The replies in the thread contain ideas that range from the software giant possibly taking over Sony (or vice versa), a Sony Vs Microsoft fighting game, Microsoft trolling, or -- of course -- Sony Ericsson WP7 handsets.

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Not sure how many paper routes are still being done by bicycle but Paper Dash is bringing the bicycle paper route to your Windows Phone. Reminiscent of the arcade game Paper Boy, Paper Dash places you in the role of the paper delivery person (boy/girl character customization available).

You run your routes collecting soda cans for extra cash, avoid obstacles such as traffic cones and neighborhood dogs, all while tossing newspapers into mailboxes. The game is set up with thirty levels each with performance goals.

Game controls have you steering the bicycle with the Windows Phone accelerometer and papers being thrown by tap/drag motions. Controls may be the weakest/most challenging part of the game in that you don't have much room for maneuverability and I often hit the back button while aiming my throws. I don't know if it would have been better to have a simple tap control the paper throws.

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WAZUp App Spotlight

WAZUp is a Windows Azure management app for Windows Phone that allows the user to view all current deployments and instances found on your account. The app asks for credentials prior to using the app in each instance, this is the login information for the app itself (registration steps can be found below) and not your Live ID.

All data sent back and forth is sent via HTTPS and certification is used for full Windows Azure API security. The password is not stored locally and thus the app will ask you each time you open the app. Deployments listed in the app are color coordinated, matching those used in the web management portal (red - off, green - live, blue - starting). The user is able to start and stop deployments in a few finger pressing actions.

Registering for the service and carrying out the necessary preparations should be completed using the walk through found on the app website. The walk through steps involve registering an account, bringing across the subscription ID of the service you wish to have connected to the app, implementing security certificates and setting up the app.

You can download WAZUp from the Marketplace for $9.99. More info can be found on the app website and after the break, you can catch a video demo of WAZUp. 

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Office 365 demo with WP7 [Video]

In the above video we have Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Corporation, who demonstrates how Office 365 on the PC, in web browsers and on the Windows Phone can integrate together. Kirk uses OneNote as the example and shows how more than one user can collaborate in real-time even if they're currently on a different platform.

Simply capturing a photo, attaching it and synchronizing that note will reflect the changes on other systems that currently have that note open. This will of course work with adding (or removing) text and more. OneNote makes use of the screen space available. We can see on the PC screen that the user is able to view all the content at first glance. Since the phone has a smaller screen, OneNote for WP7 optimizes the content in the note and brings all the sections together in one column.

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All the rage these days is around Google and their "+" network, which many are laughing off and just as many others are hailing as the next big thing. Microsoft obviously has a great ride going with Facebook but there is something still missing from the equation perhaps, something related to Bing, searching, sharing information and more.

The website Fusible learned that Microsoft has purchased the domain http://www.socl.com/ and today a teaser page had gone up with a new service called 'Tulalip'--the very image you see above. What is clear is that Microsoft is definitely working on something social related as that image touts the message “With Tulalip you can Find what you need and Share what you know easier than ever” with logins for Twitter and Facebook (good news for those who don't want a new account). The design is clearly Metro-inspired, looking very much like the Live Tiles in Windows Phone.

Of course, the page is no longer up and instead we have a message from Microsoft Research stating:

“Thanks for stopping by. Socl.com is an internal design project from a team in Microsoft Research which was mistakenly published to the web. We didn’t mean to, honest,”

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A few days ago, we ran the story about how Dell's eBay account was selling "limited stock" of carrier unlocked Dell Venue Pros (16GB) compatible with T-Mobile or AT&T for $299. Since then, they've revised "limited stock" to just available.

Now, perhaps due to the popularity of the offer (or they recognize the reduced value), Dell is offering the same deal through their website which was just selling the device for $499 yesterday: 16GB, unlocked with T-Mo or AT&T radios (your choice). This way you can do Dell credit if you want. Initial ship date is tomorrow for the devices.

We're not going to tell you how to spend your money and you can wait for our review as soon as we get ours, but this is still a sweet deal for one of the most unique Windows Phone's out there.

Update: We should also note that new-contract for T-Mobile, you can get the 8GB for just $0.99, 16GB for $49 and the biggy 32GB for $99. That's pretty cheap. AT&T contract phones are out of stock, so it's unknown if they'll follow the same pricing.

Source: Dell Online; Thanks, Ashish A. for the tip!

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Infinite Flight adds a touch of France

The developers over at Flying Development Studio have been busy updating Infinite Flight. What could be considered the ultimate flight simulator for your Windows Phone is now on version 1.7.

The update most notably adds the Airbus A380-800 (Air France Livery) on to the flight line. Other items on the v1.7 change log includes:

  • Added airport names/distances in the 3D view
  • Added more options in the settings page
  • Added quick calibration option (to skip the wizard when calibrating in game)
  • More performance improvements

Infinite Flight isn't for the faint of heart but if you like flight simulators, there's a trial version available to tempt you with. The full version runs $4.99 and you can find them both here (opens Zune) at the Marketplace.

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