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Samsung Focus S makes CNET's BEST list

Samsung Focus S

Resting amongst four Android phones and the iPhone 4S you will find the Samsung Focus S listed as one of the five best AT&T Smartphones. CNET gave the Windows Phone a 4/5 star ratings while the average user rating is half a star higher.

According to CNET, the bottom line on the Samsung Focus S is:

Bolstered by a brilliant display and strong hardware specs, the Samsung Focus S is arguably the best Windows Phone ever released.

While CNET recognizes the large screen (described as gorgeous), a good 8mp camera and HSPA+ speeds they feel the thin form factor lacks durability (can't say that we necessarily agree).  Regardless, it's nice to see another Windows Phone catching the spotlight.

source: CNET Thanks goes out to Jason for the tip!

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The Microsoft SkyDrive app has been launched. SkyDrive was recently opened up to developers to use with their application (e.g. Handyscan) and now you can access and manage your SkyDrive from a stand alone application.

The SkyDrive App allows you to browse your entire SkyDrive files and share them. Just tap and hold on a particular file and folder and pop-up menu appears. Here you can choose to send a link that will let others view the file/folder or view and edit the file/folder. You can also organize, delete, and create new folders from within the application.

Microsoft Skydrive App

Microsoft just rolled out the SkyDrive App so it may take a few hours before it becomes available in all Countries/Regions. If SkyDrive is available in your area, let us know what you think in the comments. Once we get a Marketplace link for the SkyDrive App, we'll update the post.

Oh and not to leave our friends who use the iPhone behind, Microsoft has also released a version of the SkyDrive App for iOS.  Should the need arise, you can find the iPhone version here.

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Kinectimals iOS

Just like they did with the Xbox Live and Halo ATLAS apps, Microsoft has brought over Kinectimals to iOS, where players can enjoy interacting with their cute, cuddly e-animals. The title was only released a few months ago on Windows Phone, but features Xbox Live achievements and connectivity with the Xbox 360 version. The question on many minds is -- of course -- why is Microsoft releasing these apps on other platforms?

For the Xbox Live app, Microsoft provided iPhone/iPad/iPod owners with limited functionality for the online gaming service. It still comes nowhere close to what Windows Phone provides with achievements and true integration. As well as this, the app gives iPad users an insight as to how a Windows 8 tablet app could look like, with the Metro UI being implemented. For ATLAS and Kinectimals, the former is again providing functionality to other platforms (so the software giant doesn't come across as creating a monopoly) at a fee while the WP version is free, while the latter is to not only earn revenue from the fairly large iOS market, but it could be that Microsoft is almost attempting to re-brand itself. The only downer is Kinectimals was supposed to be exclusive for us Windows Phone owners. What do Apple followers think of the big M? Excel, Word and Powerpoint.

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Submarine Patrol surfaces at the Marketplace

Submarine Patrol is an arcade styled game for your Windows Phone that is based on the Battles of the Falkland Islands.  For those not familiar, in the early 1980's Argentina several islands off the coast of South America that happened to be British Territories.  Needless to say the U.K. took exception to this and sent troops in to remedy the situation.  After seventy four days, Argentina surrendered and un-invaded the islands.  Submarine Patrol focuses on the naval component from this war.

You command a submarine that is patrolling the islands in search of enemy ships to sink.  You see the world through the periscope, aligning your cross hairs and launching torpedoes at destroyers, fast attack ships and other naval ships.

Submarine Patrol

You control your periscope by tilting your Windows Phone left or right and tap the fire button to launch your torpedoes.  Submarine Patrol is a multi-level game and each level is limited on the number of torpedoes available.  You have to lead your targets with each shot and some ships require multiple hits before they will sink.

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Lumia 710 heading to Italy early next year

Lumia 710 comint to Italy early 2012

Responding to an inquiry via Twitter, Nokia Italy said that the Lumia 710 will be available in Italy in early 2012.  It is expected that the handset will go for around 350€ with VAT.  A recent advertising blitz in Milan coincides with the announcement, as the 710's joins its sibling, the Lumia 800, which is already available in Italy for 499€.

The Nokia Lumia 710, which has also just passed Anatel in Brazil, is a playful phone with interchangeable colored backplates.  It also sports:

  • 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); 14.4Mbps
  • 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: Nokia italy; Via: Plaffo (Thanks for the tip, Antonino!)

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Trine's Hangman goes Mango

The popular Windows Phone word game Trine's Hangman has gone mango.  Version 1.13 brings fast resume, deep tile links to take you straight to your game screen, and ringtones.  Yes, ringtones.  If you like the songs used in the game you can save them to your Windows Phone as custom ringtones.

The deep link tiles are a nice feature to allow you to skip the intro screens and menus to get right to the heart of the game.  It's also a nice feature if multiple players are using the same Windows Phone.  Just create a tile for each player to give everyone quick access to Trine's.  Along with all the mango features, the update includes the following changes to Trines.

  • Added functionality so you can report misspelled words to me with one click
  • Improved the WikiPedia-look-up, it will give results more often
  • Now you can look-up words with Bing and Google in addition to WikiPedia
  • Adjusted space for scores and highscores in the game page and high scores page
  • Added option to share your player-page by Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn
  • Added option to share info about the game to friends by SMS/e-mail/Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn

You also have various spelling corrections and bug fixes with the update including fixing the problem of listening to Zune while playing Trine's Hangman.  Gydar Industries, Trine's developers, are already working on the next update to the game as well as another hangman game based on everything they learned and that has been suggested from the Trine's Hangman game.

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Sonic CD - the remake of the classic Sonic the Hedgehog adventure - comes to Xbox 360 this week, but not Windows Phone. The 14th, it seems, is just too packed full of Xbox Live releases. But Sega's latest will very likely land on Microsoft's mobile platform on December 21 or 28. We’ve already interviewed the remake’s brand manager, digging up some choice details about the new version. Now it’s time to learn more about how the original Sega CD/Mega CD platformer came to be, thanks to a new video from Sega.

The Developer Diary features Sonic Team Art Director Kazuyuki Hoshino, who reveals numerous pieces of never-before-seen concept art. Highlights include original drawings of Amy Rose and an explanation of Metal Sonic’s design process. You’ll also see several tantalizing unused enemy and boss concepts. Interspersed throughout the video is footage from the remake, giving a great impression of how the game looks and feels.

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Skyscanner

Here's a nice treat for those who travel a lot, Skyscanner is now available for free in the Windows Phone Marketplace. Based off of the site, the app is wildly popular on the iPhone and Android and now has been brought over to our OS by Distinction, the team behind Cocktail Flow and AppFlow--so you know it has to be good. From the press release:

"In addition to allowing users to search millions of routes on over 1000 airlines to find the cheapest flights in seconds, the app also lets users track prices of selected flights with the unique ‘Live Tile’ function of Windows Phones. Users can pin selected flights to their start screen and the prices automatically update every hour. "

Skyscanner

Awesome. We just launched it ourselves and it sure makes us want to fly somewhere--smooth and elegant is what this app has. Plus it just feels kind of smart the way the UI is laid out. So for you frequent fliers out there, you'll definitely want to try this one out. Pick it up here in the Marketplace.

Skyscanner

Press release after the break...

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Lumia 800

Looks like Nokia is doing a little sabre rattling with the folks at Pocket-lint. In an interview with Niels Munksgaard, director of Portfolio, Product Marketing & Sales at Nokia Entertainment Global, the company clearly wants to take on the big guys in mobile and are not pulling any punches:

“What we see is that youth are pretty much fed up with iPhones. Everyone has the iPhone," he said. "Also, many are not happy with the complexity of Android and the lack of security. So we do increasing see that the youth that wants to be on the cutting edge and try something new are turning to the Windows phone platform.”

Munksgaard also points out how difficult competition can be with multiple "black slab" phones greeting customers when the walk in to a mobile store. Indeed, that may be why we're seeing Cyan and Magenta 800s and 710s with back-plates--a nice change from the sea of black. Heck, even we want a Cyan Lumia 800.

Other notes of interest are his comments on Nokia Mix Radio--either coming to desktops or perhaps Windows Phones by other OEMs--part of their strategy to "broaden he coverage of where you can get Nokia Mix Radio”. In addition, it doesn't look like Nokia will be making docking stations anytime soon but will instead rely on 3rd parties to grow their accessories, perhaps much like Apple.

Its good though to see Nokia coming out fighting a bit. Clearly they have the spirit to take on this challenge, lets just hope it pays off.

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From the WPCentral Forums...custom themes!

Glass

We mentioned yesterday that we're opening a theme area on the site for those using the WP Hacker program to make custom Start screens/tiles. In turn, we're hoping to see some creations come out that would wow-us a bit and luckily someone took us up on it.

Forum member Saljen has posted up five themes so far, including the one you see above aka 'Glass'. The others are just as fancy, specifically Wood, Steel, Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2. Not bad, not bad at all! In fact, we're gonna try and load up Glass here in a few minutes.

Themes!

Oh and Saljen gets bonus points for creating a custom WPCentral App tile. Anyways, feel free to add your creations for others right here.

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InfoWorld: Windows Phone is worth buying

HTC Radar Thumbs Up

Robert Cringely at InfoWorld, a technology magazine, has published a superb article that shines Windows Phone in positive light - much like what we saw over at USA Today. Using the HTC Radar (our review) for a couple of weeks, Cringely has gained an insight into what Microsoft has up its sleeve to tackle Apple and Google. 

"Yes, it's true. For the last two weeks, I've been been playing around with an HTC Radar 4G running "Mango" (aka Windows Phone 7.5), and I have to say that -- despite every molecule of my being screaming in protest -- I am favorably impressed."

Of course, when talking about the Metro UI, live tiles are brought up and are the main focus on some platform praise with information being displayed at glance without loading apps.

"As for the software, the Metro interface is exceedingly nimble and easily customized; I love how it shows me how many new emails, calls, and messages I've gotten at a glance. I like how my calendar is on the home page and it shows me my next appointment automatically. I like how I can flip through the status updates and tweets from my peeps without having to load a separate, often buggy, application."

It's a really insightful read, especially should you be interested in purchasing a Windows Phone. Head on over to InfoWorld to read the article.

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Windows Phone SMS bug disabling Messaging Hub

Windows Phone Bug

Reports are scattered about the internet concerning a Windows Phone bug that is sent via text message that will reboot your Windows Phone and disable your Messaging Hub. The SMS bug is not device specific and the only solution that is available so far is a hard reset.

To make matters worse, if you've pinned a friend to your Start Screen and they get the message via Facebook, when the live tile updates to display the message, the reboot is initiated.

Nothing official from Microsoft on this kink in the system. We don't know the message sequence (and don't really want to know) but according to @ryanlowdermilk, host of Windows Phone Dev Podcast, it requires "A LOT of characters" and not something easily figured out.  Still the risk is there and we wanted to let you know and if you find your Messaging Hub crashing, this may be your problem.  As best we can tell, this bug doesn't expose what is on your Windows Phone but instead just makes life a little inconvenient with the hard reset.

Hopefully Microsoft can develop and distribute a software patch to fix this bug soon.

source: winrumors

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BenThePCGuy Android WP7 Offer

Microsoft is doing a good job when it comes to light promotion with Brandon Watson offering well known names a free Windows Phone to try out. Now Ben Rudolph is giving away 5 free Windows Phones to unhappy Android owners who can provide the best (or worst) experience story. Android has suffered from Malware and other issues, which Microsoft will not be allowing the platform to get off lightly without attempting to attract unhappy consumers.

Source: Twitter (@BenThePCGuy), via: MobilityDigest, thanks thenet for the tip!

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AT&T's Season of Gifting

AT&T Season of Gifting

'Tis the season for gift giving and AT&T is not about to be left out. Each day, from December 1st through December 20th, two lucky winner will win a featured gift. Today's featured gift, the Samsung Focus S with Accessory Kit.

Entering is easy. Go to the Season of Gifting website and enter your name and email for a chance at a random drawing. You can also enter by nominating someone and explain why they should get the gift. Get your friends to vote for the story and the story with the most votes wins as well.

Now not every day a Windows Phone will be given away but the other prizes aren't too shabby. AT&T has already given away an Acer Tablet, Samsung Focus Flash, and AT&T Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G. So if you're feeling head on over to AT&T and toss your name into the hat.

Oh... and speaking of giving a Windows Phone away, with the help of AT&T, WPCentral will be giving away a Samsung Focus S.  Look for the details sometime tomorrow.

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PC World Most Anticipated

PCWorld hasn't failed us by publishing their top '10 Tech Wins of 2011' and including Windows Phone. While these lists should not be taken too seriously, it's good to see the brand getting some recognition and being considered a "win" of 2011. We haven't halted with one list from the magazine though, as Microsoft's mobile platform has found itself in the "20 Most Anticipated Tech Products of 2012".

This could be viewed as relatively strange since Windows Phone was out in 2010, so it's not really anything new for 2012. But for argument sake we will be seeing software updates (with Mango still settling in) and new hardware, which is all good. While Windows Phone is located on slide 13 (behind Android 4.0), it should be noted that there doesn't appear to be any order for the listed entries.

Source: PCWorld; Thanks, D-Burrs, for the tip!

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Andy Lees

Interesting news coming out of All Things D--Andy Lees, who's the Windows Phone division President is being replaced by Terry Myerson, Corporate Vice President of Windows Phone Engineering, but alas he won't be retaining the President title. From an internal memo from Steve Ballmer on the matter:

“I have asked Andy Lees to move to a new role working for me on a time-critical opportunity focused on driving maximum impact in 2012 with Windows Phone and Windows 8. We have tremendous potential with Windows Phone and Windows 8, and this move sets us up to really deliver against that potential.”

The move is suspected to be in response to the slow adoption rate of Windows Phone in the consumer market, despite recent critical approval of the OS. As expected when things aren't going the way they should, corporate shake-ups are necessary. Lets just hope Myerson can take the Windows Phone division to new heights, whcih it certainly deserves.

Source: All Things D

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WP Central

While our recent review of Press Play’s Xbox Live title Tentacles may have sparked some debate (despite being written by an all-around terrific guy), many gamers don’t have strong feelings one way or the other because they haven’t played it yet. A certain subset of those gamers will likely leave their dangerous neutrality behind when Tentacles becomes the Xbox Live Deal of the Week this Wednesday. It will cost $2.99, down from $4.99.

Tentacles is the tale of Lemmy, a small tentacled creature who ends up inside the body of his mad scientist creator. Unique touch controls allow Lemmy to move one tentacle at a time, navigating dangerous levels and eating eyeballs for health. With 40 levels, beautiful 3D graphics and 2D story sequences, and an atmospheric soundtrack, Tentacles could be a game you’ll fall in love with. Just keep in mind that its difficulty is so high in later levels that it can be quite frustrating. Depending on your patience and constitution, your experience may be different.

Starting Wednesday, Tentacles will be on sale for one week only. You’ll find it here on the Marketplace.

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Audible.com app coming in March for Windows Phone?

Audible.com app coming in March?

Windows Phone and Audible.com have not had the best track record together.  Over a year ago, we thought an Audible.com app may be close to hitting the Marketplace, only to find out it was for WinMo 6.X.  Then we found out this summer that one was en route, but no ETA was given.  Well, hopefully, that is all water under the bridge, as one of our readers reports that the long lost ETA may be March 2012. 

An email received by said reader (who chooses to remain anonymous) says:

Dear ,

An Audible app has been in the work for quite sometime. It was not until recently that we were given a tentative release date. If everything goes as scheduled, the app should be making its debut on Windows phones near the end of March 2012.

Sincerely,

Audible Customer Support

While we always take such matters with a grain of salt, we remain hopeful that this is indeed true.  Audible remains one of the few marquee apps to remain absent for Windows Phone.

(Thanks for the tip, Unamed Reader!)

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'Extra Settings'

Though we were a bit critical of the Samsung Focus S's screen, specifically its auto-brightness setting, we'll admit that since version 1.5 of 'Extra Settings' (see our closer look), things have improved dramatically.

Now the app has hit version 1.6 and of course, there is no changelog to report on. But we can assume that things like screen brightness, how white backgrounds are handled and perhaps even haptic feedback have all been improved and tweaked a tad.

We don't have a direct link here since it is hidden, so just watch your Marketplace app for the update.

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Xbox 360 version trailer

Last week we said that two Xbox Live games would hit the Marketplace this Wednesday the 14th. It turns out that wasn’t quite accurate… But don’t worry, it’s good news! Joining Battlewagon and Doodle God will be Breeze, for a total of three Xbox Live releases in one week!

What’s Breeze, you ask? We’ve got exclusive early details. The goal of Breeze is to navigate a flower through 60 maze-like outdoor levels. Each level has a goal that must be unlocked by collecting Sunshine orbs, plus dangerous obstacles like tree branches that can snag the fragile flower.

Instead of directly moving the flower around those hazards, you’ll control the wind that blows the flower – hence the name.  The game offers two control types: Touch and Tilt. Touch mode uses multi-touch controls; whatever points you touch acting as the source of the breeze. Tilt controls work as you’d expect, allowing players to control the breeze by moving their phones to and fro.

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Carrier IQ being used by the FBI?

Carrier IQ

If you were glad that Windows Phone doesn't have Carrier IQ on board before, you may be even happier now.The software, found on Android phones, has come under scrutiny for allegedly collecting data on users, including keystrokes, URLs and messages. Microsoft has recently denied using CIQ on any of its Windows Phones. 

Now, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request was put onto the FBI regarding what information it has on Carrier IQ and the response is a bit troubling but not exactly defining either.  In essence, the FOI request was denied on grounds that it would interfere with ongoing investigations and that it is currently being used for law enforcement purposes--the question arises though, who's being investigated Carrier IQ or citizens?

FOI

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Forums

In case you needed another reason to join our forums here at WPCentral, we'll give you two:

  • Custom Themes Forum - Here you can post your custom theme creations based on the Windows Phone Hacker customizer tool--share them, post screenshots, get feedback or make requests. We have a feeling this will become the new rage for the Homebrew scene, so if you've created a theme and want to share it, here's where you go
  • Beta Testing Forum - Developers, developers developers! Do you have an app that you need beta testers for? Looking for a place to interact with some of the best and brightest Windows Phone users? Then post your beta announcements here and get some feedback from our users on what features they want and how things can be improved before you submit to the Marketplace

All in all, we're thinking both of these new areas should start attracting a lot of new submissions and heck, we'll even feature a few of those custom themes on the front page, if they're good enough.

So get creating, you devs and artists, we want to see your work! And don't forget to spread the word--the more of you, the richer the offerings.

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Core77 App Contest

Core77, an industrial design and development magazine out of New York City, announced their "Fast Track to the Mobile App" contest back in October. Pairing up with the Windows Phone 7 team, the contest was aimed at young developers who could benefit from not only the prizes, but the exposure and portfolio content. After a number of finalists, the judging panel (including Brandon Watson) have selected the following winners:

the winrars

Bridge - "an integrated mobile tool for small team collaboration across time zones."

Blackbelt - "a level-up based business app aimed at improving company productivity and employee self awareness through objectives, incentives and competition."

Social Mints - "easily track and measure what people are saying about a company, brand or new product across the social media landscape."

Rhythmatic - "an easy to use and powerful business cash-flow management mobile app."

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Omnia W available for pre-order in India

Samsung Omnia W pre-order in India

The Samsung Omnia W is one step closer to becoming the first second generation Windows Phone in India. The 3.7" Super AMOLED Windows Phone is available for pre-order through Flipkart.com.

The Omnia W is priced at Rs 20,900 (about $395 US) and sports a 5mp rear camera, front facing VGA camera, 1.4ghz processor and 8gb of storage.  The estimated release/ship date is the 4th week of December.

source: Flipkart Thanks goes out to Kumar for the tip!

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Nokia Lumia 710 coming to Brazil, passes Anatel

Lumia 710

Good news for those in Brazil, you can add the Nokia Lumia 710 to your Samsung Omnia W and HTC Ultimate (aka Titan). The news comes from WinPhone Blog (fan site) who noticed that the mid-range phone passed Anatel, that country's equivalent of the FCC. While no release date is specified, the rest of the filings info is confidential till January 1st, 2012 but from previous experience, WPB expects a mid-January release.

ANATEL Certification

The Lumia 710 should be a popular phone with it mid-level specs and solid design. No word on pricing or carrier, so we'll keep an ear out.

via: WinPhone Blog

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