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We haven't had a chance to listen to episode 34 of Windows Phone Radio, but we know they featured Matthew Bennett, who helped design the ringtones and sound scheme for Windows Phone:

“This week we crash the studio of Matthew Bennett, the senior sensory designer behind the soundtrack to Windows Phone. Matthew talks about the design and philosophy behind the sounds of Windows Phone, and what that might lead to in Mango.”

That's all well and good (and we hear very interesting) but the bigger news could be that  some extra ringtones will be coming to Mango users this fall. As reported earlier, Mango features customized ringtones via Zune Desktop and software on the phone, so having the ability add extra ringtones is now doable. Evidently Bennett has teamed up with Mark Mothersbaugh, lead singer of Devo (who recently put out a new album) to do a few new takes on the official ringtone of Windows Phone.

These extra ringtones won't be on any retail devices and will be made available via the Windows Phone Radio site. From Sheeds' Blog, who first reported on this and did an excellent write up:

"Don’t expect ‘Whip it’ – or any of the many Movies, TV or Gaming compositions (some quite famous!) Mark has contributed since his Devo days, but rather a “mash-up” and variations on the existing themes and styles of the Metro ring-tone and audio composition styles – which Matthew refers to as their “audio DNA and Design language”.

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Yowser, that was fast. The return of the official Foursquare app has been less than 36 hours and they've already pushed through a v2.1 update. Though it's still a bit laggy for our likes, at least from user comments you seem to enjoy the new look and functionality. Oh and that Live Tile is kind of kewl too.

Changes in v2.1 include:

  • Addresses a few small reported issues.
  • Improves robustness of photo uploading to check-ins,venues and tips

Hopefully they can work on optimizing the speed of the app in a v2.2--usually devs like to get some quick bugs out of the way before tinkering with the code, so we'll patiently wait. Grab the updated version here in the Marketplace. (Thanks, Strick979 & Amir, for the heads up!)

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Accuweather for WP7 joins the crowd

It has been on heck of a week over at the Windows Phone Marketplace. From Angry Birds to Best Buy as well as Fox News and the New York Times, we've seen a lot of new apps hit the Marketplace.  Even Major League Baseball got into the act.

Closing the week out Accuweather for Windows Phone 7 has blown into the Marketplace. The popular weather website is now mobile bringing you a ton of weather related information.

Features include:

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Remember our recent reminder of the last sweepstake entry date closing in on developers? Well, the date did close, but we have another sweepstake to let you in on! Unfortunately this doesn't feature free advertising including a large bundle of impressions, but 10 unlocked Samsung Focus handsets are on offer.

Entry process is pretty much identical to previous user group sweepstakes. Build apps, submit them to the Marketplace, then fill in the form on the sweepstake website.  Sounds good but there is no code displayed when filling in the form and clicking the "what's this?" link on the event code field brings up a window that suggests using JULY1 as the code if one isn't displayed.  We've reached out for confirmation/clarification on this and once we get a reply we'll update things as necessary.

You can enter with more than one app to increase your chance in winning. Entry closing date for this round is July 31st. I wonder if there'll be an August one too? Be sure to check out the content rules and you can find the entry form using the link below.

Source: WP7 User Group, via: Silver Arcade

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Microsoft to buy Hulu?

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Microsoft is one of several companies interested in buying online video giant Hulu.  Anonymous sources said that Google and Yahoo! have also met with Hulu reps in meetings arranged by Morgan Stanley and Guggenheim Partners, their financial advisors.  The three potential suitors are eyeing the mass of popular shows that millions over viewers tune in to online, and the over 600 advertisers that have jumped on board with Hulu, including big players like McDonald's, Toyota and Johnson & Johnson. Of course, as these things go, none of the alleged parties are admitted anything.

Hulu's ownership has been struggling with the site's popularity, as they have attracted advertising revenue, but at the same time have caught serious flak from cable and satellite providers, who carry the same content.  They backed off from an earlier initial public offering that was projected to earn them a cool $2 billion, so it is thought that that may be what it would take for a sale to happen.  Netflix, who is seen as a similar kind of service, is valued at just about the same amount. 

Microsoft seems like a good fit, as they already offer access to Hulu Plus on XBox Live.  The acquisition would make further integration with XBL, and potentially WP7, that much easier and sweeter.  Their recent purchase of Skype is a clear sign that they are not afraid to throw around some cash to expand their multimedia capabilities. 

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IM+ drops in price to $4.99

Wow, this will either make you thrilled or really ticked off. But yes, if you can actually make it to the Marketplace today (see here), you can grab IM+ for the low, low price of just $4.99 (see our video tour). Actually, for the quality of that app and services, we think that is a fair price. No telling if it's a temporary price drop or permanent.

For those of you who remember, IM+ launched about two weeks ago for a whopping $10, a price that most of us scoffed at (even we passed). Either SHAPE Services noticed that it wasn't selling well, or the competition (i.e. Kik Messenger) made them change their mind.

So if you passed over before, now seems like a good time to reconsider. Of course, if you paid the $10 we really wish we could give you a hug right now, since you're down about $5 this week. Get you purchase-on right here in the Marketplace. (Thanks, NarutoFan, for the tip!)

Update: For those who are not seeing the price drop, sorry, not sure what to say. Here it is in the Marketplace.

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FlightAware lands in the Marketplace too

FlightAware (see site) also hit the Marketplace this week, though it slipped through the cracks for us. While there are a few "flight tracker" apps available for WP7, a lot are pay apps and a few aren't so good. Developed by Chaotic Moon Studios, the app is sharp, clear and to the point.

However, FlightAware for WP7 is just darn cool.


For one, it's free. Number two, it has a super cool Bing-Flight tracking map overlay (see pic) that looks awesome and three, it has a really minimalist and clean UI. Features include:

  • Airport activity (delays, alerts)
  • Nearby (Bing-powered flight tracking map based on location)
  • Track by: flight number, tail number
  • Search by flight route
  • My Flightware
  • Alert history

We don't fly very often, but when we do, this is the app we're using. Just an excellent looking app. Start tracking flights right here in the Marketplace.

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"Orange Selects" kicks off with free apps

Orange is kicking off the launch of their new Orange Selects Marketplace feature by giving away apps for free throughout July.  Selects is a list of the carrier's "top apps" and appears as a folder in the Marketplace on their customers' phones.  Orange announced the offer to customers today via text messages:

"Celebrate the launch of Orange Selects and get a free app every day throughout July from the Windows Marketplace - exclusively for Orange customers. That's 31 apps for free. Check out today's free app by choosing Orange Selects from the Marketplace hub on your phone.  3G connection required. Data charges may apply."

Unfortunately, the month-long offer is only for Orange customers and not O2 or Vodaphone.  Today's free app is Krashlander, with more to follow, for a total value of about £70. The launch of Orange Select comes right on the heels of the quickly-growing Marketplace hitting 25,000 apps.

Source: Orange; Via: Paul Boocock (Thanks for the tip!), Pocket-Lint

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Windows Phone Marketplace slowdowns today?

Is the Windows Phone Marketplace acting up for you? Having trouble loading, just general slowness? You're not alone.

In an informal polling of our users and from comments, it seems like the Microsoft servers are having some lag issues. Some are reporting that it has been going on all day for them, others cannot connect at all (it's just slow for us, but we can still download). Maybe all of those official app downloads are taking their toll...

We haven't found a reason yet, nor of any ETA when it could be fixed. But we'll keep you posted.

Update: Seems to be worldwide and Zune (streaming, downloading) too: Germany, Italy Switerland, the US are all having issues. Developer/Senior Consultant at AgileThought, Bill Reiss thinks it may be a DDOS.

Zune.net, which is also having Marketplace issues, reports this ((Thanks, @rpmadelo):

"You won't be able to browse, stream, download, or buy things at the Zune marketplace or on Zune.net. We're working on the problem. Sorry for the inconvenience, and thanks for your patience."

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Update: App is already out, look at that! You can grab it here in the Marketplace. (Thanks, @hellboy552000 & Oli, for the correction)

Wait, we didn't say the stream of official apps was over did we? Good, because it seems Qype is in line to come to Windows Phone 7 too, scoring a deal with Microsoft. A huge brand in Europe, being the largest consumer review website, and is an extremely popular app on iOS, Android and RIM with over 1 million downloads accumulated.

With Mango coming up, Qype will be able to take advantage of some great features being introduced to developers. The app will make use of Bing's geo-location feature to locate the best places across almost 1,000 categories and provide you with instant-use vouchers. Neat, eh?

Combine this with Local Scout (should it be appearing outside the US) and we'll have a winner in your pocket for travelling. The app wont be limited to only basic Qype features too as check-ins can be published via Twitter and Facebook, reviews can be written and photos uploaded. We'll also have some exclusive-to-WP7 features as Ian Brotherstone, CEO of Qype, explains;

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Official Engadget app is here (or back)

Funny thing: months ago Engadget actually had an app in the Marketplace, published by AOL. Then it was pulled after a day or so, no reason given. Flash forward to July 1st and what a shock, they too are pushing their new app. Sure, they've been accused of an anti-WP7 stance, but doesn't mean you can't have them on the go!

Featuring all their major section like HD, Mobile and Alt., the app has a nice and vibrant layout, with videos, podcast and galleries available. Commenting is handled by hopping to the browser instead of native and there's no way to share articles (though you can save them) but at least it looks good for a v1.0 and scrolling is pretty solid.

You can get downloading from the Marketplace here.

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Official New York Times app released

Carrying on from the batch of official apps we've had this week, New York Times is now readily available on the Marketplace. You can view and browse through the latest headlines for free, or you can subscribe for a small fee to unlock all the sections in the app, plus blogs, videos and slide shows.

This app supports synchronization to pull down content for offline reading and stories can be shared via Twitter and Facebook. You can download the New York Times app from the Marketplace (Zune link) for no cost at all.

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Nokia WP7 Apps: Not confined to Nokia

Samsung, HTC, and LG all have apps that are dedicated to their particular Windows Phones. Manufacturers offer these apps as a selling point, hoping that such apps will attract consumers to thier Windows Phone.  There are some really nice apps from each of these manufacturers but they are confined to that particular device.  I can't load Samsung's Photogram on to my HTC HD7s or HTC apps to a Samsung.

In a recent interview, Nokia's Senior Vice President of Developer and Marketplace, Marco Argenti, said this won't be the case with Nokia Windows Phones. Quoting,

"Every Nokia App will be available on every phone."

He would later clarify his comments by saying that while the Nokia apps will work on any phone, there will be exclusive to Nokia Windows Phones for a set time. Argenti didn't get into specifics about what Nokia apps will be available but did comment that they are working hard to enhance areas such as mapping, commerce and discovery.

We'll have to wait and see what apps Nokia has up their sleeve but maybe having access to Nokia apps from other Windows Phones will be a catalyst.  Maybe other manufacturers will follow suit and we'll see HTC, Samsung and LG apps popping up on the Marketplace.

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WP7 Marketplace hits 25,000 apps

Awh yeah! The Windows Phone Marketplace is now reportedly featuring 25,000 apps according to Windows Phone app list. While we still seem to be experiencing some uncontrolled app injection (all providing the same features/functions such as RSS feeds), it's been just over a month (since the 20k milestone) to bring 5,000 apps to end users.

Another app featuring website is WP7Applist, which is currently tracking 24,784 apps with around 4,000 of the counted apps being inactive. Moving on up, according to the weekly growth chart over at Windows Phone app list, we had a spike yesterday with a fairly large number of apps being pushed through.

If you missed our coverage, we now have the likes of DC Comics, Vevo, American Airlines, E! and more that were recently published.

Head on past the break for the charts. 

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Pikchur snaps its way into the Marketplace

 

Pikchur has found its way to Windows Phone 7, designed by IQ, and it's a stunning example of Metro UI implementation. Pikchur for Windows Phone is their first mobile application (minus integration with other apps on competitor platforms) and this bold move will pay off with the app proving to be very popular already.

The visual look and feel of the app is superb, responsiveness is instant and supported networks (which you can actively enable/disable per photo upload) is impressive. A quick run down of some intriguing features supported in Pikchur:

  • Live Tile shows your most recent photo as a Pikchur branded tile on the start screen
  • Picture Hub integration allows you to quickly send a photo to the Pikchur application
  • Bing Map Integration allows you to visualize photo geo-tag information
  • Pivot controls organize photo detail information and comments for easy viewing
  • Picture and location privacy options provide you with control over your photos and information
  • Facebook and Twitter integration allows you to start connecting with services
  • Toggle controls allow you to turn on and off social network/micro-blogging accounts to share a photo with particular services only
  • Available in 5 different languages

We will be bringing a full review sometime soon. For now, check out the video after the break and download the app from the Martketplace (Zune link). 

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Official Foursquare app is back, hits v2.0

First is was Facebook hitting v2.0 and now the official Foursquare is back (after being pulled). Now with a new look and complete overhaul, the app has a vibrant, more Metro feel to it including nicer graphics. New features included check in history (by date), tips, to-dos, shout button, most explored, recommend places and probably more (we're still figuring it out).

Over all the app is a solid effort by Foursquare, but we're still giving 4th & Mayor (which is hitting 2.1 today) the edge here for speed. Sound off in comments with your thoughts and observations.

Update: And yes, indeed there is a Live Tile. It shows the current rankings of you and your friends, giving a nice extra bonus to the app.

Grab it here in the Marketplace. (Thanks, Tahiti Bob, for the tip!)

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Non-disclosure agreements are always an interesting an fickle requirement and sometimes seem, well unnecessary. Such is the case with the Windows Phone Mango developer preview, which notes that devs are forbidden from publishing or talking to the press about things they find in the OS--an odd requirement since it's the same version that the press received a week ago. Nonetheless, it's there:

ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley has contacted Microsoft to get their side on the matter, specifically why is it there. As it turns out, it's pretty standard stuff and not as draconian as it sounds:

“This is a standard practice when pre-release code is distributed to a mass audience. Permission to publish content, screenshots or comments based on this pre-release code can be obtained from Microsoft on a case-by-case basis.”

Of course, permission is still required and should be sought but all in all, this is normal protocol for a software company when distributing pre-release software. In essence, Microsoft would like to control the story, like any company would, so having thousands of devs under NDA is one one way to accomplish this. So odd in this case, yes, unusual in the industry, not really.

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WP7 Marketplace Developer satisfaction survey

 

Redmond has been interested in feedback from both users and developers since launching Windows Phone 7 and Microsoft is at it again.  This time with a survey for developers to fill in covering satisfaction of the Marketplace. This is specifically for developers as it covers the App Hub and developer process on Windows Phone platform.

You can check out and fill in the survey here to provide Microsoft with invaluable feedback.

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DC Comics official app now in the Marketplace

It just won't end, will it? Yes folks, DC Comics now also has an official app for Windows Phone and it looks pretty awesome to these eyes:

"DC Comics is the biggest and best North American comics publisher, featuring a wide variety of characters and genres. Renowned for the World's Greatest Super Heroes: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash and many many more. DC has thrilled readers with fantastic tales from the DC UNIVERSE in dozens of languages around the world for decades.

Publishing more than 80 comic format titles monthly and over 1,000 comic books and graphic novels annually, DC also presents different flavors of graphic storytelling through its diverse imprints."

We're sure there's a few comic readers our there who will be exceptionally pleased with this app, which is of course free. Most comics are $1.99 and even have an option to buy in print right from the app. Sounds good? It's live here in the Marketplace. Go, go go! (Thanks, Larry B.!)

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Reminder App - App Spotlight

Here's a simple way to use your Windows Phone to keep track of special events related to your Facebook friends. The Reminder App pulls in all the important dates from your Facebook friends and lays it all out nicely in a multi-page hub.

Key features include:

  • Ability to see who has a birthday today, next week, next month, etc.
  • Ability to easily see whose birthday you've just missed
  • List and thumbnails views
  • Live Tile displays all of your friends that have a birthday today
  • Wish a happy birthday via friend's facebook wall-syncs with your Facebook account.

Future updates are in the works to bring integration with your Windows Phone contact list as well as integration with other social networks such as LinkedIn.

The Reminder App is a free app over at the Marketplace and you can find it here (opens Zune).

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Vevo heads to the Windows Phone Marketplace

Continuing the trend of official apps for Windows Phone 7 (see here and here), the popular video service Vevo has launched their official app today:

"The shiny, fun new app lets you watch and share music videos wherever you are, whenever you want, and allows you to peek in on exclusive video premieres and catch live streaming concerts on the go.

Between Live on Letterman sets with exclusive, intimate performances by artists like Katy Perry and Adele, push notifications to give you a holler when a sweet video premiere or live stream is going down and fun bits of trivia while you wait for items to quickly load, VEVO’s bringing you the latest in music videos in the best way we know how."

The app even features HD video playback and the ability to share your finds via Facebook or Twitter, which should make many folks happy. Vevo is of course free in the Marketplace right here [Update: app is now live]

Source: Vevo Blog; (Thanks, Damien H., for the heads up!)

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Microsoft's Zune Pass Survey (Updated)

In the Redmond, WA Area? Have two hours to kill? If so, Microsoft User Research is looking for Zune Pass users to participate in a two hour study. The study will take place on Microsoft’s Redmond campus with participants offered a choice of new Microsoft software, hardware or games from a list of our current most popular titles.

Sound interesting? To sign up for the survey just send the following information to uccoord@microsoft.com with “Zune” in the title:

  • Name/Phone Number
  • Job/Company
  • Are you a monthly subscriber to Zune Pass?
  • How frequently do you watch movies online on your computer/console (Hulu, Netflix, Zune, etc.)?
  • How often do you make online purchases with a debit or credit card?

The study is between 3:30-6:30pm. Microsoft hopes to use the feedback and opinions for what they are describing as the next generation of Microsoft services and products.

UPDATE: Microsoft has pushed the date of the survey back and extended the hours.  The new date and time for the Zune Pass Survey is July 8th from 8:00am until 6:30pm PDT.  You still need to be in Redmond to participate but at least now you've got a little time to make the trek.  Thanks Eli for the update!

Source: Facebook

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Yesterday we saw the developer release of "Mango" for Windows Phone 7. The method requires a $99 AppHub subscription and for you to make a backup of your phone before the flash. It also voids your warranty.

Today, of course, people have already figured out ways around having a developer unlocked phone to flash Mango to it. We want to stress a couple of things first though:

  • This voids your warranty
  • You can't upgrade to the final Mango from this build, so you MUST back up
  • If you loose your backup, your phone is permanently in preview-Mango mode--no going back, no going forward
  • If this flash doesn't work and you brick your phone, it's your fault. Remember, even the offiical method has some issues (see here).

The first method comes by way of WPSauce. In essence, it requires three steps:

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Now that the 6 Weeks of Must Have Games has ended, we’re back to learning about the weekly Xbox Live releases a bit less far in advance. The first Xbox Live title to follow Angry Birds will be… Twin Blades from developer Press Start Studio and publisher Microsoft Game Studios.

That’s right, after disappearing from the Marketplace for several months over concerns about it gory content, Twin Blades is coming back. Users who already own the game have received an update that changes the game’s blood to green, and soon the game will be officially available for sale.

Twin Blades is a side-scrolling hack-and-slash game starring a nun who is tasked with saving the world from an army of the undead. She’s armed with a sickle and an assortment of guns, all of which can be upgraded by collecting zombie hearts. It’s a challenging and lengthy game with both a story mode and an all-action survival mode. We’ll have a full review soon.

Twin Blades will be available on Wednesday, July 6 for $2.99.

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Image and specs of HTC Eternity revealed?

HTCInside has posted what appear to be a snapshot and specs of the HTC Eternity, one of the new phones rumored to arrive this fall from the Taiwanese manufacturer.  Along with sporting a whopping 4.7-inch WVGA Super LCD screen, this Mango monster will allegedly pack the following features:

  • 1.5GHz single-core processor
  • 8MP camera with dual-LED flash and 720p video
  • 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • 16GB of storage
  • DLNA, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
  • GPS
  • 1650mAh battery

The 1.5GHz processor exceeds the current Microsoft WP7 requirements, which only include 1GHz and 800MHz chips.  This could either be a sign of new hardware requirements to come, or the Eternity's spec sheet is incorrect.  With or without the pumped-up CPU, the HTC Eternity sounds like quite the powerhouse.  As with all leaks, we need to take it with a grain of salt, but it's a exciting prospect nonetheless.

Source: HTCInside; Via: PocketNow

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