How To

Final Fantasy is finally available, and we’ve already provided some beginner tips and resources to help players get started. Even advanced players will need help with the game’s Achievements, though. Why? They’re all secret, meaning players can’t view them in-game or through Xbox Live prior to earning them. This led many to speculate that the Achievements would all be story-related. As it turns out, that did not prove to be the case.

We know this because Achievement hunter-extraordinaire Zebrasqual managed to uncover Final Fantasy’s full Achievement list. Windows Phone Central then broke those Achievements down into categories for your convenience. Not only that, we’ve got tips and resources for the more challenging ones that will set you on the right track. It won't be easy though, so prepare for a lengthy journey!

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In our latest how-to guide, we show you how to make the most of your Windows Phone and SkyDrive cloud storage

We've touched on the basics with Microsoft's SkyDrive services and the SkyDrive App for your Windows Phone. But how does all that translate into every day use?

The obvious every day use for SkyDrive and your Windows Phone is to free up storage space and make content easily available. Why bog down your Windows Phone with documents, pictures, and music files when you can store them in the Cloud and access them at your leisure? But did you know that several quality apps utilize SkyDrive? Of course you did... and we'll try to cover a few along the way as we look at every day uses for your SkyDrive account.

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Curious about how SkyDrive can make your life more useful? Read our guide to find out.

Cloud storage is becoming more and more mainstream, especially among smartphone and tablet owners where local storage is limited. Storing data in the clouds (remotely hosted servers) enables the owner to access data from any supported location. DropBox is probably the best known example of cloud storage for PC users with native clients available for both Windows and Mac.

Microsoft has its own cloud storage solution, but how does SkyDrive compare to competitors? We'll take a quick glance at some features of Microsoft's product against Dropbox, Apple's iCloud and Google Drive. Microsoft has also published a chart of their own, which offers a more in-depth comparison.

 

  SkyDrive DropBox iCloud Drive Free Storage 7GB* 2.5GB 5GB 5GB Price +20GB - $10/yr
+50GB - $25/yr
+100GB - $50/yr 50GB - $99/yr
100GB - $199/yr 10GB - $20/yr
20GB - $40/yr
50GB - $100/yr 25GB - $2.49/mo
100GB - $4.99/mo
~16TB available Platforms iOS, Mac, PC, WP Droid, iOS, Mac, PC, WP iOS, Mac Droid, Mac, PC

*25GB is available for existing users.

According to the table above, SkyDrive is a more attractive option compared to competitors, but what about Windows Phone? Microsoft has developed its own cloud storage solution that was formed with the Live umbrella of products, and its fully integrated into Windows Phone with a complimentary app to go with. But where exactly is this integration?

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Here's a funny problem we all have with smartphones regardless of OS choice: how to quickly share websites and inks between phones.

Sure, you can email, text or type out the address but it's a waste of email on both ends and if it's a long sub-link for an article, typing it out is a pain  This problem also bothered Faisal Iqbal so he decided to do something about it and thus QR Coder was born.

Faisal created a Java Script that you save as a favorite on your Windows Phone. While on the web page you want to share, you simply go to the favorites and select QR Coder. That Java Script will then dynamically generate a QR code based on the site you're viewing and display as an overlay on the screen. Your fellow pal can use their Android, iPhone, Symbian or Windows Phone to scan it and they now instantly have the link on their phone.

Brilliant.

It's actually really easy to setup too, literally 30 seconds. Go to Faisal's site and watch his video on how to get it going on your phone. Feel free to share it with your non-Windows Phone users for maximum convenience.

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Want to get a whole new Live ID and start fresh with Microsoft? Here's how to transfer your account.

Microsoft's Live ID (soon to be renamed "Microsoft Account") is the key to all things from Redmond these days. Whether it’s your Xbox 360, SkyDrive, Live Mail, Zune Pass, App Hub account, Messenger or Windows Phone, your Live ID is at the heart.

The question is what if you want to change your Live ID?

Here we don't mean switching just on the phone, which unfortunately requires a hard-reset (and no, we don't have a work around for that, sorry). Instead, we're talking about what if you have an old Hotmail.com email account and you want a new Live.com one instead? Maybe you're not happy with your current user name or like us, you have used your Hotmail account since 2002 as a glorified spam experiment.

We'll walk you through the process of getting a new Live ID and making sure all your other services back-propagate to reflect the change keeping all of your services intact.

Read on after the break for our guide...

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If you have a few minutes you can watch the video above of reader Oli Gill bravely modifying his Nokia Lumia 800 to enable wireless charging ala Palm/HP and their Touchstone charger.

There is no doubt that any of us, especially with the more high-end Lumia 900 would love to have this feature in our Nokia Windows Phone. In fact, we wonder if and when Nokia will take the big plunge and be the first Windows Phone OEM to do this officially. After all, if there was one hardware company that could do this on a wide scale it'd be Nokia (though HTC and Samsung are fully capable too).

We're not going to lie though, this mod is quite advanced and we're pretty sure we won't have the time or skills to do this. But we also know a lot of our audience is highly educated and love to do things like this, so for you folks, here you go!

Oh and Oli, if you ever want to start a small side business, we're sure many of us would gladly send you our Lumias to have this warranty-voiding hack. Anyone else?

Thanks, Oli, for the tip and video

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Microsoft removed the ability to browse or purchase new apps for Windows Phone in the Zune Desktop app last week causing a stir amongst users. While Windows Phone users can still get podcasts, videos and music, the only apps available are for Zune HD users (who have no other method to get apps). Instead, users are instructed to use the Web Marketplace or the store on their phone, which is how most users are doing it anyway.

We reported on an interesting hack the other day to bring back the Marketplace but it was a bit convoluted requiring a server intercept of a config file.

Today though, reader Thomas W. sent us a simple registry trick on your PC that can instantly bring back the Marketplace. All it requires is adding a new Key with a new DWORD and you'll be good to go. If you have a registry editor on your PC, simply do this:

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Zune
  • Create KEY: FeaturesOverride
  • DWORD: Apps = 1

Now restart Zune Desktop and in a flash, your Marketplace is back. Of course such a trick will disappear when Microsoft updates Zune or they somehow permanently disable the feature. But for now, we were able to successfully trial and purchase apps just as before.

While we personally have little use for this method of purchasing apps, you're needs may be different, so here you go!

Thanks, Thomas, for the tip!

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Although we're of the camp that doesn't mind that the Windows Phone Marketplace for apps has been retired from Zune Desktop, we imagine some of you think otherwise.

Luckily, Windows Phone guru Den Delimarsky has you covered. He figured out exactly what the change was that Microsoft pushed on to us all yesterday. More importantly, he also figured out to block that change so you can get back the Marketplace for those apps.

Unfortunately the change is a little tricky. Evidently the "update" comes from a simple modification in the configuration.xml that is sent from Microsoft every time you launch Zune Desktop. All you need to do is switch a "disabled" setting to "enabled" but the tough part is you have to intercept that .xml file.

That's where you'll need a mini-server (or something analogous). Basically you redirect your Zune Desktop to a local server where you can have it fetch your modified .xml file and boom, you're in business. Now of course, this is only works so long as you stay with version 4.8. If you update the Desktop client (and Microsoft is sure to push one eventually) you can probably kiss this trick goodbye.

Anyway, cool stuff just remember, you're using this at your own risk (sorry Microsoft if you get mad!). Go read the whole thing at Den's site for all the details.

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Want to make the most of your Windows Phone camera? Read our guide on how to get the best shots possible and look like a pro!

While the camera on your Windows Phone may not have been a key factor in the past, with the HTC Titan II sporting a 16mp camera and the Nokia Lumia 900 using a Carl Zeiss lens these little cameras are being seen in a new light. Where in the past many saw the camera as a nice accessory or even a novelty, as technology improves the Windows Phone camera's performance it's becoming a more influential feature.

Additionally, as our Windows Phone camera evolves so does the software that drives it. You have more control over the camera these days along with special settings to use effects, adjust exposure settings, and program settings. From your children at play to a stunning sunset to your new pet the camera on your Windows Phone is a great tool for capturing and sharing memories.

With all the advancements we've recently seen with our Windows Phone cameras (along with a few suggestions from our readers) it's time to offer our guide to understanding the basics of your Windows Phone camera and a few tips on taking pictures.  After the break, we'll cover the principles of photography, the terminology involved, what some of your Windows Phone settings will do, and a few tips to take better pictures with your Window Phone.

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Windows Phone Basics: The People Hub

WPCentral's Guide to the Windows Phone People Hub

Our next helpful article for those who are new to Windows Phone covers the People Hub - the one stop for all your social requirements when on the go. The People Hub, as the name suggests, is where all your contacts are available to communicate with. Upon launching the hub from the home screen (tile is present by default - a mosaic of randomly generated photos) you'll be presented with your profile summary with latest Facebook status or tweet (if not simply swipe to the right - we'll keep things simple and start from the contacts list).

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Windows Phone Basics: The Pictures Hub

WPCentral's Guide to the Windows Phone Pictures Hub

With the release of the Nokia Lumia series (710, 800, 900) and the HTC Titan II Windows Phones, we are seeing new Windows Phone users picking up the new phones.  We've touched on must have games and must have apps for your Windows Phone.  We've also touch on some of the best free apps for your Windows Phones.  Now we'll turn our attention more in-house to take a look at the various Hubs on your Windows Phone.  First up, the Pictures Hub.

The Pictures Hub on your Windows Phone is the repository for your photographic albums, a central hub where you can share your photos and where you can back images up to your Skydrive account.  The Pictures Hub is where you go to manage the moments you capture on video and photos.  After the break we have a walk-through of the Pictures Hub for those new to Windows Phone and a refresher for those more familiar with things.

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Being actively social while on-the-go is Microsoft's main aim with Windows Phone, and both Messenger and Facebook Chat provide the means for owners to communicate with contacts via the social network and popular IM service. What's great about these features is that they are integrated into the operating system. Switching between text, Messenger, and Facebook can be achieved in the conversation itself with zero apps.

The only issue with such integration is actually setting it all up - it's not as simple as one would like to believe (there's no click-and-go here). Messenger is automatically connected and ready to fire up once you'd attached your Live ID in the Windows Phone setup walkthrough, but to activate Facebook Chat, you'll be required to login on your Live account and set up Facebook Connect via the web browser, as well as adding your Facebook account to your phone. Simply connecting your Facebook account to your Windows Phone only kick-starts the social integration for the People hub and Me tile. Too much, too fast?

Read on for our full tutorial on Facebook Chat and Messenger for Windows Phone....

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The guys (and gals) over at XDA regularly provide the Windows Phone community with homebrew apps that fill some gap that non-native apps cannot.

One of these gaps is screenshots. The Windows Phone Operating System provides no support for taking screenshots, which can cause reviewers like ourselves some hassles. So we previously covered an app called Screen Capturer which took screenshots and saved them to your pictures hub, and now 'N37-L0RD' over at XDA has developed a similar app called WP Screenshot.

It's pretty close to Screen Capturer, except for the main feature: pictures you take are instantly transferred right onto your PC, eliminating the extra step of syncing with Zune. It is also really basic to use and setup, which you can see below:

1) Download the two files attached to this post.

 

2) Deploy the .XAP to your device and open it up. Also open up the desktop app.

3) Open up command and find out your IP Address, and input that into the WP Screenshot app on your phone.

4) Once it's connected, half-press (as if to focus) the camera button any time on your phone and the picture should automatically pop-up on your PC. Press Ctrl+S to save the current screenshot. And press Ctrl+H to view the other commands.

There you have it, a super simple way to get screenshots from your device. This does require your device to be dev-unlocked, but does not require Interop-unlock.

Source: XDA

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Nokia has published this semi-humorous guide to saving a Lumia Windows Phone from being permanently damaged by water. Should you so happen to drop your Lumia device into a swimming pool or a bath, then these simple steps might just turn your bad luck (or clumsiness) into a gigantic sigh of relief. So how does one go about rescuing a drowning Lumia Windows Phone?

Firstly, one must remove the device from its watery hell as quickly as possible. The faster it's removed from water, the lower the chance of permanent damage. You should then remove the SIM card and battery (if possible) to prevent further damage to components.

Next up is actually drying the handset. To carry this out effectively, one should use a dry cloth or towel - don't attempt to use paper towel, toilet paper or even a hairdryer (do we need to explain why?). Ensure all excess water has been removed from the Windows Phone. Of course this wont completely dry the device inside-out, so a nights rest next to a radiator (or in a bag of rice / wrapped in a towel) is required. 

Once the phone has had time to shake off, re-insert the SIM and battery to check if it boots up. If it's successful then congratulations, if not then you're looking at the possibility of irreversible damage. We're pretty sure this guide can be applied to all sturdy Windows Phones, just remember not to go swimming with your handset in your pocket.

Via: MonWindowsPhone

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With the latest info from AT&T regarding the 8107 update (specifically that they don't have plans to offer it) and news that the HTC Titan and Samsung Focus S are reportedly going to be discontinued soon, the issue about force-updating the OS has been brought up as an alternative.

Indeed, there is a relatively easy way to force any Windows Phone to 8107 in about 15 minutes (after you get all the right files in place) and in fact, we just did it to our Samsung Focus S, mostly because we have a crap-ton of Windows Phones here and can take risks.

We're going to assume you don't have extra phones and therefore we can't really endorse this because:

  1. You may "Walsh" your phone, meaning you'll bugger your chances for future updates (if they ever happen, ahem)
  2. It is a bit stressful
  3. You really shouldn't have to do this, amirite?

Having said that, if you still want to go down this path we can say it does work and if you follow the directions to the letter, you'll have 8107 on your Windows Phone (you just won't have any "tweaked" OEM firmware to go with it).

Once again, we must stress that we're not endorsing this method and we would much rather see AT&T just deliver an update. Should you screw up your phone, this is all on you.

So against our better judgement (and Rafael's ire), we're going to post our tutorial on the subject.  Read on, if you dare...

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We've received reports from some readers that the recent update to Ask Ziggy version 2.0, the Siri-like SkyNet-type app for Windows Phone, has left the app unusable. The recent update addressed some issues and fixed some bugs, but it seems that users may experience problems when launching the app after updating.

Like many apps that experience issues when launching with crashes or errors, a simple way to fix the problem (especially if it's after an update has been installed) is to re-install the troubled app. We advise Windows Phone users to troubleshoot before reporting issues to prevent frustration. This should fix Ask Ziggy too.

Thanks to everyone who sent in troubled reports.

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Okay, in a way we really don't recommend you do this, on the other hand we just did so who are we to judge. In short, with a few tools and about 20 minutes of your time, you can flash the latest build of Windows Phone (8107 with the keyboard fix) and the latest firmware (12070) onto your T-Mobile branded Nokia Lumia 710.

The latest firmware fixes the end-call bug in addition to giving other "performance enhancements" e.g. powering on from standby seems faster to us now, whereas before there was delay. We haven't run it long enough to see if battery life has improved, though we presume since this matches the Lumia 800's new firmware that it has some of the same tricks (we're idling at about 135mAh, for what it's worth).

How is this done? The files come from Nokia's servers where you can download various ROM packages. In this case, Nokia has available three variants (by color) of their latest 710 ROMs for India available. That's right, you'll be installing a ROM for India on your US phone. No worries though as it's unbranded and heck, it even has two pics of the Taj Mahal as a bonus.

Downside? Evidently in India you can't give an option to disable the camera shutter sound, so you'll literally lose that option in Settings. This is also a full-on flash, meaning you'll wipe your device and backups won't work (new firmware). Finally, we lost our "4G" icon which makes us wonder if we lost our HSPA+ speeds. Our browser download tests (compared to a T-Mo Radar 4G) show that no loss in speed has occurred and from normal use, it feels just as fast as ever for data.

In order to do this you'll need two pieces of free software: Navifirm and Nokia Care Suite 5.0. The former downloads the ROMs from the server, the latter via the Product Support Tool For Store 5.0, allows you to flash your phone. (Honestly, it's really easy once you read some instructions).

Unfortunately we're not going to give a step-by-step because this is a little risky (although you can just flash back the T-Mobile release ROM). Still, if you want to know more about how this works, just head over to ye'old XDA where you can read the similar instructions on flashing the Lumia 800 (yes, it works on that too). Or you could just wait for the T-Mobile version, which we imagine will be here in a few weeks.

Thanks, Robert, for the heads up

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We've mentioned Bazaar before--it's the first serious attempt at a homebrew Marketplace for Windows Phone, a place where developers can centralize and easily distribute their work for end users, allowing people to keep up on updates and learn about new apps. That's important as browsing our forums, XDA or just watching our front page, while helpful, can cause you to miss things.

Previously though, Bazaar was restricted to custom ROMs as an addon app for Windows Phone. While extremely useful and impressive, this limited its influence. Today though that all changes with the release of the Bazaar Desktop client.

If you have a developer or Chevron unlocked phone, you'll definitely want this. The app is quite impressive allowing you to browse, as far as we can tell, all the homebrew apps that are out there. You have concise app descriptions including if it will work on your device (lots are restricted to Gen 1 devices, for instance) and screenshots to see what the app looks like.

Perhaps more importantly though is the ability to download and install directly to your phone, making the whole process extremely easy. The app simply piggybacks off of Zune Desktop and if you have your device paired with that app, it will "see" this one. That latter part is very useful as it even shows you already installed homebrew/sideloaded apps, making management a breeze (most of us are still limited to just 10 homebrew/sideloaded apps). 

Other worthy mentions include Featured, Browse, and Favorites making it a snap to find an app (although even we admit that the homebrew scene is a bit anemic).

Bazaar for Windows Desktop is free, well designed and just works. For that we're giving it a big recommendation and a thumbs up to the hard work of the dev team who are certainly worthy of a donation. Get more information and screenshots at their distribution page: http://118.139.161.234/bazaar/BazaarForPC.aspx

Source: Bazaar for PC; via Plaffo

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While it's been confirmed by Nokia already, the team over at WeLoveWP.hk have run some tests on charging the Lumia Windows Phone with a number of options. Turns out when put up against generic USB chargers (eg. Apple), USB ports and another Nokia charging unit, the Nokia Lumia adapters provided more charge for a faster rate of recharge.

Check out the summarised results below:

  • Computer USB 2.0 port: 3.85V - ~110mA
  • Nokia DC-11K Mobile Charging Unit: 3.9V - 330mA
  • Apple Charger: 3.88V - 300mA
  • Lumia 800 AC-16 Charger: 3.95V - 600mA

Should you have a Nokia Lumia charger in your procession, using it over your PC (or other USB based chargers) will pump the juice into your Lumia handsets at a faster rate.

Source: WeLoveWP.hk

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Dialing numbers listed on websites is supposed to be an easy task on Windows Phone. The OS basically highlights the numbers (like a hyperlink) and when you tap them, you get the standard "Edit phone number" screen and the option to call said number. The system is based on detecting sets of 7,10 or 11 numbers with their appropriate hyphens, periods, etc.

Interestingly, some folks at XDA have discovered that this seemingly only works for US devices. More specifically, devices who's 'Region format' settings under 'Region + language' are set for English (United States). Even folks in Canada evidently have this issue which is odd, to say the least.

We tried the list of numbers found in this post at XDA with our US region settings and they all worked fine except for the last number--just as expected. When we switched to Estonia (and rebooted) those numbers were now un-clickable just as others are reporting.

We're hesitant to call this a 'bug' because for all we know Microsoft did this on purpose for some strange reason. Still, if you want this function, you can head to Settings --> Region + Language --> Region Format and change that to English (United States) to get it to work for now as a workaround. And Microsoft, if this isn't on purpose then you may want to fix it for future updates, kthxbai!  As noted in comments, this is actually advertised as a US-only feature by Microsoft so if you want it, you'll have to use the above trick to get it.

Source: XDA; Thanks, James, for the tip!

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