apps

Windows Phone Central takes a look at apps that will help during the upcoming Hurricane Season

For many Windows Phone owners, June 1st marks the start of summer. For some, June 1st marks the start of Hurricane Season. If you live along the U.S. Gulf Coast, Atlantic Coast, in the Caribbean or any other area that could be impacted by hurricanes, there are a few apps for your Windows Phone that can come in handy.

These apps keep you informed of the tropical systems as they develop into hurricanes, monitor the storms track, help you weather out the storm, and pick up the pieces when the dust settles. Hopefully this Hurricane Season will be a quiet one but if not, maybe these apps will help.

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Microsoft is developing a cross-platform service that will enable users to migrate from competitor platforms (or Windows Phone) to Windows Phone, according to a patent filed back in 2010. The service will allow apps to be detected on the legacy handset, which will then be listed on the new Windows Phone for convenient downloading, providing users with peace of mind when it comes to installed apps.

According to the filed patent, the company is planning to provide functionality within the service that would analyse installed apps on the legacy handset (eg.: Android). The service would then search for identical or similar apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace. The user would be presented with popular third-party suggestions should official apps not be available.

If there's no third-party app present on the Marketplace, the service will notify the user in the future once a similar app is published. Is that more than enough? Not according to the company. Microsoft is reported to be wanting to take things further with actually creating a complete solution where app data would be stored and transferred across to new Windows Phones or from other platforms, preventing data loss. Of course, little detail is available and we're yet to see how this service could work with the likes of Android and iOS

Another question on mind is if apps will have to be repurchased for Windows Phone when migrating from another platform, or would the software giant subsidize the costs? Microsoft has clearly been serious about Windows Phone since the off, and this reaffirms the company's commitment to take part in the smartphone marathon. How would you like to see such a service implemented?

Source: Unwired View

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This is a reminder of the upcoming Windows Phone Bar Camp, a developer event hosted by the WPUG guys. It's happening on May 19th, at the Vibe Bar on Brick Lane. A number of platform developers are set to present their apps to the audience, and the event will prove to be a superb way to meet other Windows Phone enthusiasts.

Kicking off at 9am, there will be a light lunch provided, with tea and coffee. The bar will also be open for drinks of course. So be sure to pop on down by registering your place on EventBrite. Jay would appreciate the attendance while presenting his experiences developing for the platform as well as how we can help promote your app(s), and I will be there to discuss / arrange future Windows Phone Central coverage for your app(s).

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Handyscan updated and goes on sale!

Handyscan is a very nice Windows Phone app that allows you to scan documents, share them by email and upload them to your SkyDrive account. We have been impressed with Handyscan and it was recently updated.  As an added bonus, Handyscan is on sale this week. Just a few of Handyscan's key features include:

  • Independent scanning resolution and flash options
  • Deep zoom in/out controls
  • Scan multiple pages per document and save as single file
  • Import/export photos
  • SkyDrive and Dropbox support
  • Scan digitalize signatures
  • Align and crop scanned documents

The app was recently updated to version 3.11 to fix a few minor bugs and add automatic document naming (you can set the parameters in the app's settings). Along with the update, JDB Pocketware is offering the full version of Handyscan for $.99 (regular price is $2.99)

There is a free, ad supported version of Handyscan (slightly limited in functionality) but for $.99 the full version is a steal of a deal. You can find the full version of Handyscan here at the Windows Phone Marketplace and the free version can be found here.

It's really one heck of a deal on the full version.

          

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Online tech superstore Newegg has updated their official Windows Phone app to version 1.1 and added some pretty nice features. One major addition to v1.1 is live tile support.  Newegg "Shell Shocker" deal notifications can now be pushed right to your start screen. The ability to view your order history has also been added, as well as an update to the checkout process.  Version 1.1 also brings some minor bug fixes along with it.

The official Newegg app sports a handsome, easy to use Metro-style interface and gives you full access to everything they have to offer.  If you are a geek, and you don't know about Newegg, do yourself a favor and check it out pronto!

You can get Newegg's official app here in the Marketplace for free.

Thanks for the heads up, Shipwreck!

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Ready. Set. Code. The Nokia developer challenge, which we previously covered not-so-long-ago, will be kicking off this weekend. The 13-city hackathon will run through May and June, enabling developers (and teams) to come together to develop apps for Windows Phone. 

The Code Warriors are expected to be one of the pushes Nokia and Microsoft will make in their plans to bring big brand developers / apps to the platform. With Nokia forming partnerships with big-brand developers and companies to bring over official apps, this hackathon is a perfect way to get the community involved as well.

Event schedule:

  • May 12 - Columbus, OH
  • May 15 - Atlanta, GA
  • May 15 - Chicago, IL
  • May 19 - Sunnyvale, CA
  • May 31 - Houston, TX
  • June 2 - San Diego, CA
  • June 6 - New York, NY
  • June 7 - Boston, MA
  • June 7 - Miami, FL
  • June 12 - Dallas, TX
  • June 12 - Chevy Chase, MD
  • June 15 - Vancouver, BC

Check out the video parody “Dev City Kid" below, which kicks the challenge off.

Whoever said developers and geeks weren't cool? Should you be attending the events and have registered your place, you might be interested to know there are some prizes available. At each event, prizes will be handed out for the top 3 apps created, top student app, as well as most Nokia-branded developer. Apps will be judged on creativity, usability, technical difficulty and presentation.

  • 1st place: $500 gift card and Lumia 900
  • 2nd place: $250 gift card and Lumia 900
  • 3rd place: $100 gift card and Lumia 900
  • Student winner: $150 gift card and Lumia 900
  • Most Nokia-branded developer: $100 gift card and Lumia 900

We'll close up this article with some wise words from good man Joseph. Be sure to check out the Nokia Developer Eventbrite listing for details on the events.

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WPCentral's Mother's Day Gift Guide

It's that time of the year again to celebrate Mother's Day. Here's what to get her in our latest gift-guide.

While it appears there won't be a Magenta Lumia 900 available for Mother's Day that doesn't mean we should forget good old mom. While we are sure many were dead set on getting the magenta Lumia 900 for their mother this weekend, we thought we'd give you a few options to fall back on.

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Rabobank, one of the largest banks in the Netherlands, has released a mobile banking app for Windows Phone. Like its counterparts for Android, Blackberry and iOS, the Rabo Banking App lets users take care of their banking needs, be it checking their balance, viewing account history or making transfers, wherever they may be.

In order to use the app, you must already have a Rabobank account and have your Random Reader and debit card handy. You can click here for more information about the Rabo Banking App, or here to download the mobile banking app from the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Thanks for the tip, Lobbie 1978!

 

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Nokia has today announced in a press release that a number of apps and games are to be exclusive to Lumia Windows Phones. At CTIA Wireless 2012, the manufacturer has focused on creating original app experiences to Lumia customers by building relations and forming partnerships with developers. Marco Argenti, SVP, Nokia Developer Experience, added the following comment.

"We are focused on delivering great, locally relevant apps, and importantly, those which offer unique, exclusive and original experiences. With Nokia Lumia smartphones now available in 48 markets, developers are rapidly recognizing the business opportunities and creating their best work for our consumers."

Nokia has already built a strong arsenal of apps in their OEM collection, including the likes of Nokia Drive, Transport, Maps, Music and the recently unveiled City Lens. Crawford Del Prete, EVP, Chief Research Officer, IDC, had the following to comment on Nokia's progress with moving to Windows Phone and building developer relations.

"Nokia has achieved much in a short space of time when it comes to key brands and partners creating apps for Nokia Lumia customers. We believe developers are now moving away from simply porting, to create new innovative and high-design apps that fully leverage the Windows Phone Metro UI and features such as live tiles. With new and exclusive apps launching on a regular basis, and Nokia Lumia rapidly expanding into new markets, Nokia and Microsoft are demonstrating meaningful differentiation for consumers, developers, operators and retailers."

So with al lthis talk of exclusive apps and games, partnerships and developing progress, what's on the horizon for Lumia Windows Phone owners? Check out the summarised list below of content that's destined to be exclusive for Nokia devices (and Windows Phone owners as a whole).

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Windows Phone App Review: SuperTimer

Here's a nice timer app for your Windows Phone, Supertimer. Supertimer is a combination timer and stopwatch that takes advantage of the Windows Phone panoramic layout and metro style with up to four live tiles.  Supertimer has potential but there are still some hurdles to overcome with stability and the live tiles, while a nice touch, may not be living up to their potential.

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Windows Phone App Review: Next Browser

If you're looking for an alternative to Internet Explorer you may want to take a look at Next Browser. It is a fast, feature rich alternative that makes a nice first impression. But does that first impression fade any?  For the most part, no.  But there is one thing that holds a very nice browser back.

Oh... if Next Browser is something that looks appealing, it's on sale through the end of the day for $.99 (regular price is two bucks). 

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Best Windows Phone Photography Apps from WPCentral

We've taken a look at the best free apps, the must have games, the must have apps and the best weather apps for your Windows Phone. We now turn our attention to the best photography apps for your Windows Phone.

Now that you have some insight on how your Windows Phone camera works, these apps will help you edit and add a creative touch to your photographs. Some of these apps will even have an in-house camera function to keep everything under one roof.

As with all our "best of" lists, this list contains the apps that stand out in our opinions. If we've missed an app that you think should be included, please sound off in the comments.

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Chase app for Windows Phone in the works?

There has been a discussion going on over in the WPCentral Forums for some time about the hopes of a Chase banking app would find it's way to the Windows Phone platform.  A recent email response one of our readers received from Chase gives us hope that a Chase Bank App is in the works for Windows Phone. Currently Chase only offers an app for the iPhone and Android devices but in an email response to one of our readers, that may change.

According to the email a Chase Internet Service Center Rep, states:

As of right now, the Chase application is only applicable with the Android and iOS platforms. We have consulted our Online Management Team and they will be implementing an application for Windows phones this July 2012.

Several European banks already have apps available over in the Windows Phone Marketplace but for the U.S. Market, Bank of America and USAA seem to be the only two currently available. Hopefully with Chase jumping on board, other banking and financial institutions will follow suit.

You can chime in on the WPCentral Forums discussion here or sound off in the comment section below if the thought of a Chase (or any other bank for that matter) app is something you'd like to see.

Thanks Sed 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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Two popular apps have just been updated: Xbox Live Extras (version 7.3) and Netflix (version 2.1). Both updates appear to be under the hood, i.e. no new features or noticeable changes. Netflix just received a more significant update two weeks ago, and the release notes for that update still appear, unmodified, on the app’s Marketplace page. It’s likely that after rolling out version 2.0, the development team discovered one or more bugs that needed fixing.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft about the Xbox Live Extras update and will report back if they provide any details. If you guys discover any changes in these two apps in the meantime, please let us know in the comments below.

Both Xbox Live Extras and Netflix are free apps, though Netflix obviously requires a subscription to use. Xbox Live Extras is a fairly important tool for gamers, so make sure to get it here if you haven’t already. Netflix subscribers can get the app here on the Marketplace.

Thanks to everyone who tipped us on both app updates!

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Google has no immediate plans to release an official Google Voice app for Windows Phone, according to reports. CNET received an official statement from the search giant detailing a development focus on Android and iOS. The statement does note that should sufficient demand spark for a Google Voice client on Windows Phone, the team will look into kick-starting the project.

"We're focusing our Google Voice efforts on Android & iOS and don't have a plan to extend this to the Windows Phone. This may change if we start to see greater demand from Windows Phone users for Google Voice."

Previously we've witnessed what the power of Windows Phone users can achieve by demanding official support from companies, with Draw Something proving to be the best example. For now, until we receive word of an official app in development, those who wish to use the Google service can look at third-party alternatives available on the Marketplace - GoVoice is a free unofficial client, which we've covered previously. 

As CNET rightfully points out, users should always be cautious when downloading apps from the Marketplace. Luckily the developer of GoVoice got in touch and provided the following statement to address any potential concerns:

"We take your privacy seriously and we don't store your password on the device unless if you choose to do so. Even if your device is compromised you can still revoke GoVoice's access. Your password is encrypted on the device and only sent to the Google Voice servers over Secure Sockets Layer (https). We care about your security."

It's a positive sign to say the least. The Windows Phone Marketplace has a number of indie developed apps that boast the functionality missing official apps would feature, which is something many forget when choosing their next smartphone. The only app Google has produced for Windows Phone is the search app, though there are unofficial apps for a number of the search engine's services, including Google Maps.

Are you looking forward to more official support from Google, and do you believe they should start actively developing clients now? Let us know in the comments.

Source: CNET, via: Neowin; Thanks vincentw56 for the tip!

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Microsoft takes on Dropbox and Google Drive with the latest version of their SkyDrive service

Today Microsoft has announced new SkyDrive storage plans for their cloud service as well as new native sync apps for Windows PC and Apple OSX. Combined with official apps for Windows Phone and iOS that were recently updated, Microsoft looks to undercut the market leader Dropbox and block Google from cutting in on their territory.

Clearly the cloud-storage service SkyDrive will be a center piece between Windows 8, Windows Phone and Xbox 360 going forward. Best of all, Microsoft has extended this offer to Mac users who can also benefit from the new SkyDrive functionality.

We reported on the news yesterday that the SkyDrive app for Windows Phone had been updated, but we can now rejoice with Windows, Mac and iPhone support now being available. Both PC and Mac preview clients work in similar ways. SkyDrive sits comfortably as a central folder in Windows Explorer and Mac Finder, much like Dropbox, and files (up to 2GB) can be transferred between computers (and supported devices).

With the revamp of the SkyDrive service and new clients being released, Microsoft has also lowered the freely available storage from 25GB to 7GB, noting in the MSDN blog post that 99.94% of SkyDrive users currently use 7GB or less. Even at 7GB for free, Microsoft has given a solid left-hook to rival Dropbox who offer a mere 2GB of free storage.

New SkyDrive clients and apps in action

Note, however, should you be an existing SkyDrive user, Microsoft is offering the opportunity to keep the 25GB (or upgrade in this case) for free so be sure to check out the offer on your SkyDrive account (login via the skydrive.live.com). An alert will be displayed announcing "SkyDrive's free storage is changing."

If 25GB (or 7GB if you're a new user or miss out on the free upgrade) isn't enough for your needs, Microsoft is offering three upgrade options for the SkyDrive service:

  • Additional 20GB - £6/yr ($10)
  • Addition 50GB - £16/yr ($25)
  • Additional 100GB - £32/yr ($50)

The above plans and native clients were all first reported by Brazilian website Gemind, back in February. It's interesting to note that Microsoft has unleashed the updates to their service now, just before Google are set to unveil Google Drive as a cloud-based storage solution for their ecosystem. The features present in SkyDrive however are more appealing, minus the Android support for owners of green robotic devices.

Source: MSDN

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Microsoft has made some pretty significant upgrades to SkyDrive, among them, one that adds capability to Windows Phone. The big announcement that Redmond is touting is that SkyDrive will now support Open Document format. While this is cool and all, what piques our interest more is the newly-added ability to post to Twitter using your Windows Phone and have the URL automatically shortened using the SDRV.MS suffix. This nifty little feature makes it easy to snap a quick pic and share with friends. It illustrates Microsoft's drive to deeply integrate Windows Phone with social media.

In addition to Open Document and Twitter support, the SkyDrive update also allows users to upload files up to 300MB using their web browser. The SkyDrive Team also reports that they "have some really big things coming soon." Hopefully that means some more stuff for Windows Phone!

Source: Microsoft

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Best free apps for Windows Phones

WPCentral's list of the best free apps for Windows Phone

We've taken a look at must have games and must have apps for your Windows Phone, now we turn our sights on the best free apps that might interest every Windows Phone owner. Everyone likes free stuff, right?

The Windows Phone Marketplace is full of free apps and games. Some good, some bad. Some with ads, some without.  We've compiled a short list of free Windows Phone games and apps the we found interesting and thought you would too.

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