beta

It's on! Well, nearly anyway. MetroSpec, the ZX Spectrum emulator for Windows Phone we previously covered from the recent WPUG meetup in London, has almost hit beta. Lead developer Glenn Edwards is now on the hunt for eager testers who wish to take the app and run it through its paces to squash possible bugs and provide feedback on functionality and features.

MetroSpec enables Windows Phone users to load up homebrew or other Spectrum titles and enjoy a smooth gaming experience while on the go. Game states can be exported to SkyDrive allowing users to continue on the larger screen from a different platform / emulator, games can be imported from both SkyDrive and a known web server, and a number of intuitive features ensures the UI is efficient and easy-to-use.

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Still in beta, Pulse is now at Version 0.95.7

Looks like Nokia is putting some renewed vigor into their Pulse social app which is still in beta form. Version 0.95.7 just went live in the Marketplace and brings some cool new additions with it:

  • Conversation live tile – pin a specific conversation to your Start screen
  • Pulse from landing page – tap in the “Send a message” box and go directly to the Compose screen
  • Recognize multiple email addresses for an individual user
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Microsoft has made the customer preview of the upcoming Office 2013 suite available for download. Being cloud based, Microsoft has decided to integrate both SkyDrive and Skype into the suite and offer more social functionality to end-users. Signing into your Live / Microsoft Account, you'll be able to store and access documents on the cloud from any supported platform, including Windows Phone.

As well as more optimisation, Office 2013 has also gone 'Metro' with emphasis on simplicity to create an immersive experience. We've installed Office 2013 on our machines and boy does it install promptly. We didn't even have time to make a second cup of tea before it was all set up and ready to go. The suite includes Access, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher and Word.

Be sure to head on over to Microsoft's website to check out the Office 2013 Customer Preview.

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Nokia is back to updating a lot of their core apps one of which we completely forgot about: Pulse.

We last covered Nokia Pulse when it was announced at Nokia World back in fall 2011. It’s Nokia’s social-app and at the time we had little use for it—there were no Lumias on the market and Nokia’s service wasn’t exactly all that feature-rich.

Today, Nokia announced that Pulse Beta (yup, it’s still not ready for official release) is going to version 0.9 within in the next day or two (ours is still at 0.8 in the Marketplace). The good news is there are plenty of new features coming with 0.9 that are making us reconsider using this app:

  • You can now sign-in on Nokia Pulse with your Facebook account
  • You can start a new conversation as soon as you open Nokia Pulse
  • The Nokia Pulse live tile now shows more information about unread messages
  • The overall performance of Nokia Pulse has been improved
  • You can now consolidate multiple email addresses for a person…
  • …and more easily correct a misspelled email address
  • Your friend who aren’t using Nokia Pulse just yet will get a direct link to the mobile client for their specific phone for a mobile Nokia Pulse experience

Nokia Pulse is kind of powerful. It’s basically a messaging app on steroids. For instance it allows you to send mapping information (via Nokia Maps) to a contact for a meet-up, you can create groups for mass messaging, add in notes, reviews, phone numbers all with a few taps.

Back last year, Nokia introducing a messaging service was akin to when Samsung announced ChatOn—it’s kind of cool but there are alternatives out there.  Flash-forward today though and it’s a bit different—Nokia now means something and we’re much more inclined to jump on their ship as opposed to Samsung’s (then again, ChatOn is multi-platform, Pulse currently is not. However, Nokia Pulse is going to Android and iOS presumably after it is feature-complete on Windows Phone).

You can download Nokia’s Pulse here in the Marketplace. Being a beta, it is not yet restricted to Lumia phones. Let’s repeat that: currently ALL Windows Phones users can try this out but our bet is with v1.0 it will land in the Nokia Collection, so grab it and try it now. Also remember, you're looking for version 0.9 as the latest which may show up in 12-48 hours (we're still on the old v0.8).

Take a look at the video demo and announcement after the break along with the QR code...

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BaconSync is a really neat feature coming to the Windows Phone app Baconit . The feature is still in beta form and should be released to the masses shortly.  For those not familiar with Baconit, it is a Reddit.com app for your phone which we have been impressed with and BaconSync looks to make it even more impressive. 

BaconSync is a in-browser extension for Baconit that synchronizes read links across multiple phones and browser. It is currently only compatible with Chrome browsers. The extension not only lets you review what you've read from your Windows Phone on your PC but you can send web pages from your PC to your Windows Phone. In these situations you'll receive a toast notification on your Windows Phone that will send you straight to the web page.

BaconSync is an handy extension that will extend the capabilities of Baconit rather nicely. The BaconSync extension should be ready shortly and in the meantime, if you haven't tried Baconit, you can find the free version here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.  There is also a donation version that you can find here for $1.99 to help support the developers efforts.

                    

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Nokia has unleashed version 2.0 beta of their Transport app for Lumia Windows Phones. We previously looked at leaked improvements detailed over at a Russian Windows Phone forum earlier in the month. The app provides public transport information and guidance when attempting to reach a destination in a supported location (see our early hands-on).

What's new in version 2-point-oh?

  • Find nearby stations, departure times and even types of transit lines available around your location.
  • Improved search:
    • Remember your last search query
    • Change your search without leaving the journey view
  • Improved performance:
    • Faster display of upcoming journeys
    • Faster journey request

You can check out the beta over at Nokia Beta Labs, or download the current version from the Marketplace (Lumia handsets only). Be sure to double check which locations are supported.

Source: Nokia Beta Labs; thanks Simon for the tip!

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If there's one technology Windows Phone users have been yearning for it's Photosynth. The photo-stitching software creates "synths" or 3D images from your camera phone, giving an immersive photo that's hosted on the web. It then allows the viewer to pan around the image, zoom in and out and various other options.

What makes Photosynth (www.photosynth.net) frustrating for Windows Phone though is not only does the service have an iOS app, the company who makes it is owned by none other than Microsoft.

The Windows Phone version was noted to be a "top priority" for the team and we saw some real evidence of it existing back in February but not much since then.

Now, eagle-eyed reader Scott has found not only some test images but a Microsoft Twitter account that does nothing but post Photosynths. (We're not going public with the Twitter handle because we like to track these things and not scare them off) What's more, when one looks at the JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) data for the image we can see "__version_synther": "Windows Phone 1.0.0" listed, strongly indicated that the Windows Phone app is in final testing.

In fact the image above is an actual photo of a Microsoft employee's test computer which lists the steps in required for testing Photosynth. If you look closely, you can also see "(Windows Phone Only)" an "AugmentedReality" listed which is tantalizing to think about.  (And if anything, that's just kind of interesting to see how this stuff is done).

Should we expect a full-on Photosynth app for Windows Phone soon? We think so and it'd make sense that the app is due hopefully in the next few weeks as it coincides with Microsoft's big "official app" push which seems to be going on.

Fingers crossed people, fingers crossed. A big thanks to Scott for all of his detective work on this story!

 

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Two weeks ago we mentioned how Pandora altered their APIs resulting in all the unofficial Pandora apps for Windows Phone not working. At the time we mentioned that devs should be able to fix the issue with an update to their apps.

Although it's taking a little longer than expected, we're streaming Pandora just fine on Radio Controlled (beta) and we expect the same for the other apps eventually too. The developer of Radio Controlled, Greg Wenograd, let us know about this latest fix:

"This one was a difficult and involved update.  I have a feeling this update will be less impacted by Pandora changes.  If they change anything it will be sooner rather than later and I should be able to get any kinks worked out....If all goes well I will be submitting the final version tomorrow"

So stand by Pandora users as your fix should be coming soon. You can grab Radio Controlled here in the Marketplace and wait for the new, working update to appear in the next few days.

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WPCentral's unofficial review of an LG Fantasy prototype phone with NFC. The phone that never was.

Although LG has announced its plans to not produce any more Windows Phones and then changed their tune a bit, we've managed to get our hands on one of their prototypes that may never see an official launch.

For months now there have been rumors of a new device from LG called the E740 'Fantasy' (and a presumably canceled CDMA variant for Sprint). The phone looks to have been prototyping in late 2011 with development abandoned in early 2012 when LG decided to focus on Android and take a hiatus from Microsoft.

The E740 looked to be another low to mid-range offering from the Korean company and we'll be honest, we're not that upset that it might not be released.

While it may make an 'ok' low-end Windows Phone, companies like Nokia and their Lumia 610 simply blow it out of the water in terms of quality. Still, like the Lumia 610NFC coming in the third quarter, the LG E740 has an interesting trick up its sleeve: fully functional Near-Field Communication (NFC) hardware.

We decided to document what we can from this device for posterity. Read past the break for our exclusive video hands-on and photos of the device.

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Nokia today just rolled out their Play To app for Windows Phone which enables the user to share photos and video via DLNA to your large screen TV or other DLNA-enabled devices. The addition of a DLNA app was speculated back in December as coming to Nokia.

Play To has been available for Nokia Symbian devices since early 2011, so it's finally great to be able to extend that feature to their Lumia Windows Phone line up. This software, similar to what LG, HTC and Samsung have offered for their devices brings Nokia Windows Phone closer to their competition in terms of feature support and should be a welcomed addition.

The software is beta at this point, which simply means you need to head to the Nokia Labs page, sign up and they'll give you the Marketplace link to download the app. Much like Nokia Drive, we expect to be testing for a few weeks before it is finally released for all Nokia devices to download.

If you're already signed up for Nokia Labs, you can try the Marketplace link here to see if it works. Otherwise, head to their site (http://betalabs.nokia.com) to enroll (it's very simple and only takes a minute). Thanks, chriskringel, for the tip!

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It's been awhile since we've seen WeatherLive get some major new functions, so it's with great joy to see version 4.0 beta making the rounds.

While the poplar weather app has grown in functionality, it has also become a little sluggish too. In addition, some people missed the simplicity of the the versions 1 and 2 of the app over the more busy 3.x. Luckily, the developer has been listening and 4.0 looks to make everyone happy. Here are the major changes:

  • Faster - the app's transitions and loading times are much zippier and more fluid
  • Theme support - With three themes, including Metro Minimalist, Metro and the new Glass, users can choose how they want the app to look
  • Animated radar - the radar map is now animated with 'pinch and zoom' built right in
  • Graphic tweaks - improved and cleaner UI

We really like where 4.0 is heading with the themes support as it will seemingly make everyone happy who has used this app in the past. The performance increase is also welcomed as the app was getting a big bogged down with the latest updates.

Look towards version 4.0 hitting the Marketplace in a few weeks. In the meantime, take v3.5 for a trial in the Marketplace or buy it for $1.49.

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Ronny Gydar and Gydar Industries, the developer behind the fantastic Windows Phone Game Trine's Hangman, is working on a new Windows Phone project. Nope, the new app isn't another word puzzle game but a contacts search engine for your Windows Phone.  What started out as a project to help his mom with her Windows Phone has become People Search (Finn Folk for those in Norway).

People Search is designed to make the process of searching for contacts and contacting them with your Windows Phone a little easier.  People Search indexes all your contacts by user selected fields (name, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.) and as you dial the number, name, email, etc. a list of contacts is generated above the dial pad.  People Search reminds me of the old Windows Mobile type that would pull up a list of contacts as you began to dial out the number.

As you see the contacts and tap on the contact of choice, you will see options to call, text, email, and other options depending on how much information you have on that particular contact.  People Search looks like it could be a useful app but Gydar Industries needs your help to iron out all the kinks.

Gydar is looking for Beta testers for People Search and if you're interested, head over to Gydar's website and use this contact page. You'll need to provide them with your Live ID and the Beta is limited to 100 participants.

Got questions? There's a discussion going on over here in the WPCentral Forums about the Beta and the head honcho himself, Ronny Gydar, checks in on things regularly.  People Search looks interesting and we'll keep you posted on its progress.

Update: Well that didn't take long.  We just received word that Gydar Industries just received their 100th request.  Unfortunately that closes the Beta to new users but you can always chime in over in the Forums and follow the Beta progress.

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The long-awaited Skype app, which was unveiled at this year's MWC as beta, has an issue that will affect any user that wishes to run it in the background hoping that incoming calls would alert for user input. The Verge took a dive into the beta app only to find out that should the app not be active on a Windows Phone, any incoming calls are diverted to a voicemail service.

Skype has informed The Verge that this is a limitation due to the OS itself with how notifications are too slow, stating that it takes too long to process information, open the app, and set up the call to make it practical. Unfortunately it would appear as though the team doesn't have native access and we don't expect this to be something that'll be fixed by the gold build release.

Of course we're all still awaiting integration with the OS itself, which would render the app somewhat redundant. Hopefully native access will be provided for said integration that would allow the team to have the service run in the background. Skype integrated into Windows Phone will add to the selling points for the platform thus Microsoft will need to have an efficient solution for those who use the service.

Another kink in the system is video calling, which is only in landscape mode. What's more strange is should you swipe to the text conversation mid-call the app will then switch the portrait. This is actually something Skype made the decision on and is looking to fix.

Source: The Verge

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We've heard rumors about a Windows Phone Skype app and now a Beta version of the Skype App has hit the Windows Phone Marketplace. The app will allow you to:

  • Make and receive voice/video calls and instant messages to anyone else using Skype, whether on a Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, Android phone, Mac, PC or television.
  • Use your Skype account for free at home, at work, or on-the-go (WiFi connection or mobile data plan required).

There is a disclaimer pointing out that this is a pre-release product and you may come across occasional bugs and issues. You can find the Skype Windows Phone here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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For those of you who go back to the Windows Mobile days, you'll remember an instant messaging service called Palringo (www.palringo.com). The program was its own IM service, which allowed things like voice-clips to be instantly sent along with photos and files. In addition, it was also a multi-client meaning it could support and connect (by proxy) to other IM services such as AIM, Google Talk, Facebook Chat, ICQ and more. Finally, it had support for custom Groups which were basically permanent chat rooms that one could create and invite people to, in addition to supporting iOS, Android, Symbian and Mac/PC desktops.

We reported a few months ago that Palringo was finally going to support Windows Phone, heck we even showed some early screenshots. Now, v0.5 Beta is live in the Marketplace free to use for all. Of course that beta tag means it is still in development, so all won't be perfect, but we've been using it for the last day and half with little to no issues.

The app itself is fairly well designed and what it lacks in beauty it makes up for it in functionality. We hadn't logged into our Palringo account in nearly two years yet when we did, we were instantly reconnected to our old services and up and running within a few minutes (creating accounts on the device seems to be problematic for some, so perhaps use the web first, then login). Messages were sent and received instantly, the Live Tile is double sided showing the numerical notification on one side and the message on the back.

Voice clips, arguably one of the best features, were easily recorded and sent instantly. Likewise, the second device received them nearly instantly too--impressive for a 3G connection.

Overall, even for a beta we like where Palringo is heading with this app. We imagine the final version will cost a few dollars, but so long as they keep it below $4.99 (what IM+ Pro charges) we don't see a problem. For those looking for a multi-client IM app and even sending voice clips, we have to recommend you give this a go.

Pick up Palringo beta here in the Marketplace.

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Windows Phone Dashboard Beta [Developers]

As a developer I value feedback very highly. Every morning I habitually check for new reviews on my apps to see if there are any suggestions or complaints. I have a big whiteboard with a list of to-do's for each of my apps, and I add their feedback onto that. If you have anything in the Windows Phone Marketplace, I suggest you do the same, or find something similar that works for you - because there is no better way to not make money than to ignore the very people that should be paying you.

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Update: Closed Wow! what a response, I've already had over 200 applicants for the beta so in the interest of not disappointing too many people I'm closing applications. Please check out the video below for a demonstration of the app!

Merry Christmas everyone! It gives me great pleasure to announce to you that v2.0 of our app will be in beta in time for Christmas day, and I'm looking for 100 volunteers to try it out.

This build is not feature complete, in fact there are a couple of things in the works which we're not quite ready to show just yet. However the main purpose of this beta is to test two of the most important changes we're bringing:

  • A full comments system with replies (tap and hold an existing comment)
  • New, customisable live tile with images on the rear

Yes we were listening and we know comments is the most requested feature, and thanks to some site changes last month we're now finally able to deliver that feature.

Of course that's not all that's changed, and the other things you'll notice are...

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BBC News Mobile is looking for beta testers

If you use BBC News Mobile, the free and beautiful news app that's in the Marketplace, you may want to take the new beta for a spin. Besides being able to try all the new features, you can also give the dev some feedback before submission to the Marketplace, making this app even better for others.

Version 2.8.2 beta has a main focus for improvements: speed. Sure, the app is already pretty zippy, but why not squeeze some more performance out of it by streamlining some aspects, eh? Some other features include:

  • Background Cache Service
  • Better Live Tiles
  • Faster Loading
  • Reworked GUI
  • Picture quality improvement

Heck, there's even a snooze function for notifications (between 10pm and 8am) that we really dig too. Overall, the app is certainly faster on our end and we like the new UI layout for articles. But you can lend your opinion if you have a dev unlocked devices by heading to Gripper's blog and grabbing the XAP file from his server. And if you just want the current version in the Marketplace, here ya go.

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CloudMusic is looking for Beta Testers

Celltrac Software is working on the Windows Phone App CloudMusic, a SkyDrive music app, and is looking for a few beta testers. The application taps into your SkyDrive account and allows you to play any music files that you have stored in the cloud.

We've gotten a sneak peak at CloudMusic and the app is laid out in simple fashion with pages for your SkyDrive music collection, what is now playing, recently played songs, and new songs. The app does require you to organize your music in a specific manner in order for CloudMusic to find the tunes.

Just tinkering with the Beta, it does have room for improvement but a nice step in the right direction. Songs took a while to load and you've got to get the music file organization just right. If you're interested in being a beta tester for CloudMusic just email your Windows Live ID to support@celltracsoftware.com.

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Freda ebook reader in search of beta testers

The new version of Freda, a free ebook reader, is almost nearing completion and the developers require some assistance with testing the app out. The update will include a number of new features:

  • Freda's front screen now shows a 'live tile' display of book sources
  • You can pin books to the phone's start screen
  • The display of book text is much faster and smoother (it now uses XNA graphics)

Should you be interested in signing your name up as a beta tester, email beta@turnipsoft.co.uk with your details (including Windows Live ID). For now, you can download Freda from the Marketplace.

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