first look

During Nokia World last week, one of the big software announcements was for Instagram on Windows Phone. The process in getting the app officially on Microsoft’s platform has taken months (if not longer), resulting in copious amounts of frustration from users and ammo for critics.

Nokia today thanked users on Twitter for their effort in convincing Instagram to allow their app on the platform.

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Considered by many to be the Windows Phone 8 device to get, the Lumia 920 has unfortunately been locked to a single network here in the UK. That’s all about to end and to celebrate the guys at Three UK have released their first video to introduce the device to their customers.

Since the launch of Windows Phone 8, Three has been carrying only the HTC 8X. To expand that range Three is going to add not only the 920 but the eagerly awaited Lumia 620 too. 

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Nokia Lumia 820: First Impressions

Windows Phone 8 continues to provide us with new devices. While much attention has been given over to the Lumia 920, the 820 has some compelling features and specs that should appeal to many. Sharing some key specifications with the higher end Windows Phone 8 devices along with options for wireless charging and expandable storage it’s certainly worth a look.

I have been using one for a few hours and so would quickly like to share my thoughts on it before it gets a full review. Read on to see and hear more..

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This morning Nokia and EA Games teamed up and finally released the long awaited ‘Mirrors Edge exclusively for Lumia Windows Phones. Coming in at 131 MB, the port is so far behaving nicely.

While the game is somewhat old (it came out years ago on iOS after being on consoles previously) it was quite the hit at the time and for good reason--featuring an interesting backstory, excellent graphics and relatively simple gameplay the traditional horizontal runner became a quick game for many people.

And that title is now available on Lumia Windows Phones via the Nokia Collection. What’s more, this is an exclusive Xbox LIVE offering meaning you get the whole package including achievements. The game itself ported nicely with smooth graphics, great sound and features un-lockable wallpapers which you can download for later use.

Fetching for $2.99 the game is well done and should provide Lumia owners’ hours of frustrating jumping. What’s more, Nokia and EA have many more games in the pipeline meaning Lumia owners will soon have a nice advantage over their non-Lumia counterparts. You can see that list here. Fear not though as these games will go to all Windows Phones once their “exclusive” restriction runs out--when that will happen, we're not sure (we're working on finding out).

Pick up Mirrors Edge here in the Nokia Collection for $2.99.

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Back in October, we were happy to present to you an exclusive look at Shoot1UP from Mommy's Best Games but since then we haven't heard much on the title. The shoot 'em-up/bullet hell game brings some unique controls and exciting arcade gameplay to our trusty phones. Plus it comes with three free ringtones. Holla.

The game is here at E3, which is a bit of a pleasant surprise. What does that tell us? That this game is finally getting ready for its debut and we're stoked. The game should not be as hard as DoDonPachi which should be relief for many of you but it will still be challenging.

Shoot1Up features dense, detailed graphics with smooth gameplay. There's a lot going on here both in terms of moves, skills and goals so it should keep many of us busy. Read our detailed write up about the style and features of this game for more info.

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We showed you some of the early screenshots from the EA/Hasbro game Battleship and now the game is set for releases in the next day for all. 

Here at E3 which just started within the last hour, we managed to track down a working version already loaded on a phone. Our impression? We like it. It's actually quite fun and we can see how this game will be quite addictive to play--it's simple, has neat little cut screens and the game is familiar to all.

But you're wondering about multiplayer, right? From what we saw, it has two modes: pass-n-play and Xbox LIVE. Unfortunately with the latter we were unable to try it due to the phone having no connectivity (and not being signed in). But it at least looks like you can challenge and play your Xbox LIVE friends giving a real turn-by-turn gaming experience. 

Look for Battleship for Xbox LIVE to hit the Windows Phone Marketplace in the next 24 hours. We think you're going to like it.

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One of the surprise announcements today by AT&T was the inclusion of the glossy white version of the Nokia Lumia 900, due for release on April 22nd, just a few weeks after its Black and Cyan cousins. Back at Mobile World Congress, Nokia told us they had offered AT&T the white option as well, but at the time they had not taken it. However, it looks like AT&T changed their mind, possibly due to positive word of mouth and are now set to offer that color variant as well.

Anyways what you see above is the first image of the all-white AT&T version, which of course looks identical to the unlocked version except for that logo and AT&T software. We haven't seen this image floated around yet, so it's new to us. 

Personally, we're torn between the Cyan and White version as both offer something different from the tried and tired "black slab" (yes, true #firstworldproblems here). For what it's worth, nearly 500 of you or 11.5% are waiting for the all-white version.

Oh and speaking of color variants, take this with a pinch of salt, but in our comments, WPCentral member mamacita42 had this to say:

"I was told by my local AT&T rep that the magenta/pink Lumia 900 was coming for Mothers day."

Certainly plausible, but we're not ready to believe just yet. But we wouldn't be shocked either. Thanks, anon, for the image

Check our hands on with the White Lumia 900 from Barcelona after the break...

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First look: WhatsApp for Windows Phone [Video]

This morning there was a bit of a false alarm as a private beta link for WhatsApp made its way around the 'nets. The app is clearly close to being released and for all intents and purposes, is done.

Someone managed to rip the XAP from the private Marketplace (you can rip free apps using a number of Windows programs) and we went ahead and sideloaded it to see what all the fuss was about. So quick take:

  • For Mango only (fully integrates with your Contacts DB)
  • Very fast, smooth UI with fast app resume
  • Push Notifications
  • Minimalist almost sparse UI
  • Very few features or bells and whistles
  • You can message, share location and send images
  • No landscape support (at least in this version, perhaps this will change upon final release)
  • Green checks seem to indicate sent/received status--not as rich as Kik's system though

The app in our opinion is exactly like Kik Messenger but a little more boring. It feels like they rushed it through a bit, which would not be surprising. However, it is fast and smooth, meaning a lot of folks will like its "to the point" design. We just hope it gets landscape support on release as that'd be pretty nasty for messaging on our Focus. Check out the video to see it in action.

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WPCentral First Look: IM+ [Video]

Today it was announced that IM+ by ShapeServices has been submitted to the Marketplace. Assuming all is well, that means you folks should have it in your hands sometime this weekend or early next week.

But hey, why wait that long? Instead, take a gander at our video tour of the new, near universal instant messaging app that supports AIM, Facebook, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, MySpace, Skype and Yahoo! The one omission is MSN, which is evidently due to a Microsoft mandate (more on that later). No biggy though, as we'll have full integration with MSN and the OS in Mango this fall.

So how's the app? Well, we couldn't get the push notifications/live tile to work, but we think that's just a temporary server issue. Point is, those features are there and should work by launch. The app design is very minimalist, which is great--it almost feels sparse, but then you remember all that it can do. Load times were decent--once again, it's a v1.0 app, so we expect performance improvements in later releases.

Overall, pretty solid start and we like what we see. Should be interesting to see how it all works out upon release.

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Do you like racing? Do you like racing through endless tunnels while rotating around at high speeds, losing all sense of up or down, while inducing nausea?

Then "Descent" by RH Computing is for you.

Just released to the Marketplace and fetching for $0.99 (+ trial), the game is a load of fun and will test your skills as you try to dodge obstacles, gain energy orbs and ramp up your speed. Make no mistake, not only is it a blast but it will take time to get good at it. Plus the graphics are nice and smooth as you can see from the video above. Hey, for a buck, we can think of worse things to spend your money one, so maybe give this a shot.

Grab the demo here in the Marketplace. Hit us up in comments for your thoughts on the game.

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The Fast & Furious Adrenaline game for Xbox Live has been released today, bringing some more racing excitement to the mix. For $4.99 the game can be yours or you can do the try-before-you-buy thing, which we highly recommend.

We played with the game for a few minutes and while it's not bad, it's not great either. Handling is very sensitive and the graphics are OK. Need for Speed (see review and video) appears to be much more polished. But hey, if you like these games, it is certainly worth the demo download.

Watch the video for a sneak peak and grab the game here (launches Zune desktop).

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This is one of those weird games that when you see it, you think "looks silly, no interest". Trust me, I know the feeling. All I can say is Birdy Bounce ($0.99) is really addictive and a lot of fun, even though your brain won't understand why. It's just simple, has great graphics and a great drop noise. To keep from getting repetitive the studio (Mod Monkeys) states:

The levels of Birdy Bounce are generated by an intelligent level randomization algorithm which provides a new experience every time you start playing while avoiding impossible situations to keep the fun for a long time.

Version 1.5 was released today and it included better pause support, scoreboard, and some general fixes. It currently has a 4.5 out of 5 ranking and I implore you to try it as it's the perfect 60 second game killer.

(BTW, my high score is 16,469, which I'm guessing many of you could crush)

Get it here (opens Zune Desktop).

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While the official Twitter and Seesmic apps get all the press, this little program has snuck by a lot of people. It's free, just like the others, but offers some unique features like counters and very smooth scrolling.

The app is quite fast with an intuitive layout, making it one of our favorite Twitter apps out there.

Next week, the developer is planning to release a new version featuring a Live Tile for your start screen, as teased below.

Grab Beezz from the Marketplace here.

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Last night in the Marketplace, a new app launched called Browser+ for $0.99. The app runs a modified shell over Mobile Internet Explorer adding new functionality to the browser not yet seen in the native app. That's a pretty significant addition as up to this point, it was unclear if this could be done in WP7.

Browser+ adds tabbed browsing like your desktop, in addition to an incognito mode for hiding web history and also quick access to the search bar (though with a dedicated search button, this seems less necessary). Overall the tabbed browser works just great--it's simple and intuitive as well as the incognito mode. Only downside is no landscape support, which is a serious drawback for some and hopefully something the developer may add in the future.

There is no try-before-you-buy here, so you have to drop $0.99 on it try give it a spin, but at that price, we think it's worth it.

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First Look: Wallpapers HD for Windows Phone 7

If you're like me, you enjoy a change of scenery every once in awhile on your mobile. And on Windows Phone 7, that is limited at this point to altering the lock-screen photo. While using your pics is certainly a fun twist, having access to a resource bin of images is even better.

Wallpapers HD is a nice freeware app in the Marketplace that just does that. While the interface is a little odd at time (no swiping), the daily updates and wide ranging categories make it quite useful and fun to have your on your device. In addition, the ability to download pre-cropped images or the full version for your own editing makes it a winner.  Check out the video hands on to get an idea of what to expect!

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We mentioned Neurons awhile back. It's a video streaming app dedicated to science and features TED Talks, Fora.TV, Science Dump and The RSA. Designed by Justin Angel, it's quite useful and nicely laid out.

It's free, available now and quite impressive. Unlike the TED app which I covered last week (see here), this will work over 3G, making it much more practical. It's open source, meaning anyone can improve upon it if they wish and integrates with the Music & Video hub nicely (i.e. previously watched material shows up).

The program is solid and has some nice pizazz to it. Highly recommended for those interested in all areas of science.

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For those of you watch TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, you'll be pleased to see the official application is now available in the Windows Phone Marketplace.  It is of course free, in keeping with the spirit of TED, which focuses on cutting edge science and technology.

Overall he app is what you would expect it to be , which is quite solid. It does occasionally time out, depending on your connection, but for a 1.0, it's pretty darn good. We're just glad to see it so soon.

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Though it's not official Google software, a 3rd party company has stepped forth to make a sweet Google Voice app for Windows Phone 7, priced at $2.99.

As far as we can tell, this app allows you access to everything: free SMS, voice calls, voicemail, etc.

As a Google Voice user ourselves, we're quite excited about this app being readily available in the coming weeks.

More shots after the jump!

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Samsung Omnia - Hardware Hands-On

Samsung Omnia: HERE. Sure, sure, we've mocked the 'me-too' nature of the form factor, the somewhat strange 240x400 screen resolution, and the fact that we don't actually know when it's going to hit AT&T (we're still holding out hope for September). Here's what we haven't put enough emphasis on: the sucker is armed to the teeth with features:

  • 3G, WiFi, FM Radio, GPS
  • 5 Megapixel camera with Flash
  • 16gig of onboard storage
  • Accelerometer
  • Speedy 624 MHz processor
  • Respectable 1440 mAH battery
  • DIVX video supprt
  • Yes, that higher screen resolution
  • Opera 9.5 on-board
  • Surprising good software enhancements

We'll get to those 'surprisingly good software enhancements' in our next piece. For now, just know that our mantra of “don't throw features at a phone and assume it will be good” still holds and it looks like the Omnia has a decent chance of passing that test.

So check out the video above, check out the photo gallery after the break for more images and head-to-head comparisons with other Windows Mobile devices, and check back again very soon for a more in-depth look at the Omnia.

Samsung Omnia

Omnia and Sprint Touch

Omnia and HTC Diamond

Omnia and AT&T Tilt

Omnia and Samsung BlackJack II

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