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You might have just picked up a great new Windows 8 machine for the holidays, or perhaps you’ve been using one for a while now; either way – we have compiled the largest list of the best Windows 8 applications in the Windows Store, just for your pleasure.

We have taken every single category in the Windows Store and decided to pick the top three applications for each. This is part one of the list and will cover Social, Entertainment, Photo, Music & Video, Sports, Books & Reference, News & Weather, Health & Fitness, and Food & Dining applications. We hope you enjoy part one of the list, and if there is something that you love, be sure to share it in the comments and let other readers experience it for themselves!

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We'll be honest, we get a lot of email here at Windows Phone Central. And we love it. We seriously try to read every singe one.

One area though that has been tough for us to triage is the Windows Phone "Tango" update aka build 8773 (or 8779) which features some minor fixes and enhancements for some phones, or big changes for others (like the Nokia Lumia range).

Every day we're tipped on such and such carrier now delivering an update and to be honest, it's overwhelming. To the point that we'll need to start an Excel sheet to just keep track of it all. Seriously. And we hate using Excel.

Anyway, we figured we would just post a list of the "tips" we've had on what carriers and phones have been getting Tango in the last few days. We don't doubt we've probably even covered some of these before, regardless we don't want to ignore your news either. So head past the break to see what we have from the last 5 days! 

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Windows Phone 8773 still has a few hidden things in it

While users around the world are slowly getting the Windows Phone Tango 8773 update, a few under-the-hood changes are being noticed by users. We forced manually installed the update onto our Focus 2, Titan II and Lumia 900 with the Focus 2 (review) being our main device these days. As a result, we have had some experience running Tango and noticed a few little nuggets which we'll share below.

  • New wallpapers – We first noticed this on our Tango-fied Lumia 610 but Microsoft is now including those new “nature” themed wallpapers in the Tango ROM
  • Faster numeric PIN response – At least on our 8112 devices (Titan II, Focus 2, Lumia 900), when we would attempt to unlock our PIN on our phone it would sometimes be very slow and not register, requiring you to re-enter the number. While minor, it was annoying. That was fixed by updating all our devices.
  • Send ringtone via MMS – We can now attach and send ringtones to others via MMS. You can only send custom ringtones though and nothing that is “in ROM”. This in addition to the new "send voice note" and attach multiple images in an MMS that's found in Tango too.
  • Letter indexing – On Windows Phone 7.x after a user installs 45 apps, the app list will automatically index, giving you the “letter picker” to jump to find your favorite app. The problem, albeit minor, was if you went below 45, the “letter picker” would not disappear. It was odd behavior and nothing we ever experienced but Tango evidently fixes this. [Forum]
  • More reliable notifications – Many users are reporting better notifications, both Tile and Toast, with the Tango update. To be honest, we feel this has more to do with “flushing the system” than any actual optimizations, though perhaps there are a few.

Users can now share custom ringtones over MMS

Another anecdotal fix may be related to "the Internet Sharing bug" which sometimes causes normal WiFi to stop working, then forces users onto cell data unknowingly. This only occurs if you've enabled internet sharing at some point on the device. We've seen this on our Lumia 900 and so far it seems better to us under Tango, though we're still evaluating. 

Things not available that were thought to be:

  • Static IP for WiFi- We haven’t seen this but you can reportedly enable it via a registry hack. Bad news is you need a rooted phone to do that. Some Nokia users supposedly have this though we assume it’s tied to the firmware [Forum]
  • Location icon – This actually not a part of Tango (8773) despite previous reports, but is part of 8779+, so don’t look for it or expect it
  • Export contacts to SIM – Not available though you can enable it via a registry hack, assuming you have a routed device [Forum]

Did we miss anything—specifically any new features or options? We get a lot of “this is now faster” reports but those are near impossible to verify, so we’re only looking for actual new additions to Tango 8773. If you have some, let us know in comments.

New nature-themed wallpapers are now included in "Tango"

Finally, we have not seen a Tango update for any of our AT&T phones, including the Focus S, despite some isolated and unverified reports. Sorry, folks. Thanks, rockstarzzz, for the forum links

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With the announcement of a new Microsoft Store being built for Boston, lots of our readers anxiously await to see if Redmond will be coming to their areas soon. While Microsoft does not pre-announce these stores too far in advance, one way you can easily figure out is by simply looking up where they are hiring.

Yup, on the Microsoft Store Careers site they have many positions open and looking to be filled. What's more, these jobs are in cities not yet announced (but you can bet they will be soon). So, are you lucky?

We are. A store is opening in Huntington Station, NY, most likely at the Walt Whitman Mall. What else is at that shopping center? Why one the busiest Apple stores in New York (besides the Manhattan store). It certainly appears that Microsoft is gunning for Cupertino on their own turf and we'll be there to cover it.

Without further ado, the unofficial Microsoft Store list as compiled by reader Travis:

  • White Plains, NY
  • Huntington Station, NY
  • Newark, DE
  • Overland Park, KS
  • Salem, NH
  • Orlando, FL
  • Arlington, VA
  • Bridgewater, NJ (Bridgewater Commons)
  • Freehold, NJ (Raceway Mall)
  • Danbury, CT (Danbury Fair Mall)

Great to see the East coast finally getting some stores. Celebrate in comments. Thanks, Travis B., for the list; Image via the Denver Post

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Back in November, Windows Phone team blogger Michael Stroh teased users with some cheat sheets to many of the emoticons or emoji (Japanese) built right into the Windows Phone platform. He didn't share them all, though. Not content with waiting around for more blog posts, we decided to dig through the operating system, not stopping until we found the rare and beautiful emoji. And found them we did.
 

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Windows Phone emoticons cheat sheet: Part II

Last week the Windows Phone Blog made a nice little cheat sheet for those emoticons in Text messaging--you know, when you type a ':-)' and it turns automatically into a smiley. From that post we learned from Microsoft's Michael Stroh that while comprehensive, that list was still only partial of all the ones our phones could recognize (and you added some of your own in comments).

Now, Michael is back with a second list of more obscure emoji and boy are they unique. We've barely memorized more than a handful from last week and now we need to find room for "cat", "gift" and "the moon". Kudos to anyone who can do these on the fly and we'll still put out a soft-call for an app to store all of these for quick access, should anyone want to take the challenge.

Source: Windows Phone Blog

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Developer Rene Schulte, who makes the popular Pictures Lab app, has gone ahead and posted a video of the difference in scrolling behavior between NoDo and Mango.

In Mango, one of the new improvements is faster scrolling due to better on-device caching of images and information--basically the device stores that info instead of re-downloading it. What that means in reality is that when you zip through a list of items, you won't get that pause or stickiness wthat we get now.

But how to quantify it? Why, watch two devices at the same time of course. To be honest, though we love all the new features of Mango, this improvement will really make a difference in everyday life.

Soruce: Kodierer; Thanks, Rene

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First we saw the big MIX11 stuff for developers, promising new tools, experiences, options and APIs for them. Now it's our turn, the consumers. This is more a refresh/warm up to tomorrow's big 'VIP Preview' of Windows Phone 7.5 (we'll be there). There we're expecting to see all below confirmed (and demoed) as well as even more features that we haven't learned about yet.

The list is long and growing and though Microsoft has been criticized for its updates in the past, this looks to be much more than what Apple or Google include in there single big updates. In fact, Ballmer said there would be more than 500 new features in Mango, which undoubtedly contains all the APIs too. So take a gander and hunker down as the next six-months will be a long wait for this Mango goodness.

Anyways, hit the break for the big list.

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Who would have thought that even on Windows Phone 7, people would be eager to "tweak the registry", an expression all to familiar with Windows Mobile users?

Yes, that's right folks, over at XDA a list of entries are being identified, collected and accumulated for all sorts of little things, even though to us, WP7 feels pretty good without much need for "tweaking". Of course there are caveats--not all Windows Phones can do this yet as they don't have write to registry access and it's not nearly as simple as days past where you just launched a reg-editor. No, this involves having an unlocked device, create a provxml and provision the device--yeah, so early stages.  Here's a list of things so far that have been identified:

  • Increase max number of unsigned apps
  • Enable Wifi 11n
  • Caller ID issue fix (?)
  • Unlock Hidden option in ease of access settings.
  • Set AutoData
  • Prevent Re lock for ChevronWP7 unlocked device
  • Disable System Logs For best performance (useful on HD2)
  • Glyph cache entry (Famous on WM6)
  • Notification & sound volume

Sounds interesting and sounds too difficult for most right now, so we'll leave this to MS. Still, it's interesting to see no matter how good an OS is, people want more.

Source: XDA

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