pulled

Changes continue to impact the Windows Phone Youtube app at a fast pace. First came the official Youtube app recieved a major overhaul, then Google complained that the app violated YouTube's API and Terms of Service, then Microsoft updated the app to comply with some of Google's requests.

The latest chapter in this saga has the Youtube app being pulled from the Windows Phone Store and news of a collaboration between Microsoft and Google for a solution.

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The popular Windows Phone RSS reader Feed Me has vanished from the Windows Phone Store. Nothing nefarious or sinister in the works, just likely removed for damage control.

It is our understanding from the developer that the last update caused a few unforeseen problems and it was likely pulled to avoid further issues. An updated version has been submitted to the Windows Phone Store for certification and should be published shortly.

If you are currently using Feed Me without issues, be careful to not delete the app for it may take a few days before it becomes available again.

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Ever since Microsoft has been a bit more candid about some of the problems with the 7.8 update, specifically Tiles that either don’t update or suck down too much data, there have been reports of Microsoft halting the update in some countries. Germany has been pretty much confirmed at this point as throwing the brakes and now Russia is evidently joining the crowd.

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We've received reports from readers that iHeartRadio has ceased to work correctly on Windows Phone 8. The popular radio app is a superb solution for those who enjoy tuning into an array of stations while on the go. It has in fact been delisted for Windows Phone 8 hardware, but is still available for those who are running Windows Phone 7.

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It was just a few nights ago that Notifications, a third party app from Windows Phone Hacker, was cleared for the Store. The app filled an important gap on the OS, allowing a centralized area for app notifications and although it seemingly had mixed reviews, it was still an impressive first step.

Now we’re getting word that the app has been removed from the Store, meaning if you had paid for it you no longer have access to it...

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We're used to witnessing apps being pulled from the Windows Phone Store with little reason provided or announcement published prior to such actions taking place. Now PayPal has joined the list with its recently updated solution now MIA. We've confirmed issues regarding crashes, but now one can add to the list the inability to download the app on Windows Phone hardware.

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We don't enjoy relaying news such as this, but it appears as though Volt Link, an app enabling Windows Phone owners who are OnStar subscribers (www.onstar.com) to access actions and functionality using the handset, will no longer be supported or available on Windows Phone.

The developer has revealed to a Windows Phone Central reader that a cease and desist letter was sent by GM/OnStar, requesting the immediate withdrawal of the app from the Store.

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Now you see it, now you may not.

Viber has been pulled from the Marketplace, according to multiple sources which include reports from Windows Phone Central readers. The app, which is currently a Nokia exclusive, was released over the weekend but is no longer available to a number of consumers. We're still able to access the listing and download the Nokia exclusive Viber from the UK. So, has it vanished? If so, why?

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Many Windows Phone owners noticed this morning they could no longer see WhatsApp, the popular messaging service, in the Marketplace. WhatsApp was bumped to version 2.0 back in May earlier this year and we can't think of a reason why it would vanish from view without prior warning - though we've almost grown used to this occurring with many other apps disappearing.

We've reached out to the WhatsApp team and will update this article accordingly. Of course, in the meantime there are plenty of alternative apps on the Marketplace, Kik being a popular alternative. Should you already have the app installed, fear not as the service works as one would expect. As for those who don't and wish to download it, we'll hopefully have more information for you soon.

Update: The app has not been completely pulled from the Marketplace as the hard link still links to it. Instead, the app has been marked as 'private' probably on error by someone--that mode is for when it is in closed-beta testing. WhatsApp could be re-working the app and may have another version going live soon (this is what happened with the CNN app the other day). We'll keep you posted. In the meantime, you can still see the app from this link though downloading is not allowed due to the 'private' status.

Update 2: WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton responded to the fan site WhatsAppen.com noting that their team hopes to submit a new version to the Marketplace soon. No other details were given but this sounds like an execution error rather than something more deleterious.

We're starting to suspect that WhatsApp will begin charging for the app (it's $0.99 on other platforms) and this is the changeover period. 

Thanks to everyone who tipped us!

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This week we got a surprise double release on Xbox Live, with not only Contract Killer but also Lode Runner Classic launching simultaneously. Still, the overall number o Xbox Live games only increased by one. Why? MiniSquadron from Supermono and Fat Pebble Games was pulled from the Marketplace.

MiniSquadron looked like a very promising Xbox Live title – we were super excited about it prior to its release last year. Once the game finally came out, things looked a bit different. It suffered from numerous bugs, including a weapon that consistently crashed the game and a broken Achievement worth a whopping 50 GamerScore. The virtual d-pad and buttons were also tiny and awkwardly positioned. We still gave it a positive review overall, but with the assumption that original developer Supermono would do the right thing and commission an update from Fat Pebble, the porting team.

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Monster Island’s Xbox Live launch on Wednesday was odd for a couple of reasons. First, only people located in the US could buy it, even though past Miniclip games launched worldwide. Second, one of Monster Island’s Achievements, ‘Big Spender,’ is tied directly to purchasing $3 worth of PDLC. That raised my eyebrows pretty much off my head, and I know I’m not alone.

Only a couple of days after its US-only release, Monster Island no longer shows up while browsing or searching the Marketplace. For all intents and purposes it has been pulled, though you can still grab it from the link in our previous article. Why was it pulled? No official word on that yet, but we do know that Microsoft is actively investigating the Achievement issue, thanks in part to yours truly. The Big Spender Achievement breaking well-known Xbox Live rules and the seemingly erroneous US-only launch are the most likely reasons for the game’s removal.

How did Monster Island end up with an Achievement tied solely to purchasing in-game content? In all likelihood, no one noticed the problem during the certification process. Big Spender’s description, ‘Buy 3 coin packs’ could sound like a normal in-game action to someone who hasn’t played the game or studied it very closely. Of course, part of the certification process should involve testers actually unlocking the Achievements to make sure that they work, at which point the problem would have been spotted. Still, sometimes things slip through, such as Broken Achievements or other bugs.

The important thing here is that Microsoft seemingly realized something was wrong this week and acted quickly to keep it in check by pulling Monster Island. If the practice of literally paying for Achievements was allowed to continue, then Achievements would lose their emotional value. After all, many gamers like me prefer to play Xbox Live games so that we can earn Achievements and share our accomplishments with others. Doubling the cost of a game for 10 GamerScore is not an Achievement.

 We’re still waiting on official word about Monster Island’s Big Spender Achievement and the game’s subsequent disappearance from the Marketplace. If Microsoft releases an official statement, WPCentral readers will be the first to know.

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Bad news for those of you who use the free app BandWidth for testing your internet speeds on your Windows Phone, the site SpeedTest.net has sent the developer a cease and desist letter.

Even though BandWidth doesn't advertise itself as a SpeedTest.net app nor uses their logo or name, it does use their servers for testing. Evidently the company decided to exercise their rights and they asked the developer Blake (aka 'microhaxo') to pull the app from the Marketplace. Blake has informed us that he'll do just that noting

"It was a great run, and I'm glad I was able to help so many people."

Indeed sir, it was a mighty fine app that we used regularly for our Windows Phone device reviews. The app was well designed, updated frequently, had no ads and was free -- what more could you ask from a developer?  (We've of course grabbed a XAP from the Marketplace for safe-keeping).

We could almost forgive SpeedTest.net if they were ready to roll out a Windows Phone app but so far we don't hear anything official coming our way.

Pickup Bandwidth v4.2 here in the Marketplace while you still can (ironically, it was just updated today) and check our the rest of Blake's apps here.

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Feed Me removed from the Marketplace

For those not familiar, Feed Me is a well laid out RSS reader for your Windows Phone (here's our review). We've been contacted by the developer of Feed Me, forty3degrees, and informed that the Windows Phone app has been temporarily removed from the Marketplace.

"Feed Me will be temporarily removed from the marketplace within the next few days. Due to personal reasons I am unable to further develop or support feed me for the immediate future. However, I do hope to have a new version back online towards the end of the first quarter of 2012.Thanks go out to all of the people that have supported feed me over the last 10 months."

The developer is considering publishing an unsupported beta version of Feed Me until he can get a new version back on the Marketplace. You can reach out to forty3degrees through their website or Twitter account (@forty3degrees) should you need to reinstall Feed Me or voice your support for the Windows Phone app.

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A few weeks ago we highlighted a new app called Ffffound by developer RogueCode. The app, based off of the website Ffffound.com, quickly became one of the more popular apps in the Marketplace, earning excellent reviews from users. The app pulls images from Ffffound.com and allows the user to view, save, favorite and even share the images in a elegant and beautiful way.

However, there were some memory issues with the app, causing crashes on the Samsung Focus. The developer quickly dispatched an update to fix that but in turn, that broke the 'save' option for many users. Not to be deterred, RogueCode quickly sent out another update but this one hit a snag: Microsoft suddenly rejected it based on the grounds that the app showed 'adult content', specifically images with partial nudity. 

Now the developer is in a bind: he can't filter those images automatically and therefore can't push out his update. He would, in essence, have to filter them manually resulting in large delays before you saw the image--not to mention all the work involved. Result? Consumers lose.

This is reminiscent of the app ImageWind, which pulled a stream of photos from Twitter. That app too was pulled from the Marketplace only to appear months later with a 'safety filter'. Now, in doing this story, we learned that app received another update (v1.3) and they have completely removed the Twitter feed altogether as Microsoft still wasn't happy with the "Flickr as a filter' option. ImageWind is now just a Flickr-streaming app, losing its original purpose.

So we ask the question: Does Microsoft need to revise its policy on 'adult content'? Perhaps offering a way for us adults (the majority) to opt-in? We of course think so but we want to hear what you have to say. And maybe, just maybe, Microsoft will listen.

In the meantime, we're not sure what will happen to Ffffound, which is a real shame.

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We're not exactly sure why but Mehdoh, the indie Twitter app that has quickly worked its way to the top, has vanished from the Marketplace. Doing a search for the app yields no results and following the app-link results in a message announcing that the app is no longer available. To make matters worse, the official Twitter address for Mehdoh has been deleted and from the developer's personal Twitter account, it notes that he's basically lost interest in developing Mehdoh, describing it as a chore:

Before we over-react, we need to remember indie devs are normal folks like us who have on-days and off-days, often dealing with life's stresses in addition to the problems of trying to run a small software business. But from the looks of it, Mehdoh was pulled by the developer and might not be coming back. That's a real shame as v1.5 became a really strong Twitter client with a great feature set and improved performance (yes, we use it regularly ourselves).

We just interviewed the developer of Mehdoh, Chris Fields, this past weekend and things seemed on the up and up, so we're a bit confused ourselves. We've reached out to Chris to hopefully get a better understanding of the situation.

Update: Well, call it odd timings, but the official @mehdoh Twitter page has been reactivated after being closed. There's also an explanation of sorts "For some reason, Mehdoh wasn't set as published on the marketplace. It is now. Sorry for the inconvenience.". We'll certainly welcome the non-return of Mehdoh, if true.

Thanks, Amir, for the heads up

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We reviewed the 3rd party app Cracked Reader back in September and we had also helped recruit some beta testers for it earlier. Cracked Reader was a solid app for the humor site Cracked.com--elegant, smooth, lots of options. It even got a free-trial later on. But now the developer, Nash Bansal, has had his app pulled from the Marketplace by Microsoft.

Reason? For "...infringing on demand media's trademark and unlawfully republishes content from the http://cracked.com site".

Perhaps not so coincidentally, Cracked.com launched their official app just days ago in the Marketplace. That app is free and not half bad but it's honestly not as impressive as Cracked Reader. Which is probably why Demand Media wanted to eliminate their competition. Sure, they had a legally sound reason to do so, no argument there, but there are plenty of paid apps that do pull feeds and which haven't been pulled. Heck, there's a terrible unofficial WPCentral reader out there too. Lucky us.

It might have been preferable for Demand Media to just partner with Bansal, but probably due to the timing with their developer team (Nventive), it would have been difficult. Still, it's a shame to see such innovation crushed for basically a lesser app in the Marketplace. Lets just hope other media companies don't get the same idea from this precedent.

Source: Twitter 1, 2

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Just a quick update to our story yesterday regarding the AVG antivirus app, which is claimed to be spyware by Justin Angel, Rafael Rivera and others. Evidently, the app has been pulled by Microsoft until further notice.

That doesn't mean they've necessarily found anything that violates the Marketplace, but they are erring on the side of caution.  Brandon Watson gave an update via Twitter stating:

"AVG app pulled from marketplace. Doing some investigations, but want functionality certainty. Thanks for headsup."

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Needless to say, AVG has a pretty bad PR problem now to overcome.

via: WPHome; Thanks, Sander G., for the link

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Update: Microsoft's Karl Stricker has chimed in to let us know that these three games were removed by the develoeprs because the game's licenses had expired. So the good news is the games are pefectly fine for playing, the bad news is you can no longer play them if you haven't previously bought/downloaded them.

Bad news folks, looks like we have another case of missing Xbox LIVE games for Windows Phone again. This time three titles have disappeared:

Once again, we are left without reason as to their disappearance or whether they will return or not. Usually, the case has been they return at some point with an update or bug fix that was sorely needed, but we all know about the Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst fiasco.

Regardless of the reasons, duration of them missing or circumstances, we find the frequency of which Xbox LIVE games being pulled alarming. For one, these are the "A-list" titles and therefore shouldn't be having any such problems and if they do, they should have their updates fast-tracked. Number two, we find the lack of communication disturbing, to paraphrase our favorite Darklord of the Sith. Once again, we're all adults here and while we may not like games being yanked if we're told why and how the situation is being resolved, well, it goes a long way in ameliorating our concerns.

As usual, we'll work on getting answers. Until then, we're left with just questions. And frustration. And disappointment. Thanks, Tom S. & Mike J., for the heads up!

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