windows phone

Hey look at that! Mush is finally here, at least here in Los Angeles at E3. We've talked about Mush before as the game looks to fill the gap for "super cute, slow paced, causal game" on Windows Phone, one that appeals to mom, your kid and heck, even ourselves.  From our earlier description of the game:

"A puzzle platformer that gives you control over how your character feels. Change their emotions by drawing smiles and sad faces, and by rotating or shaking the Windows Phone. Mush will be a Windows Phone exclusive."

Mush was announced last August as one of 14 new Xbox LIVE titles coming to Windows Phone. While we don't have a release date, seeing as we have a solid working demo being displayed, our bet is "within weeks". 

We really like this game from what we've seen. It has well done graphics and unique character controls which should appeal to a lot of people. Seeing as it's a Windows Phone exclusive, we're excited for this release.

Check the demo video of the game after the break for another look...

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If you're on the cutting edge of Windows Phone hacking and homebrew then you probably have a fully unlocked device with a custom ROM running "Tango" 8773. If so, then you may want to take a look at this latest creation from Zealson over at XDA.

The simple XAP file will launch a mini-app to allow you to change the battery meter to a custom version. The meters have four options available: default, horizontal, vertical and circular with the latter three having a percentage number for a semi-accurate reading of your remaining battery life.

We say semi-accurate as the percentage doesn't get down to the 1% range and instead looks to be at 10% increments. Such a limitation is due to the API though who knows what magic these devs can whip up, so there may be hope for 1% changes too.

Of course as we mentioned at the beginning, only fully-unlocked ROMs can install this and luckily the Titan and Radar are now in that camp too

Source: XDA Forums

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Although many of us are now hardcore SkyDrive users, some people still rely on or need Sugar Sync (www.sugarsync.com) for their file sharing and storing needs. And while Sugar Sync is working on a Windows Phone client, we have no ETA on when that app will arrive. So it's with great pleasure for us to see Sweet Sync on the Marketplace fulfilling that role.

The client offers most of what you would expect a mobile Sugar Sync client to offer:

  • Allows the creation, modification and deletion of any file or folder in your account, including received shares
  • Upload, Download and View Images
  • Create public links for your files and share them with friends
  • Open documents with public links directly on your phone (Not all filetypes can be opened)

We just took the app for a spin and it's hella-nice. Bold graphics (which are not Metro but still look nice), ease of use, plenty of options. Heck, we're impressed with it and while it may not replace our SkyDrive, we're not against adding extra storage when and where we can either.

Sugar Sync fetches for a fair $1.29 with a limited trial (read-only access). Our recommendation: if you use Sugar Sync, give it a shot. Even if the official app comes out, we tend to go with third-party devs for better support and more functionality. But that's us.

Pick up Sweet Sync here in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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Does your color preference in Windows Phones uncover a personality trait? Whether it is a white Samsung Focus 2 or a cyan Nokia Lumia 900, does your choice of colors reflect more than a fashion statement? There is some school of thought that the choice of color isn't a conscious effort but rather a sub-conscious choice. Color psychologist Angela Wright states,

“Every time you make a color choice, you’re making a statement about what’s going on in your head, even though most you the time you don’t know it. Around 80 percent of our color choices are sub-conscious.”

So how do the color choices break down? Here's what the color psychologist has to say.

Cyan - The Thinker: The cyan blue is a happy color that conveys an intellectual and considered nature. It is a balanced color that is inspiring. The blue helps to focus your thoughts and clear your mind.

White - The Sophisticate: White gives off an impression of a sophisticated smartphone aficionado with high standards.

Fuchsia - The Angry Lady: Fuchsia leans towards the sensitivities of female owners. According to Wright, “It’s a very strong statement on the aggressive side of femininity. So this phone is one for the ladies, the sympathizers and perhaps those who’re a bit scared of feminists and want to integrate themselves.”

Black - The Protector: Black comes across as confident and sophisticated but experts say it is more often used as a security blanket. Black is all colors totally absorbed so it creates protection. It's not a reflection of a dark personality but may represent a safe choice for smartphone users.

So is the expert hitting close to the mark? Do you choose the color of your Windows Phone to suit your tastes or is it a sub-conscious decision that is driven by our personalities and character? I'm partial to black because of its conservative appearance and I guess in many ways, its a safe choice.

Who knows... maybe the color psychologists are right?

Source: Conversations Nokia Via: Windows Team Blog

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The Windows Phone UK team held an exciting event in Camden last night. The Into Live Event saw live performances from local bands, and even the popular Noisettes. As well as the music, a steady flow of food and alcohol were on the table with each attendee receiving two free drink tokens (much like the HTC launch event for the TITAN and Radar). I went along with Robert Brand from Glance and Go Radio and also managed to meet up with Tom Warren from The Verge. So what was down at Proud Camden?

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The Windows Phone UK team has been busy taking the Dare to Live challenge on tour throughout the UK. They first began the challenge marathon at Westfield in London and has since arrived in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Newcastle and Sheffield, challenging the public to see if their smartphone can beat a Windows Phone at common tasks. From uploading a photo to Facebook to publishing a status update to social networks.

The team were also present at the Into live music event, which took place at Proud Camden last night in London. So, how about some statistics? According to the team, they've enjoyed a 98% win rate with 22,782 wins under the belt, accompanied by 568 losses (similar to the Smoked By Windows Phone competition's). A week breakdown is also available under the graph.

Not too shabby, eh? Check out the calendar for details as to where the team will be next, we'll revisit the Dare to Live campaign once it's finished in July.

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It's no secret that there will be compatibility issues with some Marketplace apps running on Windows Phones with only 256mb of RAM (like the Nokia Lumia 610). Up until now, finding out which app is or isn't compatible with the 256mb Windows Phones was done by word of mouth.

Not sure when the switch was thrown but now Microsoft has added an asterisks under system requirements in the Marketplace (website) listing for any incompatible app or game. Any app or game that won't run on 256mb devices will have "*Not available for all phones" listed beneath the required operating system.

There will be a link for more information that explains,

Some processor-intensive apps have memory requirements, and won't work on phones with 256 MB of RAM.

Some developers (such as Rovio and Angry Birds) are working on updates that will optimize these apps and games for use with the 256mb devices. Hopefully the number of asterisks on the Marketplace will start to decline.

Still the notation is nice and may prevent a little frustration when shopping for apps and games.

Thanks, Alex, for the tip!

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We were just mentioning how Microsoft was teasing Photosynth for Windows Phone and sure enough, the popular and creative photo stitching app is now available!

"Photosynth for Windows Phone is the panorama app that makes it easy and fun to capture and share interactive panoramas of the places, people, and events that are important to you. Using the latest in computer vision techniques, Photosynth is the acknowledged leader in mobile panorama creation. It is the only app available on any mobile platform that allows you to capture 360 degrees horizontally and vertically, making a perfect “sphere."

Once you’ve created a Photosynth, you can share it as an interactive panorama experience on Facebook and Twitter (using the free Photosynth.net service) or as a simple image. You can also publish your panoramas to Bing where millions of people will see your panoramas, on Bing Maps and in Bing search results for the places you've captured. And check out our featured list, where we show off the best of what you and your fellow users create and share."

The app seems very fluid on our Focus 2 and we'll be sure to share some test shots as soon. But for now, go forth and enjoy the latest creation from Microsoft, we're sure you'll be impressed. Leave comments on your thoughts below.

Update: We should note that Windows Phones without a compass or gyroscope (e.g. the HTC Radar) can still use the app but it won't work as fluidly. You'll receive a message informing you as much but you can still download and use the app.

Update 2: Photosynth won't run on Tango hardware like the Lumia 610 as it needs at least 512MB of RAM for processing.

Pick up Photosynth for Windows Phone here in the Marketplace.

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Update: Photosynth for Windows Phone is now on the Marketplace. Read here for more info and download link.

It was about two weeks ago we demonstrated that Microsoft had bumped Photosynth (photosynth.net) to version 1.0 seemingly making the release imminent for Windows Phone. The popular photo stitching app has been in the works for well over a year as we had to watch iOS users take advantage of Microsoft's panoramic software.

At the time, we speculated that the app was coming out of beta hence the 1.0 designation and now we believe that to be accurate. The Twitter account for Windows Phone just tweeeted this little bit of info in the last hour:

"If only there were a great new way to stitch your photos to create a panoramic image. If only we had something to announce soon. IF ONLY :)"

Indeed. We can't think of many apps that would be worthy of such an announcement except for Photosynth and when combined with the v1.0 status from two weeks ago, dare we say we really think it's about to happen.

Hopefully we'll hear more from Microsoft within the next few days on the release. From our experience, companies announce releases only under one condition: when the app has cleared certification in the Marketplace. That could mean less than 24 hours before we get our hands on the app.

Stay tuned.

Source: Microsoft (Windows Phone); Thanks, parthp90, for the tip

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The Sunday Times, a popular UK Sunday broadsheet newspaper, has featured the Lumia 900 and Windows Phone in its "Supersize Shakers of Apple's Tree" test bench, along with the Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC One X, Motorola RAZR MAXX and Sony Xperia P. Each handset was rated 'best' for a number of factors, including value, battery life and operating system.

Which did the Lumia 900 and Windows Phone take? We think you could take a good guess - the operating system. 

Not only did we take the 'best operating system' title, but the Lumia 900 was also given four stars, which was also the case with the Galaxy S III and One X. In the short description, The Sunday Times noted that the Windows Phone system is slicker than Android, though it is well known to have fewer apps.

The 900 has recently launched in the UK, and is available at Phones 4u, Carphone Warehouse, Clove and Amazon.

Source: WMPU

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By now Nokia’s commitment to the Windows Phone OS should be well established. What has made their role so vital to Microsoft is not just the hardware they’ve created (4 phones in 12 months) but the support they’re providing to the platform from all directions.

Whether it’s original OEM apps, exclusive titles, developer support tools, mapping data, dispersing thousands of free Lumias to devs or their promotions, Nokia has gone beyond their competitors in many ways.

One of those is one that may not be too familiar with Windows Phone Central readers but is just as impressive: Nokia’s SmartStart program.

What’s SmartStart? We get a behind the scenes glimpse of Nokia’s growing support system for new Lumia owners and share what’s coming next…

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Flo Rida is no stranger to Nokia Windows Phones. Back in February in the video for 'Wild Ones' the popular artist was seen using the Lumia 710 and Twitter. Though it was just in passing, it was a nice nod for Nokia's newest phone.

In Mr. Rida's new video (can we call him that?) for 'Whistle' the shiny and sexy glossy-white Lumia 900 is the star. While the 900 actually doesn't shake its booty (creative license, sorry), it does get some screen time.

Starting at about 1:47 and a few seconds later you can see the popular Windows Phone being used for some photos and sending an MMS. Not a bad plug for the phone, we suppose.

Check out the video after the break... Warning: NSFW [lots of badonkadonks]. Thanks, Daniel, for the tip!

Edit: There looks to be a copyright issue where playing it on mobile phones, ironcially, is not supported. You can try through your web browser instead.

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As you may or may not recall, Skype for Windows Phone officially does not run on Windows Phone "Tango" hardware--devices with 256MB of RAM or less--like the Lumia 610 and ZTE Orbit. But Justin Angel from Nokia called up our podcast from his Lumia 610 using Skype and it sounded great, what's more Nokia themselves seemed okay with it too.

Then two days ago, word came out that Nokia with withdrawing support for Skype and the Lumia 610, causing even more confusion i.e. so is it available at least for those who want to run it?

Truth be told it's not available to download. As can be seen in the image above, users are given a notice that they cannot download the app. However, if we sideload version 1.1 of Skype onto our 610, it works just fine as you can see in our video below.

So what's the deal? We'll take Nokia's word that there are performance issues (we tested over WiFi and it seemed fine) and that's the reason why users won't have access to it. However, to us Skype for the Lumia 610 appears to be okay, at least from our limited testing.

What we're hoping for is with a version 1.2 or later, Skype and Microsoft can hammer out any performance problems and get the app on to Tango hardware. Because to us, it seems like they're very close to achieving just that making this a temporary problem with the platform.

See our hands on and unboxing of the Lumia 610 here.

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Samsung Focus 2 Review

Windows Phone Central's Review of the AT&T Samsung Focus 2

AT&T continues to build an impressive Windows Phone lineup. The Samsung Focus 2 is the latest to find its way to store shelves and joins the Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II as 4G LTE Windows Phones.

The Samsung Focus 2 catches your attention on two fronts. First, it's glossy white body sets it apart from the traditional black or gray smartphones. Second, the $49.99 contractual price makes it a very affordable Windows Phone that is just as capable as the $99.99 Nokia Lumia 900 or the $150 HTC Titan II.

We may refer to the Focus 2 as an entry level Windows Phone but that may not be an accurate description. Economical? Base line? Regardless of the term, the Focus 2 is really only hindered by it's smaller storage space (8gb vs. 16gb) when compared to the Titan II or the Lumia 900. Sure it has a smaller camera (5mp vs. 8mp) but the Focus 2 can give the Lumia 900 a run for its money with respect to image quality.

The Focus 2 may not appeal to everyone but if your looking for a low cost, nicely built, capable Windows Phone it's worth consideration.

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Although we're not expecting too much more in terms of new Windows Phones for the next few months, Nokia is just getting the Lumia 610 into people's hands in various countries or unlocked for those who want it.

The Lumia 610 is Nokia's device for emerging markets and thus features lower specs than most users are accustomed to, in turn they are able to keep the price down, hovering below $300 contract-free.

We just had ours show up on our doorstep so we figured we would give you a quick tour. While plastic throughout the device comes in four colors including black, cyan, magenta and white, giving it quite a nice appeal. Truth be told, while it lacks the ClearBlack screen (but it does have Gorilla Glass), it's a nimble little guy and quite impressive for those who can spring for the higher-end Lumias.

Featuring a 3.7" screen, 256MB of RAM (ala "Tango"), a 5MP camera and 8GB of storage (5.59 GB available), the 610 is not particularly mind-blowing, especially with its Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 7227A  800MHz CPU, which just gets it by in terms of performance.

The bigger story of course is that this phone allows Nokia to push down into the rapidly expanding emerging markets of the world, someplace where Apple can't go but Android has with a vengeance (the quality also drops rapidly on the latter on such low-end hardware). Will the 610 be successful? All in all, it's so far not a bad experience and we imagine for many, this will be a solid Windows Phone introduction.

We'll have more over the next week on this device, so pay attention to Windows Phone Central.

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Two days ago we ran a fun little piece on a Nokia Lumia 900 ad showing up on some sites. The ad featured a rendered 900, spinning around with Live Tiles in motion. Nothing odd there except that two of the Live Tiles had new and very specific behavior:

  1. Contacts - The tiles flip and it says "Meet up with Sarah"
  2. Photo Hub - Flips and splits into two tiles, one with the latest photo, the other with a count

The contacts/People Hub behavior was a tad redundant but also not a bad idea. The Photo Hub count confused people as knowing how many pictures you had didn't seem very useful. We guessed at the time that instead that count was for non-viewed photos from contacts i.e. new Facebook uploads, etc which seemed plausible.

Of course the ad was Photoshopped--in fact the whole thing was. The question wasn't the means but rather the intent (if there was any).

Nokia PR got back to us yesterday on the matter though and perhaps not too surprisingly, deny that what we see is anything more than a marketing error:

"Just to clarify and remove any questions, I want to let you know that this was a change that was made in in the advertisement process and is not an indication of what may or may not come in future iterations of the Windows Phone software. Perhaps someone got a little carried away tinkering in the photo and video editing process, as it did not come from engineering or product management in any way.

Basically, you shouldn’t take that image to mean that the product might change."

Of course we weren't exactly expecting Nokia to give us a slow-clap and congratulations on figuring our an unintentional leak. But having them go on record denying any accidental reveals of slight OS upgrades should put the matter to rest.

Still, we think they're pretty decent ideas. We should note for Windows Phone 8 we're not expecting a major UI revisions but rather slight changes and additions. So we'll what happens in June and come back to this.

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There seems to be a fascination with baking cakes that look like Windows Phones. So much so that Microsoft is hosting a cake contest where you could bake your way into a new Windows Phone.

Entering is simple. Create a Windows Phone inspired cake, take a picture of your culinary delight and submit it at the Windows Phone Cake Contest page over on Facebook. The three cakes with the most "likes" will win a Windows Phone.

Entries must be received by Wednesday, May 30, 2012 and voting ends on June 6, 2012. You can find all the fine print of the official rules here on SkyDrive. This is definitely one contest that could go straight to your hips.

Good luck and happy baking.

Source: Windows Team Blog

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We've chatted up TalkBox for Windows Phone now for a few weeks. The popular messaging app is already on iOS and Android and now thanks to an excellent beta program, the tried and tested version for Windows Phone is here.

What's TalkBox? It's more than a messaging app because it sends short voice clips in addition to straight text messaging to your contacts, making it a virtually hands free experience. Here are a few other key features that may interest you:

  • Push to talk - The signature PTT feature arrives Windows Phone. No more typing hassle; no more uploading and downloading voice notes. TalkBox saves your time.
  • Group Chat - TalkBox is now bringing the collaborative experience to Windows Phone users. Experience the power group chat to engage up to 9 people in a single conversation.
  • Geo-location and photo sharing - Want to share your current location with your friends when you are heading to a party or to share a snapshot after party? Now you can do it easily through TalkBox!
  • Text Integration - What if I can’t talk at the moment? You can easily switch to text mode by 1 click and connect with your friend quietly.
  • Mark as favorite - In Windows Phone, you can mark any important TalkBox message as favorite by 1 click so you will be able to view the important messages faster.
  • Customized Live Tile - The customized TalkBox Live Tile allows users to preview any unread messages and contact information without launching the app. It is real live and instant.
  • Change layout color - You might have seen different Windows Phone handsets displaying different colored tiles. For instance, TalkBox comes with 12 theme colors that you can use to match with your phone background.

We're big fans of the app due to the care in its design--it's very Metro and well thought out for Windows Phone instead of just another port. Will it be as good as Kik or WhatsApp? As far as features go, we'd say this is in many ways better but really, the big determinant is whether or not your friends use TalkBox. Seeing as it's a popular app on iOS and Android, you stand a good chance of getting friend-parity.

At the very least though, you should give it a whirl. Heck, if you like it enough no reason you can't get others to switch around you.

Pick up TalkBox on Windows Phone for free in the Marketplace right here. Hit us up in comments and let us know what you think. [We have at least one report that German users may have issues with this app]

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Since Windows Phone users can't spend a lot of time customizing their OS (instead we live our lives), there's much focus on the lock-screen. We know we change ours every few days (we use Ffffound for inspiration).

Today, Microsoft has announced a partnership with London based graphic designer Levi Freeman and as a result, they've released eight "officially sanctioned" wallpapers to spiffy up your Windows Phone.

The eight images are nature focused so they may not appeal to everyone (we're more into abstract art here). Still, the designs are nice and they're meant to look perfect on your phone. What's more, the images all have a corresponding QR code for easy download (see, not even Microsoft uses Tag). Plus Microsoft notes that they hope more of these collaborations will happen with Levi, meaning we can probably expect different themes in the future--we like that idea. Levi also plans to release desktop versions too.

There's some interesting tidbits about the inspiration for each image and details about Freeman at his site, so hop on over to grab those images and learn a little bit about their origins.

Source: Windows Phone Blog, Levi Freeman's blog

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File this under "vague but encouraging". T-Mobile's CEO Philipp Humm gave an interview with the Seattle Times where he talked about the transitions that company is going through including their future plans.

Humm was asked about Microsoft and Windows Phone in particular and while no firm numbers or details were given, the message was at least positive:

Q: T-Mobile made a commitment to push Windows Phone this year. How is that working out?

A: I think we have a very good relationship with Microsoft, and we discovered that, in particular, for customers who are new to smartphones, they really enjoy the simplicity of the Microsoft [user interface], so they like the design and the ease of it.

Q: Are Windows phones selling as well as you hoped?

A: We are so far quite pleased and I think Microsoft, if you talk to them, [is] quite pleased with T-Mobile.

Indeed, T-Mobile has been the 2nd most important carrier in the US for Windows Phone. They launched with the popular HD7, had the Dell Venue Pro and recently exclusively acquired the HTC Radar (review) and Nokia Lumia 710 (review). While those latter two phones won't woo those who want a high-end, large screen device, both phones have exceptionally high user satisfaction ratings (and they're amongst our favorite devices here at Windows Phone Central).

The comments above, while vague, do echo what Nokia CEO Stephen Elop noted back in Mobile World Congress. There in regards to the T-Mobile Lumia 710, Elop noted that sales were "exceeding expectations" which we'll take as a positive sign as well. (Currently, the Lumia 710 is #4 under best-selling smartphones on T-Mobile, while the Radar is #19.  Amazon Wireless has the Luma 710 at #6 and Radar at #7, respectively.)

Still, Windows Phone has a long away ahead and it's not clear that non-flagship devices like the Lumia 710 and HTC Radar can turn T-Mobile into the "must have" carrier for Windows Phone. Here's to hoping that T-Mobile still has a few Windows Phone tricks up their sleeve.

Source: Seattle Times

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