Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Gameloft's Asphalt 7 Heat for Windows Phone 8 released.

I think it was yesterday that a Twit from Microsoft teased about the upcoming release of a famous racing game for Windows Phone 8 devices. Earlier today, a blog post on the Windows Phone team blog announced the availability of Gameloft Asphalt 7 Heat for Windows Phone 8 devices on the Store for $0.99 only. The game lets you race against 5 of your friends locally or online in cars I will probably never drive in real life. Among the cars available is the famous DeLorean, Aston Martin, Ferrari etc. In all, 60 virtual cars are at your disposal to race around Gameloft's virtual world.

A trial version of the game is available for download on the Windows Phone Store

Windows Phone team celebrates Kid's Corner feature with kid's art contest.

Before Kid's Corner, I had a few occurrences where my daughters would post cryptic messages to Facebook or Twitter. With the advent of Kid's Corner, the statistics for such occurrences now shows null. For those who do not know about Kid's Corner yet, it is a feature unique to Windows Phone 8 that has kind-of a separate profile for your kids. You choose which apps and games shows up there that your kids can access and once in the Kid's Corner, access to any other area of the phone is not possible.

To celebrate this feature, the team is organizing a kid's art contest based on the following questions: “What do you wish your Windows Phone could do? How do you imagine yourself, your family, and others using your phone?”. The winners will have their drawings reproduced by a professional artist and then featured "on our online properties, including our website, our newsletter, our blog, and our Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages. In addition, the recreations will be available to download as wallpapers for lock screens or Kid’s Corner through our Windows Phone Insider App".

Check out the official rules.

Source: Windows Phone team blog

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Twitter releases major app update for Windows Phones.

Finally the official Twitter app for Windows Phone gets a slew of updates. The app has four tabs at the top to navigate the Home, Connect, Discover and the Me tab. The update also supports the unique Windows Phone live tile experience with the tiles automatically updating to show your Twitter activity. The lockscreen feature is also supported for devices running Windows Phone 8.

Here's the list of new features in Twitter for Windows Phone 2.0. This update applies to Windows Phone 7, 7.5 and 8.

*  Integrated right into your Windows Phone with faster performance, lock screen, and custom Live Tile that show your notifications

*  Direct access to your favorite profiles and lists optimizing Windows Phone "pinning" functionality

*  Streamlined navigation brings you the new Home, Connect, Discover and Me tabs
*  Engage with the best Twitter content available in the Discover tab, as well as Trends, browse categories, find friends, and suggestions about Who To Follow 

*  Enjoy your Retweets, favorites, follows, mentions and replies in the Connect tab, or filter your mentions and replies only

Source: Windows Phone Store

Windows Phone Companion App for Windows 8/RT updated.

The Windows Phone Companion App is the software you need for your Windows Phone and Windows 8 or Windows RT device to communicate with each other. Microsoft released an update this morning and the app lets users add almost any music track as a ringtone to a Windows Phone. The sames restrictions in terms of format and size still apply. Users will also be able to watch videos stored on the phone directly in the app without having to copy them over the established relationship first. The app has been designed to help you easily add playlists and tracks to the phone. 

The Windows Phone Companion App if free to download in the Windows Store and works for both Windows RT and Windows 8.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Office Mobile World Congress app version 1.1 released.

Mobile World Congress
Mobile World Congress will start next week in Barcelona where the major mobile players will showcase new products. Not all since some of them have either already announced their new toys or will do so after the event. Take HTC for example who announced its flagship HTC One device last Tuesday. Samsung still does not have a Galaxy S4 ready and is expected to have it ready sometimes in May according to rumours. But that is not enough to prevent MWC to get all our attention next week.

The event organisers are making sure that visitors and participants alike have the tools they need to get organised and get all the info they need on their Windows Phones. The official Mobile World Congress app for Windows Phone was released last week I believe and an update is already available. The free app has been updated with stability and user interface improvements as well as live tile that reminds users about the next session on the agenda.

Download the free app and update in the Store.

Twabbit's Youtube playback issue fixed.

Last Saturday I blogged about Twabbit getting some new features among which the ability to watch Youtube videos in the timeline. Shortly after I posted the blog post, a tipster told me about an issue with it and that the developer was working on a fix. Well, this issue seems to have been resolved with today's update. The change log mentions that Youtube playback is fixed. However, I still do not have a video in my timeline to confirm. The update also adds support for Vine and Cinemagraph. 
The Windows Phone Store tile on your device should already be showing one or more updates available with Twabbit in the lot. If not, manually download the update on the Store.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Calculator³, the 6-mode smart calculator temporarily free.

The built in calculator for Windows Phone is very basic and if you happen to be looking for a more advance, smart calculator, Calculator³ is exactly the tool you need. It's like a Swiss knife with its 6 mode: Basic, Scientific, Programmer, Currency Converter, and Unit Converter. Designed to use the Windows Phone modern UI, Calculator³, is currently free and will be so for the next three days. If you miss it, the tool is well worth $1.49. Each mode can be pinned to the start screen, taking advantage of Windows Phone 8 live tiles. 

• over 50 scientific functions
• 125 mathematical and physical constants
• statistical functions for memory values
• over 150 World currencies
• over 200 units for conversions across 17 categories
• searchable constants, currency, and units lists
• calculation history
• Undo function
• customisable Tax buttons
• customisable button layout
• Auto, Fixed point, Scientific, and Engineering display formats with choice of digit grouping
• enable or disable operator precedence
• copy/paste
• support for both light and dark themes, and use of the accent colour
• live tiles for each calculator showing the history or latest exchange rate
• background task to automatically update the exchange rate information and Currency Converter live tile
• 64, 32, 16 and 8 bit word lengths for the Programmer Calculator, including signed or unsigned integers

Calculator³ is currently free and available for download on the Windows Phone Store. The app works with Windows Phone 8, 7.5 and 7.8. The latter is not listed on the download page, but I confirm it works.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Twabbit v gets image upload to Skydrive.

The latest iteration of Twabbit adds support for Skydrive image upload, thus letting you save your pictures to Microsoft cloud storage. After installing the update, you can set Twabbit to automatically upload the pictures you twit about to Skydrive. To do so, tap ... in Twabbit and select Settings. Swipe until you reach the Picture screen. Tap "select photo upload service" and choose SkyDrive from the list. That's it. 

The change log also mentions support for YouTube video preview. I was not able to test that one out yet, but will do so as soon as I get a video in my timeline. 

Twabbit is available on the store @ $1.49 with a trial.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Free: Mehdoh - Twitter client for Windows phone with Instagram account support.

Mehdoh is a nice Twitter client for Windows Phone and Windows Phone 7.x. The app is currently free, so go get it now as I doubt it will  remain so for long. Mehdoh is fast compared to the other Twitter clients I use on my HTC 8X and supports Instagram account.


- Multiple twitter account support. 
- Instagram account support (feed/popular/profiles/searching). 
- Soundcloud account support (with background audio player!)
- Twitter Streaming (real-time feeds).
- Twitter Lists. 
- Lock screen notifications and live tile (WP8 only)
- Lock screen wallpaper (WP8 only)
- Voice commands (WP8 only)
- Inline media previews.
- Image / website previews in the app
- Fully customisable layout. An amazing new clutter-free photo timeline... the list goes on! 
- LOTS more features and fully configurable.

Download: Windows Phone Store

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Get Assassin's Creed and Earthworm Jim for free.

I think the title of this post says it all. These two Xbox Live titles are currently free in the Windows Phone Store, waiting for you to download. Use the links below to get them.
Assassin's Creed                                                                                      
Earthworm Jim


Friday, February 08, 2013

Friday's app update: glƏƏk! & Blink

Two of my favorite apps, glƏƏk! and Blink, are the two apps that got an update today. glƏƏk! is my preferred Twitter app that is the only app that brings you random tweets, called pƏƏks, from users around the world. Here's what's new in this update:

-Added full Tweet Marker support!
-Update for RTL Hashtag Searching!
-Small font size in Compose due to Windows Phone 8 keyboard overlap
-Other minor tweaks and coolness!
Download: Windows Phone Store

Blink is a Microsoft made app that lets you capture photos before you even press the shutter and continues to do so after you're done taking your pictures. Compared to almost similar apps for Windows Phone or other platforms, Blink is not limited to just 3 pictures in burst mode and does not save them to your picture hub to take precious space on your device. The pictures are saved within the app so you can choose the perfect shot. The app is smart enough to remove camera shake using an advanced image stabilization technology developed by Microsoft research. Blink is an app that should be integrated into Windows Phone 8.
Download: Windows Phone Store

Thursday, February 07, 2013

PDF Reader update for WP8 adds support for Skydrive sharing and deleting PDF files.

Reading PDF files on Windows Phone is certainly not the most exciting experience. Currently Windows Phone 8 does not have an official PDF reader from Adobe, so Microsoft has one of its own making which is very basic that only lets you read PDF files and that was about it. There's no such basic features to let you share the file and delete it. The only way to get rid of downloaded PDF files in PDF Reader involved removing the app. Unbelievable but true. Fortunately an updated version of the app changes that.

The update that was published today still does not make PDF Reader a full blown PDF app, as it is still not possible to share a file by email. Instead Microsoft added Skydrive sharing. Sign in with your Microsoft account so you can upload the document to your Skydrive and then you can share the link. The Skydrive integration lets you access the file on any device and also serves as a backup. 

Finally, documents can be deleted with PDF Reader. Single files can be removed or the entire list of PDFs can be deleted. Support for encrypted PDF files has also been added. Check out the full list of features below.

PDF Reader update to v1.1 adds the following new features to the application:
• Management of historic PDFs in the history list so you can remove individual files and also clear the whole list.
• Share PDF documents with others directly from the app using your SkyDrive account.
• Support for encrypted PDF files that are password protected.
• Support for read-only PDF files.

The Windows Phone Store tile should already be showing the update. If not, download directly from the Store.

Portico Update currently being pushed to Windows Phone 8.

Update 8.0.10211.204, aka Portico, has appeared on my HTC 8X screen this morning. Unfortunately, I am unable to download it right now as it requires a WiFi connection. I assume it must be a pretty big update as it absolutely refuses to download using my data connection. Microsoft has published the change log to the Windows Phone 8 update history page. 

Here's what is included in the update:

Messaging improvements. A great messaging experience is now even better. You can now add multiple recipients at the same time when you send a text message and automatically save unsent text messages as drafts. You can even edit received text messages before you forward them.
Text replies to incoming calls. Can't take a call? Now you can send a prewritten text reply to a caller directly from the call answer screen. It's a nice way to let people know that you're not ignoring them.
Internet Explorer improvements. You can now change your settings to prevent pictures from downloading automatically—an easy way to help keep data usage low. You can also delete selected sites from your browsing history and leave the rest intact.
Wi-Fi connectivity. Got a favorite Wi-Fi network? Windows Phone 8 will now prioritize Wi-Fi connections based on your connection history.
Other improvements. Includes many other improvements to Windows Phone.

This update will be made available at different times, depending on your country or region, mobile operator, and phone model.

The ability to add multiple recipients to text messages and WiFi prioritization are nice and welcome additions.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Huawei and Microsoft unveil customized Windows Phone 8 devices for Africa.

Africa is considered by Microsoft to be “one of the most rapidly-growing technology markets in the world”, and as such is launching an affordable, customized Windows Phone 8 device made by the Chinese manufacturer, Huawei. The device, called the Huawei 4Afrika will be launched this month in Angola, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa. “Designed specifically as an affordable option for students, small businesses, developers, and first-time smartphone owners”, the Huawei 4Afrika will be available in blue, red, black and white.
The Huawei 4Afrika will sport a 4-inch 480x800 display, a dual core 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor, 4GB of internal storage. It comes pre-loaded with apps cooked by African developers for African consumers. Owners of the device will have access to locally relevant apps on the Windows Phone Store.
The unveiling of the Huawei 4Afrika is part of a greater initiative called the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative – “a new effort through which the company will actively engage in Africa’s economic development to improve its global competitiveness”. “The goal is to empower every African who has a great idea for a business or an application and to turn that idea into a reality which in turn can help their community, their country, or even the continent at large. The Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative is built on the dual beliefs that technology can accelerate growth for Africa, and Africa can also accelerate technology for the world.”
Click here to learn more about the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Amazon publishes fix for kindle app upgrade crash.

Last week I blogged about an update for the Amazon Kindle app that caused the app to crash. The update, that was an upgrade from the WP7 version to WP8, caused the app to return to the start screen and the fix was to uninstall the WP7 version before installing the new one.

Today, Amazon has published a fix to the Widows Phone Store. So users who haven't downloaded the initial update yet will not have to remove the app before using the new one. Those who upgraded Kindle last week can still install the fix from the Store.


Friday, February 01, 2013

Backup/Restore your Twabbit settings/Cached tweets into Skydrive.

Twabbit, the $1.49 Twitter client for Windows Phone, got an update that supports backing up to and restoring to Skydrive. Basically, once this feature is enabled after you download the update, Twabbit will save your accounts, settings and cached tweets (including DMs) to Microsoft cloud solution. After you press "upload", these settings will be saved on Skydrive in a folder of its own.

I gave it a try on my lovely HTC 8X by deleting my account and went to check on Skydrive. The folder did indeed had my Twabbit's settings data in it. To restore your settings, simply press Download. A restore requires a restart of the app.

Change log for V
1. Skydrive backup/restore
2. White theme for System Dark theme
3. Black theme for System Light theme
4. Gray theme
5. Modified User Profile page for banner image
6. Easy switching of account
7. Youtube image inline preview
8. Youtube in-App player (supports only)

A trial version of Twabbit is available in the Windows Phone Store.

Tips: Manually Install Windows Phone 7.8 with Windows Phone Hacker Tool.

While most Windows Phone devices are getting the Windows Phone 7.8, my HTC Titan II was getting desperate of ever seeing the update notification. Ok, I was desperate :). But that was until I came across Seven-Eighter by Windows Phone Hacker. A tool that updates your phone to WP7.8. Of course, you do this at your own risk, but it worked flawlessly for me. My Titan was running version 8112 before the upgrade. That's a version before Tango. So the update tool will apply all the previous updates that your device did not get. Therefore get ready for multiple updates and reboots before you get to 7.8. It took me 3 reboots to get there. 
Make sure you connect your device to a USB port at the back of your computer. Do not use a USB hub. Close Zune and for safe measure, open Task Manager and kill each and every Zune process.

Update: I successfully updated a AT&T Nokia Lumia 900 using the process below.

This is how you do it:

  1. Before you even connect your device or download the tool, we need to verify the language packs installed on the device. This is very important if you do not want the upgrade to fail with dire consequences. So go to Settings > region+language and write down all the languages listed in the Display language box.
  2. Download Seven-Eighter here and unzip.
  3. Double click Seven-Eighter executable and select the language packages installed on your device and that you wrote down in step 1. Again, this is very important.
    You may be asked to download Windows Phone update tool. Go ahead and install it and restart Seven-Eighter.
  4. Click Ok to start the update. Wait until the update applies and the phone restarts.
  5. Do not disconnect the phone and verify the version number. Repeat step 3 above until the version number reads 7.10.8858.136.
  6. Enjoy Windows Phone 7.8

Microsoft publishes Windows Phone 7.8 change log.

The Windows Phone 7.8 update rollout started yesterday with reports from users that the update notification has popup on their devices. So far things seem to go well. The update is indeed being pushed to all Windows Phone 7.5 devices including first generation HTC Mozart to the HTC Radar and, of course, the Nokia Lumia devices. All? No, not all devices since the HTC HD7 and the AT&T Titan 2 have been left out. There has been few to no information about the latter device getting the update. On the other hand, HTC took to twitter to announce that they have no plans to release the update for the HD7. I don't worry too much about the HD7 which seem well poised to embrace the same path as the HD2; the device that has more lives than a cat.

After pushing the Windows Phone 7.8 update yesterday, Microsoft, today has published the change log. Check out the changes below:

Update 7.10.8858.136

Also known as Windows Phone 7.8*.
Start. Provides resizable small, medium, and large Live Tiles so you can customize your Startexperience in new ways.
Accent colors. Expands the number of available accent colors to 20.
Lock screen. Improves the lock screen experience with accidental wipe protection features and the Bing image of the day wallpaper.
Marketplace and Xbox. Expands Windows Phone Marketplace and Xbox support to new countries and regions.
Fonts. Enhances the Chinese font and improves the appearance of Arabic and other languages.
Other improvements. Includes many other improvements to Windows Phone.
This update is not available in all markets or for all phones. To learn more about what's included in this update, see Windows Phone 7.8.