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Windows Phone Blog
The official Windows Phone Blog is the place for Windows Phone news, tips & tricks, app reviews, podcasts, and more!

  • You May Soon Get a Response to Your Windows Phone App Review

    Microsoft recently announced that developers would soon be able to respond to user reviews of their apps and games. This new feature allows app developers to address common questions, troubleshoot issues, understand user requests for new app capabilities and overall help ensure that users get the best app experience.

    This capability is not about allowing developer to question or debate your personal opinions. In fact, developers who misuse the ability to respond to app reviews will lose the privilege. Windows Phone users are encouraged to report any questionable developer response via the reporting link in the “details” section of the app’s description (shown at left below).

    Windows Phone experience:

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    It is also important to note that developers are not receiving your personal contact information. Responses will be delivered to you via email from Microsoft. You may then choose to a) ignore the email b) respond to the developer c) update your review or d) opt out of all future app review responses. 

    Windows Phone experience:

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    We will do a slow and methodical roll-out of this capability so you may not notice any changes right away as it will take us several months to on-board all developers.

    As always, don’t be shy about writing honest and detailed app reviews. You just might catch the attention of the app’s developer.



  • A new spin on Angry Birds – play from the Pigs’ perspective in Bad Piggies

    The Pigs are after the Angry Birds’ eggs again—but as usual, nothing is going according to plan. In Bad Piggies, it’s up to you to help them create the ultimate machine to fly, crawl, roll, spin or crash them safely to their destination. Download the game now from the Windows Phone Store for $.99.

    BadPiggies     

    With more than 200 levels to play, enjoy your fill of pig-flying, crashing, and exploding. To pass each level, you’ll have to build just the right machine and steer it successfully. It might take multiple attempts to achieve all the objectives for each level, but figuring it out is part of the fun. And once you get three stars on every level, you’ll unlock 36 more puzzles.

    “Pig” time fun with Bad Piggies. Get it from the Windows Phone Store today.


  • Give Windows Phone 8.1 a try via Windows Phone Preview for Developers

    Today, you can now install Windows Phone 8.1 on your phone through the Windows Phone Preview for Developers and try out a lot of the awesomeness we announced two weeks ago at Build. To do this, follow the instructions here on the Dev Center. I suggest reading the important notes on the instructions page before opting your phone in to receive Windows Phone 8.1. For more details, head on over and read this blog post from Cliff Simpkins.

    For developers, we also announced that today the Dev Center is now open for now open for Windows Phone 8.1 and universal Windows app submissions.



  • Cortana (yes!) and Many, Many Other Great Features coming in Windows Phone 8.1

    Whew, what a day! What a week! I’ve just gotten off the stage at Build in front of 5,000 of our beloved developers talking about the future of the Windows platform. And now I’m here to tell YOU about the stuff we’ve been working on to delight all our Windows Phone users and fans!

    During my time on stage, I went over what’s next for Windows PCs, tablets, and phones with two major updates: Windows Phone 8.1 and the Windows 8.1 Update. Both releases bring a lot of new features for consumers and businesses alike, built from the feedback we’ve heard from customers along the way. We’ve also continued to invest in our partners, enabling lots of great new phones, tablets, laptops and PCs for you to choose from in the months ahead.

    Windows 8.1 Update: Focused on Mouse/Keyboard

    For PCs and tablets, we’ve made improvements in Windows 8.1 that will noticeably improve the experience when you’re using a PC without a touch-screen. We’ve made commands easier to find with mouse/keyboard, we’ve made switching between apps—especially Windows Store apps—much easier with mouse/keyboard… and we’ve made it easier to find new apps to install.

    To learn more about the update to Windows 8.1 for your PC and tablets, head on over to the Windows Experience Blog and read Brandon’s post. What I really want to cover in detail here is…

    Windows Phone 8.1: More Personal, Smarter, and even a “World Record Holder”!

    If you’re a Windows Phone user, you already know that we set out to create an experience that puts you and the things you care about most front and center. As a result, we believe Windows Phone is the world’s most personal smartphone… and with Windows Phone 8.1, we’ve added a BUNCH of new features that make your smartphone even more a reflection of your personality and desires.

    Want to experience it all in one giant demo? Then watch this marathon 15-minute video. Else… read on!

    Start screen: Make the Live Tiles Yours

    We want your Windows Phone Start screen to genuinely reflect your personality and the people and things you care about—so we are making it even more customizable!

    Start_ShadowBox_03_16x9 Start_ShadowBox_03_1080p_116x9

    In 2013, we added a third column on devices for 5-inch screen or larger devices, like the Lumia 1520, to enable more stuff to show up on the screen. People really liked this so we are enabling this on all screen sizes in Windows Phone 8.1. Pin away! We’ve also added the ability to customize your Start background with a favorite picture or one of the options we’ve provided, which will make many of the tiles on your Start screen become clear so you can see the background you selected as you scroll up and down.

    Lock screen: Lots of new “themes” to choose from!

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    The Lock screen is the very first thing you – or your friends—see when you grab your phone, and in Windows Phone 8.1 we’re providing a new app that lets you set a wide range of interesting “Lock Screen Themes” which show all kinds of different visuals and animations. Make it yours…

    Cortana: Your PERSONAL Digital Assistant

    Of everything we’re announcing today, I’m most excited to introduce you to the world’s first truly personal digital assistant, now on Windows Phone. We were inspired by the popular character from Halo who served as a brilliant AI and a deeply personal digital assistant to Master Chief… so we called her Cortana.

    Powered by Bing, Cortana is the only digital assistant that gets to know you, builds a relationship that you can trust, and gets better over time by asking questions based on your behavior and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something. She detects and monitors the stuff you care about, looks out for you throughout the day, and helps filter out the noise so you can focus on what matters to you. Cortana will launch shortly here in the U.S. first as a “beta,” and then will launch in the US, the U.K. and China in the second half of 2014 with other countries to follow afterwards into 2015.

    Cortana_Home_16x9 Cortana_Collection_Travel03_16x9

    In Windows Phone 8.1, you get to Cortana by either a Live Tile on your Start screen or by pressing the search button on your device. This will take you to Cortana Home. To interact with Cortana, you can either speak or type—if you’re in a meeting, just type and Cortana won’t talk out loud. But if you ask her a spoken question, she’ll answer verbally and even carry on a natural conversation.

    When you interact with Cortana for the VERY first time, she will start learning things about you... like your name, how to pronounce it, and ask for some personal interests.

    Once she’s learned a bit about you, Cortana’s home populates with information that is curated just for you. You’ll see things like flight information she’s found from your email confirmations, weather, the latest news, and even traffic information once she learns your commute routine, such as from work and home.

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    To develop Cortana, we talked to a number of real personal assistants. One technique these assistants spoke about was keeping track of the interests and preferences of their bosses in a notebook. We thought... what a great idea! So all the stuff Cortana curates for you is stored in Cortana’s Notebook. This information enables Cortana to be proactive and helpful throughout the day. For example, she’ll let me know if my upcoming flight back to Seattle is on time and, if I choose, will even pop-up to recommend what time I should leave for the airport based on traffic. Cortana can also manage your phone when you don’t want to be disturbed by setting quiet hours where she will silence any notifications, in-coming calls, and texts. Cortana understands the “inner circle” of people-closest-to-you, and she can let them break through at any time during quiet hours. And Cortana is the only digital assistant that lets you setup people reminders. You can have Cortana remind you that your buddy owes you $20 the next time you talk to him. And ALL of these interests and preferences are under YOUR CONTROL via Cortana’s notebook.

    What’s more, because Cortana is powered by Bing, some of the interests in Cortana’s Notebook will light up on Bing.comwhen you sign in on the web. Bing.com will give you access to the things Cortana tracks for you, like your weather, stocks, news, and flights.

    We’ve also designed Cortana to be able to interact with 3rd Party Appsinstalled on your phone. You can ask Cortana to help you make a video call in Skype, watch a TV show in Hulu Plus, look up a news feed on Facebook or send a tweet using the Twitter app – all of which we demoed during this morning’s keynote.

    And finally, Cortana isn’t just a dry computer returning search results. Just as she has in the game Halo, Windows Phone’s Cortana has a bit of personality. But you’ll have to talk to her yourself to see what I mean by that. Or… I bet you’ll be able to find some videos on the web pretty soon to see what I mean.

    We think you’re going to really love having Cortana as your personal assistant!

    A Whole Slew of New Delighters

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    Action Center:Live Tiles are a great way to “glance and go,” and now we’ve added Action Center to enable you to see notifications from ANY app – pinned or not—and to give you a customizable way to quickly access the settings you care about most, like Wi-Fi, Flight Mode, Bluetooth and Rotation Lock.

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    Word Flow Keyboard:The keyboard in Windows Phone is smart enough to learn your writing style and even knows the names of people in your contacts for faster typing. Best of all, our new Word Flow Keyboard lets you glide your fingers over the keys to type INCREDIBLY quickly… a kid was able to BREAK THE OFFICIAL WORLD RECORD previously held by the Swype keyboard on a Samsung Galaxy S4 using Word Flow by 8 seconds!

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    Skype:The new Skype app for Windows Phone 8.1 brings the best of Skype on a smartphone. It’s integrated with the Phone dialer, so if you’re on a call you can quickly and easily “upgrade” your ordinary phone call to a Skype video call at the tap of a button! And… the new Skype app is designed to work seamlessly with Cortana so you can use Cortana to setup your calls within Skype.

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    Calendar:The new Calendar has been redesigned to add a new week view which lots of people have been asking for and it has many nice touches—like panning right to get to the next day or week or month! What’s more, it looks a lot like Outlook on your Windows PC… e.g., the weather is integrated at the top – just like in Outlook.

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    Music, Video, Podcasts: We’ve made a ton of improvements to these experiences, which are now split out as separate apps and all of which can be updated via the Store. In Music, you can edit your playlists and manage your cloud collection really easily and effectively. Video makes it possible to buy or rent videos from Xbox Music, and Podcasts now lets you subscribe to any RSS feed AND provides a Bing-powered podcast search for every country where Windows Phone is available. Oh… and we’ve improved the phone volume control by including separate sliders for your ringer/notifications and for your apps and media. Just the way you asked for it!

    PeopleHub

    People Hub, Email and Accounts: The People Hub has higher-fidelity feeds for your social network content (large photos!) and it connects directly to 3rd-party social networking apps so that you can have easy access to all the full functionality of the 3rd party apps once they are installed. Email now supports S/MIME secure email, and we’ve broadened our support for different account types, now including iCloud.

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    Photos & Camera:The Photos experience now jumps directly to your most recent photos and shows as collections automatically organized, in a view grouped by date and location. Online photo albums are now supported via app-extensibility, so 3rd parties can plug in their services. In the Camera, we’ve updated the UI and added “burst mode” photography that lets you capture exactly the perfect moment—just like on Windows 8.1.

    Data Sense, Wi-Fi Sense, Storage Sense, and Battery Saver:We’ve added a number of features in Windows Phone 8.1 that are designed to help you get the most out of your data allowance, battery life and storage.

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    Data Senselets you track how much data usage you use in a given month and will give you a breakdown of usage by app so you can see which app is using the most of your data. As you near your data limit, Data Sense will more aggressively offload data to Wi-Fi and limit cellular usage… and in 8.1 there’s a new “high savings” mode that cranks up the compression of images as you browse the web so you can browse even farther using less data than WP8.

    Wi-Fi Sensewill automatically connect you to free public hotspots it finds to help you save cellular data. And, if you’d like, you can opt-in to automatically and securely enable your friends and contacts to auto-connect to your home Wi-Fi, so they can use the internet connection at your house without hassling you for the password and typing it in manually. If you turn off Wi-Fi in Wi-Fi Sense, you can have Cortana automatically turn it back on when you reach one of your favorite places as identified in Cortana.

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    We’re introducing Storage Senseto help you get the most out of the memory and storage on your phone. It will help you manage content you have on an SD memory card if your device supports those. You can also move content – like apps, music, photos – between the storage built in to your device and an SD memory card.

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    And Battery Saver gives you a clear breakdown of how apps are using your battery so you can make more informed usage decisions. With “automatic mode” enabled, it can dramatically extend your battery life.

    Windows and Windows Phone Together

    Your Microsoft Accountallows Windows and Windows Phone to work together in amazing ways. Windows Phone 8.1 furthers the integration between phone and PC. If you change your theme color, that change will sync across all your Windows devices. If you buy an in-app purchase in some of the newer apps written for Windows Phone and Windows 8.1, the purchase works on your phone AND your PC. And other settings like your home Wi-Fi password will also sync.

    Ever wanted to project your phone screen onto a PC, TV set or projector? We’ve added support for that as well—connect your Windows Phone to a compatible PC using a USB cable and you can run an application on the PC to show the phone screen. Some of the forthcoming new phones will also support wireless Miracast display to compatible TVs and other devices.

    And finally with Internet Explorer 11 for Windows Phone, you will be able to see all the open tabs you have on all your Windows devices and all your Favorites too. Plus the new Internet Explorer gives you InPrivate browsing, password caching, and a super-handy reading mode.

    Great for Business Users and IT Managers

    Windows has long been the choice for the enterprise and professionals. Windows Phone fits easily and seamlessly into a corporate ecosystem making it easier to work when you are on the go. Last year, PC Magazine’s readers selected Nokia Lumia/Windows Phones as the Business Choice Award for smartphones by scoring them the highest in end-user satisfaction.

    With Windows Phone 8.1, we’re making it even easier for IT professionals to manage devices and for professionals to connect to essential business apps and services with features such as customizable MDM enrollment, support for loads more MDM policies, LOB application & certificate management, S/MIME and VPN support. Stay tuned for a detailed blog post later today on the Windows for your Business Blog that covers all the key features for businesses.

    Sounds Great! When Can I Get It? And on which phones?

    Windows Phone 8.1 will start rolling out to existing Windows Phone 8 users and will come pre-installed on new phones, including the Lumia 630 and 635 and Lumia 930 announced by Nokia today, in the coming months. If you want to try out Windows Phone 8.1 and you are a registered developer, you can update your phone as part of the Developer Preview Program in the first part of April.

    We are very proud of the progress we are making with Windows Phone. Industry analyst IDC proclaimed Windows Phone the fastest growing smartphone platform in 2013, and we think the future is even brighter. At Mobile World Congress, we announced our commitment to growing the number of device partners making Windows Phones, and were proud to welcome nine new partners to the Windows Phone ecosystem. Today we announced two more partners - Prestigio in Europe and Micromax in India – to further ensure that individuals around the world will have access to the amazing experience that only Windows Phone delivers consistently across all price points.

    We know we have lots more to do – for developers, for business customers, and for consumers. Today’s announcements at Build were all about taking the next steps – making it easier than ever to build great devices and write great apps for Windows, and enabling a new generation of cool experiences for customers that show the power of designing around people, delivering truly personal computing, and helping us all to get more out of the technology in our lives.



  • Here’s the Next Big Thing – this month’s look at the top new indie games for Windows Phone and Windows

    We love seeing what our top independent developers bring to the Windows and Windows Phone Stores each month. This month is no exception, with a crop of great new titles recently added to The Next Big Thing Collection for Windows Phone – games like Zombie Tsunami, Machinarium, Skelly Rider, Unroll It and more.

    Here’s a closer look at some of the new titles:

    Zombie Tsunami

    1

    Usually games have you running from zombies or battling them, but in this wildly fun adventure, you’re one of the staggering hordes. Take your place in the rampage and attack unfortunate survivors, adding them to your ranks. You’re hungry. You’re unstoppable. You’re part of the Zombie Tsunami! Download Zombie Tsunami for free from the Windows Phone Store!

    Skelly Rider

    2

    This endless-runner RPG puts a dapper skeleton – “Skelly” – on the run from a monstrous Tyrannosaurus Rex that is terrorizing the countryside. Your challenge: keep Skelly on his winged mount and help him avoid the many obstacles he’ll face as he flies near and far. Face dangers with him, collect gold along the way, even compete with players on global leaderboards. Download Skelly Rider for free from the Windows Phone Store!

    Galactic Rush

    3

    Who’s the fastest in the galaxy? In this endless-runner game, that’s the question for you to answer, proving your zip-zag-jump-run prowess to earn the title. You can represent humans or other alien races, and you can take advantage of power-ups to complete challenges and earn rewards. Put your running shoes on and lace them up – the biggest race in the galaxy is about to begin! Download Galactic Rush for free from the Windows Phone Store!

    Machinarium

    4

    This little robot has been consigned to a big scrap heap behind the city of Machinarium, but even worse, his robot girlfriend is in distress and needs his help. That’s where the adventure begins, with our little guy confronting the Black Cap Brotherhood to save her. You’ll encounter a range of evil robots in this rusty world, solving logic puzzles and brain teasers along the way. Can he rescue his girl and make her day? With your help, of course! Download Machinarium for $4.99 (U.S.) from the Windows Phone Store!

    Numolition

    5

    Add ‘em up and blow ‘em up – that’s the addictively fun goal behind this explosive game, filled with wacky characters and imaginative animation. Just flatten as many constructions as you can by setting up, adding up and blowing up the numbers 1 to 9. Sound easy? You’ll get the hang of things quickly, but mastery will take time. There are more than 50 levels and 120 bonus challenges to keep you guessing and going. Numolition is a fun time for all ages – no matter how honed your math skills may be. Download Numolition for $1.49 (U.S.) from the Windows Phone Store!

    Dengen Chronicles

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    Here’s your chance to be the hero of your favorite comic – all in an engaging Manga card game. With four Manga families at war (Ninja, Fantasy, Robot and School), you’ll need to pick a side, build your card deck of warriors and head into battle. Your warriors are super-customizable, with thousands of fantasy fight items – and you can challenge real opponents in turn-based matches. Play your saga and see your Manga future unfold. Download Dengen Chronicles for free from the Windows Phone Store and download it for free from the Windows Store!

    Unroll It

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    Keeping things simple makes this game incredibly fun. All you do is move the blocks up, down and sideways to create a continuous path for a little white ball to reach its red goal. But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. Just trust that as the challenge increases, the fun does, too. Download Unroll It for free from the Windows Phone Store and download it for free from the Windows Store!

    Zombie Ragdoll

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    For physics fun with some wild-eyed ragdolls, start here. These ragdolls are zombies, too, so you can turn them into deadly weapons with no harm done: aim, tap, and shoot them as you work your way through each level. Live Tiles show you high scores and which lab you’ve reached, and you can purchase coins and gems in-app to help you beat levels. Try some apocalyptic ragdoll fun today! Download Zombie Ragdoll for free from the Windows Phone Store and download it for free from the Windows Store!

    Start off your spring with some great new indie games. Check out these and more in The Next Big Thing Collection in the Windows Phone Store!