Microsoft has updated Windows Phone App Studio Beta to add customer-requested features. Users can now add menu items that link to native apps to make phone calls, displays maps and play music.
The update improves the development workflow, enhances the project code, adds caching so that dynamic RSS feeds can be read when the phone is offline, and removes unused external sources to reduce the size and complexity of the project.
It also has a new FlipView to make navigating between items easier, uses NFC to share apps with other users, allows ads to be added using a pubCenter ID and allows a default language to be set to make publishing faster. Learn more on the Windows Phone Developer Blog here and app website here.
Microsoft has released Windows Phone 8 Update 3. When long-pressing the Back button to switch apps, there is now an X button in the top-right corner that can be used to close an app.
There are also new options in Settings to enable rotation lock and set custom text tones. A new Driving Mode can be used to connect to a car using Bluetooth, block calls and automatically send a predefined text message.
For the first time, the update is available early for developers using a new “Preview for Developers” app available in the Windows Phone Store here. Developers must have an active Windows Phone Dev Center account ($19 per year, free for DreamSpark students) an App Studio account or a registered developer device. Learn more about how download the update for free using an App Studio account here.
Microsoft has updated its Fresh Paint app to work with Windows Phones with only 512MB including the HTC 8S and Nokia Lumia 520, 521, 620, 625 and 720. Fresh Paint is an app for create paintings by mixing colours and using different-sized brushes or by applying filters to photos.
Using Windows Phone 8 with only 512MB of RAM? Download the updated app from the Windows Store here.
Nokia has started rolling out its Amber update for Lumia phones. The update includes Nokia Glance Screen, which displays the time, battery indicator and whether the phone is in silent mode while it is inactive. There are new options to double tap the screen to wake up the phone and flip the phone to silence it.
The update also includes improved image processing algorithms to improve noise reduction, colour reproduction, exposure control and autofocus. ISO settings can be adjusted on the Nokia Lumia 920 to improve low-light photos and the Nokia Pro Camera app is included for the Nokia Lumia 920, 925 and 928.
A new Storage Checker can be used to check how much space is being used on the phone and clean up unnecessary files. With this update, Nokia HERE Maps can save time and bandwidth by only downloaded map changes instead of entire maps. Learn more about the update on the Nokia blog here.
After pulling the app at Google’s request, Microsoft has now updated its YouTube app to address Google’s requests. The app now shows ads before a video is played like on the YouTube website and videos can no longer be downloaded for offline viewing.
As well as addresses Google’s requests, the app adds a new feature to upload videos. To minimise data quota and battery usage, videos must be no more than 5MB in size when uploaded over a cellular network.
Larger videos up to 100MB must be uploaded over Wi-Fi and the phone must be plugged in if the video is over 20MB. Videos are uploaded as a background task, so they continue to upload after switching to another app. Using Windows Phone? Download the update from the Windows Phone Store here.
UPDATE: Google has blocked the app yet again, this time claiming it’s because the app isn’t written in HTML5, even though its own Android and iOS YouTube apps aren’t written in HTML5.
Microsoft has started rolling out an update to Bing search on Windows Phone 8. Currently, tapping Search displays Web, Local, Media, and Shopping categories. The update changes these categories to Web, Images, and Video categories.
Depending on the search, the Web category may contain a few images or videos along with the search results or it may display an instant answer for traffic, flight status, exchange rates, word definitions and translations.
To save bandwidth, only the Web category is downloaded. The user must swipe to the Images or Video categories to download images or videos. The Images and Videos categories also now support infinite scrolling.
The update is rolling out over the next few weeks in the US and will roll out to other countries in the future. Interested in learning more? See the Windows Phone blog here.
Google has updated its Calendar app for Android. With this update, notifications are now synchronised, so dismissing a notification on one device will also dismiss it on all the user’s other Android devices.
The update also includes bug fixes including one that caused a crash when selecting colours for Exchange accounts. Using an Android device? Download the update from Google Play here.
Google has also extended the date it will allow Windows Phone users to synchronise using Exchange ActiveSync until 31 December 2013 to give Microsoft more time to add CalDAV and CardDAV support.
Nokia has announced its Lumia 1020 smartphone, the first Windows Phone with a 41-megapixel camera. The PureView sensor includes optical image stabilisation, 6-lens Zeiss optics and a Xenon flash.
The camera takes two photos: one that is 38 megapixels and one that is 5 megapixels. The 5 megapixel image is oversampled to produce a higher-quality image and is an appropriate size to be shared with others.
The large 38-megapixel image can be used to zoom out and create a new image focusing on another area of the scene. The Lumia 1020 supports 1080p video with 4x zoom or 720p with 6x zoom. A Nokia Pro app has various settings such as focus, contrast and tint that can be changed and viewed instantly on the viewfinder.
The phone will be available on 26 July 2013 for US$299.99 at AT&T. Learn more on the Nokia website here.
Microsoft has launched its Xbox Music website, which has a web player that lets Xbox Music Pass subscribers play music in their browser. The web player has a responsive design that adapts to the browser size.
It is very similar to the redesigned Windows 8.1 Xbox Music app, except that it doesn’t include the same rich Now Playing screen. Instead, a Now Playing bar is displayed at the bottom of the website.
The web player can be accessed on multiple computers at the same time without any restrictions and the playlist syncs with Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox 360 devices so that changes on one device is automatically reflected on the other devices.
There is also a free 30-day trial version available after which a monthly fee will be automatically billed. Check out the Xbox Music website here.
Twitter has updated its Windows Phone app. Tweets in a foreign language are now automatically translated into the user’s preferred language using Bing Translator. This feature is currently not available for the iOS and Android apps, but it will likely be added in the future. The update also includes various bug fixes.
Using a Windows Phone? Download the update from the Windows Phone store here.