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July 20, 2012

The Wrap: Expanded traffic coverage, Nokia Drive 3.0, new Xbox LIVE games

Hi everyone. Just back from a short vacation and enjoying this week’s Windows Phone news. Have a great weekend!

Traffic option arrives in more countries

Windows Phone now better helps you avoid situations like this, with improved and expanded traffic coverage.

Last month we announced that improved and expanded traffic coverage was rolling out to the built-in Maps app. As program manager Scott Borton explained in his post, stage one was enabling traffic info for more highways and secondary streets.

Stage two of the upgrade—just completed— was making traffic info available for selected cities in Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

If you live in one of those places, pop open Maps and give it a try. It’s important to note that while the traffic menu option is now available in more places, traffic data might not be (especially if you’re driving through the countryside). So if your roads don’t change color when you tap Show Traffic, it means road info doesn’t exist for that area.  

Nokia Drive 3.0 on the way for Lumia owners

Speaking of driving…Nokia Conversations reported this week that a software update for Nokia’s highly rated turn-by-turn Drive app was on the way to Lumia owners. Key upgrades include a nifty new My Commute feature, which “learns your driving preferences and uses information about the latest traffic conditions to help you choose” between different routes, and a new day/night mode that automatically adjusts your phone display for better visibility. You’ll find more details on these and other version 3.0 enhancements on their blog.

Apps of the week: Contract Killer, Lode Runner, Zite

The Xbox LIVE crew has certainly been keeping busy, delivering a steady stream of top-notch games to the Windows Phone Marketplace.  This week, two more hot titles made their debut: Contract Killer and Lode Runner Classic. Given my 80s pedigree, I was especially excited to see the latter. Anybody care to share their early reviews?

Meanwhile, news junkies will also be happy to hear, as CNET reported, that Zite is on the way to the Windows Phone Marketplace. (And I thought it was especially cool that Zite CEO Mark Johnson is also a Lumia-toting Windows Phone fan.)

Lode Runner Classic

Roundtable: What 5 app makers think of Windows Phone

With Marketplace’s six-figure milestone in the rearview mirror, The Guardian (U.K.) newspaper decided to sit down with five Windows Phone developers for their thoughts on the platform. The talented group included the people behind the camera app Kaleidobooth, the skygazing app Star Chart, and the weather app Weather Flow. Whether you’re a developer thinking about moving to Windows Phone—or just curious about the people who make your favorite apps—I think you’ll find it an interesting read. “One thing is clear,” concludes reporter Stuart Dredge, “developers like Windows Phone as an OS and a development environment.”