Weekend Reading: Jan. 31st Edition—Get ready for Sunday’s big game with apps, videos and Bing searches

In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on apps and other ways to get ready for Sunday’s big game, Seattle Gigapixel ArtZoom (an interactive city panorama created by a Microsoft Research team) and an artist who’s found that the Surface 2 hits the sweet spot for work, school and her literacy projects in Cambodia.

The biggest game in U.S. pro football is Sunday, and various apps, promotions and tools are available to help you prepare for it. In a video, “Madden NFL 25” predicted the victor of Sunday’s matchup. The Windows Store has on its roster a collection of apps dedicated to The Big Game, including the Super Bowl XLVIII – NFL Official Program, which has all the content from this year’s official commemorative program, enhanced for tablets: team information, player profiles, stats and much more when it comes to the NFC and AFC champions. Also good resources: Football Pro+, The ESPN App, NFL Connect and the Windows Phone Store’s Big Game collection. Microsoft’s Power BI team showed their 12thMan spirit by creating a video from publicly available data and highlights from each of the Seahawks’ games across the country, a journey that began Sept. 8. Heading into the final days before Sunday’s much anticipated match-up, Bing looked at searches related to the game and we found out about the “Beast Quake” felt ’round world thanks to Windows Azure. If you happen to be in Manhattan this weekend, Xbox is offering free short rides via Uber. And you can also look forward to winning tickets to the next national championship by making your Player Face Off picks now using NFL on Xbox One app.

On Monday, we saw how a Microsoft Research team created Seattle Gigapixel ArtZoom, an interactive city panorama. Microsoft principal research development lead Matt Uyttendaele and principal researcher Michael Cohen used one of the many technologies they have created over their years working in Microsoft Research – the Image Composite Editor (ICE) – to stitch together a seamless, 20 gigapixel (20,000 megapixels), super high-resolution 360-degree panorama image from a set of overlapping shots taken from a downtown Seattle rooftop, hosted on Microsoft Photosynth. The Seattle Gigapixel ArtZoom project pushes the boundaries of the ICE technology to deliver an image that allows anyone to pan and zoom through the city of Seattle with an amazing level of detail. In a fun twist, visitors to the site can discover more than 100 artists and performers in public spaces and in private buildings, near important Seattle landmarks and on random street corners, acting alone or interacting with onlookers. The team captured the city’s vibrancy by filling the panoramic image with the dancers and actors, painters and poets, acrobats and burlesque queens. This interactive image, along with information, videos and stories about the artists, can be found at Gigapixel ArtZoom.

When Seattle-based artist and entrepreneur Lauren Iida was in search of a go-to device that was light enough to carry around in her bag and robust enough to handle schoolwork, her dog walking business and Cambodia-focused independent art projects, the Surface 2 hit the sweet spot. Read about how Surface 2 – and built-in apps like Skype and Office – have become a mainstay in her busy life.

The winners of the second Imagine Cup Challenge of the 2014 season were announced. Also known as the Project Blueprint Challenge, teams prepared a document spelling out plans for a great Imagine Cup project. Hundreds of teams of students from dozens of countries around the world competed in this contest. First place in the Games category went to “Liaison” by Brazil’s Liaison Team; first in the World Citizenship category went to “Can Game” by Team Life Up, also from Brazil; and YouBeRu by Denmark’s YouBeRu placed first in the Innovation category.

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Xbox announced an acquisition and a big week of savings. Xbox Wire recalls its favorite (spoiler-free) moments from “Gears of War,” the franchise Microsoft Studios obtained the rights to Tuesday. Another exciting development came with “Halo: Spartan Assault,” available for download to Xbox 360 on Jan. 31. Cost conscious gamers can find deals on more than two dozen games and add-ons from the Xbox Games Store, with discounts valid now through Feb. 3

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“Gears of War”

As more apps arrive in the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store, we found some good advice in how to promote them and how to find the best ones for school use. The Windows Phone Developer Blog makes several recommendations for promoting your app once it’s live in the Store. Microsoft Fellow and Master Trainer Kim West sorts out apps that would be to useful to educators. In the Windows Store, we saw several eye-catching games: “Marvel Run Jump Smash!” “Little Things Forever” and “Flow Free: Bridges.” Leap2 emerged as the Staff App Pick for Windows.

Over in the Windows Phone Store, Fandango is the Staff App Pick. The App of the Week: “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas,” gives players a protagonist framed for murder and battling a lot of obstacles in a fictional, crime-filled city. In real-life Delhi, India – one of the world’s biggest cities – residents can submit threat or crime information from their phones using Microsoft’s pilot Know Your Police Station mobile app. The AppCampus Showcase focuses on work from indie developers who bring their apps to the Windows Phone Store first. Also worth perusing in the Store: the Red Stripe Deals collection, Beats Music and CWT To Go.

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“Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas”

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we shared a guide to taking puddlegrams using a Nokia Lumia.  

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Thanks for checking out this edition of Weekend Reading. Enjoy the big game Sunday (may the best team win!) and see you next week.

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff