Apollo – The CyanogenMod Music Player Hits The Play Store; Re-written From Scratch!

Remember the beautiful Apollo music player that a CyanogenMod developer released earlier this year? The music player was eventually included in CyanogenMod 9 and 10 builds. However, the development of the music player pretty much stopped from Andrew soon after.

Today, Andrew Neal has released an updated version of the Apollo Music Player on the Play Store — Apollo+. The new version has been completely written from scratch and contains lots of under-the-hood enhancements and bug-fixes. He will also merge the updated app with CyanogenMod sometime soon.

However, the version of the app included in CyanogenMod will be different from Play Store one. The latter will be updated more frequently and contain more features.  The app also comes in two versions – a free, ad supported version and a paid one for a mere dollar.As of now, the app is not optimized for the tablet layout, but Andrew is working on it and expects to add it sooner than later.

The developer is eagerly responding to all feedbacks, including negatives ones and feature requests, over at Reddit. So head over and directly give him your feedback!

Neil Armstrong First Man On the Moon Dies

2012 has been a year of great loss, as the first woman in space, Sally Ride, recently passed and now Neil Armstrong has passed away. His family reports that the 82 year old died from complications of a cardiac procedure.

Neil Armstrong
Portrait of Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander of the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing mission in his space suit, with his helmet on the table in front of him. Behind him is a large photograph of the lunar surface. (courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Neil Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing mission. He successfully landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. It was an event that was watched around the world and his words will forever be etched in the minds of all who heard him say, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.

Everything you can find on Mr. Armstrong seems to point to his humility and attitude of service. In a February 2000 appearance he is quoted saying, “I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer”. Not hardly what you might expect from the first man on the moon.

“As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them, remembered for taking humankind’s first small step on a world beyond our own,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

Neil Armstrong will be terribly missed by all who are fans of NASA and I am sure that his friends and family will feel the great loss for years to come.

His family has put up a website to keep people informed. I will end this post with what they posted today as I believe it is the most fitting tribute:

“We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.

“Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.

“Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati.

“He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits.

“As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.

“While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.

“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

For more information, please visit NASA’s tribute to him at http://www.nasa.gov/topics/people/features/armstrong_obit.html.

Windows Phone Finally Becomes Enterprise-Ready

 

Windows Phone 8

At today’s Windows Phone Summit, Microsoft gave a sneak peek at the next version of their phone operating system, Windows Phone 8 (WP8). Microsoft officials made it clear that this event was a platform preview more than a rundown of all new features (especially consumer-facing features) of WP8. The biggest reveal of the event was that the WP8 OS shares the core with its big brother, Windows 8. In this way, a lot of the lower level features and capabilities of Windows 8 are automatically translated over to WP8.

What I was most interested in seeing was how WP8 would improve its enterprise feature set. I have written before how some basic features required by corporate IT are missing from Windows Phone 7.5. I am happy to report that most of the issues I had, are going to be addressed in WP8. Here’s a high-level list of business-related features being added to Windows Phone:

  • Device encryption: Perhaps the single-most important feature required by IT is that the device data is encrypted. Windows Phone 7.5 has isolated storage and sandboxed apps but it is not the same or as secure as full device encryption. WP8 adds Bitlocker encryption to secure the entire device, including operating system and data files. Not only that, this will extend to removable microSD cards as well.
  • Secure boot: WP8 will support UEFI-based secure boot and add better app sandboxing, thereby protecting the device from increasing mobile malware threats.
  • Remote administration: Corporate IT will now be able to manage Windows Phones (including apps) just like they manage Windows PCs. Again, this could happen easily because of the shared core between WP8 and Windows 8.
  • Company hub: Windows Phone 7.5 offers no way to side load apps, and all apps have to go through the Marketplace to be deployed on devices. With WP8, Microsoft makes it possible for IT to be able to deploy apps via a Company Hub. The Company Hub can of course be used to disseminate other info, since it acts like just another app on the phone. Microsoft will provide templates and development guidance so IT departments can build such a hub for their employees.

 

WP8 Company Hub

Company Hub in Windows Phone 8

There are probably more features that relate to business use of Windows Phones which were not discussed today, like VPN support. However, the features discussed are big enough to give corporate IT and idea of how compliant WP8 will be with their stringent requirements.

Do you think these are good enough for your company’s IT department to start planning full support for Windows Phones? Let me know!

Microsoft Promises Peek At Future Of Windows Phone During San Francisco Summit

Last month, Microsoft announced plans to host a Windows Phone Developer Summit in San Francisco on June 20th through the 21st, and on Monday, the company opened up registration to the event so that those who were invited could RSVP.

An updated invitation was also released, revealing a few interesting things about the event. For one, those who had this added to their calendars from the first invite can free up June 21st; the event has been slashed down to a day-long event on the 20th. They also added a pretty suggestive tagline, which seems to suggest that this is going to be the event where Microsoft truly pull the curtain on Windows Phone 8: “A sneak peek of the future of Windows Phone.”

That, along with the fact that they’re referring to it as just a Windows Phone Summit (and not a developer summit) seems to indicate that they decided at some point during the last four weeks or so that this should be a full-blown Apollo announcement instead of just a mere event to spur additional developer interest in San Francisco. Jokes aside, this is actually a pretty intriguing event. And don’t worry, it will be livestreamed; just remember to head on over to Channel 9 on the 20th to watch the webcast.

Will Apollo Allow For Additional OEM and Carrier Customization?

Thus far, Microsoft hasn’t really opened up Windows Phone for OEM customization. Apart from some apps which may come pre-installed with a device from a carrier — which can be easily uninstalled should you not want them — Windows Phone is pretty much stock. This may change, however, as the company may be opening up the platform for additional “customization and differentiation”.

Netbook News obtained the agenda of an Apollo summit that the company is hosting in Reading, UK, and one of the primary topics that will be discussed is “customization and differentiation opportunities”. While the report doesn’t reveal anything beyond the topic titles themselves, this topic in particular is highly suggestive of more carrier/OEM customization to come.

Tom Warren thinks that the integration will be seamless and executed well enough to not be interpreted as bloatware by the user. One implementation he notes is the integration of Rich Communication Suite-enhanced services within Windows Phone 8. He reported that Microsoft will allow operators to integrate their own (or third party) voice and messaging solutions seamlessly into the OS within the People hub. VOIP may even be integrated, with VOIP calls looking like normal voice calls when received over Windows Phone 8.

I wouldn’t mind seamless integration of that nature. However, if this allows for even more bloatware, or perhaps customization that makes Windows Phone look like an OS developed by AT&T, that would be terrible. Here’s the complete list of topics that Microsoft will reportedly be touching on during the summit:

  • Apollo Review
  • Windows Phone Schedules and release plans/processes
  • Customization & Differentiation opportunities
  • New Windows Phone 8 application development capabilities
  • What’s new feature review of Apollo
  • Connectivity and APN management
  • Better together with Windows 8

Windows Phone 8 ‘Apollo’ Build Shows Up In ‘I’m a WP7′ App

Last month, strangely, a build of Windows 8 desktop — dubbed Jupiter, which is the codename for “Immersive” Metro apps — cropped up in the ‘I’m a WP7′ Windows Phone app which lists out the build numbers of the OSes that users install the app on. Considering the rumored switch to the NT kernel in Windows Phone 8, it was speculated that, assuming that the build number wasn’t spoofed at all to begin with, Microsoft was simply performing some internal testing of Apollo.

On Tuesday, WPCentral reported that yet another prospective future Windows Phone build was spotted in the app. Build 8.0.9662.0, sporting the Apollo codename and ‘Windows Phone 8.0′ version was spotted by users of the app in the device statistics area. But could it be fake? The developer of the I’m a WP7 app weighed in, stating:

“It’s running from an Emulator, doesn’t appear to be spoofed, is using the default Emulator location, and the Time Zone Offset lines up with Pacific Coast…”

WPCentral also report that Windows Phone 8 began internal dogfooding within Microsoft on March 30. So, with the information we have, it seems legit. And it’s likely that someone internally decided to have some fun and do a little teasing of the blogosphere by using this app in their test scenario.

Microsoft Confirms That Existing Apps Will Work On Windows Phone 8

Windows Phone 8 is expected to be a pretty colossal update — so colossal, in fact, that some phone manufacturers are waiting until its release later this year before making serious flagship devices — however, there were two big questions surrounding its release. Will it work on older hardware, and will existing apps continue to work on the platform? While we still don’t know the answer to the first question, the latter was addressed by Microsoft in a blog post on Thursday. Yes, the rumors are true; existing apps will continue to work on Windows Phone 8.

On top of announcing this, the blog post also hinted at the demise of Silverlight as a development technology on Windows Phone. Microsoft’s Larry Lieberman, who penned the post, addressed the topic of Silverlight concerns by suggesting other great technologies to use when developing for Windows Phone:

We’ve also heard some developers express concern about the long term future of Silverlight for Windows Phone. Please don’t panic; XAML and C#/VB.NET development in Windows 8 can be viewed as a direct evolution from today’s Silverlight. All of your managed programming skills are transferable to building applications for Windows 8, and in many cases, much of your code will be transferable as well.

Definitely good news.

Is Microsoft Testing Windows Phone Apps On Windows 8?

With the major Windows Phone 8 ‘Apollo’ update on the horizon, speculation has been abound that its most major software-side change is with a kernel switch from CE to NT. With that in mind, WMPowerUser stumbled upon something interesting: I’m a WP7, an app which lists all of the build numbers of the OSes that users install the app on, has reported that 1% of people who use the app are running it on Windows 8 build 6.2.8283.0; essentially, this shows that someone is running this Windows Phone app on a desktop Windows 8 machine.

WMPowerUser speculate that Microsoft are going to allow Windows Phone apps to run on Windows 8, essentially giving the tablet marketplace a 70,000 (likely unpleasant to use) app boost, and the information we see reported by the I’m a WP7 app is of them doing internal testing of this functionality. Something worth noting is the mention of “Jupiter” in the I’m a WP7 app, which, as we know is essentially the codename for the Metro, “Immersive”-style app ecosystem in Windows 8.

This of course backs the credible rumors we’ve seen that suggest Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 will share many of the same components, allowing for easy app ports across the two platforms (and apparently the ability to seamlessly run Windows Phone apps on Windows 8 itself.)

With both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 slated to launch later this year, it will be interesting to see how consumers and developers alike react to Sinofsky’s new “one Windows” vision when it hits the shelves.

Rumor: Nokia To Launch ‘AC/DC’ And ‘Prodigy’ Apollo Handsets

According to The Verge, Nokia are readying two new Windows Phone 8 ‘Apollo’ handsets that they plan to launch later this year on AT&T. The Prodigy — aptly codenamed — is geared to be a high-end flagship device that runs the new, major Windows Phone release in all its glory. The AC/DC on the other hand will be a mid-range device.

The device names — Prodigy and AC/DC — are believed to be codenames; they will probably be branded as Lumia devices when they officially hit the shelves later on this year. While we now have an idea of what Nokia may be planning as far as Apollo handsets for AT&T, we’re still in the dark when it comes to their plans for other major carriers in the U.S. are.

We know that Verizon is, for the most part, holding off on Windows Phones until Apollo — in fact, they terminated plans to offer a Nokia handset this January/February. And from what we’re hearing, Sprint have the same ‘wait until Apollo’ thinking when it comes to their Windows Phone strategy.

One thing’s for sure: It’s definitely cropping up to be a major update. Even HTC are holding out until Windows Phone 8 before releasing any serious devices to the market.

Verizon Reportedly Scrapped Plans To Sell A Nokia Windows Phone

According to a report published on Monday, Verizon was contemplating launching a Nokia device — called the ‘Om’ — around January, but axed plans to do so primarily due to Windows Phone’s — at the time — lack of support for Verizon LTE (the Nokia Lumia 900 will likely be launching on AT&T’s own LTE network.)

Thus far, Verizon doesn’t seem to be quite enthusiastic about the Windows Phone platform; they currently only offer one Windows Phone  — the HTC Trophy — which is one of the first Windows Phones ever released. While they probably could release a Windows Phone 7.5 device in the interim, The Verge are hearing that Windows Phone won’t have Verizon LTE support until the big ‘Apollo’ update that’s due later this year.

That being said, it’s truly interesting how massive this update is; in fact, many are speculating that it will only run on new Windows Phone hardware. These behaviors of manufacturers and carriers all seem to line up with this rumor as well. HTC are holding off until Apollo before releasing any serious flagship devices, and Sprint are also in the ‘wait for Apollo’ boat.