Tag Archives: Windows Phone 7

Windows Phone Apps of the Week

Every week (and sometimes I skip!) I pick three of my favorite Windows Phone apps. I include both paid and free apps as well as games. If you are an app developer and want me to feature your app here, drop me a line.

News360

News360

News360 is an intuitive app that delivers news headlines and stories from more than 300+ English newspapers. The stories are personalized to your location and global news sources are collected by sophisticated linguistic algorithms.

You can share your feeds with friends via Facebook or Twitter. You can also add the people or companies you want to track to your Favorites. News360 is a comprehensive app for news junkies, and at the price of nothing, it should be a favorite of many.

News + Weather | Free | <1MB | Download

Perfect Scan

Perfect Scan

Perfect Scan turns your Windows Phone device into a portable scanner for documents, receipts, business cards, whiteboards, etc. You can email your scanned documents or upload to Dropbox and Google Docs.

Perfect Scan features automatic perspective correction and allows image enhancement like cropping, rotation, and color adjustments. The ability to add text to your documents is useful to fill out forms or sign documents. Perfect Scan is an easy app with a seamless interface and allows both PDF and JPEG formats. Although, there are several similar apps on the Windows Phone Marketplace, Perfect Scan is better in terms of processing and output scans. However, most users would miss support for SkyDrive.

Tools + Productivity | $2.99 | 1MB | Download

Kinectimals

Kinectimals

Cuteness has arrived on Windows Phone! Visit the island of Lemuria and spend time with your very own cub. While you play with and care for your cub, you might just fall in love. Kinectimals features delightful animations and is a visual delight.

If you already play Kinectimals on Kinect for Xbox 360, Kinectimals on Windows Phone would allow you to unlock five new cubs on your console.   The mobile game though allows newer ways to play with your cub than the console version.

Games | $2.99 | 85 MB | Download

Microsoft Updates WP7 OS X Client, Brings Ringtone Support

Over the thanksgiving weekend while everyone was updating their parents’ browsers, Microsoft rolled out an update for Windows Phone 7’s OS X client. On Windows, Zune is the client; on OS X, Microsoft has a no-frills & simple sync client. According to the details shared on Apple’s App Store, the new update has a couple of feature additions. With Windows Phone 7 Mango, Microsoft introduced custom ringtone support and now OS X users can add ringtones to their WP7s without Zune. The ringtones need to be less than 39 seconds and no more than an MB.

The update log says 13 additional languages are now supported by the client and that there is drag and drop support for the Browse window. I am not entirely sure if these are new additions. The WP7 Mac client has had Aperture support for a while in addition to iTunes and iPhoto sync.  Aperture is an image editing software by Apple for photographers. The update log:

Some screenshots:

Windows Phone Apps of the Week

Every week I pick three of my favorite Windows Phone apps. I include both paid and free apps as well as games. If you are an app developer and want me to feature your app here, drop me a line.

Yammer

Yammer

If you are on Yammer, you really wanted this app. If you aren’t, you still won’t bother. Yammer is a private, secure social network for your company. We, at Techie Buzz, are big fans of Yammer and we use it to connect with other authors and editors to share ideas and broadcast information. Plus we bitch about other blogs.

The Windows Phone app works well, and includes Live Tiles notification for new messages. The performance could be better and you’ll note sluggishness if your network is fairly active with frequent posts. One big annoyance of the app is the inability to view files attached with the posts, including images and documents.

Business | Free | 1MB | Download

Jet Car Stunts WP

jet-car-stunts

Jet Car Stunts is an addictive, 3D driving game with massive jumps, mid-air hoops, floating platforms, spiral roadways,and outlandish maneuvers in impossible environments. Jet Car Stunts for Windows Phone features over 70 levels spread across three game modes:

  • Platforming – Just get to the finish line
  • Time Trial – Race against the clock
  • Freestyle – Perform stunts for score

Jet Car Stunts is not the usual car racing game but tests your stunt skills. The game gets interesting as you figure out new moves and stunts to execute, and of course needs a lot of patience. While the controls are pretty good, the game graphics are nothing to write home about. Great game, and worth the price.

Racing + Flying | $2.99 | 28MB | Download

The Guardian

guardian

I checked twice if the app is really good or I’m just blown away by the colorful Live Tiles for news on my Start screen. The Guardian app for Windows delivers all the latest news and best content from the Guardian and Observer to your Windows Phone in a highly customizable app.

The app allows you to read news stories, watch videos, listen to podcasts (on background audio too), and browse picture galleries while on the move. The app allows you to add multiple Live Tiles to your start screen; different colored tiles for different news categories. It beats my why the developers haven’t allowed the app to run as a background task so that the Live Tiles can update automatically.

News + Weather | Free | <1MB | Download

Microsoft Quietly Changed Windows Phone Chassis Specs

As it turns out Microsoft’s plans for cheaper phones are now taking shape. For Microsoft, their partnership with Nokia was going to take Windows Phone to the masses. Powerful distribution, cheaper and sturdy handsets are Nokia’s MO, and that is what Microsoft needs. The Lumia 710 fits the bill; it is cheap and it has features. While the phone is essentially a Windows Phone 7 version of a previously used design, it is a strategy used often.

Leading to Windows Phone 7 launch, Microsoft said they will have 3 chassis specs for the OEMs to build phones. At launch and even the new Mango range of handsets have been built to those specs. Microsoft enthusiast @ms_nerd posted on Twitter that Microsoft had updated their chassis specs to exclude cameras from the required list. This is quite the change from the initial specs of having at least a rear camera.

Nokia’s Lumia 800 comes without the front facing camera which is a deal breaker according to me. While the change is definitely done with cheaper handsets in mind, time will tell whether removing basic features like a camera will impact Windows Phone sales compared to cheaper Android phones with cameras.

The Windows Phone Chassis Specs  were updated back in September and contrary to how other websites are reporting this, @ms_nerd was the one who spotted this.


ChevronWP7: Windows Phone Unlocker Now Live

ChevronWP7 Labs

ChevronWP7 Labs

The ChevronWP7 team launched the ChevronWP7 Labs site today. This site provides a tool which allows anybody to unlock their Windows Phone so they can load applications which are not in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

If you are not a Windows Phone registered developer, there is no (easy) way for you to sideloadan application. Sideloading is the act of bypassing the Windows Phone Marketplace to load applications on your device. Now enthusiasts and hobbyists can sideload applications like Screencapture v3 on their device without registering as an AppHub developer with Microsoft.

ChevronWP7 is the brainchild of Rafael Rivera, Chris Walsh and Long Zheng, who had earlier released a hack which enabled the same functionality via undocumented APIs. That hack was later pulled by the team, which they said, was based on Microsoft’s direction.

Despite that move, the team’s relationship with Microsoft remained positive. In fact, Microsoft developer relations team invited the ChevronWP7 team to Redmond to talk about the best way to support the enthusiast community without possibly breaking warranty and making the phone unusable. ChevronWP7 Labs is the result of the cooperation.

All you need is a Windows Live ID (for authentication purposes only), $9 and a Windows Phone device. After paying the fee, and downloading the tool, the phone is unlocked so you can deploy any application you want to on your device. If you get to a point where you have an app you would like to publish, it would have to be done with the AppHub, which requires a $99 USD/year fee. ChevronWP7 Labs even has a step on their site, which enables de-activation of the ChevronWP7 lock so you can developer-unlock the device.

Step 1: Paypal

Step 1: Paypal

Step 2: Unlock tool

Step 2: Unlock tool

This is a very good move (originally spearheaded by Brandon Watson, Senior Director of Developer Evangelism) by Microsoft to encourage and support enthusiasts in the Windows Phone community. With this tool, and the fact that it is inexpensive, jailbreakingis not necessary on the Windows Phone platform.

Congratulations to the ChevronWP7 team, and a big thank you for doing this, from an enthusiast!

Update: I had a quick chat with Chris Walsh on Twitter about ChevronWP7. Interestingly, they are going to have a place to list homebrew apps, and anyone who has an unlocked device will be able to sideload those apps, not just ChevronWP7-unlocked. More good news!

 

Microsoft India Offers Free Windows Phones to Developers and Students

Windows-PhoneThanks to the availability of cheap Android handsets, smartphone usage in India has exploded over the past couple of years. Now, Microsoft is looking to make its presence felt. As a starter it is trying to woo the developer community, who are often the early adopters and opinion makers. Earlier today, it announced the new I unlock Joy’ initiative under which developers and students can win free Windows Phone handsets and other gifts.

Mr. Moorthy Uppaluri, General Manager, Developer Partner Evangelism, Microsoft India said, India is a vibrant developer market, and we see a lot of excitement and enthusiasm around the availability of marketplace for customers in India. We believe that opening up this marketplace will provide the developer community in India with an opportunity to showcase creativity. He added, The best part about Windows Phone Marketplace is that developers will be able to use familiar development tools and technologies. They create global market opportunities for themselves and reach out to a large user base.

This program is already available to developers and will conclude on March 30, 2012. The main offer has three categories:

Submit and Receive: Developers get a chance to receive a Windows Phone by submitting three distinct, original and non-trivial Windows Phone applications.

Port 2 Apps and Receive: Developers submitting two Windows Phone applications that are ported from existing Android and iPhone applications will get to receive a Windows Phone.

Women Special: The first hundred women developers to submit one Windows Phone application will qualify to receive a Windows Phone each. The applications can be based on entertainment, fashion, leisure, sports, recreation or travel themes.

In addition to these categories there is also a special offer for students. Each student to submit a Windows Phone application will receive a Merit Certificate, a Windows Phone T-Shirt and a 2GB USB flash drive. Students submitting four apps will additionally receive a Windows Phone. Submissions for the student category will close on December 18, 2011. Any app submitted under this initiative will be considered as a valid entry only after it passes Windows Phone Marketplace certification testing.

Acer Unveils Its First WP7 Phone – Allegro

Acer has quietly announced a new Windows Phone 7.5 Mango running handset, the Allegro. The Allegro is the first ever Windows Phone handset from the company.

This mid-range handset is powered by a 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8255T single-core processor, and packs 512MB of RAM along with 8GB of internal memory. The front of the handset is dominated by the 3.6-inch LCD with WVGA (480×800) resolution. At the back of the Allegro is a 5MP snapper aided by an LED flash. The phone lacks a front-facing camera though.

All the usual connectivity features like Wi-Fi b/g/n, GPS with A-GPS and HSPA are also on-board. Sensors like Accelerometer, Gyroscope and Ambient Light sensor etc. are also present. The handset will be powered by a  measly  1300mAh battery.

The Allegro will hit the shelves in France in mid-November, and will be priced at around  â‚¬299. The handset will be available in black and white colors.At its current price point, the Allegro is a direct competitor to Nokia’s recently announced Lumia 710. The Lumia is slightly costlier than the Allegro, but offers a bigger screen, faster processor and comes with a microSD card slot as well.

Hopefully, unlike their Android handsets, Acer will meet with some success with their WP7 phones.

(Source)

 

Microsoft fixes NoDo nightmare with super-efficient Mango rollout

Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) is here

On September 27, 2011, Microsoft began its rollout of the Windows Phone 7.5 operating system update. This update, codenamed Mango, is significant for Microsoft for  a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it  brings 500-odd new and updated features to Windows Phone 7, bringing it closer to the competition like iOS and Android.  More importantly,  it is also a litmus test for Microsoft’s update process after the disastrous update experience earlier (with NoDoand SSL certificateupdates). This article focuses on the excellent job Microsoft has been able to do in the update process.

Background

Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7 to general markets in October 2010, promising choice and variety over the monotony of iPhone, and a streamlined phone and application experience compared to the wild, wild west with Android. There were some glaring omissions in Windows Phone 7. Copy-paste and multitasking were two big items missing in the original release. Copy-paste functionality was announced as a soon-to-be-coming update at the time of the launch itself.

After a very long period of silence from Microsoft, it seemed like the NoDoupdate was finally being made available in March 2011. Even though Microsoft had not provided a date, this timeframe was thought to be a highly delayed one because it was common knowledge among Microsoft insiders that the update was ready by the end of December, and that carriers and OEMs were delaying the rollout to end users.

Besides being a highly delayed update for seemingly must-have capabilities like copy-paste, it turned out that not everyone was able to get the update at once. Compared to iOS updates, this process seemed extremely haphazard. After some very loud complaints about the lack of communication, Microsoft finally started blogging about the update process, and published a table which showed which carrier was pushing updates for the various phones. This table finally made it abundantly clear that the carriers were in fact holding up the update.

Competition

iOS updates are delivered on a specific date to every single device, regardless of carrier or country, as long as the device is eligible to get the update. This process has been in place since the very first software update they delivered. The only caveats are, over the years, certain devices have become ineligible for OS updates, and after Verizon introduced the iPhone, updates for the CDMA device are on a slightly different schedule. However, when an iOS update is made available, it is simply that available.

Android updates on the other hand are more sporadic and unpredictable. Google makes an update available for the OS, and then it is up to the OEMs and the carriers to certify that update. Google does not control the process at all, and lets the partners take care of delivering the update. Of course, Google’s Nexus devices get the updates at the time the OS is updated, but pretty much every device besides the Google Nexus devices will have their own schedule for receiving updates.

The beauty of Mango update

One huge surprise when the Mango update rollout was announced, was that almost all the phones across all the countries and all carriers were being updated. All at once! Globally, too. Granted, there are caveats like certain phones and especially phones with a certain firmware were not yet updating, and that it was a phased (throttled) rollout, but it is still incredible that in a matter of months Microsoft has been able to convince OEMs and carriers to cooperate and make this happen.

Unlike iOS where Apple is the OS maker as well as the OEM, Microsoft has to provide a build of the OS to the OEMs to test with, after which it would go to the carrier to test. Microsoft was able to get all the OEMs to synchronize their testing and then have all the carriers complete the testing by the time the update was announced as rolling out. This is incredible and it becomes immediately obvious when you compare it to Android which is much closer in its model than iOS is, to Windows Phone. The charts and table below show that as of September 2011, Android 2.3 and above are still only about 30% deployed. In about 6 months, Android has only been able to get to 30% deployment.

Android version distribution

Android version distribution

Android versions historical

Android versions – historical

In  the update announcement post, Microsoft is promising that in a few weeks, after throttling is disabled, every single existing device will have Mango available to them, across geographies, manufacturers and carriers. So in a matter of a few weeks, presumably, most Windows Phones will be on the latest version of the OS.

After its previous disasters in updates, Microsoft needed to prove that it had the muscle and the organizational setup to get an update rolled out smoothly. This announcement and subsequent reports of ease of applying the updates have proven that the ghastly memories of NoDo update can now be put away. Not only is Windows Phone the prettiest, most efficient and usable mobile operating   system with a range of carriers and OEMs to choose from, it is also an OS which updates like it should at once, uniformly, and quickly.

There’s a lot to be excited about Windows Phone coming up in the near (with Nokia) and distant future (with Windows 8 and possible merge of Windows Phone and Windows). As a Windows Phone user, I am glad that this update nightmare is over and cannot wait for what’s next!

Update: Just as I pushed “publish” on this post, I saw this update from Eric Hautala at the Windows Phone Blog, saying that the update is going so well, they are accelerating the rollout. Kudos, once again to everyone who’s behind this amazing turnaround. Remember Microsoft, this is now the new bar! :-)

Update 2: As of October 19, 2011, Microsoft has opened up the updates to generally everybody. This move is ahead of schedule and says a lot about the flawless nature of this update.

Windows Phone Apps of the Week

Every week I’ll pick three of my favorite Windows Phone apps. I’ll include both paid and free apps as well as games. If you are an app developer and want me to feature your app here, drop me a line.

Pulse

Pulse is one of the latest arrivals on Windows Phone Marketplace after being a successful app for iOS and Android platforms. Pulse is a newsreader app that takes your favorite websites and transforms them into a colorful and interactive mosaic.

pulse

Pulse intends to make reading news fun and engaging. It incorporates colorful panning story bars and fills them with content from your favorite sources. From the mosaic of stories, you can tap on an article to see a clean view of the news story. The app also allows you to share a story via Facebook, Twitter, and email. You can choose from a variety of sources from browsing the directory without bothering about remembering or copy-pasting RSS feeds.

Developed by Alphonso Labs, Pulse is available for free for Windows Phone 7.5 or higher.

News + Weather | Free | <1MB | Download

Implode!

Implode is Angry Birds for those who want to have a blast’. Implode is a physics-based game that requires you to plant dynamite bundles to demolish obsolete structures.

Implode

Although the target of the game is similar to Angry Birds demolishing structures the gameplay and the styling is different, and appealing. It is easy to learn, but as the levels go up, it’s hard to master. The game already has 100+ dynamite levels and three types of bombs: traditional, blast, and directional. More levels and bomb types will be made available with upcoming updates. The chalkboard-themed UI is distinct and the touch and drag control options seamless. You can play with a casual, veteran, or expert difficulty mode and add achievements points to your Xbox LIVE account. Since the high scores for each level are graded, you always have the motivation to replay an already cleared level.

Published by Microsoft Game Studios, Implode is available for $2.99. A limited trial version is also available.

Puzzle + Trivia | $2.99 | 14MB | Download

Little Thumb GPS

Little Thumb GPS is a useful navigation app to archive all your favorite places, generic addresses, restaurants, hotels, car parks, tourist attractions, and outdoor venues.

Little Thumb GPS

I use the app very frequently these days to mark stores while I’m shopping and hiring services across the city to plan my wedding in a few months. This is why I also put it on my list of best navigation apps for Windows Phone. Using this app you can find your way by foot or car back to a previously stored favorite place. Saving a location doesn’t need address details when you are physically on the site, and hence is useful for adventure travellers to mark spots for fishing, bird-watching, mountain peaks et al. The saved location can include information like altitude and coordinates. Available in English and Italian, the app provides an option to select between Google and Bing maps.

Little Thumb GPS is developed by an Italian development studio, etinet. The $1.49 app allows 10 fully functional uses in the trial period.

Travel + Navigation | $1.49 | <1MB | Download

Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” Update Rolling Out Now

Microsoft has finally started rolling out its much-anticipated WP7.5 Mango update, for the first generation WP7 based phones.

WP

Majority of the WP7 (98%) will be getting the update in the next 4 weeks. Owners of HTC Surround, LG Quantum and Samsung Focus v1.3 will get the update within a month. However, owners of HD7S will need to wait a bit more since the WP7.5 Mango update for their handset is still under scheduling, while the update for the Focus (v1.4) is under testing.

Sadly, there is no confirmation whether the Dell Venue Pro will get the update or not. Microsoft also does not mention anything about the European version of the Focus, the Omnia 7.  Right now, the Mango update for the handset is still under planning. WP7 owners can check out the global Mango roll-out schedule from here.

The Wp7.5 Mango update brings many new and much-needed features to the Windows Phone Platform including Multi-tasking, front-facing camera support, Xbox Live Integration, better Social networking integration, Music search and much more. Overall, the Mango update brings more than 500 new features to existing WP7 handsets!

Once the Mango update hits a user’s phone, they need to connect their handset to a PC and fire up Zune Software for PC app, and head to the Update Central section to update the phone. Mac owners need to use Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac for the same purpose.