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Windows Phone News

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Gorilla Glass Demoed at CES

Corning's Gorilla Glass made the rounds at this year's Consumer Electronics Show.  Rene Ritchie from our sister site, The iPhone Blog, was able to spend some time seeing how tough this glass is.

The tough as nails glass is showing up in laptops, monitors and even Microsoft's new surface computers.  Windows Phone users are becoming more familiar with Gorilla Glass seeing it used in the Samsung Focus, Dell Venue Pro and LG Optimus 7 (all listed on Corning's site, Focus is a Galaxy-S phone technically).

While I wouldn't throw caution to the wind with Gorilla Glass, the video clearly demonstrates it's one tough cookie.

Source: TiPb

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Out in the Marketplace there are quite a few Wikipedia apps. Everyone tends to have their favorite and I found mine after having gone through the bunch. It's Wikipedia Search.

Reason? It's fast, minimalist, elegant and to the point. Plus it's quite powerful with those options I'm looking for (mobile view vs desktop), dynamic search, multi-language support, etc.

It's not free (not many of the Wiki apps are) but at $0.99 it was a no brainer for me. Check out the vid to see why and grab yourself a trial version here if you want to take it for a spin. Oh and look for some full reviews of other Wiki apps soon. Finally, check out our WikiRand video for some live tile randomness.

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Android vs WP7 app development

A while back we took a look at an iOS developer having a run on Microsoft’s new mobile platform, which was surprising since the majority of Apple users don’t particularly provide Microsoft with much leniency or praise. Frode "Nilzor" Nilsen, a post-Windows Mobile 6.5 developer, has written up a spectacular case study (seriously – it’s an epic read) of his short-lived experience on the Windows Phone 7 IDE, and making the important decision on which platform is a more worthwhile investment for projects to be developed. Android or WP7?

At the beginning Frode goes into detail about what one looks for when developing on any available platform, revenue. Of course, every developer needs to cover expenses (time, investment etc.) and to ensure that a steady flow of funds is received to continue with updates and further development. To accomplish this goal, you would need to publish your product (an app in this case) to the largest possible audience with as little competition as possible. However many forget, that as a developer, the tools available and the process in creating (and updating) your app needs to be both fun and logical, and be smooth to ensure little time is wasted and productivity is high.

Frode decided to perform a small experiment and build an app for both Android and WP7, recording how long each stage of the process took, how many sells he received and how the IDEs (Integrated Development Environment) performed against each other. Using Eclipse for Android and Visual Studio 2010 for WP7, he created a simple flag & country quiz. Posting his results in complete depth, I shall summarise below his findings for each platform without going into much detail through explanation.

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If you own a LG Quantum, LG has updated it's Marketplace offerings with a handful of new, free, apps.  There are ten apps in all and they include:

  • Cocktail Flow - A cocktail recipe app
  • Doodle God - A civilization creation game
  • Color Sprouts -A drawing/coloring app
  • Envision for Basecamp - Project management tool
  • Krashlander - A gaming app pitting you against robots
  • Colorize - An image manipulation tool
  • Weave - A very good RSS reader(here's our review)
  • Talking Ragdoll - Novelty app to transform your pictures into talking rag dolls
  • Mobile Sommelier - A wine and food pairing app
  • Mr. Hat and the Magic Cube - An interesting looking puzzle game

LG is also offering a network setup app to help users configure their network settings (similar to what Samsung did a while ago).

What's interesting about this offer is that these apps (save the network setup) are all openly available on the Marketplace.  All totaled, these apps would run you about $30 but if you access them through your LG Quantum, they are free.  I guess it is LG's way to say thanks for choosing our phone.

To take advantage of these free apps, simply go to your Marketplace App on your LG Windows Phone and they'll be listed in the LG App Store.

Source: PocketNow Thanks to Mike and Just Visiting for sending in this tip!

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Yesterday we covered the updated Browser to WP7, which enabled the ability to send photos to your device via your browse with one-click. Browser to WP7 had not only gained ground, but passed the original Send to WP7 by Dave Amenta in terms of features.

Well, it looks like Amenta wasn't sitting idly but instead was working on a robust and impressive desktop app that includes the ability to send:

  • pictures
  • videos
  • documents
  • music
  • notes

Huzzah...all through this one program and with a simple click. It is integrated via Explorer and basically uploads your file to a free cloud service that then pushes to your phone. You can also write a long email or SMS and send it through your phone as well, making your netbook a great "companion device' (hello Foleo!). Anyways, you can give an early version a shot if you're so inclined. All we know is this sounds fantastic and so far, we're digging it. You?

Source: @davux

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If you are a user of Windows Home Server, and have a nice multi-media box running your 50” HD television, and are a Windows Phone 7 owner, there is some good news for you. The next release, codenamed “Vail” will feature a plugin providing support for Windows Phone 7.

Some of the functions that have been highlighted in a post over on the development blog should come in handy, and be useful indeed. An alert notifications screen clearly listing problems with the server, and information as to how to resolve the issue is available acting just like the Dashboard. Streaming photos, music, and video from your home server with smooth loading and playback (depending on connection of course) is thrown in along with the ability to upload photos you capture on your mobile device straight to the home server.

We are currently unaware as to whether or not the current version of WHS will have support for WP7, but to think of managing and streaming content from your box at home to your phone while on the go is something that will surely be welcomed. For those who are awaiting Vail, or are thinking on setting up a home server and use it with WP7, here is a sneak peek at the next release (Video after break)

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They are like a disease covering social media realm, and CES 2011 was not going to be an exception. Mashable had a quick look at a demonstration for an upcoming Ford app on all mobile platforms (including Windows Phone 7).

Alan Hall presented, and quickly ran through what the app will offer users (owners of the upcoming Ford Focus Seden). From seeing what charge the car currently holds, planning short or multiple stop journeys, locating charging stations, pre-heating/cooling the car, and more, the MyFord app is a pretty nifty bit of kit. You can even post statistics and more to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, sharing with the world how you are doing your bit to save the environment.

Hoping the app will make the somewhat daunting switch from highly explosive liquid to energy charged cells less challenging for the average driver/car owner, Ford have created a more than useful tool that I’m sure will prove to be invaluable for owners of the Focus Seden – especially since mobile phones are rarely out of one’s hand.

Source: Mashable

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CNET managed to get some more information from Microsoft regarding the upcoming January/February update to Windows Phone 7, described by Ballmer during his keynote. While we know about copy and paste but the other new feature quoted as a "significant improvement in performance when loading or switching between applications" was left a little vague.

Aaron Woodman, director of Microsoft's mobile communications business, went over some of the details with CNET and it turns out to be pretty interesting. In short, front-loading, graphic intensive apps will see the most, maybe even dramatic, improvement, while more text-based apps won't see as much. Basically, things like XBox games and apps with locally stored information will get a huge boost. However, apps like Flixster won't see much of an improvement, only because they pull down their data from the web and that's a different thing altogether.

When given an example like Bejewled, the comparison between an updated and non-updated device was given to CNET. Evidently, the updated device loaded Bejeweled a full 15-20 seconds faster than the non-updated version, which Woodman appropriately called "dramatic". What is nice of course is the fact that developers need not make any changes to their coding--this is all on Microsoft's memory architecture and how it allocates resources, so technically every app will see a gain, just some more than others.

Finally, you can also sense the nervousness of Microsoft regarding app-updates. While there are many "unknowns" about the whole process, the feeling from this and other interviews on the matter is Microsoft doesn't know either: they taking baby steps to make sure it all goes smoothly and they are leaving themselves wiggle room to adjust if needed.

Source: CNET

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Taking geekdom to a whole new level for no other reason than to say "it has been done!", WindowsPhoneHacker has managed to squeeze an old HTC 8525 into a GameBoy Advance case.

Why? Well to obviously compete with that Sony Playstation phone, hello. Anyways, check out the video and head over to the site for step-by-step directions for what looks to be a killer weekend project.

Source: WindowsPhoneHacker; Thanks, A, for the tip!

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First Look: Xbox Game Room

 

We mentioned the news of Game Room coming to Windows Phone 7 a few days ago and we were able to catch a demo of the games while at CES this week.

Game Room will bring classic, arcade style games to the Windows Phones. Initial titles will include Shao-Lin's Road, Asteroids, and Centipede with more to come. The games have been ported from the original and game play and controls seem to represent the original very good.  Games will have shared leader board and achievements that will add to the appeal of these classic games.

The games look good but does anyone else feel old when we're reminded that it's been thirty years since we've played these games in the arcade?

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Amazon 1¢ sale with WP7 on AT&T

Being known for unbeatable prices on many products online, Amazon have carried savings over to Windows Phone 7 on AT&T by Amazon Wireless. The price drop is to celebrate their massivly popular Kindle service that now covers the new platform to provide a complete solution for users. So, what models are available you ask? The HTC Sorround, LG Quantum, and Samsung Focus devices are available on contract through Amazon Wireless.

If you are interested in making the jump to Windows Phone 7, you will need to act fast as this promotion is only lasting through to January 17th.

Source; BGR

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We covered Browser to WP7 a few weeks ago and left impressed. It not only allows you to send text and URLs to your device via your web browser (Chrome, IE and now Firefox) but it also allows you to act on that info by SMS, email, Bing, Google, dial, etc. Really impressive.

Now in a new update, the developer has added the very useful ability to send pics. While browsing on the web, if you find a photo you like, you can just right click and hit "Send to Windows Phone" and it gets instantly sent to your device. From there, you can save it to your photo library. Seems a great way to try new wallpapers for your lock-screen, no?

Also, due to an error in the Marketplace, the live-tile notification, which was only available in the $0.99 version, will be made for the free one in the next update. That live-tile is good for the Facebook chat option (see Browser To WP7 Friend Connect). Nice.

Read more from the developer here.

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6

Sneak Peak at Sprint's HTC 7 Pro

Our friends over at Phone Scoop were able to snag a few minutes with Sprint's first Windows Phone 7 device, the HTC 7 Pro. No release information was passed on but the first impression sounded good.

The device is built by HTC, which is even more obvious when you slide open the keyboard and see the screen tilt at an angle from the sliding QWERTY, similar to the way the old HTC Touch Pro 2 tilts.

The only complaints noted by Phone Scoop was that the keyboard was a little stiff and the screen rotation was a little slow. It was noted that this was a pre-production model so I'm sure there are still a few bugs to be ironed out.

They did mention that the 7 Pro felt solidly built and compact enough to fit easily into a comfortable pair of pants. Still no mention of a release date or pricing but with the phone carrying the Sprint logo and design tweaks, we may see this sooner than later.

Regardless, it does sound like Sprint customers will be please with their first Windows Phone 7 device.

Source: Phone Scoop

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Awhile back, we first broke the news about Windows Phone 7 and the tough protection scheme Microsoft has implemented to prevent piracy. Specifically, private keys (PVKs) which are tied to the hardware and need to server-authenticate. This hurdle would prevent non-approved devices from accessing all LIVE services and severely limit device functionality. Interestingly enough, just weeks later this was confirmed by team DFT, who were attempting to hack WP7 to the aging (but versatile) HTC HD2.

Fast-forward today and it is being claimed (not yet demonstrated) that certain aspects of PVK has been breached. But, like before, they're still far from a viable implementation. Pocketnow has summarized this as follows:

Several different methods are being attempted to bypass the limitation, including the search for a so-called "corporate key," which would essentially be a universal PVK for large-scale activations. Unfortunately, because all devices are security-flashed at the factory, such a key may not even exist. Secondly, overseas developers -- beyond the reach of Microsoft legal, apparently -- are said to be hacking the different bits of the device-side authentication piecemeal, but because of the unusually intricate security measures employed by Redmond, "it doesn't really look good" according to our source.

What does this all mean? In reality, that nothing has changed. While porting portions of the WP7 OS to the HD2 is doable, attempting everything is and will remain very difficult. So difficult in fact, it begs the question if this is worth all the effort. At least here in the U.S., with a new Samsung Focus fetching for $99 without 3rd party sales, WP7 hardware seems cheap enough to negate the value of hacking a broken but new OS onto the HD2.

Source: PocketNow

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San Francisco based startup AppMakr announced today at CES that it will be bringing its application-building platform to wannabe WP7 developers in the near future. AppMakr, which is currently only available for iOS, "enables anyone to build rich content based apps using a point and click solution," regardless of programming experience or know-how. The company also revealed that they will be launching Android support at the time as the Windows Phone version in February, boasting the "industry’s first 'No Coding Required' mobile application platform for multiple mobile OS."

AppMakr co-founder, Daniel Odio, expressed cautious optimism at the quick success of WP7: “We’re definitely making a little bit of a bet here, but we see it paying off early.” The company also extended the opportunity to beta test to anyone who wishes to sign up at: http://go.AppMakr.com/beta

Here's to bringing geekdom to the people. And probably more fart apps, flashlights and tip calculators. Come on people! Enough already!

Source: AppMakr; via: BizJournals

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Rocket Riot (review coming soon), is probably one of the best Xbox LIVE games on Windows Phone 7 right now: catchy music, great combo of retro and 3D graphics, fun gameplay. Only downside was cost: $6.99 made it one of the most expensive games on the Marketplace, which even I avoided paying.

Luckily in the last few days it dropped to a more reasonable $4.99, making it more worthy of consideration. Only thing we're hesitant about are the few complaints about the game "not loading" after a few days of playing. This seems to be isolated but hopefully the developer will have a v1.1 soon.

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Live in the UK? Love cute, cuddly, adorable, puzzle games? Well you are in luck! Developer Southend Interactive has officially released Ilomilo a few days ago, which was locked to the AT&T network alone. Branching off from our review of Ilomilo, this beautiful little fantasy adventure will be ensuring that you forget Narnia, and focus on reuniting with your other half of the coin.

I have waited some time for this as some folk I know have explored the depths of puzzling on their phones, which has led to them to venture on a boasting spree. Installing and opening up the title, I hadn't put it down for a good hour and half making my commute on the train bareable. Below is a video from our review, by Rob, giving a great run through the game.

Head on over to the Marketplace to pick up this title for £3.99 ($4.99).

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Although Windows Phone 7 coverage at CES 2011 has been a bust (more on that later) a CDMA verion of the HTC Trophy has run its way through the FCC guantlet.  There was no direct mention of the "Trophy" name; however, a nearly identical model number to the European version of the Trophy was mentioned in the docs (PC40200 vs PC40100).  The device was also granted approval through the WiFi Alliance using the same certificate as HTC's Mozart and Surround.

As previously reported, Verizon is intending to release a WP7 Trophy in early 2011.  While it is unclear when exactly "early" refers to, this FCC approval means it's on the horizon. Our bet? Latest: end of February.

Source: FCC; via: PocketNow

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Slacker Radio has been one of the cornerstone apps of Windows Phone 7, offering users a solid alternative to that other brand (pssstt..Pandora).

Unbeknownst to us, evidently in Canada you only had a 30-day trial and then it was pay-as-you go at $3.99 a month. Ka-razy! Now, Slacker is changing their tune (see what I did there?) and offering a free-version just like here in the U.S.. Basically every few minutes you'll have to hear an ad in between your songs (so it's like normal radio). Of course our Canadian friends still have the "Plus" option which offers unlimited song-skips, lyrics, song requests and of course, no ads.

Hey, options are good and we're glad for our northern neighbors. Of course you also have that Resco Radio option...just sayin'.

Read our Slacker Radio for Windows Phone 7 review here.

Source: PR Newswire

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We mentioned earlier about those Game Room titles coming to Windows Phone7 and here are a few others as well, all demoed very quickly on Channel 9. Some titles, like Pac Man (which is receiving some terrible reviews) and Pocket God are already out, others like Full House Poker and Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 are coming down the road.

Overall, the titles look decent but nothing mind-blowing.

Source: Channel 9; via Pocketnow

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