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Software

5

MetroTwit beta goes live

We mentioned last week about MetroTwit, the desktop Twitter client who's UI was influenced by Windows Phone 7. At the time, the software was still too early in development to be released, but alas its creators have allowed the beta our the gate.

First thing you should know is it'll require you to install .NET Framework 4 Client Profile and Extended, which it will do on its own if you allow it. That's a whopping 89MB for that entire framework, so be prepared. Then you'll have to restart your computer and the final install of MetroTwit will take place. The actual MetroTwit program is very tiny at less than 3MB, owing to its .NET coding.

Overall, it's quite a pretty program. With its configurable columns, its very much like Seesmic. You can add/remove those columns (your feed, replies, friends, direct messages) and drag and drop to re-arrange them.

Technically it can do multiple accounts, but we had trouble getting it to do so. Especially noteworthy is the live "badge" on the icon in the Windows Start bar which displays how many new Tweets you have. Other advanced features like delete, map, conversation, show in browsers are missing as of this early build, but we imagine it's just a matter of time.

Remember, this is a beta, so there are some bugs and some of the menu/options are less than intuitive, but overall it's not too bad for such an early start.  

Get it herehttp://www.metrotwit.com/

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Looks like the 'Metro UI' thing is starting to catch on and why not? Much like how the iPhone OS can be all-blowns-up for the iPad, why not influence the desktop or browser with Microsoft's mobile UI.

Turns out Long Zheng of iStartedSomething and some pals have been working on a desktop Twitter app that looks exceptionally clean, minimalist and darn useful.

The app has been in very early stages of development, meaning they're focusing on features, not yet de-bugging and has been circulating amongst a small group of users.

Long story short, website MeuWindows figured out the URL for the download link and even bypassed the authentication...just so they could try it. Luckily Long Zheng took this as flattery and there you go.

Actually, you can now sign up for the actual beta (bottom of the page), which is expected sooner than later. We're down with that!

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One of the more interesting and useful apps in development for Windows Phone 7 is "My MediaCenter Remote" which integrates with the Windows Media Center (an under-rated features of Windows 7). Well, it's useful if you don't want to splurge $10 for a physical remote, ya cheapskate.

The latest version by dgaust is near beta, although like other developers he's anxiously awaiting a physical device to actually run it on. The features so far completed are as follows:

  • View and play Recorded TV - done
  • View and play back tv stored by myTV - done
  • View music, and create album playlists - done
  • Remote control media centre - done

What's left is tweaking up some of the graphics, which are a bit dull or just missing at this point (placeholders). Overall though, considering we are still six months from the release of WP7, it's nice to know we should have some advanced media center functionality right out the gate. But we can't help but wish this could actually stream our content instead of just being a remote for it.

Check out the full video of the program's UI in action after the break

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In what could be a smart move to both lock in a game developer and spur more development on Windows Mobile (yes, we still talk about it), Microsoft is commissioning Touch Dimensions, a recent gaming startup from Singapore.

Known for creating "natural" interfaces for gaming and having knack for those sweet little simple games that people on mobile phones often prefer, Touch Dimensions has been tasked with bringing roughly twenty games to the Windows phone marketplace and they all will be free for the consumer.

These casual games will range from "...a digital sketchpad to a Whack-A-Mole-type game that lets you smack mosquitoes to oblivion".

Want to see what they are capable of? Touch Dimensions already have two games available: "Autumn Dynasty" and "Totem Star Lite"/Totem Star Christmas".  And we'll keep you posted on when these inspired freebies start popping up!

[Today Online via WMPoweruser]

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Microsoft Tag has moved out of the Beta stages with the release of Version 1. The new release also comes with a new Terms of Service as well. According to Microsoft, version 1 improves the Tag Reader, adds a Heat Map report, and makes it available in Italian, French, Spanish, Turkish and Simplified Chinese. The basic services for the Tag Reader will be offered for free.

The new ToS seems to simply transfer any tags created during the Beta program over to the ToS of the Version 1 release. You can find out more information on Version 1 at the Microsoft Tag website as well as downloading the Tag Reader directly from here.

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1

Foursquare updated

If your a fan of Windows Mobile FourSquare from Touchality, then you'll be interested to know that it's been updated.

Version 1.3 is now available over at the Windows Marketplace for Mobile. The update addresses the check-in bug many were experiencing as well as a few other fixes and tweaks.

You can download the updated cab file here or get through your Windows Phone via Windows Marketpla

[via: Touchality on Twitter]

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2

Elecont Weather gets updated

Elecont Weather has been updated, increasing the worldwide weather coverage from 41,000 to 67,000 cities. Version 1.3.5 also includes a 10-day weather graph for day and night temperatures, an independent scheduler for weather updates, and added information on moon phases and moonrise/moonsets over a ten day period.

The graphical weather app still retains features such as UV alerts, hourly UV forecasts, severe weather alerts, barometric readings, and "feels like" temperature conversions (factoring in heat index or wind chill).

You can pick up your copy of Elecont Weather over at the WMExperts.com Software Store for $14.95. If you're not sure, there is a trial version available so you can give it a try before you buy.

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Another day, some more demo Silverlight apps beings built for Windows Phone 7. We've been stating for awhile now that the combo of Silverlight and XNA as a development platform for the OS would be huge and so far, developers seem to be loving it.

First up is "Paper Ball" by Jimmy Interactive, which looks stylized enough to be something on an iPhone. Think of it as literally paper-football, where the paper are people cutouts. You direct your offense/defense by drawing their plot and then watch what happens. Looks to be a fun little time-waster and the graphics are just superb. Also check out his other game "Frog Log". Video demos after the break!

The other notable app is one for the London Tube which shows you their current status and pushes notifications to your phone if there are delays or problems. Similar programs exist on the iPhone for the NYC subway, so we look forward to others using Andy-Team G's code to use as a starting point.

Once again, while apps like London Tube are nothing revolutionary, the fact so many developers are making these mini/widget programs with in so little effort, bodes well for when Windows Phone 7, you know, actually comes out five months from now.

[via @jamesfdickinson and @andy_gore]

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We admit, you don't need to fasten your seatbelts to view this application. While not the most exciting thing to grace mobile devices, so-called 'time' or 'project management' applications are very important for those who actually need them.

A few French friends got together to make this program for some competition but now they're committed to releasing it to the Marketplace and overseeing its continued development.

Following the minimal-design principles laid about by the Metro UI, Ahead is not flashy but does enable quick access to basic project management sections including: tasks, time tracking, projects, accounts (funding), clients and settings.

But less talk more action. The developers have made a great demo video which walks you through everything. You can watch that after the jump to get an idea of just how polished the program is at this early stage in Windows Phone 7 development or just go to their website to see it all in action: Ahead--manage your projects on the go

     

[via @ahead_app]

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For those who don't follow Android news, about a week ago the HTC Wildfire became official. One cool trick that HTC added was the ability to jump to different screens in Sense via multi-selector screen, instead of sliding all over the place. (See Tracy & Matt's hands on at 0:42)

And anyone who's used Sense 2.5 on WinMo can know the feeling of having to slide the tabs all over the place to just find that one you're looking to use right now. It can be frustrating.

Well combine those two ideas and you have HomeScreenJump from XDA member dotcompt!

Simply install the HomeScreenJump.cab and tap the icon to run and there you go.  Want to go the extra step? Install two more .cab files and now you can map it to your Start button as a long press.  Now you can call it up wherever, whenever.

Our thoughts? We highly recommend this mod. And do map it to the Start key. This method makes it very fast, efficient and darn it all it just works well. You now have quick-access to your Home, People, Messages, Mail, Weather, Twitter and Programs tabs.

[XDA forums via PDA.pl]

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3

Marketplace Spotlight: Glympse vs. Wizi

 

Some time ago we looked at Glympse, a GPS Tracking app.  More recently, we've also taken a look at Wizi, a similar GPS application.  While we've reviewed both, we thought a comparative piece was in order.  Is Wizi strong enough to lure you away from the Marketplace or does Glympse have more to offer along with the convenience of the Marketplace?  (Okay...so it's not like downloading the Wizi .cab is all that inconvient but we needed to tie this into the Marketplace.)

Follow the Break to see how these to GPS location apps measure up.

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Bitstream has recently updated it's Windows Phone browser, Bolt, to version 2.1. The update adds support for HTML 5 Video and throws in a little Facebook integration.  The Facebook integration in Bolt 2.1 allows users to paste links directly to Facebook accounts and work the Facebook's instant messaging.

Bolt 2.1 continues to utilize the server-side rendering of pages to speed things up. Version 2.1 has a little more zip to it than previous versions. The first 25% of pages does take a few seconds to load, then the remaining portions load in a flash. Also, remember that Bolt is a Java App and will be installed within your Java program.

The layout still needs some work (fonts still a little on the small size even when set to XXLarge) but the speed is definitely present. You can download your free copy of Bolt 2.1 by going to http://boltbrowser.com/bolts2.jad from your mobile browser. Additional installation instructions can be found at the Bolt Browser website.

[read: jkontherun.com]

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We gave a brief review of CloudFiles, the first Dropbox client for Windows Mobile, a few days ago. Bottom line: we're impressed, very impressed.

As we mentioned, we expected it to "1.0" any day now and sure enough, that day is upon us. The app is priced less than $10, which is fair. In fact it is normally priced at $6.99 but till at least May 25th, you can grab it for 20% off at $5.49.

Too much? Too little? All depends on how much you rely on Dropbox. For some, it's a requisite and that $5.49 is well worth the cost. They accept (thankfully) PayPal and you can grab it right here.

[via 1800pocketpc]

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6

More Windows Phone 7 apps written in Silverlight

  

The other day we mentioned how beneficial it will be for programmers to be able to write Windows Phone 7 applications in Silverlight (see "DroppyPop"), specifically we can run them in a web browser to demo them first or as an expansion.

Today we have a few more apps to show from the blog by Sigurd Snørteland. Even the code is provided in case others are curious about writing apps Silverlight. Sigurd weighs in on the whole process by stating thus:

To make it clear right away: Silverlight development of WP7 is incredibly easy and fun. If you have coded a little silver light before you are productive from the start. Virtually the only difference from the normal Silverlight development is that you use any other visual studio templates, and that you get access to some new APIs such. gps, accelerometer, camera, etc.

Here are the programs below (World Clock, CoverFlow, Weather and Solitaire) and read more from Sigurd here.

Also check out some of the cool apps featured on Fuze Mobility.

[via Mobility Digest]

 

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Here's a bit of surprise, Seesmic, developers of one of the most popular desktop Twitter clients, has just demoed their upcoming app for Windows Phone 7.

Now considered to be a launch-partner by Microsoft (see also Foursquare and Netflix), Seesmic's Twitter app look quite classy. In addition, they have a Sliverlight plugin-platform/SDK which will allow external applications easy integration e.g. Bing maps and encourages 3rd parties to interact with their program with ease. That means we should see tight integration with Seesmic and other apps like RSS readers to quickly share links; smart idea.

This will be the first Windows Phone client from Seesmic who already have ones for Android and Blackberry. Between Seesmic and Twikini, looks like early-adopters will have their Twitter needs covered by the best in the biz.

Edit: turns out this was actually posted two months ago and we missed it, so not exactly breaking but still it was news to us at least ;-)

Edit 2: Not for nothing, but our timing was good. Seesmic just announced the availability of Seesmic Desktop 2 (preview), now based on...you guessed it Silverlight and featuring plugins for Foursquare, Buzz and Facebook.

[via Mashable]

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For the handful of you who are using the Zune HD (myself and Phil are diehard fans), you'll be pleased to know of a few updates to the Zune Marketplace.

For one, Twitter gets a landscape keyboard in v1.2, which makes it that much more useful (or useless, depending on your view). You must enable "keyboard tilt" under the settings in Twitter, it's off by default. Facebook gets bumped to v1.1--not sure what the difference is there and yours truly is MIA on that social network.

In addition, a few new card games including Hearts and Spades, which we suppose look fun (see below).

Load up your the Zune Marketplace to download these freebies.

  

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For those who like to do some pretty basic editing of photos before you ship them off to your Facebook, Twitter or email, you'll want to take a look at this great little app by XDA member 'menos'.

Think of it as analogous to MS Paint. 

You simply run the program, open an image (.png, .jpg, .bmp) and from there you can crop, draw shapes e.g. circle, speech bubbles (very cool), eye dropper for color sample, resize and it even has an undo button.

The buttons are sort of tiny, so while it worked on my 3.2" eXpo, it was a little difficult. However, devices with 3.6" or larger screens should have no issues.

Overall, considering the price (free, but donation encouraged), this app can go up against the much more pricey "professional" competitors on the market. We give it a big thumbs up as it made my Chinese rice-monster very happy.

Head to XDA forums to download.

 

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In a move that may console some of your concerns about the future of Windows Mobile 6.x, Microsoft has updated its Bing application. While the version numbers don’t seem like a big jump (5.1.2010.3290 to 5.1.2010.5040 is what we’re seeing on our phones), there is some new functionality that a lot of people have been pining for.

Bing (and its predecessor, Live Search) have offered minimal navigation options in previous iterations, but as of today Bing offers voice guided turn-by-turn directions. (Huzzah!) Settings include the choice between the fastest or shortest route, avoiding toll booths, avoiding traffic, and voice guidance. Get the latest and greatest version from http://m.bing.com/download/. More information is available at Microsoft's Bing Community Blog.

More screen shots after the break. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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As we delve deeper into what current Silverlight programmers are up to in exploring Windows Phone 7, a few things are becoming evident:

  • Generally speaking, they love it
  • It's easy
  • There's lots of development and excitement amongst the community

Case in point is this "sample" app (e.g. something someone whipped up in very little time to explore the framework): geoGallery.

geoGallery is a photo app that pulls pictures from Picasa to your device based on your current location. Pretty cool.  It's even more cool knowing that developers are turning out programs left and right so easily and enthusiastically.

Another is this Twitter app from Governor Technology. They seem to be keen on actually building this, so may be worth to keep an eye on at this very early stage. (And lets not forget Twikini's WP7 app).

We're confident in stating that WP7's development framework is going to give a huge kick in the pants to software offerings in the Marketplace. In other words, we haven't seen this much interest from developers since the iPhone and Android SDK days.

Check out the video of geoGallery in action and how it all works from Silverlight developer Levente Mihály. And Levente? Go ahead and submit that to the Marketplace, kthxbai!

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