As you may or may not know, Micorsoft has a website called AppHub where developers can register to submit apps/games and get paid. AppHub registration is also required for developers to obtain certificates to test their programs on actual hardware, rather than just emulators. This is all fine and good, unless you live in one of the countries where site registration is unavailable...like say, every country in the Middle East.
Microsoft announced yesterday at the Dubai Tech-Ed that they have remedied the problem, not by opening AppHub up to the Middle East, but by requiring devs to submit programs through a company called YallaApps. As if this slap in the face were not enough, the site includes this little tidbit:
How will my application be displayed in the Windows Phone Marketplace? The product description of your application will include the following sentence: Brought to you by Yalla Apps on behalf of [Your Developer Name].
Basically, if Mid-East devs want to submit their goods, they have to allow them to be registered under another company's name. To add injury to insult, YallaApps' parent company, Prototype Interactive, is also in the application development business. So not only do apps submitted this way get credited to YallaApps, they are then under the control of a competitor. Holy Conflict of Interest, Batman!
Displaying once again Microsoft's abilities to reach out to current and new developers, Microsoft Licensing hooked up with the computer science department at the University of Nevada, Reno for a developer contest. Meant to encourage innovation amongst students as well as highlight Microsoft's new effort into the mobile phone business, the contest has gained some attention and publicity through local media.
The winning app of the contest is a game called 'Squid Squish' and was made by Aaron Eastburg, Hettie Zhang and John Colombo. The game involves squid and sushi and squishing...we're not really sure. Regardless, we'll be able to try it out eventually as the game gets further developed and released to the Marketplace, presumably on Microsoft's dime (we'll keep an eye out). In addition to the support, Microsoft also gave each of the young developers a new Windows Phone for their effort. Nice.
We just like seeing Microsoft doing these type of things. A big congrats to the winning team. Check the video after the break...
Not long after the HTC Mozart NoDo factory ROM was leaked on XDA, ROMs for its sister devices, Trophy and HD7, have arrived as well. They sport the same version number as the Mozart, 7355-89, and are unbranded with no carrier customizations. The European ROMs support English, German, Spanish, French and Italian. In case you have been living in a cave up until recently, the NoDo update most notably includes copy/paste functionality and improved performance.
One quick note on installation: If you are a T-Mobile or o2 HD7 user, you must flash it using the "Gold Card" method in order to bypass the device ID check.
Click the links to download the ROMs for Trophy and HD7.
We mentioned last week that Microsoft is kicking off a 'Deal of the Week' program for Xbox LIVE games for Windows Phone. The first was 'Frogger' which dropped to $1.99 and now this week it will be 'Star Wars: Battle for Hoth' which is dropping from $4.99 to $2.99. The price drop should go into effect sometime after midnight tonight and it will be good for one-week.
The 'Deal of the Week' program is popular on the Xbox LIVE console and is now being brought over to Windows Phone to help drive sales of games that either have passed under the radar or are older and need more exposure. 'Frogger' and 'Star Wars: Battle for Hoth' were both at or near launch of Windows Phone 7, so it's good to see them getting re-mentioned. See our review for SW: BFH right here and the recent update changelog here.
Enthusiast Peter Lackman emailed some concepts to My Nokia Blog showing what Nokia may have in mind. He understands that although Nokia can change the UI drastically, they most likely won't. Going with that, he has made two themes (Blue Leather and Summer) and has made the following changes:
custom background wallpapers and
revamped, theme style dictated live tiles in homescreen view with more live tile size options
a reorganized App view with what looks to be
a very helpful AZ for easy finding of apps (at the moment all you can do is scroll. I don’t know why you can’t “search” like you can with contacts).
Collapsible category bars – with icons showing content of this category
The result is above. Our thoughts? Bring it. This looks really sharp and it's kind of fun seeing " it for real" on a Nokia phone. Makes this whole partnership seem that much more real, doesn't it?
This weeks Xbox LIVE game is another puzzler with the very cool title 'Burn it All'. The game will fetch for $2.99 and was also just released recently on the iPhone/iPad, meaning we're not too far behind the curve on this one ;-) [Update:First! Turns out we're beating the iPhone/iPad with this game...wooo!; Thanks, @livetouch!]
Developed by Pastagames and BulkyPix, Burn It All, is a highly addictive puzzle game where your objective is to burn through everything on your path with the help of 3 little flames, each one with its own set of skills.
The game is being redistributed through Microsoft Game Studios and we imagine should be live in the Marketplace around or after midnight tonight.
Today on the Windows Phone Developer Blog, Todd Brix, a senior director on Windows Phone, gives an update to the development community. One of the more interesting things that was looked at was user's response to having the trial option available when browsing for new apps in the Marketplace.
We've always taken the position here that trials are good and that developer's who don't offer a trial, risk losing significant new customers. As it turns out, we were right on that. From the Blog:
Users like trials. Paid apps that include trial functionality are downloaded 70 times more than paid apps that don’t include trial functionality, expanding the number of potential customers to purchase the full paid version.
Trials result in higher sales. Nearly 1 out of 10 trial apps downloaded convert to a purchase and
generate 10 times more revenue, on average, than paid apps that don’t include trial functionality.
Trial downloads convert to paid downloads quickly. More than half of trial downloads that convert to a sale do so within one day, and most of those within 2 hours.
We hope devs take note of those numbers and take the extra time to implement the Trial API that Microsoft has made available. As consumers, we know that we're just more likely to try your app if it has a trial--devs, don't miss out on an opportunity.
We have yet another contender in the Twitter battle for Windows Phone (we've lost count weeks ago). Today's entry is 'Mahtweets' which is open sourced (so you can download the code and make it better). The app is free and completely functional but you can "buy" it for $0.99 if you want to support future development, something we always encourage.
So how is it? Like all other Twitter clients, it has some really good mixed with a few hiccups (but seeing as it's version 0.7, we can't be too harsh). We really like how many Tweets you can see on a single view and we think the ability to tap a message to reveal those power icons is really awesome. The lack of aggressive caching as well as the inability to run below the lock-screen make it a bit sluggish sometimes (and don't let your screen time out if composing a Tweet, you'll lose it). The option to configure your timelines is very cool but awkward and confusing (especially the checkboxes). Finally, we like the URL shortening, geotagging, photo uploads and ability to favorite--meaning this has all the core functions for a Twitter app. (And no, there's no Live Tile/Push).
Give it a spin, leave a comment as to your thoughts. Ours? We see real potential here, but it's still too early in development to make it #1. We seriously look forward to future updates. Download it here in the Marketplace.
Some folks over at Microsoft have gone ahead and released a new program called 'Lunchbox' in the Marketpalce that's available for free. So what is 'Lunchbox'? That's almost a tough one to answer as the apps description is more a declaration of philosophy rather than specific purpose:
Collaboration and communication technology is liberating information workers from the physical constraints of time and location. In terms of flexibility, efficiency and productivity, there are gains to the employees and their companies. It is easy to focus only on the measurable benefits of the technology and overlook consequences of such a fundamental change in the landscape.
Liberation from rigid location and time requirements has consequences: reduced face-time in the office, less chance of spontaneous coffee-machine encounters that spark ideas and the increasing tendency to communicate only on a targeted/as-needed basis. Lunchbox is a small countermeasure to add back some spontaneous connection. It’s a virtual coffee machine, facilitating chance encounters without any pretext beyond working in the same company or sharing the same interest.
Conceived to increase connection in large companies and organizations, Lunchbox works for everyone. It uses the concept of user-definable “universes” to find matches for you… create a universe for your company or any other group of people you want to meet up with on the fly.
In other words it's like Match.com but for work? All kidding aside, it seems a neat way to meet and collaborate with people in your company, department or creative group whom you would never normally meet face to face. It seeks to avoid non-personal communication with the personal. Anyone else see the potential of this technology to be integrated later into Office? Powered by Azsure, it will be interesting to see where it goes and if groups adopt it. Grab it here in the Marketplace for a go.
While we all know the core features of the 'NoDo' update (improved Marketplace, copy paste, better performance), it is safe to say many of us are hoping for some, extra features? Sort of like those little things which may not be huge changes but nonetheless are nice to find?
Well, sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but 'NoDo' is pretty much exactly what Microsoft said it would be, no more, no less. In that regard at least they're not being coy with us, but still, who would not have liked to find something more significant?
Monsmartphone has managed to load the update on their Trophy and while it works quite well, there isn't much else to say. Although there are a few more ringtones (but no custom ability) and Bluetooth has some better support, there are no bonus features. That being said, there's no reason to be disappointed since nothing more was promised. And perhaps it is cynical of us to even question it, but hey, we're a greedy bunch who see 'Mango' on the horizon and are full of hope for this OS--it's okay to dream a bit ;-) Having said that, there is room for OEM improvements to ROMs, like maybe an T-Mobile HD7 pink camera/languages fix--we'll keep an eye out.
Source: Monsmartphone, Thanks, Gilles Dedisse, for keeping us in the loop!
Since we reviewed MonsterUp, the awesome DoodleJump clone for Windows Phone 7, developer Karios Games has continued honing the game, pushing out two new updates. MonsterUp was already a very slick indie title, so how has it improved?
MonsterUp v22.214.171.124 changelog:
View more online rankings in scoreboard screen
Concrete platform breaks with shield bonus
Minor tweak to concrete platform graphics
Minor tweaks to game fonts
View and beat online high scores in-game
View your all-time best and current leaderboard position in-game
Most impressive about these updates is the online high score integration. Score in MonsterUp is actually a measure of height; your high score is the greatest height you have reached. With the new online high score integration, every other MonsterUp player’s best height is clearly marked on-screen. This makes their scores far more tangible than simply viewing them from a Leaderboard. It’s easy to imagine a player trying just a bit harder when he sees the next best score just a little bit above hum on the screen… The Karios Games website has also been fully redesigned to include (among other things) the online scoreboards, further encouraging competition.
Follow the jump for exclusive information about Karios Games’ future plans for MonsterUp - and a new game announcement!
The next Windows Phone 7 device hitting Canada is the Dell Venue Pro that is reportedly arriving through Rogers at the suspected date of March 17th.
As previously mentioned, tipsters have supplied pricing information on the vertical-sliding device at $149.99 with a 3-year contract or $599.99 without a contracted commitment. As our Seth Brodeur pointed out in the article, $149.99 seems fairly expensive for a three year bound contract. Since then, there has been word that the prices could be slightly lower at $449.99 and $99.99 respectively. We will inform you as to when we confirm these new rumours.
We have been following the development of the Windows Phone Device Manager with a watchful eye, and the proposed addition to the software was the inclusion of a new "jailbreaking" tool that would allow unlocking a handset without developer registration. Julien Schapman has now sated this is not going to be included with WP Device Manager.
"Because I was bored getting hundreds of emails from people asking me to send them WP Device Manager so they can continue to use pirated applications, and because there will be a short term solution for homebrews, I decided not to include my jailbreak tool. I respect other developers and I don’t want to be responsible for piracy, I’ve been contacted by Brandon Watson from Microsoft and I wish to be involved in the official homebrew support on Windows Phone."
While I'm aware that the majority of folk will be surprised by the latest announcement (we are too!), one must consider the positives that were included in Julien's post. He mentions that he wishes to be involved in the official homebrew development/support on WP7. I believe Microsoft should have as much of the homebrew community onboard as possible to ensure that their solution will be more than what these developers were cooking up individually.
For now, it looks like we will all be extending our wait for setting Barbie Girl as our ringtones and using a colour wheel to select the OS theme. With NoDo just around the corner (should it actually work on all devices), our attention should be occupied with the features included within the update, not to mention the fantastic selection of Xbox Live titles and apps that are available.
What do you think of this decision, and do you have high hopes for the homebrew support that Microsoft is promising?
For those of you with HTC Mozarts (ours is being borrowed, ahem), you may want to head over to XDA to grab the latest factory ROM: [ROM]RUU_Mozart_HTC_Europe_1.30.401.01_5.54.09.21_22.33 b.50_RELEASE
This is a full ROM update from HTC themselves and in it, it reportedly contains the latest build of Windows Phone 7, including the much sought after 'NoDo' update with copy/paste and performance enhancements. Of course you may want to watch on the sidelines and let some others go first, but this looks like a double win for Mozart owners. No word on what is changed on the HTC/Baeband end, but we assume there's some minor improvements.
We have witnessed the sheer depth of Microsoft’s budget when it comes to advertising and marketing campaigns, but who would have guessed they would be providing Nokia $1 billion for them to further promote and develop Windows Phone 7? The partnership between the two giants could prove to be what the platform needs to combat Google and Apple with competition.