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3 years ago

Bringing Kinect and gesture control to Windows Phone

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Going back to the Windows Mobile 7 rumor days in 2009, we can find lots of talk about gesture and non-touch control of the OS. Of course that was Windows Mobile 'Photon' which was scrapped and replaced with Windows Phone 7.

Flash forward to today and we still don't have much in the way of "non-touch control", though we do have accelerometers, compass, aGPS and other sensors (not to mention augmented reality). But Microsoft does not appear to be moving away from gesture control, which should be obvious to anyone familiar with their Kinect sensor for the Xbox (and eventually PC).  Having received a Kinect recently as a gift, we can say that the technology in the Kinect is as "alien" as anything we've seen. However, it's still a foot long device which is much bigger than even an HTC HD7.

In 2010, Microsoft bought a company called Canesta who specialize in gesture control technology, specifically chip making. The idea is that eventually this company will be able to shrink down the Kinect chip to a centimeter., From EE Times:

"Canesta’s engine is said to outperform the PrimeSensor which Microsoft is currently licensing from PrimeSense Ltd. (Tel-Aviv, Israel) for its Kinect. When Microsoft commercializes the Canesta-invented chip-level work-alike of the PrimeSensor, it will be able to downsize the foot-long Kinect to about a square centimeter, enabling tiny robots and other mobile devices, such as the Windows Phone, to perform sophisticated gesture recognition for natural user interfaces, autonomous navigation and many other tasks."

Hearing that of course brings us back full-circle to those 2009 rumors of non-touch control and a mobile phone. Perhaps Microsoft was ahead of itself at the time, but it's becoming obvious that in the near future, such technology shrunken down to our phone will be a reality. And considering how Microsoft is quite a bit ahead of Google and Apple in terms of gesture recognition/control, they're positioned for great things in the mobile world. In fact, according to the NY Times, Microsoft may have a lock on this technology:

Last year, Microsoft acquired 3DV systems, a company with similar gesture recognition technology. That deal coupled with the Canesta purchase may prevent competitors from acquiring these 3-D abilities and cut off potential intellectual property squabbles. Canesta has secured 44 patents in this area and has more pending.

Anyone else think Microsoft is a sleeping beast?

Source: EE Times; via GigaOm

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3 years ago

Microsoft testing out new build of Mango with Twitter enabled?

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It's no surprise that Windows Phone "Mango" is getting Twitter in the fall. The feature is currently disabled in the beta builds given out to developers though, so it's fun to track its development along the Microsfot pipeline. What we can figure is this: a few Microsoft devs have been using it on their phones since May in a limited capacity, but recently new users have been given later builds of Mango with the feature enabled (see above image). Even Joe Belfiore is now using it.

In the last few days a few more folks on Twitter have started tweeting with "via Windows Phone (via Windows Live)" as the tweet source. Clicking the link redirects you to Microsoft's Windows Phone site. This was similar to another build from April where it said "via Windows Phone(via Windows Live)INT". (The difference there is of course "INT" which probably stood for "internal", as in development purposes).

One of the tweets comes from Ken Dacey of Microsoft, who was also the one responsible for the earlier "INT" Twitter posts a few months ago. He's been using Twitter on his phone since May, but another from @MSWindowsPhone only appeared in the last day (they won't confirm if it's a newer build, however).

Either way, Microsoft is making progress as expected. Hopefully registered AppHub devs will get a new beta build too.

Source: Twitter 1, 2, 3; Thanks, @Fisi_zubi for helping us out on this

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3 years ago

Captain America wallpaper pack for Windows Phone

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Captain America wallpaper pack for Windows Phone

We hear some super hero film called "Captain America" is opening soon and that this cap'n has some fans. What better way to demonstrate your patriotism (and comic book geekiness) than throwing him on your Windows Phone?

Techie writer Manan Kakkar has assembled some pretty sweet shots of the first avenger and made them 800x480 at a nice tight resolution. Result? They look pretty great, especially with those bold colors on a Super AMOLED screen.

Hop to Manan's blog to grab the pack which contains seven pics, including a NSFW (language) one that makes a...strong statement.

Bonus: he also has them for your OS desktop for a power punching patriotic combo.

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3 years ago

Spotify coming to the U.S. tomorrow, sign up now. Windows Phone app soon?

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To all the U.S. peeps out there who've been waiting on Spotify, the Swedish music streaming site, you'll be happy to know it's launching tomorrow. More importantly, if you sign up now you can get an invite as soon as it goes live (guess they're doing the Google model of things with invites, blarg).

Sure, we don't yet have an official Spotify app for Windows Phone, but there are third party apps in the Marketplace. More importantly, there is an official app coming, as demonstrated at MIX11 a few months back. The "Mango" version will of course allow your music to stream in the background, much like Zune player does currently.

Our big question though: Could we see a non-Mango version launch in the next few days? Seems like something Microsoft would do, what with that marquee app blitz they did a few weeks ago. Plus we've seen some non-Mango versions of apps like Best Buy and British Airways released, even though they were first demoed with Mango features. Hmm...

Head here for the signup!

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3 years ago

Mango coming in September? Imagine Cup winners announced.

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This could well be looking into something that's not there and we're all reading far too much into the above tweet. But, it does seem like the best time for the release of the update and upcoming devices (remember the handsets we covered that were shown at WPC'11?). With iOS5 coming up as well as the rumored iPhone 5, this is the perfect time for Microsoft to provide even the most avid Apple fans with a second choice.

So, this could well be nothing, or it could be a solid hint at a possible date for Mango. What do you think? Sound off in the comments with when you believe Microsoft will bring us Mango, and if you reckon September (or prior, since they mentioned 'by September') is a solid time frame for the release.

Also of interest is once again the reference to "Mango" as 7.5, seemingly confirming what we've suspected for some time now.

And last but not least, the winners for Imagine Cup were announced. We'll just focus on mobile:

  • First Place: Geekologic (France) with 'Brainergy', physics puzzler that requires you to use various equipment to convert renewal energy sources to do work
  • Second Place: Close World Mobile (France) for 'Hilomi' focusing on environmental sustainability
  • Third Place: Team Dragon (United States) for their asthma game 'Azmo the Dragon'

Videos of the winners after the break

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3 years ago

Live ID WP7 app integration [Developers]

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Live ID WP7 app integration [Developers]

An in-depth article has been published over at BuildMobile, which covers how Windows Live ID can be integrated into a Windows Phone application. The app will then be able to gain access to the user's contacts, profile detail, information from Messenger and SkyDrive, and everything else that's available via the Messenger Connect API.

What should be noted (as mentioned in the article) is that a Live ID is required, much like Facebook Connect and Twitter requiring accounts. You wont be able to transfer an app from one Live ID to another, so if you are creating an app with a Live ID account, you may wish to use an ID specifically made for the app, especially if you plan to sell the app, have multiple developers working, etc.

As well as following the steps and reading up on the detail, more information can be found over at the Windows Live Developer Portal and in the Messenger Connect documentation

Source: BuildMobile

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3 years ago

Microsoft sued over Windows Phone "Really" ads, really

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Where we normally expect patents and copyright litigation these days to involve hardware or technology issues, Microsoft finds itself being sued for infringing upon copyrighted content in their Windows Phone ads.

Cellrderm, a company that manufactures novelty cellular abuse aids, is claiming that Microsoft's Windows Phone "Really" ads features similar content that is copyrighted by Cellrderm and it's ad agency. The suit centers around the "Bathroom Really" and "Bedroom Really" ads. No response from Microsoft on the law suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

While there are similarities in the commercials, it's hard to say they are carbon copies. If you make the jump past the break you can see all four ads and decide for yourself. The ads might also shed some light on what exactly a cellular abuse aid is.

Source: winrumors

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3 years ago

GroupMe now available for WP7

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GroupMe now available for WP7

GroupMe, the popular group-texting service, has hit the Marketplace.  The WP7 version, which was the second-most requested platform by users, was actually spear-headed by an intern HackNY's Summer Fellows Program.

Using a data connection and/or texting, GroupMe allows users to create different user groups.  Any time a member of the group sends a message, the other members will be notified.  In addition, GroupMe assigns each group a common phone number, so any single member can start conference calls on the fly.  And while you can use this snazzy app to communicate with your friends through GroupMe, it is not necessary.  Any phone that can text can create groups and get started.  Best of all, the service, just like the app, is free.

The current iteration only supports the group messaging, chat and conference calling, but more features, such as location tracking and photo sharing are expected to follow in the near future.  The startup has gained a fast following, and has even gotten the attention of celebs, like Paris Hilton, who recently tapped them as her go-to forum for viewers of her upcoming show on cable network Oxygen.

Get GroupMe here.

Source: GroupMe

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3 years ago

Watch out - Tentacles is crawling to Xbox Live on July 20

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Now that Windows Phone-exclusive Beards and Beaks is available on the Marketplace, would you expect Microsoft to follow up next week with something less exciting? An iPhone puzzle game port, maybe? I mean, we can all agree that there simply aren’t enough puzzle games on Windows Phone... Well too bad, suckas! Next week marks two big Xbox Live releases in a row as Tentacles from Press Play comes to the Marketplace.

Tentacles is a top-down platformer starring Lemmy, a microscopic tentacled creature. Lemmy journeys through the body of the scientist who created him, eating eyeballs (?) and battling dangerous creatures along the way. Tapping the screen moves the little hero one tentacle at a time, and he also has a clawed tentacle for attacks. Press Play’s latest game has impressive 3D graphics and a subversive sense of humor – no surprise as they are the team who brought us the highly creative Max and the Magic Marker, which happens to be the Deal of the Week right now.

Tentacles crawls to the Marketplace on Wednesday, July 20 for the price of $4.99. That’s like $1.25 per tentacle! Read WPCentral’s interview with developer Press Play for more screens and details.

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3 years ago

Weight Watchers app redesigned and "must-have"

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Maintaining one's diet, er...lifestyle change, can be pretty tricky when you're on the go.  However, the newly-designed Weight Watchers official app, PointsPlus Calculator, makes it easier.  Whether you're out to dinner or picking up groceries for the week, all you need to do is enter the nutritional information into the calculator to find out how many points-per-serving an item will be.  The app will also let you log activity to see how many points you have burned by exercising.  The interface is simple and sleek.  PointsPlus is free to download, but is only available for Weight Watchers Online and eTools subscribers.  Due to the nature of the subscriptions, users are required to log into the app on a monthly basis.

Weight Watchers is just one of a plethora of companies to release "official" apps for for WP7 in recent weeks.  Microsoft likes this one so much that they listed it as one of their "must-have" apps in their Best of Marketplace.  Click on the Via link below to see the others that made the list.

Download the PointsPlus Calculator here (opens Zune).

Source: Weight Watchers; Via: Microsoft

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3 years ago

Windows Phone Cameo: Sonic the Hedgehog [Video]

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We've had Windows Phone cameo appearances in episodes of Hawaii Five-O, Castle, Human Target and several other television series. Now it appears the Windows Phone product placement may be reaching to video games.

In Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1, if you keep Sonic idle for a for a minute he appears to pull out a Windows Phone and begin to listen to the Music Hub.

We've got a full review in the works for Sonic 4 and you can download the game here (opens Zune) at the Marketplace to judge for yourself if that's truly a Windows Phone he's using.  But in the meantime, make the jump after the break to view a video clip of this mysterious phone and let us know what you think? Is Sonic a Windows Phone user?

Source: Windowsphonemetro Thanks goes out to Treiz for the tip!

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3 years ago

Microsoft signs licensing agreement with GeoVector for mobile augmented reality patents

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Good news everyone! Microsoft has signed a licensing agreement with GeoVector Corporation, a company who actually held the original trademark on "Augmented Reality". The deal is to bring GeoVector patented "Augmented Reality, pointing-based local search and other aspects of spatially aware mobile computing" to what else, but Windows Phones.

The deal is non-exclusive, meaning our rivals can still have access to GeoVector's technology (they already have "World Surfer" on Android and the iPhone), but since this licensing is being done by Microsoft, we're more likely to see this technology embedded into the OS directly, enhancing Bing services, rather than just "add on" software like other mobile OSs.

As you can see above, their big claim to fame is their "pointing-based local search" where the phone is like a computer mouse "...for the real world" allowing the user to point and click in any direction, identifying objects in its path. No word on when we can see the results of a GeoVector/Microsoft collaboration, but hopefully it'll be in time for "Apollo" aka Winodws Phone 8.

Check out the press release after the break.

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3 years ago

Google lifting more UI stylings from Windows Phone?

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We're not shy about calling out Google and more specifically Android on their terrible UI--it lacks coherence, style and underlying philosophy of what it should be. It looks like it was designed by computer nerds and not, well, designers. In that sense, it's nice to see Google overhauling their Android Market which always looked like it was beaten with an ugly stick.

Still, we've received quite a few emails noting that their new Marketplace seems to take some liberties with Windows Phone's Metro UI: text based, no chrome, pivot controls, etc. We're not prepared to say that Google sought to make a copy-cat UI here, but it is clear that they are moving in a more minimalist, text-driven direction that seems to becoming popular these days. It's not as bad as their ad that completely ripped off a few weeks ago, but it does show that they're taking their cues from Metro or at the very least, they know they have a UI problem and need to spice things up a bit.

For years people said that the incremental changes to Windows Mobile was just "lipstick on a pig". Well, here's looking at you, Android.

Source: Google; via Android Central; Thanks, Carlos, dtboos and others

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3 years ago

Beards & Beaks first Xbox LIVE for Windows Phone game to feature DLC

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Here's quite the surprise: Beards & Beaks ($2.99) features downloadable content (DLC) i.e. extra levels and add ons that can be purchased from within the game itself.

Up to now, our games have been fairly limited, requiring a whole new download to bring new levels, like IloMilo. Now, developers evidently can start offering extra levels, new mini-games, etc. as an extension of the main game (as well as charge for it, hello!).

Luckily the "Forest Map" add on here for Beards & Beaks is completely free. What's more, it's mean this game can get extended life out of it since MSG can keep creating new levels and features.

Ah, the future of Windows Phone gaming is looking good. Grab the game here in the Marketplace.

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3 years ago

Facebook app having issues with photos?

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Facebook app having issues with photos?

Maybe it's just us, but we've been asked whether our Facebook photos and galleries were loading in the official app. Sure enough, we can see the galleries but when we click on an image, we get the above error message, which is quite interesting (and annoying).

Photos seem to load in our Mango Picture Hub, but some are having problems there too.  The issue seems to be hit or miss with some users reporting to us no problems at all while quite a few others are getting the "Unable to load this page" message.

If it's the latter case, then it seems something on Facebook's end and not the app itself, presumably meaning no "fix" is needed for our app. We'll keep an eye on this one... Report in comments on your situation. (Thanks, Amir and our Twitter followers!)

[Oh and yes, notifications are wonky. All we can say on the matter is they work better in Mango than NoDO.]

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