One thing that deserves being pointed out, repeatedly, about Windows Phone 7 is how the UI is pretty much unlike anything out on the market today. Whether it's iOS (who lifted their layout from Palm's Garnet), Android (same) or even WebOS (more unique than the first wo), the Windows Phone 7 "style" is certainly eye catching.
So much, in fact, that Microsoft has filed an application for a trademark on it--guess they're fearing the rise of the clones, at some point, eh? Of course just because you file doesn't mean it will be granted, but it's probably always smart to get these things in writing, in case lawsuits start flying again later on. Also, lets just say they're very specific on the filing:
The literal element of the mark consists of PHONE PEOPLE MESSAGING OUTLOOK. The mark consists of eight boxes; the upper left-hand box containing the word "PHONE" along with a telephone receiver; the upper right-hand box containing the word "PEOPLE"; the lower left-hand box containing the word "MESSAGING" along with a character face; the lower right-hand box containing the word "OUTLOOK" along with the letter "O", an envelope and a check mark; the lower four boxes are empty.
Everyone loves to share, which is why there is a huge part of Windows Phone 7 that is focused on social connections and platforms. As well as engaging with your friends while on the go, you may find yourself browsing the web within Internet Explorer an feel the need to share an image you see on a website, or the web page itself.
While offline and browsing through our photo albums there is fantastic social integration with the ability to share images to your online profiles and through other services, but what about while online? Via email, you can send any image or web page straight from your browser to a recipient of your choice, which can come in handy should you be the sharing type and wish to save a good number of clicks (or in our case – presses) when sending some useful content to your contact(s).
Sending an image from a current web page is simple enough, simply press and hold on the picture you wish to share and a menu will pop up with a “share” option. Then select your desired email account to send from and an email composition window will then slide into view. If you wish to send the entire web page as opposed to just an image, press on the “…” at the bottom left of the browser and select “share”. Again, an email account selection will appear and then a composition window.
Windows Phone 7 makes simple tasks easier and faster for people to complete and communicating in more complex ways is possible, rivaling with competing platforms. What do you share while browsing around; do you use this feature regularly?
Plantronics latest addition to the Bluetooth speakerphone market is the K100. The K100 is a slim, low profile speaker that slides on to your car's sun visor to allow hands free operation of your Windows Phone.
Not everyone is comfortable with a Bluetooth headset and the K100 gives drivers a hands-free alternative. Additionally, the K100 provides an FM transmitter that allows you to stream audio files from your Windows Phone through your car stereo.
To see if the K100 is worth the investment, make the jump past the break.
It's a little strange reviewing an exercise app for your Windows Phone while its still winter but, we ran across an interesting Windows Phone 7 app that might come in handy when the weather improves. City Walk has been developed by Powerapp that will add a competitive twist to your outdoor walking routine.
The concept is simple, the Windows Phone 7 app divides your city into 50x50 meters sectors and your goal is to touch upon each of the fifty squares. Sure you could cheat and hit them all while driving around in your car but you don't burn as many calories that way.
To read more on City Walk, just make the jump past the break.
Outdoor Navigation is being offered over at the Marketplace that slaps a considerable amount of GPS functionality onto your Windows Phone. Developed by GPS Tuner, the Windows Phone 7 navigation application offers features you would typically find on a stand alone GPS unit.
From an on-board compass to route tracking to photographing points of interest, Outdoor Navigation can come in handy on the open trail as well as the open road. The application lays everything out nicely and includes a healthy help section to guide you through all the bells and whistles Outdoor Navigation has.
Scoreloop has announced that they will be supporting Windows Phone 7 and will be including the platform within their cross-platform social gaming system. Why is this big news for developers? Social games developed for WP7 will have the ability to allow players to compete against Android or iPhone owners.
The basic breakdown of what features the social "middleware" offers are cross-platform leader-boards, challengers, or virtual currency that developers can implement into their games for all mobile platforms. Opening up not only a much larger audience for players to engage with (or against), this will help bring the different operating systems together and make it more attractive for developers on other platforms to bring their projects to WP7.
Platforms that are currently covered by Scoreloop include Android, Bada, Airplay and iOS (iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch). As for WP7, Marc Gumpinger, CEO of Scoreloop said, "WP7 is an important step in our goal to encourage and support connected gaming across the entire mobile landscape. As the first cross-platform social gaming ecosystem to add support for WP7 this means we can offer the largest reach, greater revenue potential and increase the impact of developers using the Scoreloop SDK,"
This is exciting news for Microsoft and Windows Phone 7 as a whole. Scoreloop is expanding rapidly, and for them to show support in the OS should hopefully hush some critics about the appeal of the software and devices to not only front-end users, but also the developer community. Currently Scoreloop are providing a limited number of developers early access to their SDK before publishing it to the public.
The question in re-installing applications and games on the Windows Phone 7 platform has be asked several times, and with good reason too. Picture the following - you buy a brand new WP7 handset due to your current one either being seriously damaged, or isn't meeting your requirements for daily use. You have attached your Live ID on the new device and you notice that you have no apps. Is there a way to download them onto your new phone? Good news in short - yes.
It really is truly simple to get your apps back to their rightful place in your pocket (or hand for that matter), whether you are in the position explained above or you have simply removed the app for a reason and wish to re-install it. All that is required is for you to go through the purchasing process for that app buy selecting "buy" on the app overview screen and should you have purchased the app previously on your synchronised Live ID, you will be presented with the screen displayed in the photo above.
Clicking "install" will download and install the app (or game) again without charging your attached credit card. One must note, however, that you are unable to perform this within the Zune software. To re-download apps, you must carry this process out on your mobile device.
One curious problem about developing on Windows Phone that has yet to be addressed (but will, eventually) is the ability for developers to have a place to beta-test their applications. The only way to do it is to give your XAP file to seemingly random people who have an unlocked device and hope they give you feedback. The issue though is it has to be unsigned and you're not really sure who you're givng your app too. Let alone the whole pay thing if you didn't make it trial-ware.
XNA-UK XAP tester service is evidently a place where you can "submit" your app to the site and they:
...will install your XAP on our test and production devices and check for the common Marketplace issues that you get knocked back on. We’ll document at some point what tests we do once we get a feel for how the service is operating.
The group's Terms and Conditions explicitly states that they won't distribute the work, alter ownership or do any other shenanigans. The service is free for now, but may change in the future, depending on how successful the program becomes. While perhaps this isn't the best solution, we like the idea of a tester community giving "bedroom coders" a chance to get feedback on their app before submission to the Marketplace. Granted, Microsoft will eventually offer a solution to this via the Marketplace, so developers can directly interact with users, but until then you can either try this method or post it in a forum in the open. We think the former idea is a little better.
Scoremobile has been updated to include additional sports leagues. The Windows Phone 7 application provides updated scores, stats, standings, betting odds, news and videos on your favorite sports leagues. The original release only covered the NFL, NBA, NCAA Football and Basketball, NHL, and EPL Soccer.
Just in time for Spring Training and the start of race season, the update adds the following leagues/sports into the mix:
MLS Soccer, LIGA Soccer, SERI Soccer, Champions Soccer
NASCA and Formula One Racing
WTA Tennis and ATP Tennis.
While we haven't heard anything official, the update also appears to have included some performance tweaks. Screens seem to load and refresh a little smoother from the original release.
There is a bug with the update that is easily fixed. If you apply the update through the Marketplace, you won't see the changes. However, if you uninstall the original version and re-install the updated version, you'll then see the new leagues. The bad thing about this option is that you'll loose all your favorite teams.
If you haven't installed ScoreMobile and need a decent sports app, you can find it here (opens Zune) at the Marketplace. It's a free application.
Today, the February 2011 release of the Silverlight for Windows Phone Toolkit was made available. A few newly added controls, including the tilt effect and performance progress bar are present in this update that saves developers picking them up while working the finishing touches to their apps.
See the video above for an overview of the additional features, which appear to be intriguing for even the non-tech savvy personnel - come on, you can't tell me you watched that video and didn't want to over-use the tilt effect?
Image recognition is one of those things that we think all smartphones should be able to do--combined with speech recognition, voice to text and augmented reality, it's just one of those features that's always impressive.
Vivino is a free wine application that just went live in the Marketplace and it will allow you to take a picture of a wine bottle, upload it and have it matched in Vivino's database. It then brings down a ton of info on the wine, allows you to like/dislike it and save it in a list for later. Their database has over 450,000 wines although it should be noted that in version 1.0, they only get about 40% of those to match. Still, even if it doesn't match, it can save all the info, making this still useful for you wine connoisseurs out there.
While we're not wine drinkers ourselves (whiskey, please!) we can't help but to be impressed by this app and the potential for others do make something similar. Give it a spin here in the Marketplace, let us know in comments if it works for you.
Thanks, Theis and Heini, from Vivino for the heads up
The Nokia-Microsoft partnership is still dominating headlines this morning as more information keeps coming out. Evidently, during negotiations with Microsoft, one of the critical issues Nokia was focused on was reaching "a very low price point", according to Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, this position was agreed upon:
"We have become convinced that we can do that very quickly"
As we mentioned earlier, Nokia produces nearly 1 million phones a day due to their huge infrastructure and production lines. With Microsoft tapping into that, it seems easier for them to lower prices on phones to the carriers--something that smaller OEMs might not be able to match. Either way, consumers look to win.
One method of doing this is going beyond Qualcomm for their chipsets. Qualcomm was named by Microsoft as their primary chip provider for Windows Phone, but now we're getting news that Microsoft is looking beyond the company for other alternatives (NVIDIA , Texas Instruments, ST-Ericsson and Ericsson come to mind). That should be especially good for Nokia who have had a rocky relationship with Qualcomm, with the latter owning the CDMA market (even though both agreed to work together last year).
Looks like there will be lots of changes to the Windows Phone landscape come late 2011 as fallout form the Nokia partnership continues.
Now that Mobile World Congress 2011 is officially over, we figured we would let you folks see some behind the scenes photos of the event, Microsoft's Windows Phone booth and some of the scenery (for scale). This year MWC had over 60,000 attendees, which was a huge increase from last year. Needless to say, it was quite the experience.