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3 years ago

Microsoft developing 'Switchboard' for WP7 multiplayer gaming

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Real-time multiplayer gameplay on mobile devices has long been a feature many gamers would like to have on the move (we have some form of multiplayer gameplay though - Haypi Kingdom being an example), but with constant connection dips (while on the move) and data limitations in place, plus many more factors, it's never been fully implemented.

Victor Bahl, director of the Mobile Computing Research Center at Microsoft Research, explains the problem:

"Multiplayer gaming on smartphones is a very challenging technical problem, Gamers move around, the wireless channel is hostile, the bandwidth you need is not always there, disconnections can happen, and smartphones are energy-constrained. If you just take a game and put it on a smartphone, it is not going to work."

Fear not, all is not lost. The talented team at Microsoft Research has been hard at work on 'Switchboard' - a potential answer to most (if not all) problems with multiplayer smartphone gaming in its current form.

 "There are techniques for multiplayer games to handle ‘jitter’—occasional spikes in network delay. When those techniques react to jitter, you may see a player or object jump from one spot to another. Such ‘glitches in the matrix’ become problematic if they happen frequently. A major challenge in this work is to predict what a player’s latency will look like for the foreseeable duration of a game and minimize such glitches."

"Switchboard finds suitable game candidates by “pinging” their phones to estimate latency: the time needed to move a packet of data. Latency is important to gaming because a long lag time—in the hundreds of milliseconds—to move data can affect game play”, notes Gantenbein."

While it may not provide seamless play for WP7 users, this is a step in the right direction and shows Microsoft are attempting to address obvious limitations/problems. Let's see how this plays out, but for now hopes should remain relatively high for some degree of multiplayer action potentially being possible in the future with Xbox Live.

Source: Microsoft Research, via: Windows7news

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3 years ago

Nokia N9 not heading to some European countries?

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We already understand that Nokia is fully backing Windows Phone 7 with devices coming later this year and through 2012, but their support for MeeGo was questionable with only a single device being launched. Now it seems as though the N9 might not be available in some parts of Europe if their website product availability checker is to be held for reliability.

You'll also notice that France, Italy, Germany and Spain are also absent from the list. Could we be seeing Nokia planning to bring only Windows Phone handsets to these countries? Shame if this becomes a reality. While I'm very much looking forward to purchasing a Nokia WP7 device (especially if it's anything like the previewed Sea Ray), the N9 does look like a smashing phone.

So fellow Brits (and European neighbours), would we be that bothered if the N9 is not available in the countries above (I believe I'm asking a silly question on a WP7 website but still interest could be present)?

Source: Nokia, via: Telegraph, T3

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3 years ago

Plants vs. Zombies: Xbox Windows Phone Review

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As a critic, it’s rare that I can unequivocally say that a game is the very best game in its genre. So many titles do different things well, and they usually have their minuses too. It’s even more uncommon for a game to transcend its own genre and become something that appeals to pretty much everybody. That’s why Plants vs. Zombies is such an amazing game. Not only is it hands-down the best tower defense game on Windows Phone, it also tweaks tower defense conventions and brings so much content that even tower defense naysayers will find a lot to enjoy.

What exactly is tower defense? It’s a type of real-time strategy game. Players build stationary towers which shoot at enemies as they try to reach the player’s base. To put that in Plants vs. Zombies terms, zombies attack the gamer’s yard, striving to get inside the house and eat the tasty brains inside. Weaponized plants with faces and personalities take the place of mechanical towers. In case it wasn’t immediately obvious, this game is loaded with charm and humor.

Watch out for potato mines as you head past the break for our full review.

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3 years ago

Windows Phone Summary of the Week: June 27-July 03, 2011

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This has been a pretty eventful week, with some great resources for developers popping up here and there. Firstly, the Mango beta is now available for registered developers, then again if you're not aware of this news, where have you been for the past week? Not only that, but one day after release two ways to get Mango on your non-developer-unlocked device surfaced.

The WPCentral forums have expanded to accommodate discussions surrounding Microsoft services including SkyDrive, Xbox Live and more. Staying on WPcentral for a moment longer, we've published podcast episode 115! Oh yeah, we're back into the swing of things! Also, we have interviewed the good folks at IQ this week who develop the official Pikchur app.

IM+ has been in the discussion box for being delayed and over-priced but at least the latter has been addressed as it's had a price drop to $4.99, but has now angered users who've already purchased the app for the full price. Facebook gets updated to version 2.0 and now features push notifications! With the recent addition of official apps, the Windows Phone Marketplace has passed 25,000 apps!

Gaming on Microsoft products (namely Windows and Xbox) is merging together over at Xbox.com, soon you'll be able to purchase Games for Windows and Xbox titles all under one roof. Twin Blades is set to return on July 6th but everything seems slightly greener, though the fun remains high! Angry Birds is also here, no need to sulk to Android and iOS users over this title any more.

The Dell Venue Pro on T-Mobile is set to finally receive a firmware update next month. Did we say finally? We run through the easy process in importing contacts from Outlook to your WP7 handset via your Live ID, while Orange UK kicks off the Orange Selects Marketplace launch with giving away apps for free to customers (one for each day of July - 31 in total).

Nokia has stated that any apps developed by them for their devices will not be confined to their handsets only and will be released to other brands. SiriusXM stream comes back online and the Sat Rad Player app returns to the Marketplace. Have you ever noticed the different shapes used on smartphone platforms?

On the hardware front, Compal is said to make Acer and Nokia handsets. Front facing camera is still a possibility in Mango, so we can hopefully expect some video conferencing support in WP7 from OEMs this fall. HTC Eternity is revealed as well its specifications which feature a front facing camera, just to confirm the above news.

Let's take a small break and have a slice of WP7 cake.

Developers! Did you think the WP7 sweepstakes were finished? Think again, although free advertising isn't on the prize list any longer, free devices are up for grabs. Still deciding whether or not to go with requiring users to purchase your app or release it for free and rely on advertising revenue? Check out this documentation on setting up advertising in your app for some pointers.

Microsoft addressed some issues people have been experiencing while attempting to update to the Mango beta. In short, Focus 1.4s are still not able to be updated - fix coming mid-July hopefully. They have also released a developer Marketplace survey, good signs that they're still listening to constant streams of feedback.

Head on past the break for the run through.

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3 years ago

Alchemic Phone 7 - Review

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Alchemic Phone 7 - Review

Feeling up for an elemental challenge? Alchemic Phone 7 is a Windows Phone game that puts you in charge of building a universe by combining elements to create oceans, seas, volcanoes, islands, machines and a lot more.

There are 1400 elements to unlock ranging from machines, electricity, thunder, lightning, Atlantis, and the Great Wall.  To find out more on this unique Windows Phone game, slide on past the break.

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3 years ago

Accuweather for WP7 - A closer look

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3 years ago

Angry Birds - Review

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Angry Birds - Review

Angry Birds may have been one of the most anticipated Windows Phone games. Most are familiar with the game as it's been available for some time on other platforms.  While I've played my fair share of Angry Birds on other platforms, it was nice (almost refreshing) to see the popular game come to the Windows Phone platform.

For those not familiar with the game, evil pigs have stolen the birds eggs and have angered the feathered population. Negotiations fail and to arms (or wings) the birds go.  The pigs fortify their positions with sticks, rocks, and anything else they can get their hoofs on.  Your mission is to destroy the pigs by hurling an assortment of birds at them from a slingshot.  You work your way through the various levels to eventually take on the pig king.

Sounds easy, right? Shoot on past the break to see how the Windows Phone version of Angry Birds measures up.

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3 years ago

TripIt Travel Organizer official app now in the Marketplace

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Guess we're going to have to keep adding to that list. Yes, the official app for TripIt by Concur Technologies is now available. Up till now, we only had the excellent MyTrips 3rd party app which we still recommend you take a look at, as an alternative. But you can't beat free and so it's nice to see the super popular travel planner service now on Windows Phone.

We actually all use TripIt around these parts when our various Smartphone writers are globe trotting to conferences and events. If you haven't tried the TripIt service, it scans your email for travel information (flights, hotels, etc.) and automatically adds them to your upcoming trips. It's eerily awesome how well it works, allowing you to add things to your calendar, share them with others and just keep all your travel itinerary in one, accessible place.

You can grab TripIt here in the Marketplace and if that doesn't suit you, give MyTrips ($1.99) a whirl. (Thanks, sixseven, for the heads up)

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3 years ago

Licensed National Rail apps comparison

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Britain's railway network is a love and hate relationship with us Brits, right? When it's working as it should and trains are on time it's arguably one of the most reliable railways in the world, but when there's a fault somewhere it turns into the worst within seconds. To help keep on top of timetable changes, delays and cancellations we've been using smartphones to aid us in our travels.

Windows Phone 7 has now two officially licensed apps in the Marketplace, which both share the same base functionality and high price (£4.99 – to be expected with licensing). The big question is what separates Rail Planner and Train Travel? Let's run through the nooks and crannies of both apps and see what functionality is missing in one that the other features and which is best worth the high price tag (please be aware that this article is intended for folk living in the UK, should you download these apps you may be disappointed if you abroad).

Head on past the break for the full two app comparison review (you can skip to the video at the end for a quick walk-through).

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3 years ago

Google+ destined for iOS, WP7 on the horizon?

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The search giant is pushing forward with its latest social media product (anyone remember the rise and sudden fall of Buzz?) called Google+ and beta testing has been well underway with invites being rolled out. TechRadar reports that Google has confirmed that an iOS app will be hitting the App Store in the closing future which will feature native support. Question is, will they support Windows Phone 7?

Google+ is seen as the potential Facebook Killer and has a lot of hype to live up to according to the social media sphere. Since we already have Facebook and soon-to-be Twitter integration, I think Google+ could be a worthwhile addition. If we look at the current Google presence on WP7, it's nothing to be proud of. Users of docs, calendar, GMail, GTalk and other services have to switch between apps and there's no fluidity.

Google+ could become a hub of sorts, which could include all the social features which is present on the web version (chat, video conferencing, messaging etc.) while bringing in other Google services into one location. Then again, we do have Skype coming and WP7 is a very social integrated OS already. Would we really need another social network?

Via: TechRadar

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3 years ago

WP7 PlentyOfFish app released

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WP7 PlentyOfFish app released

What's that? Yet another official app? Of course it is, this is international official app release week for Windows Phone 7 remember? It seems even the WP7 users who are seeking love will be able to use their handsets to find romance with the official PlentyOfFish app entering the Marketplace.

While no information is detailed in the description as to what features are presently available in the app (apart from search and profiles), we'd assume messaging and more is included. You can download the app (Zune link) from the Marketplace for free (as well as register and use the service) but be aware that a payment is required to use advanced features.

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3 years ago

Windows 8 UI on Android Tablet [Video]

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Windows 8 UI on Android Tablet [Video]

This is a pretty neat video of not only the Windows Phone 7 lock screen for Android, which is being worked on by the guys at WP7Android, but they have managed to build a Windows 8 live tile look too with Desktop Visualizer and ADW EX on a Galaxy tablet, running Honeycomb 3.1. Apart from the stock Android style clock and icons on the bottom left (which I cannot stand personally) what they've managed to achieve with the tiles is really impressive.

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3 years ago

Make money with Microsoft Ad Control [Developers]

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The July 2011 issue of the MSDN Magazine features a great resource for aspiring developers - making money on Windows Phone 7 with Microsoft Ad Control. We wont cover absolutely everything since the article is massive but the detail it goes into is great for anyone new to the whole advertising and revenue realm. Unfortunately PubCenter is still not yet available to anyone outside of the US.

Before you dive onto this path of revenue, you must first ask yourself if this is the most effective way to earn revenue from your app(s). We have covered the debate surrorunding paid apps vs advertising (also which advertising network should you use). Once you've decided on what's best for your app(s), should it be advertising then you should check out the article as it will help you (as a developer) to:-

  • get started and set up with Microsoft Advertising in your application(s).
  • create an advertising-supported app using XAML or in code.
  • improve the advertising experience for your users and potentially earn more profit.

Be sure to read through the article (using the link below) to pick on some useful tips and tricks or to understand completely with how to successfully kick off your free app campaign backed by advertising.

Source: MSDN Magazine

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3 years ago

WP7 style Birthday cake

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WP7 style Birthday cake

This is pretty awesome and it looks delicious. Just a shame I wouldn't want to eat it and keep it on display instead. Twitter user Alper Özçetin celebrated his birthday with a twist this year. A full size Windows Phone 7 styled Samsung Birthday cake, isn't this every user's dream? Designed by Duygu Dem, we noticed the missing back and search buttons, but it's still darn impressive.

Source: Twitter, via: WPSauce

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