Stressful day at work? Need some soothing sounds to ease the tension of the day? SoundEscape 7 is a Windows Phone 7 application that offers seven nature sounds to offer a relaxing atmosphere.
The seven sounds include: Ocean, Rain, Waterfall, Forest, River, Desert, City
I'm not sure if the sounds of the City qualify for relaxation sounds but it may work for some. The sound application has three timers (5, 15 and 30 minutes) and accompanying photos that reflect the mood. The timers come in handy if you need a little relaxation to go to sleep by.
It's an interesting application and while the photos are a nice touch, I would have liked to have seen a photo slide show used or the ability to use your own photos. Staring at the same old photo can get old.
SoundEscape 7 will run you $.99. There is not a trial version available. You can find your copy here (opens your Zune desktop) at the Marketplace.
Ease on past the break to see SoundEscape 7 in action.
We've mentioned the Windows Phone application DioDict before. It is a dictionary application for Windows Phone 7 that is exclusive to the Samsung phones. The app taps into Collins Dictionary libary and includes multi-language support.
Recently updated to clean up some text formatting issues, DioDict offers more than definitions. It's a free application located in the Samsung App Zone and to read more about DioDict (plus see a video of it in action), just follow the break.
Earlier today we mentioned that Bitbop was available for Windows Phone 7 in Beta form. Similar to Hulu, Bitbop brings streaming television to your Windows Phone. Shows are commercial free and can be downloaded to your phone or streamed.
Our first impressions of Bitbop are good. The app has a polished feel to it, there's a decent selection of shows and movies to choose from and the menu system is nice. The option to download episodes and movies is nice for those times you know you'll be in a poor reception area or without access to Wifi.
Bitbop has a free 60 day trial and a full subscription is running $9.99 a month. You can find your copy of the Beta here at the Marketplace. Keep in mind that this is a beta version and glitches may still be present.
Last we checked, despite our delusions and self aggrandizement, the world doesn't revolve around English. And while parts of the world await for Microsoft to bless them with native language support, some inspiring lads are taking into their own hands. (Maybe they can fix the T-Mo HD7?)
In the above case, it's Thai, which wins for coolest looking alphabet in our eyes (Korean is really neat too). It's only for Samsung devices at the moment, but it's getting there. This joins Hebrew, which was hacked a few weeks ago at XDA as pointed out by 1800pocketpc and Japanese. Good stuff.
Viber (website) a VOIP program similar to Skype, is quite popular on the iPhone for its no-frills ability to call any other Viber client in the world for free. The app though is in someways better than Skype since you don't need to sign up or register--you just download the app and use it. The app is quite pouplar on the iPhone and there are Android and BlackBerry versions coming soon.
Well, unfortunately for the same reason as Skype, they too are saying no client from them until Microsoft allows deeper access. WinMobile.SE interviewed Talmon Marco, head of Viber Media and asked him about WP7 directly. He cites three main reasons why, despite them wanting to do one, they can't make a Windows Phone app: (1) no sockets support, (2) no native code access (so can't port audio engine) and (3) no multitasking.
Once again, no surprises here--if Skype can't do it, Viber can't. Still, it seems both parties are interested, so it's just a matter of Microsoft allowing access.
We might not have Hulu Plus on our phones (yet) but perhaps the next best thing is here: Bitbop (Beta), who is run by Fox Mobile as a competitor to Hulu and is already on BlackBerry and Android (we beat iPhone).
The service costs $9.99 a month, which is not cheap, especially since you can only watch it on your phone--but you can't beat the selection of shows, all of which are commercial free. Bonus feature includes not only the ability to stream over WiFi or 3G but the option to download the show for later--great for those trips where a signal is scarce. There's also a queue for adding shows that you want to line-up for another day. (Side note: too bad WP7 doesn't have HDMI-out support yet).
The Windows Phone 7 version comes with a full 60-day trial, which is quite generous actually and from our brief test run, it's pretty awesome. The UI is done very tastefully and it's fairly easy to navigate--for instance, this is the first app we've seen to take advantage of the "letter square" system like in your contacts, but for finding shows.
Also, if you feel burned by the official Daily Show app, you can watch that and Colbert on here in its entirety (although getting to the latest episode is awkward). App is available here in the Marketplace (free download, free 60-day trial). This is technically a beta (v0.9) so expect some early glitches.
Update: Onlay available in the U.S. Sorry, you know, the rest of the planet.
Update Part Two: Also, check out our video tour of Bitbop here.
In what has to be the first, developer David Tepper has created a free app called simply enough iTunes Search and it's actually quite unique.
The app allows you to search both the iTunes Music and the iOS App Stores from your Windows Phone. Of course, you can't actually download anything from those stores but once found, you can then use it to search the Zune Marketplace for something similar--which is kind of crafty. Actually, this thing handles both stores better than either native app--it looks sharp, loads fairly quickly and overall wins points for an elegant UI.
Combined with the Windows Phone ability to sync with a Mac, control your iTunes and now search the Apple App store, we're wondering what other Apple-task could come next?
We've heard a lot of developers in the past speak positively of working on Windows Phone 7 (and some who have not). Fairy Engine, who make Jigsaw Guru and Jigsaw Guru Free, have had an interesting experience so far with their game actually not doing so well, nor getting much attention (sorry!).
Despite the lack of enthusiasm though, they still have high regard for the new OS. In an interview with Electronic Theater, they had the following to say:
"I'm not saying everything is perfect, but Windows Phone 7 is a very pleasant platform to develop for."
Other areas they liked were the submission process and writing in C# and XNA. They also do have plans to bring more titles (unannounced) to our OS in the future including an Xbox 360 version of Jigsaw Guru. (Electronic Theater will post the full interview tomorrow) Goes to show what having a good developer ecosystem can do.
Speaking of that game, while jigsaws are not our "thang" so to speak, it actually is a nifty little gem--especially how you can use any photo on your device that you took as a jigsaw puzzle, ranging from a few pieces to a whole lot. It should keep jigsaw enthusiasts busy for sometime. They also seem to be having more success with the free-but-ad-supported version over the pay, a similar trend we've seen with Impossible Shoota (review) and that developer.
Yesterday we heard that Sprint will begin charging a premium fee for smartphone data and today, it's AT&T's turn to tweak their prices a bit. Leaked policy outlines from AT&T indicate that messaging plans, upgrade discounts and Microcell pricing are all about to change.
In an effort to help "streamline offers for customers and help our (AT&T) reps be more efficient" (AT&T's words not ours) the following changes will become effective January 23, 2011.
Although we like the weekly Tues/Wed excitement of our 2-fer Xbox LIVE games (like today), sometimes it's nice to peek ahead. Evidently, the site Xbox 360 Achievements is able to pull down "Achievement" info, hence the data here.
We imagine these are games really close to being released which is why their data is flowing around a bit:
Anything there really catch your fancy? Did we miss anything on that list? If our count is correct, that's exactly 1 months worth of titles. Tune in next week to see if this was accurate or not...either way, more games = good.
We've mentioned the issues concerning abnormal amounts of data being used by Windows Phone 7 devices before. Microsoft has investigated the problem and has come to the conclusion that third party solution is the cause.
In a statement to seattlepi.com, a Microsoft spokesperson reported,
"We have determined that a third-party solution commonly accessed from Windows Phones is configured in a manner that potentially cause larger than expected data downloads. We are in contact with the third party to assist them in making the necessary fixes, and are also pursuing potential workarounds to address the configuration issue in case those are needed. At this point in our investigation, we believe this is responsible for most of the reported incidents."
No comment as to whom or what the third party solution is. It could be an application or a feature/module of WP7 developed by a third party. Early thoughts pointed to the Feedback feature of Windows Phone 7 and it still could be the likely culprit.
Microsoft did state that they would continue to investigate this issue and will offer any guidance and updates as things become available.
Halo has been previously reported to be coming to the Windows Phone 7 platform, especially around the list of planned releases last year prior release of the OS. At CES, which we were able to cover, Steve Ballmer presented and discussed a number of games coming to the mobile platform. Among these were Fable: Coin Golf and PES 2011 along with many already-confirmed titles, but there was one mention that caught some attention – Halo: Nation.
For any Halo fan, this could mean two things. First (and hopefully correct) there could be a potential Halo title arriving to Xbox Live on WP7 named Halo: Nation. What’s exciting about this prospect is what genre it could be: FPS (probably unlikely), RTS (Halo: Wars on-the-go anyone?) or even a racing alternative (Rocket Race game type on Halo: Reach?). The system and available resources from the devices that run WP7 have enough power to provide the foundations of a truly epic game from Bungie.
A second scenario could be the Halo: Nation podcast is making an appearance on Waypoint that is already available in the Marketplace, and could in-fact not be the extension to the franchise that many of us are hoping for. Although Ballmer was reportedly "confused” with the projects he was discussing, Halo: Nation is noted as being developed separately from Waypoint but a Halo title coming to WP7 is all continued (hopeful) speculation.
Could Halo: Nation be the WP7 title that us Master Chief fans have been waiting for? Or did Ballmer just get the name wrong?
Microsoft took a step toward making buying apps in the Marketplace even easier by partnering with hub-based communications provider MACH. MACH's Direct Billing Gateway (DBG) service works with mobile carriers to bill purchases directly to customers' monthly statements, making transactions easy for the end user.
The resulting system will not only translate into a seamless Marketplace purchasing experience for users, but will also "help [Microsoft] maximize revenue assurance and conversion for its application partners." Regarding the team-up, which is already in place with Australia's Telstra, Windows Phone Marketplace Senior Director, Todd Brix commented:
“Working with MACH better enables us to offer customers the benefits of a convenient and easy-to-use mobile operator billing option when purchasing their favorite content for Windows Phone 7.”
With this new instant gratification and over 6000 apps, it will be easy to rack up an end-of-the-month nightmare, so be sure to track your purchases.
Acculynk, creators of PaySecure, announced in a press release today that they will be developing a mobile version of their Internet PIN debit platform for Windows Phone 7, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry systems.
Here's how it works: when a customer makes a debit card purchase at a website that uses PaySecure, they enter their debit card number at checkout. Then, a encrypted graphical keypad, which is embedded into the vendors website, is used to enter the consumer's PIN. It eliminates the need to sign up for accounts on vendor websites or get directed to third-party sites, like PayPal.
Acculynk's CEO, Ashish Bahl, said in the statement,
"In 2011, our goal is to expand the channels where PIN debit can be accepted, like a mobile phone and even kiosks."
They also hope to move beyond eCommerce, by developing methods for online banking and P2P fund transfers. You can check out a demo of how it works here.
While the existence of ASUS' first WP7 phone has been known for some time, Vietnamese website Tinhte has posted a hands-on video of it, along with a few new photos (above). We also know from the FCC that the E600 boasts a 4-inch LCD, 5 mega-pixel camera and 1300mah battery, all encased in a pretty brushed-metal casing. Rumor has it that ASUS will officially unveil it at the 2011 MWC. Until then, enjoy the teaser below.