Skymap is available over at the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace that should appeal to the stargazer in all of us. The Windows Phone app provides an interactive sky map that will help you plot, locate and identify stars, planets, constellations, and other astronomical points of interest.
The screen lays out what your view of the sky should be facing various directions. There is a compass setting to allow you to adjust your point of view accordingly and the map is gesture supported for zooming and panning. There is also a night mode that's is easier to see at night and helps preserve your night vision. If you see something of interest on the map, just tap it to pull up more information on the object.
It's an interesting app for your Windows Phone with enough information to get you started with star gazing as well as aiding the more seasoned star hunter. To find out more on SkyMap, follow the break.
XIM Inc. is no stranger to Windows Phone gaming. They produced a handful of popular gaming apps for Windows Mobile (AquaLines, Droplets, Tic-Tac-Toe 6x6, etc.) and now are setting their sites on Windows Phone 7. Bubble Birds is one of the developers first releases for the new Windows Phone and it shows a lot of promise.
The game premise is simple. You face rows of colored birds at the top of the screen and you shoot additional birds from a basket located at the bottom of the screen. Your goal is to create a combination of three similarly colored birds and watch the disappear. Nothing too complicated except the rows of birds continue to grow, working its way to the bottom of the screen. When it hits the bottom, game over.
It's an interesting twist on a classic game and to read more about Bubble Birds, ease on past the break.
A reader suggested a rather interesting Windows Phone game the other day, Twitter Hunter. It is a Windows Phone 7 game that pits you against a rather disruptive flock of birds.
The game is fast paced in that you are presented with a scene (power lines, tree limbs, clothes lines, etc.) where the pesky birds will appear. A countdown timer is displayed on each bird and when it reaches zero, the screen shakes, you loose a life and the bird flies off.
Your job is simply, blast them off the screen by tapping on them before the timer reaches zero. The quicker you take out the birds, the more points you earn.
Another week, another Xbox LIVE title. Unfortunately, as far as we can tell, we're just getting one this week: I Dig It by InMotion Software.
This is yet-another-iPhone game making its way over to the Xbox side. The graphics look pretty good but we'll reserve judgment till we get our free trial. The game is described as:
Farmer Lewis has dug himself a hole - financially. To get himself out of it he has converted an old bulldozer into a high tech digging machine. Help him out by digging underground to collect items ranging from junk to the rarest of gems in order to raise some money to save the farm.
Manage fuel, temperature, and damage while searching for diggins. Sell ‘em at the farm house to earn cash. Save cash to pay the mortgage, upgrade your digger, or make repairs. Use the on-screen “analog” joystick, or touch-screen to control digger movement. Watch out for rocks and caverns that disrupt your path. Have fun!
Save the farm in campaign mode
Includes 5 mini-game challenges
Open-ended freeplay mode
Collect all 60+ unique “diggins”, including junk, fossils, gems, ores, etc
Unique “analog” stick control
Hours of gameplay
The game will fetch for $2.99 and will be available worldwide around 12am EST.
There's s little app in the Marketplace that could be of use to many: Media Volume Settings by Andrea Sabbatini. Version 1.2 just landed and it comes in two versions: trial (fully functional, free but with ads) and paid ($0.99, no ads).
The app is simple enough: on Windows Phone 7, when you go to play music, videos or games, the "media volume" is separate from system volume. That's why in some games, like my favorite Decimation X2, they have a separate slider for "music" which you can lower or raise. This aps gives you global control over that setting, allowing you to choose a default level. This is great in case you want to sneak a game in somewhere but don't want the music to blare through the speaker, announcing your universal boredom with the people around you.
The app has just five settings: Mute, Soft, Middle, Loud or Max plus technically one more--custom, whereby you adjust the slider to your liking. We've tried it on a few devices here and it seems to work quite well. Seeing as you can have it for free, it certainly can't hurt to give it a go. Grab it here in the Marketplace.
We hate writing posts ripping on Samsung because we're generally big fans of their Windows Phones (who isn't)? So it kind of pains us to write how, at least through the Twitter Canadian support channel, they're telling a customer that his Windows Phone's warranty is now void since he carrier unlocked it. Specifically, Colin B. has an AT&T carrier branded Focus that he wants to work on Fido. He has to have data-roaming enabled even though it is carrier unlocked so he asked Samsung about it...hence their response: "Hi Colin. Your warranty is void. Please contact Fido if you have issues with data usage."
Carrier unlocking phones is a pretty standard practice these days, especially with places like Europe considering it a consumer right. So it's odd to see Samsung wiping their hands of the matter with a customer who has an issue. What do you folks think--Samsung being fair and within their rights or just poor customer service?
Just as promised, this morning at 3am Microsoft officially killed KIN Studio--the online media management network--for all active KIN users. The announcement was first made in December and sure enough at 3am we got word the site when offline, making KIN almost useless (though they still do make calls and SMS).
We also heard that the Zune pass, which worked over 3G and WiFi would only work on WiFI afterward, but so far it is still clinging for dear life to cellular--but for how long? Everything else though, whether it was social networking, photo sharing, search near me, posting to photo sites, commenting, etc. are all gone, effectively killing the KIN.
While we never understood the strategy by Microsoft on this one, it's still sad to see it go out like this. However, there are two happy areas: all current KIN owners are eligible for a free new phone from Verizon and the KIN Studio team has been folded into Windows Phone, resulting in some killer media-cloud services---some day. As reported in the Seattle Times, Aaron Woodman, director of the mobile communications business at Microsoft noted that some KIN Studio features will make their way to Windows Phone: "We have a very, very small baby step with Windows Phone Live...It's definitely part of the road map to have enriched services that make the phone more meaningful, and the Web more meaningful."
Australian's can now sleep easy knowing that their Marketplace purchases will no longer be messed up by un-necessary fees. If you recall, through billing errors some Australian Windows Phone users were charged an International Transaction Fee (101% of purchase) on top of the cost of the Marketplace app.
The root of this problem was where the billing was being processed (Singapore) that didn't recognize Marketplace charges as a local purchase. So that $.99 game began to cost Australians $1.99.
To avoid this issue from re-surfacing, Microsoft has established a transaction processing center in Sydney. So to our friends down under, you can now make your Marketplace purchase with confidence that a local purchase will be processed as a local purchase.
For my money, Body Glove makes some of the best cell phone cases on the market. I’ve owned Body Glove cases for a number of the phones I’ve had over the years, and I’ve always been pleased with the products that they put out. When I got the opportunity to review Body Glove’s Soft Shell Case for the Samsung Focus, I jumped at the chance.
Get the complete review of the Body Glove Soft Shell Case after the break.
Rubber case improves grip and softens impact when dropped
Traditionally noise cancellation and price have been the difference makers when shopping for a Bluetooth headset. High-end headsets like the Plantronics Voyager Pro and various Jawbone headsets have set the bar for business users requiring great sound quality. The average consumer tends to be more comfortable purchasing one of the myriad of headsets in the $30-$50 price range, sacrificing sound quality for value.
Product design in Bluetooth headsets is becoming one of the ways that manufacturers differentiate their products from competitors. Motorola added functionality and usability to the Oasis headset by focusing on the product design, while Jabra added both functionality and style in their Stone headset. With the second version of the Stone Jabra continues to improve on their design, as well as cleaning up some minor flaws with the original model.
For the full review of the Jabra Stone 2, keep reading.
One downside to Microsoft’s business model of licensing the Windows Phone 7 OS to device manufacturers is that you don’t get the quantity of accessories that a device like the iPhone does. Fortunately, the Samsung Focus is starting to get some love in the accessory department, though some of our favorite case-makers are a little slow to get on the bandwagon (looking at you Otter Box).
Body Glove makes some of the best cell phone cases that I’ve ever used. Their Snap-On case for the Focus is a perfect example of what they are capable of. For the full breakdown of what Body Glove’s Snap-On case offers, keep reading.
Belt clip with kick-stand
Relatively expensive, charging port door is hard to get at.
It’s listed as the top game in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace. If you haven’t played it already chances are you’ve heard of it. Fruit Ninja is one of the most talked about mobile games this side of Angry Birds. Ridiculously simple to play and as addicting as all get-out, Fruit Ninja is a favorite of adults and kids alike.
There is a lot of hype around Fruit Ninja, and without a doubt it is one of the best all around games in the Marketplace, but what makes it stand out from the rest? Keep reading for the full review.
Comic books! Everyone has read a comic book at some point in their lives. Comics were a fundamental part of many kids' lives and are still very much a part of some adult lives. I loved comic books as a kid and still do. The format has changed a great deal since I was a kid though. I rarely read a graphic novel on paper anymore. Digital delivery applications across dozens of platforms and superb net-based readers have become the industry standard. Scans (literally meaning a scanner was used to make a digital backup of a comic book) and drm-free fan-produced e-books have become the anti-industry standard.
I have a fairly decent sized digital library of comics and graphic novels but I never get to read them when I'm well and truly bored. Like when I'm stuck on a train with just my phone. You guessed it, "Until Now!" Read on to see the ins and outs of not just reading comics on your WP7 device, but how to get 'em on there.
It's been whispered about and openly discussed at XDA for some time, but it has now been confirmed that Yahoo! email is the so-called "data hog" culprit on Windows Phone. To refresh, some users were reporting large amounts of data traffic being sent from their phones, resulting in some people approaching or going over their capped data limit. Yet others saw no such behavior. Microsoft finally investigated and found the source themselves but refused to name them publicly, instead they tried to address it behind doors.
Now Raphael Rivera, part of the ChevronWP7 team, has gone ahead and created some sophisticated tests to nail down the offending app. Yahoo email has been suspected by many for some time (see here and here) but now seemingly concrete proof has been demonstrated. To sum up the technical by Rivera, Yahoo appears to be sending around 25 times the amount of data that it needs to, which is quite an increase. As a result, Rivera recommends the following for Yahoo! mail users:
To workaround this, I strongly recommend Yahoo mail users reconfigure the phone to not transmit data via a cellular connection (Settings –> Cellular –> Data roaming options). As an alternative, you can set your Yahoo account to only Download new content only on manual trigger (Yahoo Mail –> Settings –> Sync Settings).
Sounds like sage advice. Seeing as Yahoo is the culprit here, this seems to explain why some of us did not ever experience such behavior, while others did. This also means that it's not WP7's fault but rather something on Yahoo's end that needs to be addressed. Read more on the nitty-gritty on Rivera's page here.
Update: Microsoft is now officially acknowledging the issue: "Microsoft and Yahoo! have worked together to identify a fix, which will be rolled out in the coming weeks.". There also is a rare problem with Exchange Active Sync (EAS) which should be fixed in a software update.
Alan Mendelevich, a Windows Phone 7 developer, has carried out a small experiment involving his Tic-Tac-Toe 3D app to see which performs superior in terms of downloads and usage out of a free or paid offering. Before getting into detail with his findings, one would think that the free app would come out on tops with usage compared to the paid version, and one would be correct.
The graphs above (visits) illustrate just how large the difference can be. But what causes this, and why are people more likely to download an app that's free as opposed to a trial? It's psychological. Like any software store or marketplace, or even searching for software through a search engine, majority of people will attempt to find a free (or next to nothing) offering.
Microsoft has implemented a trial system as opposed to Apple's mass Lite invasion. You literally get swarmed with duplicates upon duplicates of apps and games on the app store, which can prove to become a slight annoyance. This is something the Marketplace does not suffer from, but not everyone is fully aware of trials, and look for either a Lite or free version.
If they can, they will avoid venturing down the paid route unless it's an absolute must. What’s more, trials are generally associated with set time allowance until it ends or have some (or major) functionality removed. In Alan's test, he witnessed a whopping 40x increase in stabilised traffic for the free version of the Tic-Tac-Toe 3D app, which aids in proving the theory mentioned earlier. However, although the traffic may be greater, the revenue generated may not reflect the usage statistics.
Alan moved on to explain, "Despite huge difference in usage the economics of both versions could be pretty similar. The paid version sold 22 copies in 7 weeks which is about $15", which isn't too bad for what the app is. In comparison to the above earning, the free version of his app displays adverts that accumulated around 23,000 views in seven weeks. This would earn him "$23 which is comparable to the revenue from the paid version" he concludes.
So even though downloads of a free app may over shadow a paid counterpart fairly effectively, the revenue a developer can potentially earn isn't much different. Does the trial API work, or should we expect more "Lite" apps in the Marketplace?