Microsoft is sending out newsletters to all the registered developers for Windows Phone 7 apps. Call it a state of the Marketplace update for developers. The newsletter doesn't reveal anything earth shattering but does re-affirm some of what we already know and reflects Microsoft's desire to work closer with developers.
The newsletter offers some insight and tips that will help developers submit apps more efficiently as well as design and marketing suggestions.
We made mention of a homebrew bar code scanner earlier and now AT&T has countered with a code scanner of their own. The AT&T Code Scanner reads QR and Data Matrix barcodes that you find on every day products, in advertisements or online. From there you'll be sent to a web page with product information.
Additional features of the application include:
History Menu that allows quick reference to your last 100 scans
Customizable personal profile
Adjustable sound and vibrate scan settings
Auto confirmation button for quicker results.
In a brief test of the application on various items scattered about the house, it scanned the barcodes nicely. The code needs to be well lit and don't use the flash. While the code scanned alright, the website consistently returned the dreaded "Page Not Found" error. We're hoping that this is simply a case where the website end of this application is a little slower going on-line.
AT&T also gives you the ability to create your own personal codes with AT&T Create-a-Code. Creating the codes was simple, straight forward and these scans worked great. Feel free to give these a try and see where it sends your browser.
If the AT&T Code Scanner is of interest, you can find it in the Marketplace from your AT&T Windows Phone. For some reason the app isn't located in the AT&T AppCenter but rather the main Market. Simply do a keyword search for "AT&T Code Scanner" and you'll see it.
While there are over 7,000 apps for Windows Phone 7, the one sorely lacking area in development is a good sport's score app. Hopefully, that's about to change. Last month, we mentioned that Score Media was working on bringing ScoreMobile to Windows Phone 7 and the app was recently released over at the Marketplace.
The app allows you to follow NFL, NBA, NCAA Basketball and Football, NHL, and EPL Soccer scores and news. ScoreMobile also allows you to tag your favorite teams for easy look-up and includes any T.V. coverage information.
The initial impression is good and we'll take ScoreMobile out this weekend and get a full review up shortly. It's a free application so if you want to check it out, you can find it here (opens your Zune desktop) at the Marketplace.
We saw 'Zombie Attack' listed a few days ago in the list of leaked Xbox titles, plus it was on the "original 50" list, so we're thinking this is coming out sooner than later. In fact, the images you see above are reportedly from the Windows Phone 7 port--so we must be getting close.
From the Windows Phone 7 description of 'Zombie Attack':
Lovers of zombies and tower defense-style games combined have a second chance to tear into more zombies with more weapons and in more locations than ever before. IUGO built upon what you loved best about the original Zombie Attack! game making it bigger, better and bloodier! Your mission: play as a survivor from the ultimate Zombie Apocalypse, protect your shack and stay alive. Kill zombies, earn points and cash to upgrade your weapons and bolster your fire power. Easy touch-screen controls make ZA! 2 an instant WP7 favorite.
Other features include:
7 turrets (3 new, including the Pulsewave)
New upgrades to super turrets
4 maps of varying sizes including Backyard and Trailer Park
Hordes of challenges, 5 for each map
6 zombie types (4 new, including the Hound and Cheerleader)
Instantaneous save when quitting the app
Online high scores list for each map, local lists for challenges and personal records
So tower defense + zombies. Got it. No word on pricing.
It shows the Homeland Security info like threat level (color codes, though we abandoned that though) as well as airport statuses via lookup. It also has links to the Department of Homeland Security websites for quick reference. But really, it's the color coded Live Tile that's kind of cool here--even though it is set to expire in April.
The app has been out for awhile now and fetches for $0.99. While it is nicely done and works well enough, we can't help but think it's not much use either, especially after April. But if you're the "I own a bunker" type, then we got you covered. No trial. Grab it here in the Marketplace.
One of the big limitations you may have noticed with apps like ShopSavvy or even Microsoft's own Tag app is that live-scanning of barcodes is not permitted--you have to snap a photo, which is then scanned before a look-up is performed. It is technically possible but Microsoft is not allowing developers access to the APIs necessary to implement--not yet at least. [Edit: Although LG does have a live scanner called 'ScanSearch' available on the Quantum and Optimus 7]
Sensboston, who's been doing lots of neat tricks for our new OS (e.g. flashlight), has managed to use the previously documented API to release a working scanner. Based on zxing library and Kevin Marshall's (from Clarity Consulting) code, the app works like other barcode scanners on other platforms: you turn it on, it live scans and gives results. The app works offline, can save info to email or SMS and searches for info using Bing or Google.
You'll need good light for it to work and the auto-focus seems to time out after about 15 seconds (save battery?) but overall, it works pretty darn well. Sensboston is looking to add features/improve the UI, so if you have any ideas, let him know in that thread. Looks like the hombrew scene is raging these days...
Dell has plans to launch "several" Windows Phone 7 devices. While the news of more Dell Windows Phones has a certain appeal, it would be nice to see their maiden effort, the Dell Venue Pro, to be hitting on all cylinders before we see more.
The revelation comes from an interview with Michael Dell where he stated that the demand for the Venue Pro was exceeding their expectations. While Dell's sole Windows Phone is being circulated in the U.S. market other markets, such as the U.K, are still waiting for the new phones. Granted the production delays, returns, and other glitches the Venue Pro has experienced hasn't helped matters.
Dell didn't expand much on the particulars of how many, what type or when we might see the "several new Windows Phone 7 models". Hopefully, Dell's experience with the Venue Pro will make any future model launches a lot smoother.
Dell is planning an event on February 8, 2011 in San Francisco (we'll be there) and maybe more information will be available then. So, does the prospect of more Dell Windows get you excited?
Having quick access to connection settings is one of those top request by Windows Phone users--after all, if you toggle your WiFi or Bluetooth on or off frequently, doing the whole 'Settings' thing feels like a few too many steps.
Now, Schaps has created quick links to Connections, WiFi, Bluetooth, Location and Airplane mode, all with cool custom icons. More importantly, these seem to work on all Windows Phones (they were like a charm on our LG Quantum, see above). As a reminder, this is only for developer unlocked devices, since it has to be side loaded (and you'll want that program to break the 10-app limit too).
Location sharing is a key component to Windows Phone 7. From apps to photos, your location is used with regularity when you access your Windows Phones. Curious about how location based services are used, in conjunction with Data Privacy Day 2011 (January 28, 2011), Microsoft commissioned a study on various aspects of these services.
The 1,500 person survey was conducted in December of 2010 and involved consumers in the U.S., Japan, Canada, and Germany. The survey found that only 51% of the participants had used location-based services but that 94% found them to be valuable. 84% of those surveyed were worried about the services sharing their location without permission.
An odd limit of unlocked Window Phones (even our sanctioned developed unlocked device) is the ability to side load more than 10 apps on the device--you simply can't do it. Reportedly, this was put into place to prevent developers from creating a ton of "cheap" apps.
Now, (nico) over at XDA has created a program that goes on the device itself to remove this limit, making it a lot easier for developers to bypass the ten-app barrier. It works on Samsung, LG and HTC, though we're not sure abou Dell--so your mileage may vary. The good news is there is a rollback feature in case it doesn't work out. We know for our purpose on this site, bypassing this limit helps out tremendously.
Hekool is offering a Wikipedia app over at the Marketplace, Wiki Bee. Wiki Bee is a straight forward, simple to use, Wikipedia portal for Windows Phone 7.
The Windows Phone app comes in two flavors; a free version (Wiki Bee Free) and a paid version (Wiki Bee). Both versions allow you to search in 35 languages, auto-complete searches, quick navigation through a table of contents, and the means to immediately return to your most recent topic searched.
The differences rest with the paid version of Wiki Bee. With the pay version you add the ability to save topics as favorites, jump to any topic in your search history, and have offline access to your history and favorites.
For more on the Wiki Bee apps, buzz on past the break.
The Windows Phone game Splash! puts a new twist on dodge ball. Similar to the Windows Phone 7 game Dodge These Balls, Splash! allows you to be more offensive in protecting your ball.
The premise of the game is that you control a white ball and try to avoid hitting the other balls that appear on the screen. You move your ball around by tilting your Windows Phone. The more severe the tilt, the faster the ball moves.
To help you protect your ball, Splash! allows you to splatter the colored balls for points. The balls sprout up from the gaming screen and while you can splat them as they grow, you get more points by splattering the full sized balls. The only ball you can't splat is the black balls (which you'll need to avoid). The longer you play, the quicker the colored balls are generated and the more black balls you'll have to dodge. I have to admit it was challenging trying to move the white ball to safety while tapping the colored balls into oblivion.
Splash! is a fun game that ran smoothly and there is a slight addictive quality to the game. Being able to squish the colored balls helps keep things from getting stale too quick. There is a trial version available with the full version running $.99.
You can find Splash! here (opens your Zune desktop) at the Marketplace and after the break you can catch a video of the game in action.
Do you miss the Bubble Burst game that was pre-installed on just about every Windows Mobile phone? If so, Z Games has just what you need. Bubble Burst for Windows Phone 7 brings you the classic Windows Phone game and takes it a step further. You've got a few new game modes and a challenge feature that helps add a little variety to the game.
To see what's new with this classic game, follow the break.
Do you find yourself using tabbed OneNote Notebook with Microsoft Office on your computer? Do you use a Windows Phone 7 device? Why not have your Notebook synchronized to your device and note on the go? Follow the below step-by-step instructions to get yourself set up.
Go to office.live.com on your PC, and make sure that you have a OneNote file created. If you've used OneNote from your PC, there should be a Personal (Web) file. If not, create it..
If you have OneNote on your PC, you can open it from office.live.com; just hover over the file, and click Open in OneNote. OneNote will save a book tab on the left side (in rotated print).
On your phone, set OneNote sync on (from Settings / Applications / Office / OneNote). Make sure to set Internet Explorer to default to mobile version (important!) and navigate to office.live.com in the Browser.
Go to the folder you have the OneNote Notebook, and tap it to open it. This automatically adds the Notebook to your OneNote on the phone, and opens it in OneNote. The tabs will all sync.
That's it complete! If you're like me who always forgets everything from passwords to your own name, this guide will come in handy indeed.
Microsoft is reporting that two million Windows Phone 7 units shipped last quarter. This isn't too far from the early indications that 1.5 million phones sold in the first six weeks after release.
All this comes to light through a Bloomberg interview with Greg Sullivan, a Microsoft senior product manager. Sullivan also stated that customer satisfaction for Windows Phone 7 is at 93% and brand awareness is increasing, up 22 points to 66%. The bump in awareness shouldn't be that surprising with the half-a-billion dollars that was made available for marketing the new Windows Phone.
No argument with customer satisfaction either. While there is room for growth with Windows Phone 7, Microsoft has laid a nice foundation to build upon. So how would you rate customer satisfaction? Is Microsoft on the mark or being too optimistic?