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3 years ago

Last Chance: Win a Tablet of your choice from TouchType!

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Just a last minute reminder that to celebrate 1 million downloads of their SwiftKey keyboard app, TouchType is giving away a tablet each to THREE lucky winners! Which tablets? Whichever the winner chooses so long as they're available for purchase for up to $800 where he or she lives. iPad 2, PlayBook, Xoom, Galaxy Tab are all on the table.

How do you enter? TouchType has put together a small survey which shouldn't take more than five or ten minutes to complete. That's it - well, that and a quick perusal of the official entry rules just to make sure you're eligible (sorry minors and SPE employees). The contest is open to readers of Android Central, CrackBerry.com, TiPb, and WPCentral and ends at midnight Pacific on April 14 (that's tonight!).

Not familiar with TouchType? You may have also seen that TouchType made a splash at this year's CTIA with their tablet keyboard for Honeycomb - that's coming soon, but SwiftKey is available now for Android devices. 

So get cracking on the survey, folks - these tablets aren't going to give themselves away.

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3 years ago

A look at Mango's overhauled Live Tile system [MIX11]

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Wow, so we were just schooled by Windows Phone Program Manager Thomas Fennel on the updated Live Tile andn Push Notification system coming with the May developer tools and to Mango for consumers. Needless to say, we're impressed and if you watch the above video you'll see why.

Some cool features:

  • Local notifications: these aren't push, but instead are purely local--great for alarms, reminders, "note tiles", etc.
  • Deep Toast: Say 'Weather Bug' gives you a flood toast notification, when you click it, it can now take you directly to the flood alert, instead of just opening the app. This is very cool.
  • Multi-tiles: One app, 'X' amount of tiles. For example, you have a news app with World, Local and Political news, you can now create individual Live Tiles for each category, or whatever the dev allows
  • Live Tile limit bumped: Currently, you can only have 15 Live Tiles on your phone. Starting with Mango, that goes to 30.
  • Tile flip: When a notification comes in, the Tile can "flip" with a back image (see video)
  • Improvements: Reliability, performance and efficiency (15 min polling, down from 60) have all been adjusted and made better

What can we say, we're totally excited about the new Live Tile and Push Notification system. Microsoft is keen on making it easier, more robust, "smarter" and more than just a simple alert system. Oh and we did ask Fennel about the "issues" many of you are experiencing with Live Tiles e.g. they go completely dead. In short, we're contacting him with more info and will be working with him to get to the root of this ongoing problem.

Check after the break for a few slides...

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3 years ago

Does XNA + Silverlight break the '3 screens' paradigm? Technically, yes.

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Coming out of talk on Silverlight and XNA (remember, devs can now combine both, making regular apps with 3D, immersive graphics), an interesting question was brought up: Can developers mix Silverlight and XNA on Windows or Xbox? Answer: no, they cannot. 

Microsoft does not have any tools for devs nor anything to announce on the matter, though they have built the Windows Phone tools with Windows and Xbox programming in mind, but as of now, there seems to be no immediate plans to bring over that functionality. What's interesting is this technically breaks the much touted "3 screens" model whereby devs can write roughly 80% of the app and have it compatible with the PC, Xbox and Windows Phones. Now, with the addition of Silverlight to games (and devs do like that ability), this is not the case anymore.

Will it have a big impact? Too early to tell and certainly Microsoft can port over this feature to PC and Xbox in the future. But for now, devs will technically be breaking that ability if they use both languages in the same app or game.

Anyways, for fun though, watch the top vid to see some more XNA + Silverlight combos. The first part shows how video can now be manipulated dynamically, making it like a liquid to the touch...very cool (the audience clapped after this) and the second shows a demo augmented reality app with 3D graphics "floating". The ability to add XNA graphics to the camera can result in some really cool 3D effects.

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3 years ago

HTC releases Hidden WiFi app for Windows Phone

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HTC releases Hidden WiFi app for Windows Phone

Hooray! If you're an HTC Windows Phone user, you can now go to the Marketplace and download a free app to connect to hidden WiFi networks.

For those who may have forgotten, Microsoft disallows the addition of Hidden SSIDs for WiFi networks, irking many who have such a setup. It's a philosophical thing for them but those in reality, it's not very convenient.

Now, with this HTC app, you can punch in the hidden SSID or network name and it'll add it your WiFi list. The app is barebones simple so we think it should be simple enough for you to figure out. Remember, only HTC phones can use this and if you have click that link below on your phone.

Grab the app here; via WPSauce

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3 years ago

Coming with Mango: Apps can download in the background too

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One really cool feature that comes with Mango (because of multitasking) is that 3rd party apps can now download data in the background. But being Microsoft is concerned with what they call "health" aka battery life, cpu and mem usage, etc. there are restrictions on how it all works.

First of all, things download serially when the screen is on i.e. you're probably using it. This makes sense as you don't want your radio and cpu overwhelmed while trying to do your task. This is a huge problem, in our opinion, with Android, which just tries to swallow data regardless if your using the device, on battery or whatever, often slowing it down significantly.

There are also two modes: on battery ("Periodic Agents") and when plugged in and on WiFi ("Idle Agents"). The former is when your phone is in your pocket or your actually using it--apps can pull data down, serially, at specified intervals (up to the developer, but only every 30 minutes--this number is being debated though, may change). This is good for small updates, geolocation, "checking in", etc.

The latter scenario, "Idle Agents", could be thought of as "night mode"--when your phone is plugged in, on your home WiFi not being used. In this case, the phone "feasts" on data (yummy!). This is where apps can pull down whole podcasts, tons of images, etc. Basically anything goes, though each app only gets a 10 minute "window" so it can't waste the whole night (though it can try again later).

All in all cool stuff and smart, very smart.

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3 years ago

Custom camera apps coming with new dev tools [MIX11]

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With those new dev tools coming in May, one of the features they have access to is the ability to create custom camera applications. A demo of such an app can be seen above, where an overlay (MIX logo) is put on the screen so when a photo is taken, it is automatically "stamped" on the pic. There's also the ability to create a "steady cam" type effect, which is good for the folks with the shakes.

Some other things we learned:

  • Custom camera apps can't take over the camera button--so you need to launch it like a program each time
  • Custom cameras don't have access to the OEM camera settings
  • Devs can create an on-screen shutter button and/or use the hardware button for focusing (half press) or snapping the pic (full press)

While we would love to replace the default camera app with a custom one, we'll take what we can at this point. We're really looking forward to seeing what devs create using these new tools though, shouldn't be too much longer.

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3 years ago

Flory IM hits 2.1 but this is the last and final version

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For those who use Flory IM client, you should have received the v2.1 update in the last 48hrs. The update fixes a lot of little bugs and has made it more stable (Venue Pro users are reporting better results).

  • Leave keyboard open after sending (new)
  • Renaming bug
  • Lockscreen settings are not saved
  • Gtalk contact authorization status not shown
  • German translation writing mistakes

So that's the good news...

The bad news is, believe it or not, this is the very last version of Flory. Why? Sort of simple. The original idea for Flory started off to fill a gap on Windows Phone 7: no good IM client. In fact, it was supposed to be only limited to a small dev community (Pocketpc.ch), not public. So the fact it went from that, to being in German to going world-wide (or close to it), all without charging a dollar or having ads...well, that's a big undertaking, especially to maintain those servers.

But now with IM+ getting geared for release, Kik messenger and Skype this fall, the floodgates are open. Basically the dev feels his job is done and soon enough we'll have "professional" devs taking over the IM world on Windows Phone.

We shed a tear for a great app that filled the gap (hey, that rhymed).

Source: PocketPC.chThanks, Chris F. (ryu2k8) for the heads up

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3 years ago

"Motion Sensor", gyroscopes and more [MIX11]

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We just came from an interesting talk by Mark Paley, Principal Lead Program Manager at Microsoft for Windows Phone. The focus of the discussion was sensors and cameras, specifically what devs can now do with them.

Yesterday we reported on how only new, not-yet-released devices will have the hardware to support gyroscopes. We also mentioned that this is an option to add gyro, not a chassis requirement. The question was then what about all the devices without gyros, how will software work with them?

The answer is the "Motion Sensor" API, which basically takes the accelerometer, compass (new) and gyroscope (new), combine them into one "sensor" and does all the math behind them. In turn, the devs job is made much easier since the code is so simple. But there is also a 'Motion.IsSupported' code that checks to see if the hardware is there--if not, it just uses the accelerometer and compass (which we all have now).

In other words, software is software and devs can just write code using the Motion Sensor API--if your device has gyro, it uses it, if not, it still works. So what's it like not having gyroscope? Well, it's like it is now on the LG devices with their augmented reality apps--they work just fine, they're just not as smooth or accurate as a device with a gyroscope. No fragmentation, no issues.

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3 years ago

MIX11 Keynotes (and more) now available online

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Did you miss out on viewing the MIX11 Keynote presentations over the past two days? Don't worry, MIX11 has the videos of both keynote presentations available from their website.

Microsoft's Dean Hachamovitch led the way with the Day 1 Keynote that concentrated on Microsoft's IE9 and IE10 development. The Day 2 Keynote featured Joe Belfiore and focused on Windows Phone development (check out our wrap-up for all the details).  The amount of information presented in Belfiore's keynote was impressive and the future of Windows Phone 7 looks promising.

In addition to the Keynote videos, Channel 9 Live is also offering coverage from other MIX11 presentations and sessions.  The information ranges from presentations on Windows Phone developer's tools to multi-tasking in Mango.

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3 years ago

List of newly supported developer countries for Marketplace

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Amist all the incredible announcements made at MIX'11 yesterday, one that caught everyone's eye through continuous demand and request was the amount of new countries where developers can register in the Marketplace. The above image shows all the current countries in green, with the added 8 in yellow, which include:

  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • India
  • South Africa
  • South Korea

Superb news for developers who reside in the above, especially if you're experiencing issues when attempting to connect to the Marketplace etc. Are you affected by the above inclusion?

Source: WindowsPhoneGeek

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3 years ago

Nokia W7 and W8 to be first WP7 devices? [Rumor]

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Nokia W7 and W8 to be first WP7 devices? [Rumor]

Nokia made a short appearance at MIX'11 yesterday and with the increased enthusiasm Marco Argenti (head of developer experience at Nokia) showed, it would seem that Nokia are really steaming ahead with the planning and early development stages of their WP7 adoption.

Eldar Murtazin, a dude with inside Nokia knowledge, has claimed to be in the know how with Nokia's WP7 device plans while getting his hands on a prototype. What's interesting is the naming scheme given to the two devices Eldar mentioned - the W7 and W8. He goes on to explain that the W7 is built on similar grounds of the X7 and the W8 (packing an 8 MP camera) is a variant of the N8, Nokia's current flagship device.

Imagine the current N8 running WP7 Mango, would be quite an experience. The prototypes are all being built on Qualcomm chipsets and the W7 is currently being handled in-house for development purposes, which will likely be the first device from Nokia to market, according to Eldar. Should neither appeal to you don't cut all hope as Mr Murtazin also says that Nokia has a dozen WP7 devices planned for 2012 - which could all change depending on the W7 and W8 releases (if this rumour holds true of course).

What do you make of these roumors, and do the above Nokia devices sound appealing to you?

Source: Harahabr, via: Engadget

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3 years ago

Background services are user controllable in Mango [MIX11]

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Although these are not the best shots (sorry, even their camera was blurry), what you are seeing is a new option under Settings in Mango that allows the consumer to control if background services run or not. 

In essence, when a 3rd party app insstalls with background services (say a "FriendFinder" app), it also adds itself to this section. The user can then simply and easily toggle on/off if that background service runs. This is good if battery life is going to be a big concern and you don't want that app periodically checking for updates or pushing data, or if you just don't want it running.

We also learned that the camera and mic can't run in the background, basically as a privacy issue--so no "spy apps" for now, although Microsoft seems flexible on this (they're soliciting feedback a lot from devs on these decisions).

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3 years ago

Meet Brandon Foy, creator of the "We Love WP7" ad

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We're just running into everyone today, including the legend that is Brandon Foy aka the creator of the fan-made commerical that went viral. In fact it caught Microsoft's eye (we hear Watson's) and it was pushed for him to go further and make a bigger, even better commerical. 

That video premeired today and can be seen on YouTube. With enough views (pegged at 200,000) Microsoft will turn it into a TV spot.  We spoke with Brandon briefly and found out it took him 2-3 weeks to create the original ad and about 1-2 weeks for the new one (sounds like he has the forumla down now). So why did he do it? Simple, as a creative person with an eye for the visual art, he fell for the Metro design on Windows Phone and did what he does best: evidently creating rocking videos with hip French techno  (seriously, 'Danger' is awesome).

We hope to see more work from him in the future and we think he has quite a bright future. Make sure you check his website BrandonFoy.TV for more info.

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3 years ago

Hands on (almost) with IE9 on Windows Phone 7 [MIX11]

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Look at that, we tracked down Microsoft's Joe Marini here at MIX11. He's in charge of IE on Windows Phone and as a result, has the latest build of IE9 running on his phone.

He gave us a few mins of demonstration and that browser sure looks nice (see it kick other browser's butts here). No word on Silverlight/Flash yet for IE9 and same with plugins/addons, but at this point we'll be quite satisifed with just this base for our browsing needs. We also dig the "Metro styled" menus now--looks much better.

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3 years ago

Team ChevronWP7 in full effect at MIX11

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Team ChevronWP7 in full effect at MIX11

Wearing their gifted shirts from Microsoft (Brandon Watson confirms only 5 exist), the ChevronWP7 team is in force at MIX11 this week, blogging, covering the event and meeting with whose who in the Windows Phone world. And we must say, they're all stand up guys. So we had to grab this photo, because why not? From left to right: Chris Walsh (@chriswalshie, site), Raphael Rivera (@WithinRafael, site) and Long Zheng (@longzheng, site).

For those who don't remember, these were the folks to first jailbreak WP7, were invited to Redmond for some "talks" with Microsoft and have since continued being a creative thorn in Brandon Watson's side. Will we see more from them on the Windows Phone front? We'd bet on it..

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