One thing people love doing is turning their phones into virtual Swiss Army knives and one way of doing that is making it an bedside alarm clock.
Nite Buddy caught our attention because it's free (ad supported), automatically fetches weather (GPS), has adjustable brightness, colors and overall looks pretty nice. Plus it just works so well with the HD7 or Surround's kick-stand feature. Of course when running, it will keep the screen on, so make sure you're plugged in if you want to make it till morning.
Have you ever considered the possibility of a comedy sketch covering Blackberry, Orange, Apple, Windows and the Xbox 360? The One Ronnie, a fantastic British comedy sketch show from the BBC with Ronnie Corbett has done just this. Turning 80 in December 2010, Ronnie is a comic legend and has appeared alongside the top names in the industry.
In one clip, he is joined by Harry Enfield. Doing what they do best, they cover the technological category of personal computers and mobile phones. Although Windows Phone 7 isn't mentioned (probably for the best), the sheer comedy value of the amusement the products from Microsoft, Apple, RIM and Orange play host to is worth every second.
It's already been noted and made aware of, that Microsoft has poorly established their Windows Phone 7 and Zune services around the world (lucky for some, eh America?). To easily display how limited some countries are with support of Microsoft's mobile platform-based services, Andrew Birch has produced a matrix displaying what is available where.
It's actually fairly disturbing once you have a good read through the table (click the image to enlarge it). The US has complete access to all features offered, which is understandable being the land of Microsoft. UK and France are next up more access than the compared list. However, podcasts and TV is presented to be solely available to the American user base (strange when podcasts are freely available). Let us not even dare to analyze poor Canada.
This seems pretty confusing for many, sure the platform is still new and coming together nicely, plus some advancements in international monopoly may occur around the time of the proposed software update time of arrival, but I can't help thinking "why release a system that many can't use properly?". To prevent more negativity presenting itself in the harshest way, Microsoft really needs to combat their Zune, WP7 and Xbox Live deployment across the globe.
But what am I saying? Competitors have this problem, and many companies in other markets experience the same barrier. It will take time for services and features to open up. It would make sense if Microsoft were waiting for demand to reach minimal levels before taking the leap, but how would the demand rise if services aren't readily available for hardware to take advantage of?
MyBookie has been available over at the Marketplace for about a month now bringing the world of sports betting to your Windows Phone. There is a trial version available, the paid version will run you $1.99 and now there is a free Lite version available.
The Lite version has all the functionality of the paid version except it's ad supported and you have a lower daily betting cap. The Lite Version shares the Facebook integration, just like the full version, allowing you to compete against your Facebook friends, access the game through Facebook and share your bets for payout bonuses on your Facebook Wall.
Hundreds of thousands in virtual cash have been wagered on real world sporting events through MyBookie since its release. We liked what we saw when we reviewed MyBookie and found it to be an entertaining way to dabble in sports wagering without loosing your shirt.
If the $1.99 price tag has you sitting on the fence, the Lite Version might be the solution you're looking for. You can download MyBookie Lite here (opens your Zune desktop) at the Marketplace.
Previously, we looked at how one can getting touch about Microsoft and provide feedback about their Widnows Phone 7 experience. There hasn't been a clear located channel for the community to focus suggestions and feedback, but a survey has popped up from @windowsphone on Twitter.
The first question you are faced with is (quite obviously) querying if you actually own a Windows phone, and if so what platform you currently use. Selecting Windows Phone 7 will bring you to a table where you rate (out of 5) the level of influence that particular feature had on your purchase decision.
The beauty of this survey comes after you have selected the choices and move onto the second half of the form - "What, if anything, would you change about your Windows Phone 7?” As many have stated over at the XDA Developer forum, this is a perfect opportunity to release the ranting anger inside of you about some missing functions and features. As much detail as you can provide, or a simple list will suffice.
Once complete, you receive a love note from the big MS "Thank you for taking our survey. Your response is very important to us.", you're very welcome. Take this survey at surveygizmo.
We've had a few requests to take a look at Twitt 2.0 a newly updated Twitter application in the Marketplace. Reason? There are two: it costs $0.99 when most Twitter apps are free and there's no trial. So naturally people want us to trial it for them and we're more than glad to take a bullet for you folks (cough, Daily Show app, cough).
The short of it is: it has pros and it has cons and whether or not it's right for you will depend on what features you feel are important. Vague, eh? Just watch the video and you'll see what we mean.
Twitt can be bought through the Marketplace right here.
Samuel Blanchard, a French .NET developer. has evidently thrown together a rough player for Windows Phone 7 and it looks pretty darn spiffy. Noting on his blog (translated):
The emulator is far from complete. It lacks particular, the management of the Flash RAM and the backup status in the game but still playable. The display of pixels on the screen is super fast and uses a trick which I will discuss in a future article.
All we say is gimme! What is particularly impressive is the Metro interface for selecting a game and just how well is seems to play. We'll be following this one closely as we try to reclaim our youth through 21st technology. Too bad it won't be officially available in the Marketplace though...
Wasn't it just the other day it was leaked that AT&T was raising the cost of their 3G Microcells from $149.99 to $199.99? Well today's another day and it's now being reported that beginning January 23, 2011 that AT&T will be giving the Microcell away to a pre-selected group of customers.
AT&T will conduct a direct mailing to 7.5% of 3G wireless customers identified as likely to experience poor in-building coverage at home or in small offices. Those lucky 7.5% will have to accept an equipment agreement that will extend their wireless contract for 12 months. If service is canceled before the end of 12 months, the Microcell goes back to AT&T or the customer is subject to a prorated (-$16.97 per month) equipment fee.
For those not familiar with the Microcell, it is designed to function in the same way as a cell tower, but utilizes a home broadband connection as the back-haul to the cellular provider. AT&T made a similar offer last summer but it was in select markets. This go around, the mail out will be nationwide. There is no indication as to how the 7.5% will be selected or how AT&T will determine who has poor reception.
I wonder if you can get a refund if you get the Microcell offer but had already purchased one?
If you've been trying to use the Windows Phone app Last.FM over the past few days, you've probably experienced a little downtime with the music app. Turns out the Last.FM servers haven't been playing nice.
Last.FM posted an explanation over at their blogsite reporting that things should be getting back to normal soon.
"A hardware failure has led to one of the most serious system outages we have experienced for a long time, and we are very sorry about the inconvenience caused to our listeners. At this moment everything should be on its way back to normal, but it could take some time for all services to return to a fully stable state. We want to apologize for this outage, and explain the problems that have led to the difficulties you may be experiencing now."
For those not familiar, Last.FM is a Windows Phone 7 app that allows users to get endless personalized radio, concert recommendations and quickly look up music from your Windows Phone. It's a free application and available here (opens your Zune desktop) at the Marketplace. Just understand that the solutions Last.FM are putting in place may take a while to stabilize everything.
Source: Last.FM Thanks goes out to Bryant for the tip!
Andy Lein, over at PocketNow had got his hands on the Dell Venue Pro back in December (2010 for those who require reminding) and the 16GB version of the device proved to be disappointing with reliability.
"I got my first 16Gb Dell Venue Pro on December 23rd, 2010 and I soon noticed that it would freeze up or go to a totally black screen (except for the clock) while downloading and installing large apps over WiFi."
Ordering a replacement for his malfunctioning Venue Pro, Dell finally shipped his new toy, which arrived a few days ago (January 18th). I know what you're thinking - the problem must be fixed.
"Then a new Dell Venue Pro arrived on my doorstep on January 18th! Unfortunately, the new 16Gb Dell Venue Pro had the same problem. "
Ah the excitement then the sudden realization of the problem still persisting to exist. Check out the video to see what happens, should you have a Venue Pro yourself and see if you can reproduce the fault.
With the continued problems that Dell seem to be experiencing, I'm almost beginning to believe that they may be considering for a quick second "why did we enter the WP7 smartphone market?". Hopefully, Dell's future will be solid in the near future as it's fantastic to have such a huge technological brand backing Microsoft on their mobile platform.
Do you own a Venue Pro, and have problems? Have you had a replacement?
Back in December, Andy Rubin, who helped create Google's Android platform was asked about Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 at All Things-D. In turn he gave a response that came off a bit...well...glib and it made the 'rounds of the interwebs fairly quickly. Specifically, Rubin said this about WP7:
You just have this package of stuff that was invented before the Internet. When the architects built that product [Windows CE and Windows Mobile], they didn't have the Internet in mind.
So the implication being that since WinCE has code from 20 years ago ergo Windows Phone 7 must not be as good as Android. We're not sure what one has to do with the other as s Joe Belfiore pointed out Android --> Linux --> Unix, so there may be some old code there too.
It will be interesting to see how the courts rule on this case and hey, perhaps some of this actually falls under the GPLv2. Either way, we'll take old code over the legally-disputed, potentially patent-copying type any day. Own it Google.
Update: Our pals at Android Central point us to a ZDNet story this afternoon that changes things a bit. Apparently the code that was "copied" and pointed out in the FOSSpatents blog actually isn't part of Android. That doesn't change the fact that there's still a lawsuit going on between Oracle and Google or that we're pleased with our old code.
Update 2: Engadget has rebuttal against the "it doesn't count" viewpoint, pointing out that legally speaking it may not matter. May be worth a read.
Today Unbound Medicine put out a press releases announcing that their many medical-based mobile apps are now available for Windows Phone 7. The most well-known of their applications to make its way to WP7 is Relief Central, a free mobile and web-based resource for disaster relief workers. It was recently named winner of the Windows Phone Federal Apps contest. Other available titles include Nursing Central, 5-minute Clinical Consult, McGraw-Hill’s Diagnosaurus, Taber’s Medical Dictionary, and three versions of The Merck Manual.
When asked about Microsoft's new mobile platform, Philip Peterson, chief technology officer of Unbound Medicine, had this to say:
"Windows Phone has made a significant contribution to the mobile platform landscape with a feature-rich and easy-to-use interface...Unbound Medicine recognizes that the Windows Phone platform is a game-changer. We will continue to develop applications as new platforms become available in order to provide our users with what they need—up-to-date information."
While these tools are unlikely to perform medical miracles when death is on the line, they will aid medical professionals and students in everyday situations, and demonstrate the wide breadth that the WP7 platform spans. It is unclear as to whether or not Congress will attempt to repeal the apps in the near future (zing).
Check out the full list of available Unbound medical apps here or search for "Unbound Medicine" in Zune now.
Did you know that the Zune Marketplace regularly offers songs for free? No DRM, you own it, it's all yours. The catch is these "deals" are only for single songs and they're temporary. The other issue is finding them.
Developer PoppaString has created a free app to find those free songs. The app, called Free Marketplace Songs is extremely simple and to the point: you launch it, it finds free songs and then you can go grab them in the Marketplace. Cool. Version 1.1 just hit and seems to fix some early bugs, or rather we successfully downloaded a free song--so, win.
Any downsides? Yeah, for one it's a very limited selection, so if you're a picky music listener, it's highly doubtful you'll find something you like. The other would be these freebies expire quickly--so if you can grab two songs for free, consider yourself lucky. Check early, check often. But hey, the app is free and if you like collecting music, it's a smart way of finding those deals.
Mediaroom is Microsoft's official IPTV streaming option and it provides a lot of media ability--in fact Mediaroom 2.0 was just announced at CES and offers "...whole-home digital video recording, on-demand capabilities, access to both operator-hosted content and Internet TV, and interactive applications.". It's like AT&T's U-verse but better.
As Microsoft slowly but steadily continues to merge all of their properties into one (Xbox 360, Mediaroom, Windows Phone 7, Zune, SkyDrive, Office, LIVE services, etc.) it only makes sense that they would be working on a way to take Mediaroom 2.x and integrate on Windows Phone 7 in some official capacity. Indeed, according to Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet, that is what project 'Rome' is all about.
Supposedly Roz Ho, who worked on "Project Pink" aka KIN is involved on the Mediaroom/Rome project which looks to bring all of Microsoft's media capabilities into one offering: Xbox 360, Mediacenter PC, Windows Phone, etc. hence the name 'Rome' as all roads lead to it.
No word on planned release time frame, but we're thinking that second big update aka 'Mango', later this year, may be a good time.
We last mentioned Beau Allison's (aka codeJoker) a few weeks back which involved creating a WiFi shortcut on Samsung phones--it basically allowed you to hop from your Today screen right to the WiFi settings to quickly toggle them on or off. It's actually one of the more simple homebrew hacks yet it's the one we use the most, for obvious reasons.
Now he's gone further creating three new shortcuts: Bluetooth, Airplane Mode and Connection Manager. The first two are self-explanatory but the last is really the best. Connection Manager brings you all the previous shortcuts under one screen. Huzzah! As you can see above, it has WiFi, Bluetooth, Mobile Network and flight mode all under one quick access panel. What's more, he's trying to incorporate the status-sliders below each setting for a direct toggle. Once again, this will only work with unlocked Samsung phones (sorry HTC, LG and Dell).
This app is so useful we don't know where to begin outside of saying Microsoft (and or OEMs)--you could do this too!