One area where we like to see OEMs hare at work is in the "exclusive" app department. Everyone except Dell has done a real nice job of offering unique programs on their phones, free of charge, to enhance the user experience.
Samsung's niche seems be photos as they have released 'Samsung Photo Sharing', 'Photogram' (see review) and now 'Photo Studio'. This new one is actually quite nice, allowing you to shoot in different modes, including Lomo, to speed of the process. From the app description:
Photo Studio is an all-in-one solution for taking, editing and sharing pictures though your WP7. Photo Studio allows the user to take pictures with effects such as LomoShot, Beautyshot and PlusMe. All pictures can modified with various photo effects. Users also can also easily upload their pictures to the most popular Social network services including Facebook and Flickr.
LomoShot: Users can vignette pictures in the style of softening or shading away the edges of the subject. There are four option modes: Normal, Gray, Warm and Cold
BeautyShot: Users can brighten and sharpen the portrait
PlusMe: Users can take two pictures separately and mix them together
Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, MySpace, Photobucket, Friendster support
The app so far is quite decent, especially for free, but real photo hounds will want to stick with Thumba (see review) for more fine-tuned control.
You can grab the app now in the Marketplace, but you won't see it under "Samsung Zone"--instead, enter the Samsung Zone, pick any app and hit "More from SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS Co. Ltd." and now you should see it. Or just click this link.
So yeah, we all know by now that copy and paste is coming to Windows Phone 7. The remaining questions deal with how it works and what are its limitations. Lots of debate has circled this area on other sites with some claiming copy and paste will only work with native apps, but not 3rd party ones. This is far from true, it will certainly work with 3rd party apps both in terms of copying materials and pasting it.
But there are some limitations and it won't be as robust as what we used to have on Windows Mobile, where you could basically copy anything. Those limitations were described by Chris Walsh of ChevronWP7 who of course received some hands on practice with the OS update.
The limitations are thus:
...copy and paste is ONLY supported on the textbox control in 3rd party apps. When I say supported, I’m talking about the OS automagically recognizing the input control and giving the user the fancy text selection picker with a “copy” button
...certain apps don’t actually use the textbox to render read-only text. For example, the Twitter for Windows Phone app, when you’ve clicked on a tweet to either view it or click on a link, the text isn”t rendered in a TextBox control. Unfortunately you’re not going to get copy & paste there. The simple fix is to change to a textbox control for scenarios where a user might need to copy some text into the clipboard but it requires some effort from application developers
So that's a bummer for some apps that don't use a textbox (to see one Twitter app that does, see Twitt). The big question now is will this satisfy people? Probably the majority but not everyone. Finally, Walsh also notes the speed improvement from the update calling it "nothing short of pure awesome"--so that's good.
Give or take a few, there are approximately 690 puzzle applications for Windows Phone 7. One of such is Awesome Sheep, a puzzle game for your Windows Phone that has you leading your sheep from the barn to pasture.
Sounds easy, right? It would be if the path was straight and narrow but Awesome Sheep has your tackling see-saws, diving from cliffs (the sheep are equipped with parachutes) and other hurdles to tackle. Awesome Sheep has moved up the popularity list for Windows Phone puzzle games and to see what all the excitement is about, just leap on past the break.
The wildly popular iPhone game (yes, we're taking them all, thank you) Parachute Panic by FDG (in conjunction with MGS) is coming to our Windows Phones this week.
The game is a classic "parchute game" where you try to land your hapless skydiver on a moving ship. In the meantime, aliens, birds and even a shark all try to complicate your progress. Having played the game on my iPad, I can say it's actually quite a lot of fun: addictive and yet frustrating too.
This unique casual game requires you to successfully land a host of parachutists into passing boats. Beware of imminent dangers such as helicopter blades, U.F.O´s, sharks and thunder clouds. The game offers beautiful hand drawn graphics, smooth animations, catchy acapella music and awesome sound effects. In addition to that we created funny animations for any failed enemy encounter :D We had a lot of fun creating this game and hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
No word on pricing but this should be a pretty big hit, we think. [Update: price is $2.99, available worldwide]
Due to having no sockets support, multitasking or the ability to run native code, companies like Skype and Viber are sitting on the sidelines, preventing any true VOIP application on Windows Phone 7. So leave it up to someone at XDA to try and do it themselves instead!
Developer Jefis posted this today about the project:
Hello there fellow developers. I recently made quite a progress in developing skype for WP7.
I want to share my current progress with you, so maybe someone will want to join this little project, which, in future will be released for free, and probably with source code .
I'm not designer, as you will see from the screenshots, but, if you are, and want to join this effort in making skype, contact me asap.
Current status of project: Working contacts + ability to chat. Nothing more.
Sounds like along way to go, but even offering direct Skype chat via a client would be a welcomed addition to the homebrew community. The project is still in early stages, but we know people have been hacking away at sockets support in the community, so anything is possible.
On the one hand, we hate concept videos only because they seem to promise more than they can deliver--it's like a big tease. On the other hand, it's nice to think big and push the boundaries a bit as it stirs innovation, design and hopefully real applications.
The above video, which is extremely well produced, was a project by Luca Trinchero (who sent this in to us) and Gianvito Toscano at the Polytechnic of Milan in 2010 and it's of a concept app called 24 Seven (catchy!). It looks like a combo of Groupon and ShopSavvy, presenting deals to you on the go, the ability to scan barcodes for price comparison and evidently a way for your roommate or partner to update your grocery list remotely (that last part is pretty darn brilliant).
Finally, the app appears to total your groceries (because you were scanning each one) and you pay using the phone. We're already seeing something like that at Stop & Shop here in the States, where they let you scan, bag and pay for your items all on your own--so very feasible. The would-be developers do tell us "..maybe we will develop it, stay tuned!"
Designed by Lee Whitington, there are three choices: black icons with transparency, color icons solid black, or color icons with transparency (see above). To get the transparent ones, remember you'll need to email them to yourself and not save to the device, but use as Wallpaper directly.
An obvious next step for the app would be for Xbox LIVE support--after all it already has great asynchronous game play/multiplayer support, push updates and is just a solid app. But not many games have gone from non-Xbox status to Xbox LIVE certified--actually we can't think of any. That's because to get that coveted status, you need to do a lot of collaboration with Microsoft and meet their very high standards to get access to the LIVE universe.
Will AlphaJax be the first to transition? We don't know but on their Facebook page, they strongly hint at the possibility. When asked about Xbox LIVE support they responded with "stay tuned...!"
Oh we will, we will. Thanks, Ricardo Dawkins for the tip
One current limitation of Windows Phone 7 is the inability to download and manage podcasts on your device over-the-air. Awhile back we reported on a free app called simply Podcasts! which at least allowed you to stream any podcast, though not save. The app worked very well, but if you didn't want to use your precious 3G data minutes, then you were out of luck.
BringCast ($1.99, trial available) gets around this by finally allowing you to download audio and video podcasts. The selection of 'casts is limited but that's fine as you can request your favorite to be added and more importantly, you can type in the RSS URL or OMPL file to import your selection.
The app worked flawlessly on our end, though sometimes it was a bit stuttery on screen transitions. Still, for a v1.0 app we really have no complaints--the download screen is nice, it integrates with Zune's history and we dig the "what's new" screen. Pretty solid. The trial is fully functional except you get a nag screen on 1st launch and you are limited to any three feeds--but that's more than enough to tell you if it's worth the $1.99. Grab it here in the Marketplace.
The team is of course under an agreed to non-disclosure agreement (NDA) so whatever details they can share are somewhat vague. But here's what we know:
They're "genuinely excited by many of the forward-looking presentations. We can only hope they come to fruition as soon as possible."
ChevronWP7 "...will work with Microsoft towards long-term solutions that support mutual goals of broadening access to the platform while protecting intellectual property and ensuring platform security."
And perhaps most importantly, we know that the unlocking tool will be disabled with the upcoming NoDo update--but they are "collaborating with Microsoft on an interim solution that will continue to support homebrew developments after the update.". No details were given on what exactly that means, but will be forthcoming. Some other information gleaned: no, your Xbox LIVE accounts won't be banned for using and unlocker and Rafael Rivera at least seems confident that we'll like the "short term stuff".
In addition, the team was able to play with and test the new update, confirming that the unlocker doesn't work and managed to receive some Asus E600 developer phones for their trouble.
In summary, while we only have some vague notion of feelings on the matter given from the team, it as least sounds as if they are satisfied and that Microsoft is working on some sort of "solution" to the homebrew question, something we vigorously support.
When we first mentioned AlphaJax, a scrabble-type word game for Windows Phone 7, there were a few comments suggesting we take a look at another word game, Spell It!. Well, who are we to shy away from a request.
Over the past few days, we took both out for a test drive to see if there was a clear cut choice between AlphaJax and Spell It! The game premise of both are virtually the same but are there enough differences that may give one an edge over the other? To find out what we thought, ease on past the break.
Can't decide between WP7 and Android? Thanks to some of the minds at XDA, now you don't have, if you have an HTC HD2. Due to limitations in both operating systems, WP7 will reside in NAND memory and Android will be booted from an SD card.
Here's what you will need for the recommended method:
16GB microSD card (this will be your everyday card)
8GB microSD card (this will be used to create a second partition on the larger card)
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.