We’ve been covering the exploits of the ChevronWP7 team for a couple of months. From the original release and the various applications released for unlocked devices, to Microsoft having a heart-to-heart with the team and the subsequent discontinuation of the unlocker, it’s been a busy couple of months.
The stated reason for ChevronWP7 development being discontinued was that Microsoft was interested in officially facilitating the homebrew community, saying that this is an important area for consumers. It looks like Microsoft is putting action to their words. In a couple of tweets Microsoft’s Brandon Watson states that he is looking forward to hosting the ChevronWP7 team next week. Brandon also confirms that the hole that ChevronWP7 found has been closed, and recommends that any ideas or questions on the subject of homebrew development on Windows Phone 7 be directed to the ChevronWP7 team to be discussed next week.
What are your thoughts on the homebrew situation? Have you been using ChevronWP7? Is it good that Microsoft is being proactive? Talk it up in the comments.
JDB Pocketware introduced Handyscan some time ago for Windows Phone 7. Handyscan is a personal document scanner for your Windows Phone that uses your phone's camera to scan and save documents. Handyscan is a very good choice for those looking for a document scanner but some saw it a little on the pricey side. For those who saw price as an issue, a solution has become available.
JDB Pocketware has now released Handyscan (Lite), a free version of the original document scanner. The key features for the lite version aren't much different than the pay version and include:
Automatic optimization of scanned images
Zoom in/out capabilities
Align and crop scanned document
Add text to document (fill in forms)
Scan multiple pages per document and save them as one file
The features the Lite version lack includes:
Choosing the format you can email documents in (JPEG or PDF)
Choosing the size and quality of scanned results you send out
If you need a document scanner for your Windows Phone and are hesitant because of the cost, Handyscan Lite may be the solution you're looking for. You can get your free copy of Handyscan Lite here (opens your Zune desktop) at the Marketplace.
Here's an interesting, if somewhat odd bug found with Samsung Windows Phones: if you send a photo to any device with iOS 4.2, upon saving the photo, it renders it unreadable. So you can preview it when attached in an email (like above) but if you save it to the Photo Library, you get the gray JPG image and no pic. And indeed, we replicated the problem ourselves.
A simple work around is to use a 3rd party editor like Thumba 2 or Pictures Lab--those programs will alter the JPG header data in such a way as to render this (ba-zing) a non-issue. Of course, that's no excuse for Samsung (or Apple) to not take a look at this and address the issue for those iOS devices and Samsung phones.
So for all of us that were hoping that Microsoft and Bungie were secretly working on a Halo-port, we can probably stop now, or at least diminish it a bit. According to CVG, Bungie put out a job request for a senior mobile application programmer to startup their mobile gaming entry to the market:
Bungie is embarking on a new and challenging journey and if you have a serious passion for mobile application development we want you to be a part of it. Our mobile development team is focused on establishing real time connectivity for millions of users and terabytes of data. Join our team and define the interface of Bungie's next gaming universe to the world.
So it sounds like Bugie is just getting started on the whole "mobile gaming" thing, which is obviously the next-big thing in 2011. That's the good news. The bad news is, as previously noted, it doesn't sound like we'll be getting many titles from them for at least nine to twelve months. Of course, Microsoft has been aggressive in this area, so no reason that Microsoft Game Studios couldn't have something up their sleeves in conjunction with Bungie, but chances are looking a little more slim today. The only positive side is that at least the gaming hardware should be pretty redonk in a year, right?
Oh, and it's not too inspiring that they call it "Windows Mobile" in the advert nor that they mention iOS--twice. Sigh.
Have time on your hands and want add a unique yet mediocre theme ("accent color") to your HTC device? Well, as you can see above I overwrote my Blue theme for a gray one. (I actually had no idea it would over-write the Blue theme, otherwise I would have chosen Brown).
Of course, gray is just one of many possible themes one could do, so this was more conceptual than anything. The story of it goes back to XDA, involves TouchXplorer (a file explorer for unlocked HTC devices) and a provisioning trick detailed by xbodmod. We won't go into all the details because to be honest, it's way more effort than it's worth, unless you have some gray fetish.
ChevronWP7 was saying they would have some sort of solution to adding or changing themes, something that was presumably easier, but so far that hasn't happened and we're not holding our breath. Finally, while an all-black theme sounds bad-ass, it's actually not so great. Best bet here: just wait for your carrier and/or Microsoft to give some more "themes".
Last night, the ChevronWP7 team posted a new blog on their upcoming meeting with Microsoft in Redmond next week. At that discussion, they plan to put forth the argument as to why the Hombrew community is important as well as the general feeling on improving the OS:
We’ll be sharing our perspective on the homebrew potentials of Windows Phone 7 and some of the wider community feedback around the platform. In addition to our homebrew focus, we will also be pushing for stronger protection of WP7 developer intellectual property (IP) on the platform as we believe both can co-exist on the platform.
Sounds pretty good. But then again, there's certainly no commitment from Microsoft to embrace or work towards a hombrew community. It seems that you can only have it all open or all closed, but in between is hard to navigate. But hey, there's some smart people around discussing this stuff so maybe a workaround can be reached?
The second big bombshell is that ChevronWP7, technically discontinued, will no longer work after the upcoming 'NoDo' update:
Although this has been subtly communicated before, we’d like to reiterate Microsoft has informed us the “coding error” used in the ChevronWP7 unlocker will no longer work after the next Windows Phone 7 update (officially announced at CES 2011).
So that's that, evidently. Of course we imagine some other young, starry eyed team will come a long and we'll repeat the whole process by say....March or April. Much like the locked-unlocked-locked cycle of the iPhone and the Cydia community, this has the potential to go on for a long time. However, if Microsoft comes up with a Homebrew solution, that would easily nip in the bud the desire for more black-hat activities amongst the community.
Maybe we're cynical, but we're just not holding our breath on the homebrew thing happening. Your thoughts?
Brain Games HD is one of them there "smart apps" that are suppose to be entertaining as well as exercising your noggin'. It features 43 mini-games and should provide quite a few hours of frustrating and yet rewarding game play. But, will you force yourself to do it every day? That's the question. Personally, we always dug these games, when done right. We're not yet sure with this, plus the "HD" thing...well, it's getting old.
Zombies!!! is a deep, meta-exploration into the meaning of nothingness, based on the writings of famed philosopher Nietzsche. Nah, just kiddin', it's a game where you have to kill what is already dead, like a million times over. Oh and it's got killer lookin' graphics. Check here for our earlier coverage plus video.
There is an app on the Marketplace dedicated to this task - but what is the most effective way to channel your feedback to Microsoft about Windows Phone 7?
Being queried by an email from Robert N, Paul Thurrott decided to direct the question at Microsoft directly. Since they have a dedicated section on their mammoth of a website for Windows 7 feedback, there isn't a strong argument as to why they don't have something similar for their latest mobile product.
Although many of us would prefer a single location, the above alternatives aren't so bad at all. Activity seems to be relatively high on their Facebook and Twitter, however, this does not provide the correct platform that is required for Microsoft to engage with their users. Hopefully, this will be fixed sooner rather than later, since WP7 is at the early stage of deployment where there is a huge amount of feedback available.
Way back in June, we told you that Microsoft was developing a new OS designed specifically for enterprise hardware, like pricing and inventory scanners, like the Motorola/Sprint ES400S. Yesterday, MS made it officially available for use. As the name implies, Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 is built on the Windows Mobile 6.5 platform and "can take advantage of multiple screen sizes and input methods, peripherals to extend device capabilities and multiple connectivity options." It is already set to be used on products by Motorola, Intermec and Honeywell.
MS started with version 6.5 to give its customers a clear upgrade path from the current software, to Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5, to a newer version of the OS that will be based on Windows Phone 7. While official support for version 6.5 will last up into 2014, the newer WP7-based OS is due out in the second half of 2011, according to the big guy himself, Steve Ballmer.
On the off chance you are a WP7 user who loves iTunes, you can now have your cake and eat it too...kinda. "Remote," an aptly-named new app by Komodex Systems, let's you browse your computer's iTunes Library and let's you play, pause and control the volume via WiFi. You can also use your phone's keyboard to search for albums and artists.
"Remote" recently popped up in the Marketplace for $1.99 and requires WiFi and the installation of a desktop client on the computer you want to control. It works with both Macs and PCs. Of course we have to wonder what kind of commie you would be to run iTunes over Zune, but hey...we're accepting around here. Kinda.
iFixit has a healthy reputation for tearing down electronic devices to reveal what's under the hood. They recently turned their sights on the HTC Surround.
In removing the lower inner casing, you can see various pressure contacts, the SIM Card slot and a foiled covered microSD expansion slot that we had suspected was present. Peel back the foil and you see the Sandisk 16gb card nestled securely in the expansion card slot.
The tear down also confirmed our overall impression of the HTC Surround. It's a well built, solid Windows Phone. The slide mechanism is solid and the compact, layered, hardware helps keep things slimmed down. Commenting on the tear down of the Surround, iFixit made the following conclusion.
We gave the HTC Surround a mid-pack repairability score of 5 out of 10. It's relatively easy to remove the rear case to replace the battery, but that's where the fun stops. You'll have to void your warranty to take anything else out, and it's very difficult to access the front panel and LCD if you'd like to replace it.
So while it's interesting to see what the Surround looks like broken down, it's nothing we'd recommend doing. It is nice to see the microSD card slot revealed. While it's tempting to see if a larger card would work, we'll stick with our original thought. If HTC wanted us to have access to the slot, they would have made it easier to get to.
It seems that reporting on delays of the Dell Venue Pro is quickly becoming one of our favorite pastimes. It's not that we enjoy reporting about them, but rather that the delays with the Dell Windows Phone have been so frequent.
Well, once again, word is that the device will be delayed further in the UK.
Though the device was expected to be available first thing in 2011, Clove reports that it won't be happening until sometime in mid-February (we can only hope). They say that the hold up is something to do with a Microsoft MMS issue. The Venue Pro, which is currently the only Windows Phone in the UK with a vertical slide-out QWERTY keyboard, was orignally announced back in October of 2010.
ArkWords is a great little app by Arktronic that features not only a great dictionary and thesaurus but an impressive, multi-language translator. In addition, it has a swanky Live Tile that updates every morning with the WOT (word of the day).
The app is superbly built with a very minimalist and fluid UI. Plus it's free, so there's little reason to not give it a shot. And now that the Live Tile has been fixed in v1.1, all seems right with the app and gets our strong recommendation.
Grab it here in the Marketplace and go here for the developer's blog.
What, was one penny too much for you? Or perhaps like us, you live in New York and have to pay Amazon Wireless sales tax (but not for NewEgg) and you just like their deal better.
Whatever your reason, NewEgg, hands down one of our favorite online retailers, is offering select AT&T Windows Phone on contract for free. Zip. Nada. Nothing. You even have your choice of plans, including the low AT&T 450 minute version (sometimes place like WalMart try to force you up to the higher 900 minute plan).
Phones included in the deal (these are the actual links): the Samsung Focus, LG Quantum and yes, the HTC Surround. Sounds like a good deal, but like all things, read the fine print.
A new advertisement exchange service, called AdDuplex, has recently surfaced. Its purpose is to help fledgling developers get word of their applications out to Marketplace users. Here's how it works: a developer creates ads an AdDuplex control to their application and includes an ad for their own product. That control then begins to display ads from AdDuplex's network of clients, including the developer's and AdDuplex iteself.
Basically "Help other developers promote their apps and they’ll promote yours."
The more users of the service, the more the word spreads. Think of it like an advertising pyramid scheme, without the shadiness. The service is free, and if a developer later decides that they want to include advertisements from another source, AdDuplex allows them to do so, though it looks like AdDuplex’s network of ads remains.
Despite the snarky headline, we think it’s actually a pretty inventive way for developers to help each other get their products out there. Sign up for free here.