Looks like a lot is happening with the homebrew community these days, so here is a brief update to keep you in the loop:
XDA member sensboston has coded up an LED flashlight app that works on the Samsung Focus. Up till this point, we've had to use the "white screen" method to illuminate a dark room (see overview here), which although works is not as preferable as the LED. You do need to have your device unlocked to use this, so be warned. We imagine someone could code one up for the Marketplace, if MS were to allow apps that accessed this feature to pass certification--we're not holding our breath though, not till 2011 when they revise their requirements. [Note: this may work on other device like LG too, we have not tested to verify. Also, this works by accessing the video feature, hence the sound. We have not noticed any side effects of this, but there could be some.]
The second update is of less interest for now but still important. ChevronWP7 has an app limit--actually developers have an app limit of 10 programs per device. This means that unlocked phones (both jailbroken and legit) can only install 10 sideloaded apps at a time. This "feature" was to prevent developers from flooding the market with cheap apps but it also puts a kink in the homebrew community. Now developer Thomas Hounsell has modified ChevronWP7 to lift that very limit, which will be important in the future as the community grows.
This morning on Bill Reiss's blog, Silverlight Games 101, he makes some pretty good and in our opinion, even handed, criticisms of the Marketplace, specifically in relation to indie games and competing against the big Live titles.
Reiss is the developer of Popper 2 (see review) which was launched pretty early in the Marketplace. But now with developers finally having access to their numbers, he noticed just how lackluster his game was doing: 600 downloads/156 sales, even though he notes it is "...the 20th highest rated overall for all apps and games on the phone". At a $1.29 a sale, we can see that he's not exactly rolling in money from this game.
In turn, he goes through and lists a range of reasons as to why he thinks this may be the case (and he's far from the first developer to say such things). The reasons range fro the Xbox Live "filter" which gives higher precedence to those games over indie apps, no ability in the marketplace to sort by popularity, "featured" games and more, For developers, he gives a few tips on how to better increase presence, including offer a free or lite version, social networks, etc. If we were a developer, we would think this to be a solid read.
From our perspective as consumers, "games" on Windows Phone 7 are almost too bountiful and we agree--with no real way to sort games by ratings/popularity, it makes it hard. Take for instance Decimation X2 which we covered here--by all means not selling well, though it's my #1 game by a long shot. It was discovered by accident on my part. Combined with increased users and early adopters, social networking, sites like ours for reviews, etc. we hope that developers will be able to profit. But then again, even Apple's App Store tells a similar story with the biggest, most popular apps being free and with over 300,000 programs available, we imagine most get lost in the crowd. Agree or disagree with Reiss's comments? Discuss in comments.
Windows Phone is just over a month old and most, if not everyone, has completed their first billing cycle with the new phones. Have you checked your data usage to see how Windows Phone 7 compares to the previous months?
Are you seeing a considerable jump in data usage? We knew that Windows Phone 7 was more data dependent than Windows Mobile. You've got Live Tiles, support for multiple email accounts, Zune Marketplace and Xbox Live all of which can consume a heck of a lot of data. My guess most have seen a spike in data usage since going to Windows Phone 7.
The increase in data usage may settle down but my guess, with all the capabilities of Windows Phone 7 it will level off but remain higher than Windows Mobile data use was. Which poses the question, with tiered data plans slowly replacing the older unlimited plans, is two gigabytes enough?
We took a look at our data usage since moving to Windows Phone 7. Follow the break to see if we were able to stay under the 2GB threshold.
Looking for that last minute gift for the Windows Phone user in your life? If they haven't upgraded to one of the new Windows Phones, any one of the Windows Phone 7 devices would be on the top of our list. But for those who have already upgraded to Windows Phone 7, there are plenty of accessories and applications to choose from that would be great gifts.
We have put together a short list of recommendations on apps and accessories. If you're stumped on gift ideas for your Windows Phone user, follow the break to see what we would make for great gifting ideas.
The title says it all, but let us get into some details about the closing of Microsoft's KIN Studio, which was the backbone in the cloud for the device.
Evidently, come January 31st, people with KINs (all two of you) will lose the ability to do everything over-the-air, except use your Zune Pass over WiFi and email. What exactly is everything? Check it:
Feed Reader will stop working
Search Near me will stop working
Posting Photos to social sites will no longer be possible
Most pictures currently on Kin will only appear at thumbnail resolution
Posting to Social Networks will no longer work.
No comments from the loop
Social network contacts will disappear.
Loop will stop to work
Kin Spot will only send to emails.
Social networks only accessed from web browser.
So outside of making phone calls and playing music, the KIN is really, truly dead. Why even bother after that last, half attempt at a re-launch? We have no idea either. But Verizon is trying to make things right by letting users know now to back up their data now and going one step further, allowing them to pick a 3G phone of their choice for FREE. Offer is valid only through March 31st. Attached are some images from the pamphlet that Verizon is sending out to KIN customers. More can be found here.
We've been waiting on it for two weeks but late tonight (morning for most of you), the Beezz update finally happened. [See our earlier hands-on video]
A cursory look of the app shows no major changes to the UI, but the big new feature is the ability to receive Direct Messages and Mentions as pushed "toast" notifications (those at the top of the screen) and Home (live tile) notifications, which gives you a counter of how many new Tweets have happened since your last check in. (Also, search now works as well).
Overall it seems to be working very well--it's quick to push the messages/alerts and we're quite pleased. Along with GoVoice (Google) and everything is coming along nicely on WP7 just one month out. Of course the app is still free and you can download it here (opens your Zune desktop).
Analyst Charles Wolf of Needham and Co., is calling the launch of Windows Phone 7 a success. Wolf bases his analysis not on current numbers, but on Microsoft’s commitment to marketing Windows Phone 7. The report further states that if Microsoft continues to grow market share, Google’s Android platform could be the big loser. Much of Android’s success is due to Verizon’s Droid line of phones, which in turn can be attributed to the lack of a Verizon iPhone. A potential iPhone launch on Verizon, coupled with Microsoft’s commitment to CDMA support, could leave Google the odd man out.
We made mention of an update to Beezz some time ago. The update would add a live tile, toast for direct messages, language support, and other fixes. The update ran into some snags when first submitted for validation.
Based on the Beezz Tweets, the problems have been addressed, corrected and the update has been validated. Next stop the Zune Marketplace.
Not sure how long it takes to go from validation to being pushed out by Zune but keep an eye on your Marketplace Tile for the update. Based on the Tweet, we should see it later tonight. If you haven't downloaded Beezz, you can find it here (opens your Zune desktop).
Metro Browser ($1.99 + free trial) has quickly gone through the ranks to become one of the best selling browser add-ons in the Marketplace. Hitting v2 and now v2.5, a lot of requested functionality has been integrated, including managing favorites (renaming, reordering), saving pictures, as well as adding a send link (Twitter, email, text).
We decided to give you folks a brief video tour to show off the usefulness of this browser as well as the added changes. Grab it here (opens Zune).
There are plenty of great Xbox Live games in the Marketplace but there are way more indie games to be found and here are two that rise to the top.
Impossible Shoota is actually one of the top games in the Marketplace, sitting at number nine for free games and it has had over 13,000 downloads since its release just under a month ago. It's a classic ship bullet game with simple controls, great effects and some rocking sounds. A new update was just released which includes leaderboards and some bug fixes. Cost = free, so there is zero reason not to try this game if you want some quick arcade style fun.
The second is less known, which is a shame because it's pretty amazing. Called Decimation X2 by Xona Games, it's basically Space Invaders on steroids. With huge explosion effects, rapid fire game play and fantastic music, it's tons of fun. Plus, the company has Decimation X and the brand new Decimation X3 for the Xbox 360--those latter games are in the top five in Japan and we can see why after playing X2. The cost is $0.99 which we think is worth it and there is a try-before-you-buy. (Correction: Xona Games is based in Canada & X2 doesn't have bosses, just X3; they're also working on a small update to increase the finger bar size for easier usage)
But hey, just watch the video to see them in action. Grab Impossible Shootahere and Decimation X2here.
One of the nice things about having Office Mobile is the ability to not only view those Office docs on the go, but to edit them as well. But getting those files to your device can be a challenge. We already saw one homebrew solution, which basically creates a local server for you to download files to your device.
Another, more simple solution is to just use Dropbox. While we still don't have a mobile application for the service (crosses fingers) you can use their site through Mobile Internet Explorer, which works just a well. In fact you can easily grab your files on the go this way. The only downside is you cannot upload Office documents, just photos, to Dropbox and for some that is a no-go. Then again, the free service "Send to Dropbox" allows you to easily email your modified files back to Dropbox, which we think is pretty darn cool.
Microsoft is steaming right along with it's half-a-billion dollar marketing campaign for the new Windows Phone. We've seen plugs in television shows highlighting emailing photos, using Bing and other Windows Phone 7 features.
The latest ad from Microsoft shifts the focus to Xbox Live. From touching on the Windows Phone 7 game "Need for Speed: Undercover" to having an Xbox Live Avatar in the male lead, the thirty second spot is all about Xbox.
Thanks goes out to JUST VISITING for tipping us on the video.
Jabra has been producing quality Bluetooth accessories for years ranging from wired to Bluetooth headphones and speakerphones. The latest Windows Phone accessory from Jabra is the Cruiser 2.
The Cruiser 2 is a Bluetooth in-car speakerphone that is billed as having "superior sound for hands-free calls in the car". Jabra incorporates their Noise Blackout technology, along with dual microphones, to offer clear, understandable calls.
We liked the original Jabra Cruiser and to see if the Cruiser 2 lives up to the Jabra standard, follow the break.