One of the most useful apps out there, ShopSavvy (see earlier coverage) is finally now live in the Marketplace. The barcode-scanning shopping assistant allows you to scan any UPC label out there for price-checks against the web. For example, scanning a book's barcdoe will bring up prices on Half.com, eBay, Amazon, etc. You can then hop to the site or "share deal" with others. In addition, if any local deals are found, it'll show them on a map based on your location as well as any reviews for the item.
After giving it a spin for ten minutes, we were left impressed. And seeing as it's free, there's no reason to not try it, especially if you like bargains. Grab it here in the Marketplace.
While "Sense 3.0" on Windows Phone 7 is a bit underwhelming (although that weather update helps), HTC is still interested in developing it further for our new OS. What exactly that means is anyone's guess because evidently, they're not talking.
In an interview with Forbes, HTC's head of UX, Drew Bamford said the following about Sense and WP7:
We have a good relationship with Microsoft so we’re continuing to work with them to figure out how to enable a Sense experience without breaking their model...Our expectation is that we will be able to do more over time.
Well, maybe even they don't know. But from an earlier report, HTC did talk about how they "...will innovate differently to improve the experience and to get some HTC unique and differentiated experience on Windows Phone 7 in the future." Once again vague.
So we'll continue to wait but to be honest, while we dig their mini-apps, we're not looking to replace our new UI anytime soon. But hey HTC, we'll see what you can do.
Billed as the world's best news reader exclusively for Windows Phone Weave has some big shoes to fill. Sele Games has put together a very comprehensive, easy to navigate around, stable news reader for Windows Phone 7.
Weave pulls from sources such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, ESPN, and USA Today. You can also add feeds by topic or specific websites. Weave also includes Facebook and Twitter integration.
Weave is priced at $3.99 and to see if it's worth the bucks and fits the billing, ease on past the break.
Windows Phone 7’s launch in Thailand yesterday was a monumental success, selling out immediately. Microsoft, partnering with HTC and Dtac, released the WP7-powered HTC HD7 to eager consumers, making Thailand the fifth country in the world to have WP7. [Well, maybe they count countries differently in Thailand, but last we checked, WP7 is in over 30 countries right now -ed]
HTC offered the phone at a price of 22,900 baht (about $760) with a 3GB monthly plan for 799 baht (about $26.50). According to HTC’s Nattawat Woranoppakul, the Surround was originally considered, but passed up for the HD7’s larger screen, better speakers and smaller form factor.
As we reported previously, Microsoft will not be providing WP7 Asian Language Support until the second half of 2011, so in the meantime, the HD7 is using an HTC application which makes Thai language support possible.
Do you like racing? Do you like racing through endless tunnels while rotating around at high speeds, losing all sense of up or down, while inducing nausea?
Then "Descent" by RH Computing is for you.
Just released to the Marketplace and fetching for $0.99 (+ trial), the game is a load of fun and will test your skills as you try to dodge obstacles, gain energy orbs and ramp up your speed. Make no mistake, not only is it a blast but it will take time to get good at it. Plus the graphics are nice and smooth as you can see from the video above. Hey, for a buck, we can think of worse things to spend your money one, so maybe give this a shot.
Grab the demo here in the Marketplace. Hit us up in comments for your thoughts on the game.
Windows Phone 7 custom ROM development got a big boost today with the advancement in two areas:
Custom ROM Image Editor (by AnDim)
Mixing of HTC ROM images & different radios (by ansar.ath.gr)
The former is what you see above and is basically a simple GUI for manipulation of ROM images, making custom ROM development that much easier. Basically it allows for the "...extraction, replacement, addition, removal" of ROM files. This is still in testing and therefore limited (only read and extract functions) but it's a big step in the process.
The other news comes by way of XDA member ansar.ath.gr. A few days ago, he garnered some attention by successfully swapping ROM images from one HTC WP7 device to another. Today, he has gone further by manipulating radio images as well. He notes:
This is a custom ROM not signed with the new and yet not completely hacked MS WP7 signer. If this is true for all operators and spl's then the game just started.
...Now there is a way to flash only the radio from other operators
Once again, for practical matters, this means little for even those who are itching to flash a new ROM. What it does mean is that progress is being made to allow custom flashing of different regional ROMs, radios and mixing and matching. Although significant, we have to wonder just how much improvement will come down the pike from such maniuplation. Still, it's fun to watch as we know these guys will keep at it, no matter what obstacles they face.
We knew from a few months ago that SHAPE Services, the developers of the popular instant messaging utility IM+, were committed to a Windows Phone 7 client. Since that time, we have not heard much more about it, but at least according to one report, it's far from dead.
I just got word from my person at Shape Services. They are testing IM+ for Windows Phone 7 internally, so it's not vaporware, and are planning to drop it on us in "January-February." Horray!
While not an official statement from SHAPE Service, it looks like it will have to do until we hear more. Nabil also speculates about some of the (well known) issues that IM developers may face when building for WP7:
Currently, WP7 doesn't support independent sockets. What that means is that you can't just connect to ports and services. WP7 supports HTTP and HTTPS connections right now. Until we get socket support, we can't connect to the actual IM servers. We need to connect to a proxy server first.
The rest of the story is that Microsoft is, according to reports from various blogs, releasing the API during the first round of updates, so possibly in January, but more likely in February.
He also notes the same issue applies for Skype and Pandora (although Slacker Radio and IheartRadio seem to be doing just fine). Regardless of the reason, we're fairly confident that early 2011 will bring lots of radical improvements through those "several updates" in the next couple of months.
Break.com, that site with an endless supply of "viral" videos, first came out with their Windows Phone 7 app in October. Unfortunately, most reviews weren't so hot. Good for them that their v1.1, released today, seems to working quite well. The app has a Live tile, but it's one of those "for aesthetics only" types where it merely downloads a new video image. Still, we like variation on our Today screen, so we'll take it, thank you very much.
There's still no way to search (boo) or share videos (boo x2) but for just watching silly viral clips, it gets an 'A'. Even over 3G the vids look buttery smooth on our end, making this very useful on the go. We'll also say that their UI design is quite swanky for a freebie.
Hey, we're always up for wasting time on our mobile, after all what is a 3G enabled smartphone for but to distract us from life's mundane rituals? So we'll give this app a "recommend", especially if you like to laugh at stupid stuff. We sure do.
We'll just leave this foolery here for you to ponder. For those who need context, you're welcome. Does it mean anything that ours goes for half the price as compared to the iPhone? Oh and don't forget tax on top of that $499 too.
SPB Software was a major developer on the Windows Mobile front but with the design of Windows Phone 7, we haven't seen any transition by SPB to WP7. Earlier we reported that SPB was waiting to see demand from users first. Still curious as to whether or not Windows Phone 7 was on SPB's drawing board, we decided to reach out to the developer and received the following response from SPB.
For sure we are planning to port some of our applications to Windows Phone 7. Some of them would work very well on it (e. g. SPB Wallet, SPB Finance), for others porting might not have much sense (e. g. SPB Mobile Shell).
Seeing that there is still the possibility of SPB titles transitioning to Windows Phone 7, what titles would you like to see SPB offer for WP7? I wouldn't mind seeing SPB News, Wallet, or Traveler make the move. You could also make the case that if HTC can have a Sense Hub, why couldn't SPB have a Mobile Shell hub?
We knew the HTC HD7 had a nice screen and but in a recent screen test that pitted the Windows Phone 7 device against the iPhone 4 and Samsung Nexus S, the HD7 beat out the Super AMOLED screen of the Nexus S. While the Windows Phone was able to surpass the Nexus S, it wasn't strong enough to beat out the iPhone.
The screens were subjected to three different types of tests;
Scientific measurements using a chromameter to test the brightness, black level, and contrast ratio.
Test pattern screens used to test for color tracking errors, 24-bit color and font legibility.
Real world, anecdotal testing using 3D games and photos.
To sum up the test results:
On the HD7: "The HD7 displayed mostly accurate color; however, the color did show evidence of being washed out in certain tests. Also, the phone's gallery app may have a bandwidth problem, which resulted in blurry text in our tests. We'll need to do more testing though to confirm."
On the Nexus S: "The Nexus S saw an incredible contrast ratio thanks to its OLED screen. Also, it displayed fonts smoothly and legibly and passed the Coke can test with only minimal dithering. Unfortunately the Nexus S failed in most of our other tests, especially color tracking, white level saturation, and false contouring. The Nexus S was the least impressive of the three."
On the iPhone: "The iPhone 4 was the best overall performer of the three phones we tested. The iPhone 4 was capable of displaying 24-bit color and was able to display colors in games and pictures with pop and life while still being accurate. The iPhone 4 won in most of our scientific tests and also had the best performance overall in our real-world tests. Once again, the iPhone 4 has the best smartphone screen on the market."
It's great to see the HTC screen measure up so well. However, with our experience with the Super AMOLED screen of the Samsung Focus (which we think is very good), it was a little surprising to see that the Nexus's screen was the least impressive of the three. I'd be curious to see how well the Focus's Super AMOLED screen would have faired?
Ever wanted to just rip apart your Samsung Focus and check out all of the innards? Yeah, neither did we, but looks like the fine folks at TechRepublic have decided to do it for us. Nice.
In a large series of photographs, they take a fully-functional Focus and disassemble all the PCB boards and reveal the abundant chips on board from Qualcomm, Micron, Fairchild, SiliconBlue, Avago, and Skyworks, some of which we list below:
Fairchild Semiconductor FSA9280A USB 2.0 switch
SanDisk SDIN4C2-8G 8GB NAND flash RAM
Samsung SWB-B23 Bluetooth IC
1.0GHz Qualcomm QSD8250 Snapdragon processor
Qualcomm PM7540 power management
The interesting part is the usage of Sandisk NAND memory as opposed to Samsung's own high performance variant which features "...the industry’s first 20nm-based NAND flash chips". Instead, the Sandisk is the older 32nm, which is not nearly as fast as the newer stuff. But hey, no complaints on our end, though it would have been nice, no?
Max and the Magic Marker, another WiiWare title ported to WP7, currently has the most positive user-submitted reviews that I've read from any of the games in the Xbox Live Arcade Marketplace. There's a really good reason for that. It's a great game with an appeal for a wide demographic. Youngsters will love the vibrant, imaginative gameplay and the cool characters. Cold-hearted cynics, like yours truly, will really get a kick out of the seamless combination of platforming and puzzle-solving mechanics that work phenomenally well with the little-big-kid heroics of the blissfully unfolding plot.
Read on to discover why Max deserves the hype and why the term 'magic marker' instead of just 'marker' became common vernacular.
Although we prefer AppFinder for searching the Marketplace for new wares, it's nice to know Microsoft is still tweaking things a lil' bit on their end. Evidently, in the last 24hrs, Microsoft has added keyword-search to the Marketplace, making it very slightly easier to find apps based on topic as opposed to just searching by title alone.
As you can see in the image to the left, searching for Google brings up a few apps with Google not in the title, which is probably a welcome feature for developers too. But as you can also see, music still pops up to confuse your results, which leads us back to AppFinder...