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3 years ago

Windows Phone App Review: Simply TileMatch

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3 years ago

Audible for Windows Phone is certainly possible, so where is it?

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I like experimenting and tinkering with software. A lot like how a circuit bender tries to get electronics to emit beautiful music, I attempt to coerce software into doing things it wasn’t designed to do. Often, like my recent Windows Phone Hackathon, I fail spectacularly. But rarely, I do make notable progress. Cue Audible.

Audible.com (Audible for short) is a service owned by Amazon that provides digital audio books. They put out software that works across a slew of devices such as the iPod, Kindle Fire, Blackberry, and even PC. Old hats may even recall that Audible supported Windows Mobile 5 devices such as the HP iPAQ Pocket PC. One platform void of support, however, is Windows Phone.

We – along with our readers – have been keeping the pressure on Audible for quite some time now, to no avail. Support technicians would say an app is in the works but has no ETA. Now they're saying this month. Who knows when this is really coming out? More importantly, what’s taking so long?

I sat down one day and decided to figure out why this was taking so long, or at least try. I started by downloading the old Windows Mobile 5 software. In the dusty CAB were a number of skins and resources, to support the fragmented Windows Mobile market, along with some key application files. Disassembling the Audible Player executable revealed they all relied on a single dynamic link library (DLL) to perform all the needed functions: AAXSDKWin.dll.

AAXSDKWin.dll is a library compiled for devices containing a StrongARM processor, like the iPAQ mentioned earlier. Without going too deep, it was compiled using an instruction set (ARM4i) that is still used in today’s ARM (e.g. Cortex) processors. At this point, you’re probably thinking “Hey… doesn’t Windows Phone sit on top of ARM too?” Yep, it sure does.

I took the library and started weeks of disassembly, study, and boozing, excruciatingly dissecting bit after bit until I had enough of their APIs worked out to use the damn thing in a proof of concept. I jiggered it into a Silverlight for Windows Phone application project and deployed it onto my Samsung Focus test phone. I was able successfully parse an Audible book and light up my UI with relevant metadata (e.g. title, author, etc.). I remember thinking “Holy crap, it worked.” (The app shot below is not a functional application.)

How Audible for Windows Phone could look like.

I continued my research efforts, with the goal of playing a book in mind, but stopped short for two reasons: One, Audible’s books are protected with a DRM scheme. This meant I needed to reverse engineer their account activation, authentication, and decryption logic – something I wasn’t keen on doing. Two, we reported that Audible was warming up for a late March release. I had no intention of busting hump to later be superseded by a better and official application. But with the success of the concept application, I couldn’t answer the original question – What’s taking Audible so long to put out an app?

I can only surmise as to why. We know getting legitimate native access on Windows Phone is easy and possible. I also know that all the APIs they need are there. So from a technical perspective, an Audible app is possible. But perhaps Amazon, in a move to increase Kindle interest, decided to not continue porting Audible to newer mobile devices. Or maybe there’s some behind-the-scenes political or logistical clashing we’re not privy to. Or more likely, Audible just didn’t have the Windows Phone marketplace numbers to justify paying a team to rework their ancient source code into something usable on Windows Phone.

Regardless, an Audible application official or otherwise is coming.

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3 years ago

From the Forums: Mobile World Congress 2012 Roundup

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Mobile World Congress 2012 has ended and we got a lot of news out of the event but not necessarily what you were hoping. We have some threads from Forums Members that are skeptical about the future of Windows Phone. For instance, in  "Ride the boat till it sinks, or jump ship?" forums member DizztMaker predicts the end of Windows Phone.

We also have a discussion about Microsoft, Nokia and what they would do (or more importantly wouldn't do) at MWC 2012 in: Prediction: Microsoft/Nokia will disappoint at MWC Without the announcement of a new high end windows phone and without news about Windows Phone 8 (aka "Apollo") was MWC 2012 a success? We think Microsoft has done enough to silence some of the critics. For example, we have a new device from Nokia, the Lumia 610, we also have a new device from ZTE, the Orbit,  both of which are low-end/emerging market devices more suited to the upcoming release of "Tango".

We also learned this week that Microsoft is opening up in 23 new markets. All that combined has the future of Windows Phone looking up, telling us that Microsoft is in it for the (very) long haul. We don't yet have a clear picture of the future so we are discussing that as well in threads like this one: Windows Phone 7's Upgrade to WP8 Apollo Now Unclear, which is sure to elicit some heated discussion.

 

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3 years ago

Official Qantas Windows Phone app almost here

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It has been almost a year since we last heard of an official Qantas app being developed for Windows Phone at MIX '11 (see our wrap up for more details). We've now caught word from their Twitter account that the app, which has been somewhat-delayed, will be available this month (March).

Windows Phone owners who use Australia's flag carrier to hop between countries will be pleased to learn that development of the app is at a stage where it's ready to be submitted and / or approved. The Qantas Windows Phone app will enable users to view upcoming flight times, quickest routes to airports, check into a flight, and more.

We'll update with a follow-up post when the app has been released with more details (and screenshots) available, so keep an eye on this space.

Source: @GCrance1982; thanks Geoff for the tip!

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3 years ago

New Xbox LIVE games for Windows Phone: Sid Meier’s Pirates & Civilization Revolution

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Good news for those of you who enjoy Sid Meier’s work on lush and detailed strategy games, we'll be getting not one but two offerings sporting his name:

  • “Civilization Revolution” (2K) – Award winning Sid Meier’s “Civilization Revolution” is coming to Windows Phone! Build, Discover, Rule the world.
  • Pirates!” – Sid Meier’s “Pirates!” is an exciting high-seas adventure overflowing with intense pirate action and a treasure chest of gameplay riches!

Those titles should be familiar to those who indulge in strategy games as they are both ports from other systems, but that shouldn't stop the excitement as they are considered to be solid games.

Pirates! is already available on Xbox 360 (since 2005) so you can go ahead and try that now to get an idea for the game. The original Pirates! goes back to 1987 but was re-released and updated in 2004 and it is still getting ported to new platforms (including the iPad). It's your normal sail around the world, engage in battles and grab some booty game.

Civilization Revolution, known as the game Meier's "always wanted to make", is widely available on multiple platforms and continues the Civilization/empire building turn-based-strategy stylings of previous games in the same series.

No word on release dates but we imagine it will be sometime this Spring, giving Windows Phone users plenty of options and some skilled strategy gaming.

Source: Major Nelson; Thanks, Daniel G., for the tip

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3 years ago

Verizon passes up on Nokia 'Om' Windows Phone?

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Verizon passes up on Nokia 'Om' Windows Phone?

According to sources familiar with company plans, The Verge has reported that Verizon may have passed up on a Nokia Windows Phone 7.5 handset. Microsoft Stores were ready to stock the Nokia device, codenamed "Om", late January / early February but the carrier canceled due to concerns over lack of Verizon LTE support.

If this rumour is true, Verizon will be joining Sprint where both may well be waiting for "Apollo" to introduce new Windows Phones to customers. For the mean time, the HTC Trophy will be the only Windows Phone available on Verizon. More interestingly, this info seems to contradict earlier information from Paul Thurrott who noted that a Lumia 710 (with no LTE) was headed to Big Red sooner than later.

Either way, this is not good news for those on CDMA in the US who want a modern Windows Phone.

Source: The Verge; thanks Craig for the heads up!

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3 years ago

Nokia still needs a cheaper phone to compete with Android

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Although one would think the Lumia 610 goes far enough to compete with low-end Android devices for emerging markets, according to Niklas Savander, executive vice-president at Nokia, covering Brand, Marketing, Sales, Supply Chain, Customer Care and Information Technology, they still need to go lower:

"We are competing with Android, Android is in many markets at the €100 price already, so that would suggest that if we are at €189 with the Lumia 610 we still have work to do when it comes to creating a lower-end first-time user smartphone."

That's certainly a tall order as the Lumia 610 already ditches things like gyroscope (compass?), ClearBlack, some RAM, CPU speed and more. Other areas where Nokia could reduce costs though would be to newer-but-low-cost SOC chipsets, even cheaper screens and overall leveraging of existing production lines.

When we heard Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, speak at the Mobile World Congress last week, he mentioned how the sub-$100 smartphone will come next year, so clearly even Google has their eyes set on that milestone too. The question is will Nokia have to reduce features or will production of smartphone parts become cheaper to reach that point? More likely a combo of both.

Source: Pocket-Lint

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3 years ago

Windows Phone Game Review: Jewel God

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"Bejeweled on steroids" is an easy way to describe the Windows Phone game Jewel God. If you like the Bejeweled-styled games but are looking for something with more of a quicker pace to it, then Jewel God should be right up your alley.

The concept of Jewel God is very similar to Bejeweled in that you are searching for combinations of three or more of the same jewels but the pace is fast. Some may say frantic. Jewel God is a entertaining, addictive game for your Windows Phone that will definitely keep you on your toes.

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3 years ago

Check out the sights and sounds of DoDonPachi Maximum [Xbox Live]

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As we mentioned last week, Japanese developer Cave’s new shoot-em-up DoDonPachi Maximum comes to Xbox Live this Wednesday. To help promote it, Cave has opened up the game's official site. It's packed with new screens, details, and even a soundtrack sampler video.

As the teaser video hinted, Maximum is supposed to be a virtual reality simulator within the DoDonPachi universe. We had already anticipated that it would be a best-of remix of classic series stages and enemies – and indeed this version is based on DoDonPachi Blissful Death and DoDonPachi Resurrection, both of which debuted in arcades before transitioning to iOS. The music from those games has been remixed by WaSi303 and sounds great.

The graphics will take some getting used to, though. Backgrounds seem to consist of simple wireframes while enemies are rendered in GameBoy-esque dot matrix patterns. Previous games featured much more detailed visuals, making this look like a budget title in comparison. Still, gameplay is what counts and that’s one area in which Cave always delivers.

DoDonPachi Maximum arrives on Wednesday, March 7 and will cost $4.99.

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3 years ago

Windows Phone Summary of the Week: February 27 - March 4 2012

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Welcome to your Windows Phone weekly summary! Should you have somehow been absent for the past week, fear not as we've combined this daily news recap with the stories that appeared from MWC (Mobile World Congress) 2012. So strap in, hold on tight and keep your brew at hand as this is going to be a long one!

Here at Mobile Nations (the umbrella of all our sister mobile news sites) we value our readers and any feedback provided. Should you be an active contributor at one of our communities, you'll want to take part in a survey we've got running that will enable us to further improve the on-site experience. It has also been Mobile Nations fitness Month where all mobile news sites have been tasked with showing just how smartphones (and technology in general) can help shake the Christmas pies and that unwanted bingo. Be sure to take a quick gander at our cross-community roundup. As well as the roundup, we've announced winners of our fitness month challenge (with the grand prize being a shiny new Xbox 360 and Kinect).

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3 years ago

Marketplace Deals makes bargain hunting easy

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We’ve covered the WP7applist app before – it’s an excellent way to browse apps, find price drops, etc. Our friend Luigi Violin – who runs WP7applist – has another Windows Phone app that should appeal to bargain hunters out there. It’s called Marketplace Deals, and it’s free.

Marketplace Deals, as the name implies, lists games and apps that have dropped in price or gone free. Each deal category is sorted by date, so you can easily find the day’s new deals. It even labels expired deals. Categories include Popular deals, Apps Gone Free, Top Rated sale apps, Xbox Live sales, and all Deals. Tapping on an individual app or game takes you straight to its Marketplace page for download.

The Marketplace Deals app is just about everything you could want in a deal-finding app. Still, an update is just around the corner that will add the following features:

  • Live tile(s?) support
  • Option to hide expired deals from the lists
  • Share deals via social networks and/or email

Luigi loves user feedback and will be happy to include any good suggestions you send his way – just follow the app’s Contact Us link and drop him an email.

Marketplace Deals is free and supported by advertisements at the bottom of the screen. You can grab it here on the Marketplace. WP7applist is also free, and located right here.

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3 years ago

Homebrew Windows Phone Marketplace comes to all custom ROMs [Video]

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Developed by dotcmpt over at XDA, the Deepshining Marketplace was an extension of the Deepshining custom ROMs for older HTC devices like the HD7. The Marketplace took advantage of the ability to install XAP files over Internet Explore, a trick developed by the Dark Forces Team. By hosting Homebrew XAP files on his own server, dotcompt was able to deliver XAP files via his Marketplace to folks using his custom ROMs.

Now he's released the XAP for his custom, homebrew Marketplace for others to use. This means of course that you could install it on any dev unlocked phone--but be warned, installing XAPs over IE won't work making this little more than a browsing tool (with some swanky wallpapers and site links). Having said that, others who have custom ROMs by other chefs could now install this thereby taking advantage of dotcompt's nice work.

In that sense, this news is clearly for the niche user out there but it's still a great move in the right direction. The DS Marketplace is smooth and elegantly made so it deserves a little more attention from those with custom ROMs out there.

Dotcompt also released a power tool call DS Supertool that gives quick links to certain settings and even a speed dialer. That will work on any dev-unlocked phone and is worth checking out if you like new homebrew apps to play with.

Find DS Marketplace here at XDA and DS Super tool here in these threads for more info. For another take on the Hombrew Marketplace scene, take a look at our Bazaar coverage.

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3 years ago

Nokia PureView confirmed to come to the Lumia Windows Phone family

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Remember that insane Symbian cameraphone that was unveiled at this year's MWC, which blew some of us away? Looks like the PureView camera technology that provided the Nokia 808 with a 41MP shooter has been confirmed to be heading to a Windows Phone near you (check out some of our hands-on coverage to witness what this will mean for consumers).

Nokia's Jo Harlow validated the speculation that the manufacturer would be brining this technology to the Lumia Windows Phone family in an interview with Finnish newspaper Aamulehti. When queried about when we should expect to see such a device, Harlow replied with (rough translation): "I can’t say precisely when, but it will not take very long." Windows Phone Apollo (when we're more than likely to see PureView on Microsoft's platform) just got that little bit sweeter, no? 

This is sure to rock the socks off of both our George and Dan if all goes ahead. Say cheese!

Source: Aamulehti, via: e's phoneblog; thanks damthman for the tip!

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3 years ago

Lumia 800 Windows Phone available in black at Vodafone AU

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Vodafone Australia has the Lumia 800 available (only in black unfortunately) on contracts starting at just $29 /mo (cheapest plan includes a $10 /mo handset fee). The Windows Phone, which was reportedly hitting Australia in all four colours - black, white, cyan and magenta. 

While a strong choice of colour is not present at Vodafone AU, the Lumia 800 is a superb Windows Phone that has received positive reviews across the board. Should you be interested in cyan though, Optus is sporting this choice on their product list and at a more attractive price of just $19 /mo.

Source: Vodafone, Optusthanks to the anonymous tipster!

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