Developers

Starting with Windows Phone 8.1 users can select a background wallpaper for their Start screen. The trick only works with apps that have a transparent Live Tile, which has resulted in a massive push by fans for more apps with those see-through Tiles. But like all things in life, sometimes it goes too far. For instance, many people have – rightly – complained that they liked those 'signature' colors for certain apps because it made finding them easier. I agree.

What's the best way to rectify the situation? Give users a choice. Here's how to do it.

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Microsoft's June XDK release for Xbox brings more flexible performance to gaming at the discretion of developers. Director of Development, Xbox Software Engineering Kareem Choudhry revealed that developers now have access to more GPU bandwidth that could help boost gaming performance when resources are not used or tied up.

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Ready to find out how the Windows Phone Store and Windows Store are doing? Microsoft has just published a report showing trends for the two platforms. We learn a lot of interesting things in the post. For example, did you know that low-memory devices, like the Lumia 520, lead in app downloads? Highlights after the break.

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If you’re a Windows Phone user, probably one of the cooler things you’re noticing these days are apps labeled as ‘Made for Windows Phones and Windows PCs. Is there anything more satisfying than having the same experience on your phone and PC? Today, Microsoft added another notch with the release of their Channel 9 app for Windows Phone. The app had been on Windows 8 for a while but now Phone users can get in on the action.

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Two weeks ago I told you about the Boston Microsoft Developer Group, which helps Windows Phone and Windows developers make their apps better. The group holds monthly, informal meetings where guest speakers share tips, you can mingle with other devs, have some food and win prizes. They’re always fun and a great way to meet your fellow developers for further insight.

Tonight is the meeting for May and Microsoft is sponsoring it. Last we checked, there are over 130 of you RSVP’d and we’ve been informed a few more spots are open (you don’t need to RSVP, as you can just walk in, though it’s easier if you’re ‘on the list’).

What’s more, you’re not-so cuddly editor in chief will be present, giving a talk on Windows Phone and its future! Here are the full details of tonight’s plan…

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Adobe releases PhoneGap Developer for Windows Phone

We wish Adobe had more apps out there for Windows Phone. They’ve had Adobe Reader out for a long time and today just released a new app. Sorry, it’s not Photoshop or Lightroom for your phone. Instead it’s an app called PhoneGap Developer. Surprise. It’s aimed squarely at any Windows Phone developer using PhoneGap to make apps.

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AdDuplex has kicked off the next month in the Every Phone They Make campaign, which will be rewarding developers with a chance to win a Lumia 625 and Lumia 820 for simply marketing their apps with AdDuplex. It's a great program for those who have apps submitted to the stores to win some awesome prizes. What's more is for the month of May, AdDuplex is also giving away a Lumia 1020 to the general public.

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Microsoft is set to host a "Best of Build" event for those who reside in India who may have missed the massive event, which took place last month. If you're interested in Microsoft Visual Studio 2013, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.1, the company will have the event running from 7 May 2014 at 3:00pm (GMT+5:30) through 8 May 4:00pm, with a session per week on every Wednesday.

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If you live in New England, then you may want to pencil in Tuesday, May 13, 2014 to attend the Boston Microsoft Windows 8.1 & Phone App Developers Group, sponsored by Microsoft. It looks to be an exciting night where the future of Windows Mobile, including RT and Phone, will be discussed by numerous experts.

In addition, there will be hands-on with the latest devices, food and prizes. Plus, I’ll be there giving a talk on ‘The challenge to catch up: Windows Phone, features and market share'. Best part? It’s free.

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Microsoft does a pretty good job of courting developers and keeping them happy in the Windows Phone and Windows ecosystem. They produce a ton of content and resources to make developers successful in their ecosystem. Appy Mondays is a new program that you can watch live on Channel 9 or YouTube. The content will focus on new apps and development tricks. There's also a new contest going on that will give out developers prizes for developing apps for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1. We're full of developer information after the break!

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SURVEY ENTRIES NOW CLOSED

Hey developers! If you have ten minutes to spare today and happen to want a new smartphone (who doesn't?), then we have something for you: The Developer Economics Survey. Brought to you by our friends at Vision Mobile, this quick survey focuses on developer questions around the things that are important to developers: platforms, frameworks, customers, and more.

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This is one of those Windows Phone 8.1 changes that will only affect like 0.1% of you, though it’s still interesting if you’re into security and what may be best described as piracy.

Last summer, we ran a controversial story about how to install OEM exclusive apps to your Windows Phone. Those apps are always ‘free’ though they are in theory subsidized by your purchase of that OEM’s phone. There was a method used where you can spoof your Nokia Lumia to look like a Samsung one, or vice versa.

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Did you know Nokia does more than make phones? They also help developers from large companies to the indie guy who’s just getting his feet wet. Their group to do this is dubbed DVLUP (www.dvlup.com), and they’ve grown to be quite a massive – and important – part of the Windows Phone ecosystem.

Their ongoing DVLUP Days program is a way for you to learn new skills and talk to the experts who will show you how to either make an app or make your app even better. It’s a phenomenal and FREE event, in which you can even nab yourself a free Windows Phone (if you publish your creation in three weeks) and some other goodies.

The event will be in San Diego this weekend, but that’s at capacity (sorry!). Luckily, Toronto and Dallas are still a go, and we have all the details below!

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We’re very excited to see what developers can do by integrating their apps with Cortana. It’s a very promising future for those on Windows Phone 8.1. One developer has already started to play around with Cortana. Matt Cavanagh, a guy from South Africa who is well-known in the Windows Phone developer scene, has hooked up Cortana to control his lights. Check the video after the break.

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Back in late February Microsoft announced that nine new OEMs would be joining the Windows Phone ecosystem. It also announced a new site, oem.windowsphone.com, for OEMs to get information and learn how to bring Windows Phone devices to market quickly. Companies like HTC and Samsung won’t really need this portal. That site is now live and potential OEMs can get the help they need to build and ship a new Windows Phone.

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It was just this weekend that Microsoft unified pricing tiers to help make universal apps easier, and today they've opened the floodgates to developers and are now accepting Windows Phone 8.1 and universal apps for review. As a refresher, universal apps take advantage of new frameworks in Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 to allow developers to build apps once and deploy them across both platforms.

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Microsoft will be kicking off a new worldwide campaign for developers to help drive some new apps and games to its app stores. Next month, the company will host a number of day events for content creators to pop along and receive some advice and support from experts.

Attending the days, developers will enjoy free consulting time with a Microsoft engineer who will provide guidance on a number of Windows development related topics – perfect if you're eyeing up the Windows and Windows Phone ecosystems for your next deployment.

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Bookmark this: Microsoft's highlights from Build 2014

We’re still recovering from Microsoft’s //BUILD/ conference from last week. Build 2014 was the event that Microsoft finally showed us Windows Phone 8.1 for the first time publically. It was also full of information for developers throughout the week at all the various sessions. Microsoft has compiled a really handy recap of the event last week.

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One particularly interesting talk out of Build showcased Microsoft’s plan to bring Windows Phone into the car with a new embedded software concept. The idea here will be to project the data from the phone onto the dash display in a usable, safe format, but as you can see, a lot of the Windows visual style is retained. This is great, considering most embedded car system interfaces (Microsoft’s included) are pretty ugly.

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We've heard of the past successes of the Windows Phone App Studio, but today Microsoft is announcing an update. The number 1 question has apparently been; what about Windows apps? Folks asking that need worry no longer and say hello to the unified Windows App Studio.

The beta release is available for use from today – see the source link down below for more – and allows you the ability to create a universal project resulting in both Windows Phone and Windows apps in the same session. Pretty nifty.

Also of note:

New in this release, we’ve added the ability to build a template that allows you to wrap a mobile website into an app, and add native controls, called a WebApp. By simply entering the URL of the mobile website, you can create a Web App Template (WAT) for Windows Phone. This option is currently not available for Windows apps.

You'll still be able to download your finished apps directly to your devices, as well as getting them in packaged and source code form if you should wish. And if you're wanting to publish your apps to the store, don't forget to register for a Developer account first. After the recent announcements at Build, this is good news to be hearing. Get to creatin'!

Source: Microsoft Windows App Studio Beta

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