Developers

Modern UI Elements

With the official launch of Windows 8 on October 26'th, things in the developer world are heating up. Microsoft has been furiously getting quality apps onto the Windows Store via their App Excellence program, and devs have been touching up their XAML skills. And why wouldn't they be? With a potential market this big, any developer would be silly to not be planning to get something onto the store at some stage.

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Casual Connect Seattle lead
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Windows Phone at Casual Connect Seattle Wrap-up

It’s a bit late in coming, but at last we have an official wrap-up of our time spent at Casual Connect Seattle this year. Unlike the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), which is a console-focused event, Casual Connect centers around casual games – a ‘genre’ or subset found mostly on smartphones, tablets, and PCs.  As such, we ventured forth in hopes of scoring some juicy Windows Phone games coverage as well as gauging the casual gaming industry’s feelings towards Microsoft’s smartphone platform in general.

Head past the break to see what we learned, plus links to all of our exclusive Casual Connect coverage!

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Wordament lead

Microsoft themselves didn’t have as much of a presence at Casual Connect Seattle this year as we would’ve liked, but they did stage a fascinating presentation on the effects that switching to Xbox Live has had on popular free word game Wordament. We all know Xbox Live has helped Wordament become more popular, but the specific benefits and results of the switch are extremely encouraging and could have wide-ranging effects on future Windows Phone games.

Windows Phone Central has the full presentation video to share, plus a detailed summary and anaylsis. Check it out after the break.

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WP Central

We usually don’t cover these types of stories, especially since there will be many, many avenues for Windows 8 Desktop to become available over the next few weeks, but what the heck.

If you’re a DreamSpark Premium member e.g. a college student or professor engaged in science, math, engineering or other programs sponsored through the DreamSpark program. Earlier prediction via Neowin suggested the 25th was the release date, so it's a bit early. Still, if you’re a DSP member, head here to grab your order. Thanks, Jey Si, for the tip

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Unity Engine Coming to Windows Phone 8

The keynote address for Unite 12 has seen the announcement that Windows Phone 8 will get full support for the Unity engine.  Unity is a very popular engine and it was notably absent from the Windows Phone 8 announcement. The next version of the OS looks to be getting some excellent gaming support with native code and these powerful rendering engines.

The engine is used to power a host of games across and number of platforms and hopefully this means rapid porting of those games to WP8 devices. Unity is one of the top engines on the market so this support is pretty exciting for Windows Phone. 

Here is what David Helgason, CEO of Unity Technologies, had to say on Windows Phone 8.

 “Our mission at Unity has always been to provide solutions for developers to effortlessly bring their work to as many different platforms as possible. The Unity community has been asking for access to Windows Phones and have been eagerly anticipating the release of Windows 8. We’re happy to announce that we will support both.”

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WP Central

Me pondering what we look for from developers

If you’re a Windows Phone developer and want a peek behind the current on Windows Phone Central and our process on app reviews, you’ll want to head to the AdDuplex blog. AdDuplex as many of you know powers the developer promotion network behind many Windows Phone apps (and now Windows 8) and the service’s creator, Alan Mendelevich, was curious as to what we look for when developers contacts us.

Ah yes, the table has turned as we’re the ones being interviewed!

The conversation was with myself and Alan asks some really great questions, such as how many app-review requests we get, what we look for in those emails, are dedicated app-websites beneficial and more. Basically if you’re a developer it’s a roadmap on how best to get your app noticed by us for a potential review. (The first step though is the app or game better be good).

You can read that full interview here at the AdDuplex blog. And if you’re more curious about Alan and his role in Windows Phone, you can read our interview with him from February.

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WP Central

O iPlayer, Where Art Thou?

The on again, off again saga of iPlayer for the BBC and Windows Phone has been toying with anxious readers for months now. At first the Inquirer said it was coming and then Pocket-lint effectively squashed that rumor just three days later, leaving consumers with little hope for an effective media solution.

The hope was always that Nokia would some how come in and save the day for Windows Phone users but alas, that does not seem to be the case. One of our readers, Paul A., emailed the BBC asking for information as to their reasons for not supporting Windows Phone. Surprisingly, Daniel Danker who is the General Manager of Programmes & On Demand for the BBC gave a very thorough response to Paul’s question as to why there is no Windows Phone support.

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WP Central

Give us that sweet, sweet native code

Okay, we’re going to be honest here (and snarky) as we’re not that psyched for a landing page, in fact we can’t believe we’re writing this story. But for developers out there itching to get their hands on the new SDK for Windows Phone 8, we do like to throw them a bone every once in awhile to get them excited.

Yes, evidently last night developer Robert McLaws managed to find the elusive page which is now serving as a place-holder until Microsoft gives the green light for its release.  The page can be found at https://dev.windowsphone.com/en-us/featured/windows-phone-8-sdk, which depending on how much of a nerd you are may or may not get your blood pumping (we won’t judge as we stayed up watching anime till 6am last night).

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API 1.1 Twitter playing with the changes

Twitter has announced some sweeping changes to their all-important application programming interface or just API. This API is essential plumbing to allow application developers access to the “fire hose” of data from twitter. It has been no secret that Twitter wish to tighten their grip ever more over whom can access their system. With their latest set of guidelines, they show they mean business.

As Windows Phone users, we are literally spoilt for choice when it comes to third party twitter apps, with the likes of Rowi, Carbon, glƏƏk!, Mehdoh and Birdsong (to name drop a few). The new API could mean real headaches for those trying to differentiate with their Twitter client...

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WP Central

Marketplace fix has been applied but it may take a day or two deploy

As expected, Microsoft has begun deploying the digital certificate fix for the Marketplace that has resulted in some Windows Phone users unable to either install or update a select few apps (notably WhatsApp, NY Times and Translator). In a recent change to the Windows Phone Developer Blog, Todd Brix notes:

“We fixed the digital certificate problem and last evening resumed publishing new apps. It will take a day or two for the repair to fully deploy and newly-published apps to begin appearing in Marketplace again.  If your app was in the process of being published, you don’t need to take any action.  We have applied the fix and the app will continue through the certification and publishing workflow as normal.”

Of course as mentioned above that does not mean you can now instantly re-install or update those apps with issues as it can take time for the changes to rollout across their servers. Still, users should be begin to see updates by the end of the weekend.

Let us know in comments if you have had any success. Thanks, ThisIsMetro, for the heads up

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Windows 8 RTM, new version released

Microsoft has released a fresh version of Windows 8 release to manufacturers (RTM) for MSDN subscribers. For those who are Windows 8 developers but not subscribers, Microsoft has also released a 90 day evaluation version of Windows 8.

Still slated for release on October 26th, this is the final version of Windows 8.

A few notes about the 90 day evaluation copy is that it can not be upgraded and, obviously, will expire. To upgrade, you'll need to uninstall the evaluation copy and a non-evaluation version of Windows 8 must be installed.

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WP Central

Update: The anti-metro wording has now been removed from the MSDN site and sources have told us that in fact, that wording had always been there but was just noticed today. Microsoft has no guidance for us on this matter meaning so far it does not seem to be affecting Windows Phone or Windows 8 developers. 

It looks like the other shoe has dropped on the ongoing yet nearly silent saga of the Metro-name for Microsoft. Previous reports suggested that Microsoft were instructing employees to stop using the word ‘Metro’ in describing their new UI paradigm. That UI grew out of Windows Phone and has now taken over Windows 8 desktop and the Xbox 360. The reason for the change was allegedly inspired by a complaint by the German company MetroAG.

Reports also began circulating that Microsoft would soon begin scrubbing the name Metro from all developer documentation and would start to use either ‘modern’, ‘modern UI’ or ‘Windows 8 style’ instead. But the question naturally forced itself into an ugly area: What about current apps with Metro in the name?

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WP Central

Explained: A familiar error message for some Windows Phone users

Ever since WhatsApp was pulled and then re-released this past weekend, we have had a small deluge in complaints from users that they cannot install the update. Instead, they are greeted with the above error message, resulting in user frustration. What’s more, uninstalling the app, resetting the phone and dancing around in a circle did not fix the problem either.

We’ve been trying to figure out exactly why some users have the problem while others, including ourselves, do not. Just as interestingly, we wanted to know which apps were exhibiting the error.

Microsoft has now detailed the problem on the Windows Phone Blog and there’s good news and some bad news. The good news is they acknowledge that there is an issue and they even know what is causing it. As it turns out, there are some problems with certificates for new apps published in the Marketplace within the last week. 

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WP Central

The new SkyDrive login screen

Two weeks ago Hotmail became Outlook.com with a new Metro…errr..modern look to it and now it is finally time for SkyDrive to get the same makeover.

Heading to www.skydrive.com you can see the new site redesign (log out and refresh if you are not seeing it) that brings it up to par with the Windows 8, Windows Phone and Outlook’s new appearance. And yes, Microsoft is not calling it Metro but rather are using ‘modern’ instead—take that as you will.

Besides the new look, SkyDrive also gets some new features on board including instant search, contextual toolbar, thumbnail multi-select, drag-and-drop organization, and HTML5 sorting which should make the service is more fun to use.

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WP Central

WP Central

Although the Windows Phone 8 software development kit (SDK) was leaked a few weeks ago, allowing us to go through it like drug-starved loonies, the big question on everyone's mind is When will Microsoft actually release the package to developers?

As one can imagine, SDKs do take quite a lot of work to put together. There are APIs to lockdown, questions and answers to be formulated and it all needs to be written up so that developers will have an easy ‘cookbook’ for making apps. In that regard, we can see why it would take the Windows Phone Team some time to put one together.

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Dev Center

Software piracy is a serious battle, which can also affect our beloved platform developers. Microsoft has taken action by automatically applying encryption to all apps through the newly unveiled Dev Center. According to a detailed post on the Windows Phone Developer Blog, Todd Brix states that all apps (including those already submitted) are automatically encrypted without user input.

We first heard about the possibility of server-side encryption back in November, 2011. From our understanding, Microsoft was waiting until everyone was on Mango to implement that feature and it now looks to have happened. If you recall, at the end of April Microsoft decreed that you had to have Windows Phone 7.5 to get to the Marketplace. Combined with the Dev Center refresh, we think that transition for encryption is now complete.

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WPDevCon

WPDevCon is an independent developer conference, which was is to be held in San Francisco later this year. We previously covered the announcement of plans to hold the first independent event focusing solely on Windows Phone development. It's set to be a bash with over 50 classes and workshops, not to mention a number of speakers attending.

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Lumia 800 Dev Center

Microsoft today has announced the replacement for the App Hub dev portal. It's said to have been months in the making and having the underpinnings of a more robust and scalable backend the site is available to use now.

Among new feature highlights, the new website includes support of PayPal to pay for your developer account as well as be paid from the Marketplace. You are also now able to choose unique prices for each region as well as conduct far bigger beta tests encompassing thousands of testers if needed.

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Mush WPDD Presentation

Windows Phone Central was at the recent WPDD event in Bournemouth on the Saturday just gone where a number of developers presented their apps and projects or gave advice to inspire attendees and showcase what they've been up to. Among the presenting developers were Ahmed Zaman and Henry Hoffman from Angry Mango, the team who brought us the Xbox LIVE for Windows Phone title Mush.

If you're not familiar with Mush, it's a charming puzzle game that is focused on alternating between moods, which can be drawn on-screen. The cute little character reflects whichever mood you decide, and each mood will bring unique abilities (for example: draw a smile and he'll float through being so elated). Mush is much like ilomilo in the sense the player can't die so the game focuses more on the gameplay and puzzle aspects.

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AdDuplex Windows 8

AdDuplex, the Windows Phone developer promotion network, has announced its expansion to support Windows 8. The service enables developers to advertise their app in other applications who have the advertisement code implemented. It's not primarily a money-making scheme, but more for promotional and app awareness, something which is vital on any mobile platform.

With the announced support for Microsoft's upcoming desktop OS, the network will expand to accommodate developers who will seek to use the service for apps on the Windows Marketplace. Being cross-platform, AdDuplex provides a consistency across both mobile and the desktop, making it easier for developers to drive traffic to their projects.

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Eros Resmini of GREE

Japanese social gaming giant GREE International made a big splash at E3 this year. Nobody expected a massive booth dedicated to mobile gaming at the console centric show, but GREE’s booth outshined many a console publisher’s. And that’s to say nothing of their party at Club Nokia.

GREE had a strong presence at Casual Connect Seattle as well, though their focus as more on developer relations than showing off an arsenal of quality mobile games. Currently GREE’s ‘platform’ extends only to iOS and Android, but we can’t help wishing for some of their games to land on Windows Phone as well. That’s just one of the things we discussed with Eros Resmini, GREE’s SVP of Developer Relations and Marketing. Video interview after the break!

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WP Central

In a new study just released tonight, Appcelerator and IDC surveyed 3,632 'Appcelerator Titanium' developers from May 11-18, 2012 on their plans for app development now and in the future. Though not a survey of consumer demand the data is but one piece of the bigger picture of how Windows Phone (and Android, iOS, BlackBerry and webOS) is fairing amongst developers. For that reason, it should be considered as a metric but not necessarily the only one to measure interest or future success.

The news is not very good for Windows Phone but there is some light at the end of the tunnel for the future iterations of the OS, specifically the ‘Apollo’ update coming later this year.  That's interesting as Windows Phone has been coasting on ‘hope’ for nearly two years now and developers have not yet completely abandoned it, seeing weakness in Android.

For a complete run down, head past the break…

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