devs

Last year we reported on Microsoft’s Canadian initiative to spur on developers to create some great apps and in the process pick up some awesome stuff.

The system is based on points and from simply registering to publishing your app, you’ll be rewarded with some credits towards a long list of prizes. Read on past the break to see what you can get.

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The next version of Windows Phone is just around the corner, with it comes some fantastic hardware and the promise of new features. But what about the next gen apps?

While we have spent a great deal of time looking at the coming phones and peeking at the new underlying operating system did we forget that it’s the apps that matter? While we know that existing apps will work fine on the new OS, what lays in store for those dedicated Windows Phone 8 apps?

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Left: the old Store search; Right, new Store search with developer lookup

Microsoft has been hard at work “doing things” to the Windows Phone store, which in theory will improve things (so far, all we’ve heard are developer complaints about delayed app publishing).

One of those areas is now coming forward although we have yet been able to verify in the US. WPArea.de has noticed that you can now search by the developer’s name in addition to their app. In a side by side with an HTC Mozart and a Lumia 800, they found the Mozart was able to get different search results when “Kik” was entered.

On the Mozart, Kik returned the developer house first, followed by the app whereas the Lumia 800 showed the more traditional KiK Messenger as the first.

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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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71% of developers are optimistic about Windows Phone 8

A new survey today from RW Baird shows some promising news for the Windows Phone platform.  Despite some recent setbacks and still less-than-stellar adoption rates, devs are keeping their eyes on the prize with Windows Phone 8 and Microsoft’s future.

The poll shows that since the June 20thWindows Phone Summit, 71% of respondents had an increased interest in the platform because of the new Windows Phone 8 capabilities.  That’s quite a high number and we believe a smart move as the promise of overlapping development for Windows 8 Desktop, Surface and Windows Phone 8 will offer some tantalizing opportunities for increased revenue.

Regarding developers long term outlook for Windows Phone 7, devs were less enthusiastic with a noticeable decline from 6.3 (out of 10) back in Q2 2011 to just 4.2 in Q2 2012.  Why the drop? It’s actually hard to decipher as it is far from clear just what devs understand as “the future of Windows Phone 7”. From a technical standpoint, the platform is winding down but Nokia and Microsoft have promised long-term support. Microsoft has also ensured that Windows Phone 7 apps will work on 8—so are devs turning from WP7 and looking to WP8 instead? That seems to be the case.

The worst news though is aimed at RIM and their upcoming Blackberry 10 platform. Developer interest for their next gen OS is precipitously declining with only a 3.8 (out of 10) now hopeful for its long term success. RIM has responded to this report noting that they’ve published 15K apps since January and their dev camps have had robust attendance. All of that may be true but image and perception are everything and people's view of RIM’s future looks negative—that is never a good thing and hard to turnaround. (But see Crackberry for an alternative analysis).

Perhaps it’s not surprising that iOS and Android remain strong with 9.3 and 8.7 scores for developers’ faith in their long term potential with Android taking a very slight dip.  The survey data comes from 200 developers culled from a sample set of 4,300 making the numbers seemingly reliable.

The takeaway from this news would be developers clearly see Windows Phone 8 as the third ecosystem for smartphones while webOS, Symbian and RIM’s future OS are clearly either dead or floundering. That's something to be hopeful about.

Source: RW Baird; via Crackberry, All Things D

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Microsoft has finally started to talk about the highly anticipated major update to Windows Phone, codenamed Apollo. With it we get a glimpse into the brand new Windows Phone 8.0, we've had a chance to assess some of the features that are inbound with this update and for the developers out there, it's time to start getting excited about a few of the features we're going to highlight.

  • Native C++ development
  • App-to-app communication APIs
  • NFC & Bluetooth stacks
  • In-app purchasing and the Wallet

Some of the biggest news of course is the shift in the base of the system to the new 'WinPRT' (Windows Phone RunTime), a subset of Windows Phone 8 (WinRT) with a few COM and Win32 APIs available for good measure. That means that a fair amount of code written for WinRT will be directly portable to this new WinPRT based framework.

Read on past the break for our take on exactly how Microsoft has opened up a new world of development possibilities...

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Big news for the Windows Phone platform today as Aviary announced their SDK is now available for developers, allowing the integration of their free, highly regarded and powerful photo tools for apps on Windows Phone.

What this means for developers - you'll now be able to insert into your application a powerful photo editor to greatly enhance user experience, all with very little effort.

What this means for consumers -  you'll soon see an array of apps that will allow you to edit, crop, enhance and tweak your photos before sending them out for the world, all at no extra cost

The Windows Phone Aviary SDK has the following features:

  • Redesigned SDK from the ground-up to take advantage of the Metro design principles of Windows Phone
  • The same, easy integration process: add our editor to your project in as little as 15 minutes, with just a few lines of code
  • Customizable color theme
  • Controllable output size based upon developer preferences — you decide what makes the most sense for your app or service
  • … Not to mention that Aviary for Windows Phone has all the standard features as the rest of our mobile SDKs

What's more, we're pleased to announce the following launch titles will have Aviary integrated into their apps very soon:

As you can see in the video above, Rowi is one of the first apps to be getting the Aviary SDK treatment. Though version 2.1 looks like the current app in every which way, the change occurs when you try to attach a photo. You now have the option to hop right into a sophisticated photo editor which allows you to manipulate everything including brightness, sharpness, add filters, stickers, text, cropping and more.

The photo is then saved and you can Tweet as usual all without having to ever leave the Rowi Twitter app. Did we mention how good the photos look too?

More info can be found at the Aviary Blog and developers can grab the SDK here right now.

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Microsoft has announced an upcoming Windows Phone developer summit, which will be held in San Francisco on June 20-21. The company is set to activate plans to attract more developers and big-name brands to the platform. One of the major complaints with Windows Phone is the lack of popular apps that are available on competitor platforms.

Microsoft has done a good job thus far with bringing companies to Windows Phone to build apps for consumers and broaden the Marketplace inventory. Some developers are even swayed without the software giant intervening - Windows Phone owners have proven to be a stubborn bunch when it comes to showing interest in a much desired port. DrawSomething is a good example of this with the community urging the developers to support Windows Phone.

What's interesting to note about this developer summit is that it's a week before Google I/O 2012, and is even in the same city. It would be a smart move for Microsoft to make it as convenient as possible for developers on other platforms to attend their Windows Phone event. Even if the attendees show no interest in building apps, for them to actually be present during the presentations could be enough to motivate the poor souls.

We'll of course be there for the event should you not be able to make it.

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Microsoft and Nokia are looking for new Windows Phone 7.5 apps to showcase in their next UK advertising campaign.  They have kicked off a new competition in which developers can submit their apps for consideration, and if chosen, get them displayed across the UK.  Those selected will appear in banner ads, the Windows Phone Marketplace, press materials, events and social media outlets.

MS and Nokia are looking for "innovative" apps geared toward UK consumers in the following categories: casual games, kids, family, health and fitness, shopping, social, travel, and utilities.  For the time being, there are two monthly campaigns for May and June.  Submissions for the May run should be submitted no later than April 20, while entries for the June competition will be accepted until May 15.  If you have a newly-developed Windows Phone 7.5 app that you want to show off, simply go the competition website and click on "Tell Us Today."

The Appvertising competition's aim is not just to spread the word about Windows Phone, but also to engage people by enticing developers to create for their platform.  This is one more example of shrewd advertising on the parts of both Microsoft and Nokia. They have been finding new and different ways of creating interactive advertising.  Be it serving up beverages in Nokia's Amazing Vans or challenging consumers not to get Smoked by Windows Phone it's been interesting for sure.

Source: Microsoft UK

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We've been covering the launch of Windows Phone in Indonesia via the Lumia 710 and 800 for a few weeks now. Officially being released over the weekend, the launch was proceeded by numerous events to spark interest and build momentum.

One of those events was a Nokia Developer Day day sponsored by Microsoft and it was attempting to break a record with at least 800 developers coding at once for new Windows Phone apps. Now, the Indonesian Record Museum (Museum Rekor Indonesia / MURI), which is similar to Guinness for world-record keeping, has officially certified the day as a record with more than 800 devs participating in the 24-hour event.

Entered as record number 5308 in the MURI archives, the award was accepted by Narenda Wicaksono, Development Operations Manager Nokia Indonesia and Microsoft's Risman Adnan, Developer Director of Microsoft Indonesia (image above).

Nokia Developer Day was held on February 4 through the 5th at Graha Mandala Siliwangi, Bandung and seems to have been a resounding success in both gaining attention and hopefully a trove new applications for the Indonesian Marketplace. One of those apps evidently is a Reuters Kompass TV video streaming program, making it one of the first on-demand news apps for Windows Phone and it should be available to all users in the next few months.

Source: Tekno Kompass 1, 2; Nokia Developer Day image via Aca S. (@superaca); Thanks, Hermawan S., for the tip!

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Here's a very cool (and smart) tool that Nokia have created: a banner generator for your Marketplace apps.

Need a quick way to advertise your app via web banners or perhaps your website? Hop over to Nokia's generator, enter in your App URL and away you go. The system will pull in your app's info and then allow you to customize how the banner looks. You can choose which Nokia Windows Phone to display, which Tiles to show and more.

Cost? Free. Of course, Nokia gets their phone shown off now every time you advertise your app--one hand washes the other, right? Regardless, we think it's a great idea and looks snazzy.

Try it right here: http://snac.nokia.com/2/omt

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We mentioned Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Phone just over a month ago. The pet project by developer Den Delimarsky picks up where Microsoft's Channel 9 left off. In short, these are achievements...but for developers! And now you can track them easily on your Windows Phone, thanks to Den's app.

Nerd alert!

Having said that, the app itself is pretty awesome with the ability to track your achievements as well as sharing and comparing your scores to others for ultimate bragging rights.

Read more on Channel 9's Visual Studio Achievements here and read more at Den's blog over yonder.

Grab the free app here and now in the Marketplace.

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(See that big ol' rumor tag? Heed it. What we have here are some rumors from a new source, who, to be honest, is not completely verified. Having said that, what they say will be announced this week at MIX11 is in line with other things we've been hearing officially and unofficially--meaning this is all very plausible. So lets get to it...)

This coming week, Microsoft is hosting their developer conference in Las Vegas, NV, aptly called MIX. They usually announce new tools for developers and roadmaps for features there as well, so it's kind of a big deal as we get a look into what is coming next. Here are a couple of things developers can expect, we're told:

  • Interoperability: devs can now use both Silverlight and XNA inside a single app
  • Bundled SQL CE on the device
  • Full camera API access e.g. for augmented reality apps
  • Live tiles and push notifications will be improved and easier for developers to use
  • Sensor framework and controls - easier access
  • Silverlight 4 for Windows Phone
  • Full network / sockets access (we've heard this before)
  • More on 'Mango'

Like we said, none of the above is exactly crazy and we can totally see Microsoft giving Windows Phone developers these tools, which would really advance the platform. Of course, there's only one way to find out and we'll be there all week covering the event to see if any of this pans out. Fingers crossed.

Source: @WindowsPhone8 (personal communication) 

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One big complaint we hear over and over from devs is how to get their app featured in the Marketplace--you know, one of the apps listed in when you launch the store, sometimes it has a nifty panorama, or the app is feature on Microsoft's site, etc. To have your app up there, especially for indie devs, is huuuge as it gives much attention to their work and in turn, well, more revenue. 

Microsoft just announced the oddly titled 'Spring cleaning project' which is a contest of sorts to allow devs a shot at getting their app featured. Up till now, the process has been mostly unknown and there were no known methods of getting MS's attention to consider your app. Now, with this contest, devs can basically contact Microsoft and tell 'em why their app meets the three requirements:

  1. There will be three different opportunities: April, May, and June 2011
  2. Your App must be published to the Windows Phone Marketplace by the 15th of each month (by 11:59 PM PST)
  3. Your App must work as promised
  4. Your App must be new to the Marketplace or be a new version with substantial, new features or capabilities as mentioned earlier
  5. You then email the following information to wp7springclean@microsoft.com:

We'll post the rest after the break, but this should be a big hit with indie devs and we're hoping some of our favorites get featured.

Update: To clarify, games do count too--but since pivot/panorama don't apply, other criteria will e.g. use of a Live tile or push notification. In other words, be creative! (Thanks, Ben Lower, from Microsoft for the clarification)

Source: Windows Phone Marketplace Developer Communication

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We’ve discussed at length Microsoft’s commitment to bringing developers to the Windows Phone 7 ecosystem. Microsoft has long been a friend to developers, from making world class tools to educating devs on the platforms that they’re building upon; Microsoft is the company that others emulate.

With Windows Phone 7 Microsoft is going over and above even for them, as exemplified by a recent chain of events that played out on Twitter. In response to a recent blog post by a developer in regards to a competing platform, Brandon Watson reached out to the dev via Twitter. Through the ensuing conversation, Mr. Watson was able to facilitate getting that dev started building apps for Windows Phone.

The fact that the largest software company in the world is willing to work with individual developers is unprecedented, and speaks well of Microsoft’s chances of making Windows Phone 7 relevant in the long term.

Source: Many Niches (Brandon Watson’s Blog)

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Good news for Windows Phone 7 developers -- a Windows Phone Developers Tools CTP refresh is now available, and you can now build apps in the final release of Virtual Studio 2010. New are:

  • This release has been tested to work with the final release of Visual Studio 2010.
  • An updated Windows Phone 7 OS image for the Windows Phone Emulator.
  • A few APIs in the frameworks have been added and or changed. See this MSDN page for more details.
  • The documentation has been updated with new and expanded topics. See this MSDN page for more details.
  • We’ve provided limited support for launchers and choosers. In cases where the underlying built-in experience is not present launchers and choosers are still not available (i.e. the email chooser asks you to select a contact, but there are no contacts in the emulator and no way to add one).
  • Pause/Resume events are now supported.
  • If the tools are installed as the admin user, non-admin users are now able to deploy to the emulator.
  • A problem with incremental deployment of projects has been fixed.
  • A problem resulting in the error "Connection failed because of invalid command-line arguments" being displayed during project creation has been fixed.
  • A problem where the Windows Phone node was not appearing in VS 2010 on non-system drives has been fixed.
  • Design time skin refresh issues have been addressed.

Snag it now at developer.windowsphone.com.

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It's been more than a week since we first told you Microsoft had opened Windows Marketplace for Mobile to developers, brought you the first look at what's prohibited, and uncovered confirmation that Windows Mobile 6.5 will work on non-touchscreen devices.

Now, Microsoft officially has announced the Marketplace open for business on the Windows Mobile Team blog. Nothing new for the average user, however. No word on when the Marketplace (and thus Windows Mobile 6.5) will be available.

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