homebrew

File this under wishful thinking, but the venerable Lumia 920 has allegedly been jailbroken. That’s the claim from hacker poandsou and Silen Tech, who have posted a video supposedly demonstrating a Lumia 920 with the jailbreak enabled. For owners of the Lumia 920, or potentially any other Windows Phone 8 device, jailbreaking could bring a new avenue of development and customization, should this claim prove to be viable for the average user.

We should caution that none of this information has been independently verified, so at this time we are taking them at their word. Even if it is true, there are a lot of details that need to be filled in before this can mean anything.

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Have you looked at your Samsung ATIV S and thought what it would be like if you could have a third column of Live tiles? We'll be getting more room for Live Tiles with the 1080p hardware that will arrive alongside GDR3, but if you own the Samsung Windows Phone 8 device (interop-unlocked), you'll be able to add more tiles to your Start screen with some handy homebrew tools.

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If you’re using Windows Phone 8 Update 3 (Preview), and according to today’s poll many of you are, then you’re probably enjoying the benefits of the new screen rotation orientation lock.

A long sought after feature, albeit minor, is the new setting that allows you to lock the OS in place so that it won’t auto-rotate—great for when lying in bed. In fact, it’s your third favorite feature right behind the preview program and ‘X’ button for closing apps.

There’s just one problem: the orientation lock settings are a pain to get to. If you want to toggle the orientation lock, you need to hop into Settings, scroll down the massive list of choices, find the orientation lock and then toggle it. It’s far from ideal in terms of efficiency. Microsoft could easily fix this by making the setting pinnable to the Start screen for easy access, and hopefully they will for the final release.

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For those of you who are into the ‘homebrew’ hacking community for Windows Phone, you’ll want to take note that Jaxbot, the man behind the site Windows Phone Hacker (www.windowsphonehacker.com) will sadly be retiring.

Jaxbot just graduated from high school—yes, he was a young lad---and he will be moving on to college in the fall, where he hopes to take on other projects and adventures. We can’t blame him as he’s at that age where being pigeonholed into one area is not something you want to have happen. It’s a time to explore and experiment, though we hope he continues to dabble in Windows Phone.

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It’s been awhile since we’ve talked about WPH Folders, the homebrew app from Windows Phone Hacker that allows you organize apps into Tile-folders on your phone. Of course homebrew here means only those with developer unlocked phones who can sideload XAP files need apply, meaning for many of you, this is out.

It’s hard to believe that Folders has been out for nearly 10 months already so it makes sense that it’s up to version 5, which is now available.

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Windows Phone Hacker as returned to an earlier project called Dynamic Background with some significant updates previewed in his latest video.

The app brings a feature that will be present in Windows Phone 8—the ability to automatically change and update the Lock Screen wallpaper via at least two sources: your own arsenal or Bing’s daily image. The new version now has an update interval selector and quite a nice UI, ensuring that users should get the most out of such an app.

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Pretty app but needs work

Over at XDA, the lads are focused again on adding new homebrew features to our current Windows Phone devices. One of the big complaints from a handful of users is the inability to share photos or documents via Bluetooth. Windows Phone 8 will fix this by adding that function (and of course its newest brother, NFC) but what about current phones?

Navisluni has released a beta of an app he calls BluePhoto that should give you the ability to share photos via your phone’s precious Bluetooth. We say ‘should’ because it is a hack and it doesn’t work as universally as one would like.

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Some sad, but expected news on the homebrew front: the Chevron Labs unlock, the only Microsoft-sponsored "jailbreak" for Windows Phone, has now officially expired. Chevron Labs' Rafael Rivera posted on the group's blog that, as of August 11, any unlocked phone will be once again locked the next time that device is synced using the Zune desktop software.

The change, which was announced back in April, will not affect any Windows Phone devices that are unlocked using other methods. It may, however, affect those who moved to a paid App Hub account. If you are one of those people, you may have to use the Developer Registration tool to unlock your phone once again. Instructions can be found here.

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We’ve covered the whole how-to-keep-your-Wi-Fi-alive issue before on Windows Phone Central. It was first realized that some apps keep the data-connection channel open which then allows your Wi-Fi to stay on when the phone is placed in standby (screen off).

Then a bloke over at XDA Forums created an app to mimic that scenario and it worked quite well except for the fact that it appeared to play a dummy song in your music controls.

Jaxbot from Windows Phone Hacker has now thrown his hat in the ring with Keep Alive. It too is a homebrew app that does not require root, meaning regular ‘dev unlocked’ phones can use it but it uses a slightly different method. Instead of pretending to stream a dummy song, Jaxbot evidently has set up his own server which then keeps your phone connected—data is kept at a minimum as it is just using pings to keep the connection open.

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Earlier this morning we reported on a neat little trick that a few Windows Phone apps can do which is keep your Wi-Fi connection active even when the display is powered off.

That’s pretty useful feature for some people who are using a public Wi-Fi access point that requires you to “accept” the terms of service each time you re-connect. On a Windows Phone, every time you turn the display off it kills the Wi-Fi connection meaning you are forced to reconnect which can be problematic--even more so if you’re downloading some files.

Over at XDA, developer Ha Mai Tung (WinPhoneViet.com) has created a neat little homebrew app called Keep WiFi Alive which exploits the trick that some audio apps use. The app creates a fake music stream that makes the OS “think” it is downloading music, thereby keeping the Wi-Fi connection active.  The app is simple to use—just launch and hit the button.  To disable you can either turn off Wi-Fi in Settings or restart the phone.

Demo of Keep WiFi Alive

The app is homebrew, meaning you’ll need a developer unlocked device (either AppHub or Chevron) and does not require interop access, meaning many of you can use it if you can sideload the XAP. It’s still in beta form so there could be some bugs and of course battery usage will presumably increase, so be warned.

Source: XDA Forums; via Windows Phone Daily, Plaffo

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Faster, Eco! Kill, Kill!

Jaxbot over at Windows Phone Hacker as an interesting experiment going on for those with rooted phones (mostly first gen Windows Phones). The app is called ‘Eco’ and is an aggressive battery saver app.

In short, it turns of all unneeded processes, sensors and clears out the memory for a kind of fresh start and then some. Jaxbot is not even clear if it will actually save battery life (he’s awaiting a battery replacement, hence his need for this) but he’s looking for feedback from users to see if he should go further with it.

Windows Phone users do have a ‘Battery Saver’ option already under Settings which disables all Push services until they recharge again but ‘Eco’ is much more than that, at least in theory.

We’re quite okay with our battery life but we know there are some of you who are either extreme users or have OCD and need to save every drop.  For those peeps, you may want to give this a go.

Head to Windows Phone Hacker for more info and the XAP file. Remember, you need a rooted phone which is more than just developer unlocked. Check the demo video after the break. 

For more info on battery saving tricks, see the homebrew Live Tile battery meter, custom battery icons and how ads in free apps can be huting your power consumption

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We've previously looked at the Locked Screen Widgets concept over at Windows Phone Hacker throughout it's development. We're now excited to report that LockWidgets 2 has been released and is now available to all (should you own an eligible Windows Phone of course).

What's all the fuss about? LockWidgets 2 is a complete rewrite of the original LockWidgets app, which enabled users to add widgets to their lock screen. The successor adds more functionality to the list with more opportunities present in the framework. Some highlighted features:

  • SMS widget
  • Weather widget
  • Battery widget
  • Runs in the background
  • Should run side-by-side with other homebrew apps, such as Folders, Battery Status, etc.

Features that are still in development, but are well on their way include an RSS widget, improved forecast info, more notification data, and a RAM widget. Check out the following video for more information and a quick run through.

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If you're on the cutting edge of Windows Phone hacking and homebrew then you probably have a fully unlocked device with a custom ROM running "Tango" 8773. If so, then you may want to take a look at this latest creation from Zealson over at XDA.

The simple XAP file will launch a mini-app to allow you to change the battery meter to a custom version. The meters have four options available: default, horizontal, vertical and circular with the latter three having a percentage number for a semi-accurate reading of your remaining battery life.

We say semi-accurate as the percentage doesn't get down to the 1% range and instead looks to be at 10% increments. Such a limitation is due to the API though who knows what magic these devs can whip up, so there may be hope for 1% changes too.

Of course as we mentioned at the beginning, only fully-unlocked ROMs can install this and luckily the Titan and Radar are now in that camp too

Source: XDA Forums

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"Enthusiasts" can now load custom ROMs on devices like this HTC Titan

Good news for those with "2nd generation" Windows Phone like the HTC Radar and HTC Titan, the Dark Forces Team (DFT) have released their custom Hard Secondary Program Loader (HSPL) for those devices, including a "wizard" to guide you through the somewhat complicated process. Announced back in March, the team has made solid and steady progress over the last few months on the project.

HSPLs are needed to "unlock" the bootloader of certain smartphones in order to get custom ROMs to load onto them (think of it as a layer of security). Without this tool-set, modified OS's for those devices simply have nowhere to go. Now that these tools are available comes the second step: the creation of custom ROMs which will require some "chefs" to cook them up,

Second generation HTC devices have been notoriously difficult to crack for DFT so this is a fairly big win for the homebrew community. Unfortunately, devices like the Titan II still won't work with this tool so it's best to still wait for DFT to get that going.

In a well planned release, there are at least two custom ROMs now available too:

  1. HTC Titan by mwang - Tango OS (8773), Replace HTC Apps software,add Registry editor,file explorers ...etc; Few tweaks ,DFT FullUnlock support XAP IE download and install,full play XBL games; ISharing,Static MAC Address
  2. HTC Radar by mwang - Tango OS (8773), Replace HTC Apps software,add Registry editor,file explorers ...etc; Few tweaks ,DFT FullUnlock support XAP IE download and install,full play XBL games; ISharing,Static MAC Address

Once again we need to stress to proceed with caution when attempting these modifications as this can "brick" your phone if you don't follow the directions carefully.  Regardless, it's exciting to finally see some movement on these two fantastic Windows Phones. We're sure the community will be releasing some fantastic creations over the next few months.

Source: XDA Forums; via: WP7.com.pl; Thanks, Tony and dragonide, for the tips

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It's been awhile since we've seen some solid homebrew pop out from developers so it's with great interest for us to find Snotify version 1.0 floating around.

Billed as an "application that silences notification sounds based on a schedule" the concept should be very familiar to anyone who used the fabulous Windows Mobile app PhoneAlarm or PhoneWeaver. Anyone else just have a technology flashback?

In short, the app allows you to schedule your email and test/IM notification sounds so they won't disturb you in the middle of the night. For instance, you could have email on "silent" from 10pm to 6am or have SMS only with sound--your choice.

The free tool made by JMD Software needs to be "sideloaded" on to a fully interop unlocked phone meaning a lot of folks including developers won't be able to use it. That's a bummer but it's still a fascinating contribution to the homebrew scene.

Of course we know what many of you are thinking and even more of you will comment on -- why didn't Microsoft just include this in the OS? It's a good question as we'd kill to have this built into our Lumia 900 or Titan II, but alas even we have to sit this one out as our phones aren't capable of being fully unlocked just yet.

Source: JMD Software

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Windows Phone Hacker has published an announcement on the blog detailing the version 1.0 release of Folders for Windows Phone, a homebrew app that enables users to create folders for apps, and more. We previously looked at the app while it was in development, starting off as a concept that took off with community interest.

Some notable changes in version 1.0:

  • Bug fixes / UI changes
  • One application for all - enable root privileges for application selection, otherwise Marketplace searching will be used
  • Added tilt effect in folders
  • Pin folders to your start menu (root only - experimental)

Check out the video below for a quick introduction. You can download Folder for Windows Phone from the Windows Phone Hacker website.

Source: Windows Phone Hacker

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Back in January we reported that ChevronWP7 Labs, the officially-sanctioned "jailbreak" service for Windows Phone "homebrew", was coming to a halt. At the time, the reasons cited mostly revolved around the difficulties some users experienced in installing it and the following tech-support needed to help them out. The project was put on indefinite hiatus with more tokens possibly being bought in the future.

However, today it's official: the experiment is over.

Within 120 days, those who unlocked their phones via the ChevronWP7 Labs service will have their phones re-locked. The good news is all users who bought a token are eligible for a one-year Microsoft App Hub membership, a $99 value and allowing them to stay unlocked for 12 more months.

The jailbreak service is being permanently shut down for a few reasons, including those cited above but also because many of those who did unlock their phones so that they could "sideload" apps for experimentation, never moved on to actually publishing any apps to the Windows Phone Marketplace. That was one of the goals of the project -- to reduce the $99 barrier for devs who might not be able to afford the App Hub membership.

While ChevronWP7 Labs is gone, the ChevronWP7 team made up of Rafael Rivera, Long Zheng and Chris Walsh will continue tinkering around:

"Fear not, we will continue to explore other ideas with Microsoft. All sides are still very interested in the hobbyist and homebrew developer communities."

For more information on the closure of the service and for those looking to upgrade to that App Hub membership, head to the ChevronWP7 Labs site here.

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Tweaks for Windows Phone is a homebrew application by Windows Phone Hacker, the brains behind Lock Screen Widgets, that empowers the user with an array of customisable options. From hiding the clock to faking a Xbox Live Gold subscription, Tweaks will allow one to have some fun while on the go. The beauty of such an app is how it allows such alterations without diving into the registry or applying multiple hacks.

The app sports interesting functionality, including the ability to access OEM Marketplace collections (but not all apps will work on unsupported devices). Some highlighted features of Tweaks:

  • Toggle Dehydration
  • Toggle clock visibility
  • Toggle 32bit color
  • Enable 'never' screen timeout
  • Allow media access while the phone is syncing
  • Spoof Xbox "Gold" status and send messages without subscription
  • Change phone's voice
  • Charge your phone wirelessly (not really, but it'll make the OS think that)
  • Change your OEM Marketplace

Head on over to Windows Phone Hacker to download Tweaks. Note that this requires root access / privileges.

Warning: Microsoft takes Xbox LIVE hacking seriously. We don't know the ramifications, if any, in using this hack but be forewarned that permanent bans could occur on your account if Microsoft figures it out.

Source: Windows Phone Hacker

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Bazaar is a Windows Phone alternative marketplace designed to provide both users and developers a means to share and install homebrew apps easily to your unlocked Windows Phone. Bazaar hosts and shares only free homebrew apps and is similar to the Deepshining Marketplace we mentioned some time ago.

While Bazaar has been available from the PC, it's now available through the Bazaar Windows Phone app. It functions just like your Windows Phone Marketplace app but delivers homebrew apps to your phone instead.

Bazaar supports a wide range of unlocked Windows Phones. Developer unlocked devices can browse apps from the Bazaar app but must install them via the Bazaar for PC application. Fully unlocked devices can browse, share, manage, and install apps directly from the Bazaar app.

If you're into homebrewing on your Windows Phone and are looking for an alternative marketplace, Bazaar might be worth looking into. You can find all the details and download both the Bazaar app and Bazaar PC application here at Bazaar's website.

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