tools

Does it feel like you're forking out for tools and the means to create some content for the Xbox console (or any platform for that matter)? Microsoft may have a solution for you with its independent developer self-publishing program for Xbox One. Heard of Unity? The popular, highly rated and expensive kit will be available for free to those who are signed up for the Microsoft program.

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Jack of Tools Pro, a handy Windows Phone 8 toolbox

Jack of Tools Pro is to your Windows Phone 8 device much like a Swiss Army Knife is to pocket knifes... a lot of tools rolled into one package.

Jack of Tools Pro is a collection of ten tools for your Windows Phone that range from a flashlight app to a decibel meter. The app is simply laid out with a series of tiles that launch each tool and that can be pinned to your Start Screen for easy access.

If you're looking for a nice collection of utility oriented apps for your Windows Phone 8 device wrapped up in one package, Jack of Tools Pro is worth a look.

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Toolbox for Windows 8: Windows App Review

Toolbox for Windows 8 is an interesting utility for your Surface Tablet or Windows 8 computer. It is a collection of nine different tools where six of these tools can be tiled to a single screen.  Toolbox for Windows 8 is a nice multi-tasking app with a decent selection of reference tools but it needs more productivity tools.

I can see Toolbox for Windows 8 coming in handy at times and the app has potential.  It just needs a little more meat on the bones to make it shine.

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Windows Phone App Review: Gestulator

Gestulator is a calculator app for your Windows Phone that does away with the operations buttons and relies on swipe gestures instead. Gestulator is limited to the primary arithmetic operations (addition, subtraction, division and multiplication) but if you need to do some quick calculations, I can see it coming in handy.

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We last looked at PhoneGap, the Adobe-owned open source mobile development platform, when version 1.3 arrived which included support for Windows Phone. Adobe has now released 2.0 and further expands on the feature set provided to developers who wish to build apps that can easily be submitted to multiple platform app stores.

Using HTML5, CSS and Javascript, PhoneGap allows those who do not possess the knowledge of mobile platform native code to create and release apps for all the supported operating systems. So what's new in version two-point-oh? The team have implemented a new command line interface for building iOS apps, which removes issues surrounding Apple's Xcode tools, adds more support for enterprise app development, includes enhanced user guides and documentation, as well as security and stability improvements.

Cordova WebView is also present, which allows for the integration of PhoneGap as a larger native application. Listed with the new features is "Windows Phone support", which we're slightly confused at since it was added in version 1.3. We've reached out to the PhoneGap team for clarification just in case there are some incredibly useful features added. We'll update the article once we've received a reply.

Source: CMSWire

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Yesterday we reported that the Lumia 910 had popped up on Nokia’s own remote device access (RDA) system. The Lumia 910 was proposed to be a variant of the Lumia 900, possibly sporting a 12MP camera and at one time may have been destined for T-Mobile.

This morning another device showed up called Nokia Lumia 1001.

It is fair to speculate whereas the 910 was a Windows Phone 7.x device, the Lumia 1001 is a next-gen Windows Phone 8 one.  (However, the 910 may have been re-categorized for WP8 since its initial rumor, making it a "follow up" to the 900). Clearly the “1000” mark is directly related to the series system that Nokia has in place where the higher the number (by 100’s) the more high-end e.g. compare the Lumia 610 to the Lumia 900.

Nokia’s RDA software lets developers try out and test software remotely via a web browser. Once in, you can send commands to allow you to pull down info from Nokia’s servers which is how TechCrunch was able to spot the device.

No information or details are listed about the Lumia 1001 which means it could be a spoof, albeit one internal to Nokia since users cannot create data. The timing, especially with the 910 incident yesterday, is suspicious. On the other hand, a “Lumia 1001” is not exactly out of the bounds of reality as presumably Nokia would have such a device label reserved for a super high, perhaps PureView Windows Phone.

In the end, we’ll just have to remember this and come back to it should any more information come forward.

Source: TechCrunch

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Although we’re not expecting any Windows Phone 8 devices for months, it looks like Nokia may have a new device kicking around.

The Lumia 910 briefly popped up in Nokia’s Remote Device Access (RDA) tools which developer’s use to get access to the latest info on existing hardware.

So what is the Lumia 910? Some have speculated it may be a new Windows Phone 8 device but we’ve heard from sources that “910” is the designation for T-Mobile and that this is a variation of the Lumia 900. If true that would make this a Windows Phone 7.x device and not WP8. On the other hand, there’s little evidence suggesting T-Mobile is planning on releasing a Lumia 900-esque device anymore, especially with the no WP8 update happening.

We also saw the Lumia 910 pop u on a Dutch site with a 12MP camera instead of the normal 8MP on the 900, though nothing ever came of it.

We’ll have to keep an eye out to see if we can find any more on this device but we’d say to calm your expectations a bit for now.

Via: Nieuwemobiel.nl; Thanks, Martijn R., for the heads up

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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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GPS Calculator is a tool box of sorts for your Windows Phone GPS.  The app won't appeal to everyone but it helps you determine distances, coordinates, and areas of maps (here's our review).  If you are in need of such tools, it's a very nice app and was recently updated to version 5.0.

GPS Calculator's new features include:

  • Sharing of location in any supported format via sms, email or social
  • Time zone, local time and sunrise-sunset calculations for any location
  • A new Altimeter function where you can not only view elevation profile graphs and get current GPS elevation, but also compare it using five different elevation data models.

The GPS Calculator Version 5 update also adds support for:

  • SRTM3 (shuttle radar topography mission)
  • ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) which is a high resolution imaging instrument that is flying on the Terra satellite
  • GTOPO30 (global digital elevation model from topo maps)
  • USGS elevation data
  • Google’s elevation data web service

GPS Calculator is not a tool for everyone.  It isn't a navigation app to take you from point A to B.  But if you feel a little geeky about GPS technology, or just want to learn about it – you should give GPS Calculator a try.

GPS Calculator is a free, ad free app for your Windows Phone that you can snatch up over here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Thanks, Kitya, for the tip!

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8 Must-have tools for Windows Phone developers

Here's something developers both new and experienced can all enjoy together. Doug Rathbone, writer of Diary of a Ninja has posted a very useful list of tools Windows Phone developers can use to make life that little bit simpler.

I'll let the full list do most of the talking as Doug has done an excellent job of summarising each of these tools and exactly why you should consider using them, but suffice to say there are several here that I hadn't heard of before. I'm particularly keen to try out SilverLight Spy, a Firebug-like tool for tweaking and adjusting your app's GUI on the fly.

Have you used these tools? Are there any you swear by that don't appear on this list? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Diary of a Ninja; via @WPUG

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Can't have a major OS update without developer tools, right? And to that end, Microsoft has announced that the beta release of the Windows Phone Developer Tools that work with Mango will be available at some point today.

The big strokes, according to Microsoft:

  • Background processing
  • New profiler and emulator for testing
  • Use of Silverlight + XNA together
  • Silverlight 4
  • IE9 web browser control
  • Live Tile enhancements: use of back of tiles and ability to update Live Tiles locally
  • Deep linking into apps from notifications and Live Tiles
  • Additional sensors; direct camera access, compass & gyro
  • Fast application switching
  • Networking / sockets for communications
  • Local SQL database for structured storage
  • Access to calendar and contacts for apps

And that's just the tip of the iceburg. Along iwth the Mango release, the Marketplace is opening up to an addition 19 countires. They are: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Japan, Korea (South), Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and Taiwan.

A fine update, indeed. Get the full deets at the Windows Phone dev blog, linked below.

Source: Windows Phone Developer Blog. Download: Mango Developer Tools

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One of the joys I had with my HTC Hero was the data storage functionality presently available right out the box with Android - something I would have missed at that time in Windows Phone 7 should it have popped up. We have now learned of a tool by MarcHoover, which allows both locked and unlocked devices to register as storage devices and enables users to drag-and-drop files.

The beauty of this tool is that (as stated above) it doesn't require any manual registry hacking and is reported to work on locked devices.  So, even if you choose not to go down the Chevron route a while back, you'll be able to reap the benefits here while still being restricted with further access. Check out the development thread for support and more information.

Source: XDA Developer Forum, via: WMPU

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Arcadia Scan Updated to 1.6

I've either fallen asleep when updating to 1.4 or they've mistaken 1.6 as 1.4 with the release notes, but the app itself is now 1.6 in the Marketplace. For a full rundown on what this app does and what tools it contains (including ping etc.) check out our Arcadia Scan review.

So what's new? According to the release notes (we'll go with that they're incorrectly titled for 1.4):

  • Addition of new content (3 new pages and features)
  • Added Scan-I, P, List of ports Info Device/User
  • Fixed several display bugs on ping and tracer functions
  • Virus-scan function associated with the new reworked database
  • Page displaying new properties is improved with multi-location, good visibility
  • In Credit and Help sections users can click on addresses or links
  • Ports listbox now displays correctly
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Arcadia Scan - Review

Arcadia Scan is one of those apps that you can use either to a) impress your mates, b) quickly check network connections (be it WiFi or 3G), or c) mess around for a few minutes when you’re utterly bored off your face (hopefully not on drugs). Unfortunately, before I continue, I must point out to you wannabe script-kiddies that this app is no ettercap.

Pros: 
Useful for simple network diagnostics Excellent for showing off your device Features some interesting functions
Cons: 
Horrible looking, should stick to plain Metro Default language is set to French Expensive for what's offered Main menu seems to be missing two options
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If you recall, G-Alarm was huge on Windows Mobile and now it has been ported to Windows Phone 7. Features of the Windows Phone 7 version include:

  • Monitoring your sleep cycle and Sleep Diary
  • Gentle wake-up modes
  • Access to Zune playlists
  • Task oriented sleep timers (math and maze puzzles so it's not so easy to get the extra five minutes of sleep)
  • Accelerometer interface to let you shake to snooze
  • Themed wallpapers.

We've only spent a little time with G-Alarm and it looks as if it has made the transition with flying colors. G-Alarm does have to be open for the app to work properly but it can run under the lock-screen. So, you'll need to make sure your Windows Phone is plugged in so it can last the night.

There is a trial version available for G-Alarm with the full version running $.99. You can find it here (opens Zune) at the Marketplace.

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Not everyone is happy with the Windows Phone Marketplace. Someone at Reddit (hello 'rage comics', my favorite other time killer) is lamenting the overabundance of "non apps" in the Marketplace Tools section. As noted in the image, there seems to be quite a bit of...the same thing? Echoing similar statements, writer for ZDnet, Noikia Experts and friend of the site Matt Miller noted last night in a tweet: "Appears to be maybe 50 decent apps and 950+ crap ones in WP7 Marketplace. Numbers aren't everything, let's pick up the quality please."

Question: even if Microsoft wanted to prevent this from happening, how would they go about doing it? Set a five "Tip calculator" rule? (And seriously, who actually uses a tip calculator?) Do you think the Windows Phone Market, despite promises, will become like Android's and Apple's with the majority of apps subpar? Or is this just the 1st wave of a new OS that will up the ante?

Fire away in comments!

Source: Reddit, Twitter (@palmsolo)

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Although we've been impressed so far with Microsoft's execution of Windows Phone 7, not all are happy and we're starting to see why.

While some 3,000+ developer devices are out in the wild, that is a drop in the bucket of those who want/need a device to actually test their applications on in time for an October release. Of course, we get it: logistically its hard to make thousands of pre-production devices and make them available to developers and ship them out--it's no trivial problem for Microsoft. Nor is deciding who gets priority for the phones.

Still, at least one enthusiast Silverlight programmer has taken to his Twitter stream to vent some and we kind of see his point too. After all, we have maybe 10 weeks till release (!) and developers are still missing programming tools and hardware to work on. Justin Angel believes this is a recipe for disaster, where there will be a clash between what developers have worked on via an incomplete emulator versus how it actually performs.

Other have noted that this is just run-of-the-mill for any new software platform, as we've seen these type of issues on WebOS, Android and even the iPhone when they were being rolled out. On the other hand, Microsoft may have to do better to get this right, despite keeping on track for a holiday release.

We're not developers, but we do see both sides here. Hopefully Justin and others will be able to get a device soon, Microsoft can deliver some of those features for the emulator and we'll have some solid software come October. We should finally note that "big" developers (Netflix, Foursquare, New York Times, Seesmic, etc.) have long had all the tools and hardware, so this seems more about independent developers at this point.

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