Google Search app redesigned for Windows Phone

Google has just published a new post on the official mobile blog detailing a redesigned Google Search app that is available on the Marketplace, which sports the following features:

  • Google Autocomplete: As you type in your search, our autocomplete feature offers search predictions that often match your intended search term making search entry easier and faster.
  • Voice Search: With our voice feature, you can avoid typing all together. Simply press the microphone and begin speaking your query.
  • My Location: With your permission, Google can use your device location to provide nearby results easily and accurately. For instance, a search for “coffee shops” quickly displays the nearest places you can go to for a cup of coffee.

This is available in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German. Although it appears the app is only available in the U.S. You can download the Google Search app from the Marketplace.

Source: Google

Official Qantas Windows Phone app almost here

It has been almost a year since we last heard of an official Qantas app being developed for Windows Phone at MIX '11 (see our wrap up for more details). We've now caught word from their Twitter account that the app, which has been somewhat-delayed, will be available this month (March).

Windows Phone owners who use Australia's flag carrier to hop between countries will be pleased to learn that development of the app is at a stage where it's ready to be submitted and / or approved. The Qantas Windows Phone app will enable users to view upcoming flight times, quickest routes to airports, check into a flight, and more.

We'll update with a follow-up post when the app has been released with more details (and screenshots) available, so keep an eye on this space.

Source: @GCrance1982; thanks Geoff for the tip!

Grooveshark: We're not planning on developing for Windows Phone 7

Although we've heard this before from companies and things can change rapidly, at least according to one community manager at Grooveshark, that company won't be making a dedicated Windows Phone app despite already having ones for Android, iPhone (jailbroken), Blackberry and even webOS. In an email back and forth between a customer and Jessica, a community manager at the company the info was revealed:

Anonymous : "I was wondering if, in the near future, you would develop an application for users of Windows Phone 7. You are on all other platforms except ours."

Grooveshark response (Jessica - Community Manager) : "Hey E *****, Thanks for Taking the time to write us. Unfortunately, Grooveshark is not planning on Developing for Windows Phone 7. We're very sorry for the inconvenience and confusion. Please let us know if You have Any further Top questions. "

Of course, reps can be wrong for companies (although Grooveshark is very small, so less likely) and they could change their minds at any point. Still, we're none to happy with that response. Even though we have a working HTML5 version of their site now, having a dedicated app would certainly be more preferential. Hopefully they'll change their minds in the future.

via: MonWindowsPhone

More 'crap apps' being let loose in the Marketplace

We previously assumed the Windows Phone Marketplace submission review team had a ritual to get unbelievably intoxicated every Friday night, return back to the offices and let through whatever humorous apps they saw, regardless of functionality. We've now had to revise our assumption, as it would appear that the team is simply having some giggles behind the scene throughout the week.

Introducing the app-that-shalln't-be-named (see above photo), no it's not an app dedicated to Lord Voldemort. This is possibly the most interesting submission due to the obscene graphic as the logo (we've actually censored it to keep WPCentral safe for work), which makes us wonder how on earth something this explicit can worm its way through, especially since Microsoft believes Xbox LIVE Avatar toy guns (that don't actually fire rounds or laz0rz) are offensive to the youngsters.

It's perfectly fine to decapitate heads on Skyrim, shoot aliens in Halo, check out some naked women on the Windows Phone Marketplace, but a toy gun on your Avatar is deemed 'unacceptable'.

"Hours of fun await your fingers"

Unfortunately, should you be looking forward to checking this app out via this article, you'll be slightly disappointed. While hours of fun for our fingers is certainly intriguing to say the least, the reviews of this 'crap app' provide an insight into the app's usefulness:

  • "While quite deceiving, the actual use for this app changed my life! Now I drink champaign and flirt with movie stars all day every day!"
  • "This is by far the *** app I have ever. Downloaded even worse is the fact they use a *** chick to try to reel you in. Watching grass grow is more entertaining than this"

What's with this post, and why are we providing attention without firing out the Marketplace link left, right and centre? It's frustration. Pure and simple frustration. We have apps such as this making their way through while solid submissions such as the Carbon Twitter client and even our own WPCentral app had difficulties for various reasons. Not to mention Ffffound experiencing issues due to adult content policies. It makes one consider if all apps should have naked women as app logos to ensure a 100% chance of approval?

We've certainly been here before, and Microsoft has even responded to our cries out for tighter control with revisions being made to the limit of apps being submitted within 24 hours, but this is starting to get slightly silly now. Either the automated system needs working on, or we need some more human verification. 

Thanks goes out to everyone who tipped us on this!

Your Windows Phone texting companion app: Messaging Emoticons

If you're like us (read: human), you probably have a hard time remember how to trigger every single emoticon (or emoji in Japanese) on Windows Phone. Aside from marring your otherwise beautiful Nokia Lumia phone by taping our foldable guide onto the back, there is no good way to remember these things. Cue Messaging Emoticons.

Messaging Emoticons is a completely free app written by Windows Phone enthusiast Corey Blakeborough that offers handy access to the otherwise volumous selection of emotions on Windows Phone. It's simple to use too: You fire up the app, type out the text you wish to adorn, and tap on the emoticon(s) you wish to use. Or you can switch to the copy mode -- via the icons at the top of the app -- to reveal a scrolling list of all the emoticons available on Windows Phone. Then you can simply mash the emoticon you wish to use and it'll be magically transferred to the clipboard, ready for your use in another app.

For those who need even more hand holding, the app also features favorites, filters and even pinned tile support! Filters show only emoticons that pertain to a certain category (incl. a favorites category in which you can add to). For example, when we text Ashley Esqueda we stick to Animals and Smilies, while for Daniel Rubino we almost exclusively use those listed in Mad. And for super quick access, you can pin a hard-to-type emoticon on your home screen.

(y)(y), Corey. Pick up Messaging Emoticons here in the Marketplace for free.

Domino's releases Windows Phone app for UK and Ireland

Good news Domino's Pizza lovers, the fine establishment has released a Windows Phone app (for the UK & Ireland) that conveniently allows users to order their favourite pizzas from the comfort of their handset. The Domino's iOS app is as aesthetically pleasing as they come, so our expectations are high with what can be achieved visually with the Metro UI. We have not been failed, as (can be seen above) the app is very good looking.

Should you be after drinks, sides, desserts, deals, or just the 13" beasts themselves, the Domino's Pizza app allows one to achieve this with style:

  • A Full Menu
  • Store Locator
  • All Meal Deals available
  • Ability to Customise Your Pizza with extra toppings or special requests
  • Payment via credit card, cash or on collection

The next version is already in the works that will introduce voucher usage, so we expect to see an update soon. You can download Domino's Pizza from the Marketplace for free, enjoy!

Thanks Carl for the tip!

Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Phone out of beta and in the Marketplace

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.

Upcoming app allows you to save Bing search results to People Hub [Video]

Though we love our Windows Phone, there are certain areas that need work. Certain areas that we know Microsoft will fix, given enough time and feedback, of course.  Such is this scenario: You do a Bing search for a local business, restaurant, etc. Upon glancing over the results, you decide you would like to save this company's information to your People Hub which is when you realize you can't do it.

As it turns out, if you want to save a Bing search result to your People Hub, you'll have to do it the old fashion way: by hand. Very frustrating, to say the least.

Now, a new app landing next week in the Marketplace promises to fix that problem. The app is called BizSaver and is made by BC3 Technologies and we got an early look at the app which you can see in the above video. In short, once you install this app you really don't run it anymore. It simply adds itself to the related-apps under your search results, allowing you to directly save the contact's information to your People Hub with a couple of taps.

It's easy, elegant and just works. The best part? As usual it will be completely free with one-nary ad. Look for the app next week in the Marketplace and we'll of course let you know when it is available.

Nokia Lumia 800 getting DLNA support?

File this under rumor, but a reasonable one.

The Lumia 800 lacks a lot of things: front facing camera, gyroscope and DLNA support. That latter one though is something that can be added after the fact as we've seen Samsung and HTC do in the past. In that regard, there's no solid reason we know of why the Lumia 800 can't do DLNA if Nokia did some fiddling with the system files.

Over at MobileTechWorld, they did some sleuthing around the ROM and found some files that look necessary for DLNA support in the future. Italian Windows Phone site Plaffo then posted an email from one of their readers that came from Nokia Care. In that email, they basically confirm that Lumia 800 will get DLNA support like other Windows Phone devices, via the Marketplace.

Now word of caution: Customer care is hardly every a reliable source but Nokia rushing some DLNA support via a Marketplace app is the same method that the other OEMs use, so why not? We'll just have to wait and see.

eBay gets updated to v1.15 with some fixes

The official eBay app has been updated to version We've been informed that the release contains a number of bug fixes and a cleanup to improve latency issues experienced by users in certain geo-markets.

The key feature which was added in the update was support for MEC (Mobile Express Checkout). This new feature will ease some of the processing payment flow between eBay and PayPal. A small update with a number of improvements to ensure performance and reliability is kept at a high level.

We're also told that the Selling feature will be coming in January-ish. It was originally slated for this release but it was decided to hold off to make sure it's the best and easiest design they could implement.  Hold on tight, sellers, it's coming!

You can download the eBay app from the Marketplace for free.

Thanks TheWeeBearUK for the heads up! gets Cracked Reader pulled from the Marketplace

We reviewed the 3rd party app Cracked Reader back in September and we had also helped recruit some beta testers for it earlier. Cracked Reader was a solid app for the humor site, smooth, lots of options. It even got a free-trial later on. But now the developer, Nash Bansal, has had his app pulled from the Marketplace by Microsoft.

Reason? For "...infringing on demand media's trademark and unlawfully republishes content from the site".

Perhaps not so coincidentally, launched their official app just days ago in the Marketplace. That app is free and not half bad but it's honestly not as impressive as Cracked Reader. Which is probably why Demand Media wanted to eliminate their competition. Sure, they had a legally sound reason to do so, no argument there, but there are plenty of paid apps that do pull feeds and which haven't been pulled. Heck, there's a terrible unofficial WPCentral reader out there too. Lucky us.

It might have been preferable for Demand Media to just partner with Bansal, but probably due to the timing with their developer team (Nventive), it would have been difficult. Still, it's a shame to see such innovation crushed for basically a lesser app in the Marketplace. Lets just hope other media companies don't get the same idea from this precedent.

Source: Twitter 1, 2

Why has Spotify been delayed until now?

BusinessInsider got in touch with Spotify executive, Gerrit Meier, at the Windows Phone press event in New York today. While Spotify has been loaded on handsets at the event and we should expect to see the music streaming app on the Marketplace soon, why has it taken so long for the team to develop it? Meier told BusinessInsider that while Spotify's team might still be relatively small and resources finite, they decided to wait for the opportune moment with Microsoft to launch the app.

Microsoft has been providing support, resources and promotion, with slapping the app across all devices at the event in NYC, in Microsoft's showroom. The team waited for the service to launch in the U.S. and then Mango to take advantage of pinnable tiles (for playlists etc.) and background streaming and the launch of four new handsets in the U.S. turned out to be the time for the announcement.

We should expect to see Spotify on the Marketplace soon. Check out the hands-on coverage.

Source: BusinessInsider

Microsoft rejecting social apps in Japan

So we've had trouble in the U.S. and Europe surrounding submission approval for apps, as well as flaws in the system which allow spam and useless apps to flood the Marketplace. We now turn to Japan where a social bookmarking app, Hatena Viewer, has been rejected due to links within the app pointing to 2ch/Futaba (Japanese 4chan equivalent).

Hatena Viewer is a Hatena Bookmark client, which shares the same functionality as Digg. AppHub stated the rejection reason as the following:

"It appears the application contains several articles linking to 2chan."

They really don't like anything 2ch4chan, etc. related, and this is what bothers the Japanese developers. Due to this type of app publishing user generated content, the developers can't control what is linked to or submitted. Also, what's more interesting, Hatena Bookmark for iOS is available without age restrictions (link below).

As well as the Hatena Viewer app being rejected, a 2ch viewer app was also turned down due to the following reason, provided by the Windows Phone Policy Team:

"Windows Marketplace does not currently support age restricted content. Therefore all content must be appropriate for users to the of 13. It has been determined that content from sources such as 2chan and 4chan are not allowed in the Marketplace.

While we cannot provide specific instruction to you as to how you can modify your application, we would recommend ensuring all content is appropriate for users to the age of 13 and the adult categories are removed." sums it up pretty effectively:

  • Currently there's no mechanism in place on the Marketplace with regards to content with age requirements
  • All content must suit 13 year olds
  • 2ch and 4chan's content is not permitted
  • Adapt to the age of 13 if you want to update all of the content within application, to remove the adult appeal

What do you make of the situation?

Source: iOS Hatena (Translate) & (Translate)

Telerik Unleashed events special prize

Telerik, the brains behind the Tasks App and RadControls, have announced today the Telerik Special Windows Phone Unleashed Events Grand Prize. There is a selection of the top 25 submitted apps from the Unleashed events organized by Microsoft and local communities. On October 28th, the winner of the grand prize will be selected at random, which will pot the winning developer $5,000.

This is where things get interesting. Telerik is also offering a community favourite prize of $300 for the app with the most tweets. Visit the Telerik Unleashed page (link below) to check out the available apps and tweet your favourite. Do make sure, when tweeting, that "#telerikwp7prize" is included with your selected winner.

Source: Telerik Unleashed

Pandora Radio proof-of-concept app for Windows Phone 7 [Video]

Justin Angel, Silverlight and Windows Phone developer, has done some digging around the Pandora AIR app as well as their service in general and has come to a single conclusion: this is all very compatible with Windows Phone 7. Which raises the obvious question: Where's the app?

In a series of Tweets, Justin breaks down what he finds:

"Playing a @pandora_radio "" MP4 on my WP7 right now. From a technical perspective a WP7 Pandora app is quite easy."

"Finished decompiling @pandora_radio AIR app. this can DEFINITELY be ported to WP7. It's all JSON auth and MP4s. WTF Pandora? Just port this."

"@pandora_radio you've got some 'splainin to do! Your format matches WP7 specs to the letter. Where's your WP7 app?"

Indeed. And to prove his assertions, he very quickly whipped up a XAP file which successfully pulls down the Pandora information and allows flawless streaming to our phones. Sure, the frippery of up/down voting is not present, nor are the on-screen controls, but those are easy to add. What's important is the data and interaction with Pandora's servers that count and for all intents and purposes, they work flawlessly and beautifully with Windows Phone. So where's the app? Hopefully something official is in the pipes as there is no technical reason for it not to exist. (There is this tweet from Leon Zandman which may suggest something).

If you have a developer unlocked device, you can grab the XAP file from Justin here.

Spotify/Sharpotify 7 for Windows Phone [Video]

Now we have background streaming at hand, let us return to the whole "Where is Spotify?" question still on many minds who pay for the subscription. We know it's well under way as the service was announced by Microsoft to be coming in Mango earlier this year. For those who simply can't wait for the official app, in the video above, we can see a demo of what appears to be a third-party Spotify app (Sharpotify 7) for Windows Phone with expected features.

The code is stated to be Alpha so it's still early days but we like what we see thus far - playlist support and support, being two vital features of the service.

Via: PhoneTitan

Nokia releases first app that highlights apps

While we're all still eagerly awaiting Nokia's first handset to hit stores before the year is out the manufacturer has decided to launch itself onto the Marketplace with Top App. "What does Top App do?" you might ask, well it highlights apps that are worthy of download in Nokia's view.

Some highlighted features:

  • Update live apps on the home screen
  • Consultation of the content featured, carefully selected each day for you
  • Lists of the best apps local and global, never miss anything Research and consultation of new apps is fast and fun.

It doesn't look like Top App is available for download just yet but you can view the Marketplace listing here (opens Zune).

Source: MonWindowsPhone Thanks to everyone who tipped us on this!

BBC Radio Player app chimes onto the Marketplace

Good news UK users (and for anyone else who can gain access)! Igneous Software has released a BBC Radio app that features 6 Music, 5 Live, Radio 1 Extra, Asian Network, World Service, BBC Ulster, BBC Wales and BBC Scotland as well as the main stations. Highlighted features include: 

  • Choose from all BBC Radio stations
  • Now and next programme guide
  • Full integration with music + video hub
  • Playback continues under lock screen
  • Ability to block GSM-based streaming
  • Buffering confirmed with audible “pips”
  • Comprehensive programme caching
  • Dynamic server management

BBC Radio Player is a well polished app and the streaming over both WiFi and 3G is smooth and reliable. You can download the app from the Marketplace for £0.99 ($1.29) - four standalone apps are available for BBC Radio 1, 2, 3 and 4 but these stations are included in BB Radio Player itself.

TouchStudio updated to 1.2

TouchStudio, the app from Microsoft Research that allows users to create their own scripts and run them on their devices, has just been updated to 1.2. This update brings a fast game and physics engine which enables support for scripts to take advantage (there's a demo ninja game included in the release) and you can now pin scripts to the TouchStudio home screen.

For all you heavy Facebook users, you are now able to post to your wall within your scripts. Global variables are introduced as well as a number of other improvements. The new features in this fun little app are welcomed and it hasn't been a month since 1.1 was released, we look forward in seeing wht else will be added in the near future.

Mango developer tools available today

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