Homebrew custom Start screen may make its way to your Windows Phone

Looks like those folks at Windows Phone Hacker, specifically Jaxbot, have been working on some neat ideas for our devices. This latest trick involves making custom Tiles for the Start screen, allowing a theme of sorts to give a more unique look for your phone. Previously, they released the "Folders" option for the Start screen.

The method is not yet available as Windows Phone Hacker is once again feeling out if there is any interest in releasing it--those man hours in creating and refining this don't come out of no where, after all. Personally, we think it's pretty great looking and would be fairly excited to see this happen.

Best part is this doesn't require any deep interop-unlock, just a simple developer unlocked phone (either official or ChevronWP7 Labs), making this a seemingly straightforward hack. If interested, head over to Windows Phone Hacker or hit them up on Twitter @wphonehacker to let them know!

Get missing Zune Pass features in Australia now

While the full-force of the Australian Zune Pass still needs to launch tomorrow, bits and pieces of it are now available, including being able to sign up. However, if you want all the good stuff now, Chris Walsh from ChevronWP7 (and Eric Lawrence's Fiddler app) have your back.

In a post on his blog, Walsh details a relatively easy method by which you can trick the Zune Servers and get access via the Zune Desktop to those "missing features".

Looks like a fun way to kill fifteen minutes and get the good stuff now. Read more at Chris Walsh's blog here.

Toshiba TG01 Tsunagi getting Windows Phone 7 [Hack]

We know for a fact that Microsoft was using the Toshiba TG-01 aka Tsunagi as a developer device for Windows Phone 7. Heck, we even have one of the rare birds in possession (see above). The device was ahead of its time when released over two years ago, sporting an ultra thin body, large LCD screen and a 1GHz CPU. But fast forward to 2011 and it's quite the clunker.

Now over at XDA, developer Nokser has been successful in porting WP7 to that device for those who only have Windows Mobile 6.5 on board. We say successful, but it is full of caveats and lots of early bugs, so this is more a proof-of-concept than a ready-to-install for the masses release. Still, it's a big step in the right direction, even if WP7 is pretty awful on it due to the Tsunagi's resistive touch screen.

Some drawbacks, should all two of you be interested are: no camera, potentially very low memory, poor reception, inability to zoom in on maps and photos, etc. These issues are expected to be fixed, so we'll see where all of this goes soon.

Source: XDA (thread); Thanks, Ross "H3ALY" H, for the tip!

Windows Phone Homebrew app roundup

Lots of little things have been happening if you have a developer unlocked device, preferably with the new interop level needed to side-load some more advance apps.

First off, over at Windows Phone Hacker they've detailed a more simple method for getting Internet Sharing onto your Samsung Mango phone (Omnia 7, Focus). Once you have your developer unlocked device also interop-unlocked, it only takes two files and a reboot to get the much-coveted feature on to your phone. As you can see from the pic below, we manged to do it for our AT&T Focus and it works like a charm (seriously, it's a nice tethering solution).

Next up are some HTC apps. Yes, so long as HTC tirelessly works on specialized apps, those mischievous fellas over at XDA will be trying to port them. This time, they've managed to grab the Omega/Radars's OEM files, which includes that new HTC Hub. We loaded it onto our Focus and it works quite well. In addition, you can even add the Dock Mode app, which we're big fans of, for a more complete device. Stay clear though of Attentive Phone, the sound enhancer and camera apps as they won't do anything for your non-HTC phone.

Finally, there's a unique app from GoodDayToDie at XDA called MultiTaskToggle:

"Threw together something fun for you: a one-click (don't sue me, Bezos) app for enabling or disabling multitasking on Mango. Fast app switching + full multitasking = awesome! Disabling multitasking when you need to save battery = convenient!"

"Features: Secondary tile with deep linking! Shows current multitask state and toggles it when tapped. Supports HTC, LG, Samsung phones [NEW]. Works on Mango! Uses no homebrew DLLs."

Basically the app allows you to set multitasking on/off with one tap on a Live Tile. Here's we're talking about the full-fledged, instant-resuming multi-tasking. It sucks up more battery life, but it also faster and allows things to run in the background. Being able to turn it on/of with a simple touch, therefore, is a much welcomed addition for the power users out there. You can find that thread right here.

Mango Internet Sharing/Tethering hack for Focus and Omnia 7 is not for the faint of heart

So the good is this: folks at XDA are working, with some success, on hacking onto our Mango phones internet sharing/tethering (first seen on the Focus). The bad news is, most of you can't do this (developer unlocked) and even if you could (like us) you wouldn't want to because good lord are there a lot of seemingly complicated steps.

We won't post the directions here, because honestly it wouldn't make sense, but you can head over to XDA, take a look and promptly return here.

Now, even though this is seemingly complicated and only for Samsung phones at the moment (sorry, HTC and don't even think about it Dell), it's a good sign that the community is moving forward on this as perhaps and easier method will come forth (see "all-in-one provxml file" as an example). So maybe, just maybe this is the start of something that the rest of us will be able to use in the future.

See our earlier coverage of why this feature is missing from current phones here.

Source: XDA; Thanks, Steve S., for the heads up

Windows Phone and home automation

Julien Schapmen of Touch Xperience has achieved something pretty cool with Windows Phone - home automation. Ever fancied controlling your TV, sound system and lights (to name but a few) from the comfort of your sofa and with a single device? Check out the above video walkthrough of a Windows Phone performing a number of tasks.

Via: WPSauce

Activate Scout & Bing Vision in Mango for Canada, others? [How to]

We've seen the improvement coming in "Mango" to Bing, which are nothing short of impressive: Vision, Scout, Music, info cards, images, etc. But (and it's a big but) some of those services won't work everywhere in the same fashion. We're talking of course about Scout and Bing Vision. Specifically on the latter, we know it won't do movie posters, books, CDs, barcodes etc only MS Tags and QR codes outside of the US. That's a huge bummer for many as Bing Vision works quite well.

Reader Leon Y. writes in to let us know that these services are not available in Canada--at least on the Mango 7712 ROM. It's actually very simple:

"I currently have the dev build 7712 and I don't know if it works in the RTM build. Also I think this works because I speak English and not another language.

Here's how to do it: Go into the Region+languages in the settings and change the browser & search language to English (United States) and hit the back button to save the changes. The local scout works like a charm and the Bing vision is amazing. I think this will work in other English speaking countries. I don't see a reason for Microsoft disabling this feature for other countries other that the US. I just wanted to share this discovery with everyone"

Anyone else want to confirm and share their experience? It's odd that Local Scout will actually pull info down in countries where it's not available in the OS. We hope for a least a handful of you this will enable these awesome features and that other countries will soon get these services as well.

Update: Works in Germany according to reader @Cyrus1989

Add Japanese (and other) language packs to Mango Beta

Mango not only promises to bring 500 new features for regular users but also numerous other languages for the rest of the planet. For those who want some Japanese on their Windows Phone now, or perhaps those looking to explore how to add other language, a neat little hack has appeared over at NanaPho.

The trick requires a registry edit before you upgrade to Mango (you can't yet edit the registry on Mango devices, as far as we know) and may be good for those playing with DFT's custom ROMs. While in NoDo or earlier, simply launch the registry editor and make these changes:

1. add this entry on your NoDo (7390 or 7392) phone.


name: 0411

value: Japanese

2. update to Mango Beta 2 Refresh

3. you will get Japanese language

Of course the potential is there to add other languages, though it has to be verified. Other language packs which are made available with the Mango release include 0413 (Netherlands), 0419 (Russian), 0804 (Simplified Chinese), 0404 (Traditional Chinese) and in theory, those should work too. Looks to be a cool trick for those not wanting to wait the extra month or two for the RTM Mango to hit.

Source: NanaPho

The return of USB storage to Windows Phone

We covered using your phone as a USB storage device awhile ago. It's one of those features that lots of folks want but the demand waxes and wanes, usually based on remembering that our phones can't do it natively. For the record, Microsoft always frowned upon this practice as you could theoretically screw something up. We're not even sure if the original hack works anymore (we're betting 'no') but that hasn't stopped developer Den Delimarsky from coming up with his own solution.

His method is detailed in full in this post and we'll leave the nitty-gritty to the developers out there. As he says, you can do this yourself though for us non-techies he's looking to release this publicly when it's all good and ready (at least we really hope he does).

"You probably always wanted to use your Windows Phone device as a USB storage device but never could. Well, this is solvable. There were a couple of hacks floating around, but I was curious to see if I can do it by myself. Well, I found a way to do it without third-party OS hacks and only with the help of a simple application built around the Microsoft.Smartdevice.Connectivity assembly.

I am not releasing the application itself at this point because there is more work to be done, but you can take a peek at what it looks like."

You can even upload files to an app's isolated storage, which is a bit advanced for most of us. Just form glancing at the tool this certainly seems like a much nicer method than before and looks quite promising. While not a plug-n-play solution, probably something we won't see anytime soon, it could be a decent option for those who need such a method for file transport.

Source: DZone

Team DFT gets their hands on RTM Mango build 7720

We'll just leave this here. It should be no surprise that those savvy gurus at team DFT have not only managed to get their hands on the RTM build of Mango (7720) but they've already have it running on an HTC HD7.

No word on whether others can flash this and our Chinese-forum skills are not helping here, but we imagine we'll see this trickle out to other devices, including the HD2...why not, right?

Source: Weibo; Thanks, talan1314!

One day later: Two ways to put Mango on your non-dev phone

Yesterday we saw the developer release of "Mango" for Windows Phone 7. The method requires a $99 AppHub subscription and for you to make a backup of your phone before the flash. It also voids your warranty.

Today, of course, people have already figured out ways around having a developer unlocked phone to flash Mango to it. We want to stress a couple of things first though:

  • This voids your warranty
  • You can't upgrade to the final Mango from this build, so you MUST back up
  • If you loose your backup, your phone is permanently in preview-Mango mode--no going back, no going forward
  • If this flash doesn't work and you brick your phone, it's your fault. Remember, even the offiical method has some issues (see here).

The first method comes by way of WPSauce. In essence, it requires three steps:

  1. Reverting back to 7004 or 7008 (aka pre-NoDo) by using your backup in Zune
  2. Using ChevronWP7 to unlock your phone
  3. Downloading and installing the official Mango update tools

We won't link to the files here, but safe to say you can do a little sleuthing around to find them yourself. This method at least will create a backup of your device (which you should also backup) and allow you to go forward once the real Mango update comes out this fall. Of all the ways, this is the safest (though still risky).

The second method comes via Windows Phone Hacker. It does not require you to revert back nor have a developer unlocked device. It basically will "...provision your device to receive beta updates. It requires the Windows Phone Support Tools to be installed, and your device needs to be updated to NoDo or beyond". Note: it does not create a backup, but you can do it yourself.

Once again, we caution you to hold off on doing this, at least for a few days. Wait till others have tried it, wait till Microsoft responds, wait till we know more about what is happening here. The second method is certainly the most risky and no one wants to hear your story about how your phone broke because you did this, so patience is a virtue here.

Source: WPSauce, Windows Phone Hacker

Video purportedly shows Toshiba TG01 (Tsunagi) running Windows Phone 7

Remember the Toshiba TG01? It was one of the first 1GHz Windows Mobile devices on the market, sported a giant (at the time) 4.1" screen and eventually got Windows Mobile 6.5

Well, the above video with the odd format looks to be showing it running Windows Phone 7. As far as these videos goes, this one looks more real: nothing is plugged in, screen reaction looks accurate (not a video), it was recorded very recently (last 12 hrs) because the Zune Marketplace features Limp Bizkit (shudder) and we even see it pulling data. Official or a hack?

Explanation? Even though there was mention of a TG03 months ago, we're pretty sure this is one of the developer devices Microsoft uses for testing WP7 on and doesn't point to any pending release, Toshiba throwing their hat in the ring, or any other hopeful fantasies. In fact, a developer version of the TG01 has been spotted before in Microsoft's labs--see TechRadar from October 11, 2011. That's our take, at least.

Source: YouTube; Thanks, Steve B, for the tip!

Raise AT&T upload speed on Samsung Focus [How To]

If you have experienced your upload speed being restricted on AT&T, which can occur after you've (finally) updated with official NoDo, there are some simple steps you can take to increase speed:

  • From the number-dial screen:
  • Enter ##634#
  • Diagnostics screen should open.
  • Enter *#32489#
  • Test mode screen should open.
  • Press back at the bottom (bottom right, not the phone's back button)
  • Press 5 for RRC (HSPA) control
  • Press 1 to view what yours is set at (Kyle's was Release 5 HSDPA only)
  • Press 2 to change it.
  • Press 3 to change to Release 6 HSDPA/HSUPA
  • Press [end] to confirm.

This will install a Diagnostics app on your device (that will be displayed on the installed app list), we are not currently aware if uninstalling the app will cause issues with the diagnostics tool itself. And if you need to know your speeds, there's an app for that: Bandwidth 2.x in the Marketplace. Hit us up in comments and let us know if this worked for you, we're still experimenting ourselves.

Thanks Kyle for the steps!

Walsh speaks on ChevronWP7.Updater and "breaking phones"

Chris Walsh, part of the ChevronWP7 team and responsible for the current ChevronWP7.Updater app, which used Microsoft's own tools to push NoDo to thousands of Windows Phones prematurely, has blogged about why he pulled the app.

On Monday, I released a homebrew utility that attempted to install unreleased updates to Windows Phone devices. The tool successfully passed my own tests involving multiple update scenarios.

I was later informed by Microsoft that there were several problems with my tool and the manner in which it changes phones.

Despite the fact that all outward signs indicate the phone has been updated to build 7390, Microsoft tells me otherwise. Part of the problem, the company says, is that I incorrectly used an undocumented API to deliver updates.

Most problematic, Microsoft tells me that updating in this manner will place devices in a "non-serviceable state". In its blog post describing the situation, Microsoft instead says devices updated in this manner "may" no longer receive updates

Not too much more info than we had previously reported, if anything this just confirms what we already know: users phones may or may not have problems in the future with later updates. We have had reports from users that after using this method, they still received notifications for OEM firmware updates which were then successfully installed--which bodes well for this "Microsoft is just being safe" idea.

Still, while using non-supported hacks to force system updates may not be the best idea, Walsh will be following up his post with details on what users should do next, since "official support" is not an option. It will be interesting to see in six months when thousands of users try to update to 'Mango', to say the least!

Source: My Coding Adventures

ChevronWP7.Updater pulled, breaks future updates on Windows Phones? Maybe not.

Information is a bit murky, but it looks like there could be a problem with the recently released ChevronWP7.Updater that was posted a few days ago by Chris Walsh. The updater as of now has been pulled offline with no explanation given. Based on Microsoft's own tools for fixing NoDo installation errors, Walsh was able to modify it so that it forced a NoDo update for any device queued for the ROM upgrade without any "hacking" to the phone itself.

Adding fire to the mix is a report, unconfirmed, from the::unwired who said this:

According to Microsoft, the use of ChevronWP7.Updater could possibly put the updated Windows Phone 7 device into a state where it cannot receive future regular updates to the OS anymore and the only fix will be re-flashing the device with an original stock ROM. At the end of the day if could mean that such Windows Phone 7 devices have to be send to the manufacturers or carriers service centers because unlike for Windows Mobile, stock ROMs are officially not available as a public download for end-users.

However, before we all start panicking, the man himself, Chris Walsh, has chimed in on Twitter saying "Don't believe everything you read" in response from numerous people mentioning the potential issues.

Pure speculation here, but we imagine Microsoft asked Walsh to pull the update till they could test all the ramifications of the hack. In the process, some premature dire warnings made it out to the 'net without 100% confidence behind them e.g. better to be cautious than not. In short, if you haven't done this update yet, your best bet is to wait a few days for the dust to settle as we're sure Walsh and Microsoft will have something to announce on the matter when something definitive can be said.

Source: the:unwired, My Coding Adventures, Twitter 1, Twitter 2

NoDo update hack released--works for every device, every carrier right now

Last night on the Twitter, Chris Walsh, aka one of the people who brought ChevronWP7 to the masses, was working on something "big", having Raphael Rivera testing something related to those new tools release by Microsoft. Those tools were meant to fix two rare but possible update errors people may be experiencing with the NoDo updater.

Turns out, when modified, those tools were able to force pre-NoDo and NoDo updates to any phone, any carrier with any language. Indeed. There's no sideloading here, no modifying of registries, etc. Just a multi-step process that will bring you the update to your phone right now.

Basically they’ve created a managed wrapper over the whole update process for us, rather nice of them.

So I flashed my HTC Mozart back to RTM (7004) via a ROM update HTC ship and whipped up a little application to flash pre-NoDo (7008), NoDo (7355), NoDo update 1 (7389) & NoDo update 2 (7390) all in a single process. No I don’t care which carrier you are on, which phone you have, it’ll just update your phone accordingly.

We really have to commend Microsoft here for being able to split up the OS updates into differential packs, which saves users downloading 200+ MB updates, unlike the IFruit updates.

All you need to do is run the ChevronWP7.Updater.exe console app and follow the prompts.

For the instructions and custom updater file (both for 32 and 64 bit Windows), go to Walsh's blog for more info. [Also, see Simple Mobile Review for a step-by-step walkthrough]

Easy hack forces NoDo update

For those of you who received the February pre-NoDo update but are still waiting for the big important March one to hit, there looks to be an easy way to make it happen now, without using the "VPN" trick discovered earlier.

In essence, the earlier VPN trick forced your computer to connect up to Hungary where, for some reason, the NoDo update was residing for certain phones. Now that NoDo is being pushed out large-scale, well, it's on more servers including more local ones. Still, how to get it to your device is proving to be a little tricky.

On devices listed on Microsoft's website as "delivering update" this should work, including T-Mobile HD7's:

  1. Start Zune
  2. Turn off Data connection and Wifi on the Phone
  3. Connect the Phone with the PC (USB)
  4. Start the update search in Zune
  5. About 3 seconds later, disconnect your PC from the internet (Turn WLAN off).
  6. Zune finds NoDo-Update. Press OK.
  7. Connect to the internet again and install the update.

Although some people are reporting that they had to try this multiple times, specifically the "timing" aspect in step 5, lots of folks are successfully getting the NoDo update. Share your experience in comments below and what you did to finally get it to push through. By the way, you do need the February update to get this to work.

Update: For laughs, we tried it on our "de-branded" AT&T LG Quantum (w/Feb update). Result? NoDo success!

Source: XDA (Dwight2001); Thanks to everyone who sent this in

New hack brings NoDo to some unbranded Windows Phones

So long as the carriers delay the NoDo update, it looks like people will find a way to force it to happen. Earlier we showed you how to do it on the T-Mobile US HD7, now some folks have figured out how to force it on unbranded/carrier unlocked devices, including the Omnia 7 and 7 Pro. [Update: but others are reporting it not working on the Surround or Mozart, in short, your mileage may vary]

While not hard per se, it is a bit tricky and involves evidently spoofing the Zune server into pushing you the update. One thing is certain, timing is everything as you need to make sure your data connection is turned off at the right moment.

We obviously haven't tried this ourselves, so we encourage you to be careful, but it at least appears many are having success in using this method. Check out the directions after the break and read what others are saying at XDA about it here.

Hack for unlocked HTC phones gets NoDo right now

We now know that Microsoft is doing a controlled, phased roll-out of 'NoDo', starting with unbranded phones evidently in Europe. That means a potentially prolonged delay for many users (and between us, we've just heard that AT&T users have a looong wait).

The good news is there is a 'hack' that can be done for HTC phones that will basically "unbrand" them allowing them to get 'NoDo', well, right now. Coming from some of team ChevronWP7 (Chris Walsh and Raphael Rivera) is a tricky edit that will enable this to be done:

Your device needs to be dev-unlocked for this to work. Sorry folks.

  1. Download this zip file and deploy the 3 xap files onto your device.
  2. Run the ChevronWP7.Ringtones.xap and wait till it displays “Ringtones added… and CustClear.provxml underneath”
  3. Run the TouchXplorer app, navigate to My DocumentsMy Ringtones click on CustClear.provxml and select Copy from the Application Bar.
  4. Navigate back inside TouchXplorer to the Windows folder.
  5. Select paste from the Application Bar, this should scroll right to the bottom and put a copy of CustClear.provxml in the Windows folder.
  6. Now run the Connection Setup application and click on the Ok button (it’s the one with the tick).

And now you’re done and free to re-connect to Zune and check for updates.

Now there is one caveat here we can think of: T-Mobile HD7 users may want to hold off. That's because that device has the special T-Mo bands and radio while the unlocked HD7 does not (or at the very least, could complicate things), so you may want to consider that if you're in that situation. Still, for the AT&T Surround users, sounds like you could do this, assuming you've jailbroken your phone for one last hoorah.

Update: Chris Walsh lets us know T-Mo HD7 users are good to go (hey, that rhymed); the update only modifies the OS, not the radio.

Update 2: Bad news is we're hearing non-Euro users are only getting the pre-NoDo update with this technique :-/

Source: My Coding Adventures (blog); via @ChrisWalshie

Windows Phone 7 "Instant Resuming" hack makes the OS even faster [Homebrew]

Over at Windows Phone Hacker, developer Jaxbot has figured out a way to enable "instant resuming" on Windows Phone 7.

Of course, you'll need a developer unlocked device and as they state there are some "unintended consequences" (though we don't know what those are exactly, we imagine it's memory/resource related). By using a registry editor, you can navigate to:


and set "DehydrateOnPause" to 0 (defaults to 3)

The hack takes effect immediately and as can be seen above, it makes starting/resuming any task or game nearly instant as it disables 'Tombstoning'. In fact, this feels like multi-tasking, allowing you to "go back" to the last few apps, having instant access to them. Of course the downside is you can't shut down any app either--we imagine eventually the system will force close something. Anyways, it's easily undone if something goes awry, till then, we'll leave it on and see what happens.

Source: Windows Phone Hacker