€50 prepaid app card on T-Mobile with Lumia 800

Good news to those who reside in Germany and are interested in purchasing the Nokia Lumia 800, as T-Mobile (DE) is offering a €50 prepaid app card to be used in the Marketplace. There are a few steps that are to be carried out to activate the card (Mastercard VoiceCash) however:

Rain Will Fall heading to the Marketplace

Rain Will Fall is a new game in development for your Windows Phone that will feature real time, multi-player mode. With the multi-player mode you can play against other Rain Will Fall players anywhere at anytime.

The game will also feature two game modes, Story and Mission along with online leaderboards. Just from the trailer Rain Will Fall comes across as a fast paced, fantasy game for your Windows Phone.

No word on pricing and according to the developer, we should see Rain Will Fall in the Marketplace sometime next week.

Thanks goes out to Tishawn for sharing this tip!

Server-side Marketplace encryption coming soon to prevent app piracy

In an interesting article at Ars Technica, they discuss the brief history of Chevron WP7, homebrew and piracy with regards to Windows Phone 7. Most of it is par for our readers, with nothing to substantial as far as history.

But there was a real interesting section regarding piracy, encryption and what Microsoft is doing to prevent theft of developers' software:

"Those piracy concerns are still an issue. It's possible to download application packages from Microsoft's servers and install them onto a developer unlocked phone without actually buying them.

That will change. Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" includes support for a new kind of encrypted package that should rule out this kind of piracy. Microsoft is waiting to ensure that a high enough proportion of users have upgraded to Mango before throwing the switch and using these encrypted packages, however."

This is the first we heard of any XAP encryption that would seemingly prevent users from sideloading illegally downloaded XAPs from Microsoft's servers (something we first demonstrated back in December). The idea is certainly a welcome one and from that detail about Microsoft waiting to throw the switch, this seems to be all on their-end.  That means devs won't have to do anything different in their XAP preparation and submission to the Marketplace.

Of course devs could presumably still release their XAPs directly e.g. for the homebrew community without encryption, much like they do now. But for companies like Nokia, who may be a tad irritated that their Music and Maps apps have been ripped, this could be very welcome news.

Source: Ars Technica

Marketplace Extras: Helping you find just the right app

The Windows Phone Marketplace has undergone its fair share of renovations here lately.  One new feature that might come in handy if you're looking for new, trending and staff recommended apps is the Marketplace Extra.

Marketplace Extra highlights eight categories of apps, focusing on about a dozen recommended apps from each.  You also have video demos, news items on Windows Phone apps and feature articles from The Windows Team Blog.  Marketplace Extra is a good source, along with WPCentral, to find those pin-worthy apps.

Thanks goes out to TheWeeBear for the tip!

Kinectimals catnapped, Microsoft to rescue on November 2

We’ve received a lot of questions and comments about the Xbox Live title Kinectimals disappearing from the Marketplace. Many of you have been worried about the missing kitties, so it’s time to set the record straight.

First off, the Windows Phone version of Kinectimals appeared on the Marketplace Wednesday morning alongside the regularly-scheduled Xbox Live release, Orbital. It was a pleasant surprise, as we only expected a single Live release. Later that day, Kinectimals dropped off the Marketplace.

As it turns out, Kinectimals’ release was a ‘soft launch’ according to a Microsoft representative we spoke with. They released it as a tease to build hype for the game’s official release, which comes next week on November 2. Anyone who already purchased the game can enjoy it as normal, but those who didn’t will need to wait till Wednesday. In the meantime, enjoy the above picture of my kitty, MouseCat, getting into trouble at the CiCi's Pizza buffet. We also have this demonstration video from Nokia World.

We actually updated out original story yesterday, but many readers may have missed it with everything going on. For the record, you can always find gaming-related news by jumping to the Games section of our site.

Keep the tips and questions coming.  We love hearing from you guys and gals.

Windows Phone Marketplace ratings are broken

Here's something we've noticed over the last few days and was brought to our attention by some developers: basically no new ratings/stars are being calculated. If you have 200 ratings before a few days ago, they're essentially frozen there. If you're a new app or game introduced in the last few days, you may be getting reviews from users, but the star-rating and counter are not being updated to reflect new reviews.

Many users, including ourselves, use the star ratings (and review count) to get a first impression of an app. You see a game with 4.5 stars with 50 reviews, well, you know that's a game to download. Vice versa, if a game has 2 stars and 121 reviews, you know to avoid it. In other words, these ratings and their accurate reflection are key to an app's success in many ways.

Case in point: Jet Car Stunts, released this past Wednesday, has plenty of 4 and 5 star reviews but the overall rating for it? No stars, zero reviews.

We hope Microsoft is aware of this problem and working to get it fixed. But hey, it may not hurt to bring this story to their attention.

Thanks, Daniel J., for reminding us about this

Windows Phone AppHub now allowing 7.0 apps to be updated by developers

If you recall, once a developer had submitted a "Mango" 7.1 app to the Marketplace, it essentially cut them off from access to the non-Mango 7.0 version. That meant that the pre-Mango version was frozen, basically forever, with no chance for bug fixes. And although the goal is to get Mango on 100% of the devices and basically all the updates are rolling out now, developers were still a little unhappy about that limitation.

Microsoft of course listened and figured out a way to let devs have access to both 7.0 and 7.1 versions of their apps. They announced this awhile ago but it has just officially been instantiated in the developer AppHub, meaning devs can update their old pre-Mango apps just like before.

As you can see from the image above, thanks to our developer Jay Bennett, devs will have the option via a drop down menu to choose which app to modify. Seems like a good solution to us and hopefully devs will take advantage of it.

App Hub for China and Marketplace for India

The Windows Phone team has published some exciting news for both China and India. With India finally getting some handsets being made available this month (the HTC Radar, Samsung Omnia W and Acer Allegro), owners of these devices will be able to purchase and download apps from the Marketplace. Speaking of the Marketplace, improved search has been introduced with developers being able to tie up to five keywords per app or game to increase reach in searches.

China unfortunately still has no Marketplace, but now has App Hub coverage for developers who reside in the country to put their talent to good use with submitting games and apps to the Marketplace. For those who are still awaiting App Hub availability, remember that Microsoft has the Global Publisher Program that will be able to help.

Source: Windows Phone Developer Blog

Microsoft reduces daily app submission limit to 10

Remember the apps above? They were in the spotlight when the Marketplace came under attack from a number of clone/spam apps that either had limited functionality or were mere copies that could all be combined. Microsoft published some new guidelines and changed a few things here and there to combat the spam, but we later questioned more apps making their way into the platform catalogue.

Fast forward a few months to this exact date in time and we have a new article published by Todd Brix on the Windows Phone Developer blog. The post outlines that the team plan to introduce a lower cap on the number of apps that can be submitted in 24 hours, from 20 to 10 - effective tomorrow (Friday, 30th). Mr Brix also took a minute to remind developers:

  • Unique apps can only be published in a single category. Any duplicate apps showing up in other categories may be unpublished, per the Windows Phone Marketplace FAQ’s
  • When applying similar templates to multiple types of apps, we recommend differentiating apps through unique iconography, titles and other metadata to help potential customers make informed decisions about downloading apps.
  • As mentioned in application certification requirement 2.10, apps must have distinct, substantial and legitimate content and purpose. Differentiation between your apps can help meet this requirement.
  • There are several ways for your apps to be featured in Marketplace on the phone and now on the Web. Apps are featured by category based primarily on their number of downloads and customer reviews. The same is true for the cumulative top and free sections. The New panorama that makes up the background is algorithmic based on timing.

At least Microsoft is continuing to look at ways to limit the number of spam on the Marketplace, but is lowering the limit all that's needed to fight back? Should it be lower than the proposed 10? Sound off your views in the comments. On a closing note, should Microsoft be making $444 million from patent licensing on Android, could Google not indirectly fund a new Windows Phone review team to be on the hunt for the crap in the above image?

Source: Windows Phone Developer blog, thanks WeeBearUK for the heads up!

More details surrounding tethering and the web Marketplace [Video]

Ben Rudolph has published a detailed article on the Windows Phone Developer blog covering tethering in Mango and the web Marketplace, which is currently being rolled out. Tethering, or Internet sharing, will be available to those who are on a plan that allows it by the carrier, if implemented by the manufacturer. It will enable Windows Phone users to connect to the Internet on a laptop or desktop via their handset, should no other access points be available.

Unfortunately, before you get your hopes up while installing the update, also written in the article:

"I should note that this feature will only be available on new Windows Phones that have radios capable of broadcasting a connection; if you update your existing phone to 7.5, it won’t give it the ability to use Internet Sharing."

Joe Belfiore also tweeted that newer handsets will be able to take advantage of the new feature, but no word on 1st generation devices. Hopefully we'll bring good news for us 'oldbies' as updating our handsets just for tethering seems baloney.

Moving onto the web Marketplace, which we recently covered the launch. The advantages noted in our coverage is the ability to try and buy apps and games on the web while your device secretly installs them in the background requiring no user input. In the video above, Ben walks us through the new Marketplace and what's so awesome about it. Let's not forget the new My Windows Phone section!

Source: Windows Phone Developer blog

Windows Phone Web Marketplace starts to go live around the world

We're getting reports that the much anticipated web version of the Marketplace, which will allow you to try and buy apps and have them sent directly to your Mango phone, is going live.

The site can be accessed through the newly redesign portal both in Germany and here in the US. Going to the Marketplace, you can browser, search and try out any of the 30,000+ apps that are available, however if you try to buy an app or use the trial, an error will come back--meaning that Microsoft is still loading up this thing as we speak.

The Windows Phone Web Marketplace, first announced months ago, is an extension of the Zune Desktop and Marketplace on the phone and will give consumers even more flexibility for finding and purchasing new apps. From our earlier coverage:

"There will be more placements for featured apps that will bring more noticeability and reach, ensuring developers receive more potential conversions while their app is in the spotlight. Users who browse the web version will be able to share apps and games via social media and email to contacts and friends."

"Bing visual search will be re-configured too. Any end-user searching for apps and games will now be linked straight to the web Marketplace on their PC, ready to download and install. Your Live ID will be integrated so you wont have to activate a separate payment gateway in order to make a purchase. Simply click and go using card details on your account.

Indeed you can now Tweet and Facebook "Like" any app you find, which should go a long way to spreading apps and helping devs out.

Source: Windows Phone Web Marketplace; Thanks, Jan, for the tip!

Zune Marketplace now open in Sweden for Windows Phone users

Microsoft's gears are still grinding away with Mango this fall, pushing out USB updates, new Mango apps and even launching the Marketplace in more regions, something that many desperately  want. It's the latter here that is most interesting as Sweden looks to be the lucky country today get Zune Marketplace access.

Reader Bruno H. has sent in these images along with his story about how very recently this all went live:

"Yesterday when i opened Zune on my pc, suddenly there was a new option in Zune that I had never seen before.

It was the Marketplace that had opened. I could rent movies (for points) and purchase and download WP7 Apps (for money). I bought an app I had on trial (Sally's Salon) to try the functionality. The Purchase went through but Sally on my WP7 device (Samsung Omnia 7) never got updated. Could be that I need Mango to get the purchases to download through Zune?"

Currency is in the native kronor as well. As to why Bruno can't actually update his phone with the game, we're not entirely sure but he may be on to something that this requires Mango on the phone already. If not, the other explanation is that things are completely "live" yet. Either way, it's nice to see the juggernaut that is Microsoft and Windows Phone trudging forward. Hopefully more territories are coming next. Thanks Bruno for reaching out to us and congrats!

Windows Phone Marketplace has yet to update, Collapse! trapped in Xbox Live limbo

As you may have noticed, the Windows Phone Marketplace didn’t update last night. Most weeks, the new Xbox Live release and  Deal of the Week go live around 2 AM Pacific Standard Time. This week it has not, which means Collapse! still isn’t available, nor can Zombie Attack! 2 be purchased at a discounted price yet.

The last time the Marketplace failed to update on time, things finally straightened out that Wednesday evening. Hopefully things get fixed a little sooner this time, but the waiting probably won’t kill us. Except for our reader Dark Mirage – he was so excited for Collapse!, I hesitate to imagine how this news will affect him. At any rate, we’ve contacted Microsoft to ask about the delay and will update when they respond or the Marketplace refreshes.

AppFlow updated to 2.0 with new features

A while back we took a quick look at AppFlow, which provides a new way to browse apps on the Marketplace. It has since been updated to version 2.0, which brings with it a number of features and improvements thanks to the amount of feedback accumulated.

So what's new?

The live tile supported by the app has been revamped with a new icon and the tile shows the total number of apps in the Marketplace, the daily featured app as well as the icons of the 50 newest apps approved. Categories used in the Marketplace are now accessible in AppFlow (entertainment, tools & productivity, etc.) and support has been added to include free, trial & paid and paid filters for search.

A noticeable improvement in the update is the speed of loading app icons and other content, which makes AppFlow much quicker than the Marketplace and other browsing apps, thanks to the download of all images in a single request. Local currencies are now displayed instead of the US dollar.

Some new lists have been added that include:

  • Best Live Tile Apps – "apps you’ll want to pin on your home screen"
  • David vs Goliath – "official apps of big brands and their unofficial counterparts"
  • Apps Gone Free – "apps that were paid but now are freely available"

You can download AppFlow (Zune link) from the Marketplace for free.

Thanks Akos for sharing this with us!

AdDuplex: a look at app capabilities

A while ago Alan Mendelevich, Founder of AdDuplex, published an interesting article about apps in the Marketplace. Much like a previous Marketplace analysis by Justin Angel we take a look at a sample of available apps, but instead of looking at a Marketplace specific breakdown, Alan walks us through app capabilities.

In the image above (click the enlarge) you can see we have nine app capabilities illustrated by percentage of the 50 top apps taken in the Marketplace (July '11). To give a quick run-through, we have owner identity, location-based services, media library, web browser, phone identity, data connection, microphone, sensors and push notifications. As is to be expected, data connectivity is the most used capability within apps, but it's interesting to see owner identity and phone identity on 24% and 26% respectively.

Source: AdDuplex

Average app in WP Marketplace downloaded more times than Android and iOS

This is an interesting calculation, Research2Guidance has published a report that features a chart which illustrates the comparison of average downloads per app on a number of platforms to iOS. Looking at that chart above, you can see that OVI Store (Symbian) has +160% more downloads per app on average than iOS, while Windows Phone comes second in at +80%.

Surprisingly, BlackBerry came in third at +43%. Many users on competitor platforms may complain and make remarks about the amount of apps available to WP users, but we sure have quality over quantity and it goes to show with the amount of downloads apps are accumulating. Check out our article covering Marketplace statistics and case study for more insight on WP.

Source: Research2Guidance, via: WMPU

Windows Phone Marketplace statistics

Justin Angel, former Microsoft Silverlight Program Manager, has downloaded all Windows Phone Marketplace XAPs and analysed them. He's then gone on to provide some insightful graphs for us all to see. He ended up with 108GB and analysed 24,505 apps, looking at Obfuscation, Silverlight vs. XNA, programming language, number of cloned apps and more.

We'll get stuck into cloned apps to begin with, which Justin reports as being around 925 of the 24,505 he took into account. These are the apps that share the same functionality as each other, such as the spam that we encountered, etc. He estimated that over 20% of the Marketplace is the same app published more than once. This leaves just 18,549 apps in the Marketplace that are unique. Check out the chart after the break for a visual representation.

Windows Phone Marketplace error c101b00b, anyone?

So we just noticed we're getting a nasty little Marketplace error when trying to download any app today. We're running on Mango and noticed this on a few of our phones, but we sent out a request on Twitter to see if anyone else was experiencing the same.

Turns out it's mixed, but definitely a large portion of you are experiencing irregularities in the Marketplace today--regardless of Mango or NoDo. We've heard from Portugal, Norway, Switzerland,  US, Romania and Australia so far with parts of the U.S. Italy and UK doing okay.

We're not sure what's going as it could be just a temporary hiccup, but we'll keep you posted.

Android vs Windows Phone free apps - A case study: Part II

A few weeks ago, we covered a single case study of one developer who released the same app on Android and Windows Phone: 'Mortal Kombat Tactics' by Neuralnet found here in the Marketplace.

The conclusion at the time was that Windows Phone was a better platform for developers to make money on (via ads) due to the fact that visibility is much higher than the Android Market. As a result, the developer brought in just $1.27 form Android in five days versus the $14.77 for the same time--that's a huge difference obviously.

But, would that advantage last? Luckily, Alex updated his post to show what thirty days in August would look like instead of just five:

  • Android revenue is $3.44 with an eCPM of $0.30 and a total of 11,606 Impressions
  • Windows Phone 7 revenue is $108.55 with an eCPM of $0.94 and a total of 114,920 Impressions.

We don't really need to point out how $3 is slightly less than $108 for Windows Phone, do we? Alex summarizes:

"The 30,000+ apps in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace and 300,000+ apps in the Android Market are good numbers, but discovery is everything. Which gives a clear advantage to Windows Phone 7.

Once your app is on the "New" or "Just in" category is the best chance that your application can be seen by a lot of people, on Windows Phone 7 your app can be under the "New" category for a full day or two, three if you are lucky, but on Android is another subject all together because you can have 40 plus apps published at the same time yours is and that's your big chance to be seen by a lot of people."

Certainly food for thought for developers looking to pick a platform to work on. Like all things though, as Windows Phone's Marketplace grows, this advantage may dwindle, but as of right now it's looking pretty good.

Source: WP7DesignCorner