Official Qantas app for Windows Phone now available

The official Qantas app for Windows Phone, which we have been anticipating since MIX '11, has now been released on the Marketplace. The app enables users to keep track of their upcoming flights with the operator. As well as mobile check-in, the app also displays the status of the customer's frequent flyer programme with accumulated points.

The free Qantas app provides a boarding pass for the selected flight that can be used for a more efficient experience, just remember to charge the Windows Phone the night before (nothing worse than relying on your dead smartphone for checking into your flight). Should you have access to the available lounges at numerous supporting airports, the app will also provide information as to the location and opening hours of said areas.

Live tiles are present with the ability to pin flights to the homescreen for up-to-date details regarding the scheduled time of departure, etc. The official Qantas app is a convenient companion for any frequent traveller, it's just a shame that there doesn't appear to be any way to book flights through the app itself. It's pretty much identical to the British Airways app, which is also available on the Marketplace, basic but sports enough features.

You can download the official Qantas app from the Marketplace for free and find the press release after the break. Via: Techin5

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!

Skype for Windows Phone is in testing, out soon

In an exclusive report this morning, The Verge is trumpeting that the elusive Skype for Windows Phone application is "currently [in] testing" and that "at least one source indicated that it could launch at Mobile World Congress later this month." (Emphasis ours.) Wait, didn't we already know all this? Answer: Yes.

Here's a compressed timeline:

We understand everyone is chomping at the bit for Skype. We'll let you know when we learn more and roll out a full review when it hits the Marketplace. Stay tuned.

Device rumors: 7 Pro headed to Verizon, Mazaa appears at MIX11? [Updated]

Both of these rumors today are on the weak end and use a bit if induction to get to their conclusion, but we'll throw 'em out anyways.

First, Nanapho.jp is reporting that the Trophy device used during the MIX11 demo (the one that puts its browser up against the iPhone and Nexus S) is not just the Trophy but the HTC Mazaa. What makes that interesting is during the rest of the MIX11 talks, whenever the gyroscope function was demonstrated it was on this Trophy/Mazza device. Nanapho gets the info via a Microsoft rep who evidently informed them.

Of course this still leaves open who the Mazaa is for and whether or not it will have the gyroscope on launch (we were under the impression that these were just modified Trophies for Microsoft for testing purposes).

The other rumor comes via Pocketnow who strung together a few pieces of info that suggests that Verizon is game for the HTC 7 Pro aka Sprint Arrive. The process is a bit of a math/transitive relation solving. In essence, we know there is a device being used with the ID MWP6885 (see our earlier coverage of new devices). There is also an FCC device that was approved called PC93100 which is a 7 Pro (confidentiality has expired). What links them together is a user agent profile called PC93-1.0.xml which, dun dun dun, IDs the MWP6885.

So if MWP6885=PC93 and PC93=7Pro (PC93100) then MWP6885=7 Pro.

Sure, it's a bit of a stretch but technically the logic works. Of course can Verizon actually get this out by the time anyone cares? That remains to be seen.

Update: This may or may not be the Mazza but they are new engineering prototypes that Microsoft is using in house i.e. Asus devices are out. Furthermore, these have Snapdragon and Adreno GPU with gyro sensors. Thanks to our source for the info.

via Nanapho.jp; Thanks, tezawaly; Pocketnow

MIX'11 Sessions Download tool

An awesome silverlight-built MIX'11 session download tool has been developed that allows visitors to download the sessions at MIX'11, fantastic for people who have watched bits and peieces, wish to recap on individual sections or want to share the video with friends.

Warning: When first downloading a session, it will send you a .bat file that will enable you to download what you want - rest assured that it's safe. If you'd prefer a text-based recap, check out our everything you need to know about MIX'11 guide, enjoy!

Via: @pmarwa

Latest WP7 specs include 2nd gen Snapdragon & optional gyro

Back to MIX, Istvan Cseri (Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft) revealed the new Windows Phone 7 chassis that OEM's can use to build handsets which is to be released in the coming months.

Observing the image above, we can see the Qualcomm MSM7X30 and MSM8X55 (800MHz) are included in the platform requirements and both feature the Adreno 205 GPU. Gyroscope sensor addition is optional and manufactures will be able to use multiple combinations of memory, gyroscope support and SoC as long as they don't go below current specification requirements. Screen resolution is kept at 800x480 (WVGA). Watch the presentation after the break.

A look at the new database feature in Mango [MIX11]

Another new feature coming to developers next month and which we'll be the beneficiary of when 'Mango' is released in the fall, is database access.

Now before you groan with boredom, we should point that this little thing is actually quite huge--developers are pretty ecstatic about the addition. Why? Because now they can write apps that pull info from your contacts (read only) and calendar (also read only) and use them in their apps directly.

If you take the moment to watch the above video in a demo wine app, you can see how the augmented calendar works within an app (it both pulls down days and appointments), allows you invite people from you address book including their address, adds it to the calendar and then allows you to email all of it. Very slick. None of that can be done today, which is a quite a big hole in feature ability.

The slide below though does show there are limitations e.g. the read-only feature (which we think is fine) and the fact that Facebook is limited to contact name/picture and evidently Twitter will have no accessible user information (we're not sure why that is exactly). The point to take away though is that devs are very excited about this as it will allow them to create faster apps (less "pull from the cloud") with more robust features that are much tighter integrated with the OS.

Everything you need to know from MIX '11

MIX'11 was eventful to say the least, with a large array of Windows Phone 7 announcements being made within the space of an hour on day two--then there were the sessions for the next 2 days. We were situated at the front of the action and were able to cover everything from the introduction of Internet Explorer 10 to Spotify making an appearance on WP7.

Should you have not been able to follow all the 'goings on' at the event, take a look at the list below (located after the break) featuring our coverage with everything you need to know. Please feel free to share as we think this is quite comprehensive.

Mango to bring Marketplace options and ratings

One more tid bit from MIX11 for the day.  Mango is expected to bring a few more options to Windows Phone 7 developers with regards to distribution options and will require game ratings.

Private Betas and Private Apps will join the Public Distribution options for developers. Private Betas will not require certification but will require user registration by the developer by way of the user's Windows Live ID (limited to 100). Private Betas will have a life cycle of 90 days and should help developers iron out all the bugs before releasing the app for Public Distribution.

Private Apps will need to go through the certification process and will not be searchable in the Marketplace. Developers will distribute these apps via a deep link to allow recipients to download the app. This distribution will be well suited for enterprise/corporate applications.

Marketplace games will also require a rating and certification of those ratings if it's required by the region of distribution. This should open the door for gaming titles where concerns about mature content are present (remember Twin Blades). This would also suggest that parental controls will be present in the Marketplace as well.

via: mobilitydigest

Help turn Brandon Foy's video into a TV advert


We mentioned this yesterday that Brandon Foy had made a fan video for Windows Phone 7 that became rather popular and even attracted the attention of Microsoft's Windows Phone team. Microsoft was so impressed that they used the video as the introduction to the Day 2 Keynote Presentation at MIX11.

Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's VP over Windows Phone Program Management, also tossed out a challenge to fans of Brandon's work. Should the video pass 200,000 views, Microsoft will use the video as a television ad.

We bring this up again because a) the video looks good and b) the video count needs a little help.  Plus it's always cool to see fan-based work make it to the big stage.

In just over 24 hours, the view count is hovering around 33,300. So spread the word, tweet your friends and let's help Brandon's video make it to a television near you. You can find the video here or click on the "Watch on YouTube" link in the embedded video above.

Does XNA + Silverlight break the '3 screens' paradigm? Technically, yes.

Coming out of talk on Silverlight and XNA (remember, devs can now combine both, making regular apps with 3D, immersive graphics), an interesting question was brought up: Can developers mix Silverlight and XNA on Windows or Xbox? Answer: no, they cannot. 

Microsoft does not have any tools for devs nor anything to announce on the matter, though they have built the Windows Phone tools with Windows and Xbox programming in mind, but as of now, there seems to be no immediate plans to bring over that functionality. What's interesting is this technically breaks the much touted "3 screens" model whereby devs can write roughly 80% of the app and have it compatible with the PC, Xbox and Windows Phones. Now, with the addition of Silverlight to games (and devs do like that ability), this is not the case anymore.

Will it have a big impact? Too early to tell and certainly Microsoft can port over this feature to PC and Xbox in the future. But for now, devs will technically be breaking that ability if they use both languages in the same app or game.

Anyways, for fun though, watch the top vid to see some more XNA + Silverlight combos. The first part shows how video can now be manipulated dynamically, making it like a liquid to the touch...very cool (the audience clapped after this) and the second shows a demo augmented reality app with 3D graphics "floating". The ability to add XNA graphics to the camera can result in some really cool 3D effects.

Coming with Mango: Apps can download in the background too

One really cool feature that comes with Mango (because of multitasking) is that 3rd party apps can now download data in the background. But being Microsoft is concerned with what they call "health" aka battery life, cpu and mem usage, etc. there are restrictions on how it all works.

First of all, things download serially when the screen is on i.e. you're probably using it. This makes sense as you don't want your radio and cpu overwhelmed while trying to do your task. This is a huge problem, in our opinion, with Android, which just tries to swallow data regardless if your using the device, on battery or whatever, often slowing it down significantly.

There are also two modes: on battery ("Periodic Agents") and when plugged in and on WiFi ("Idle Agents"). The former is when your phone is in your pocket or your actually using it--apps can pull data down, serially, at specified intervals (up to the developer, but only every 30 minutes--this number is being debated though, may change). This is good for small updates, geolocation, "checking in", etc.

The latter scenario, "Idle Agents", could be thought of as "night mode"--when your phone is plugged in, on your home WiFi not being used. In this case, the phone "feasts" on data (yummy!). This is where apps can pull down whole podcasts, tons of images, etc. Basically anything goes, though each app only gets a 10 minute "window" so it can't waste the whole night (though it can try again later).

All in all cool stuff and smart, very smart.

Custom camera apps coming with new dev tools [MIX11]

With those new dev tools coming in May, one of the features they have access to is the ability to create custom camera applications. A demo of such an app can be seen above, where an overlay (MIX logo) is put on the screen so when a photo is taken, it is automatically "stamped" on the pic. There's also the ability to create a "steady cam" type effect, which is good for the folks with the shakes.

Some other things we learned:

  • Custom camera apps can't take over the camera button--so you need to launch it like a program each time
  • Custom cameras don't have access to the OEM camera settings
  • Devs can create an on-screen shutter button and/or use the hardware button for focusing (half press) or snapping the pic (full press)

While we would love to replace the default camera app with a custom one, we'll take what we can at this point. We're really looking forward to seeing what devs create using these new tools though, shouldn't be too much longer.

"Motion Sensor", gyroscopes and more [MIX11]

We just came from an interesting talk by Mark Paley, Principal Lead Program Manager at Microsoft for Windows Phone. The focus of the discussion was sensors and cameras, specifically what devs can now do with them.

Yesterday we reported on how only new, not-yet-released devices will have the hardware to support gyroscopes. We also mentioned that this is an option to add gyro, not a chassis requirement. The question was then what about all the devices without gyros, how will software work with them?

The answer is the "Motion Sensor" API, which basically takes the accelerometer, compass (new) and gyroscope (new), combine them into one "sensor" and does all the math behind them. In turn, the devs job is made much easier since the code is so simple. But there is also a 'Motion.IsSupported' code that checks to see if the hardware is there--if not, it just uses the accelerometer and compass (which we all have now).

In other words, software is software and devs can just write code using the Motion Sensor API--if your device has gyro, it uses it, if not, it still works. So what's it like not having gyroscope? Well, it's like it is now on the LG devices with their augmented reality apps--they work just fine, they're just not as smooth or accurate as a device with a gyroscope. No fragmentation, no issues.

MIX11 Keynotes (and more) now available online

Did you miss out on viewing the MIX11 Keynote presentations over the past two days? Don't worry, MIX11 has the videos of both keynote presentations available from their website.

Microsoft's Dean Hachamovitch led the way with the Day 1 Keynote that concentrated on Microsoft's IE9 and IE10 development. The Day 2 Keynote featured Joe Belfiore and focused on Windows Phone development (check out our wrap-up for all the details).  The amount of information presented in Belfiore's keynote was impressive and the future of Windows Phone 7 looks promising.

In addition to the Keynote videos, Channel 9 Live is also offering coverage from other MIX11 presentations and sessions.  The information ranges from presentations on Windows Phone developer's tools to multi-tasking in Mango.

List of newly supported developer countries for Marketplace

Amist all the incredible announcements made at MIX'11 yesterday, one that caught everyone's eye through continuous demand and request was the amount of new countries where developers can register in the Marketplace. The above image shows all the current countries in green, with the added 8 in yellow, which include:

  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • India
  • South Africa
  • South Korea

Superb news for developers who reside in the above, especially if you're experiencing issues when attempting to connect to the Marketplace etc. Are you affected by the above inclusion?

Source: WindowsPhoneGeek

Background services are user controllable in Mango [MIX11]

Although these are not the best shots (sorry, even their camera was blurry), what you are seeing is a new option under Settings in Mango that allows the consumer to control if background services run or not. 

In essence, when a 3rd party app insstalls with background services (say a "FriendFinder" app), it also adds itself to this section. The user can then simply and easily toggle on/off if that background service runs. This is good if battery life is going to be a big concern and you don't want that app periodically checking for updates or pushing data, or if you just don't want it running.

We also learned that the camera and mic can't run in the background, basically as a privacy issue--so no "spy apps" for now, although Microsoft seems flexible on this (they're soliciting feedback a lot from devs on these decisions).

Meet Brandon Foy, creator of the "We Love WP7" ad

We're just running into everyone today, including the legend that is Brandon Foy aka the creator of the fan-made commerical that went viral. In fact it caught Microsoft's eye (we hear Watson's) and it was pushed for him to go further and make a bigger, even better commerical. 

That video premeired today and can be seen on YouTube. With enough views (pegged at 200,000) Microsoft will turn it into a TV spot.  We spoke with Brandon briefly and found out it took him 2-3 weeks to create the original ad and about 1-2 weeks for the new one (sounds like he has the forumla down now). So why did he do it? Simple, as a creative person with an eye for the visual art, he fell for the Metro design on Windows Phone and did what he does best: evidently creating rocking videos with hip French techno  (seriously, 'Danger' is awesome).

We hope to see more work from him in the future and we think he has quite a bright future. Make sure you check his website BrandonFoy.TV for more info.

Hands on (almost) with IE9 on Windows Phone 7 [MIX11]

Look at that, we tracked down Microsoft's Joe Marini here at MIX11. He's in charge of IE on Windows Phone and as a result, has the latest build of IE9 running on his phone.

He gave us a few mins of demonstration and that browser sure looks nice (see it kick other browser's butts here). No word on Silverlight/Flash yet for IE9 and same with plugins/addons, but at this point we'll be quite satisifed with just this base for our browsing needs. We also dig the "Metro styled" menus now--looks much better.

Team ChevronWP7 in full effect at MIX11

Wearing their gifted shirts from Microsoft (Brandon Watson confirms only 5 exist), the ChevronWP7 team is in force at MIX11 this week, blogging, covering the event and meeting with whose who in the Windows Phone world. And we must say, they're all stand up guys. So we had to grab this photo, because why not? From left to right: Chris Walsh (@chriswalshie, site), Raphael Rivera (@WithinRafael, site) and Long Zheng (@longzheng, site).

For those who don't remember, these were the folks to first jailbreak WP7, were invited to Redmond for some "talks" with Microsoft and have since continued being a creative thorn in Brandon Watson's side. Will we see more from them on the Windows Phone front? We'd bet on it..