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It's common knowledge that the Microsoft Kin family of handsets suffered from a short life and quick death, with the hardware only being available for a matter of weeks. The poor devices never really saw the light of day when Microsoft's somewhat 'hip' mobile phones launched back in 2010.

Issues ranged from the hardware being too expensive to having too few apps and being slow and sluggish. Internal videos have now been published that show focus groups testing the Kin (using pre-production units that reportedly changed very little from the shipping product). It doesn't look good at all for the ill-fated devices.

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It's on! Well, nearly anyway. MetroSpec, the ZX Spectrum emulator for Windows Phone we previously covered from the recent WPUG meetup in London, has almost hit beta. Lead developer Glenn Edwards is now on the hunt for eager testers who wish to take the app and run it through its paces to squash possible bugs and provide feedback on functionality and features.

MetroSpec enables Windows Phone users to load up homebrew or other Spectrum titles and enjoy a smooth gaming experience while on the go. Game states can be exported to SkyDrive allowing users to continue on the larger screen from a different platform / emulator, games can be imported from both SkyDrive and a known web server, and a number of intuitive features ensures the UI is efficient and easy-to-use.

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Freda ebook reader in search of beta testers

The new version of Freda, a free ebook reader, is almost nearing completion and the developers require some assistance with testing the app out. The update will include a number of new features:

  • Freda's front screen now shows a 'live tile' display of book sources
  • You can pin books to the phone's start screen
  • The display of book text is much faster and smoother (it now uses XNA graphics)

Should you be interested in signing your name up as a beta tester, email beta@turnipsoft.co.uk with your details (including Windows Live ID). For now, you can download Freda from the Marketplace.

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'Sup developers (and users)? Fancy a service that provides you with the means to get some beta testers on board for your app(s)? Of course you do. Introducing Windows Phone Beta, a brand new service that has recently launched. What's it all about? It's a catalogue of apps that are currently in beta and are in need of testers. Consumers can register an account for free, browse the active and pending beta tests and register interest in particular apps.

Registering your interest is as easy as clicking a single button. Developers are then able to communicate with all interested testers for feedback and comments. If you're interested in finding more testers for your app(s) with a dedicated service, or you'd like to participate in testing apps, head on over to the Windows Phone Beta website for more details.

Thanks Hardrock1a for the tip!

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Beta test the new adCenter app

Microsoft is developing an application for adCenter to be used while on the go. In an article on the adCenter blog published by Amit Goel, Senior Product Manager, he has asked for help in testing the beta and ironing out features, bugs and whatnot. The app will provide basic functionality to control the connected account while mobile. Requirements for applying are pretty obvious:

  • Have access to a Windows Phone 7
  • Agree to provide feedback in 4-5weeks in the form of a survey
  • Have an active adCenter account

Note that this is limited to 50 testers - first come, first served. Also, it's US only (yay). To sign up, check out the application form.

Source: adCenter

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One curious problem about developing on Windows Phone that has yet to be addressed (but will, eventually) is the ability for developers to have a place to beta-test their applications. The only way to do it is to give your XAP file to seemingly random people who have an unlocked device and hope they give you feedback. The issue though is it has to be unsigned and you're not really sure who you're givng your app too. Let alone the whole pay thing if you didn't make it trial-ware.

XNA-UK XAP tester service is evidently a place where you can "submit" your app to the site and they:

...will install your XAP on our test and production devices and check for the common Marketplace issues that you get knocked back on. We’ll document at some point what tests we do once we get a feel for how the service is operating.

The group's Terms and Conditions explicitly states that they won't distribute the work, alter ownership or do any other shenanigans. The service is free for now, but may change in the future, depending on how successful the program becomes. While perhaps this isn't the best solution, we like the idea of a tester community giving "bedroom coders" a chance to get feedback on their app before submission to the Marketplace. Granted, Microsoft will eventually offer a solution to this via the Marketplace, so developers can directly interact with users, but until then you can either try this method or post it in a forum in the open. We think the former idea is a little better.

Source: XNA UK User Group

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