Apps

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SkyMap - Mango App Spotlight

Good news for the star gazers in the house. The Windows Phone app SkyMap was recently updated to version 1.5. The update adds Mango features into the mix including fast app switching and a point to sky mode that uses the Windows Phone's compass sensors.

For those not familiar with SkyMap (here's our review) it provides interactive sky maps for any time (between 1900 and 2100), viewpoint and location on Earth. The app displays the different names, coordinates, magnitude, astronomical rise and set times plus additional information for over 110000 stars, messier objects, planets, sun and the moon.

If you're an avid star gazer or just wanting to learn more about the stars above, SkyMap is worth checking out. There is a free version of SkyMap available (ad supported) that you can find here at the Windows Phone Web Marketplace. An ad-free version is running $1.29 that you can find here at the Marketplace.  Remember, the update to SkyMap requires you to have Windows Phone 7.5 running on your phone.

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BayFest 2011 an event app for your Windows Phone

We all know that your Windows Phone is a great way to stay in touch with the world and tap into various sources of information. We've seen this capability to develop apps to help guide you around large theme parks such as Disney World (e.g. Disneybot) and now we are seeing smaller venues and events tap into the Windows Phones to guide you around these arenas.

BayFest 2011 is the official Windows Phone app for the BayFest Music Festival that will be held this weekend in Mobile, Alabama. The companion app puts all the information about the event on your Windows Phone. The app includes everything but the kitchen sink on the musical event including the schedule of events (over 125 live musical acts will play through out the weekend), details about the bands, a map of the venue, and information about the event's sponsors.

BayFest 2011, the app, is a good example how large events can tap into your Windows Phone to keep you informed on what's going on. A Windows Phone app takes the place of brochures that can get lost and impossible to update (outside of costly reprinting).

If your in the Mobile area, BayFest runs from October 7-9, 2011 and the current musical lineup includes Duran Duran, Ludacris, Tobie Kieth, Korn and 3 Doors Down. You can find out more about BayFest 2011, the event, here at the event's website.

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sleepPhaseAlarm helps you get the right Zzzzs

When not spending my time writing on this site, my real job is that of a medical sleep technologist (yes, an odd but fun career), so lets just say I have an unhealthy interest in the science of slumber.

Napping, while essential for healthy cognitive performance, can be done rightly or wrongly. In short, we have about 90-minute sleep cycles (varying with age), consisting of numerous stages of sleep N1, N2, N3 and REM. Waking up between the sleep cycles leaves you feeling alert and awake, while waking someone up in REM or N3 can be jarring--hence why it's avoided during sleep studies. In real life though, it's hard to know what stage of sleep you're in since no one is monitoring your EEGs (brain waves). A quick rule of thumb though is nap for 90-minute increments, plus add on X-minutes to fall asleep. While not perfect, it'll put you in the ballpark of a healthy, refreshing nap.

sleepPhaseAlarm is a Mango/7.5 app that basically calculates this for you and sets an alarm. With a simple interface, you tell it you want to go to sleep now (and then pick what time-frame works for you) or you set the time you need to get up (and it tells you what time to go to bed). The app is well designed and since it's Mangofied, the alarm is set and runs in the background (a true "set it and forget it" app). We gave it a quick spin and have to recommend it for those frequently needing catnaps during the day or a healthy night of full sleep.

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One of our readers, David (aka SilverSharkDev), as informed us about a Mango app he’s been working on called Content Shield. The purpose of the app is to store various kinds of data and protect it should someone else get hold of your phone.

Content Shield stores the following kinds of information:

  • Passwords – Store various kinds of passwords so you don’t forget them. Categories include Facebook, Twitter, etc. Passwords can be copied and then pasted directly into the phone’s web browser.
  • Jokes – Add text jokes of your own or download them from the developer’s Twitter feed.
  • Agenda – Add items to your to-do list, categorize them, and then move them to the Completed page when done. To help remind users of uncompleted tasks, the most recent task appears at the top of the Content Shield Main Menu. Tapping on it jumps straight into the Agenda. The number of incomplete tasks also appears on the app’s Live Tile.
  • Shopping – Create shopping lists in various categories, including groceries and birthdays. Any item in your list can be instantly searched for in the web browser. Don't forget to buy Christmas presents for the WPCentral staff!

The protection aspect of Content Shield comes down to password protecting individual sections of the app. Create a password and a reminder, and then assign it to anything or everything so that other people can’t view or change things. Me, I simply rely on my phone’s lock screen password to protect my stuff, but this could be useful for people who share their phones for whatever reason.

The developer promises to add more features over time. Content Shield will appear on the Marketplace soon, and it will be free.

Head past the break for a second video preview that demonstrates Content Shield’s Agenda and Shopping functions.

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With the news of on-demand TV content for Xbox 360 officially confirmed, Windows Phone owners might be feeling a little neglected. Don’t worry, guys, Microsoft hasn’t forgotten about us. In fact, watching TV on the 360 will be even more convenient for people with Windows Phones. That’s because Microsoft just announced the Xbox Companion App for WP7!

Ben Rudolph at the Windows Blog shares his experiences with the app:

  • "Finding Content: Just like on your Xbox, the Xbox Companion gives you instant access to the Xbox LIVE Marketplace catalog of games, movies, music and TV shows. I used it to search “Featured Content” and pulled up the X-Men: First Class.
  • Learn more about what you’re watching, listening to, or playing: Once I found the movie and touched the movie tile, the Xbox companion app took me to an info page that has all the related details about. And the content is really rich, too – for example, when I swiped to the “cast” page and touched an actor’s name, like star James McAvoy, I was taken to other movies starring him. From there, I could easily learn more about the other movies, their cast, etc. It’s an infinite road of interactive content.
  • Control & Play: Once I selected the content and hit play, the Xbox Companion flips into “controller mode” in which I could navigate my Xbox, or control video playback of your video. The best part here is that controls are virtually instantaneous – easily as fast as using my controller or a TV remote."

Microsoft has been promising stronger Xbox 360 and Windows Phone integration for a long time, and now it’s finally happening. The availability of the app, provided Microsoft advertises it a little bit, should help promote Windows Phones to Xbox 360 users, which can only be good. Speaking of availability, the Xbox Companion App doesn’t have a specific release date yet, but it should materialize sometime shortly after the Fall 2011 Dashboard update, which lands in November. It will of course be free.

Make the jump after the break to see video highlights of what's coming to the Xbox consoles. Around the 1:00 mark you'll see the new Windows Phone app in action.

Source: Windows Blog

Thanks to everyone who tipped us on this!

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Ringtone collection building in the Forums

One of the 500 features included in the Mango update included that ability to import custom ringtones on your Windows Phone. We've already touch on how to get the ringtones on to your Windows Phone. We've also looked at a few of the ringtone apps available on the Marketplace (Pimp my Ringtone, 1,777 Ringtones and Ringtone Maker (which isn't really a ringtone maker)).

The last piece of the puzzle, so to speak, is that a decent collection of ringtones are being gathered over in our Forums. In this discussion, you can find ringtones from Kid Rock, Dean Martin, Beastie Boys and Metallica. You can also find Homer Simpson and the theme from Rawhide.

All you need to do is download the attached file, make sure the genre is "ringtone" and import it to your Windows Phone (through the Zune software). The tone will appear in your Ringtone and Sounds settings as custom.

If you've got a favorite ringtone you'd like to share or one your looking for, feel free to join in on the Forum discussion.

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Cocktail Flow updated to Mango v3.4

Cocktail Flow is an app that allows users to find and try new cocktails with combinations of alcoholic beverages. You can input into the app what ingredients you have in your bar and cocktails are then identified that can be created for any event or occasion. We covered the app just before MIX'11 when a pack of cocktails named after Microsoft products was released.

We're now back reporting on version 3.4, which has just been pushed out. This update brings Mango goodness including pinnable tiles for individual recipes, live tile, push notifications and performance improvements. Cocktails can also now be rated and users can upload photos to the database. The app is continuously updated with new recipes being added and is often cited as the pinnacle of Windows Phone app design.

You can download Cotail Flow from the Marketplace for $2.99. Thanks Argenys for the tip!

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onePlayer - App Spotlight

A good number of households have a media server, whether it be a small setup with Windows Media Center on a desktop or a small dedicated server. The average user enjoys streaming movies, music and photos. Windows 7 performs well with the Xbox 360, but what about Windows Phone 7? This is where onePlayer comes in.

onePlayer allows the user to stream content (DLNA) to and from their Windows Phone, whether it be to a compatible TV, home server, media centre, etc. The app sports directory browsing, playlist creation and device discovery on the WiFi network.

Some highlighted features:

  • Stream pictures to the TV or PC.
  • Stream music (MP3) to your home stereo.
  • Stream and control video to the TV.
  • Listen your music on your windows phone, supporting background streaming.
  • Browse DLNA servers.
  • Mango/7.5 compatible

You can download onePlayer from the Marketplace for $1.99 (£1.49) with a free trial.

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Speaking of updates, WhatsApp not only updated their app description to reflect a future subscription fee, but also bumped the app to v1.2. So are we finally getting video support? Group chat? How about some avatars in the conversation? Nope.

Instead, under Favorites now, they ditched the letter-picker system, at least if you only have a few contacts. This makes Favorites much more streamlined. It also looks like the Task bar has been thinned out, giving more room on the main screens. Finally you get a  Favorites refresh button under Settings, which is good if you want to make sure you have all of the latest contacts showing.

Update: We've also noticed it now thankfully has landscape support for typing and better auto-correct. HTC Arrive and LG Quantum users, rejoice! (*Also note, you're not crazy--it will still say v1.1 under the About section as the developers forgot to update that part).

Grab it here in the Marketplace (Zune link) or the Web Marketplace.

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iHeartRadio goes to v3.0 and is ready for Mango

Good news for those of you who use iHeartRadio, that radio-streaming app featuring "over 750 of America's favorite local radio stations", as it's now Mangofied. The app received quite a few new features and fixes including:

  • Background Audio Player
  • Live Station Tile To Start Page
  • Fast Application Switching Support
  • Facebook Fixes
  • Link to Feedback Page

We've seen a similar update with Slacker Radio recently and if Mango has done one thing right, it was making background audio and multiple Live Tiles an option for developers. Radio apps like these certainly show why Mango is such a great update. You can pick up iHeartRadio for free here (Web Marketplace) and check out hands-on video from late 2010 to see it in action. Thanks, ShipWreck, for the tip!

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Core77, an industrial design and development magazine out of New York City, has teamed up with the Windows Phone 7 people at Microsoft to host a new contest for the WP7 developer community. It's targetted at young and aspiring designers that are looking to get their portfolio moving, show off their design skills and even get their app ideas developed by those experienced with the platform.

The contest, called Fast Track to the Mobile App, beckons app designers from all walks of life and regions to put their skills to the test and compete for some pretty decent prizes. 130 winners of the contest will win prizes that include:

  • Free Windows Phones
  • XBox 360 (with Kinect)
  • 1-year App-Hub subscriptions
  • App Development Deal (with revenue sharing options) to bring your design to life

For developers and designers that are already well established in the field, this might not be the best contest to look into. But if you have ideas for an app and can design one to look better than other entries, you could win some pretty cool stuff, not to mention get an app put in the catalog with your name on it. Want more details? Hit the link below to get the full scoop on how to enter, and win, this contest.

Source: Core77 Contest Details

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Microsoft releases SharePoint Hub for developers

For those who work with SharePoint, you may want to take a look at the little app Microsoft just pushed out called SharePoint Hub. It features the SharePoint official blog, Twitter and Facebook integration and basically keeps you abreast of what is happening in that small corner of the world. By no means is it a killer app, it's still a neat little info app that we imagine some of you will make use of:

"Connect to the Microsoft SharePoint community via your phone. The SharePoint Community app connects you to the latest information direct from the SharePoint product group blog, as well as information on news events. You can also connect directly with the SharePoint community via Facebook and Twitter."

Grab it here in the Marketplace (Web version).

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We covered Yammer back in July, when it was first announced that it was headed to Windows Phone and now the corporate social-network is available for our devices.

"Stay connected to your business wherever you go with Yammer for Windows Phone. Yammer is a private, secure social network for your company. No matter what type of business you're in, Yammer let's you connect with your coworkers to collaborate, share ideas, and be more productive. This application offers on-the-go access to real-time conversations happening inside your organization. View messages, post updates, and receive important notifications no matter where you are, because the conversation doesn’t end when you leave the office."

Features include:

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Mixtapes updated to version 2.0

Mixtapes is free music app for your Windows Phone that taps into the vast collection of music tracks over at 8tracks. It is a simple yet effective app that has just been updated to become mango-fied.

Version 2.0 brings the following new features into play:

  • Search by artists as well as by tags
  • Deep link into Zune marketplace from the track list
  • Instantly search for other mixes that include the same artist
  • Ability to configure Mixtapes to only play music when you have a working WiFi connection
  • Pause and skip songs or mixes even when your phone is locked
  • Find recently played mixes in the Music+Video hub and the app’s home screen

Mixtapes also has fast resume and the ability to play music in the background as you move around your Windows Phone. You still have the ability to log into your 8tracks account which will let you tag mixes as favorites, like and comment on mixes.

Mixtapes is a free application for your Windows Phone and you can find the updated version here at the Web Marketplace.

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Flickr and Lindy Reader joins the Mango crowd

Add two more apps that have been updated to enjoy the Windows Phone 7.5 features. Flickr and Lindy Reader have been Mango-fied.

The official Flickr app (updated to version 2.0) not only gives you access to your Flickr account but now it is integrated with your Windows Phone camera. You can launch the camera app from within the Flickr app, place a grid overlay on top of the viewfinder to help with cropping, and access camera controls/settings.

You also have Live Tile support for the camera function, your galleries (launches directly to your photostream), contact activity, as well as the app itself. The update brings a significant amount of bells and whistles into the mix and adds a good amount of functionality as well.

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Nokia Maps spotted in Marketplace

A placeholder application for Nokia Maps has been spotted on the Marketplace and was discussed over at the XDA Developers forum. The service, which is expected to be shipped with Nokia Windows Phone handsets, remains to have a question mark stamped with regards to availability for users on devices from other manufacturers.

The listing shows screenshots that paint a fairly accurate picture as to what's going to be included. User reviews, the ability to submit photos and directions which inform the user which public transport stop they should board and deboard. The app description reads as follows:

Nokia Maps helps you to be a local anywhere you go. See where you are and discover places nearby in a snap. Get reviews, uncover new destinations and reach them with smart routing for public transport, walking and driving.

It's worth noting that it looks like the app supports all 22 locales now present in Mango. More Nokia news has been popping up with Nokia World drawing near so it looks like we could be in for some hardware as a near certainty by the end of the month.

Source: XDA Developer forum, via: iStarted Something

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HTC Hub gets updated and looks a lot better

We have received numerous tips today that the HTC Hub was updated over night. Sure enough, it was and the new version is v2.2.

The update brings a few Mango features into play and gives the Hub an improved appearance. For those not familiar with the HTC Hub, the old version offered you weather information and links to featured Windows Phone apps. The new version still offers the weather and featured apps but also adds news and stock information to the Hub.

The new version spreads everything out on multiple pages while the old version had a cramped, cluttered feel to it. You can add forecast cities to the main page (tap on a city to pull up a detailed forecast), customize your stock information on the next, access customized RSS news feeds on the next and then check out featured Windows Phone apps.

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Here's one more ringtone app for your Windows Phone and it's a doozy. 1,777 Ringtones and SoundFx Ultimate is one healthy collection of ringtones and sounds that you can save to your Mango updated Windows Phone.

The app is laid out fairly simple. You have category files up top and the ringtones specific to each category appear in the bottom half of the screen. A preview button sits in the middle along with an "add to favorites" button and a repeat tool. There is also a keyword search field at the very top of the screen to make finding that special sound a little easier.

There are over 100 folders ranging from Baby Sounds to Funny Animal sounds to Rubber Ducky sounds. Each folder contains anywhere from two to three to more sounds. All totaled, the app offers you 1,777 ringtones and sounds to choose from. When you find a sound you like, just tap and hold to pull up the "save to phone" menu. The sound will be saved to your Settings>Ringtones and Sounds menu under Custom Ringtones.

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Good news for those of you like Viber (see site), the mobile VOIP solution that millions are using on the iPhone and Android these days, as the app is set to come to Windows Phone in early 2012.

Viber has an interesting history with Windows Phone. They lamented the "closed" system very early on, noting that they would not bring their app over simply because they could not due to the lack of codec support. In turn, they were quite public with their dissatisfaction with the Windows Phone development process.

Fast forward and guess who got involved? Yup, Brandon Watson. Back in July, Watson stepped into the Twitter conversation with Talmon Marco, founder of Viber. Watson simply asked "...Have you had a conversation with anyone on #wp7dev phone team yet? Can we start one?" which from what we understand, go the ball rolling.

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ShopGlider gets big, Mango-ized update

For those unfamiliar with ShopGlider, it is a site where you can keep track of your various shopping lists and recipes, as well as share them with friends and devices.  Now, the folks over at ShopGlider have updated their Windows Phone app to 3.7, which adds some great new functionality.

With the new version, you can now email store trip lists directly from the phone and perform batch operations in the Shop List section.  And the addition of Mango support now allows for fast switching.  3.7 also brings with it landscape mode, usability improvements, fast-app switching and perform enhancement, including faster syncing with ShopGlider's parent website.

ShopGlider could be the most comprehensive shopping list apps out there.  You will need to sign up for a free account to get the full benefits, which you can also do right right from the app itself. Head over to the ShopGlider website for more information and setting up a free account.

You can get ShopGlider 3.7 for free here. See the video demo after the break...

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Thumba Photo Editor gets updated to Mango

The popular photo editor for your Windows Phone, Thumba Photo Editor, was updated overnight to version 3.5.0. It brings a handful of improvements to the table including the fast resume of Mango and it now appears in your Photo Hub/Camera menu under "apps" (more on this in a second). Additional improvements and changes include:

  • New icon with transparency
  • New before/after tool
  • Images can be reloaded by shaking your phone
  • Histogram display improvements
  • Manual saturation adjustment added
  • Gamma configuration added to exposure adjustments
  • Several bug fixes and performance tweaks

The updated version of Thumba Photo Editor has full integration with the Pictures Hub in that it is listed under the "Apps" menu option. With Windows Phone 7, when you pulled up the three-dot menu while viewing a photo there was the menu option "Extras". "Extras" listed every photo app installed on your phone and you could launch these apps from this menu. With Windows Phone 7.5, the "Extras" menu option has been replaced by the "Apps" option. It too lists photo apps installed on your phone but the developer must include this integration within their app. Not every photo app will be listed.

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