Today's interviewee is Luke Lowrey. We get his take on Windows Phone 7, the development process and how he sees the platform advancing in the near future with Mango. Luke is the developer behind Phonealytics (my personal favourite WP7 app) which is a Google Analytics client with live tile support. His other project is DropNotes, a DropBox note synchronising editor. Both apps show off the Metro UI well.
Hydro Thunder GO recently headlined Microsoft’s 6 Weeks of Must Have Games promotion. As the only Windows Phone-exclusive game in the promotion’s lineup, it had some big shoes to fill. Luckily the game’s 3D graphics are some of the best on the platform and it controls like a dream.
When Microsoft offered to let WPCentral interview Mattias Olsson - CEO of Pixelbite, the game’s developer, we jumped at the chance. We grilled him on the challenges Pixelbite faced in bringing the fan-favorite boat racing series to Windows Phone and even got to peak at some of the game’s maps.
Game updates are usually a cause for celebration. They are supposed to add new features, improve existing ones, and fix bugs and glitches. But sometimes, an update introduces new problems or even breaks the game entirely. See the last Crackdown: Project Sunburst patch, for instance. The latest game to receive a bad update, or downdate as I like to think of it, is Haypi Kingdom, the only massively multiplayer online game on Windows Phone. Before we get into what’s gone wrong, let’s look at the release notes.
Haypi Kingdom version 3.0 changelog:
Retina display support
New buildings in City view: Battlefield and News Center
Honor added in General tab
Map tab fully redone
Oasis and forts now say what city they are associated with
The Windows Phone Blog has a nice writeup on the new features we will see in the Mango Music + Video Hub. We've known about some of the features for awhile now (see our "Big Mango consumer list" for what we know so far), but it's great to have official confirmation and more details. There are also quite a few smaller updates that don't merit their own bullet point, but will help smooth out the experience.
The on-device podcast support is a welcome feature, and many users have been asking for it since day one. The iPhone supports it out of the box, and there are a few apps in the Marketplace (e.g.Bring Cast andPodcasts!) that offer some podcast functionality, but so far, only Windows Phone has announced on-device podcast subscriptions, baked into the OS. The standard download-for-later, and stream-it-now options are supported, and users will be able to download or stream over WiFi or GSM/CDMA. New podcasts will only download automatically while your phone is charging, though, and for now, it looks like this is a US only feature.
One of the Zune's greatest features is the Smart DJ (see earlier leak). Smart DJ mixes have always been playable on your Windows Phone, but you've had to create them on your computer, and transfer them over. Mango will give us the ability to generate them on the device, by just long-tapping the "seed" artist, song, or album, and selecting "smart dj." The Music +Video hub will then store your mixes in the History pivot.
To round out the experience, the team has modified the UI/UX a bit. They have moved around a few items, like the repeat and shuffle buttons, to make them easier to find, added bigger playback control buttons, added lock-screen music controls, better images, lockscreen album art, a streaming icon, and on-device playlist creation.
Jump on past the break for the full changelog from Microsoft themselves...it's quite the read.
Security is always a cause for concern, whether it be with online banking or simply ordering a Domino's pizza. Passwords used online for applications or services are no different, especially with the amount of cyber crime occuring since the boom of the world wide web. Google have published an article on their blog outlining recent attacks being made on Gmail accounts and how users can protect themselves further.
One way to further protect your email account is to use OTP (One Time Password) via the web interface when logging on across multiple machines, networks and/or locations. For your Windows Phone (and other devices) you can use application specific passwords, which are password that are randomly generated and are used per device. You don't need to remember it and it doesn't affect your main login credentials. Think of it as an access key your device requires to be able to gain access to your account.
Check out the video after the break for the step-by-step walkthrough on using two-step verification and creating an application specific password for your Gmail account on your device.
A good friend once said of Dieter Bohn, our Editor in Chief, "He's got mad talent!". Mad talent that he's shared with Smartphone Experts over the years to help build seven smartphone communities. Mad talent that has been a joy to be around.
It's been awhile since we covered SurfCube, the third part browser which we think we can safely say "won" the browser-wars. The browser is known for it's virtual 3D cube design, giving new life via an innovate UI to web browsing and interaction. It's unique and not just for Windows Phone 7, but for any platform.
Yesterday, Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop sat down with Walt Mossberg at the D9 Conference to discuss everything from the fate of Symbian to the company's future with Windows Phone. While a good bit of the interview was a re-hash of what we already know and Elop voicing his support for Windows Phone, a few interesting tidbits did come out of the interview. Including a vague exchange on where Nokia's initial Windows Phone launch will take place
Elop commented on the key role developers are playing with the success of Windows Phones, reiterated the partnership goals with Microsoft, and again, refuted the rumors Microsoft was negotiating to buy Nokia. Elop also attributed Nokia's lack of presence in the U.S., in part, was due to the popularity of the flip phone. A form factor Nokia didn't see as important. But what might be the most interesting portion of the interview came when Elop was questioned on Nokia's Windows Phone launch.
Elop commented that Nokia is still scheduled to hit the market during the 4th Quarter, in time for the holidays. The interesting thing about this segment of the interview is that Elop wouldn't commit as to which markets will be involved.
When asked if this would be a Global launch, a U.S. launch or both, Elop replied, "A number of variables will control that."
When asked if the U.S. would be a part of the launch, Elop replied, "We are still working on what countries, in what order and variance will be involved."
When pressed further on this issue, Elop simply stated he wouldn't comment on any details before he was ready to comment on them. While very positively animated during the interview, this was the only time Elop seemed to get a little nervous.
Could Nokia give the U.S. Market the cold shoulder and continue to focus on the global markets with their Windows Phones? Or is it a case where the details on a U.S. launch aren't ironed out enough where Elop was comfortable enough to comment on things?
After the break, catch the video highlights of the interview.
Following up on a post from earlier today, where we make mention of Windows 8 and the inclusion of Metro, we have this nice tidbit from Microsoft regarding, well, Windows 8, and the inclusion of Metro. They have replaced the desktop with a start screen that should be familiar to anyone with a windows phone, and, well... The video demo says it all and we could type for hours, and not explain it well enough to do it justice.
Remember alt-tab? Yeah, just a swipe from the left to switch between apps.
The old start button/orb? Swipe from the right.
Remember Aero-snap? Well, look at Snap now. Re-sizable, and beautiful.
Remember the horrible old onscreen keyboard? Check out the new thumb board.
And underneath it all, the familiar trappings of Windows 7.
Windows Vista and 7 applications seem to be fully supported, if seeming a little out of place. We already know that legacy applications will not work on ARM processors without being recompiled, so I would expect a new version of Office to launch around the same time as Windows 8.
So, now we know how Windows tablets are going to look and act, and it gives us an interesting view of a possible future of Windows Phone. The tiles are incredibly flexible, and when we are able to utilize them on a larger screen, they should prove to be very useful tools.
It's not all roses, though, and people that were hesitant to make the switch to Vista or Windows 7 are in for a new shock. I am willing to bet that the Metro UI can be turned on and off, but imagine the first time your grandmother accidentally turns it on? And, more importantly, companies are always concerned about their workforce, and having to retrain when new versions of software come out. How will decision makers react to the new UI, and how will Microsoft sell it as a productivity enhancer, as opposed to just an awesome information layer? Remember the Mac Dashboard?
And, as a side note, when you are watching the video, watch on the right side of the screen for a wall, covered in censoring blur. Let us know what you think they are hiding in the comments. And follow the break to read Microsoft's full press on the Windows 8 preview.