Software

Ever have a great idea for a program that no one else has thought of, yet are hampered by the fact you have ZERO programming skills and no graphic talent? Then boy does Microsoft has a contest for you.

In an attempt to further lure interest in Windows Phone 7, Microsoft is holding a contest whereby you submit your verbal design for a dream application that doesn't yet exist. The community then votes on it and the winner's creations will be turned into a free app by professionals and dumped in the WP7 Marketplace for all to use.

You'll be a legend!

Oh and the winner gets $5,000 and a free Windows Phone 7 device.

So take those old bar napkins with your hopes and dreams scribbled in boozy ink and submit right over here. As an example, you can check out Todd Portz's creation right here (yeah, he gets a free plug since he tipped us off to this contest).

Anyways, this a great idea from Microsoft. Lets see what you folks have lurking in your geeky heads...

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Microsoft's Windows Phone Marketplace polices have been updated. These policies govern the application submission and certification process.  According to Microsoft, the changes are to "attract a much wider range of developers, from large software companies down to students and hobbyists."

These changes seem to follow Microsoft's efforts to court the development community. From offering the Development Tools for free to waiving any fees for unlocking codes, Microsoft is creating a very developer friendly environment for Windows Phone 7.

The new policies include:

  • Annual registration fee of $99
  • No limit to the number of paid apps submitted 5 free apps per registration, $19.99 each after that
  • Free registration to DreamSpark students (same unlimited paid and 5 free apps applies)
  • A new optional push notification service to help developers stay engaged with customers
  • A new optional Trial API - trials mean more customers try your app, and less likelihood that they return it. The length or type of trial is fully controlled by the developer
  • The ability to publish to all available Marketplace markets through a new “worldwide distribution” option, allowing developers to pay once and distribute broadly
  • Wider range of business models; free, paid, freemium and ad-funded

What isn't changing includes:

  • A revenue share of 70/30
  • Developers manage their business with Marketplace via the self service portal http://developer.windowsphone.com
  • Payout takes place monthly for developers that have earned more than USD$200 worldwide
  • Developers can make ad funded applications
  • All applications go through a process of technical and content certification
  • Marketplace offers support for credit card commerce, and where available mobile operator billing.

A full list of the Windows Marketplace policies can be found over at the Windows Phone Developer site.

[read: windowsteamblog.com]

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Weatherbug has been a popular application for Windows Mobile and now it looks like it is on board for Windows Phone 7. In a recent interview over at Channel 9, Weatherbug developers talked about using Silverlight and Bing Maps with their mobile weather application.

Weatherbug uses both Microsoft products in their website development and is having success moving Weatherbug over to WP7. Developers see using Bing Maps and Silberlight offers them more detailed maps, easier code to transfer to WP7, and takes a lot of the worry out of developing these applications.

This is encouraging news to see a popular Windows Mobile developer transitioning to Windows Phone 7 with such ease.  The only downside to the interview comes when Weatherbug demos their WP7 app and the video abruptly ends without showing anything.

[via: Mobility Digest]

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Flip2Mute Released for Windows Mobile

Flip2Mute for Windows Mobile has been released which will allow you to silence your Windows Phone when it is face down.

The application, designed by x86shadow, is similar to the native features on various HTC Windows Phones such as the HD2. Your Windows Phone needs to be running Windows Mobile 6.5.xx, have .NET CF 3.5 installed, an accelerometer, and be a WVGA device.

Along with silencing your phone, you can set Flip2Mute to turn off the screen or set the phone to vibrate. This works out great for those who are constantly in and out of meetings and need a simple way to mute their Windows Phone. Simply turn on Flip2Mute and set your Windows Phone face down on the conference table.  The only bug I experienced in testing Flip2Mute was that occasionally the phone stayed on silent even after being turned face up. 

Flip2Mute is a free application and if your interested in giving it a try, you can download it here.

[read: wmpoweruser.com]

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We'll admit that we're not hip to all those popular Flash games on the internet these days, but evidently one is being ported over to Windows Mobile this month due to its popularity.

"Learn to Fly" is about a hapless penguin who is determined to overcome his flight-challenged biology. Its has bold graphics, silly achievements and it's indeed addicting. In fact we would have written this up sooner but we're playing the online Flash game for the last hour.

We'll keep you posted on the actual release and hopefully it's as smooth as the online one. If you want to waste the rest of your day at work, go here to play the free Flash version. Apologize to your boss in advance for us, thanks!

[Pocket Gamer; thanks, segadc, for the tip!]

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Not much news here, but it's always fun to see a software developer get a chance to see their work on actual hardware.

As we've been reporting, new Windows Phone 7 developers are stuck using their computers for demonstrations or even paper cut-outs. This will be changing in a few weeks as Microsoft reveals plans for developers to get their hands on actual devices to better gauge performance (currently, the emulator uses your PCs graphics to simulate a phone--not exactly a great metric).

Developer Julien Dollon, who has made a great time-management program "Ahead", recently got a chance to get his app on a phone (Samsung Omnia HD). Although it may have looked a bit boring before, it's always cool to see it on an working phone. Makes it a bit more, you know, real.

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In the first generation of the Windows Phone 7 development software, access to sockets is not available--that's what is needed for VOIP services to work and why Skype won't (really can't) hop onto the OS just yet.  Microsoft has stated that sockets support is coming, so with one of the OTA updates (fingers crossed), this will be made available.

Until then, a hybrid-approach can be used. Such method is used by companies like iSkoot where instead of using the data connection to make the free call, it re-routes the call to a local call center which then makes the call for you over the internet. It's like Opera Mini vs Opera Mobile--in the former, the "hard work" is done off the phone remotely. However, iSkoot hasn't updated their Windows Mobile software in sometime and they haven't said anything about support for Windows Phone 7.

Step in Voxofon who operates in a similar manner. They seem to be supporting all the new OSs in town, including pushing big into Windows Phone 7. So kudos to them for taking that market seriously. Now unlike Skype-to-Skype calls over true VOIP, you are charged for making calls on Voxofon. This is done like Skype where you can buy credits and they are linked to your account. Luckily, rates are very cheap making it an affordable option for making inter-continental calls: (1.3 cents per minute).

The software looks quite nice--it's a separate dialer app that log ins to your account, displays your balance and tells you the rate per minute before you call. It's no true Skype solution, but at this point we'll take what we can get.

Read more here at Voxofon.

[tipped by Alexey G of Voxofon]

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For those who are looking for some "mobile security" or at least the illusion, F-Secure just went ahead and made their Anti-theft for Mobile free for Symbian, Android and even us Windows Mobile users.

The software is a little of 2MBs in size to download and you need .NET CF 2.0, which should be in ROM already. The install was pretty basic and overall, very easy to setup and configure.

The app itself does the following:

  • Remote lock
  • Remote locate
  • Remote wipe
  • SIM control (if SIM swapped, device locks, sends you their #)

Sure, some of this you can do already with Microsoft's MyPhone, but this ain't a half bad solution either. We've been running it on our trusty Treo Pro (yeah, it even does that resolution, go .NET) and it seems to handle like a champ. Maybe we'll even try it sometime to see if it, you know, works.

Go to http://f-secure.mobi on your phone to download directly. Read more here.

Check out a few screenshots of what it looks like after the break!

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5

MetroTwit beta goes live

We mentioned last week about MetroTwit, the desktop Twitter client who's UI was influenced by Windows Phone 7. At the time, the software was still too early in development to be released, but alas its creators have allowed the beta our the gate.

First thing you should know is it'll require you to install .NET Framework 4 Client Profile and Extended, which it will do on its own if you allow it. That's a whopping 89MB for that entire framework, so be prepared. Then you'll have to restart your computer and the final install of MetroTwit will take place. The actual MetroTwit program is very tiny at less than 3MB, owing to its .NET coding.

Overall, it's quite a pretty program. With its configurable columns, its very much like Seesmic. You can add/remove those columns (your feed, replies, friends, direct messages) and drag and drop to re-arrange them.

Technically it can do multiple accounts, but we had trouble getting it to do so. Especially noteworthy is the live "badge" on the icon in the Windows Start bar which displays how many new Tweets you have. Other advanced features like delete, map, conversation, show in browsers are missing as of this early build, but we imagine it's just a matter of time.

Remember, this is a beta, so there are some bugs and some of the menu/options are less than intuitive, but overall it's not too bad for such an early start.  

Get it herehttp://www.metrotwit.com/

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Looks like the 'Metro UI' thing is starting to catch on and why not? Much like how the iPhone OS can be all-blowns-up for the iPad, why not influence the desktop or browser with Microsoft's mobile UI.

Turns out Long Zheng of iStartedSomething and some pals have been working on a desktop Twitter app that looks exceptionally clean, minimalist and darn useful.

The app has been in very early stages of development, meaning they're focusing on features, not yet de-bugging and has been circulating amongst a small group of users.

Long story short, website MeuWindows figured out the URL for the download link and even bypassed the authentication...just so they could try it. Luckily Long Zheng took this as flattery and there you go.

Actually, you can now sign up for the actual beta (bottom of the page), which is expected sooner than later. We're down with that!

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One of the more interesting and useful apps in development for Windows Phone 7 is "My MediaCenter Remote" which integrates with the Windows Media Center (an under-rated features of Windows 7). Well, it's useful if you don't want to splurge $10 for a physical remote, ya cheapskate.

The latest version by dgaust is near beta, although like other developers he's anxiously awaiting a physical device to actually run it on. The features so far completed are as follows:

  • View and play Recorded TV - done
  • View and play back tv stored by myTV - done
  • View music, and create album playlists - done
  • Remote control media centre - done

What's left is tweaking up some of the graphics, which are a bit dull or just missing at this point (placeholders). Overall though, considering we are still six months from the release of WP7, it's nice to know we should have some advanced media center functionality right out the gate. But we can't help but wish this could actually stream our content instead of just being a remote for it.

Check out the full video of the program's UI in action after the break

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In what could be a smart move to both lock in a game developer and spur more development on Windows Mobile (yes, we still talk about it), Microsoft is commissioning Touch Dimensions, a recent gaming startup from Singapore.

Known for creating "natural" interfaces for gaming and having knack for those sweet little simple games that people on mobile phones often prefer, Touch Dimensions has been tasked with bringing roughly twenty games to the Windows phone marketplace and they all will be free for the consumer.

These casual games will range from "...a digital sketchpad to a Whack-A-Mole-type game that lets you smack mosquitoes to oblivion".

Want to see what they are capable of? Touch Dimensions already have two games available: "Autumn Dynasty" and "Totem Star Lite"/Totem Star Christmas".  And we'll keep you posted on when these inspired freebies start popping up!

[Today Online via WMPoweruser]

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Microsoft Tag has moved out of the Beta stages with the release of Version 1. The new release also comes with a new Terms of Service as well. According to Microsoft, version 1 improves the Tag Reader, adds a Heat Map report, and makes it available in Italian, French, Spanish, Turkish and Simplified Chinese. The basic services for the Tag Reader will be offered for free.

The new ToS seems to simply transfer any tags created during the Beta program over to the ToS of the Version 1 release. You can find out more information on Version 1 at the Microsoft Tag website as well as downloading the Tag Reader directly from here.

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1

Foursquare updated

If your a fan of Windows Mobile FourSquare from Touchality, then you'll be interested to know that it's been updated.

Version 1.3 is now available over at the Windows Marketplace for Mobile. The update addresses the check-in bug many were experiencing as well as a few other fixes and tweaks.

You can download the updated cab file here or get through your Windows Phone via Windows Marketpla

[via: Touchality on Twitter]

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Elecont Weather gets updated

Elecont Weather has been updated, increasing the worldwide weather coverage from 41,000 to 67,000 cities. Version 1.3.5 also includes a 10-day weather graph for day and night temperatures, an independent scheduler for weather updates, and added information on moon phases and moonrise/moonsets over a ten day period.

The graphical weather app still retains features such as UV alerts, hourly UV forecasts, severe weather alerts, barometric readings, and "feels like" temperature conversions (factoring in heat index or wind chill).

You can pick up your copy of Elecont Weather over at the WMExperts.com Software Store for $14.95. If you're not sure, there is a trial version available so you can give it a try before you buy.

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Another day, some more demo Silverlight apps beings built for Windows Phone 7. We've been stating for awhile now that the combo of Silverlight and XNA as a development platform for the OS would be huge and so far, developers seem to be loving it.

First up is "Paper Ball" by Jimmy Interactive, which looks stylized enough to be something on an iPhone. Think of it as literally paper-football, where the paper are people cutouts. You direct your offense/defense by drawing their plot and then watch what happens. Looks to be a fun little time-waster and the graphics are just superb. Also check out his other game "Frog Log". Video demos after the break!

The other notable app is one for the London Tube which shows you their current status and pushes notifications to your phone if there are delays or problems. Similar programs exist on the iPhone for the NYC subway, so we look forward to others using Andy-Team G's code to use as a starting point.

Once again, while apps like London Tube are nothing revolutionary, the fact so many developers are making these mini/widget programs with in so little effort, bodes well for when Windows Phone 7, you know, actually comes out five months from now.

[via @jamesfdickinson and @andy_gore]

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We admit, you don't need to fasten your seatbelts to view this application. While not the most exciting thing to grace mobile devices, so-called 'time' or 'project management' applications are very important for those who actually need them.

A few French friends got together to make this program for some competition but now they're committed to releasing it to the Marketplace and overseeing its continued development.

Following the minimal-design principles laid about by the Metro UI, Ahead is not flashy but does enable quick access to basic project management sections including: tasks, time tracking, projects, accounts (funding), clients and settings.

But less talk more action. The developers have made a great demo video which walks you through everything. You can watch that after the jump to get an idea of just how polished the program is at this early stage in Windows Phone 7 development or just go to their website to see it all in action: Ahead--manage your projects on the go

     

[via @ahead_app]

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For those who don't follow Android news, about a week ago the HTC Wildfire became official. One cool trick that HTC added was the ability to jump to different screens in Sense via multi-selector screen, instead of sliding all over the place. (See Tracy & Matt's hands on at 0:42)

And anyone who's used Sense 2.5 on WinMo can know the feeling of having to slide the tabs all over the place to just find that one you're looking to use right now. It can be frustrating.

Well combine those two ideas and you have HomeScreenJump from XDA member dotcompt!

Simply install the HomeScreenJump.cab and tap the icon to run and there you go.  Want to go the extra step? Install two more .cab files and now you can map it to your Start button as a long press.  Now you can call it up wherever, whenever.

Our thoughts? We highly recommend this mod. And do map it to the Start key. This method makes it very fast, efficient and darn it all it just works well. You now have quick-access to your Home, People, Messages, Mail, Weather, Twitter and Programs tabs.

[XDA forums via PDA.pl]

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Marketplace Spotlight: Glympse vs. Wizi

 

Some time ago we looked at Glympse, a GPS Tracking app.  More recently, we've also taken a look at Wizi, a similar GPS application.  While we've reviewed both, we thought a comparative piece was in order.  Is Wizi strong enough to lure you away from the Marketplace or does Glympse have more to offer along with the convenience of the Marketplace?  (Okay...so it's not like downloading the Wizi .cab is all that inconvient but we needed to tie this into the Marketplace.)

Follow the Break to see how these to GPS location apps measure up.

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