Software

5

Voice Search comes to Google Maps

There is a little joy in Mudville tonight. Especially if you were hoping that one day Google Maps would have voice search capability.  Because today is that day.

Google has updated Google Maps to version 4.1 for Windows Mobile and has added voice search the the app. It will detect different variations of English as well as Mandarin. The voice search is activated by the call button on your phone.

It also appears the search is location based (a good thing). When I searched "Yankee Pizza" the results were limited to the one local pizzeria. In searching "wal-mart" it brought up the closest store to my location.

In the short time I've tinkered with Google Maps voice search, it is a little buggy (locked up once) and isn't as fast as Bing's voice search. But it is a step in the right direction.

You can download the .cab file for Google Maps with Voice Search here or point your mobile browser to m.google.com. [Google Mobile via FuzeMobility.com]

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Not to sound too repetitive, an update is available for Microsoft's Bing app for those using a Windows Phone on the Sprint, AT&T or T-Mobile network.  The new version is  5.1.2010 and you can get it by choosing the "Update Available" menu option in the old version or by pointing your mobile browser to m.bing.com/download (yeah... I know it's different than the twitter post but it's what worked for me).

No specifics on what the update covers but just off hand, it looks like a maintenance update.  If we discover anything different we'll pass it on. [via: Twitter.com]

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Verizon has released a software update for the Samsung Omnia (SCH-I910) that addresses some performance issues the Windows Phone has been experiencing. They include a Qualcomm patch to improve call quality; updates/fixes to the Opera browser; updating the XT9 keyboard; a correction in the algorithm codec used in attaching full resolution images to MMS messages; and a few other assorted tweaks and fixes.

You can download the software update at Samsung's support website.

[read: pocketnow.com]

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Ah, Foursquare. Either you love it or you think it is even more dumb than Twitter. Either way, the fledgling social service which is now available in the Microsoft Marketplace and soon for Windows Phone 7, has updated some of their code to prevent people from cheating on 'check ins'.

See, the more often you 'check in' with Foursquare at a specific location, the better chance you have at being the number one visitor. Upon that amazing (or sad) achievement, you are awarded badges or the most coveted 'mayorship'. Yes, yes, it's also silly and a bit odd for adults, especially if it's a place of ill repute to indulge in your lascivious ways.

As bad as all that is, evidently people were cheating to get those awards by spoofing their location. For shame people. Well, Foursquare wants you to know they frown upon such behavior and have attempted to put an end to your evil-doing ways.

So there, neener-neener.

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Okay you TV watching fanatics, while Hulu may have lost The Daily Show/Colbert Report recnetly, it looks like somehow they are now allowing the Skyfire browser to stream videos.

Or perhaps it is vice-versa, we'll probably never know. (See Skyfire's earlier explanation to the community).

Either way, if you load up the latest version of Skyfire and head to hulu.com, you can now stream your heart away. We just tried it ourselves and we can confirm 100% (see above screens shot).

So there, you folks happy yet?

Update: And thou taketh away. Looks like it was just an error on Hulu's part as mobile streaming, once again, is dead in the water. Such teases. Thanks to everyone for sending this in.

[Thanks Scott, via everythingWM]

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Channel 9 (a.k.a. five guys at Microsoft) has released a Developer's Training Kit for Windows Phone 7 Series. The Training Kit is designed to give you a jumpstart into the new operating system.

The training kit includes three units covering the WP7S platform, Silverlight for Windows Phones and XNA Framework 4.0 for Windows Phones.

According to Channel 9 the training kit is geared for the beginners who want to get started with developing applications for the Windows Phone 7 Series.  Experienced application developers should find the training kit useful in that the Silverlight unit focuses in part the differences between Silverlight and Silverlight for the Windows Phone.

You can find the Windows Phone 7 Series Training kit here with each course unit being a separate download. 

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8

Give your desktop a 7 Series twist

Like the panoramic view of Windows Phone 7 Series?  Wish you could have tiles on your personal computer?  Want to see more of WP7S on your computer than just the emulator?  If such is the case, we might have stumbled upon a solution for you.

Rainmeter is a desktop customization platform that will let you use skins to enhance your Windows computer. Rainmeter has it's own following of chefs that create new skins for the platform (similar to the ROM Chefs for Windows Mobile) with varying color patterns, information displayed, and themes.

One such cooked up skin is the Omnimo UI which is based on the Metro-UI design of Windows Phone 7 Series. Tiles on Omnimo can be customized from content to color to number. The only thing missing is the touch navigation.

Simply download/install the Rainmeter program on your Windows Computer (Win XP or later) and then do the same with the Omnimo UI program. Both programs are complex by way of tons of customization options.  It took me about ten minutes to download, install and get the Omnimo UI running.  It will likely take me days to explore all the options both Omnimo and Rainmeter have to offer.

Just as with cooked ROMs, there is plenty of forum discussion on the both program's development to help guide users along.

[read: endgadget.com]

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5

Turn the HD2 into a metal detector

One of the many creative minds over at XDA Developers may has come up with a way to turn your HTC HD2 into a metal detector. XDA member 6Fg8 has created an application, Metal Detector 0.2.0.0, that works under the premises that the built in compass on the HD2 relies on the earth's magnetic field to calculate the deviation from magnetic north. If you put a piece of metal near the compass, it deviates from the natural deviation.

There are still a few bugs to work out in the application but for the most part, it performs as advertised. Yet somehow I don't see scanning the beach with an HD2 looking for buried treasure.  However, if that screw you dropped blends in too well with the carpet, this application might be of some use. [via 1800pocketpc.com]

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Slacker Radio Giveaway

Now that Slacker has officially come to Windows Mobile, we thought we would take the opportunity to entice readers to tell us what you think. To help sweeten the pot, Slacker has been kind enough to provide a few complimentary subscriptions.

What you'll need to do is install Slacker to your Windows Phone, sign up for the Free Account, give it a test drive and tell us what you think. Could it be better? What do you like or dislike?

Once you've gathered your thoughts, post them over on the forums in this discussion. And please, try to post more than the easy two word thoughts (e.g. love it, hate it, it sucks, it rocks, etc.). We will randomly draw two grand prize winners who will receive a one year subscription to Slacker and three runner's up will be selected to receive a three month subscription.

Posts must be submitted by 5:00pm CST on April 3, 2010.  You'll need to be registered to participate and that painless process can be found here.

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For those who use Foursquare, that social network app that pre-dates Google's Buzz and lets you share your location with others, you'll be pleased to see what they have in the works for Windows Phone 7.

Demo shots were shown off by Windows Phone Senior Product Manager Anand Iyer on his blog recently.

While we have a decent version already for Windows Mobile 6.x, this new version for WP7s certainly looks very smooth and minimalist. In addition, there are two new features that as TechCrunch points out, not even the revamped iPhone version has: "Society" area and 'Directions'.

The former shows a "heat map" of the immediate area, which is a representation of the most popular spots in your locale. We suppose this is great for finding where everybody be at, as this kids would say.

The other feature, directions, is just that: once you find where your friends are, you can get directions to that spot within the app itself, instead of hopping into Bing or Google Maps (we won't even touch the multi-tasking issue).

One thing looks certain, with companies like Netflix, Twikini, the Associated Press, EA mobile, IMDB, Weatherbug, Pandora, Photobucket, Sling Media, Seesmic, SPB and now Foursquare, WP7s should have the basics ready to go on launch.

[TechCrunch via Rene Ritchie]

     

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10

Microsoft updates My Phone

Microsoft has recently updated its My Phone service. The new version is 1.06.22718.01.  What's in the update? So far nothing stands out and the update is listed as "fixes and enhancements based on your feedback."

The next time you sync your Windows Phone with My Phone you will be prompted for the update. Once you download and install the update, soft reset your phone, and you'll be back in business.

Don't have My Phone yet? Simply point your Windows Phone browser to myphone.microsoft.com/install to download and install the application to your phone. Full official release after the break.

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Back in the day, we had an app on Windows Mobile called CityID (Flashback: 2006!). It recently reared its dormant head on the Verizon Imagio (see full review). The app was basically an area code database that compared that was compared to an incoming phone call, resulting in a City, State caller ID.

Very useful stuff.

Turns out that many HTC devices, likewise, have a database that stores states, but not necessarily anything else. Saumaun, who is quite well known in various Windows Mobile communities, managed to whip up a detailed registry change to give us back that function. He basically included all the major metropolitan areas and referenced them via area codes, giving a pretty decent shot at city accuracy.

The best part of his "hack" is that there is no running programs or increased resources--it simply uses the device's registry to enhance caller ID. ROM chefs are encouraged to incorporate it into their builds and end-users can just download and install the simple and tiny .cab file, found in this thread.

Brilliant!

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After teasing us with a leaked .cab in February, Slacker Radio has been officially launched for Windows Mobile 6.5 devices. The Slacker Mobile application is "optimized" specifically for the HTC HD2 and is launched in conjunction with the release of the HD2 on T-Mobile. Slacker should work on other 6.5 phones with WVGA (800x480) screens; those specifically listed are the HTC Imagio, HTC Pure, HTC Tilt 2, LG eXpo and the Samsung Omnia II.

Slacker Radio for Windows Mobile provides access to your Slacker Radio account (Free or Premium), over 100 stations, the ability to create your own stations, and various information about the current track and artist. To give it a try point your mobile browser to m.slacker.com. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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5

Standalone Windows Phone 7 Series Emulator

If you're interested in exploring the Windows Phone 7 Series emulator but don't really want to bother with the entire development environment, we've found a way to do that. 

The emulator .exe file will need a few changes to the command line parameters to run independent of Visual Studio.  You will still need to download the Developer's Tools for Windows Phone 7 Series but Redmond Pie lays out the three step process to add this string, xde.exe C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\WindowsPhone\v7.0\Emulation\Images\WM70C1.bin, to the command prompt for the the XDE.exe file.  This will allow the Emulator to launch without the need to go through Visual Studio.

Nervous about tinkering with the command parameters? Redmond Pie also provides a shortcut for your desktop that will take care of it for you which you can find here.

I did experience one quirk in using the desktop shortcut.  I kept receiving an error message that the .bin file couldn't be found.  We discovered (or should I say Tim discovered) that the target properties of the shortcut needed a slight modification.  If you get a similar error, simply right click on the desktop icon, open up the properties and replace the existing target field with the following (including the quotations) to get the emulator to launch: 

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft XDE\1.0\XDE.exe" "C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\WindowsPhone\v7.0\Emulation\Images\WM70C1.bin"

Once launched, you will see the Windows Phone appear with a tool bar to the upper right of the phone.  I'm sure the load times will vary depending on your computer but don't be surprised if it takes a few seconds for the WP7S ROM to load.  Keep in mind that this is a work in progress and it's entirely possible that you'll run into a few bugs and glitches along the way.

Also, if you want to tinker with the unlocked WP7S ROM, you can find it here, courtesy of XDA Developers. Simply follow the directions to replace the development ROM .bin file and you can explore the unlocked world of WP7S.

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ROM Updates from HTC

Sporting a Euro Touch Diamond 2?  If you are, HTC has released a "official" ROM update for the Windows Phone. The update includes Sense 2.5 and can be found on HTC's UK Support site.  While the Touch Diamond 2 isn't available in the U.S. Market, we do have the AT&T Pure.  Could it be next?

In addition to the update for the Touch Diamond 2, HTC has also released an "official" ROM update for the Euro Touch Pro 2.  However, unlike with the update for the Touch Diamond 2, it doesn't look like HTC is ready to officially put Sense 2.5 on the Touch Pro 2.

[read: pocketnow.com]

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When many first downloaded the Windows Phone 7 Series developer's tools, there were some complaints that the emulator lacked some of the WP7S features. It was only a matter of time before someone stumbled upon an unlocked version that had all the bells and whistles of WP7S.

From the unlocked emulator, a video walk-through was produced that takes you through various application navigation of WP7S. Including Zune, Office, email, messaging, and the internet browser. A second video reveals a little more on the WP7S settings.

Keep in mind that this is an early build of WP7S and Microsoft is still fine-tuning things. While an emulation, it gives us a little more insight on what we can expect from Windows Phone 7 Series.

You can catch the full ten minute videos here and after the break, a few more screen shots.

[read: TechAU.tv]

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4

HTC Imagio gets Hard-SPL

 

The HTC Imagio just received a seat at the kitchen table to enjoy some home cooking. Home cooked ROM's that is.

PPCGeeks member cmonex has released a Hard-SPL that will enable custom ROMs to be installed on the Imagio.  And it didn't take long for a cooked ROM to surface.

NRGZ28, a popular chef in the cooked ROM community, has already released a Beta version of his popular EnergyROM for the Imagio. The Rom is based of of Windows Mobile 6.5.5 with the option of Sense 2.1 or 2.5.

While custom ROMs aren't for everyone, being able to customize the ROM on the Imagio will only add to this very nice Windows Phone.

[via: wmpoweruser.com]

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4

MIX10 Tweeter App Released

Windows Phone 7 Series is bringing a lot of attention to MIX10, Microsoft's developer's conference. We are anticipating more information on this new mobile operating system ranging from developer specs to core hardware specs.

To help keep those of us who will not be able to attend next weeks MIX10, Software Logistics has released an application that will help keep everyone up to date with the activities at hand.  The MIX10 Twitter App pulls in tweets (automatically updating every 30 seconds) with the #MIX10 hash tag and delivers it to your Windows Phone. The downside to the app is the links are not live, taking a bit of the zing out of this app.

The MIX10 App is a free download and available through Microsoft's Marketplace on your Windows Phone.

Read: wmpoweruser.com

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So called augmented reality programs (see How Stuff Works), which mix the boring real world with the awesome digital, have made their big mobile debut in 2009 (see Layar for Android or the much more useful Google Goggles).

Unfortunately, Windows phones have largely been left out of the mix, though that is starting to change and we hope we see a big push with Windows Phone 7.

Zenitum, a South Korean company who specializes in digital entertainment and the kind of reality/digital mixing found in augmented reality apps, has recently demoed their iKat software. Think Tamagotchi, but its on your phone and walking around, interacting with the real world, as seen in the video after the break.

Now granted, this seems pretty useless, unless you are really bored and/or a 12 year girl. But remember, this is just a demonstration of a their new framework called D-Track (see video). What are the possibilities for useful augmented reality programs for mobile? That's a good question. Sound off in comments with your ideas.

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Google today took the lid of an update for its Windows Mobile YouTube app, taking it up to Version 2.4 and bringing a few new features online.

There are now search suggestions (which you see above), along with "My Account" settings and a new homescreen that's redesigned for larger screens.

Head on over to m.youtube.com/app to download the latest version. [Google Mobile]

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