Software

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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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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Like most modern Windows phones, the LG eXpo (see review) has its share of quirks and niggles.

We addressed the notifications one awhile back and it looks like the fine folks at LG-expo.com have gone even further, making one of those handy all-in-one fixer programs.

Appropriately called Expo/IQ Tweaker, it consists of a large list of fixes and options that you simply check to enable or disable certain features. We'll just highlight the big ones that really make a difference:

  • Improve screen sensitivity and touch response
  • Enable in-call recording
  • Increase IE performance/scrolling
  • Enable tethering
  • Enable auto-rotation in all programs
  • Fix missing sounds and notifications
  • Increase KB backlight time

The most important one is the screen sensitivity/touch response, as the screen is a little laggy compared to traditional devices and is by far the biggest complaint about the eXpo. I'm happy to report that these registry tweaks greatly improve the screen in that regard. Likewise, fixing the sounds and notifications was the other big issue and that too works brilliantly here.

You'll need to have .NET CF 3.5 installed and you'll need to register at LG-Expo.com to grab the file. But if you're and LG eXpo fan like myself, you'll definitely want this program.

Kudos to Woodhole and team for the great work!

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Microsoft is obviously making a massive commitment to Windows Phone 7 Series on a number of different fronts, as we saw announced at Mobile World Congress.

XNA Game Studio 4.0 is the latest iteration of Microsoft’s developer tool set for Windows PCs, Xbox 360 and Zune. With Version 4, XNA Game Studio gains support for Windows Phone 7 Series, but nixes support for the Zune HD. XNA and Silverlight are the two major new development platforms (new to Windows Phones, anyway) that we will be seeing a lot of going forward, and the two platforms are being discussed in-depth at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) this week and MIX10 next week. (Look for more from us on that front from TiPB's Rene Ritchie.)

What this means for Windows Phones is that we can expect 3D gaming to be the rule, not the exception. Yeah, I know, you’ve heard that before; but between the high level minimum specifications mandated by Microsoft’s reference chassis, Xbox Live integration and the introduction of XNA Game Studio 4 early enough that developers can get a jump on the Holiday 2010 release of Windows Phone 7 Series I would say that this is pretty much a sure thing.

Throwing that much firepower at the gaming segment makes you wonder if  Microsoft is not just targeting the iPhone/Android market, but also homing in on the PSP/Nintendo DS segment. If Microsoft is able to get similar 3D performance from a Windows Phone as competing mobile gaming consoles, it would have a major leg up because of the media playback and connectivity with other Microsoft services. One thing is for sure: It’s a good time to be a Windows Phone user. [via ZDNet]

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For those of you who like reading them there book things on yer phones, but don't like installing the latest Manila/Sense from HTC, you can now just install the standalone reader.

Thanks to Mr.X, with a simple .cab file you can be up and reading various books on your WVGA device with a standalone version of HTC's eReader. (Scan the MS Tag below for direct download).

Going further, Patcat007 over at XDA has compiled 300 free books from ePub. Just download the five .zip archives with all the books, extract to your device and use the free indexer to sort and browse your files.

Not too shabby folks, not bad at all!

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Browsing the Internet is one of those things that can be a major draw for people looking to purchase a smartphone, but can be rather hit or miss due to the lack of quality mobile web browsers. For my money, having a choice between which browser you use in different situations can be a deal breaker. Luckily, Windows Mobile has more browser choices than many of its competitors.

Opera has been in the mobile browser game as long as anyone and their browsers are among the best. Opera Mini 5 Beta 2 is the latest and greatest from Opera’s Mini product. Traditionally a Java based application; Opera announced today that Opera Mini 5 is available as a native Windows Mobile application. There are technical reasons why having a native application is preferable over a Java based version. The bottom line is that a native Windows Mobile application should offer better performance, stability, and compatibility across a large array of devices.

My first impression with Opera Mini 5 is that it is FAST, though the rendering engine isn’t perfect. Mini 5 uses server side rendering; meaning that when you request a web page, a server somewhere actually downloads the files and formats it and compresses it before sending it along to your device. This method keeps your data usage to a minimum and doesn’t require as much processing power on your device. The Mini 5 UI is also very similar to what we’ve been playing with on the Opera Mobile 10 betas, which I consider a very clean and usable interface.

More information on the features you can expect from Opera Mini are available from Opera’s site. To download the application, point your mobile browser to http://m.opera.com/next/mini.

 

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Synerge Tech Solutions has released Google Analytics Mobile. As the name implies, Google Analytics Mobile allows you to access your web site's Google Analytic's data directly from your Windows Phone. For those not familiar with Google Analytics, it is a program that tracks your website activity ranging from the number of visits to where your site visitors are located (geographic regions).

Google Analytics Mobile connects directly with Google's servers and offers the data in table, chart or graph forms. The mobile app also has the ability to generate reports from the data in Google Analytics. Synerge Tech Solutions is offering Google Analytics for $4.99 and it is available at the Synerge website.

Read: wmpoweruser.com 

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Elecont has updated its Windows Mobile weather application, Elecont Weather to version 1.0.1056 which adds a clock face to highlight the hourly forecasts.  The clock is designed to give you a more visual reference on what to expect weather-wise as you plan your day.  Elecont Weather continues to offer a 10-day forecast, weather alerts for UV, ice and severe weather, barometric and temperature trends, "feels like" temperature and sunrise/sunset times.

Since our initial review of Elecont Weather, the application has been updated to include richer graphics and Ice Alerts. Each update improves upon the original.

Elecont Weather is compatible with Windows Phones running either Windows Mobile Professional or Standard (touch and non-touch screens). Elecont Weather is available at the WMExperts.com Software Store for $14.95.

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This is sort of out of left field, but evidently Skype has discontinued and pulled the Skype Mobile software for Windows phones.

Why? They sort of answer in their FAQ, but to be honest it is more of a dodge:

Unfortunately, Skype Lite – a version of Skype for your mobile phone – and Skype for Windows Mobile are no longer available for download from our site.

We’ve chosen to withdraw Skype Lite and Skype for Windows Mobile because we want to offer our new customers an improved mobile experience – much like the version that has proved so popular on the iPhone, and which is now available on Symbian phones. Our focus is on providing a rich user experience that allows you to enjoy free Skype-to-Skype and low cost calls as easily on the move as you do at your desktop.

We felt that Skype Lite and Skype for Windows Mobile were not offering the best possible Skype experience.

Fair enough and we actually agree. Skype for Windows Mobile was really a huge program (~10MB) that ate a lot of resources. Granted, it did offer nearly the "full Skype experience" but at processing cost.

For Skype/VOIP, we here at WMExperts have always found Fring a much better alternative.

Still, Skype is obviously begging the question with their response: are they going to, you know, release a new version that is much more awesome and built better? Or are they just pulling it and wiping their hands altogether of Windows phone?

For the time being, you can still download and use Skype here. Or if on your phone, just scan the MS Tag to the right to direct download (11.7MB!) 

[WMPhone.de via WMPoweruser]

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