One of the big limitations you may have noticed with apps like ShopSavvy or even Microsoft's own Tag app is that live-scanning of barcodes is not permitted--you have to snap a photo, which is then scanned before a look-up is performed. It is technically possible but Microsoft is not allowing developers access to the APIs necessary to implement--not yet at least. [Edit: Although LG does have a live scanner called 'ScanSearch' available on the Quantum and Optimus 7]
Sensboston, who's been doing lots of neat tricks for our new OS (e.g. flashlight), has managed to use the previously documented API to release a working scanner. Based on zxing library and Kevin Marshall's (from Clarity Consulting) code, the app works like other barcode scanners on other platforms: you turn it on, it live scans and gives results. The app works offline, can save info to email or SMS and searches for info using Bing or Google.
You'll need good light for it to work and the auto-focus seems to time out after about 15 seconds (save battery?) but overall, it works pretty darn well. Sensboston is looking to add features/improve the UI, so if you have any ideas, let him know in that thread. Looks like the hombrew scene is raging these days...
Dell has plans to launch "several" Windows Phone 7 devices. While the news of more Dell Windows Phones has a certain appeal, it would be nice to see their maiden effort, the Dell Venue Pro, to be hitting on all cylinders before we see more.
The revelation comes from an interview with Michael Dell where he stated that the demand for the Venue Pro was exceeding their expectations. While Dell's sole Windows Phone is being circulated in the U.S. market other markets, such as the U.K, are still waiting for the new phones. Granted the production delays, returns, and other glitches the Venue Pro has experienced hasn't helped matters.
Dell didn't expand much on the particulars of how many, what type or when we might see the "several new Windows Phone 7 models". Hopefully, Dell's experience with the Venue Pro will make any future model launches a lot smoother.
Dell is planning an event on February 8, 2011 in San Francisco (we'll be there) and maybe more information will be available then. So, does the prospect of more Dell Windows get you excited?
Having quick access to connection settings is one of those top request by Windows Phone users--after all, if you toggle your WiFi or Bluetooth on or off frequently, doing the whole 'Settings' thing feels like a few too many steps.
Now, Schaps has created quick links to Connections, WiFi, Bluetooth, Location and Airplane mode, all with cool custom icons. More importantly, these seem to work on all Windows Phones (they were like a charm on our LG Quantum, see above). As a reminder, this is only for developer unlocked devices, since it has to be side loaded (and you'll want that program to break the 10-app limit too).
Location sharing is a key component to Windows Phone 7. From apps to photos, your location is used with regularity when you access your Windows Phones. Curious about how location based services are used, in conjunction with Data Privacy Day 2011 (January 28, 2011), Microsoft commissioned a study on various aspects of these services.
The 1,500 person survey was conducted in December of 2010 and involved consumers in the U.S., Japan, Canada, and Germany. The survey found that only 51% of the participants had used location-based services but that 94% found them to be valuable. 84% of those surveyed were worried about the services sharing their location without permission.
An odd limit of unlocked Window Phones (even our sanctioned developed unlocked device) is the ability to side load more than 10 apps on the device--you simply can't do it. Reportedly, this was put into place to prevent developers from creating a ton of "cheap" apps.
Now, (nico) over at XDA has created a program that goes on the device itself to remove this limit, making it a lot easier for developers to bypass the ten-app barrier. It works on Samsung, LG and HTC, though we're not sure abou Dell--so your mileage may vary. The good news is there is a rollback feature in case it doesn't work out. We know for our purpose on this site, bypassing this limit helps out tremendously.
Hekool is offering a Wikipedia app over at the Marketplace, Wiki Bee. Wiki Bee is a straight forward, simple to use, Wikipedia portal for Windows Phone 7.
The Windows Phone app comes in two flavors; a free version (Wiki Bee Free) and a paid version (Wiki Bee). Both versions allow you to search in 35 languages, auto-complete searches, quick navigation through a table of contents, and the means to immediately return to your most recent topic searched.
The differences rest with the paid version of Wiki Bee. With the pay version you add the ability to save topics as favorites, jump to any topic in your search history, and have offline access to your history and favorites.
For more on the Wiki Bee apps, buzz on past the break.
The Windows Phone game Splash! puts a new twist on dodge ball. Similar to the Windows Phone 7 game Dodge These Balls, Splash! allows you to be more offensive in protecting your ball.
The premise of the game is that you control a white ball and try to avoid hitting the other balls that appear on the screen. You move your ball around by tilting your Windows Phone. The more severe the tilt, the faster the ball moves.
To help you protect your ball, Splash! allows you to splatter the colored balls for points. The balls sprout up from the gaming screen and while you can splat them as they grow, you get more points by splattering the full sized balls. The only ball you can't splat is the black balls (which you'll need to avoid). The longer you play, the quicker the colored balls are generated and the more black balls you'll have to dodge. I have to admit it was challenging trying to move the white ball to safety while tapping the colored balls into oblivion.
Splash! is a fun game that ran smoothly and there is a slight addictive quality to the game. Being able to squish the colored balls helps keep things from getting stale too quick. There is a trial version available with the full version running $.99.
You can find Splash! here (opens your Zune desktop) at the Marketplace and after the break you can catch a video of the game in action.
Do you miss the Bubble Burst game that was pre-installed on just about every Windows Mobile phone? If so, Z Games has just what you need. Bubble Burst for Windows Phone 7 brings you the classic Windows Phone game and takes it a step further. You've got a few new game modes and a challenge feature that helps add a little variety to the game.
To see what's new with this classic game, follow the break.
Do you find yourself using tabbed OneNote Notebook with Microsoft Office on your computer? Do you use a Windows Phone 7 device? Why not have your Notebook synchronized to your device and note on the go? Follow the below step-by-step instructions to get yourself set up.
Go to office.live.com on your PC, and make sure that you have a OneNote file created. If you've used OneNote from your PC, there should be a Personal (Web) file. If not, create it..
If you have OneNote on your PC, you can open it from office.live.com; just hover over the file, and click Open in OneNote. OneNote will save a book tab on the left side (in rotated print).
On your phone, set OneNote sync on (from Settings / Applications / Office / OneNote). Make sure to set Internet Explorer to default to mobile version (important!) and navigate to office.live.com in the Browser.
Go to the folder you have the OneNote Notebook, and tap it to open it. This automatically adds the Notebook to your OneNote on the phone, and opens it in OneNote. The tabs will all sync.
That's it complete! If you're like me who always forgets everything from passwords to your own name, this guide will come in handy indeed.
Microsoft is reporting that two million Windows Phone 7 units shipped last quarter. This isn't too far from the early indications that 1.5 million phones sold in the first six weeks after release.
All this comes to light through a Bloomberg interview with Greg Sullivan, a Microsoft senior product manager. Sullivan also stated that customer satisfaction for Windows Phone 7 is at 93% and brand awareness is increasing, up 22 points to 66%. The bump in awareness shouldn't be that surprising with the half-a-billion dollars that was made available for marketing the new Windows Phone.
No argument with customer satisfaction either. While there is room for growth with Windows Phone 7, Microsoft has laid a nice foundation to build upon. So how would you rate customer satisfaction? Is Microsoft on the mark or being too optimistic?
New to the Marketplace is C&R Holding's Li'Messenger, a chat client for both MSN and Facebook. The app communicates directly with Windows Live servers, for a private chatting experience. The best part is that it is free of charge. And unlike many free apps, Li'Messenger is also free of advertisements.
Li'Messenger supports Multiple Points of Presence, but due to its direct line to Windows Live servers, it does not receive notifications. It will, however, run in low-power mode while your phone is in lock-screen.
Deluxe Moon is an impressive Windows Phone 7 application that helps you track lunar activity (here's our review). Lifeware Solutions has now released Deluxe Moon Lite, a free version of Deluxe Moon for those curious about moon phases but not ready to invest in the full application.
Deluxe Moon Lite, being a lite version, doesn't have all the features of the full version but can hold its own. Key features include:
Touch-n-turn the moon to change the date
Phase scan tells you when the next moon phase is
Automatic positioning by GPS or cellular network
Network independence: the app works anywhere without Internet or cellular connections
Flexibility: you can manually set any location, time, date and UTC offset
Displays current moon’s age: how far along the moon is in its full cycle and percent of the illuminated moon area
Full names of all moon phases
Zodiac sign (either Tropical or Sidereal) the moon is in
Moonrise and moonset times for your location as well as a Moon Timer to show the amount of time since moonrise and until moonset.
While Deluxe Moon Lite lacks the Zodiac charts, moon compass, lunar/zodiac calendar and other features found in the full version, it still offers a considerable amount of data on lunar activity. Just as with the full version, Deluxe Moon Lite presents everything in a graphically impressive manner.
You can find your free copy of Deluxe Moon Lite here (opens your Zune desktop) at the Marketplace.
Like clockwork, the Marketplace for Windows Phone has hit 7,000 apps. Not bad for being just three and half months after launch, no? The last milestone was on January 11th meaning we're just over that two-week average that Microsoft is real good at maintaining (see the other dates here).
And yup. We're gonna keep doing this till we hit 10,000 at which point we'll only report on...we dunno...every 5,000 new apps. Cool?
But serious question: What are your thoughts on quality of the software these days? We really like all the 2.x app updates we're seeing more live tiles and generally we're happy with the way things are going. But of course we also see room for improvement, like anyone else. Sound off in comments.
Our initial impression? Get it. The graphics are really stunning (for that hand-drawn thing), we really like the Achievements and the game play is quite addictive. We do wonder if we'll still want to play in say, two or three weeks, but for now it has our attention. Of course you can trial it before you buy. Grab it here in the Marketplace.
Not only has the London Tube app altered its brand name to London Travel (this comes with the recent update), Irtiqa have brought the much sought-after feature from user reviews - Journey planning.
We previously reviewed London Tube prior to the update and found that the features and design both complimented the effort and creativity that were present in the appeal, along with the cheap price tag. Although the majority of reviews on the Marketplace were requests for an ability to plan a journey through the boroughs of London, the presence of a live Oyster Card balance was warmly welcomed.
With the newly added journey planner, there isn’t a restriction to only tube journeys. You have the option to filter plans by; National Rail, DLR, tram, bus, coach and river boat. If that wasn’t enough, you can use your location to find nearby stations and services.
There is only one drawback from this update (for those who work in London) - the excuse for being late due to commute problems is becoming less acceptable, which is a slight pain.