app store

Time to check in on how the Windows Phone Store is doing against competitors. While the app marketplaces for Android and iOS are larger than Windows Phone, the gap between high-quality apps gets smaller and smaller each week.

Today we're going to check out the top 25 free apps in the iOS App Store and see if they're available for Windows Phone. If an app isn't available, we'll try and offer an alternative for Windows Phone fans. Let's go.

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Microsoft’s Windows 8 app store has yet to be a juggernaut of variety and applications. We had previously heard that the company mentioned this holiday season as a goal date to bring a majority of popular apps to the platform. Yesterday at Build 2013 in San Francisco, Microsoft’s loveable CEO Steve Ballmer stated that Facebook, Flipboard, and NFL apps will be arriving soon.

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Windows 8 apps you need to install right away

Microsoft unveiled Windows 8 yesterday and shops opened at midnight to serve up those sleek Surface tablets to hoards of people. From today you can also grab an inexpensive upgrade to Windows 8, no need to feel left out of the festivities.

We have been using and monitoring the Windows 8 store since it first became available, we thought it would be good to give you some pointers to get you up and running.

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An attempt by Apple to impose an injunction to stop Amazon from using the term "app store" has been shot down by a federal judge.  Amazon recently launched their Amazon Appstore for Android and Apple pounced, filing a lawsuit that claims that the name violates a trademark initially denied to Apple in 2008, but more recently granted in a 2010 appeal.  They also contend that Amazon is diluting and tarnishing the Apple brand.  U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton denied the motion for injunction because she saw no evidence of dilution or tarnishment, and only a slight case for trademark infringement. 

As for Amazon, they argue that "app store" is too broad of a term to be trademarked, as it is widely used to describe any such marketplace designed to let consumers purchase software applications for their devices.  Microsoft, who is also challenging Apple's claim to the name, used a similar line of reasoning in their motion for summary judgment with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  Amazon further contends that the "for Android" part of the name draws a clear line between Apple's iOS-only store and theirs.

While the full case has yet to be decided by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, a denial of injunction like this is usually a sign that the will not end the way Apple hopes. 

Source: Ars Technica

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It's not everyday that Apple gets attacked by a handful of companies who compete in numerous markets, but it seems Microsoft, HTC, Nokia and Sony Ericsson have filed formal applications for a declaration of invalidity against the trademarks held by Apple for "App Store" and "Appstore" with the Trade Mark office in Europe.

This is familiar ground with Microsoft, having already fought for the trademark to be denied. Whereas, not so long ago, after Amazon launched it's Android "Appstore", Apple rushed in and sued the online retailer, which was counter sued with the claim that Apple was too generic with objections to term usage.

And in my opinion, Apple are being way too generic with their claims against usage of the terms. It shouldn't be trademarked as a term since "App Store" (and "Appstore") can be used in the variety of operating systems when describing the store in which you can purchase apps. Albeit Microsoft and Google have "Marketplaces". What do you make of this nonsense?

Source: CNET

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Although boasting about the size of one's app store has its place--really it's the quality of the apps that matter and nothing beats those "big titles" that people want and use.

PCWorld has done an interesting analysis of Apple's top 35 apps to see how the other platforms compare. Android, comes the closest, offering all but 3 of the top 35 apps on the iPhone. Their biggest gap of course is in games--something we've pointed out before. Next, however is Windows Phone 7 which offers all but 8 of the top 35--beating out Symbian and Blackberry (guess WebOS wasn't worth looking at). That's not too shabby for the new guy in town who's been in the market a little less than seven months.

Part of the difference is Microsoft has been very aggressive in courting Apple developers to either switch or port over their apps, often offering financial incentive to do so e.g. covering the cost of development. Combined with the Xbox LIVE gaming system and their relationship with the "big" developers there, Microsoft has made tremendous in-roads into taking away any "exclusive" app that the iPhone may offer (and more often than not, the Windows Phone version looks better).

We may not have the numbers, but we have the apps.

Related story: Beating Apple's exclusivity: How Microsoft caters to developers while Google does not

Source: PCWorld/Yahoo News; Thanks, hd7guy, for the heads up

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Where'd those free LG apps go?

Yesterday, mentioned about some OEM LG apps that were either added or updated and in passing, we remarked that there seems to be fewer of those free apps that LG was offering (see earlier coverage of the offer here).

As it turns out, we weren't the only ones as Michael Eggleston was wondering what happened to his Weave (review). Easily one of the most popular and stellar apps of the platform, Weave was offered for free to LG users. Not any more as our current app is "frozen" at v2.4 and is no longer listed (so you'll lose it after a hard reset). Michael wrote the developers, Seles Games and asked what the deal was and here is there response:

The LG campaign was a limited-time promotion where they offered 10 apps for free for 60 days. They should be making a 2nd set of 10 apps available soon. Since LG controls that version of Weave, we have no way of submitting an update. Until they give us back control of it, it will be stuck at version 2.4.

We want all our LG users to keep getting the latest version, so we are going to put the regular version of Weave on sale for the lowest possible price ($1) starting tonight at midnight.

We are also going to be releasing a free, ad-supported version of Weave soon.

Between the $1 price promotion and a free ad-supported version, we hope al our LG users will find that they still have a way to get the latest updates and don't miss out on features.

Thank you for your support and I hope you continue enjoying Weave!

Edit: SelesGames informed us that email was from a few weeks ago and no immediate sale is planed. Still, it's great app.

Companies like Seles Games are obviously doing their best to maintain customer support and kudos to them for their effort, but LG's offer of 10 free apps seems a little less genuine than before--or are we just being grumpy in these early hours?

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There have been a few reports and articles that have been published today about the recent questioning of Microsoft condemning Open Source to death – this isn’t true in its entirety. So, what has actually happened?

Well, without touching the horrible statement that all open source applications and games are banned, forgotten and condemned, we shall lightly pass through with Microsoft seem to be only tackling the GPLv3 and its derivatives. Neowin has reported that Microsoft is completely against Open Source (but have recently altered the title of their article) and are by no means completely correct.

GPLv3 being banned from the Marketplace is simply Microsoft taking steps in covering its back and preventing what situations Apple has found regarding licensing and Open Source (VLC in particular). Ruling out any code that falls under the license so Microsoft doesn’t violate the GPL is how it’s supposed to work. A fantastic post written up by Sasha Kotlyar (developer of WM6 Task Manager) explains quite clearly why Microsoft has chosen to disallow code that is under GPLv3.

“Because version 3 of the GPL family of licenses includes what has been dubbed the "anti-Tivoization" clause. Tivoization, from the name TiVo, is what that company did to its hardware in order to prevent unauthorized firmware modifications. In essence, they released the complete source code to the firmware that runs on TiVo boxes, but compiling such source code does not yield binaries that can run on the TiVo. That is because the authorized, official binary code is modified by TiVo to include a digital signature that must be accepted by the hardware before said code is allowed to run. GPLv3 includes a clause that prohibits this behavior.”

The Marketplace for the Xbox system and WP7 will prevent code under this license due to hardware performing Tivoization, and only Microsoft signed code is accepted. This is what the Open Source license in question goes against. Developers should take note that limited and liberal licenses (including MIT/X11) are usable for use in Xbox & Windows Phone 7 code.

What do you make of all this, and do you believe Microsoft are acting above board in complying with the license? 

Via: Neowin

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On Monday, Microsoft filed a motion for summary judgment with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, in an attempt to get Apple's trademark of the term "App Store" denied.  They argue that the term is too generic to be awarded to just one company, as it is made up of two everyday, commonly used words.  As evidence of its generality, MS also shrewdly submitted an interview with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, where he is quoted as saying, "Amazon, Verizon and Vodafone have all announced that they are creating their own app stores for Android."

Apple's application for the trademark dates back to 2008, so it seems a bit odd that MS would just think to do this now.  Obviously, the launch of WP7 and it's Marketplace prompted the move, but one would hope that the world's software leader wouldn't be so myopic.  No decisions have been made as of yet.  The status page  for the trademark merely reads: "An opposition is now pending at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board."

We will be sure to keep you posted.

Source: PCWorld; via: AppleInsider

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One of the biggest changes to the Windows Phone 7 ecosystem is the installation of applications: you can only install them via the Marketplace and all programs need to be approved by Microsoft.

A lot of anger was directed against Microsoft for this decision, but we actually see why they would want to do this: consistency (security & performance) and a one-stop place to get software (simplicity). And at least unlike Apple, they promised to be much more transparent during the approval process.

Still, with so called no "side loading" of applications (only available to developers), some users are weary of going down the Apple route, even is Redmond is not as Puritan, well, except for 'suggestive' material.

Yesterday, the U.S. Government added new exemptions to the 'fair use' policy allowed by, the some would say draconian, Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. Amongst these exemptions, the one gaining all the headlines relates to how it is basically now legal to 'jailbreak' your iPhone and install third-party programs. In response, details on how to install 'Cydia' (an unofficial iTunes app store) have been posted on tech-blogs, previously a verboten topic.

What does this mean for Windows Phone 7?

It is safe to assume that Microsoft will go ahead with their current Marketplace plans and to be honest, we're okay with that as we think for most consumers, it will be perfect. For one, it has try-before-you-buy built in, something that the Apple App Store lacks--this missing features does drive some to install Cydia or Installous (the later is even more verboten)--so the necessity to "get around" Microsoft will be attenuated. Second, Microsoft promises to be more transparent and less-restrictive than Apple-ergo less motivation for a 'unofficial' Marketplace.

But, it also means that Microsoft can not legally try and shut down alternative app stores for Windows Phone 7 (and still win in court), but they still can try to block those who try to install third-party software or use their code.

This seems to be  a big victory, in theory, for the open-source and modding crowd e.g. XDA, who presumably could release their own WP7 store. But really, a lot of this will depend on if Microsoft decides to play hardball with the 'fringe' developer community (Apple), embrace them (Android) or take the middle ground as they usually do i.e. don't condone it, but aren't being jerks about it either.

Needless to say, it'll be quite interesting to see how all of this plays out in a few months, but we may be looking at a much more interesting Windows Phone 7 future.

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LG Launches New App Store

LG has announced an all-new LG Application Store with more than 3,000 applications consisting of a mixture between feature phone apps and Windows Phone apps. The good news is that the LG App Store is available in 23 countries and will expand to 33 countries by the end of the year.  The bad news is that the U.S. market isn't among them.

In the Press Release, Dr. Skott Ahn, President and CEO of LG's Mobile Communications Division said, "Today, more and more people want mobile devices that make their lives easier and more exciting through the right combination of applications. To meet this growing demand, we've put a great deal of effort into strengthening our application offerings for all types of phone owners"

While research noted in LG's press release indicates that 90% of feature phone owners in the U.S. and United Kingdom are interested in downloading application, neither of these countries are included in the initial 23 Country launch. The U.K. is included in the next group of ten countries but, again, not the U.S. 

You can find a full list of Countries having access to the LG App Store at www.lgapplication.com.

[read: engadget.com]

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What could we possibly have to say about Apple and the iPhone that hasn't been said countless times already? Plenty. Given that Apple has spent the past year largely consolidating its power in the mobile space, and Microsoft has spent the past year making many wonder if they're going to continue in the mobile space, it's fitting that we take a look at the two here in the second week of the third annual Smartphone Round Robin.

There will be no talk of iPhone killers.

There will be no talk of the death of Windows Mobile.

OK, there may be a little. Keep reading for more.

Update: Addendum

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Well, look at that. Somebody over at Microsoft just won $20, 'cause they managed to get the Bing application into Apple's App Store, making it available for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

I gave it a quick run-through and found it more or less acts the same as Bing on Windows Mobile. Can't speak to whether it suffers from the same complaints we've seen recently.

More screen shots after the break, and more at The iPhone Blog.

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Here we go again. A couple of days before the Windows Marketplace for Mobile officially launched in October, XDA Developers member Chainfire published his workaround to Microsoft's minimal security measures. When you load an app from the Marketplace, it's done transparent to the user, with no CAB file left behind.

Fast forward to today, and Chainfire's let us know that he's bypassed Microsoft new "advanced" security, which was rolled-out along with Web access to the Marketplace. New is the use of license keys that can be baked into apps. These keys are controlled by Microsoft, not the developer. Says Chainfire:

This new "advanced" protection was released today by Microsoft, and as far as I know no app available already uses it at the time of this writing.

So I got the code snippets you are supposed to put in your app and it was simply jawdroppingly WTF. While it was not exactly easy to beat, it took me less than two hours to devise a "generic" hack, without modifying any files on the device. (Well hey, at least it's better than the 5 minutes it took for the "basic" protection, right?)

A "generic" hack? Yes, by this I mean that this single hack (actually, running an EXE in the background) will completely bypass the entire code snippet provided by Microsoft that is supposed to check and validate your license code, for all Marketplace apps that use this "advanced" protection.

Indeed, that's no good. But Chainfire says he's no Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the rest of us.

I will not publish the code that performs this hack, so don't ask. My goal is not to crack Marketplace apps, my goal is to get MS off their ass and allow us to use our own licensing systems, like the good little resellers they're supposed to be. I will tell you that it has to do with runtime patching the crypto API, but that's it. All in all, I don't think it will take long for the warez people to duplicate this hack.

Follow along in the XDA thread, and let's hope, for developers' sake, that things get worked out.

Thanks, Chainfire!

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We've talked a little about Phase II of Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Tonight, those changes (or at least some of them) went live. Chief among them for consumers is the ability to purchase and browse apps from a desktop PC. From the Windows Mobile Developer Blog:

Starting today, Windows phone customers can browse, buy and download applications online at the Windows Marketplace for Mobile site. The selected applications are delivered wirelessly to the customer’s Windows phone and install the next time the Windows Marketplace client runs on the device. This creates another way for customers to easily find and purchase applications and gives developers a whole new level of exposure.

There also are a number of improvements for developers, including increased security to prevent app piracy.

Check it all out at marketplace.windowsphone.com.

Update: Oh, yeah, you folks running Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.1 are still going to have to wait a little longer ("later this month") for official Marketplace access. In the meantime ...

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It's been no secret that Microsoft has been trying to get iPhone developers to hop on board the Windows Marketplace for Mobile, and we're starting to see some very similar apps emerge.

After the break, we take a look at Flight Commander for Windows Mobile (available for $6.99 in the Marketplace), along with video of the gameplay.

Update: In the course of this review we'd contacted Firemint, maker of the iPhone Flight Control app (see more of that after the break) to see if they'd developed Flight Commander under a different name. Looks like we've poked the bear, as Firemint has replied and says it has nothing to do with this app and "will be investigating further and taking all appropriate actions."

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Some more news about the "second wave" of Windows Marketplace for Mobile has emerged from Microsoft Netherlands' Maarten Sonneburg and relayed by MoDaCo. (You'll remember that Phase 2 is when we're expecting to officially see the Marketplace on 6.0/6.1 phones.)

In Phase 2 (planned for late November / early December) Marketplace will also launch a PC environment. Then the user from other countries will be able to choose applications from other countries because of the so-called geo selector for the catalog eg U.S. users will be able to choose from and English-language apps released in other countries for downloaded. Then there will also be hundreds of apps, paid and free. Also nice is that in Phase 2 Marketplace for Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.1 devices will be made available. Then the users of these devices will be able to download applications.

So, more apps, desktop access to the Marketplace (presumably the Web access we've been expecting), and users can download apps from any country they darn well please. Bring it on, Microsoft.

Via Unwired View

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