Compass

Have you ever wondered what the weather is like on down the road? Weather in the Distance is a unique Windows Phone 8 weather app that will give you the current conditions from points as close as one mile away up to 24,901 miles away.

The app uses your camera viewfinder, compass and shutter button to give the app a virtual reality feel to things. Weather in the Distance is a simple and fast way to get a feel for the weather off the horizon and beyond.

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The out-of-box experience for Windows Phone is by far one of the best around compared to other mobile platforms. That doesn’t mean it can’t be improved, which is exactly what some third party apps do on the platform. We’ve got a handful of calendar apps that run circles in features compared to the default calendar app.

Compass Deluxe is a fairly new app the platform that adds some functionality to your Windows Phone that otherwise isn’t built in. Let’s check it out.

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Jack of Tools Pro, a handy Windows Phone 8 toolbox

Jack of Tools Pro is to your Windows Phone 8 device much like a Swiss Army Knife is to pocket knifes... a lot of tools rolled into one package.

Jack of Tools Pro is a collection of ten tools for your Windows Phone that range from a flashlight app to a decibel meter. The app is simply laid out with a series of tiles that launch each tool and that can be pinned to your Start Screen for easy access.

If you're looking for a nice collection of utility oriented apps for your Windows Phone 8 device wrapped up in one package, Jack of Tools Pro is worth a look.

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We get a lot of requests from you folks regarding what's a good compass app for your Windows Phone. To be honest, there's quite a bit out there and while some are great, there's a lot of 'meh' out there too.

Palladium Power, the folks behind the popular game Orb (which is temporarily free again) have make what we think is a top-notch and exquisite compass app that will please your senses as well as show you where to go. The app, called Compasses,  is very clean and minimalist, making you Metro-heads happy. It features two different modes: Analog and Digital with a third being reserved for Maps.  The Analog mode looks like a standard compass including directional setting and highly detailed design. In addition, you can select from five different "skins" including Standard, Metro, Camouflage, Rusty and Contrast, which gives the compass a unique look. The Digital version also has these same five skins lending consistency to the design.

The Maps option is much like the HTC Compass app where it allows you to pull down Bing maps (either satellite or street) as a backdrop for the compass, giving you real-time directional support. While HTC devices have had this option, those with a Nokia, Samsung or LG device have not been as fortunate. Finally, there's a auto night-mode, which adjusts the colors for nocturnal usage, the ability to email your current position and adjust the size of the compass rose--all great touches.

Overall this is easily one of the snazziest compass apps we've come across and if you need such a tool we have to highly recommend it. The app has been published to the Marketplace today and should be going live within the next 12 hours. You can keep checking the link here for when it does show up and it will priced at $1.49 / 1,49€ / 1,29£.

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Ever since Mango came out and devs have had access to the compass API, we've seen a ton of compass apps hit the Marketplace. While many are good (including this augmented reality one) none have really wowed us. We mean, it's a compass app, how do you 'wow' someone with that?

Palladium Power, the folks behind the awesome game ORB (paid and free) have managed to make a really snazzy new compass app that features light/dark themes and a slew of design choices including digital. What's makes this app really great looking is both the smoothness of the calculations and the design--it's like art merged with a compass. Consider us impressed.

No word on pricing but availability will be in "early December". We expect to have more on this shortly, so stay tuned, especially if you're lost. In the meantime, give ORB a spin to get an idea of their graphic abilities. The pay version with trial is here and the free, ad-supported option can be found here in the Marketplace.

Source: Palladium Power (Facebook); Thanks, muvolt, for the tip!

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Bad news for you die-hard Venue Pro users, Dell has seemingly confirmed that no compass-support will be coming to the device. It was  about a month ago after the unlocked and T-Mobile versions of the DVP received their Mango updates did we noticed that no compass support was on board. From Lionel Menchaca, Dell's chief blogger:

"@HotmailAlias The update hasn't yet happened on the AT&T version of the #dellvenuepro. The compass function will not be supported."

At the time, it looked like an error on installation where the driver was deleted. But now it appears that this is on purpose. As far as we can tell, the hardware should support compass but for some reason, Dell has opted to not enable it. We're unsure how OEMs make decisions on these matters and whether they have to license and pay for access to that hardware (much like back in the day with aGPS and Qualcomm), but between the Radar (see review) and Venue Pro, it's a bit unsettling to have a fairly basic smartphone feature disabled in our hardware.

Source: Twitter; Thanks, Daniel R., for the tip!

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Compass VO - Mango App Spotlight

Here's a neat compass app for your Windows Phone. Compass VO is a mango app that uses your internal digital compass as well as your Windows Phone camera to guide you around the great outdoors.

The compass display has multiple themes that include:

  • Orienteering
  • Digital
  • Cardinal Rose
  • Metro Graphic
  • Night

In addition to multiple themes you can tap into your Windows Phone camera to take a photo of your map and use it as the background to the compass display. With the multiple themes and camera integration, Compass VO is a nice compass app for your Windows Phone. The only issue I encountered while testing out the app is calibrating your compass.

When you run Compass VO, you will be prompted to calibrate your Windows Phone compass by holding the phone in front of you and moving it in a Figure-8 pattern. Sometimes calibration kicks in after the first lap while other times your arm just about falls out of socket trying to achieve calibration.

All in all, if you're looking for a compass app for your Windows Phone Compass VO is worth a try. It's a free Mango application and you can download it here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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gMaps Pro is our go-to app when we want some Google services on our Windows Phone (since Google is evidently too busy fixing Android to make WP7 apps). We've been waiting on a Mango update for a few weeks now and developer Alexy Strakh has not dissapointed.

New features in v1.12 include:

  • Compass support (shows what direction you're facing)
  • Latitude background agent
  • New bicycle layer
  • Ability to hide buttons on the map
  • Public transportation quick access
  • Contact database access--now you can route a contact's address directly

Having Latitude update automatically in the background is a great addition, finally making this a true Google Latitude app. The compass feature makes it that much more useful (why Bing Maps doesn't do this, we have no idea). So overall, this is a great app that keeps getting better.

You can pick up the ad-free "Pro" version for $1.99 (our choice) here or the ad-supported free version here in the Marketplace.

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We do love ourselves some AR (augmented reality) apps around here, so devs, just add AR to your app to get featured here. Just kidding, but it doesn't hurt.

Case in point is this nifty little app called Heads Up Compass. It uses the camera's live feed and overlays the compass headings in cardinal points and direction on top, allowing you to scan the horizon for Tusken Raiders. Or maybe Bear Grylis.

We actually have no practical use of this outside of looking bad ass in New York City when we get out of the subway. That didn't stop us from buying it for $0.99 though. Of course you could use it for free (with ads) if you don't want to spend the buck.

Grab Heads Up Compass here in the Marketplace. And good luck finding R2.

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Anyone who's used the Dell Venue Pro know its a love-hate relationship. And  just as things were looking up for the device with Mango and some new firmware, a new issue has cropped up, one that has been bothering us too.

The compass doesn't work. For any app. No Stars 3D, no compass, no augmented-reality, nothing.

The compass drive and API are up to the OEM to provide which is why when you update to Mango you get two updates: the OS and the firmware. And while Dell did deliver the firmware (jumping from 212 to 219) they evidently botched it with the compass driver, as is becoming obvious for many users.

Now at XDA, some sleuthing has in fact shown this to be the case. Mitchell S., has taken a look at the log during the Mango setup and found this:

**** Starting IMGFS Update @ 16:46:58 ****

Deleting file compassDrv.dll.  &$^4?!

CustomSettings.cab.pkg->5E542BF4-046F-41AA-8BB7-FFB031E0F024.rgu @ 16:46:59

Setting invalid OS state

QC_8x50_OS_SHIP.cab.pkg->D3F0E60E-DE7C-11DF-930A-3D26E0D72085.rgu @ 16:46:59

CustomIcon.cab.pkg->05E12A31-F993-40A4-8A58-136879E5CCEC.rgu @ 16:46:59

Even if that wasn't the reason, it still doesn't explain why our compass is locked at 100 degrees. What say you, Dell? Are we going to have to wait another six-months for this to be fixed?

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It's kind of fun to find some new Mango apps in the Marketplace, specifically ones that take advantage of the new motion APIs that weren't available before. Case in point? Compass by Kanzsoft and fetches for a modest $0.99 (no trial though).

As to be expected, it prominently warns you that this "uses features your phones doesn't have" specifically hardware for the compass (Dell Venue Pro here). Still, you can buy it!

So what happens when you run it? An error message reading "Compass not supported on this device" at which point the app exits. Ta-da! So be warned, that app really truly won't run on non-Mango devices, at least not without some OEM APIs first--so heed that official Mango update (thanks, @Cyruss1989). We suppose if any of you have an HTC Mazaa or Toshiba IS12T, you could give it a go though...here's the link!

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HTC releases a native compass app

If you have an HTC branded Windows Phone, you may want to check out their new free compass app pushed to the Marketplace (though oddly, not available in the HTC Hub just yet).

The app is not as nifty as LG's augmented reality apps but it's not half bad either, allowing you to have a dynamic magnetic compass plus use "walking directions" to some nearby location can be pretty useful. Plus, it's free and is fun to play around with (the app will even keep your screen on while running, which was smart).

Just click the link here to open up the Marketplace either via Zune or on your phone. Only HTC devices need apply, unless you have an unlocked/developer phone then you can try the .XAP file here.

via wmpoweruser

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Outdoor Navigation - Review

Outdoor Navigation is being offered over at the Marketplace that slaps a considerable amount of GPS functionality onto your Windows Phone. Developed by GPS Tuner, the Windows Phone 7 navigation application offers features you would typically find on a stand alone GPS unit.

From an on-board compass to route tracking to photographing points of interest, Outdoor Navigation can come in handy on the open trail as well as the open road. The application lays everything out nicely and includes a healthy help section to guide you through all the bells and whistles Outdoor Navigation has.

Read more after the break.

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Brewin' up some apps for the Venue Pro [Homebrew]

Feeling that "the Dell Venue Pro has been neglected by the WP7 homebrew community for a while," XDA user Notebookgrail decided to give it some love.  Using the native COM .dll (OurCOM.dll), he developed DVP Compass and DVP Flashlight.  The names say it all, Compass tells you where to go and Flashlight let's you see it. 

DVP Flashlight also sports the following features:

  • Uses the LED Flash on the device back as a flash.
  • Black out the screen after 10 secs to save power while in 'On' Mode.
  • Uses touch gestures (tap) and Button toggle.

At the moment, you need a developer unlocked or Chevron unlocked Venue Pro to sideload these two gadgets, but Notebookgrail has full registry read/write access in his sights. Just follow the links for the downloads.

DVP Compass

DVP Flashlight

Source: XDA; Via: Notebookgrail (thanks for the tip!)

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One thing that Windows Phones currently lack is a common API for accessing the compass feature, even though all phones require the hardware. As it turns out, some phones have easier access than others. My LG Quantum has the augmented reality app 'ScanSearch' which has a compass in it and evidently the Samsung Focus has driver support for a compass too.

Dave Amenta, responsible for Send to WP7 (Desktop) and Accent Changer has come through again with a compass app, albeit rudimentary, that totally works on the Samsung Focus (and presumably the Omnia 7). As of now, no support for HTC, LG or Dell, but that's probably just a matter of time anyways. We'll keep you posted.

As before, you'll need a developer unlocked device. Source code is available for developers too.

Read more here and thanks Dave for the heads up!

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One neat feature that often gets left out of discussion on the HD2 (see review) is the built in digital compass.

Although occasionally useful, one major downside is it can't be used by third-party apps e.g. iGO, Google Maps, etc.  Well, that is until XDA member Mach2003 decided to play with and alter the GPSModDriver.

Stressing that this is still beta, the .cab file will allow interaction of the compass with those GPS apps, though each one will vary in terms of action.

For instance, Google Maps won't rotate the map for you  (shame) but it will give you a constant blue arrow for direction status (sort of like when you a driving, but now it will work at all times and be more sensitive).  iGO8 in 3D mode will "...rotate with the entire screen according to your compass heading, as long as you have a GPS fix"

Of course this is the tip of the iceberg and we're sure digital compasses and GPS on Windows phones is just starting.

[thanks you know who for the tip!]

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