Custom

Custom Hubs & Accent colors for Windows Phone 8? Yes, please.

Earlier in the day we reported that Microsoft was going through the User Voice feedback system and signing off on feature requests from end users.

In short, if a feature is being positioned to be included in Windows Phone 8.x, it gets stamped with a generic “Planned” label from the site Admin for Windows Phone. It is then followed by a comment noting “Just a quick update to let the Windows Phone community know that this feature has been announced for Windows Phone 8”.

Indeed, many of the features such as Arabic language support, NFC and 720P displays have been publicly confirmed back at the June 20th Summit, making this forum cleanup standard practice.

But out of the 22 “Planned” suggestions, three stuck out...

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Windows Phone 8 and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat 

We knew since the Windows Phone Summit back in June that Windows Phone 8 would offer greater accent color selection in lieu of an actual color selector. While that latter option would be more preferred by our uses, surely having a great choice is better than the current 10+1 choice in Windows Phone 7.

The issue though up until this point is exactly what those color choices would be for consumers. Now thanks to that leaked SDK from July, we have an answer.

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Can we expect changes in the Windows Phone 8 Lock screen? 

Back at the Summit a few weeks ago, Microsoft was very clear that they were not showing all of Windows Phone 8, in fact we were only getting a peek. The reason for that is multifaceted but their official position is they don’t want to show consumer features to consumers when we’re still months from release. Then there’s the whole idea of trying to prevent an Osborne effect i.e. hurting current sales by enticing customers to wait for new phones this fall.

One tiny area of interest was an observation today from a reader (erichon99) in the new Start screen video by Microsoft. At about the 2:15 mark (snapshot below) you can see some icons on the Lock screen: 1 Missed Call/Voicemail, 4 text messages and presumably 13 new Hotmail/Live mail messages.

What caught our reader’s attention was the new Hotmail/Live mail icon which ironically is the old Windows flag logo (yet the new logo is clearly used for the capacitive button). To be honest, we think this is just a mockup oversight and we have no idea if Hotmail/Live mail would use the old logo though we’re leaning towards ‘no’ on that one--in other words, nothing to see here. However...

In Microsoft's video there's an apparent oversight in logo-matching 

...this brings back to the beginning—what are those new features in Windows Phone 8? We don’t want to ruin Microsoft’s surprise but we can tell you that looking at the Lock screen for notification changes is a good start.

One area many have complained about in Windows Phone 7 is the lack of a “notification-center”. More accurately if a notification comes in for a 3rd party app and you miss it, well, you missed it. Sure you can use the app's Live Tile but that assumes (a) You've pinned it to your Start screen and (b) You've scrolled down to check it at some point. But can the OS be even more "glance and go"? The answer is 'yes'.

We’re not sure if Microsoft will have an actual notification-center on board (ala Android's "drawer") but we do know they solved this problem another way in Windows Phone 8—by giving developer access to the Lock screen with the added ability to have custom notifications. There are actually four options for developers to choose from with one of them being extremely creative as it will give you a fresh look to your Lock screen numerous times a day. We won’t say much more on the matter for fear of raising Microsoft’s ire but hopefully this tease will get you excited for what’s coming in Windows Phone 8.  

Microsoft is once again not copying the competition, they're doing it their way and in a few weeks, you can judge for yourself.

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It's been awhile since we've seen some solid homebrew pop out from developers so it's with great interest for us to find Snotify version 1.0 floating around.

Billed as an "application that silences notification sounds based on a schedule" the concept should be very familiar to anyone who used the fabulous Windows Mobile app PhoneAlarm or PhoneWeaver. Anyone else just have a technology flashback?

In short, the app allows you to schedule your email and test/IM notification sounds so they won't disturb you in the middle of the night. For instance, you could have email on "silent" from 10pm to 6am or have SMS only with sound--your choice.

The free tool made by JMD Software needs to be "sideloaded" on to a fully interop unlocked phone meaning a lot of folks including developers won't be able to use it. That's a bummer but it's still a fascinating contribution to the homebrew scene.

Of course we know what many of you are thinking and even more of you will comment on -- why didn't Microsoft just include this in the OS? It's a good question as we'd kill to have this built into our Lumia 900 or Titan II, but alas even we have to sit this one out as our phones aren't capable of being fully unlocked just yet.

Source: JMD Software

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The presence of WP7 Root Tools demonstrates this Lumia 800 is interop-unlocked

It has certainly been a very exciting 24 hours for Nokia fans between the early release of the 900 data-fix, that hilarous video from India or the prospect that "the Woz" may pick up a Lumia. And now we can add one more.

Over at XDA they have successfully figured out how to get the Lumia devices into unlocked bootloader mode (or rather, to detect if your phone has an unlocked bootloader). In turn, you can install a custom ROM with build 12070 (RM819_059P453_1600.2487.8107.12070_002) on board plus an interop-unlock.

The interop-unlock method goes deeper than developer unlocked on Mango phones but not as deep as a full-unlock. However, it will allow users to install some more sophisticated homebrew apps (e.g. registry editors) as opposed to just sideloading signed apps.

Unfortunately a lot of Lumia 800's won't have an unlocked bootloader (you'll need to check your phone first) but biktor_gj and the rest of the crew over at XDA will surely get to devices with newer firmware on board and unlock their bootloaders eventually.

At time of this writing, biktor_gj is still uploading the custom ROM for the Lumia 710 with interop unlock, though it should be up shortly and use the same process.

Certainly this is a big day for Lumia owners and just the tip of the iceberg for the custom ROMs to follow on these devices.

Source: XDA Forums; via Nokia HD Blog; Thanks, niccolo, for the tip

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Keep warm with a Windows Phone scarf!

Oh man, we really wish these were for sale. Looks like someone got lucky for Christmas with a custom-made Windows Phone scarf...it's good to have friends who have talent, eh?

The little creation was made by John Yu for his buddy Bryon Cheng as a holiday gift and hot damn, it turned out well. We are certainly envious, even with our Nokia pillow.  (John, if you ever want to make an extra, we'll show it off at CES in Vegas next month--just saying!)

So who's going to be the first to mass produce these so we can sell them here at WPCentral?

Source: Twitter; Thanks, John!

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Last week we mentioned how Windows Phone Hacker was working on a homebrew hack to allow you to customize your Start Tiles on your phone. The trick only requires a developer unlocked device (no interop-unlock) and some patience to get your phone to look the way you want. Overall the trick looks simple enough and could be a great way to kill afternoon. Features include:

  • Customize any tile (system or third party, including Marketplace)
  • Use your image as a background for the tiles
  • Use an accent color for overlay transparency
  • Import themes
  • Export themes
  • A bundle of joy with easy personalization ;)

There's even a tutorial video to get you started on your project. Head over to Windows Phone Hacker for the file and more information and maybe jump into our forums to start sharing your creations!

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Looks like those folks at Windows Phone Hacker, specifically Jaxbot, have been working on some neat ideas for our devices. This latest trick involves making custom Tiles for the Start screen, allowing a theme of sorts to give a more unique look for your phone. Previously, they released the "Folders" option for the Start screen.

The method is not yet available as Windows Phone Hacker is once again feeling out if there is any interest in releasing it--those man hours in creating and refining this don't come out of no where, after all. Personally, we think it's pretty great looking and would be fairly excited to see this happen.

Best part is this doesn't require any deep interop-unlock, just a simple developer unlocked phone (either official or ChevronWP7 Labs), making this a seemingly straightforward hack. If interested, head over to Windows Phone Hacker or hit them up on Twitter @wphonehacker to let them know!

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For all of those with HTC HD7's, even if it is just laying around having been supplanted by the TITAN, you may want to take a look at this. Zloy Pryanik at XDA has bumped his NextGen+ custom ROM to v1.8 and we have to admit, this is starting to get real nice looking. The latest version brings the 7740 OS update as well as the latest drivers and radio software to the venerable Windows Phone. On top of that, there are quite a few interesting and unique enhancement to the ROM that has piqued our interest:

  • Light ROM (~260 mb *.nbh include radio)
  • Full-Unlocked (full support registry edit / ie install .xap ... etc) Mega Thanks DFT Team
  • Firmware reduced by 31MB , registry - 500kb
  • Update OEM software , add Touchexplorer, registry editor
  • Deleted Device Feedback
  • New sound camera shot
  • New Wallpapers, pictures
  • Ringtones and Sounds from Apple iPhone
  • Facebook-blue accent color
  • Custom system graphics
  • Watch videos from Zune in Bluetooth Headphones
  • Enabled IPV6

How's that for a feature-set? As you can probably discern, all of that reduction in file size and stripping of things has resulted in a clean, fast ROM with some neat customizations. For instance, the text emoticons are now colored as are the icons for setting up new email accounts--subtle, but nice. Even battery life seems remarkably improved, with one user's screenshot show the battery at 90% and an estimated 1 day, 13 hours remaining--we're a bit envious! If this sounds like something you want to give a go, head to the source link below.

Source: XDA; via WP7.com.pl

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While the Live Tiles on Windows Phone is by far one of the coolest and most unique aspects of our OS, like apps themselves, they are "sandboxed" and cut off from the deeper OS connections. In addition, what devs can do with the Live Tiles is limited, as there are pre-defined options when making an app.

Over at XDA, user fiinix  has detailed a new project, WP7 Custom core tiles (The DllImport Project child node), that gives the code for making a much wider, more pervasive Live Tile system for homebrew users. What this means is that devs making homebrew apps could also make them with some crazy choices for Live Tiles.

How crazy? Well peep the video above to see some of the option in action. What we hope comes from this is some new inspiration for app-ideas and maybe, just maybe, Microsoft will catch wind of these new choices and maybe allow sanctioned-devs to do the same type of tile manipulation.

Source: XDA; Thanks, neoxphuse, for the tip!

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HD7 gets first custom ROM

We reported a few days ago that the Dark Forces Team completed work on their HSPL tools, effectively allowing the creation of custom ROMs for 1st generation HTC Windows Phones.

The first ROM comes from ansar.ath.gr over at XDA, who's a pretty popular contributor over there. Now, like we speculated, there's not too much at this point that can be done with custom Windows Phone ROMs and this one affirms that. Still, it has some nice features:

  • ChevronWP7 unlock
  • MangoB2 update to 7403 and 7712
  • Stock ROM HTC_Europe_1.69.401.01_Radio_5.54.09.21_22.33b.50. 10U

Some sites are reporting that this carrier unlocks the phone as well, but we're not seeing that mentioned anywhere (they might be confusing carrier unlocked with the Chevron registry unlocker for side loading). You can grab it now over at XDA, but we'd stay on the sidelines for a bit and watch what happens--after all, it's not like this is bringing any new radical abilities to the device. But hey, it's a start.

Source: XDA; via Windows Phone Daily, PocketNow

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Custom ringtones in Windows Phone Mango [How to]

The Microsoft team updated us awhile ago on how custom ringtones, a long sought feature, will work in Mango. And while quite a few of us (mostly devs, a few who are not) are running Mango with a beta Zune client, even we don't have the automatic ringtone maker on board.

Over at Mobility Digest, James Schneider has figured away for those running Mango now to make custom ringtones. All in all, while not as easy as the official version (when it arrives), it's not too hard either. In essence you'll need Audacity, a great freeware audio mixer (we use it for the podcast), some music and a few seconds to cut and export the file following those guidelines

  • 39 seconds or shorter
  • smaller than 1 megabyte (MB)
  • saved in MP3 or WMA format
  • not copy-protected (i.e. DRM free)

By simply adjust the HZ rate, mono/stereo, etc. you can alter the size to keep it under 1MB. Then you just drag-n-drop the file through Zune, creating a new category in your Collection called 'Ringtones' and walla, you're done. Check out the entire guide with screenshots at Mobility Digest.

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The big question on everyone's lips is "What about custom ringtones in Mango?" It was teased at MIX11 but even with out preview release, not much info was available on the process or what the limits would be.

Now Microsoft, via their Windows Phone Blog, have come forth with an outline of how custom ringtones will work in our updated OS. We'll summarize:

  1. Third party devs have access for creating ringers: basically, any sound app that plays or records can have an option to "Save as Ringtone", allowing you to directly and dynamically create a ringer
  2. Create your own ringtones via the Zune software: Yup, you'll be able to sample any of your non-DRM music (i.e. you own it). There are some caveats that have to do with size and limits: "It must 39 seconds or shorter, smaller than 1 megabyte (MB) and saved in MP3 or WMA format."

From what it looks like, the Zune software will do all the heavy lifting for you. You'll just point it at the song you want and you can sample it for the ringer, so long as it doesn't go over those above limits (which seem fair enough).

Finally, Microsoft mentions that they've added nine new ringtones to "Mango", so you'll have even more built in.  We're assuming that these custom ringtones will show up with the native ones (see above pic), allowing you to assign them seamlessly to individual contacts. Overall, we're happy with the strategy and like Microsoft, we envision many 3rd party apps showing up this fall that will take advantage of these new tools allowing customers to really create some new and unique sounds for their phones.

There, everyone happy now? If not, sound off in comments.

Source: Windows Phone Blog

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For those who just can't wait another 2 weeks or so, you can go the guerilla route and just directly flash NoDo (7389) on your T-Mobile HD7 today, if you wanted. The process is actually quite simple: you download two ROM files (the old school "ROM Update Utility") and simple flash one, then flash the other.

The first ROM puts a signed Telstra version on your phone, the second, which is much smaller, NoDo (7389). The difference here is the Telstra ROM has the T-Mobile US radios on board, keeping the important part the same and since NoDo doesn't touch the radio, the second ROM is just an OS upgrade.

All in all, the process takes about 10 minutes. You won't be able to backup anything, so this is a clean install, meaning you'll lose any pics or data not saved elsewhere. The other thing is you'll rock some Telstra branding on the bootscreen and a few OEM apps (that of course can be removed), however once you throw in your T-Mo SIM, you can re-download their OEM apps instead.

So how is it? Well, it's NoDo so it fast as heck and we haven't noticed any downsides (it does make the camera better, less pink; also Bing Voice now speaks the Queens English, no joke). On the other hand, it's probably best to just wait a few weeks for the official version. But, if you want to go ahead, read all the directions here at XDA.

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Well, that was fast.

Looks like you can now download the ChevronWP7 custom ringtone manager--the first homebrew app for Windows Phone 7. The program is a .XAP (pronounced "zap") file and can be deployed using the Microsoft “Application Deployment” tool with the Windows Phone 7 Developer SDK.

To use the app, you basically build a custom .XAP file with up to 5 ringers on board and then "install" it to the phone (kind of like the .cab managers of Windows Mobile days). Ther ringers have to be in WMA format at 48KHz as "required by the OS", so there will be some encoding before you just copy over.

While you can't use the app on-the-go, it sure beats being limited to the default ringers. Remember, you need to unlock the phone first before you attempt and you are taking a risk, albeit small, here.

Source/Get it here: ChevronWP7

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And the leaks keep coming...

For those who are staying abreast of all the recent WM6.5.x builds, 28004 just hit the streets today.  No major changes are evident, though there are some graphic and speed improvements as usual.

WM6.5.3 is the latest branch off from the various "COM" builds, which look to be the testing grounds for new improvements to Windows Mobile.  The main feature of these latest builds appear to be making the OS very finger friendly, incorporating gesture support, moving the Start menu to the lower left corner, enlarging all menus and redoing certain sub-sections like the address book (see above).

What no one knows as of yet is what is the end goal? I.e. what will this final branch look like, what is the expected finish date, etc?  Build 28004 is from November 19th, meaning it features some of the latest changes.  By comparison to WM6.5, these latest builds of 6.5.x are as fast if not faster, feel more modern and are quite stable.

Look for your favorite chef's to update their ROMs.

For those on Sprint with Touch Pro 2's, feel free to try my custom build of this ROM along with HTC Sense 2.1 (weather-clock), Office 2010, Opera 10 and some graphics improvements.  Get it here or directly download here and thanks to SSK for the kitchen.

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New WM6.5 ROM Leak – Almost there!

We've been following these perpetual WM6.5 leaks for a few weeks now. While the early ones were not really recommended for daily use and were more experimental, this latest build brings some stability and speed to the table.

For those wanting the deets, this is build #21169. The big deal here is that it has that spanky new version of Internet Explorer 6, including those big ol' buttons shown at MWC. It's also has more icons built in, Sliding Panels are faster and overall much more stable.

Feel like trying your luck with a custom ROM? Head on over to give it a shot. Just remember that this is advanced stuff, not at all officially and you really need to know what you're doing. Alternatively, take a peek at some of the screen shots after the break, which you can now imagine running on your very own Touch Pro or Diamond ... today even!

Thanks conflipper!

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