developers

Attending developers prepping for presentation

Last week, Wednesday 18th to be exact, we headed to the Windows Phone User Group meetup in London. The Shooting Star was the venue of the day's presentations and talks about Windows, Windows Phone, apps and other miscellaneous topics. It's a perfect chance for developers to pitch ideas, make contacts, receive help and advice, and meet us folk from Windows Phone Central.

The reason we pop along is simple - to help you (the developing community) receive as much exposure to our readership and beyond as possible. Without developers, apps and games we wouldn't have the same complete Windows Phone experience we have today, so it's important we provide developers with the opportunities to drive more traffic their way. From reviews to update coverage, Windows Phone Central has the means to help developers kick-start promotion and marketing.

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Although Microsoft’s MIX conference is now kaput the plan was to merge that dev conference with the bigger, more exciting BUILD event. And today, Microsoft has announced BUILD 2012 is a go for October 30 through November 2 at home base, Redmond, Washington.

The timing is of course perfect—Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Surface, new Xbox updates and more. You almost get the feeling that Microsoft has been planning to sync all of this together for one big explosive event.

Registration opens August 8th at 8am PDT, so make sure you sign up and book your flight for what’s sure to be an exciting few days—especially since it overlaps with Halloween.

We’ll of course be there with our A-Team for live coverage and analysis should you not be able to make it.

Read more at Buildwindows.com

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We last looked at PhoneGap, the Adobe-owned open source mobile development platform, when version 1.3 arrived which included support for Windows Phone. Adobe has now released 2.0 and further expands on the feature set provided to developers who wish to build apps that can easily be submitted to multiple platform app stores.

Using HTML5, CSS and Javascript, PhoneGap allows those who do not possess the knowledge of mobile platform native code to create and release apps for all the supported operating systems. So what's new in version two-point-oh? The team have implemented a new command line interface for building iOS apps, which removes issues surrounding Apple's Xcode tools, adds more support for enterprise app development, includes enhanced user guides and documentation, as well as security and stability improvements.

Cordova WebView is also present, which allows for the integration of PhoneGap as a larger native application. Listed with the new features is "Windows Phone support", which we're slightly confused at since it was added in version 1.3. We've reached out to the PhoneGap team for clarification just in case there are some incredibly useful features added. We'll update the article once we've received a reply.

Source: CMSWire

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UK newspaper The Guardian has taken five Windows Phone to the side to query them as to how they view the development process on Windows Phone and why they view the platform worthy of both time and effort. The results were extremely positive.

The five developers included 7digital (music service), Addison Lee (private taxi hire firm), IndieSkies (Kaleidobooth), Escapist Games (Star Chart), and Distinction (Weather Flow). The short conclusion drawn from the results was praise for the OS itself and how apps can be quickly prototyped and subsequently released. The only downside was the developers' restraint over download and sales figures.

We've previously looked at how the developer interest in Windows Phone has continues to remain at a high level, while the likes of RIM falls rapidly. So this shouldn't be too much of a surprise that established developers are singing praise for Microsoft. Head on past the break for more juicy details.

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Developers, Scott Lovegroove and Dan Thomas are set to bring a Windows Phone developer event to the charming surrounds of Bournemouth. The seaside-based event is to provide a space for fervent discussion on the recent developments from Redmond, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. 

Whilst a full agenda for the day is still to be confirmed, the day is to be peppered with presentations, developer insights as well as some time to get in and hack away at some code. If that’s not enough for you they are also planning a ‘Geek Dinner’ where I’m sure the frivolities will continue with gusto.

With the coming opportunities to cross develop for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 coming edging ever closer. Events like these should be invaluable to those seeking to know more about these exciting changes. So if you have an interest in development I’d urge you not to miss out. As with all developer events like this, the more that attend and contribute the better. 

Windows Phone Central will be representing there too in the form of Richard Edmonds and myself. We are always interested in seeing any upcoming projects you may be working on so please do come by and say hello. We will endeavour to make ourselves known. Head on over to the WPDD website for more information and spot registration.

Source : Windows Phone Dev Day

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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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Winner of the Imagine Cup '12 - quadSquad with enable talk

The annual Imagine Cup organized by Microsoft to support student creativity in solving real world problems has just wrapped in Sidney, Australia. As usual, some of the top winners were related to Windows Phone development so we’re going to take a moment to give them their props.

Early glove prototype

First place (Software Design) – quadSqaud (Ukraine) - In what is probably one of the most unique and coolest uses of a Windows Phone so far, quadSquad have created a company called enable talk (enabletalk.com) around their gesture interpretation technology.

In short, the problem for many people who use sign-language is the inability to readily communicate with those who don’t speak the same language (there are many sign-languages out in the world and they all have the full capacity of spoken language). 

quadSquad solve this problem by having users wear special sensory gloves that detect the signing. That data is then sent to the Windows Phone where the software takes over, converting the sign to spoken word—literally. enable talk uses Microsoft’s text-to-speech feature to “say” the whole word once it’s signed, giving signers a way to verbally communicate with those unfamiliar with the language.

Creating software is one thing but the team also made the glove system by hand (pun!) which is no small feat. Then they had to record all the gestures in a computer that can be stored for later recognition. The whole thing fits well within Microsoft’s Kinect strategy and of course helps address a real-world problem too. Awesome.

The Drexel Dragons won for Game Design (phone) with Math Dash

First place (Game Design—phone) – Drexel Dragons (US) - Ah, math. We hated it in school and we still kind of dislike it as adults but who can deny that it’s not critical? Drexel Dragons took on the challenge of making a game that can help students learn math. What better way to do that than make a game called Math Dash?

Math Dash is a Windows Phone game that allows users to complete problems by dragging the answers (in the form of sparkly ‘atoms’) into the equation field. With the correct answer, users get points for the game and yes, another new math problem. A simple progress bar keeps track of you right versus wrong answers, allowing you to jump to the next level or signaling that you lost. In addition, you can drag number atoms on to other orbs to create new numbers, should you not have the right one to choose. Finally there are also power-ups and hazards to keep it interesting and feeling like a game.

The concept behind Imagine Cup is great—it gives students a chance to shine and actually makes the world slightly better; kudos to Microsoft and all the student developers who come together every year for the competition. Each first-place winning team takes home $8, 000 for their effort.

Check the videos of both winners after the break...

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The Windows Phone User Group is back, and the next event is set for July 16th. The Vibe Bar on Brick Lane is the venue where platform developers and enthusiasts will be gathering to talk everything Windows Phone 8 ("Apollo"). App demonstrations, presentations, and talks are listed for the evening with drinks available from the bar. Note that this is not the BarCamp, so the event will be kicking off at 7pm.

Be sure to check out the WPUG EventBrite page for more information, location details and to register your spot at the event. Myself and Rob Brand will be attending from Windows Phone Central. Do come say hello if you find yourself in town. We can help attendees out with website coverage, ideas and feedback on platform projects.

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Last month Nokia sponsored a Windows Phone developer workshop in St. Louis that was very successful. On the heels of that success, Nokia is sponsoring two more developer workshops. One in Orlando, Florida and another in Nashville, Tennessee.

According to Nokia Ambassador Rich Dunbar,

This workshop will be focused on the tools and resources you have available as a developer/potential developer for Windows Phone development from Nokia and Microsoft. The event will begin with a brief presentation from Nokia and will then focus on ensuring all the proper tools are introduced. We will review some of the tutorials and quick start projects and then allow time for the attendees to work on the projects they choose and ask questions along the way. The goal of the workshop is to help developers get started on their first Windows Phone app.

The Nashville event is scheduled for Saturday, July 28, 2012 from 8:00am until noon at the Microsoft Offices. The Orlando event will be held on Friday, August 10, 2012 from 6:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. at the Doubletree Inn. There is a possibility the Nashville event will be pushed up to the evening of Friday, July 27th if space becomes available.

Each event have food provide along with Nokia swag to be given away including at least one Windows Phone. You'll need to register to attend (so Nokia will know how much food to order).

You can register for the Nashville event here and the Orlando event here. If you are close to either location and are interested in Windows Phone development, this will be a great opportunity to network with other developers and get a jump on your app development.

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It wasn't long ago that Verious Inc., a leader in connecting developers with components and services for mobile app development, partnered with Microsoft to add Windows Phone development to their catalog. Verious already had a strong presence in the iOS and Android development community and the addition of the Windows Phone platform was seen as a plus. Verious is able to provide hundreds of pre-built mobile app components, open source projects, SDKs, and other tools to Windows Phone developers.

Today, Verious has announced a new partnership with Deutsche Telekom which enables Deutsche Telekom to launch the Developer Garden Component Marketplace for developers across Europe. This partnership will add significantly to the number of developer tools available for mobile application development. Deutsche Telekom previously announced plans to develop and promote tools that will help developers using Microsoft Visual Studio to mash up Deutsche Telekom's world-class network services with applications built for Microsoft Corp.'s device and cloud technology platforms. The partnership between Verious and Deutsche Telekom, coupled with the Deutsche Telekom partnership with Microsoft is expected to boost Windows Phone development significantly...

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With the announcement of Windows Phone 7.8 and the parallel announcement that current devices won’t get Windows Phone 8 Apollo, many have wondered if the new Start screen with customizable Live Tiles is all it will contain.

In essence, there are two camps on the matter—those who say Microsoft have only promised the new Start screen and those who pin their hopes on the “all we’ve announced so far...” line often touted by Microsoft when asked about the update.

Microsoft recently and directly told a few of us who cover tech media that Windows Phone 7.8 will only be the new Start screen with nothing else hinted at or mentioned. This is why we find many of the big players who cover Microsoft news taking this more conservative position because they are reporting, correctly, what they have been told.

But it is also true that Microsoft constantly uses the “all we have announced” line to cover themselves when certain plans are not solidified yet. And here at Windows Phone Central this is the position we’re taking. Yes, Windows Phone 7.8 is only the new Start screen but there could be more. When you add in the fact that Windows Phone 7.8 won’t come till after Windows Phone 8, you realize that Microsoft has a bit of wiggle room to change how Windows Phone 7.8 will be defined.

That doesn’t mean they can or will add more features but we think clearly Microsoft is leaving themselves the ability to be flexible.

This is backed up a bit further by Senior Product Manager and Windows Phone team member Larry Lieberman who recently gave a talk at TechEd 2012 on Windows Phone App and Game development. The presentation, available on Channel 9, is mostly a rehash of current trends in WP programming but at the end Lieberman takes some questions from the audience and one of them deals with 7.8. He responds to an audience question thusly:

“Will Windows Phone 7.8 get new features as well that you can access as a developer? Maybe. We haven't announced it yet.

All we've announced is the new Start screen at this point. Sorry, nothing new to announce. You're asking me stuff I can't answer."

Lieberman’s answer is interesting only because you can tell he is hedging. Hedging an answer is certainly different then taking a firm position on the matter and we believe this is for a reason. If Microsoft is only planning a new Start screen for 7.8 then they could easily come out and just say so putting an end to the speculation.  That’s not what Microsoft is doing though and we don’t think they’re being coy—we honestly believe that some of these decisions are still being made, hence the grey area on these answers.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: this stuff is complicated. You can’t simply copy and paste a new Windows Phone 8 (NT) app or function into Windows Phone 7 (CE), instead you have to rewrite and re-code that function. It’s work, it’s money, it’s time and it requires appropriate management to make sure what is committed to is what is matched in the final product.

So in the end, we still believe Microsoft has more to show on 7.8 or rather, nothing is final just yet. That doesn’t mean you should assume that more than a new Start screen will come late in 2012 but we have a feeling that Redmond is looking to do what they can, when they can.

In other words, maybe. 

Thanks, Tasos, for the link

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Todd Brix has announced on the Windows Phone Developer Blog that Windows Phone 8 will support 180 countries at launch. The platform currently covers 63 markets, making this a fairly sizeable improvement. Developers will also be able to make full use of this added support, which will be a bonus for consumers in those markets.

So which countries are being added? Check out the chart after the break for all the juicy details...

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The folks over at Windows Phone Geek have finally made their Developer Marketplace open to all. We last looked at the Marketplace when it was released in beta to a select few. The Marketplace enables Windows Phone developers to pick up (or sell) components, tools, templates, frameworks, and more.

The scheduled month to open up the Marketplace to all developers was September 2012, but with increasing interest Windows Phone Geek have decided to bring the release date forward a few months. Boryana Miloshevska, Founder and CEO, had the following to add in the press release.

"Previously, we announced that the private beta was expected to continue until September 2012. I am pleased to announce that, due to the huge interest, we are starting the public beta two months earlier! Starting today, our component marketplace is open to everyone."

Should you be interested to share any supported projects to the community, you can either give items away for free or publish a price tag to fund some beers. Be sure to check out the Marketplace regardless as the purpose of such a place is for developers to create better quality apps for consumers.

Source: Windows Phone Geek

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Qualcomm has announced a Windows RT Metro Style App developer contest at Uplinq 2012. Before you get yourself excited, the competition is only available to those who reside in the states, but should you be eligible you can pocket a chunk of the $200,000 prize - not bad, eh?

Winners will be selected in a number of categories, including 'Best Overall Windows RT app" ($100,000), "Best Compelling Connectivity Use Case" ($20,000), "Best Gaming App" ($20,000), "Best Productivity App" ($20,000) and "Best AllJoyn Peer-to-peer app" ($40,000). Each entered app will be evaluated by a panel.

To enter one must submit their working application where it will then be judged. The entry period is active until October 1st 2012. For more information, check out the competition website. Full press release can be found after the break.

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Microsoft has finally started to talk about the highly anticipated major update to Windows Phone, codenamed Apollo. With it we get a glimpse into the brand new Windows Phone 8.0, we've had a chance to assess some of the features that are inbound with this update and for the developers out there, it's time to start getting excited about a few of the features we're going to highlight.

  • Native C++ development
  • App-to-app communication APIs
  • NFC & Bluetooth stacks
  • In-app purchasing and the Wallet

Some of the biggest news of course is the shift in the base of the system to the new 'WinPRT' (Windows Phone RunTime), a subset of Windows Phone 8 (WinRT) with a few COM and Win32 APIs available for good measure. That means that a fair amount of code written for WinRT will be directly portable to this new WinPRT based framework.

Read on past the break for our take on exactly how Microsoft has opened up a new world of development possibilities...

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We've got time for one more reminder on the June 22, 2012 St. Louis Windows Phone Development Workshop. Nokia Developer Ambassador Rich Dunbar will be leading the workshop. If you're in the St. Louis area or happened to be visiting the area, this sounds like a great opportunity to network with other developers and get some help building your app.

The workshop will run from 5:30 p.m. until around 9:00 p.m. and will be held at the Microsoft Offices in St. Louis.

The goal of the workshop is to help developers get started on their first Windows Phone app. Nokia will be sponsoring the event and will provide pizza and beverages.  We will be providing a few WPCentral Store gift certificates to give away and we're still crossing our fingers that Nokia will have a few door prizes to give away as well.  

Attendees will need to bring their own laptop and have the necessary development tools installed. You can find a full list of the tools that you'll need here in the Windows Phone Central Forums discussion. Registration is required (so enough pizza is ordered) for the workshop and you can find that easy process here at GroupSpaces.

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Is Windows Phone a  "potential competitive threat" to Android?

We all know that there is a great war going on right now in the smartphone world. Apple and iOS continue to be taking most parts of the world by storm, where as in North America RIM's numbers have plummeted over the last year or two. So where does that leave Windows Phone?

Well it would seem that for most people it is apps that are important and that is where Flurry comes in, where we found this interesting report. Flurry is an analytic company that tracks developer support across all the major smartphone operating systems. The statistics are easy for Flurry to trace as when a company creates a new project in Flurry Analytics it will need to download specific SDKs.

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With all the new games coming out at E3 we are getting a good look at the future of games on Windows Phone. That’s great for the future but what about now. Where can we go to learn about games available today? We have the answer to that question in our forum.

Many developers are making their game content available for us to enjoy, review and offer feedback on. It’s all happening right here in our Games Spotlight area. Our developers want us to help them create the best game possible. They are posting information on these games in this area hoping we will download them and do just that.

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Mobile advertising platform Millennial Media has announced today availability for a new advertising SDK for Windows Phone developers. Windows Phone recently smashed the 100,000 published apps mark, so we're likely to see more advertising services offer up tools for developers to take advantage of an earn a few quid.

This advertising network is offering a SDK, which contains self-service mobile tools and innovative features that reportedly make it easier for developers to integrate apps with the network. The type of advertisements that's supported by the SDK includes banner and rich media, as well as interactive video.

Highlighted features listed on the official announcement are as follows;

  • An updated, easy-to-use interface
  • Improved location APIs
  • Support for ads that use the accelerometer
  • A single SDK for both Silverlight and XNA apps

If you're struggling with an existing Windows Phone advertising network it might be worth checking out what the Millennial Media Windows Phone SDK has to offer.

Source: Millennial Media

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Today, in conjunction with the plethora of E3 announcements, Microsoft has revealed the final plans for the June 20th Dev Summit happening in San Francisco. 

The event initially spanned a couple of days but is now down to one and while details are unannounced, Microsoft teased that this will be a "a sneak peek of of the future of Windows Phone". That can of course only mean one thing, Windows Phone 8 aka Apollo will be revealed, at least in part.

In speaking with some publishers here today, we can expect some demonstrations of some new games for the new OS as well as details for developers. Windows Phone 8 is thought to be introducing 4 display resolutions, dual-core support, native access for gaming, integrated Skype, NFC and other more "high end" features in addition to a new base layer for the OS. Make no mistake, this is a new OS not just an update.

The big questions on everyone's minds revolve around device updates and how much of a "break from the old" developers should expect. No word if this summit will answer all of those questions but at least we'll get a "sneak peek" of what's to come.

Of course, myself and Rafael Rivera will be there to cover the event, providing perspective of what the new changes mean in layman terms. So stay tuned.

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