homebrew

Justin Angel, a well known character within the Windows Phone community and who was recently hired by Nokia, is giving away 5 Nokia Lumia 800s (our review) to homebrew developers over at the XDA Developers forum. Although this is no competition or sweepstake, as Angel will be selecting only those who need the device and will put it to good use by creating and developing apps for the community or for those who own Lumia handsets. Here are the goals that the homebrew developers who wish to apply need to have (set out by Angel):

  • Port existing homebrew apps/features/hacks to Nokia Lumia 800.
  • Create new Nokia Lumia specific homebrew apps/features/hacks.
  • Anything else that you can convince him makes sense.

So, how does one get hold of said free phones? It's pretty simple. You are to respond to Angel's forum post (source link below) with the following:

  • What will you use the Nokia Lumia 800 for? The more specific the better. (see the aforementioned list of goals)
  • Up to 3 links (+ explanation) showing that you have the previous experience required to meet your development goal.
  • Anything else you think will help you get one of the Lumia 800 phones.

When does this offer close? December 23rd, or later (depending on when submissions die down). Also, this is not limited to the U.S., should you live elsewhere you may still enter. See photo of the handsets above. Head on over to the developers forum to submit your entry and be sure to read through Angel's post to get the best idea on how to approach your application.

Source: XDA Developers Forum; via PC

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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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The idea of an alternative to the Windows Phone Marketplace, one based on homebrew and freeware analogous to the iOS Cydia, has been kicking since Day 1 (see this early attempt). But with the increasingly wide spread availability of official unlocking opportunities e.g. ChevronWP7 Labs, the notion has become more reasonable, mostly due to the increase number of users.

Over at XDA, 'BAZAAR' has launched as an early beta for those interested in taking it for a spin. The alternative Marketplace won't be confined to the strict, seemingly arbitrary rules of the official Marketplace (see Ffffound) but it also won't be a haven for cracked or pirated apps. Instead, this will be a source for developers to distribute their homebrew apps that Microsoft would not approve as well as standard freeware apps.

That's the good news. But here's the bad: you need to have a DFT, NextGen or Deepshining Custom ROM installed on your phone i.e. a ROM that supports XAP-installation by IE9 (yeah, you can do that in a custom ROM). That's a shame and quite a big limitation right now as going the custom ROM route cuts out a huge chunk of potential users, including all Gen 2 devices. Still, it's an initial framework and we can hope that there will be a breakthrough where this will be allowed

The app itself only allows browsing right now as they work on getting permissions for the repository. The developers are looking for user feedback from those with custom ROMs and will be adding the following features in the future:

  • Creating an account within Bazaar
  • Managing favorites applications list and the ability to download and install them as a batch process (very useful after reset/flashing new ROM version)
  • Add ratings and comments for applications
  • Submit new applications via Bazaar web site
  • Online search in Bazaar applications repository
  • And many more…

It is cool looking and we hope the start of something bigger. Maybe Microsoft could land a hand to an unofficial Marketplace?

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

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We've seen our fair share of shortcut apps in the Marketplace--you know, the apps that allows you to pin "WiFi" to your start screen for quick access, amongst others.

But Supreme Shortcuts (free, XDA) by MJCS is really the Alpha and Omega here. The app so far has nearly 30 shortcuts on board which can be added to your Start screen with a simple click.  Just a few of those shortcuts include Brightness, Email Compose, Find My Phone, IE Settings, Internet Sharing, Lock and Wallpaper to give you an idea. Some are even just replacements for existing shortcuts like Zune or Games, giving you a more traditional Metro Tile instead.

We've been running it for a little bit here and have no complaints. Sure, we may not use even half of these, but considering it is free and if we could get just one or two unique shortcuts out of it, it's totally worth it.  You do need a developer unlocked device (or ChevronWP7 Labs). Head here to the XDA thread to grab it and participate.

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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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Yesterday we broke the news of the first Pandora app for Windows Phone called MetroRadio. Built off of the public SDK for Pandora by Justin Angel, developer Mustafa Taleb (see his other apps) has been quickly working to get to this app to the Marketplace. We now have our hands on the XAP file for this sneak peek.

Keep in mind, the app is still in development so this isn't the final version. Overall though, it works as advertised bringing down your radio stations, allowing you to add and rename stations, like/dislike and skip-track. It's a bit vanilla in design, but clearly these are things that can be addressed in later versions. Being a full Mango app, it of course uses the Zune controls and plays in the background.

Not bad at all for an early attempt and assuming it gets past the Marketplace, it should fill the void many are feeling with no official Pandora application.

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Homebrew app to restart your Windows Phone

Here's another cool and useful tool for you Homebrew folks: Mang Restart.

The app comes from singularity0821, the same XDA'er who gave us that Battery Live Tile app that we reported on the other day. In a similar fashion, this app can be run as a standalone or pinned to your Start screen as a Tile for quick access. In the app itself you have an toggle for a confirmation screen to pop up to prevent accidental presses.

We just installed it on three phones (you don't need interop unlock status) and it has worked without a glitch. Pretty cool if you need to occasionally restart or just want the option (and you find holding down the power button too hard, ya lazy bum). Head to the source link for the XAP file to sideload up.

Source: XDA Forums; via WPXbox

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We've seen some homebrew solutions for adding a battery meter on the today screen before, but now with Mango, devs have a lot more options to choose from, including local updates.

Over at XDA, member singularity0821 has come up with a new battery meter called Mango Battery Status and it just hit version 3.3. What makes this app much nicer than the previous noble attempt is it has a double-sided Live Tile, showing that battery percentage remaining on one side and the status (charging, discharging) on the other. Tapping it of course launches the mini-app showing your current battery level, acting as a tile refresh.

You can also record your battery history over time to see how well the battery holds up--great for doing some testing of hardware. The app only requires your device be unlocked and not interop-unlocked, meaning just about everyone can do this now with the ChevronWP7 Labs available. We approve!

Source: XDA; Thanks, Ryan, for the heads up!

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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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The team over at Windows Phone Hacker has reached a point in the development of Folders where the app is ready for its first release. We recently covered a quick demonstration on how the app works, as well as earlier announcements. The project was started with the single aim in cleaning up "ugly" homebrew applications in the start menu and placing them in configurable folders. Now, the public is demanding a try.

Before we begin with the steps to install and use the app, there are some requirements you need to be aware of:

  • Developer/ChevronWP7 unlocked phone.
  • Windows Phone 7.5 Mango

Limitations are present as the Folders Config desktop application is required to alter folders and insert apps. These are:

  • You need a desktop every time you want to adjust your folders
  • You need to either manually add the applications (homebrew, for example) or search for them in the Marketplace.

The app is pretty much "what you saw is what you'll get" should you have viewed the quick demo, but feedback in the homebrew community has been positive and the app is still in early stages. Ready to begin organising tiles, etc.? Good stuff, head on past the break for the steps and video.

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Heathcliff74, a member over at the XDA Developers forum, has published an in-depth tutorial for developers who may wish to improve homebrew apps using native Mango code. It's a step-by-step guide that will enable homebrew apps take full advantage of native Mango code and APIs.

While this tutorial has been available since October 11th, it's worth mentioning after the release of the homebrew screen capture utility. Note that this isn't a tutorial for building homebrew executables, but how to utilise native code DLLs from within the Silverlight app.

Source: XDA Developers forum, via: Windows Phone Daily

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We previously looked at the upcoming homebrew hack for folder tiles on the homescreen. Today, Windows Phone Hacker has published a video demonstrating what we should expect to see from the hack, which will require a developer unlocked handset.

While the app needs to be polished and optimized, the demand for such a feature has proved to be apparent so the team will work on the tweaks and look to release the app soon. They also note that more features are already planned for future updates. Keep an eye out for more updates here when the app is released. Should you be a fan of the folders concept by WPCentral member Sebastien "ArtSooby" Bruneau, then this will be right up your street.

Source: Windows Phone Hacker

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Here's a useful utility for those of you who have a phone that is (a) developer unlocked and (b) interop-unlocked. There's a new little toy out there that willl allow you to take screen caps right on your device without being tethered to the desktop.

The app comes out of the WPXAP forums and is just called 'Screen Capturer' version 2 as it now works on Mango devices. To get it to work you:

  1. Launch app
  2. Set a time via the slider at top (1-60s)
  3. Click ”开始截屏“
  4. Begin screen capture/Hit the Windows Key
  5. Wait for time (set a time(1-60s)) to verify capture
  6. Open Picture --> Albums --> Saved picture

We've been using for a bunch of apps without a hitch. Doesn't seem to work with Xbox games though. Other than that, this is a super useful app for many. And since we're swell folks, we're hosting the file for a quick easy download. Just get the XAP here.

Update: Scratch the inter-op requirment, now just regular developer unlocked devices can use it too. Thanks to Windows Phone Hacker for the update XAP which can be found here.

Update 2: See new version 3 with camera button and English language support

Source: WPXAP Forums; Big thanks to talan1314 for tip and the file!

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This should be pretty exciting once it's finalized. The chaps at Windows Phone Hacker (site) have been working on a "Folders" solution to Windows Phone, analogous to the fan concept we ran back in July.

The image you see above is purportedly the real deal and not a mockup--those tiles are "dynamically generated". The only issue we're told is that it's a little "clunky" on the setup which is to be expected with this level of homebrew activity. The good news is the device only needs to be unlocked and not the deeper, more difficult interop-unlock, which is a bit tricky to instantiate.

Windows Phone Hacker is looking to release this and was gauging the desire/want for this type of hack. Basically they don't want to invest time in cleaning it up, making it more streamlined if there's no one to use it, which is understandable. We suspect demand will be quite high for this feature, so let them know in comments and via Twitter @wphonehacker.

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Although we have Navigon, INRIX, Garmin and a host of other navigation/traffic apps out there, Waze is still one of those that many are waiting for to hit Windows Phone. For those who forgot, Waze is a combo GPS, social-network and traffic app that relies on use-interaction for live, up to date traffic data. With 4.5 million users, especially on the iPhone, it's become quite the app to have for those who do the daily commute.

The bad news is, don't expect an official client anytime soon, an odd omission considering that Microsoft has invested in the company. But as least way back in December, Waze was not on board with WP7 (perhpas they've changed their mind though).The good news is there is an unofficial version built off of their public APIs, meaning you can basically enjoy the benefits of Waze without their support.

But we'll be honest, while this is a noble attempt, it is a bit rough to use with some rough scrolling and controls that are a bit awkward. In fact, there is quite the list of known issues and limitations. Still, if you have a developer unlocked device and want to give it a shot, simply download the latest XAP file and give it a go and we should give the developer, Meir Tsvi, some slack as he's doing this on his own time (and it is Mango-ready). Perhaps we'll revisit this after a few more builds to see how it has progressed? Oh and don't let the above screen shots fool you, it works in English.

Go here for more info and to grab the XAP. Thanks, Amir, for the heads up!

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Windows Phone Homebrew app roundup

Lots of little things have been happening if you have a developer unlocked device, preferably with the new interop level needed to side-load some more advance apps.

First off, over at Windows Phone Hacker they've detailed a more simple method for getting Internet Sharing onto your Samsung Mango phone (Omnia 7, Focus). Once you have your developer unlocked device also interop-unlocked, it only takes two files and a reboot to get the much-coveted feature on to your phone. As you can see from the pic below, we manged to do it for our AT&T Focus and it works like a charm (seriously, it's a nice tethering solution).

Next up are some HTC apps. Yes, so long as HTC tirelessly works on specialized apps, those mischievous fellas over at XDA will be trying to port them. This time, they've managed to grab the Omega/Radars's OEM files, which includes that new HTC Hub. We loaded it onto our Focus and it works quite well. In addition, you can even add the Dock Mode app, which we're big fans of, for a more complete device. Stay clear though of Attentive Phone, the sound enhancer and camera apps as they won't do anything for your non-HTC phone.

Finally, there's a unique app from GoodDayToDie at XDA called MultiTaskToggle:

"Threw together something fun for you: a one-click (don't sue me, Bezos) app for enabling or disabling multitasking on Mango. Fast app switching + full multitasking = awesome! Disabling multitasking when you need to save battery = convenient!"

"Features: Secondary tile with deep linking! Shows current multitask state and toggles it when tapped. Supports HTC, LG, Samsung phones [NEW]. Works on Mango! Uses no homebrew DLLs."

Basically the app allows you to set multitasking on/off with one tap on a Live Tile. Here's we're talking about the full-fledged, instant-resuming multi-tasking. It sucks up more battery life, but it also faster and allows things to run in the background. Being able to turn it on/of with a simple touch, therefore, is a much welcomed addition for the power users out there. You can find that thread right here.

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So the good is this: folks at XDA are working, with some success, on hacking onto our Mango phones internet sharing/tethering (first seen on the Focus). The bad news is, most of you can't do this (developer unlocked) and even if you could (like us) you wouldn't want to because good lord are there a lot of seemingly complicated steps.

We won't post the directions here, because honestly it wouldn't make sense, but you can head over to XDA, take a look and promptly return here.

Now, even though this is seemingly complicated and only for Samsung phones at the moment (sorry, HTC and don't even think about it Dell), it's a good sign that the community is moving forward on this as perhaps and easier method will come forth (see "all-in-one provxml file" as an example). So maybe, just maybe this is the start of something that the rest of us will be able to use in the future.

See our earlier coverage of why this feature is missing from current phones here.

Source: XDA; Thanks, Steve S., for the heads up

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Back in June when "Mango" was first making its rounds, one of the first things we noted with regret was the inability to sideload pretty much all homebrew apps created up to that point. What would happen is you would try to load the app and be greated with "Error 0×81030120". Reason? It's technical but "Mango won’t officially support the deployment of custom applications with the ID_CAP_INTEROPSERVICES capability flag".

Bummer.

Even more of a bummer for the proposed ChevronWP7 Labs, which would be limited to sideloading only apps that don't modify the registry--that is, apps that can't customize the OS at any level.

The good news though, as reported by ChevronWP7 member Rafael Rivera, is there is a way around this. XDA member“Heathcliff74” discovered that if your MaxUnsignedApp value is 300 or higher, you can remove the limitation and sideload the app. This gives devs an easy workaround for re-enabling Homebrew apps (it's been speculated that this "trick" was for MS employees and OEM partners).

Rivera goes on to state "The suitable pairing for this hack is, of course, ChevronWP7 Labs". That's of course, some great news for all of us.

Source: XDA; via Within Windows

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KDDI, the Japanese carrier that launched the Fujitsu IS12T, has published an app in the Marketplace that enables users to migrate contact information from feature phones to their new Windows Phone handset. To do this developers will need system access to be able to manipulate base functionality.

To achieve this level of access, the contacts migration app uses the Microsoft.Phone.InteropServices.dll. The guys over at Nanapho.jp have published a short tutorial on how to carry out this native programming yourself. They do note however that the Marketplace doesn't allow this so it's only gravy for homebrew developers who wish to gain native access. Also, the registry is not included for the time being.

Source: Nanapho.jp

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ChevronWP7 Labs to cost $9?

With the announcement of ChevronWP7 Labs bringing a new unlocking tool/service to the Windows Phone developer table, we all began rejoicing at the prospect of a continued homebrew community with Microsoft's indirect support.

Our Daniel Rubino put forward the question to readers as to how much they thought would be reasonable for the service. He mentioned $5-15 could be considered suffice for a small pint fund that the team could use at weekends. We weren't far off with this estimate as Chris Walsh has mentioned over Twitter that ChevronWP7 Labs will set interested users back by only $9. A Small fee compared to the $99 with AppHub (which was recently re-launched).

 

Of course we wont be able to submit apps to the Marketplace, have registry access or native access to the OS, but the ability to create apps and side-load them to be a happy-as-Larry user is huge plus for a mere $9. Perfect for developers who are just starting out or who reside outside the supported countries for Marketplace submission - although we have covered a few services (App Exchange and Yalla Apps) that overcome this issue.

Finally though, a word of caution: Chris has since deleted his Tweets, so this may not be final yet...

We'll keep you up to date with more news, be sure to follow ChevronWP7 Labs on Twitter.

Via: MobilityDigest

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