homebrew

You could well have Pikachu following Ash around Pallet Town soon enough with the actively developed project Wario's Jewels 7 (WJ7), the first Windows Phone 7 Gameboy emulator. XDA Developers Forum member Badcam3 is collaborating with other developers including Samuel Blanchard to turn this idea into reality.

We know Microsoft doesn't play ball with emulators in the Marketplace (for a good number of reasons), but this is the first sign of light for the homebrew community. To find out more information, check the link below or follow the team on Twitter. The video below shows how you can create your game lists.

Source: XDA Developers Forum, via: WPSauce

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WP7 screen recorder [Homebrew]

Fancy recording your device easily and have good quality output on your PC of your handset's screen? XDA Developers Forum member fiinix has been a busy bee with developing a program to do just that. Using The DllImport Project as a base, he has been able to optimize the code and implement a feature which allows wireless transfer of data so no cable is required. When opening the software (the beta has just been released), there are some steps that are listed to achieve connectivity.

While we haven't tested this ourselves just yet, we do (as always) recommend caution. The XAP and EXE are bundled together in the compressed download. Below is a video of the same screen recorder just minus the cable connecting the device to the PC.

Source: XDA Developers Forum, via: Monosmartphone

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Smartphones, being fairly expensive these days (especially for us Windows Phone users), are required to be looked after for the two year duration of our contracts (should we be tied to one) until we can get that special free/discounted upgrade and receive another device from a carrier. 

Although stability through even the most heaviest of usage is pretty good and handsets seem to last a good for years for some, it's when users begin to dive into the OS and hardware configuration that problems begin to appear. For WP7, this was most apparent with the Chevronwp7.updater situation which left a large number of devices not able to receive official updates from Microsoft.

We've always noted with our homebrew and unlocking coverage that to perform any action or carry out any process that's not officially supported by the big names could leave you stumped with a unusable device at any point. Enter into the room: enabling tethering on your WP7 device.

We've been made aware of some users over at the XDA Developers forum reporting that their devices have become unable to connect to Zune when plugged in and not even a hard reset can correct the issue. No solution has been found and users are left with no alternative but return to their local store and get a replacement device or further help with firmware etc.

While the functionality may be worth it should this hack work successfully, the problems that can arise when something goes wrong can be pretty devastating. Take a look at the thread (linked below) and some of the posts by users. Should you continue to use unofficial hacks and whatnot, always be sure to double check steps, sources and reliability to prevent this happening to you too.

Source: XDA Developers Forum, via WP7.com.pl

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A good majority of us has been intrigued by the white background and black live tiles combination of themes, not to mention choosing the color scheme of your device by hex values instead of a limited (but aesthetically pleasing) list. Thankfully diaahussein and rmcgraw have come up with a sweet little guide (especially convenient for us newbies).

You will need an unlocked device (read up on our Chevron team coverage) and have a registry editor installed. This process involves altering system settings on your phone and WPCentral cannot (and will not) accept any responsibility or liability for devices that end up continuously displaying the following image when booting up:

Head on past the break for the steps and a video tutorial by Saijo from 1800PocketPC.

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It's been awhile since we've heard much from the homebrew crowd, in fact once everyone went to 'NoDo' and the door was shut on home-unlocked devices, the amount of side-loading software declined dramatically. That wasn't a terrible thing either, as Mango's "500 features" goes along way in "fixing" any complaints users may have with the OS.

Still, for those developers who either cannot afford the $99 or for those just starting out, there's an odd solution coming forth from the ChevronWP7 team. Evidently they are set to release a new unlocker, but this time with the blessings of Microsoft. It's called ChevronWP7 Labs.  The catch? It won't be free this time:

"The service will require a small fee — currently via PayPal — to offset costs but we assure you it will be more affordable than the App Hub. Those who wish to write and immediately publish apps are recommended to sign up to the App Hub instead.

We’re excited to be making this service available to users with the support of the Windows Phone team."

Now, before we can pass judgement on this, we'd have to know how much we're talking here. That range can be from $1 to $98, we suppose and that's a large range. If we're talking $5-15 we can kind of look past it and almost think of it as a tip to the Team for their work; more than that and it starts looking like opportunism (and we'd be surprised Microsoft would be okay in losing that money).

For now though, we can at least be happy that an unofficial/official solution is coming to the platform, which may still allow a homebrew community to grow on the sides and allow devs of all ranges to play with the platform. Stay tuned...

Source: ChevronWP7 Blog; ChevronWP7 Labs

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WP7 Backup tool [Homebrew]

A member over at the XDA Developer forum, by the username hx4700Killer, has come up with a backup tool for your Windows Phone 7 device. It's a simple .Net program that allows users to backup their device via Zune and can be used for restoration when you use the "update" option.

There are a few prerequisites that need to be seen to before-hand:

  • Zune software installed (sorry OS X users)
  • Windows Phone Support Tool installed (x64 or x86)
  • An update package from any phone (link)

Should you be missing any of the above the application will alert you and even open a web page to point you in the correct direction for the absent link in the chain. To download and find out more information, check the source below.

Source: XDA Dev Forum, via PocketPC.ch; Thanks Stevie B., for the heads up

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Screen capture in WP7 [Homebrew]

XDA Developers forum user fiinix has brought on-screen captures to Windows Phone 7, something everyone (especially us bloggers) desire more than above all else, as a homebrew solution. While requiring the dehydration hack, this app contains the setting to toggle whether it's active or not (preserving battery life).

Here are the provided instructions:

  1. Open up the app
  2. Navigate to the app/screen you want to capture (no more than 2 apps in between (this app will be killed by "Watchdog"))
  3. Hold "focus" (not click, >focus), for at least 500ms
  4. Wait for messagebox to verify capture
  5. (SUCCESS) > Located under "Pictures > All > Saved Pictures"

You can download the screen capture app and find out more information over at the thread on the XDA dev forum.

Source: XDA Developer Forum, via: WPSauce

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For those still rocking a dev unlocked Windows Phone (and who are paranoid about your battery), you may want to check out the cool little homebrew app 'Battery Meter'.

It's just a simple app (with a nice tile) that shows you how much battery life is left in percentage form. You launch it and there you are--no more mystery.

You can grab the app here and thanks to gkoonjul at XDA, for throwing it together.

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We've been following the Homebrew Device Manager by Schapman for some time now and it has now been released as a Beta. The Device Manager features include:

  • Applications management: view, install/uninstall homebrew applications
  • File management: explore device, exchange files with your phone
  • Sync files, folders and favorites with phone
  • Send to Windows Phone (to send files, apps, ringtones, web links in one click)
  • Detailed device information (CPU, ROM, RAM, storage, network, battery, OS,...)
  • Add and manage custom ringtones

Additionally, TouchXperience for Windows Phone 7 has been released as a Beta. The navigation app was well received back in the Windows Mobile days and it doesn't miss a beat on Windows Phone 7. Key features of TouchXperience include:

  • Create custom menus
  • Add folders, apps, contacts, websites, maps, documents, and many other widgets
  • Organize applications & games
  • File explorer
  • Multitasking support
  • Panorama background customization
  • Contact manager
  • Communication manager
  • Profile manager
  • and more

Keep in mind you'll need a registered or unlocked Windows Phone 7 device to use either. You can find all the details on Windows Phone 7 Device Manager and TouchXperience here at the TouchXperience website and after the break, you can catch a video demo of TouchXperience.

Thanks, @KingpinEX, for the  heads up

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While there is still no sign of the feature to allow global screenshots to be taken on your WP7 device, Smartphone France has posted a sneak peek at a solution (for those with registered/unlocked devices) that doesn't require the emulator to be used.

Using the Windows Phone Device Manager, developed by Julian Schapman, in conjunction with his app 'TouchXperience' one is reportedly presented with the ability to take screenshots on their device. Requiring the form of multitasking, this is a fantastic feature to bring to the homebrew table. The guys at Smartphone France proved their word by taking a bunch of screenshots on their LG Optimus 7 (some posted above).

Currently the Windows Phone Device Manager and TouchXperience for WP7 are both in active development and closed beta testing (only donators are eligible for enrolment). We will keep an eye on the development of the tools and apps, along with the features made available to users and keep you in the loop.

Source: Smartphone France

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TVShows7 streams TV for Windows Phone [Homebrew]

If you're lucky enough to have a developer unlocked device, you may be interested in this sweet little project happening over at XDA. Martin_S has create a very lite app that enables searching and streaming of most major TV shows. In short, the app pulls down user-uploaded videos, presumably from various video-hosting sites.

Of course such grey-area usage of streaming and copyright concerns means we'll never see this app in the Marketplace, but hey, till then you can continue to flaunt those laws and stream some mediocre quality TV to your phone on the go. The app is still kind of rough and barren--but it does work as you can see in the video above. 

Follow the thread here and use the version in the above video here.

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A few weeks ago, we saw the advent of a de-hydration hack on Windows Phone that seemingly brought fast-app switching to the OS (and despite claims, we didn't see a hit on battery life).

Now the same hacker, Jaxbot over at Windows Phone Hacker, is bringing it to the next level by adding on an app-switching program to the mix. In short, this brings near full multi-tasking to Windows Phone well before the 'Mango' update, expected this fall.

By utilizing the camera's half-shutter button, a user can bring up a nice UI that allows one to now choose between apps that are "running" instead of just using the back-arrow or "re-launching" the app from your Start screen. Of note, this is just a 'preview' meaning the design is still in development and things can change as it progresses. Either way, we're stoked:

...the application is triggered by pressing the half shutter button (pressing the camera button halfway, not to the point where the camera would launch), and allows the user to jump between desired applications. The applications run in the background to a degree, as shown with the timer, and no time is required to bring the applications back from their background state. It's all very technical, but rest assure that he will be sharing some more details in the future.

Keep in mind the application is a preview-the interface and how it functions may very well change before release, and no release date is available. But if you're interested in having it on your device, share some thoughts about how you think it should look, function, etc, in the comments below.

Very cool stuff. Stay tuned for more as this develops. Of note, you will need a developer unlocked device to have this work when it is finally released.

Source: Windows Phone Hacker

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While we await Microsoft's solution to the Hombrew community, something that will take a bit of a hit with NoDo (since ChevronWP7 won't work with it), developers are still going forward, regardless.

Over at XDA, developer kuerbis2 has laid the groundwork for a Homebrew Marketplace by releasing a new XAP installer and even more importantly, a protocol handler (like the “zune:”-URLs) called "wphome". That last bit sort of huge as it allows people to "register" their homebrew XAP files, thereby creating hyperlinks to allow easy distribution/installation of said files. The features so far are summarized as follows:

  • In-place update on the phone: In-place update on the phone, e.g. if you already have Version 1.0.0.0 of an app installed on the phone and install 1.0.2.0 an in-place update will performed. No more full "uninstall-new install" cycle required. Your settings, custom files etc. won't be removed (same as marketplace update)
  • Deploy from file or URL: You can either specify a file or an URL. If you enter an URL the installer will automatically download the xap.
  • Own protocol "wphome": Zune's one-click download for homebrew apps. Automatically install homebrew XAPs with a click on a hyperlink. If you want, you can register the application for the wphome protocol. The application will then be allowed to handle urls like wphome:www.test.com/test.xap and will automatically start as soon as you click on such a link

Like we said, this is pretty big news as no one has gone this far in creating a framework for a homebrew marketplace. If enough devs adopt this protocol (and we see little reason why they should not), then we'll have a standard for distribution, as opposed to just attachments in a forum. Of course, people still need a way to side-load applications i.e. developer unlocked without paying $99 a year--for that we'll have to wait for Microsoft to provide a solution, otherwise the homebrew community will be forever niche. Stay tuned for more...

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

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We have been following the development of the Windows Phone Device Manager with a watchful eye, and the proposed addition to the software was the inclusion of a new "jailbreaking" tool that would allow unlocking a handset without developer registration. Julien Schapman has now sated this is not going to be included with WP Device Manager.

"Because I was bored getting hundreds of emails from people asking me to send them WP Device Manager so they can continue to use pirated applications, and because there will be a short term solution for homebrews, I decided not to include my jailbreak tool. I respect other developers and I don’t want to be responsible for piracy, I’ve been contacted by Brandon Watson from Microsoft and I wish to be involved in the official homebrew support on Windows Phone."

While I'm aware that the majority of folk will be surprised by the latest announcement (we are too!), one must consider the positives that were included in Julien's post. He mentions that he wishes to be involved in the official homebrew development/support on WP7. I believe Microsoft should have as much of the homebrew community onboard as possible to ensure that their solution will be more than what these developers were cooking up individually.

For now, it looks like we will all be extending our wait for setting Barbie Girl as our ringtones and using a colour wheel to select the OS theme. With NoDo just around the corner (should it actually work on all devices), our attention should be occupied with the features included within the update, not to mention the fantastic selection of Xbox Live titles and apps that are available. 

What do you think of this decision, and do you have high hopes for the homebrew support that Microsoft is promising?

Source: WindowsPhoneHacker

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While Skype is still mum on the whole official support thing, the homebrew scene is still alive and kicking on filling in any gaps. We reported awhile ago about a small project to bring Skype to Windows Phone and it is progressing rather nicely, considering it's being done by only one developer ('Jefis').

Version v0.8 is rather far from functional but what you see above is this: a side-loaded Windows Phone application called 'Skyper' that connects via proxy to your Skype client on your PC. It is then able to pull down your contact information to display. Right now you can't act on any of the information, or rather the messaging part is not complete. Still, it's an impressive first step in the right direction, but a little technical on setting it up.

The real question though is this: with rumored socket support and confirmed multi-tasking ('Mango"), we think there's a high chance Skype may come to market on Windows Phone this year, but will Skyper beat it to the punch? We'll keep track of both sides.

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Although we've seen quite a few OEM apps ripped from their exclusive hardware (see Samsung, LG) there was one HTC app that proved extremely difficult: YouTube HD.

The app had unique tie ins to the hardware and some real custom programming that made ripping a functional app impossible. However, it has finally been done by Tom Hounsell, who's been very big on the XDA seen and led the charge on making these apps available for all (who have a developer unlocked device).

So what changed? HTC evidently "...did the kind thing and removed all the breaking code from the old version" as Hounsell informs us in a Tweet. So does HTC want us to rip these? We doubt it, instead it was probably done to just make things easier. Regardless, we loaded it up on our LG Quantum and had no issues running it, making it a great addition, much to HTC's probable disapproval.

Source: @tomhounsell

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Developer Schapman has promied some advanced tools for the homebrew Windows Phone crowd such as the all-powerful WP Device Manger, but we haven't see much until now. Schapman recently gave a preview demo of the upcoming app for your PC desktop and it certainly looks to have plenty of features:

  • Manage your apps, check for updates
  • Edit Office documents
  • Transfer files
  • Connect via tether or WiFi
  • Device Info
  • Screen capture
  • Send SMS, emails, notes, clipboard info
  • Add custom ringtones

Overall, not a bad list. If it lives up to the hype, it could be a very powerful tool for people wanting a little extra control over things. No word on release, but it is in private beta now, so fingers crossed.

Source: YouTube; via MobilityDigest

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In a neat experiment, developer Colin Eberhardt shows how it is possible to import Google's Sky Maps into a Windows Phone 7 application, using the same mapping APIs as Bing. This is a popular trick that we've seen with TA Maps and other programs that access 3rd party mapping databases.

The downside here though is that this is far from what they have on Android--which is an augmented reality application used for discovering and showing celestial objects in the sky using the phone's compass and accelerometers. Instead, this just shows the Sky Map with some pre-defined  objects for viewing. Furthermore, Google evidently is not allowing use of the data outside of their services, so we'll have to either wait for an official Google solution or some really ambitious home-coder.

Read more on how Colin did it here. Via @gcaughey

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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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We mentioned the Homebrew Device Manager by Schapman some time ago and that its release was delayed for various reasons including a desire to wait until the first update for Windows Phone 7 hit the airways. It is our understanding now that the software will become available next week.

Seeing that Microsoft has pushed back the release of the Windows Phone 7 update to March, the Schapman updated his Facebook page with,

"As the WP7 update is delayed I will not wait until March to give you WP Device Manager, there will be a private beta on next week and it will be Publicly released soon after if it's alright. Former contributors and beta testers will get access to the private beta, developers HAVING Also node devices are welcome to join."

The Device Manager does sound promising and it will be interesting to see how it shakes out.

Source: Plaffo.com Thanks Anthony Ardizzone for the tip!

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