homebrew

If you have an HTC developer unlocked ("jailbroken") phone, then this trick may be for you: evidently you can convert PDF books into .PRC files that can then be sideloaded on the device and viewed with Amazon's Kindle app. The reason? As DominikZ over at XDA notes, Charles Petzold's eBook "Programming Windows Phone 7" which is 100% free, costs $22.53 on Amazon (we actually see two versions, one XNA, one Silverlight, but both do cost ~$20 for the Kindle edition). Through this trick, you can convert the free PDF version of the book to a Kindle compatible one.

The task is not too difficult, but hardly elegant. As noted, only HTC devices can do this right now because the trick relies on TouchXplorer, which doesn't work to well on non-HTC devices.:

  • Download MobiPocket Creator or any other Program, capable of converting pdf to prc.
  • When the conversion is done, apply the registry hack, so that your phone will show up in Windows Explorer.
  • Copy the newly created *.prc file to your phone. If not already done, install TouchXplorer and go to My Documents\Zune\Content\0400\03 and cut the newly created file (It will be renamed to*.z)
  • Paste it to Applications\Data\48195FB4-EE0E-9264...\Data\IsolatedStore\kindle
  • Now rename the file so you will remember the it (e.g. programming.prc).
  • Start up Kindle and the newly added book should be available.

Like we said, not easy but once you do your first one, the rest are a breeze. Conversion usually takes less than five minutes from our experience and this seems a great way to load school PDFs, free eBooks, etc. onto your Windows Phone.

Source: XDA

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Probably in the near future, Windows Phone 7 ROM developers (yes, there will be some) will be needing a method by which to mass install their homebrew apps back on to a newly flashed device--or even those of us who do a hard reset.

Mengow over at XDA has solved one little problem by making a mass-XAP installer, allowing you to just drag-n-drop your collection of apps. The app is simple enough and seem to work quite well so far, making mass installation that much easier. Up till now, we had to install an app one by one by one with lots of double clicks in between, now the process is more streamlined, making this a welcomed addition to the homebrew community.

Source: XDA; via: Aliwaqas (Thanks, Ali)

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The reports of Dell Venue Pro owners experiencing crashes and freezes on their devices have been plentiful, usually when downloading files over a WiFi connection.  The good news is that a user named zeevDVP over at the Dell Community seems to have isolated the source to faulty MicroSD cards being shipped out with the phones, which could explain why it does not happen to everyone.  The bad news is that if you decide to resolve the issue by replacing the card it will void your warranty.  If your Venue Pro is continuously freezing, you might be ready to chuck it against a wall, which would also void the warranty, so this fix just could be the right fit for you.  In any case, reports are that it works. 

Here is the process zeeDVP outlines, using a class 2 32GB Sandisk card (Sandisk part number SDSDQM-032G-B35):

1. Fully sync your phone with Zune, replacing the card requires hard-resetting the device (essentially formatting it).

2. Go to "Settings->about->reset your phone", click "Yes" for both questions, then just as the screen goes dark (as the phone is going for a restart) remove the battery.

3. Replace the micro SD card. The card slot is located next to the SIM card slot and covered by a black warranty sticker, you'll need a tool like a very small flat head screwdriver or a safety pin to remove the card as it's not spring loaded (again, since it wasn't designed to be user serviceable). You can see the location of the card slot here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weOg1dzPmU0 (if you don't want to watch the whole thing skip to 3:00 to see how to remove the card)\

4. Reinsert the battery and power up the device. You'll be presented with the welcome screen guiding you through the initial device setup and you're done.

Good luck! 

Source: Dell Community; Via: PocketNow

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People were pretty excited when the Dark Forces Team successfully ported WP7 over to the HD2, but it wasn't without its bugs. One of the more annoying of them was that the battery level indicator was inaccurate. Tired of the lies, XDA member, arkatis, decided to do something about it. He has posted a registry hack that seems to resolve the issue.  Here's the quick and dirty on how to do it:

1) Charge your phone until the green light shows up
2) Unplug it from A/C and open registry editor
3) Go to the reg path
4) Edit the value from 6 to 20…press ok..Now you will see the battery indicator level has been changed! Again go and edit the value and from 20 go to 80..press ok! Restart and enjoy!

If you want to read the full post with feedback, you can check it out here.

Source: XDA

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Having quick access to connection settings is one of those top request by Windows Phone users--after all, if you toggle your WiFi or Bluetooth on or off frequently, doing the whole 'Settings' thing feels like a few too many steps.

We recently reported of some apps that will allow you to create shortcuts on your Samsung Windows Phone to speed up the process. Two issues though: non-Samsung phones were left out and the icons were generic.

Now, Schaps has created quick links to Connections, WiFi, Bluetooth, Location and Airplane mode, all with cool custom icons. More importantly, these seem to work on all Windows Phones (they were like a charm on our LG Quantum, see above). As a reminder, this is only for developer unlocked devices, since it has to be side loaded (and you'll want that program to break the 10-app limit too).

More info and downloads are here.

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An odd limit of unlocked Window Phones (even our sanctioned developed unlocked device) is the ability to side load more than 10 apps on the device--you simply can't do it. Reportedly, this was put into place to prevent developers from creating a ton of "cheap" apps.

One repercussion of this limit is it severely hampers the hombrew scene--after all if you're installing shortcuts to your WiFI, Bluetooth, Accent Changers, flashlights, a compass, etc. it doesn't take long to hit ten. Awhile back, Thomas Hounsell modified ChevronWP7 to disable this limit, but ChevronWP7 has it's own issues including being disabled in the future.

Now, (nico) over at XDA has created a program that goes on the device itself to remove this limit, making it a lot easier for developers to bypass the ten-app barrier. It works on Samsung, LG and HTC, though we're not sure abou Dell--so your mileage may vary. The good news is there is a rollback feature in case it doesn't work out. We know for our purpose on this site, bypassing this limit helps out tremendously.

Source: XDA

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The ChevronWP7 team finally got around to updating their blog regarding the recent meeting with Microsoft and the t-shirt heard around the world.

The team is of course under an agreed to non-disclosure agreement (NDA) so whatever details they can share are somewhat vague. But here's what we know:

  • They're "genuinely excited by many of the forward-looking presentations. We can only hope they come to fruition as soon as possible."
  • ChevronWP7 "...will work with Microsoft towards long-term solutions that support mutual goals of broadening access to the platform while protecting intellectual property and ensuring platform security."

And perhaps most importantly, we know that the unlocking tool will be disabled with the upcoming NoDo update--but they are "collaborating with Microsoft on an interim solution that will continue to support homebrew developments after the update.". No details were given on what exactly that means, but will be forthcoming. Some other information gleaned: no, your Xbox LIVE accounts won't be banned for using and unlocker and Rafael Rivera at least seems confident that we'll like the "short term stuff".

In addition, the team was able to play with and test the new update, confirming that the unlocker doesn't work and managed to receive some Asus E600 developer phones for their trouble.

In summary, while we only have some vague notion of feelings on the matter given from the team, it as least sounds as if they are satisfied and that Microsoft is working on some sort of "solution" to the homebrew question, something we vigorously support.

Source: ChevronWP7 Blog; Within Windows; @withinrafael

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Can't decide between WP7 and Android?  Thanks to some of the minds at XDA, now you don't have, if you have an HTC HD2.  Due to limitations in both operating systems, WP7 will reside in NAND memory and Android will be booted from an SD card. 

Here's what you will need for the recommended method:

Once you've gathered your materials, go here to get started, or you can find another method here.  Good luck!  Try not to hose your HD2.

Source: Ali Waqas (Thanks for the tip!); via: XDA

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We've already seen the NES emulator ourselves and it's pretty cool, but what about one for Game Boy Pocket?

Samuel Blanchard, a French .NET developer. has evidently thrown together a rough player for Windows Phone 7 and it looks pretty darn spiffy. Noting on his blog (translated):

The emulator is far from complete. It lacks particular, the management of the Flash RAM and the backup status in the game but still playable. The display of pixels on the screen is super fast and uses a trick which I will discuss in a future article.

All we say is gimme! What is particularly impressive is the Metro interface for selecting a game and just how well is seems to play. We'll be following this one closely as we try to reclaim our youth through 21st technology. Too bad it won't be officially available in the Marketplace though...

Source: Blog of Samuel Blanchard; Thanks Samuel for the heads up and good luck with the project!

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We last mentioned Beau Allison's (aka codeJoker) a few weeks back which involved creating a WiFi shortcut on Samsung phones--it basically allowed you to hop from your Today screen right to the WiFi settings to quickly toggle them on or off. It's actually one of the more simple homebrew hacks yet it's the one we use the most, for obvious reasons.

Now he's gone further creating three new shortcuts: Bluetooth, Airplane Mode and Connection Manager. The first two are self-explanatory but the last is really the best. Connection Manager brings you all the previous shortcuts under one screen. Huzzah! As you can see above, it has WiFi, Bluetooth, Mobile Network and flight mode all under one quick access panel. What's more, he's trying to incorporate the status-sliders below each setting for a direct toggle. Once again, this will only work with unlocked Samsung phones (sorry HTC, LG and Dell).

This app is so useful we don't know where to begin outside of saying Microsoft (and or OEMs)--you could do this too!

Source: codeJoker

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We mentioned about the Homebrew Device manager by Schapman which was suppose to be released this week. The application not only offers a new way to interact with the phone to load media but also unlocks the phone so one can sideload applications on it.

Since that time, Microsoft and ChevronWP7 have confirmed that the upcoming update will fix the programming error that the jailbreak exploited.

In turn, Schapman is not too keen on releasing his app only to have MS block it a few weeks later so  he's doing the "cat and mouse" thing--wait for Microsoft to patch, then make sure his Device Manager works around it.  He notes that his app works different than ChevronWP7 but regardless, we don't see any guarantees that he'll still be able to jailbreak the phone himself:

Windows Phone Device Manager release delayed until MS update, as I still haves a lot of cool stuffs to implementation, Also Want to make sure my code will not be broken and my unlock method will pass after the update.

This is all well and good but we're even starting to wonder if waiting for this Device Manager is really worth the hassle and if Schapman, who often promises a lot but tends to under deliver, can really beat Microsoft's new improved security by himself.

Source: TouchXperience Blog ; via Plaffo; Thanks, Antonino Ardizzone.,for the info

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Last we checked, despite our delusions and self aggrandizement, the world doesn't revolve around English. And while parts of the world await for Microsoft to bless them with native language support, some inspiring lads are taking into their own hands. (Maybe they can fix the T-Mo HD7?)

In the above case, it's Thai, which wins for coolest looking alphabet in our eyes (Korean is really neat too). It's only for Samsung devices at the moment, but it's getting there. This joins Hebrew, which was hacked a few weeks ago at XDA as pointed out by 1800pocketpc and JapaneseGood stuff.

Source: WinPhoClub; Thanks, @TonHor for the tip!

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

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

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

Read more here and thanks Dave for the heads up!

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We already demonstrated that you can change the accent color or theme on HTC (but complicated) and Samsung phones, but now Dave Amenta has also added LG and HTC support to his simple app Accent Changer..

It's the same deal as before, you need to have a developer unlocked phone to sideload the XAP file, but once you do so you  can simply drag your finger to manipulate the color gradient. Heck, you can even restore the original value with a touch of a button.

And now that LG and HTC devices can join in, the circle is complete (Oh right, no Dell, sorry). Read more and grab the XAP here.

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There's been successful attempts at modifying HTC Accent colors aka "themes" on unlocked developer devices, but up until now, Samsung phones were left to watch in envy.

Now Dave Amenta of Send to WP7 (Desktop) fame, has gone ahead and released a simple and effective app for Samsung phones that will allow you to easily modify all of your themes to any color you like. The beauty in it is you don't have to mess with those silly #FF339933 codes, but instead just use a color/shade slider. Easy as cake. But yes, your device needs to be developer-unlocked.

As you can see, we changed our Focus to a nice blue-grey theme and we feel pretty happy about it. Except now we want to go try every other color, so we're gonna go do that now, kthxbai!

Update: The app now works on LG and HTC devices too. See here.

Great work Dave (and thanks for the tip)! Read more on it here. Edit: Love black on white!

 

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We were just envying LG's amazing Voice to Text app, wishing it were on other Windows Phones and evidently others at XDA thought the same. Difference being they went ahead and they allegedly patched the XAP file so as to make it work on any unlocked Windows Phone.  (Similar case with Samsung's apps).

To see if it works we tried it ourselves and sure enough, it does what it was meant to do. Most of you won't have a developer unlocked device to do this and the ChevronWP7 loop hole will be patched soon, plus there's the whole thing that this is technically stealing LG's software and one of their device selling points (though everyone seems okay with loading WP7 on their HD2s, with no concern there--double standard we guess). So you know, we don't recommend you do this, even if you could, which you probably can't.

Source: XDA

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We’ve been covering the exploits of the ChevronWP7 team for a couple of months. From the original release and the various applications released for unlocked devices, to Microsoft having a heart-to-heart with the team and the subsequent discontinuation of the unlocker, it’s been a busy couple of months.

The stated reason for ChevronWP7 development being discontinued was that Microsoft was interested in officially facilitating the homebrew community, saying that this is an important area for consumers. It looks like Microsoft is putting action to their words. In a couple of tweets Microsoft’s Brandon Watson states that he is looking forward to hosting the ChevronWP7 team next week. Brandon also confirms that the hole that ChevronWP7 found has been closed, and recommends that any ideas or questions on the subject of homebrew development on Windows Phone 7 be directed to the ChevronWP7 team to be discussed next week.

What are your thoughts on the homebrew situation? Have you been using ChevronWP7? Is it good that Microsoft is being proactive? Talk it up in the comments.

Source @BrandonWatson (Tweet 1, Tweet 2)

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Have time on your hands and want add a unique yet mediocre theme ("accent color") to your HTC device? Well, as you can see above I overwrote my Blue theme for a gray one. (I actually had no idea it would over-write the Blue theme, otherwise I would have chosen Brown).

Of course, gray is just one of many possible themes one could do, so this was more conceptual than anything. The story of it goes back to XDA, involves TouchXplorer (a file explorer for unlocked HTC devices) and a provisioning trick detailed by xbodmod. We won't go into all the details because to be honest, it's way more effort than it's worth, unless you have some gray fetish.

ChevronWP7 was saying they would have some sort of solution to adding or changing themes, something that was presumably easier, but so far that hasn't happened and we're not holding our breath. Finally, while an all-black theme sounds bad-ass, it's actually not so great. Best bet here: just wait for your carrier and/or Microsoft to give some more "themes".

Update: Neowin has a nice step by step tutorial on the matter.

Source: XDA 1, 2; via mobilitydigest

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Last night, the ChevronWP7 team posted a new blog on their upcoming meeting with Microsoft in Redmond next week. At that discussion, they plan to put forth the argument as to why the Hombrew community is important as well as the general feeling on improving the OS:

We’ll be sharing our perspective on the homebrew potentials of Windows Phone 7 and some of the wider community feedback around the platform. In addition to our homebrew focus, we will also be pushing for stronger protection of WP7 developer intellectual property (IP) on the platform as we believe both can co-exist on the platform.

Sounds pretty good. But then again, there's certainly no commitment from Microsoft to embrace or work towards a hombrew community. It seems that you can only have it all open or all closed, but in between is hard to navigate. But hey, there's some smart people around discussing this stuff so maybe a workaround can be reached?

The second big bombshell is that ChevronWP7, technically discontinued, will no longer work after the upcoming 'NoDo' update:

Although this has been subtly communicated before, we’d like to reiterate Microsoft has informed us the “coding error” used in the ChevronWP7 unlocker will no longer work after the next Windows Phone 7 update (officially announced at CES 2011).

So that's that, evidently. Of course we imagine some other young, starry eyed team will come a long and we'll repeat the whole process by say....March or April. Much like the locked-unlocked-locked cycle of the iPhone and the Cydia community, this has the potential to go on for a long time. However, if Microsoft comes up with a Homebrew solution, that would easily nip in the bud the desire for more black-hat activities amongst the community.

Maybe we're cynical, but we're just not holding our breath on the homebrew thing happening. Your thoughts?

Source: ChevronWP7; via @ChrisWalshie

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For those of us who like to sideload Homebrew apps on our Windows Phone, the process can be a little tedious e.g. your phone re-locks often, having to run the Zune software, etc.

The latter piece though can be avoided, that is you don't have to run the Zune Desktop just to sideload a XAP file or even unlock your device (using ChevronWP7). XDA member xbodmod has described a way to just run the "connect" part without Zune, making the process much more streamlined. The process is fairly simple:

  • Disable Zune auto-start (Zune --> Settings --> Software--> General --> "Start the Zune software..."
  • Create a shortcut to desktop from C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows Phone\v7.0\Tools\WPConnect\WPConnect.exe
  • Plug in phone

That's it. Just running WPConnect.exe and allowing it load for a second does the job and now you can run Tom's XAP installer, ChevronWP7, etc. We like simplicity around here.

Update: @adamUCF lets us know that Microsoft themselves have described this exact method, so credit to them first.

Source: XDA, MSDN

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