homebrew

Julien Schapman, developer of TouchXperience, looks to have pulled off quite the programming feat by developing an all-in-one Windows Phone Device Manager, based off of the Windows 7 Device Manager framework.

It will allow you to easily transfer files, tethered or wirelessly and even unlock your device (similar to ChevronWP7) for sideloading of homebrew apps. From his blog:

Windows Phone Device Manager allows you to manage your Windows Phone 7 device from your PC, you can simply view, install and uninstall "sideloaded" applications, explore device, transfer and sync files,... It is compatible with all Windows Phone 7 devices.

Windows Phone Device Manager detects when the phone is connected or disconnected, if you don't have a registered developer device it can automatically unlock your phone, so you don't need ChevronWP7 anymore.

You can also connect to your phone via Wi-Fi, for example to transfer files from/to your phone using Windows Phone Device Manager or the provided Windows Phone application.

If Windows Phone Device Manager becomes popular I think about creating an open marketplace for non-commercial applications. Developers are welcome to join the project!

Sounds pretty nice to us. Perhaps he should team up with Dave Amenta and his Send to WP7 Desktop project (which is evolving daily). We'll follow up on this when released.

Source: TouchXperience Blog, XDA Forums; via: mobilitydigest

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Although porting HTC apps (like YouTube and their Weather Hub) to non-HTC devices is not going too smoothly as HTC has many "checks" in the way, the reverse seems doable.

XDA developer xboxmod has successfully ripped numerous Samsung-only apps and distributed the XAP files for others to install. All that is needed is an unlocked device (developer or ChevronWP7) and to install a certificate via email. Once loaded, the apps mostly seem to work fine although we had some hiccups with the German and movie apps. But, Samsung's NOW hub, which shows weather, news and stocks loads up just fine and pulls data with no issues as you can see above, running on our HD7.

Overall, we like where this is going and hope some LG apps, including their voice-to-text (found on the Quantum) can maybe make their way over to our phones. Then again, we're not sure how those OEMs feels about all of this, though we could imagine...

Source: XDA

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Although WP7 can support many characters (we had an email written in Thai read just beautifully), full-on language support is a whole other issue. Microsoft is busy at regionalizing WP7 for Asian markets and we can expect that in the second half of 2011. Until then, developer "kaorun" (Kaoru Nakajima) is in the early stages of bringing Japanese to Windows Phone 7 through his app called FlickPad X2.

The app is distributed via XAP file and he plans to publish it to the Marketplace in the future (whether or not it gets through is another issue). Evidently, you can do email and web searches in Japanese as well as other functions. Seems good to us and we're pretty impressed.

Check out the video after the break to see it in action.

Source: Neutral Scent; via Nanapho.jp; Thanks, tezawaly, for the tip!

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Back in June we mentioned about jailbreaking Windows Phone 7 and how that could lead to custom themes (aka "Accents"). Since that time, we have jailbroken our phones via ChevronWP7 and adopted their subsequent first release, custom ringtones.

Now it looks like they are moving on to app #2, those custom Accents. As can be seen above, developer Justin Angel has a custom "black" theme rocking on his device, something that looks like the rest of us will get a shot at soon. While we enjoy our current hue selection, we think a few more wouldn't hurt, right? We know Orange UK (HTC Mozart) has their own carrier theme, so why not us?

Stay tuned...

Source: @ChrisWalshie; image from @justinangel

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Looks like a lot is happening with the homebrew community these days, so here is a brief update to keep you in the loop:

XDA member sensboston has coded up an LED flashlight app that works on the Samsung Focus. Up till this point, we've had to use the "white screen" method to illuminate a dark room (see overview here), which although works is not as preferable as the LED. You do need to have your device unlocked to use this, so be warned. We imagine someone could code one up for the Marketplace, if MS were to allow apps that accessed this feature to pass certification--we're not holding our breath though, not till 2011 when they revise their requirements. [Note: this may work on other device like LG too, we have not tested to verify. Also, this works by accessing the video feature, hence the sound. We have not noticed any side effects of this, but there could be some.]

The second update is of less interest for now but still important. ChevronWP7 has an app limit--actually developers have an app limit of 10 programs per device.  This means that unlocked phones (both jailbroken and legit) can only install 10 sideloaded apps at a time. This "feature" was to prevent developers from flooding the market with cheap apps but it also puts a kink in the homebrew community. Now developer Thomas Hounsell has modified ChevronWP7 to lift that very limit, which will be important in the future as the community grows.

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A few days ago, we detailed an ongoing problem with some unlocked Windows Phones, namely that MMS would not work when a new SIM card was placed into the device. On most phones, either the device will auto reconfigure itself or the user can manually input the MMS server settings. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, some Windows Phones don't have the first option, Automatic Data Configuration (ADC), enabled and no Windows Phone has the second ability. In turn, phones sold as unlocked by carriers are not fully functional.

In response, Samsung noted that their phones do not support this function by design. Although in comments to our article, an unverified person named Young Shin claims that they work for Samsung and had this to say:

I'm from Samsung's Windows Phone 7 team. Initially, the Network Profile application was designed to detect network reconfiguration on Samsung WP7 open market devices, it is not possible to reconfigure a carrier-locked device. Currently, Samsung is working on a modification which will enable the unlocked devices to be reconfigured to any other network. This application update should be available in WP7 marketplace by the end of this month. Thanks.

All we can do is wait to see if this is true but until then there is now a homebrew option, developed by "kuerbis" who gave WPCentral an early look. In short, it is Samsung's own Network Profile app (available in their app store) that he has modified to support network and automatic reconfiguration. Of course, you'll need to use ChevronWP7 to jailbreak your phone first, then load this app. And yes, it will even load the correct MMS gateway settings for users.

You can grab the homebrew Samsung Network Profile app by "kuerbis" here. We'll keep track of Samsung's official app as well.

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There's some hub-bub going over at XDA about whether or not Microsoft is remotely re-locking jailbroken phones. In order to understand the process, we need to step back for a second.

ChevronWP7 worked by installing a security certificate on the phone in addition to the program--basically it's spoofing, making it look like it is a developer device by looping it back to the PC. Once they pulled the program they also pulled the certificate and people's phones were relocked again. XDA member Cendaryn managed to grab the certificate and now we can manually install it on the phone thereby re-enabling the process.

Now, a few users are receiving warnings to uninstall homebrew apps when they are run, leading some to think that Microsoft is revoking the certs from people's phones ergo re-locking them. (For the record, my Google Maps is working just fine). However, co-developer of ChevronWP7 Rafael Rivera has Tweeted that  "Microsoft is NOT remotely locking your phone. Don't panic..." and that he'll clarify in a bit.

So in short, no Big Brother issues, no Microsoft bringing the hammer down stuff. Probably just a quirk of how the developer-systems checks for a valid certificate.

Update: The developers of ChevronWP7 respond here. In short, after 2 weeks the device checks in with Microsoft to see if it should be unlocked. If it is not validated, it re-locks automatically (but it can be unlocked by the same process again). Short of it is Microsoft is not targeting devices to be re-locked.

[Image credit: Windows Phone Hacker]

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For those of you leaving on the edge of your Windows Phone 7 software (e.g. Google Maps, ringtone manager), you would be a little experienced with installing .XAP files (pronounced "zap") which are basically the WP7 version of .CABs. While installing them isn't that hard (Start Menu --> Windows Phone Developer Tools --> Application Deployment --> Select file), looks like someone wanted to make it even easier.

If you remember the old add on .cab installer for Windows Mobile called CabViaActiveSync, this app by Tom Condon should be very familiar: it basically allows one-click install of any .xap file on your computer. Simply download the zip, extract the .exe and Run As Administrator. Now, whenever you click on a .xap file, you'll get the above dialog screen allowing direct installs to the phone.

While many of you haven't unlocked yet and the Homebrew scene is still in its infancy, we recommend you bookmark this or make a mental note as this app will be very useful later on.

Source: XDA Forums

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We mentioned a few weeks ago about a proof-of-concept when it comes to Windows Phone 7 and Google Maps, namely that if Google didn't do it (and do it soon) someone else would because it's very easy to redirect an app towards Google's map servers.

Looks like Tech Autos has accepted the challenge and released a simple but fully functional Google Maps application. The app right just brings down the maps and shows your location, so not too useful. But the developer plans to add  Address / point-of-interest search, Directions and Favorites, making the program much more useful.

The bad news: You have to have your phone unlocked/jailbroken as a developer or by using the now defunct ChevronWP7. The latter is more difficult because you actually need a certificate that was hosted on their servers. Luckily XDA has your back on that one.

Source: TechAutos; via Ali waqas; Thanks, Ali!

 

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In a rapid fire week, Microsoft, via Brandon Watson, have contacted the developers of the unlocking tool ChevronWP7. Instead of filing a cease and desist or making other legal threats, Microsoft instead did the right thing: opened discussions with them, specifically about the strong desire for a homebrew community.

While MS has been extremely supportive of professional developers, the idea of "homebrew" apps is not to be underestimated. After all, it drove a lot of the Windows Mobile community as well as Android and HP WebOS (see PreCentral). As a sign of good faith, the developers of ChevronWP7 have agreed to discontinue support and distribution of the tool. In return, Microsoft seems to be fast-tracking discussions with them:

To pursue these goals with Microsoft’s support, Brandon Watson has agreed to engage in further discussions with us about officially facilitating homebrew development on WP7. To fast-track discussions, we are discontinuing the unlocking tool effective immediately.

We see this as a win-win for both sides as Microsoft gets the controversial unlocker pulled but the community gets their ear on this homebrew issue. See, we can all work this out. Now lets see what comes of it.

Source: ChevronWP7

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