All Articles by Rich Edmonds | Windows Central

All Articles by Rich Edmonds

Branching off our previous look at Windows Home Server (codenamed “Vail”) coming to the Windows Phone platform, there has been an app already available in the Marketplace for some time that can accomplish a streaming ready connection between your home server and your mobile phone. So, what does this handy little tool have to offer?

Apart from the obvious feature of streaming music and media, WHS Phone brings with it server health and disk space of mounted drives clearly displayed, a list of connected clients on the network, with the addition of being able to browse through local shares, managing users and resources is also present. A welcomed ability to upload photos directly from your phone will interest those who love to capture every moment.

Though not an official release from Microsoft, this is a fantastic effort to bring functionality, which (in the eyes of some) should have already been officially included. It also makes the wait for an official app more bearable. Have you already got this app installed and running? If so, what's your experience with your home server?

via: WMPU

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Following on from a previous article we published about an abnormal amount of data being used by Windows Phone 7 devices when idle, the BBC have reported that they have been informed by Microsoft with a status - they are investigating reports.

Some have calculated that their phones send "between 30 and 50MB of data" each day, an amount that even a heavy Internet user would have slight difficulty reaching. I use my Samsung Omnia 7 on the go with web browsing, email (three accounts set to push) and apps, I can't seem to hit 20MB, let alone double that amount.

It is interesting to see that the majority of complaints of the problem are from the US, with WP7 user Julie informing Paul Thurrott:

I received an e-mail from AT&T saying that I was close to my 2GB data limit which truly shocked me as I feel I do not use data that much, I went and looked at my AT&T account online and noticed that my phone was sending huge chunks of data seemingly in patterns.

Another reported that they had noticed their device "idle data usage is around 2-5MB per hour", which is frightening when taking into account that contracts are normally capped, and people wouldn't mind using their phones for more than two minutes each day without adding more charges to their bill.

There could, however, be a fix for those who are experiencing phantom data usage. Bil Simser explains (what many have suggested to try) that turning off the feedback option in the WP7 settings area could drastically drop the amount of data that your phone uses. Have you tried the solution, and what results did you find? Do you believe that data caps by network providers are too low for smart phones?

Source: BBC, Fear & Loathing

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As a developer, do you consider markets outside the US (or your country of location)? There are many factors that differ from country to country, like naming, pronunciation, and much more. All these considerations could lead to your app bringing in more revenue (downloads if free) or – for example - potentially receive less due to a large audience missing your product due to different keywords being used while searching the Marketplace.

Chris Hay, from the UK, noticed this trend that can be present if used effectively, or completely missed altogether. A clear and understandable article that he whipped up (includes a very pretty graph for you diagram lovers) explains how his Flashlight app – that was released for free – performs better in the UK market when compared to the US, and the rest of the world.

While English use the term “torch” as opposed to the American “flashlight”, the UK Marketplace searches would be performed using the keyword torch, while US searches would be flashlight. Seeing proof of these small considerations actually causing an impact on the number of downloads an app gains is pretty impressive. This is definitely a good example that developers should pay more consideration to how their app is presented, on any platform.

Source: ChrishayUK

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There is an app on the Marketplace dedicated to this task - but what is the most effective way to channel your feedback to Microsoft about Windows Phone 7?

Being queried by an email from Robert N, Paul Thurrott decided to direct the question at Microsoft directly. Since they have a dedicated section on their mammoth of a website for Windows 7 feedback, there isn't a strong argument as to why they don't have something similar for their latest mobile product.

Instead of one place to allow easier digestion and storage of feedback from a growing user base, Microsoft have a few ways available to get in touch with them and voice your opinion(s). Paul listed these locations as Microsoft Answers, Windows Phone Backstage Forum, Facebook, and Twitter.

Although many of us would prefer a single location, the above alternatives aren't so bad at all. Activity seems to be relatively high on their Facebook and Twitter, however, this does not provide the correct platform that is required for Microsoft to engage with their users. Hopefully, this will be fixed sooner rather than later, since WP7 is at the early stage of deployment where there is a huge amount of feedback available.

Source: Windows Phone Secrets


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Microsoft video chat coming to Windows Phone?

I don’t believe Microsoft could have fit anything else into CES this year without the entire building expanding, providing the audience with insights into what’s coming and what’s to be expected. There were many key products announced while all things Windows Phone 7 left many slightly disappointed.

A Microsoft employee threw some comments about where the mobile platform may head from here on out. A feature that was discussed is an application sharing the same concept as FaceTime. However, the obvious observation being that no WP7 device currently has a front-facing camera. Could be a new feature for future WP7 devices, or a WP8 requirement? A front-facing camera for WP8 has been hinted at.

One feature of the iPhone that owners are extremely pleased with (and is the reason as to why some wont switch) is FaceTime – a family member came round my house with her new iPhone 4 the other day needing assistance with setting it up. It is pretty impressive, wandering around talking and watching someone who is doing the exact same thing, only thousands of miles away.

Microsoft may be slightly behind in the smart phone marathon, but they are pulling out all guns and a FaceTime feature for Windows Live wouldn’t be surprising, which would make a partnership with Skype less likely. The service they offer through Live is growing along with its user-base (I, myself have barely used it prior to WP7) and integrating services such as this would be a huge plus, especially for the platform itself.

Source: NeoWin

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Android vs WP7 app development

A while back we took a look at an iOS developer having a run on Microsoft’s new mobile platform, which was surprising since the majority of Apple users don’t particularly provide Microsoft with much leniency or praise. Frode "Nilzor" Nilsen, a post-Windows Mobile 6.5 developer, has written up a spectacular case study (seriously – it’s an epic read) of his short-lived experience on the Windows Phone 7 IDE, and making the important decision on which platform is a more worthwhile investment for projects to be developed. Android or WP7?

At the beginning Frode goes into detail about what one looks for when developing on any available platform, revenue. Of course, every developer needs to cover expenses (time, investment etc.) and to ensure that a steady flow of funds is received to continue with updates and further development. To accomplish this goal, you would need to publish your product (an app in this case) to the largest possible audience with as little competition as possible. However many forget, that as a developer, the tools available and the process in creating (and updating) your app needs to be both fun and logical, and be smooth to ensure little time is wasted and productivity is high.

Frode decided to perform a small experiment and build an app for both Android and WP7, recording how long each stage of the process took, how many sells he received and how the IDEs (Integrated Development Environment) performed against each other. Using Eclipse for Android and Visual Studio 2010 for WP7, he created a simple flag & country quiz. Posting his results in complete depth, I shall summarise below his findings for each platform without going into much detail through explanation.

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If you are a user of Windows Home Server, and have a nice multi-media box running your 50” HD television, and are a Windows Phone 7 owner, there is some good news for you. The next release, codenamed “Vail” will feature a plugin providing support for Windows Phone 7.

Some of the functions that have been highlighted in a post over on the development blog should come in handy, and be useful indeed. An alert notifications screen clearly listing problems with the server, and information as to how to resolve the issue is available acting just like the Dashboard. Streaming photos, music, and video from your home server with smooth loading and playback (depending on connection of course) is thrown in along with the ability to upload photos you capture on your mobile device straight to the home server.

We are currently unaware as to whether or not the current version of WHS will have support for WP7, but to think of managing and streaming content from your box at home to your phone while on the go is something that will surely be welcomed. For those who are awaiting Vail, or are thinking on setting up a home server and use it with WP7, here is a sneak peek at the next release (Video after break)

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New Ford mobile app demonstrated

They are like a disease covering social media realm, and CES 2011 was not going to be an exception. Mashable had a quick look at a demonstration for an upcoming Ford app on all mobile platforms (including Windows Phone 7).

Alan Hall presented, and quickly ran through what the app will offer users (owners of the upcoming Ford Focus Seden). From seeing what charge the car currently holds, planning short or multiple stop journeys, locating charging stations, pre-heating/cooling the car, and more, the MyFord app is a pretty nifty bit of kit. You can even post statistics and more to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, sharing with the world how you are doing your bit to save the environment.

Hoping the app will make the somewhat daunting switch from highly explosive liquid to energy charged cells less challenging for the average driver/car owner, Ford have created a more than useful tool that I’m sure will prove to be invaluable for owners of the Focus Seden – especially since mobile phones are rarely out of one’s hand.

Source: Mashable

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Amazon 1¢ sale with WP7 on AT&T

Being known for unbeatable prices on many products online, Amazon have carried savings over to Windows Phone 7 on AT&T by Amazon Wireless. The price drop is to celebrate their massivly popular Kindle service that now covers the new platform to provide a complete solution for users. So, what models are available you ask? The HTC Sorround, LG Quantum, and Samsung Focus devices are available on contract through Amazon Wireless.

If you are interested in making the jump to Windows Phone 7, you will need to act fast as this promotion is only lasting through to January 17th.

Source; BGR

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Ilomilo is now available to UK fans

Live in the UK? Love cute, cuddly, adorable, puzzle games? Well you are in luck! Developer Southend Interactive has officially released Ilomilo a few days ago, which was locked to the AT&T network alone. Branching off from our review of Ilomilo, this beautiful little fantasy adventure will be ensuring that you forget Narnia, and focus on reuniting with your other half of the coin.

I have waited some time for this as some folk I know have explored the depths of puzzling on their phones, which has led to them to venture on a boasting spree. Installing and opening up the title, I hadn't put it down for a good hour and half making my commute on the train bareable. Below is a video from our review, by Rob, giving a great run through the game.

Head on over to the Marketplace to pick up this title for £3.99 ($4.99).

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Our attempt of the MarketPlace Enabler

There has been a known issue clouding the Marketplace on our beloved platform that has affected a good number on non-US residents (surprise, surprise) – not being able to download a good number of apps (mainly just after they are published) or even access the Marketplace itself, as India has to struggle to cope with.

I have had this problem myself, attempting to download The Oregon Trail to bring back the old days of Windows 98. Reading up on a previous post about a registry hack that changes the location of the computer and allows you to catch apps using Zune software. Now The Windows Club team have taken it to the next level (good news for the less technically savvy) and have released MarketPlace Enabler.

This handy little program allows anyone who can’t access the Marketplace to change the location and literally access it from anywhere in the world (except you wont be physically moving from your seat). As you’d be using the Zune software, free and paid apps will be downloaded just as you would on your phone, and it is all perfectly safe as the payment gateway attached to your Xbox Live/Zune account will be used to complete the purchase.

I installed the software on my Windows 7 desktop, highly excited to get my hands on The Oregon Trail HD. Simply running the .exe file (while Zune wasn’t running and my phone was disconnected) I as able to change my location and it reported a successful change. Unfortunately, when plugging my phone in and starting Zune, I still could not find The Oregon Trail HD, which I should now be able to see/purchase. After countless reboots, and defaulting/changing my location with the tool, it seems that I have hit a brick wall and wont be going down the Oregon Trail in HD anytime soon, without hacks anyway. MarketPlace Enabler also doesn’t allow me to pretend I’m from another planet; something I hope will be fixed in a future version, along with the above.

Although the tool itself failed to work, the idea and concept is spot on. There is room for improvement and possible fixes could be applied to a future update, or we could pin our hopes on the Marketplace loosening up slightly.

Check out the detailed page over at The Windows Club for more information and the download link. Let us know if the solution worked and how it has improved your experience with your Windows phone, or if it failed.

Source: The Windows Club; via: Mobility Digest

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Angry Birds is coming, just not yet

Angry Birds, the massively popular game that has found its glory on both the iOS and Android platforms, but has failed yet to flood the Windows Phone 7 MarketPlace, and another tweet has confirmed a further wait. A continuous stream of ETA updates from Rovio have had numerous news sites and blogs fall over each other in reporting duplicate stories of “Angry Birds app on the way!”. But are we all really that excited about its arrival?

I pose that question as a person who has not yet had the pleasure in playing Angry Birds myself, but have witnessed it in action many times and I must admit it does look like a fun little game that can absorb a few hours of your spare time. This would be why it is such a popular title on the iPhone and Android due to the majority of games these platforms have are all from small developers.

The almighty Windows Phone, on the other hand, boasts Xbox Live integration for big titles like Sims 3, Need For Speed: Undercover, Assassins Creed and many more. Considering how Microsoft could continue to develop the Xbox Live “to go” and make the mobile gaming experience all that more special, is pretty exciting. For me, I don’t really share the same enthusiasm as many Angry Birds fans (I guess I have taken the bench with many other WP7 owners), sure I would buy the game and it would more than likely entertain me for more than five minutes but I won’t go out of my way to hype myself about a title that (lets be honest) isn’t comparable to games that are readily available.

All in all, I would actually like to see some progress and possibly a release, rather than have everyone reposting the same old news about a game that is destined to arrive but seems to be taking a slight detour. Through outa-space.

Via: SlashGear

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Justin Williams, owner and developer at Second Gear LLC, is an experienced OS X and iOS developer who has ventured over to Android for a week to see how he rated day-to-day usage in comparison to the iPhone. Justin has now had a good look at Windows Phone 7, and has made his opinions known to the world.

Although reviewing the software, the Samsung Focus was also a main point when creating the opinionated review and wasn’t positive when covering the hardware.

“The rest of the hardware? It’s pretty cheap. Apple hit a home run in the ‘feel’ aspect of the iPhone 4. When you hold it in your hand, it feels hefty (but not too hefty), solid and substantial. The Focus, on the other hand, feels light, cheap and full of air.”

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Microsoft says no to WP7 NES Emulator

The good old days of NES, gaming at its prime – retro style. Throughout the technological advancement, emulators have always been developed to allow older generation games to be played on newer hardware and software. An emulator has been developed (open source) by Matt Bettcher for the Windows Phone 7 platform, but Microsoft has advised him through contact that he will not be allowed to offer his app on the Marketplace. Apple have even allowed emulation to set sail on the App Store, so why is Microsoft blocking it?

There are - of course - legal complications surrounding ROMs and emulators alike, but that may not be the full reason as to why the huge corporation has set up a retro-gaming blockade. The WP7 has one feature that other platforms do not have to offer, Xbox Live. Having emulation (offered on the Marketplace for free) available on your mobile could possibly cause a negative impact on sales of Xbox Live titles and other games from developers.

Support from the mobile community has been called for and if you truly wish to see a NES emulator hit the Marketplace, you can head on over to the vidoe showcasing the emulator and get in touch. He has also set up a CodePlex project up for the emulator, which can be found here.

Source: NES EMU 7; via: WMPoweruser

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ElektricForest has created an insightful chart (click the image to enlarge) that outlines the more frequently observed features of any mobile for Windows Phone 7. Thinking on switching to the Microsoft platform but are having difficulty with deciding which product would best suit your needs? Take a quick (or in-depth) look at the detail of this chart. Also, you may wish to admire the pretty colours used in presenting the data in an aesthetically pleasing style.

There have been a slight increase in the amount of discussions on our forums that are created about switching to Windows Phone 7, but not knowing which product is the best solution for that particular user. Hopefully this chart can shed some light on any poor soul who simply can't make his (or her) mind up.

I see it as this – why read a financial marketing book, when you have a children’s book about money with huge pictures right next-door on the shelf?

Source: ElektricForest; via Windows Phone Secrets

Update: I have added the updated image with corrected Dell data.

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Mashable love their polls, and any reader would agree that they are fairly useful with majority of votes coming from tech enthusiasts (the majority being Apple owners over at the social media giant). Publishing the results for their holiday gifts for 2010 poll, it is clear to the eye that Windows Phone 7 has actually performed relatively well.

Having only been officially around for a few months, receiving a mixed reception, and majority of news surrounding the platform outlining negativity over positive announcements, many predicted that the platform may not perform too well over the festive period. Reaching 5,000 apps in the Marketplace, shipping a good 1.5 million products, and listening to the end-user’s feedback, Microsoft have continued to display their determination to create a solid dent in the already-established competition.

Taking a quick look at the pie chart, it’s easily noticeable that Android has continued to dominate over all other platforms, with the iPhone maintaining a healthy share. This is all to the book and is expected by, well, everyone. What’s interesting however, is where Microsoft’s new product is sitting comfortably. Taking a promising 10.3% of votes in the smart phone category is a fantastic achievement, and shows that the insane amount of investment made by Microsoft, the decision with starting from scratch and bringing a new OS to the monopoly board is beginning to show signs of positive results.

Although the chart does shed some light on the current state of the war between the operating systems, it should be noted that this is a Mashable poll, and should not be used as an accurate calculation. As for Windows Phone 7, the 2010 launch has been nothing more than a blur for most. Next year, however, should prove to be either a fast paced sprint with the proposed updates, marketing and what not, or a slow walk ensuring satisfaction is maintained at a reasonably high level.

Source: Mashable; via WMPoweruser

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