Tag Archive | "Windows Phone"

There’s an app for that…

One thing that has been the biggest Achilles heel of Windows Phone has been the lack of major brand apps. Well, it used to be anyhow.

The lack of apps has (I suspect) also been the reason  Microsoft haven’t done any marketing towards app usage and availability.  Nokia however has now finally understood that when someone is standing in a shop to buy a new smart phone not only look at how cool of fancy it is, but also the ability the potential user will have to interact with their friends through it, to play multiplayer games, chat and so on. Here’s Nokia’s answer, and I hope this kind of ads will be the next wave of Windows Phone related marketing because with the up coming Windows Phone update 8.1 coming this year  Android and iPhones will really have to start worry about “what was that coming from behind…”

How many fart and flashlight apps do you need?

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ProjectLog for Windows Phone

trackerI’ve just released a new app in the Windows Phone store. (Download here)

The app is a re-creation of the old ProjectLog app I created for iPhones back in 2012. Since then the iOS version has been discontinued because I find it annoyingly boring to work with IOS.  A few days ago the first version of ProjectLog was approved and published in the Windows Phone Store after a short test period.

The app costs about $0,99 but can be used in Trial mode as long as you like, as long as you don’t have more than two projects and 2 different tasks.

Feature-wise the app is quite simple. You have Projects and you have different tasks. You start the app and choose the project you are working on. Select the task you are doing and hit the green start button. The timer is now running. You can close the app or shut down your phone – the timer will continue until you press the big red stop button. When you have confirmed that you are don you can save this activity session together with a comment that describes the activity you were working on.

If you tap on a project in the project list you get the project details page.  If you have registered any session you’ll get a page for each activity, and a page that summarize your project. To do something more meaningful with this information you should export the project data through an email account.  Add your email address to the settings screen and each time you choose to export to email you’ll receive a summary in you inbox. The email also contain a .CSV   (Comma Separated Values) file with all the sessions for this project. This file can be opened in Excel or any other spread sheet application.

I’m still working on tweaks and new features so if you have any good ideas for new features or improvements please let me know through the feedback form here.

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Thoughts around the rumors about running android apps on Windows

android_windows1I’ve seen an increase of articles that comment the rumors going around that Microsoft is planning (or researching) the possibility to let native Android apps run “natively” on Windows (and Windows Phone) The first article I read was from in The Verge called “Strange bedfellows: Microsoft could bring Android apps to Windows” and now last from Mary Jo Foley, a well-known Microsoft insider commenting (and musing around) the article in “Would (and should) Microsoft enable Android apps on Windows“.

As a .NET developer since the (not so) good old days of .NET 1.0 in 2001 I have just one word for what I feel about native support for Android applications on  Windows tablets and phones:

CATASTROPHIC

In my opinion, enabling native Android apps to run on tablet and phones would be to shoot yourself in the foot. It will be the death and end of the .NET platform!  It’s nothing like allowing Java applications to run in a Java VM on your laptop because, for the time being, Java is actually the most commonly used programming language (in the world) on tablets and phones.

Why on earth would I bother to write anything in .NET for the Windows platform family when I could do it in Java and have native support for both Android and Windows?

As Mary Jo Foley already mention, you can run Android apps on Windows through several emulators but that is something very “few” actually does. If you remove that…..

Microsoft does believe that the future is touch, and the future of computing is through tablets and hybrid pc’s. If they just let Java overrun it all they are more than I can imagine.

Personally, when looking at features, power and possibilities between Java and .NET C#, I’ll choose C# any day; so I hope this just phase out as just another tempest in a teapot.

Just my 2¢

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Windows Phone 8 Resource kit

Finding specific information about Windows Phone 7 and 8, or useful development tools can be a tedious task sometimes. Luckily Mark Chamberlain that works at Microsoft has put together a PDF document that has a lot of links to both Microsoft and Non-Microsoft  learning, samples and tools sites.

Download it at https://skydrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=2A4264AF2A3E511!503&app=WordPdf&wdo=2&authkey=!AHXYGDMBTo7VYOQ

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Nokia Beamer – Really cool feature for you Windows Phone

A few days ago I installed the Lumia Black update for my Nokia 1020 Windows Phone.

The Glance feature updates are great and I am sure that everyone that doesn’t have the 1020 will appreciate the Pro camera app. The feature I liked the most was the new Nokia Beamer feature. Beamer lets you share your phone screen across the internet or with any connected TV/PC.

Let’s say you want to present or show something from your phone to someone, it could be an office document, slide show or an app, just start the Nokia Beamer app and choose to share remotely through email, SMS or social media (let your Facebook wall see your phone screen?? :) ) or choose to share nearby.
If  you choose share nearby direct a browser on the screen you want to present on to http://beamer.nokia.com and scan the QR code with your phone. Your screen and all you do on it is now displayed inside the web browser :)

Not very much new in this release but it is nice to see that new features are released. Next update for Windows Phone will probably be after the //BUILD// conference in the beginning of April 2014 where Windows Phone 8.1 is rumored to be announced.

Watch the walk-through of the Black features in this YouTube video from Nokia. The demo of Beamer starts two minutes out in the video.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzxSo-pI-YE']

 

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Motorola Moto X and the smarphone hardware race

The consumer device that is supposed to “save” Motorola after being acquired  by Google has been unveiled.  Overall the phone has received good reviews it seems. The Verge has a good article about that can be found here.

The Moto X places itself as a midrange phone based on the hardware specs but lets face it, hardware specs are more or less something that “just a few” tech-heads care about. If your phone for instance has NFC or not isn’t something most people care about at all, they don’t care if the phone  has a two or four core CPU, its chipset is also totally unimportant. It becomes important if you have special needs – like you use the phone to play heavy 3D games, then you’d want more power. In most cases what you want is a phone with large battery capacity and easily in a no-nonsense way let’s you update Facebook, listen to music and watch TV/movies through streaming services, share a photo of your latest meal, check your email, send SMS messages and make an occasional call.

What I find interesting about Motorola and the Moto X is that they are taking the personalize your phone concept that Microsoft and Nokia has used a step further, and even incorporated personalized messages engraved on the backside of the phone. You can also configure some aspects of the phone operating system.  The “MotoMaker” gives you 504 possible designs for the outer casing of your phone.

Check out this demo of the MotoMaker site here. It reminds me a bit about how I purchased my first iPod Nano, only with a lot more choices  to choose from.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnTvmB44Cec']

What I want to see more of in the future is focus on battery life and power saving. We don’t need more power consuming CPU’s or battery draining technology embedded in the phone. Less of that and batteries that lasts more than half a day I say.

If this was running Windows Phone I’d buy one direct.

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The Surface

I’ve owned a Microsoft Surface RT tablet now for about 3 months and while enjoying it for the first 3-4 weeks it’s now more or less gathering dust. Why is that?

I am a Microsoft technology fanboy, have always been, and have worked with Microsoft technologies professionally since ’94 so everything should be right and ready for me to just love this thing. It kind of is, but then again it’s not..

So, what’s wrong?

surfaceFor me I think it is that all in all I just don’t feel that Windows 8 is a tablet OS. The home screen is, but that’s about it for what’s touch friendly, but even on the home screen there’s small things. Take for instance the sign out/lock feature – you click on your account picture and a pop-up menu with text links “change account password”, “lock”, “sign out” or change account (with profile image). On the SurfaceRT using my finger my first thought when i plan to press the sign out link is “must not hit the lock link” because then I’ll have to log back in to sign out.

I think that Microsoft has done an ok job on a touch friendly UI in the people hub app Messages app, but the email app again is an interface mess. The people hub gives you a good overview of events even tho it’s a bit short on features like being able to sort the content of your Facebook wall after anything else than “Most recent”, having to pull up the app bar to refresh the feed instead of just using what has become the de-facto standard for this, drag-hold-release to refresh.  Something that also is a bit annoying is that if i wanted to post a video, photo or anything else  I’ll have to go to the photos app and share from there.

Another thing I’d wish for is that Internet Explorer should have “registered” as a tablet and give me the tablet optimized versions of webpages. This isn’t really Microsofts fault, but I wish that things would just work….  With the lack of any good Facebook and LinkedIn apps on Windows 8, try navigating facebook.com with Internet Explorer on your Surface RT…. fnrghhhh…..

Things just feel so un-finished.

And did I forgot to ask, does the world need yet another type of charger plug?? What’s wrong with complying to the mini USB standard? Thank you Microsoft. Now I’ll have to bring yet another battery charger in my bag :/

As for Windows 8 – I think it’s a great PC/Laptop OS. I’ve got a Dell XPS 12″ with touch screen and I absolutely love it! But it’s a laptop with a touch screen, not trying to be a tablet, even tho you can flip the screen. Good for reading, but I have never thought of it as a tablet. I also got a stationary PC without touch screen, but with a 27″ monitor. Love it there too.

I hope Microsoft gets it right at some point with the Surface. I like the design of it. I think it got potential but I also think that we will need both a “Blue”, “Yellow” and “Red” update, preferably not with a year between each.

Another thing i think would be smart for Microsoft (and this goes for Windows Phone too) is to listen to your users. Don’t sit on your “high” horse and tell me (us) what I (we) want. We know what we want.  This is quite easily done. You have already “started” doing it with the feature suggestions for Windows Phone, but use it more actively. Extend it! Market that users actually can have a saying in features and functions.

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Windows Phone and Instagram

instance

Instance

One of the most missed features on Windows Phone, at least in my opinion is the lack of support for Instagram, the worlds most popular photo sharing service.

There’s quite a few viewer apps. Apps that let you view the photo stream, like photos and comment on them, but posting photos to Instagram has been missing. A couple of weeks ago there was reports that those apps that had found a way around this experienced that photos uploaded through them was being deleted by Instagram but it seems like this has been fixed now so for those who use Windows Phone and want to be able to post to Instagram, here’s two options for you.

Instance comes as both a free ad-based version and a paid app ($1,49) and let’s you register account, upload photos, comment, like, follow and find your Facebook friends. a full featured Instagram client. You can download the paid version here, and the free version here.

Metrogram

Metrogram

Another app (combination) that I am using is Metrogram and Instagraph.  Metrogram is free (download) but it’s just a “viewer” – you cannot upload directly with Metrogram but that’s where Instagraph comes in. When you press the “post” button in Metrogram it launches Instagraph.

Instagraph (download) is a paid app ($1,99) but a trial version is available with a limit of 30 days and 1 upload per day.  It let’s you apply filters and upload Instagram photos. Instagraph does not use the Instagram API and it looks like the photos are uploaded to an Instagraph server and queued for publishing to Instagram. How it’s technically done I’m not sure but the photos are published to Instagram :)  Instagraph can also be used as a full featured but I’ve found that Metrogram has a better UI for viewing than Instagraph.

And now I am off to give Instance a try :)

Instagraph

Instagraph

Since these apps are all unofficial there’s never any guarantee that they always will work since it looks like Instagram doesn’t like Windows (Phone) at all – I’ve even heard a rumor that the founder of Instagram as some grudge against Microsoft, but that’s just an unconfirmed rumor… Maybe and hopefully It’ll change now that Facebook owns Instagram. I can only hope.

If you got tips for other Instagram apps that lets you upload photos pleas let me know in the comments. It would be great to have a list of app alternatives available.

And if you need someone to follow you’ll find me as “alexanderviken” :)

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No apps for Windows Phone? It’s an app’tunity not a drawback ;)

That “app’tunity” is for developers and ISV’s

A while back I both stated that I’ve “lost faith” and also that I couldn’t recommend my customers to develop their apps for the Windows Phone platform. I’ve got a few remarks on those posts from a few technology people so I’ thought it was time to write a follow-up post on the matter.

It’s true, I did loose “faith”  The reason was more or less because I felt that while we as developers was encouraged to develop software Microsoft left it to us, the developers to get consumes to use their platform. We should create apps and get Microsoft their users. Didn’t feel right then, still doesn’t feel right and I still think Microsoft should put a bit more effort into getting people to convert to Windows Phone. If they’re giving it all they got then it’s time to change PR company and strategy (IMHO).

The other part (that one I got a lot of fuzz about) was that I couldn’t recommend Windows Phone to customers – well – that is still somewhat true. I cannot recommend Windows Phone fully if you’re creating an app and rely on viral marketing based on user sharing…. There still isn’t enough users for something like that possible, hopefully It’ll change. What I can do is recommend Windows Phone if you want to position yourself inside a mobile eco-system. With fewer apps to compete with,  the bigger the chance that your possible users will find you. This is also the reason I find it fun to work with Windows Phone,. I can actually create a fart app because there’s not too many of them in the Windows Phone Marketplace :)

windows_phone_opt

The Windows Phone developer community itself is growing rapidly as well. Developer registrations are up by over 40,000 in the first 90 days since the launch of Windows Phone 8, and we’ve already seen 15,000 new apps that specifically leverage the new platform functionality Windows Phone 8 provides.  All told, you’ve created a catalog of more than 130,000 apps and games – designed specifically for a differentiated Windows Phone UI and ecosystem. And we expect this growth to continue as the number of Windows Phone 8 SDK downloads just passed 500,000 in less than 4 months from its release on October 30, 2012.  from  Windows Phone Developer Blog

I believe that for small ISV’s (Independent Software Vendors) Windows Phone could be a goldmine ,assuming that in the end Microsoft Marketing gets it right and the platform grows and become the third big mobile OS. I believe they will make it. Mostly because they are Microsoft, secondly because they have to. Smart phone and tablets are vital to the future of Microsoft.

What sparked this post was an update from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona by Windows Phone Developer Blog.

I am developing for Windows Phone and I enjoy it.

 

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Evolution of the Windows Phone

A day later, after Microsoft introduced the Windows Surface tablet in Hollywood they invited to another event in San Francisco to talk about the next version of Windows Phone. You can watch the Windows Phone Summit presentation at Channel9.

There’s a ton of new features coming for Windows Phone 8 and one of the more visual changes will be the new and enhanced start screen. Live tiles can now be resized to fit your needs!

Seeing the video, and reading the list of features put into the Windows Phone 8 on both hardware and for developers, not to mention the reach out for businesses and professional users I truly believe that 2013 can become the year Microsoft reinvented themselves as the innovators of user-friendly technology!

Check out this promo video for the new live tile features you can expect to find in Windows Phone 8.

Here is some info from Joe Belfiore (@joebelfiore) and the official Windows Phone blog:

With Windows Phone 8, the similarity (with Windows 8 – ed. note) is more than skin deep. We’ve based the next release of Windows Phone on the rock-solid technology core of Windows 8. It means Windows Phone and its bigger sibling will share common networking, security, media and web browser technology, and a common file system. That translates into better performance, more features, and new opportunities for app developers and hardware makers to innovate faster.

This new shared core—along with all the extra work they have done on top of it—opens up a new world of capabilities, which you don’t have to be a techie to appreciate. Here’s a taste:

  • Multi-core processor support: As reviewers have noted, Windows Phone runs buttery smooth on phones with a single processor. But piggybacking on the Windows core provides support for multiple cores—so we’re ready for whatever hardware makers dream up.
  • Bigger, sharper screens: Windows Phone 8 supports two new screen resolutions—1280×768 and 1280×720, opening the door to amazing new handsets with high-definition 720p displays.
  • More flexible storage: Windows Phone 8 supports removable MicroSD cards, so you can stuff your phone with extra photos, music, and whatever else is important to you, and then easily move it all onto your PC.
  • NFC wireless sharing: If you haven’t heard the term “NFC” yet, I’m betting you soon will. This emerging wireless technology lets phones share things over short distances. In Windows Phone 8, it helps make sharing photos, Office docs, and contact info easier—just tap your phone another NFC-equipped device. How cool is that?
  • Internet Explorer 10: The next version of Windows Phone comes with the same web browsing engine that’s headed for Window 8 PCs and tablets. IE10 is faster and more secure, with advanced anti-phishing features like SmartScreen Filter to block dangerous websites and malware.
  • Wallet: Windows Phone 8’s new digital Wallet feature does two great things. It can keep debit and credit cards, coupons, boarding passes, and other important info right at your fingertips. And when paired with a secure SIM from your carrier, you can also pay for things with a tap of your phone at compatible checkout counters.
  • Better maps and directions: Windows Phone 8 builds in Nokia mapping as part of the platform. Our partnership will provide more detailed maps and turn-by-turn directions in many countries, plus the ability to store maps offline on your phone so you can work with maps without a data connection.
  • Cooler apps and games: Basing Windows Phone 8 on the Windows core will unleash a new wave of amazing apps and especially games, for reasons I’ll touch on in a moment.

Talking about apps..  Developers can expect some exciting changes that include:

  • Native code support: Windows Phone 8 has full C and C++ support, making it easier to write apps for multiple platforms more quickly. It also means Windows Phone 8 supports popular gaming middleware such as Havok Vision Engine, Autodesk Scaleform, Audiokinetic Wwise, and Firelight FMOD, as well as native DirectX-based game development.
  • In-app payments: In Windows Phone 8 we make it possible for app makers to sell virtual and digital goods within their apps.
  • Integrated Internet calling: In Windows Phone 8, developers can create VoIP apps that plug into our existing calling feature so Internet calls can be answered like traditional phone calls, using the same calling interface.
  • Multitasking enhancements. Windows Phone 8 now allows location-based apps like exercise trackers or navigation aids to run in the background, so they keep working even when you’re doing other things on your phone.

As Windows is at the core of many businesses Windows Phone 8 will also  get capabilities to suit businesses and the professional user.

More from Joe Belfiore:

In Windows Phone 8, we’re also moving into the workplace in a big way, introducing a number of features and capabilities that companies and their IT departments demand. This is just one more benefit of sharing a common core with Windows 8. Some of the new business-friendly features include:

  • Device encryption: To help keep everything from documents to passwords safe, Windows Phone 8 includes built-in technology to encrypt the entire device, including the operating system and data files.
  • Better security: Windows Phone 8 supports the United Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) secure boot protocol and features improved app “sandboxing,” so the phone is better protected from malware with multiple layers of security.
  • Remote management: With Windows Phone 8, IT departments can manage apps and phones remotely, with tools similar to ones they now employ for Windows PCs.
  • Company Hub and apps: Companies can create their own Windows Phone 8 Hub for custom employee apps and other critical business info.
One “sad” announcement was that Windows Phone 8 will not become available to existing Windows Phone 7.5 handsets. The Windows Phone 7.5 handsets will get an update that gives them the new live tile start screen in an update that will be called Windows Phone 7.8.
Belfiore explains why:

The new Start screen is so useful and emblematic of what Windows Phone is about that we want everybody to enjoy it. So we’ll be delivering it to existing phones as a software update sometime after Window Phone 8 is released. Let me repeat: If you currently own a Windows Phone 7.5 handset, Microsoft is planning to release an update with the new Windows Phone 8 Start screen. We’re calling it “Windows Phone 7.8.”

Some of you have wondered, “Will we also get Windows Phone 8 as an update?” The answer, unfortunately, is no.

Windows Phone 8 is a generation shift in technology, which means that it will not run on existing hardware. BUT we care deeply about our existing customers and want to keep their phones fresh, so we’re providing the new Start screen in this new update.

Read the complete blog post at the Windows Phone blog.

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