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October 25 2013

14:30

How To Find Your Lost or Stolen Windows Phone

lost-winphone

Somehow you lost your Windows Phone. It might have been stolen, or it could be down the back of a chair in your local pub. How will you get it back? Hopefully, you enabled the native Find My Phone setting before you were separated from your phone. If you did, you can now use the web-based service to retrieve it. Impact Of A Lost Windows Phone It might be the opinion of some that a lost Windows Phone device isn’t all that big a deal. After all, they’re not exactly iPhones or Samsung Galaxys, are they? Well, that’s not really...

Read the full article: How To Find Your Lost or Stolen Windows Phone

September 07 2013

16:00

Why Do Gmail Conversations Break in Windows Phone?

broken-email

“For goodness sake, not again!” is perhaps the most polite reaction I can repeat to those moments when Gmail conversations “break” on my Windows Phone. The galling thing is that it happens with only one account… I use my Windows Phone pretty extensively for work and this means having several email accounts set up. I have these grouped using linked inboxes, so that on my Start screen I have two icons for email messages, one for work, and one for personal. It’s a system that works for me. The problem is that with one of my email accounts, I can’t reply...

Read the full article: Why Do Gmail Conversations Break in Windows Phone?

June 14 2013

22:31

Why I Don’t Need Social Networking Apps on Windows Phone

muo-wp8social-intro
I recently reviewed Rowi, the Windows Phone Twitter app, for these very pages. Rowi has pretty much decimated the opposition in terms of quality and stability, and has become probably more popular than the official app. So why have I stopped using it? Indeed, you might ask why I have stopped using the official app.

Continue reading the article

Read full post: Why I Don’t Need Social Networking Apps on Windows Phone

May 10 2013

22:30

Start Screen Shortcuts – Connection Tiles For Windows Phone 8

Thanks to the fact that my young twins have started attending a playgroup at our local church, I’ve started to work from a nearby branch of a popular coffee chain every Thursday, mainly to save on petrol and gain valuable writing time that would otherwise be spent driving. Although the establishment has its own wireless network, the Internet connection speed is pretty poor – so the alternative is, of course, to use my Windows Phone’s Internet sharing feature.

Now, as much as I love the platform, it does have one or two frustrating omissions. One of these is an easy toggle button to enable and display wireless networking, mobile Internet, Bluetooth…pretty much anything concerning communication.

Rather than a simple on/off button on the Start screen, users must open the settings menu and flick the on/off switch. No, it doesn’t take long, but it is very annoying, especially when you find yourself having to do it regularly, as I have one morning every week.

Surely there is an app-based solution to this?

Connection Tiles: What It Does and Doesn’t Do

After looking into the options on the Windows Phone Store, I settled upon Connection Tiles, a free app that (I thought) would give me easy on and off toggling for mobile Internet (required for setting up Internet sharing). Connection Tiles is compatible with Windows Phone 7.5 and Windows Phone 8.

Unfortunately, and this is the problem with Connection Tiles and other similar apps, there is no toggle available. Although a well-developed and stable app, all Connection Tiles really does is create a Start screen shortcut to the on-off switch. It also provides a Connection Center (below) which acts as a proxy Settings screen.

It speeds up the process of connecting to the Internet, a Bluetooth device or even switching into Airplane mode, but it doesn’t offer a single press toggle.

The reason for this isn’t a weakness in the app, however – Windows Phone settings simply don’t support this level of functionality in the way that Android and iOS do.

How Easy Is It to Setup a Connection Tile?

Although the connection tiles perhaps don’t live up to their promise, they are thankfully extremely easy to setup. Several options are available to be turned into tiles, all with a choice of icon:

  • Airplane Mode
  • Bluetooth
  • Cellular
  • Wi-Fi
  • New Text Message
  • New E-Mail
  • Location
  • Lockscreen

As you can see, not all of these are connection tiles, and those that are not tend to be more effective. For instance, the New Text Message and New E-Mail options don’t drop you into the same old screen – instead, they take you directly to the corresponding new message screen.

Note that I do have a small complaint about this app. When connection tiles are used, you can choose to display a status label (basically, “on” or “off”). However these don’t always work, often displaying the wrong state.

Creating a New Connection Tile

Setting up a new tile on your Start screen is extremely easy. In my situation, I needed to set up tile to speed up connections to my mobile Internet.

With Connection Tiles open, select +Create a new Connection Tile. From here, select your Connection Type (or “tile type” as it should really be labelled), then give the tile a Title – I’m creating a cellular/mobile Internet tile, so I’ve named it as such. This can be a custom name, or you can accept the default.

Next, scroll down to Connection Status; here you can toggle the option to display “on” or “off” on the tile. This should update regularly in order to display the correct details, although it doesn’t always work as described, sadly. You should then select your Accent color– many are available, more than your phone might offer by default (I selected emerald green).

After this, select a suitable icon. Note that rather than a preset icon you can click the small + symbol on the right-hand side and select an image from your gallery to be used as a tile background.

Once you’re done, tap the OK symbol to proceed, where your connection tile will be previewed. Use the Pin to Start button to send the tile to your Start screen, where it can be sized as a 2×2 or a 1×1 tile.

From then on, you’re ready to use the tile – simply tap and enjoy the shortcut!

Should You Install Connection Tiles?

I really, really want to like Connection Tiles, as it tries so hard to be useful. For anyone wanting an easy shortcut to creating a new message, it is – but if you’re expecting the ability to toggle connectivity with a single tap of the tile, you’re out of luck. While the app name might imply that this is possible, sadly it isn’t.

I’m not going to blame the developers for this though. It seems evident that if toggling was possible they would have done so by now. The problem is with Microsoft, who despite doing so much work to make Windows Phone 8 a platform that can begin to compete with its more mature competitors, has let the side down with this omission.

A popular and competent app, Connection Tiles can be found in our list of the best Windows Phone apps. I’m sure that once Microsoft enable the functionality that Connection Tiles strives to provide then this will be a very good app (unless Microsoft simply makes them irrelevant), but until then this is an app that promises much but doesn’t manage to meet needs thanks to shortcomings in the platform.

 

The post Start Screen Shortcuts – Connection Tiles For Windows Phone 8 appeared first on MakeUseOf.

September 05 2012

19:00

Armed! Futuristic Real Time Strategy for Windows Phone 7

real time strategyGaming for Windows Phone is an interesting experience. While there are a whole host of great independent titles that don’t have Xbox Live integration, those that do are the ones that tend to be the most popular – for obvious reasons. After all, the ability to top up your Gamerscore while sitting on a train or plane is pretty compelling!

One game that remains fascinating despite the lack of Xbox Live integration, however, is Armed!, a sci-fi themed RTS with three modes of play and an armada of futuristic weaponry.

Armed! is one of the most popular games for Windows Phone, but the question is: why? How can a game that doesn’t offer the sought after Xbox Live features be so popular?

Armed! Real Time Strategy Fun

RTS games are typically turn-based, and Armed is no different. You start with a small budget and some low-grade weapons, and the aim of the game is to build, expand and conquer the enemy who is typically pitted with you at the other side of the map.

real time strategy

With a massive 50 upgrades and attacks that can be used as tactical advantages and 12 unit types to command, the real fun with Armed! is that it offers online game play against other opponents situated around the world as well as a correspondence/delayed multiplayer experience and the standard single-player-vs-AI experience.

Could it be that the success of this RTS is down to the slow pace of Xbox Live multiplayer development on Windows Phone?

Getting into Battle Quickly

Whether you’re an experienced RTS gamer or Armed! is new to you, don’t worry, there are options for everyone. When the game is first launched, you’ll see the Quick Start option, while Single Player games and Multiplayer games can be set up by sliding left. The System menu provides full control over the volume, speed and whether notifications are displayed (you’ll need these for correspondence multiplayer games).

real time strategy windows mobile

In the Quick Start section two options, New Match and Tutorial, can be chosen, offering the opportunity to either go leaping into combat straight away or following the tutorial to get a hang of things.

Once in the game, the pinch gesture allows you to zoom in and out while a single finger can be used to navigate the in-game world. Static hardware (power stations, turrets, factories) can be selected with a single tap, while mobile hardware is only available after building a factory.

The aim of capturing the enemy base can be achieved, but the restrictions of the maps – for instance, a river running through the middle, separating each faction by just a couple of bridges – means that you need to think strategically. Understanding the landscape and the need for survival – as well as that you and the enemy are evenly matched – is the key, much like playing a game of chess.

Is Armed! Really that Good?

While developers hurried to add titles to the Windows Phone Marketplace (making it the fastest platform to reach 10,000 apps early in 2011), Windows Phone 7 isn’t really seen as a gaming device, despite the presence of the best Xbox Live integration you’ll find outside of an Xbox 360 device.

real time strategy windows mobile

Fortunately more and more games are hitting the platform, but typically for what is considered a narrow genre, few of these are real time strategy games. The only thing that comes close is the Xbox Live-enabled Fusion: Sentient, which is a very good alternative that links up with the parent title Fusion: Genesis enabling you to swap Sentients between the games.

Despite the lack of Xbox Live integration, Armed! is easily one of the best games available on Windows Phone.

Are You Fully Armed!?

real time strategy

Developed by Sickhead Games and available for $2.99 or £2.29 in the UK, Armed! should feature on every list of the top Windows Phone games. A version is being prepared for the Windows 8 platform, which will be the first step to multi-platform multiplay.

You can find out more at www.armedgame.com, while the title is listed in the Windows Phone Marketplace, available through your phone and through the web.


August 31 2012

22:30

Civilization Revolution For Windows Phone: Conquer The World

I have a confession to make.

Since the age of 15 I have been a Civilization junkie, running the popular turn based “explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate” game on a succession of platforms (Amiga, Mac OS, Windows) just to get my fix of megalomania. Not only that, I also developed an admiration of the man behind the game, Sid Meier, something that lead to groupy-esque buying of all of his other games.

Thanks to the release of successive versions that take advantage of improvements in computing technology, Civilization has been a part of my life for years, so to finally get the chance to play it wherever I happened to be was something I was hardly going to pass up. As a result, I’ve had the mobile version of the game, Civilization Revolution, on my Windows Phone since April 4th, 2012 – the day of release.

Clearly, I’m still excited by this, several months later. Am I really the best person to be giving a balanced review of this particular title?

Well, yes I am. Because if this particular version of the history-spanning quest for world domination wasn’t any good, I’d tell you and keep this review down to three words.

Civilization Revolution for Windows Phone is one of the best versions of the game to be released – and I’m going to tell you why.

What In History is Civilization Revolution?

As an explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate (4X) strategy game, the aim of Civilization Revolution is to ensure that your chosen nation rises above all others to become the most powerful force on the planet.

Like the original Windows game, this mobile version offers a variety of tools with which to achieve this, from settlers and soldiers, the ability to build cities and populate them with people and buildings and to develop technologies. Crucially, there is a good choice of civilizations to play as including the French, Indians, Russians and more. As the game progresses, the aim is to expand your civilization, utilize resources and generally ensure that your people are the most prosperous and successful of all, reaching one of the four victory conditions: domination, cultural, technological or economic.

So basically, this game – as found on Windows Phone 7 – is a console-esque adaptation of the original, with a slightly streamlined approach to some of the game concepts and the UI. It’s fun, fascinating and frankly you can learn a lot from it, not least how to manage a nation to dominate the world.

It’s also worth mentioning that this is one of the Xbox Live games for Windows Phone. This basically means that progress in the game will be reflected in your Gamerscore and achievements on your games console!

Building Your First City

The basics of Civilization Revolution are the same as the parent game – you need to build cities, consume resources and conquer the opposition in order to succeed. Building your first city is key to the game, as this will form your capital.

New cities are created by Settler units, and after you instruct the unit to build the city – in a suitable location near resources, a river and/or the sea – your next task is to defend the city. This is done with military units, typically a Warrior in the early stages.

Once your city is defended by a fortified military unit, it’s time to focus on a suitable building. Depending on the technology your chosen civilization starts with, this will either be a Temple, City Walls, Barracks or a Granary. Building depends on the number of resources within the city limits, which is why you should be using Explorer units to find out more about your surroundings and new Settler units to build more cities as soon as your first city is established. Successful and constant expansion means economic success and the chance to learn new technologies – everything in Civilization Revolution is important; everything is inter-linked.

Combat in Civilization Revolution involves a cutaway to an illustrated engagement between your units and the enemy. Success depends on landscape, unit strength and any bonuses they have received so far in previous rounds of combat.

Comparing Civilization Revolution

Sadly, there is very little on Windows Phone that is anything like Civilization Revolution. Probably the closest thing you will find is the non-Xbox Live Galactic Dominion, available from the Windows Phone Marketplace for 99c (79p in the UK).

If this doesn’t quite fit your opinion of what Civilization Revolution represents, don’t worry – there is another game by the great Sid Meier. Sid Meier’s Pirates! is an updated version of the classic 16 bit game, where you take the role of a pirate captain. You’ll find this available for $2.99 (£2.29 in the UK) on the Windows Phone Marketplace either in your browser or on your phone.

Victory Can Be Yours!

Civilization Revolution is a crucial addition to the Civilization family. It is remarkably easy to play (much more so than the PC version) yet tough to win, making it ideal fare for a mobile game and an Xbox Live title.

There are plenty of other fun games available on Windows Phone with and without Xbox Live integration, and this is one title you should definitely have in your library!


July 26 2012

03:00

File Sharing & Collaboration Service Box.net Releases Native Windows Phone App [Updates]

Popular file sharing and collaboration app Box has just landed on Windows Phone. The new Metro-style app brings all the regular Box features you already know to Windows Phone devices, as well as some specialized ones. Windows Phone’s market share being quite compared to iOS or Android, Box is the first major player to launch a native Windows Phone app since Microsoft’s SkyDrive.

Box’s developers did not just copy the Box mobile app to Windows Phone, but designed it from the top down to give it that Metro feel we’ve come to expect from Windows Phone apps. Using the app, you can upload, access and collaborate on files right from your mobile device, as well as apply security codes to your Box files. Aside from that, Box for Windows Phone includes the ability to pin documents to your home screen as a live tile, and get alerts on any updates to the file in real time.

The new app is available in nine different languages, including French, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese. For Windows Phone users, the app is a great reason to start using Box, which currently offers 5GB free storage. Similar services, such as the very popular Dropbox, do not yet offer a Windows Phone app, which might provide Box with quite an advantage.

Did you get a chance to try the new Box app? What do you think?

Source: Box Blog


May 07 2012

01:00

How To Sync Multiple Google Calendars To Your Windows Phone

google calendar syncI recently made the switch from Google Android to Windows Phone 7. Although the calendar application (like the rest of the mobile platform) is much slicker and easier to use, the contrast in support for Google integration is noticeable. I should add that Microsoft is not really at fault here. They’ve done as well as they could in providing account integration and synchronization for their competitors’ products. Kudos for that.

Sadly, some things need some additional tweaking to get them to work properly. For me this was the Google Calendar synch. You can add your Google Calendar account to your Windows Phone rather easily. However, by default your Windows Phone does not synchronize multiple calendars. Here’s how to fix this, and enjoy all Google Calendar goodness on your Windows Phone without purchasing any third-party synchronization applications.

Step One: Add Your Google Account

Before we get started, you should add your Google account to your Windows Phone. If you’ve done so already you can skip this step. Otherwise, go to settings and select email+accounts in the System tab.

google calendar sync

In the email+account tab, select add an account. Enter your Google username or email address and password and allow your Windows Phone to do an initial Google calendar sync.

Step Two: Sync Your Calendar

With your Google account added, we first need to allow it to synchronize your Windows Phone with Google Calendar. From the email+account overview, select your Google account. If you haven’t renamed this yet, it should simply go by the name ‘Google’.

google sync

In your Google account settings, under content to synchronize at the bottom of the page, make sure Calendar is checked. With these preferences, your Windows Phone will already synchronize with Google Calendar. However, if you have more than one calendar associated with your account, only the primary calendar will be synchronized. To rectify this, we need a little help from Google.

Step Three: Google Sync Preferences

Using your Internet Explorer on your Windows Phone, go to “http://m.google.com/sync/“. If all is well, you should see the name of your phone, or simply ‘WindowsPhone’ at the top of the page.

Important: in some cases, you will receive an error message telling you that ‘Google Sync is not supported’ on your phone. Even if you’re using a valid smartphone! If you’re viewing the page in a language other than English, change the language to English (US) for the moment.
google sync
After selecting your phone, you’ll be able to specify which calendars you want to synchronize with your Windows Phone, by selecting up to 25 calendars under My Calendars. For all casual and even most professional users, this should suffice.

google calendar sync

To view these calendars, your phone should again synchronize with your Google account. You can wait until this happens automatically, or go to the email+accounts page, long press on your Google account and select ‘synchronize’. When it’s finished, all the calendars you previously selected should have appeared in your Calendar app.

What else do you like to do, or would like to be able to do on your Windows Phone? Let us know in the comments below!


May 04 2012

22:31

How To Add, Receive, Create & Manage Custom Ringtones For Your Windows Phone

windows phone ringtonesOne of the most frustrating things for users of the Windows Phone platform upon its first release was the inability to set custom ringtones. Fortunately this is one of the areas in which the Mango update (officially known as Windows Phone 7.5) was able to improve the operating system, and as a result it is now possible to add ringtones for incoming calls.

There are several ways of doing this; indeed, the set of options for managing Windows Phone ringtones can be considered complete.

Along with the native ringtones, it is possible to use desktop software and Zune to sync a custom MP3 file to your phone, as well as save an MP3 file attachment as a ringtone..

Managing Native Ringtones

The basic tools for managing ringtones in Windows Phone can be found in the Settings > Ringtones + Sounds menu, where you will find controls not just for ringtones but also for audio settings.

windows phone ringtones

To select a new ringtone – whether from the native library or those that you add later – all you need to do is ensure that the Ringer is set to On and then use the Ringtone drop down menu, browse through the list and select the ringtone you wish to set.

If you’re not sure which one you want, the play button on the left-hand side of the Ringtone menu will allow you to preview them. Once you have selected a ringtone, this becomes the default ring for all incoming calls.

windows phone ringtone app

Should you wish to select a specific ringtone for an individual, this can be done by opening the People Hub, selecting the contact, tapping Edit > +ringtone and choosing the intended ringtone from the drop-down menu.

Ringtones Via SMS

Another way of adding a ringtone to your Windows Phone is via SMS. You might have a friend or relative who is using a ringtone that you really like, and if they send this to you via text messaging it can be saved to your phone as a ringtone and selected.

To do this, open the text message that your friend has sent you with the ringtone selected, tap the Get media content now link in the message to download the file.  When this has completed tap and hold the file, selecting Save as ringtone from the context menu, then tap OK. You can change the filename if you want to.

Note that it is not currently possible to send ringtones from one Windows Phone to another by SMS.

Creating Custom Ringtones On Your Computer

With your phone connected to your PC and synced to Zune it is possible to add a ringtone. All you need to do is find the right tune and trim it down to the right size using a free desktop MP3 editing app. Audacity is a good choice, but if you think this is overkill, you might try an online tool such as mp3cut.

A ringtone must be in MP3 or WMA format, be less than 1 MB in size and have no more than 40 seconds duration. It should also not be protected by DRM, otherwise it won’t work.

After creating your ringtone, you will need to ensure that it is saved to a folder that is part of your Zune library. You can check which folders on your PC are part of the library by viewing Settings > Software > Collection in the Zune client.

windows phone ringtones

Once you have found the file, right-click and select Edit and type ringtone in the Genre field, before clicking OK. You can now sync your phone, and the file should be copied to the handset. You can then use the steps outlined above to set the new ringtone.

Note that it is also possible for Mac owners to create ringtones in iTunes and then sync these via Windows Phone Connector for Mac. In iTunes, simply find the file, click File > Get Info and under Genre type ringtone. Click OK, then open Windows Phone Connector for Mac and sync the ringtone to your phone. It should then be ready for you to use in the Ringtone list.

Conclusion

With these options, it is remarkable to think that when Windows Phone first launched, all that users were able to select from was the native selection of ringtones. While a large choice was on offer, there was always the nagging annoyance that the platform wasn’t quite “there” yet.

The options presented in the Mango update and the opportunities this has afforded to app developers means that there are now a number of ways in which ringtones can be added to your Windows Phone, whichever platform you use.


April 09 2012

14:30

[HELP NEEDED] Tell Us Your Favorite Windows Phone Apps, Win A T-Shirt!

As Windows Phone continues to grow the time has finally come for us to develop a list of the top apps for the platform, which includes the fantastic Nokia Lumia series.

But we can’t do it without the help of our excellent readers, and if you make a suggestion for the list, you’re in with a chance to win a MakeUseOf t-shirt.

With the explosion of users opting for the Nokia Windows Phones, enabling readers to find the best apps for their handsets is a great way for them to explore and enjoy what is on offer. Veterans and newcomers to the Windows Phone platform can be confident that they’re installing the best apps available when referring to our list.

So, we want your suggestions for the very best Windows Phone apps, whether messaging, games, e-book readers, productivity options – whatever!

If you think that you have a great app that we can add to the barebones list below, let us know in the comments section!

  • Xbox Live Extras
  • Skype (beta)
  • Facebook
  • Amazon Kindle
  • SkyDrive


March 08 2012

21:31

What Options Do Windows Phone Users Have In Siri-Like Voice Recognition Apps?

Smartphone users have been going mad over the past few months, since the launch of Siri on iPhone made the activity of talking to your phone a desirable option. Not content with using it to talk to others, iPhone owners were all of a sudden showing off the speech recognition abilities of their phones, backed up with results from the Wolfram Alpha search engine.

Google was soon quick to follow with a powerful revision of its Google voice search system, but what options do the growing number of Windows Phone owners have? Can they talk to their phones in the same way, or are they simply limited to using fingers? Fortunately, native and third party voice search options are available for Windows Phone, but you should be aware of one all-important piece of information.

Making Sure Your Voice Search Tool Works

This isn’t a rule exclusive to Windows Phone owners – all platforms apply. It’s a simple rule that often gets overlooked, resulting in puzzled and somewhat dejected faces from time to time.

Voice search is limited to Internet connectivity. While this might not be a problem in towns and cities where 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi are in plentiful supply, you might find that performance issues with voice recognition and the displaying of results can impact performance considerably.

Certainly with Microsoft Tellme, the voice recognition requires a connection to the Internet for the software to understand the words used; this can impact the more “local” aspects of the system such as application launching and contact search. As a result, always check connectivity before speaking!

Microsoft Tellme

First and foremost is the Microsoft Tellme system, a tool that allows the user to find information and control the phone with just a few words. Looking for a local pizza restaurant? Simply say “pizza” and Microsoft Tellme – powered by Bing – will find results based your current location (as long as GPS is enabled).

Using Microsoft Tellme speech recognition on Windows Phone

Meanwhile if you’re driving and want to call your sister using your hands-free car kit, you can say “Call sister” (or whatever name you have her saved as!) and Tellme will dial her number. If you have multiple numbers saved you will be able to choose which one to use.

Tellme can also be used to launch apps on your Windows Phone and all utterances should be preceded by holding the Start button.

This is an effective and popular system, impressive for a first release but missing the conversational fun that is available with Siri on the iPhone.

Ask Ziggy

Attempting to fill the gaps of the Tellme service is Ask Ziggy, an app for Windows Phones that can be downloaded from the Marketplace.

With a smooth user interface and capable of offering conversation-based search results and problem solving, Ask Ziggy is in ongoing development to ensure that it can provide a serious alternative to Tellme while fulfilling the needs of users looking for a competent Siri alternative on Windows Phone.

If you own a WP7 device, you can use Ask Ziggy to find weather results, define words, solve math problems, find local businesses and more. This is currently the closest app you will find to Siri for Windows Phones and the best thing about it is it’s completely free!

Conclusion

Ultimately, there is some way to go for the Windows Phone platform to be able to compete with the functionality of Siri beyond the updates that Microsoft makes to the native Tellme system.

Check the weather with Ask Ziggy on Windows Phone

Note that Ask Ziggy and any other third party options that might be released are likely to be little more than works in progress and should therefore be checked regularly but not relied upon. Tellme, on the other hand, is a native option built into the Windows Phone operating system. As a result of this you can expect pretty good results from it, particularly when used as a hands-free aid while driving.

Let us know in the comments what your impressions are of TellMe and Ask Ziggy.  What could be done to improve them do you think?


March 02 2012

22:30

The Secret To Unlocking Your Windows Phone

“Jailbreaking” has become the de facto term for overcoming the developer lock on a mobile phone in order to install homebrew or non-marketplace applications (also known as “rooting” on Android devices). First used to describe the process of unlocking an iPhone, the term now applies to the process on pretty much any locked device, whether mobile phone or tablet.

Windows Phones come locked by default, with users only able to install apps from the Windows Phone Marketplace on a region-specific basis. This can result in some disparity between users based in different territories and also prevents amateur developers from testing their apps on the platform.

Fortunately, two unlock methods are currently available across all Windows Phone devices. The first option is to register your Windows Phone as a developer device, enabling access to a wealth of development options – for a fee. If you don’t have resources for this, however, a much cheaper but limited choice also exists.

Registering Your Handset as a Developer Device

The first option is unfortunately quite expensive but registering your Windows Phone as a developer device affords the ability to unlock your handset and submit apps to the Marketplace; you will also receive access to some useful developer tools that you can download. This requires the Windows Phone SDK and your Windows Live account, but will cost $99 (£65 in the UK).

To use this option, visit the App Hub at http://create.msdn.com/en-US and sign in with your Windows Live account. Visiting this site will upgrade your Windows Live account, allowing you to register as a developer, so complete the form as required. If you have a credit card linked to your Windows Phone then this will be charged.

Once the payment is made, you will receive a code. Head back to the App Hub and download the SDK, which you will need for development purposes and to unlock your handset. After installing this – which will require an Internet connection – you will then be able to connect your handset, launch Start > All Programs > Windows Phone Developer Registration and enter the unlock code you received earlier.

Note that this is limited to three phone unlocks per developer account. Eligible students can unlock their Windows Phones for free, by completing the registration form with the correct information (name of college, code, etc.).

Using ChevronWP7 to Unlock Your Windows Phone

The $99 fee has been controversial, which is why Microsoft acquiesced and allowed the creation of a limited unlock tool by the ChevronWP7 team of homebrew developers.

Ideal for designing and running apps by amateur developers, the ChevronWP7 service costs just $9 and is available via https://labs.chevronwp7.com/.

Using a purchased code, you can use this service to “officially” unlock the device, thereby enabling the installation of homebrew apps and games. As Microsoft endorses this method, which is limited to installing 10 apps, the ability to fully unlock a device isn’t available but it is the only affordable option that works on all Windows Phone handsets.

To unlock your phone using the ChevronWP7 method, first visit the site via the link above, sign in with your Windows Live account and download the Windows Phone SDK which you will need in order to sideload apps to your device. This is installed via a small 3 MB tool, vm_web2.exe, which will download the correct version of the SDK for your operating system. Note that the SDK is only compatible with Windows Vista and later. 

Next, you will be taken to a screen where you can download the correct unlock tool for your operating system (in 32-bit or 64-bit versions). The Microsoft .NET Framework 4 update for Windows 7 is also required to install and run the unlock tool.

After this, back to https://labs.chevronwp7.com/ and purchase the unlock token.

When you’re ready, connect your Windows Phone via USB and run ChevronLabs.Unlock.exe downloaded previously. The software will check your phone and prompt you to enter the token, which will then be used to unlock your phone. Note that this step requires online authentication and might take a few minutes.

(If you run into any issues visit http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2530409 and download the appropriate version of the Windows Phone Support Tool for your operating system.)

Sideloading Apps to Unlocked Windows Phones

With your phone unlocked, you will be able to start installing apps that you have acquired from the web rather than via the Windows Phone Marketplace.

One of the best resources for this is the XDA Developers website, at http://forum.xda-developers.com/forumdisplay.php?f=606, although note that you will have to register to download files hosted on that site.

After finding an interesting app (for instance a screengrab tool) you will need to download it to your computer. Once this has completed, you will be ready to sideload.

With your phone connected via USB, open Start > All Programs > Windows Phone SDK 7.1 > Application Deployment and select Windows Phone Device as your target. In the XAP field, Browse for the file you downloaded and then click the Deploy button. A few moments later the sideloaded app will be available to launch in the Apps list!

Conclusion

Although not as complete an unlock as you might find on Android or iOS, the ChevronWP7 method is the most effective and accessible for the majority of users.

If you’re serious about developing for this platform, the paid option is obviously going to be appropriate, but using ChevronWP7  will set you in good stead and provide you with all you need to decide whether or not you’re ready for developing on Windows Phone.

Note that there is a third option, interop unlock, which applies a deeper level of unlocking; however at this stage it is not available for all Windows Phone device types.


February 01 2012

16:31

10 Reasons To Buy Windows Phone 7 [Opinion]

Perhaps you’re coming to the end of your mobile contract. You might even be without a mobile phone entirely for some reason, but you’re interested in a useful smartphone that will give you Internet, email, the ability to perform word processing and check spreadsheet figures as well as the opportunity to enjoy music and games.

The usual wisdom coming from salesmen and the “experts” among your friends is that Android or iPhone are the way to go, especially with the current decline of BlackBerry. However, a third choice is becoming more popular day by day: Windows Phone 7. But why should you ignore the endless screens of shortcuts and widgets on an iPhone or Android in favour of a platform that is centred on you, the user, rather than the apps?

10 Reasons To Choose Windows Phone 7

10: Slick User Interface

You can find it on Windows 8 and Xbox 360 but the original and best use of the Metro UI is here on Windows Phone, where it is ideal for finger-based interaction. There is more to Metro than tiles, incidentally – the type face, the convention of “hinting” at additional screens to the right and the simple switches to enable and disable features are all part of the deal.

9. Fast

When I purchased my first Windows Phone I was astonished at how fast particular tasks could be performed. By far and away the most impressive was the speed with which I could snap a photo and upload it to Facebook, but the speed of the keyboard was almost as astonishing, making it very easy to send emails and messages, leave notes to myself and update social networks.

Use MIcrosoft Office on Windows Phone

8. Office Integration

It’s not for everyone but the integration with Microsoft Office on offer with Windows Phone is second to none. Exchange email accounts and SharePoint servers can both be accessed while Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets created on your phone can be sent by email or uploaded to either SharePoint or Skydrive.

There are none of the compatibility issues that you will find with Android, BlackBerry or iPhone.

7. Social Networking

Key to the early interest in Windows Phone was its integration of Facebook into the contacts list and the latest release sees Twitter and LinkedIn added. You can disable this feature if preferred – standard apps are also available – but this is an excellent way to keep everything updated at once.

Nokia Music on Windows Phone

6. Nokia Music

The main Zune media player on Windows Phone is excellent and allows you to integrate third party media apps such as Last.fm (free on Windows Phone) but the whole idea of music on a WP7 device has taken on a new life thanks to Nokia Music. Available only on Nokia Lumia handsets this system allows you to stream music from the cloud to your phone and keep a number of your favourite tunes from the selection.

5. Nokia Drive

Again courtesy of Nokia and their joint partnership with Microsoft, Nokia Drive is a sat-nav application that uses cellular positioning and GPS to instruct you along the correct route to your destination. Nokia Drive offers a good alternative to the sat-nav apps available in the Windows Market as well as those on other platforms.

Play Xbox Live games on Windows Phone!

4. Xbox Live Integration

If you have the urge to unlock gaming achievements while at work or on the train, what better way to do so than with your existing Xbox Live Gamertag? Top titles such as Angry Birds, Assassin’s Creed and PES 2011, are available, and there are many non-Xbox Live games available from the Market.

3. Fast Growing App Store

In fact the Market is one of the crown jewels of Windows Phone, reaching 10,000 apps faster than any other mobile phone marketplace and reaching 50,000 apps quicker than all of the competition except iPhone. Best of all, the vast majority of apps in the Market are free.

2. Email & Internet

Naturally Windows Phones offer the ability to connect to any type of email account. Meanwhile the phone features what is probably the best iteration of the Internet Explorer browser, which features such fascinating innovations as placing the address bar at the foot of the screen in the so-called “dead space” area.

1. Skype

The popular voice over IP, cam and text chat service has been purchased by Microsoft and is set to arrive on Windows Phone in the next few months. If none of the other reasons for buying a WP7 device have tempted you so far then surely the presence of the Internet’s primary multi-function messaging service will.

Need More Reasons?

Actually, there is an 11th reason why you should buy a Windows Phone, specifically the Nokia Lumia 800. By doing so, you get the opportunity to be there at the start, be an early(ish) adopter and grab a stylish new mobile phone running the most stunning and efficient mobile phone platform currently available.

Make no mistake; while the phone isn’t set to be released in the USA until later in 2012, the Nokia Lumia 800 adds the necessary physical hardware style to Microsoft’s mobile platform. It’s already become the top selling phone in the UK and the pattern is set to be repeated around the world. Remember when everyone started buying iPhones? This is one of those moments.

Let us know what you think in the comments.  Is Windows Phone set to become the next big thing?

Image Credits : Windows Phone Newsroom


January 16 2012

21:31

Vimeo Launches Official App For Android & Windows Phone [News]

If you’re a Vimeo fan, and have been missing the experience on your Android or Windows Phone device, this is your lucky day. Vimeo has finally released an official app for Android (including Kindle Fire) and Windows Phone, which brings all of Vimeo’s main features to your mobile device.

While Vimeo for iOS has been around for quite a while, Android users had to make do with a bunch of unofficial apps, while Windows Phone users had no solution to speak of. This all changed with this new release. With the official Vimeo app, you can now browse and watch videos on your device without logging into Vimeo. If you log in with your Vimeo account, you can also like videos, comment, share, edit and add videos, and more.

If you don’t already have an account, you can register with the service from within the app.

vimeo-android

The app is very responsive and easy to use (at least the Android version of it), and the layout is simple yet intuitive.

On Windows Phone, the app received a more artsy look, which goes with the general Windows Phone feel, and seems to also be able to play HD videos.

vimeo-wp7

The app also includes Vimeo’s upload manager, to pause and resume uploads without having to start all over again.

Have you had a chance to try the new Vimeo app?

Vimeo for Android [2.3+]
Vimeo for Windows Phone 7

Source: CNet


December 20 2011

15:31

Microsoft Launches SkyDrive App For iPhone & Windows Phone [News]

skydrive-iconFollowing the recent OneNote launch for iPad, Microsoft is moving on with another major release – a native SkyDrive app. SkyDrive is Microsoft’s answer to cloud storage services such as iCloud and Dropbox, and they’ve now launched a designated SkyDrive app for both iPhone and Windows Phone.

The new SkyDrive app is especially useful to those who already use SkyDrive, and can now access all their files and folders from anywhere they go. Through the mobile app you can access your documents, music, videos and pictures, and share them with other people. You can also manage files, create and delete folders, and more.

skydrive-app

Understandably, the Windows Phone app is somewhat more integrated with the service. Windows Phone users can automatically upload pictures taken on the device’s camera to SkyDrive, and share files from SkyDrive through text messages, e-mails and IMs. The iPhone version is available in 32 languages, and shows that despite the work on Windows Phone, Microsoft knows where most of their users are.

If you’re a regular user of Dropbox, Box, or other services, you might like to know that SkyDrive is offering 25GB of free storage. This is compared to Dropbox who offer 2GB and Box who offer 5GB. Watch the video below to learn more about SkyDrive for iPhone, or go here to watch one about the Windows Phone version.

Get SkyDrive for iPhone
Get SkyDrive for Windows Phone
Source: Inside Windows Live Blog

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