December 16, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Just one week ago, we talked about how Microsoft was contemplating axing licensing fees on its Windows Phone and Windows RT OSes in order to help spur adoption and exposure to Microsoft services and advertising. As it turns out, that’s not the only big shakeup Microsoft has in mind with regards to its mobile OSes. While no details have yet been officially released, sources have revealed to The Verge that the next version of the OS will pack some major (and much needed) additions.
The most long overdue feature addition that is likely to appear in Windows Phone 8.1″Blue” is a notification center. Unlike Android and iOS, Windows Phone currently has no centralized place for notifications to be read, acted on, and dismissed. But in internal Windows Phone 8.1 betas, a new notification system is present. This notification system is two part: a short swipe from the top exposes quick device settings, whereas a longer swipe from the top displays your full notification history.
In addition to the notification center, WP8.1 is also rumored to feature the “Cortana” digital assistant. Allegedly, this has already been in testing for months, and it is set to replace the current system-wide Bing search. It will also likely feature location-aware automatic reminder capabilities such as what’s already present in Google Now.
Finally a few other small tweaks are set to appear in WP 8.1 such as on-screen navigation buttons (seen in the mockup image courtesy of Evleaks and TheVerge), smart search results similar to what is already present in Windows 8.1, VPN support, independent volume controls for media playback and ringtone volume, and the separation of Xbox Music and Xbox Video. The company is also reportedly planning on allowing social media apps to interface with its People hub to an even greater degree.
Microsoft certainly has some rather large tweaks in store for Windows Phone. Regardless of what happens with the licensing fees, Windows Phone looks like it is about to catch its second wind. Do all these new tweaks make the prospect of owning a Windows Phone more appealing to you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!
December 11, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
It’s no secret that despite their previous successes in both the mobile and traditional computing spaces, Microsoft’s market performance as of late has been lackluster. And while sales for all of their platforms are currently suffering to a degree, it’s really only Windows Phone and Windows RT that are in serious trouble. Why have these two OSes struggled to gain any sort of traction? Part of this is due to the confusion of simply offering too many different versions. But that’s not the only reason. Though they generally offer optimized performance and a great user experience, industry adoption on either seems to be stagnant. Why? The answer is simple. Google’s Android.
To see why Google poses such a threat to Microsoft’s attempts to regain its former smartphone glory, let’s look back at why Android became so successful in the first place. In a world dictated by OEM profit margins, it’s hard to argue with “free.” I use free in quotation marks for two reasons: First, in order to access the Google Play Store in official capacity, you need Google’s seal of approval. And in order to get this, you quickly have to venture outside the realm of the increasingly few open source first party Android apps. Second, thanks to industry litigation, some of the major OEMs have to pay royalties to Microsoft when building atop the Android platform. But regardless of these issues, “free” is still better than paid licensing.
But if you think Android only became successful because of it’s “free,” you’re wrong. Let’s take a look back at the history of Android. When it first launched, the smartphone landscape was quite different. Back then, Apple’s iOS offered some legitimate innovation in the form of new UI paradigms that were, at least to a certain degree, well ahead of the competition. Back then, many outside of the “draconian” Apple ecosystem wanted a viable alternative to Apple’s growing stranglehold on the market. Sure Windows Mobile existed, as did BlackBerry and Palm, but none of those captivated consumers like the iPhone.
Now let’s take a look at what Microsoft is contemplating. A story published earlier today over on The Verge detailed a potential path for Microsoft to help it better compete with Android. According to the story, Microsoft OS Chief Terry Myerson is considering removing licensing fees for Windows Phone and Windows RT, in the hopes of recuperating these losses with ads and subscription revenue. Clearly, Google dominates the market both in mobile ads and online services, and much of this is undoubtedly spurred on by the exponential growth of Android. Having free versions of Windows would (in theory) put Windows devices into more hands. And once it’s in more hands, people will naturally use Microsoft services.
However, the market today has changed, and it has changed dramatically. There are currently plenty of options in the mobile marketplace. Sure, Android is the only alternative to Apple iOS that has actually gained any significant traction, but the fact remains that other touch-friendly options do exist—and many of these options are legitimately free, no quotation marks. Thus, it’s no longer “good enough” to simply be free. Rather, any OS that hopes to stake its claim in the mobile OS pie has to offer something special—be it apps, groundbreaking features, or incredible user friendliness.
Ultimately, the mere fact that Microsoft is even considering such a dramatic shift in their business model makes it absolutely clear that they are targeting Google smack dab in the middle of their crosshairs. Whether this succeeds, and even whether this comes to fruition, is yet to be seen. As it stands, it’s hard to define just what Windows RT brings to the table that cannot be accomplished by other tablet-friendly OSes such as Android and even Microsoft’s own Windows 8.1. However, perhaps the picture is a bit rosier for Windows Phone, as it now is starting to gain much more third party developer attention. One thing is clear, though: The mobile OS wars are about to get a whole lot more exciting.
Is it too little too late, or do you think Microsoft can actually fight
fire free with free? Is Microsoft just mad that they got Scroogled? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
December 4, 2013 By: eagleeyetom
HotFile.com is one of the most widely used file sharing companies, and one that has proven popular among various XDA users to distribute development works. Now, it has been shut down permanently, and their owners have to pay $80 milion, as part of a settlement with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
Hotfile was initially accused of piracy in 2011, when the trial begun. The MPAA requested Hotfile to pay $500 million in compensation to the movie industries affected by warez hosting. After negotiations, both parties decide to lower this amount to $80 million. Now, Hotfile.com is shut down permanently with a following message:
The decision of the American Federal Court clearly shows that piracy is forbidden and people should pay for movies, music, or applications. At XDA we protect the developers and their intellectual property, and we would like to remind you that discussing or posting warez is illegal as well.
The shutdown also means that some developers who used to host their file on HotFile will have to change their online hosting providers. XDA has many hosting partners that are fast and free, such as Dev Host, Android File Host, and Goo.im—all of which are available in the private developer-specific forums. Developers can also use DevDB to upload their files. Unfortunately, there is a possibility that other services will share the fate of Hotfile and will be closed down in the future, but this makes it as good of a time as ever to migrate to more development-specific hosting solutions that are much less likely to be closed.
Which company has not one, not two, but three operating systems being actively developed at the same time? Microsoft does, and they’re getting tired of it.
The strongest suggestion of this comes with Microsoft executive Julie Larson-Green’s statement that “We [Microsoft] have the Windows Phone OS. We have Windows RT and we have full Windows. We’re not going to have three,” at the UBS Global Technology Summit last week. The straightness of the statement strongly hints at a potential axing of an existing OS. And given each OS’s relative success, it’s not difficult to surmise which.
Although the bluntness may come off as rather shocking, we all should have seen it coming sooner or later, with trails of bread crumbs here and there. This is evident with comments made by Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft, who said that “We [Microsoft] should have one set of developer APIs on all of our devices. And all of the apps we bring to end users should be available on all of our devices,” in September.
So which OS will be axed? Well, all the fingers point towards Windows RT, the lonely and confusing child that never quite knew who it wanted to be. And Microsoft doesn’t know either, with Larson-Green admitting “We didn’t explain [Windows RT] super-well. I think we didn’t differentiate the devices well enough.” She went as far as saying that “[Microsoft] should not have called it Windows.”
Windows RT will most likely be ‘gently’ merged with Windows Phone rather than suffer an immediate death. According to the Verge, Windows RT in some shape or form will be seen on mobile devices in the future, with Myerson complimenting the long battery life and large connectivity options and potential of ARM-based devices, on which Windows RT runs.
Despite this, troubling comments have been uttered by Larson-Green at the same summit that will possibly impact the potential of Windows and any future Windows OS being developer-friendly, or at least to an extent that is remotely close to Android. As she explains,
“you look at iPad in particular, and it’s a turnkey, closed system. It doesn’t degrade over time….It doesn’t get viruses. It’s not as flexible, you can’t do as much with it, but it’s a more seamless experience, even though more simplified….So we believe in that vision and that direction and we’re continuing down that path.”
This is a strong hint that Windows will probably be trying to keep to themselves in the corner of the room, much like Apple. It doesn’t bode well for developers who are hoping that maybe, just maybe, Microsoft may make Windows more open to development.
What are your thoughts on Microsoft’s vision and future plans? Have they gotten it right, or are they just digging themselves a deeper hole? Share them with us below.
November 14, 2013 By: jerdog
Trends in any industry are very important, from identifying which hamburgers people are buying to how quickly until the next pop star goes insane on international TV. The mobile app development industry is no different, with many important metrics helping to provide developers with the information necessary to shape their attention for the upcoming months.
XDA was founded for developers by developers, and we take our developers seriously. It is for this very reason that we have partnered with VisionMobile to present their latest survey on mobile app development, opportunities, and challenges: Developer Economics. The survey is used to compile a bi-annual report, which is then made available in the form of a free PDF report.
In this report, VisionMobile takes a close look at some of the latest trends in the mobile ecosystem, including developer Mindshare and platform prioritisation, platform adoption criteria, revenue models and revenues, as well as multi-screen development. State of the Developer Nation examines some of the top mobile platforms, pitting the three leading horses in the race (Android, iOS, and HTML5) versus the newcomers (BlackBerry 10, Windows 8, and Windows Phone) and the up-and-coming platforms (Firefox OS, Tizen, Jolla, Ubuntu). For an example of the vast array of information contained in the report, you can access the latest one from Q2 2013 here.
This 10-minute survey is aimed at app developers. Survey respondents can enter a draw to claim great prizes, including an iPhone, a Galaxy S 4, two Lumia 925 handsets, as well as more cool gadgets. In addition, each of the respondents can claim a free, 1-month subscription to Bugsense’s crash reporting tool.
Also, survey respondents will gain access to the Developer Benchmark Scorecards, a visualization that allows respondents to benchmark themselves in terms of revenues and revenue models, platforms used, app categories, and use of tools versus other developers in the region, based on their responses to the survey (opt-in to the developer panel required).
Finally, the survey results will become publicly available as a free download in January 2014, so that respondents can get a sense of what the latest trends are and what other developers have to say. You can access the Q4 2013 survey here.
September 10, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
A few days ago, we wrote about the interop unlock achieved by XDA Recognized Developer GoodDayToDie on his Samsung Ativ S running Windows Phone 8. At the time, however, there was no guide / procedures thread for users to follow in GoodDayToDie’s footsteps. However, good things come to those who wait, as the product of GoodDayToDie’s and Senior Member -W_O_L_F-‘s work is now clearly described.
If you’re new to Windows Phone, you may be wondering what exactly you can do with interop-unlock. According to GoodDayToDie:
A brief summary, for those unfamiliar with interop-lock: Windows Phone allows a number of high-privilege app capabilities, which can be used to make changes to the OS which are normally not possible for a third-party app. The limitation on whether we can use these capabilities or not is based on what “level” of developer unlock the phone has; standard “ISV” (Independent Software Vendor) dev unlock (max 10 apps or less) is what pretty much everybody gets; OEMs, however, get a special OEM Developer Unlock (300 apps or more) which gives them the ability to use much higher-privilege app capabilities than the standard ISV unlock permits. The name comes from ID_CAP_INTEROPSERVICES, the capability which was most important in WP7. In WP8, however, there are a great many interesting capabilities. Note that Interop-unlock by itself does not enable all of these; a deeper unlock is still required to fully “root” the OS.
Since our last update, GoodDayToDie has now created the thread and filled it with the requisite information including a brief primer on what interop-unlocking your device accomplishes, as well as a simple guide showing how to achieve interop-unlocked status and what capabilities are gained.
Just as before, this is just for Samsung Windows Phone 8 devices, as it relies on the Samsung diagnosis app. However, work is in progress to extend this to other phones.
Head over to the guide thread to get started.
May 10, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
CyanogenMod 10.1.0 RC1 has been released for various devices. That story and more are covered by Kevin, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is the Windows Phone 7.8 updater tool Sharp7Eighter and FireFox OS making an appearance on the juggernaut device, the HTC HD2.
Kevin talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer Steve talked about unlocking the bootlader of the new HTC One, Kevin talked about spring cleaning for your Android and TK released an Android App review of Pocket Converter. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
Although much of our news here on the Portal revolves around the Android ecosystem, there is still a healthy development community catering to the needs of all things Windows. Whether it’s RT, Windows Phone, or even Windows Mobile; people are using these platforms, people are developing for them, and they will continue to do so long after the OEMs and Microsoft cease to. A prime example of this is a utility called Sharp7Eighter by XDA Forum Member lesmo_sft.
The purpose of Sharp7Eighter is to bring older devices that (have not yet been updated to WP7.8) up to speed and give them the update they deserve. It should work on any Windows Phone device running version 7740 or above to the latest version of 7.8 (8862). It does this by acting as a frontend for Microsoft’s own updateWP.exe tool, which of course means that it uses official MS cabs to update the device. Updates can be paused and resumed at will due to their incremental nature. And according to the developer, it’s very unlikely that any harm will come to your device using this tool, which is always nice.
You’ll need a PC running Windows 7 or 8, as Sharp7Eighter isn’t currently compatible with Windows XP. You’ll also need the .NET framework 4.5 installed. Fulfill those two prerequisites, and you’re good to go. If you have an older WP device that could use a little refresh, this tool is definitely worth checking out. You can find more in the original thread.
May 2, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
XDA Senior Member anthonycr has created a great Android browser to replace the standard app. His application is called Lightning Browser. How does his application compare to similar apps on other mobile operating systems like UC Browser for Windows Phone and Mercury Browser on iOS?
In this episode XDA Developer TV Producer Steve shows you these applications side by side by side. He shows you what they look like and he pits them against each other to see which one is the best and will reign as king of the Third Party Browser applications. Check out this video to find out which wins.
April 16, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
XDA Forum Member bambou51 has created a great Android application to handle organizing your Podcasts. His application is called Podcast Addict. How does his application compare to similar apps on other mobile operating systems like WPodder for Windows Phone and Podcasts on iOS?
In this episode, XDA Developer TV Producer Steve shows you these applications side by side-by-side. He shows you what they look like and he pits them against each other to see what one is the best and will reign as king of the Podcast applications. Check out this video to find out who wins.
April 9, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
Recently, we talked about the differences between the Facebook App and the Twitter App on Windows Phone, Android, and iOS. We looked at their differences and similarities, and if they even have the same functionality. Today, we continue to examine these questions.
In this episode, XDA Developer TV Producer Steve shows you the native Instagram apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. He shows you how they look and talks about the differences, if any. So if you’ve ever wondered, check this video out.
April 6, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
Recently, we talked about the differences in the Facebook app on Windows Phone, Android, and iPhones. We looked at the differences, whether they were the same, and if they even have the same functionality. Today we continue to ask these questions.
In this episode XDA Developer TV Producer Steve shows you the native Twitter apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone. He shows you how they look and talks about the differences, if any, between the apps. So if you ever wondered how they compare, check this video out.
March 26, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
Some people say that the real difference between Windows Phone handsets, Android handsets, and iPhones are the apps. We at XDA know this isn’t true; there are hardware differences. However, how different are the apps? Are they the same? Are they completely different? Do they even have the same functionality?
In this episode, XDA Developer TV Producer Steve shows you the native Facebook apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone. He shows you how they look, and talks about the differences (if any) between the apps. So if you ever wondered what the difference was, check this video out.