All posts by andrewbares

As an avid gamer, I see the Windows Phone as a solid platform for mobile gaming. I will review almost every WP7 game and give you an idea if it is worth your money or not! In addition to gaming, I have been using Windows Mobile since 2005, and understand just about everything there is to know about the Windows Phone platform. Xbox Gamertag: DirtSurfer07 (add me!)

Game Review: Make it Rain Money

Make it Rain Money is an extremely simple free game, and it probably seems useless at first. The goal of the game is to make money so that you can buy things that make you more money. That’s literally it! However, just like Flappy Bird is extremely simple, Make it Rain Money manages to be simple and addictive.

There are 3 ways to make money in the game. First, you can constantly swipe away at your screen to rapidly earn money. Second, you can buy “financial investments” that automatically earn money while the app is open. And finally, you can buy “political investments” that earn money even while the app is closed.

As you progress through the game, you’ll quickly be earning 60 million dollars a second. What do you do at that point? Try to get up to 1 billion a second! The premise of the game sounds stupid, but for some reason I keep on returning to try and get more money. So somehow, this ridiculously simple idea works.QRCode

You can become addicted yourself by downloading Make it Rain Money for free.

Week in Review: May 5th

Welcome to the Week in Review, where we highlight the top stories of the week.

First Lumia 930 appears in the wild

  • Seen using the Orange network in Poland
  • 20 MP camera
  • 5″ 1080p screen
  • Supposedly will be released July 1st

New HTC flagship heading to Verizon

  • Has a weird name: W8#WL
  • Seems like it will be a Verizon exclusive

Xbox Music app receives a few improvements

  • Audio scrubbing is finally supported
  • Some small bug and UI improvements
  • Still doesn’t have swipe-to-skip, limited to 100 now-playing songs, etc

 

(The Week in Review will be cancelled over the summer as Andrew is in Seattle for an internship with Microsoft, and therefore won’t have the camera gear to film the weekly episodes)

Week in Review: April 28th

Welcome to the Week in Review, where we highlight the top stories of the week.

Joe Belfiore’s AMA on Reddit

  • Claims Microsoft apps like Skype and Music have performance improvements on the way (obvious)
  • The first official release of Cortana will support China and UK

Reading List app now available

  • Lets you sync your saved links across your Windows devices

File Manager coming to Windows Phone

  • An official file manager will be coming to WP 8.1 via Microsoft
  • Will be able to create/move folders/files, search, and more

Local universal search on WP 8.1

  • Windows Phone finally has universal search for email, text messages, contacts, and more
  • It’s a bit slow to access and load, but the searches are thorough

Local universal search on WP 8.1

One of the less talked about features of Windows Phone 8.1 is the inclusion of universal search. With 8.1, you can finally search the following all at once…

  • Contacts
  • Messaging (SMS)
  • Email
  • Apps
  • Music
  • Calendar
  • Settings

Universal search is accessed by pressing the Search key and then typing in a query, like a name of a song. Then you have to swipe left to the “phone” pivot where it will locally search your device.

The phone search is powerful and functional, but can be slow to access. It takes a number of taps to actually get to the results. When you press the search key, you first have to tap the search box (the keyboard doesn’t automatically pop up). Then, after you search, you have to swipe to the left.

The searches themselves are a bit slow too. It takes nearly 3 seconds for search results to load on my Lumia 920. And results don’t automatically filter while you type. A better search system would automatically start displaying contacts as you type, so you don’t have to write the entire name “Andrew” before seeing and clicking on the result.

Nevertheless, it’s great to see that Microsoft has finally added universal search. All they need to do is make it more accessible and faster.

Week in Review: April 21st

Welcome to the Week in Review, where we highlight the top stories of the week.

More than 1.5 million running WP 8.1

  • This makes up 3.1% of the Windows Phone userbase
  • Lumia 520 growth finally stagnated at 34% of Windows Phones

Xbox Music update fixes a few issues, still flawed

  • Should have resolved most black screen errors
  • Can say playlists by names through Cortana

IE11 improves browser performance

  • Rated faster on all the tests compared to IE10 on WP8

 

Week in Review: April 14th

Welcome to the Week in Review, where we highlight the top stories of the week!

Windows Phone 8.1 dev preview released

Complaints about Xbox Music in 8.1 are plenty

  • The native music+videos app has been removed in 8.1, replaced by a standalone Xbox Music app
  • The app has terrible performance, cannot swipe between songs, audio controls are now smaller, etc

8.1 removes Facebook integration in exchange for app tie-ins

  • The Me tile no longer shows Facebook and Twitter notifications
  • Posting social updates requires opening the specific app, meaning that you can no longer post updates to multiple networks.

Week in Review: April 7th

Welcome to the Week in Review, where we recap the top stories of the week.

WP 8.1 update for developers coming April 14th or 15th!

  • Joe Belfiore even confirmed that the developer preview will be available early in the week of April 14th
  • The update will be accessible through the Dev Preview program

8.1 still isn’t improving Office

  • Joe Belfiore announced that the new 8.1 update won’t bring any significant new features to Office on Windows Phone, which has remained stagnant for quite awhile.

Prepare for the 8.1 dev preview

  • To install the 8.1 developer preview before the painfully slow carrier rollouts, you first have to become a “developer”
  • You can become a developer through Microsoft’s App Studio for free
  • Then, install the Preview for Developers app and await the update!
  • Installing previews might void your warranty

Step by step installation of WP 8.1

In the video above, we show you how to install the Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview on your device. Note that the the preview might void your warranty.

  1. Become a “developer”
    • Make a real developer account for $20/year at the Dev Center
    • Or get a free account through the App Studio (RECOMMENDED)
  2. Install the Preview for Developers app
  3. Launch the Preview for Developers app, check the box, click “done”
  4. Go to settings -> phone updates, and check for updates
  5. Install the 8.0.x update, preparing you for 8.1
  6. Then, check for updates again, and install the 8.1 update
  7. Enjoy!

Video: Highlights of Windows Phone 8.1

If you haven’t been able to install Windows Phone 8.1 and wonder what you’re missing out on, check out our new overview video showing the new features in 8.1.

The video quickly covers

  • Faster/new animations
  • Notification center
  • Cortana
  • New keyboard
  • Volume settings
  • Updated Store
  • 3D maps
  • Start Screen background
  • Internet Explorer
  • Battery Sense

8.1 feels like what 8.0 should have originally been! It’s quite awesome.

 

Talking Tones: Create text-to-voice ringtones

With Talking Tones, you can write a custom message, and then use the app’s text-to-voice system to record the message as a ringtone. And thanks to WP8, you can set specific ringtones and text message tones for each contact, allowing you to have a custom message for each contact.

The app also lets you include a sound bite after or before the text-to-voice. However, the sound library is very limited, and doesn’t include many popular songs. You also have no control over the duration or section of any of the sounds.

The interface is also poorly designed. The app itself is slightly ugly, and it could use some improvements in user friendliness. To preview a ringtone, you first have to click the “download” button. A more intuitive experience would automatically download before previewing. The text-to-speech accents also don’t work, since the voice always remains the same.QRCode

Nevertheless, Talking Tones is functional and manages to get the job done. You can also add some cool sound effects to the talking voice, making the ringtone sound less robotic. Talking Tones can be found in the Store for FREE.

Week in Review: March 31st

Welcome to the Week in Review, where we highlight the top stories of the week.

WP 8.1 features officially released

  • Action Center: notification center accessed from top
  • Cortana voice assistant
  • Lock Screen Themes
  • Third column of live tiles for everyone
  • Word Flow: just like Swype keyboard

Universal apps for 8.1

  • Code base between WP and Windows is even closer
  • Devs can offer a single app which runs on both WP and Windows, and only needs to be purchased once

Cortana US-only for quite awhile

  • Microsoft is only supporting US right now, and hasn’t said when other regions will be added
  • However, Cortana can be accessed by just changing your regional settings, as long as you use English of course

Week in Review: March 24th

Welcome to the Week in Review, where we highlight the top stories of the week!

No WP 8.1 developer preview at BUILD

  • According to WPCentral, the developer preview of 8.1 won’t be coming April 2nd like it was rumored

WP 8.1 hit RTM on March 26nd

  • This means it was released to manufacturers
  • New 8.1 phones like the Lumia 930 are expected to arrive end of April

More Lumia 630 specs leak

  • 4.5 inch screen
  • No LED flash
  • Should be revealed at BUILD

Week in Review: March 17th

Welcome to the Week in Review, where we highlight the top stories of the week!

Stats reveal Verizon’s lack of WP users

  • Verizon used to have the highest percent of WP users
  • Now Verizon sits at 4th place, with only 13.4% of WP users
  • This is likely because Verizon doesn’t offer the low-end Nokia Lumia 520, which accounts for nearly 39% of all Windows Phones

Modern Combat 5 coming to WP

  • Gameloft said it will be released on iOS, Android, and WP
  • No release date yet

Still no news about Tinder with Rudy

  • Tinder previously requested that Rudy pull his third-party app 6Tindr from the Store, but claimed that they would work with Rudy to make an official version
  • However, Rudy has still not heard back from Tinder
  • It remains unknown whether Tinder will ever release a Windows Phone app