The leaked Windows Phone emulator has been the gift that keeps on giving, and the latest revelation is that Microsoft already working on Windows Phone 8.5, and that this may bring radical changes to the UI of the phones.
According to the tooltip message from the emulator to the developer of TimeMe secondary live tiles may no longer be available in Windows Phone 8.5.
That UI innovation has of course been very helpful and is one of the unique elements of Windows Phone. Of course the message may be referring to the specific API rather than the feature, but either way it seems the Windows Phone Start screen is set to change.
The emulator also revealed additional and more immediately impactful new information.
Style Jukebox is a cloud-based music service, that wants to help you rediscover your music collection, by making it accessible anywhere, on all your devices.
Style Jukebox is free up to 1,000 (~5 GB, More than Dropbox free) songs and it’s available for Windows, Windows Phone and also Android and iOS devices.
On Windows you have a full, iTunes like (but faster and lighter) music app, that browses your computer for music and uploads everything to our servers. Your music and playlist are all synced in the Cloud, instantly accessible for download or streaming from all your computers and mobile devices.
The service also crawls services like Dropbox and SkyDrive, and imports all your music to the Style Jukebox account.
This will mirror the changes in Windows 8.1, which also introduced the new, larger Live Tile recently.
Given the rate of leaks we should soon also see these new tile sizes in action also.
Long-time readers may remember some official Microsoft concept slides (pictured right) we managed to lay our hands on in October 2011 which then showed both the new small and now also large tiles. I guess it takes a while for Microsoft designs to go from concept to implementation.
It appears that Windows Phone 8.1 will end up being more than just a very minor tweak of the Windows Phone UI, which I think after 3 years is relatively welcome.
At CES, Samsung announced four new Android tablets which will include new UX Samsung has built on top of Android. The Magazine UX is basically a tweaked version of Windows 8 Start experience. You will have large Live Tiles for different apps which you can arrange on your home screen similar to what Windows 8.1 provides to users now. Today @evleaks posted a screenshot of Samsung’s Magazine UX for Galaxy devices. Yes, Samsung is bringing the Live Tiles experience to Android devices. As you can see in the above screenshot, you will have information overlayed on images similar to Live Tiles and you can rearrange them on your home screen.
Do you think Samsung is crossing the line between inspiration and copying with this Magazine UX? Should Microsoft defend their Live Tiles implementation from Samsung?
As part of our commitment to users, Skinery Tiles Pro has been rolling out updates on a bi-weekly basis to give to users more apps to choose from and we will continue doing so. In this update, version 3.0.7, we have added WPCentral, WindowsBlogItalia, iMusic, ImageBoard Browser, and Pushalot apps.
Skinery is working on its next major release with exciting new features and we would like to hear your input on how to make Skinery an even better app! You can provide your inputs in this form. For the latest Skinery news, do follow us on twitter at @symwpapps or directly reach us at [email protected].
Skinery Tiles Pro, the highly popular custom theme app, has been updated to version 3.05. As promised, Skinery Tiles Pro is adding new apps every week and this time we bring to you Facebook Touch, Facebook Touch Pro, FlashLight and MoHoo Reader apps. Also in this release, we added language support for Chinese Simplified and Chinese Traditional. If you are interested to help translate Skinery to your native language, please drop us an email at [email protected].
Skinery is working very hard to include more apps and we need your help. You can help by rigorously sending requests to other app developers and telling them how much you want their apps to work with Skinery.
To send an app request within Skinery:
Scroll down the app list
Tap on “Get more apps!”
Tap on the “Send Request” button
Write a review to tell the app developer to work with Skinery
Skinery Tiles Pro, the highly popular custom theme app featured by Nokia, has been updated to version 3.04 with brand new features, apps and skins. In this release, you can now create, skin and pin shortcuts to your favourite websites or simply create blank tiles to add some text like a smiley face. Also included is the new and powerful skin editor which lets you choose different colours or images for each of your tiles. Experiment and have fun coming up with unique design for your start screen. Once you are done, tap on the share button to show off your creation to the Windows Phone community!
As with every update, Skinery adds new apps and skins. Can you spot the new apps in the screenshots? If not, check out the store link to find out the new apps!
With your continued support of The Skinery Movement, app developers are starting to integrate their apps with Skinery. High profile apps such as WebApps by Sydience and WPCentral by WPCentral.com have already began their integration and they will available real soon. Please continue to support The Skinery Movement and more apps will come!
Money Manager Pro, is one of the most powerful and complete apps for personal finance management which lets you manage all your flows, accounts and cards.
Now adds support to WP8 and brings a few new features:
WP8 performance improvements
new firsst usage wizard
voice commands (beta version)
Let’s now spend a minute on new features:
First usage wizard
A weak point of Money Manager Pro has always been the first usage: the insertion of some info is required in this phase: a bank, (almost) an account and then the related cards. This
annoying operations are needed in order to take advantage of all the app capabilities…
Now we added and new simple wizard: an assistant guides the user through the app initialization and explain how to manually insert all the required info or automatically creates
standard user info: “my bank”, “my account”, “my ATM card”, etc in order to let the user immediately start enjoying the app.
Only SkyDrive account data still need to be manually inserted.
This is the strongest new feature. With voice commands user can:
load reports page by saying “MoMa show reports“
load previous months reports by saying “MoMa show report previous months“
load previous month reports by saying “MoMa show report [month_name] [year]“, i.e: “MoMa show report may 2012“
load “all flows report” by saying “MoMa show all flows“
start new backup by saying “MoMa start new backup“
open backup page by saying “MoMa restore backup“
add new expense/income by saying “MoMa add expense” or “MoMa add income“. By using this command the app opens the “new flow” pageand wait for a second command to insert flow data, i.e. “restaurant 60 dollars cash“
WP8 needs a prefix for voice commands in order to details which app the command is related to. Being the app name a little bit long, we decided to shorten it into MoMa
Let’s now remember the other app main features:
Wizard to simply insert your flows.
Detailed reports and charts:
current month balance
previous months reports
detailed month report
‘All flows’ report (total amount for both expenses and incomes, most frequent flows and most relevant items + charts) custom reports: you can filter flows by items, period, flow type (card/account/cash), expenses/incomes
By right/left rotating your phone you can visualize 2 different charts for each report. You can also save each report as a PDF file or as a Excel file
CASH & CARDS
‘Cash’ page to manage your available cash money and visualize last cash flows. Possibility to manage your debit, credit and pre-paid cards.
Possibility to simply insert schedules for recursive flows by specifying the description, the amount, the start date, end date (if present), recurrence and flow type (card/account/cash)
SKYDRIVE + REMINDER
You can save all your data on your SkyDrive as encrypted files, within ‘My Documents’ folder and restore them whenever you want. You can also set up a reminder for the backup with a custom recurrence.
Protect your data from being observed by someone else by using a password at app start up
WP8 LIVE TILES (including the wide one)
Use live tiles to keep you up to date about your accounts and cards or access you preferred pages
ACTIVITIES, CATEGORIES and ITEMS
The app contains 2 main activities (Home and Work) and, for each of them, several categories and items for common needs. Anyway you can customize them by adding new ones, removing useless ones and by changing relationships between them
Money Manager Pro can be found in Windows Phone Store for FREE until the end of April, then it will cost $ 2.99
Skinery is reaching out to all users and app developers who want to apply custom themes on your phone to join The Skinery Movement.
What is Skinery?
Skinery is an app that lets you apply custom themes on your phone and it is the only custom theme app that works with third-party apps and even apps with Live Tiles. You check out the Live Tiles demo in the video below.
Why should I join the movement?
By joining the movement, you will help make custom themes on Windows Phone become a reality. Imagine the limitless possibility of personalizing your phone beyond simple theme colours.
What do I need to do?
Simple. You just need to feedback to the developers of your favourite apps to work with Skinery. We have come up with a movement page where you can contact the app developers for most of the better known apps.
Share the movement page with your friends and tweet using the #skinery tag. The more users who support this movement, the more effective it becomes! Also don’t forget to follow us on twitter @symwpapps for the latest updates on the movement.
Note: the app has just passed certification and should be available in store soon.
Note: for those who have downloaded Skinery before, please download this new release. The old version does not support Live Tiles.
Note: Skinery can support Live Tiles, but it takes time for apps to enable Live Tiles with Skinery. As of now, the only live tile app is Games Gone Free. This is why Skinery started the movement to get as many apps as possible to enable Live Tiles with Skinery and we need your help.
On MSDN Microsoft Engineer Mark Chamberlain has confirmed that Windows Phone 7.8 Live tiles can have issues, saying the problems have been recorded and are understood.
He noted the Live Tile bug can cause two problems:
1. Live tile causing continuous web requests (and side effects such as battery drain)
2. Live tile failing to update.
It is of note that the first one can cause data overages and therefore be very costly to users.
Fortunately Microsoft is considering releasing a fix as an OS update with Mark saying â€œfixes will be considered for inclusion in an update to the phone operating system.â€
I would say the issue has some urgency due to the data usage bug. Of course we have heard the roll-out of WP 7.8 has been halted in Germany, though we do not know if this is the case elsewhere also, but I think at the very least Microsoft needs to put out a blog post informing and warning Windows Phone 7.8 users of the issues and risks.
Heathcliff from WP7RootTools has continued his research on the Live Tiles issue of Windows Phone 7.8, and reports that it is even more broken than we first though.
Live tiles have 3 ways of being updated â€“ directly by an app, on schedule and via push notifications. Heathcliff reports that only direct updates via apps worked flawlessly.
ShellTileSchedule.Start() – This method allows to set a URL to a live-tile-image on an external host. The URL is fetched at predefined intervals. I found that the Shell Tile Scheduler may start behaving erratically under some circumstances. The app from my previous blog-post, did in fact use this method. I have tried to reproduce this behavior in an app of my own. But I have not been able to isolate the situation that triggers this problem. If the problem occurs, there is a serious problem, that may lead to low performance of the phone and high bills from your mobile operator! This behaviour seems to be specific to WP 7.8. So far I have not been able to reproduce it on WP 7.5 and WP 8.
HttpNotificationChannel.BindToShellTile() – This method opens a channel to the Microsoft Notification Servers. External sources can post images, text or counters to the Microsoft Notification Servers. This will be routed to the phone. I found this functionality to be completely broken on WP 7.8. It is possible to send a text or counter. But as soon as an URL for a live-tile-image is sent to the phone, the phone immediately closes the endpoint to the server and nothing is updated. I found that when the app completely registers a new endpoint, the live-tile can sometimes be updated once and then the endpoint is closed again. In my case deleting the PushClient Endpoint registry-keys did not help and even a hard-reset did not resurrect the live-tiles. Live-tile notifications still worked only once, or not at all. On WP 7.5 this method just works as expected. I actually hope I did something wrong here. Or else I don’t understand how this could ever get past the Microsoft Quality Assurance department.
The last bit is a rather telling indictment of Windows Phone 7.8, suggesting rather little attention was paid to what was intended to be a mere cosmetic update, rather like a facelift which went horribly wrong and caused your nose to fall off.
Currently for Live Tile apps you have to launch the app every 2 weeks to keep the notifications flowing.
Now in Windows Phone 8, as long as the app is Pinned, or supplying pictures or information to the lock screen, that is no longer the case, making for a much smoother running Windows Phone experience without having to manage notifications as much, and with hopefully a much more reliable live tile experience.
The video also shows that the Windows Phone team does have some passion around the lack of a notification centre, which hopefully means we can expect one in a future update.
Microsoft is making a pretty big deal about apps which exploit unique Windows Phone features like Live Tiles. Apps which are now so equipped will have it highlighted in the app description as can be seen in the screen shot above.
Microsoft have said previously it is the apps with live tiles and which exploit Windows Phone features which tend to get the sales, so hopefully highlighting this feature will encourage more windows phone devs to add them to apps.