HTC HD7 WP7 Windows Phone 7

Having given ‘grief’ to my Family over the last year or so (while developing apps for WP7) I promised my wife I would buy her a new WP7 Mobile Phone when they came out.  The one that Light bulb I liked the look of is the HTC HD7, mainly because it has the largest screen size of any of the new devices and also has more than the 8GB RAM that I had available on the pre-production device I had been using (I found this limiting – the multimedia features of this OS are so good you will want to fill up the phone with Podcasts, Movies and Music!.

The first thing I noticed was how nice <insert a better adjective> the screen is.  It is not just the size its also ‘whiter’ and ‘brighter’ than the device I was used to.  Not to dwell too much on this but in my considered opinion this size is optimal – any larger and I don’t think I could hold and type with one hand (cradle in right hand and type with thumb) It is surprising how often you need to do this when you are on the move so if you have small hands make sure you try this out in a shop first! (NB My hands are average size)

Having been spoilt by the third party software that came with the LG device the HTC stack doesn’t match up IMO – I won’t list it as I am sure you can get this elsewhere (let me know if not) but to reiterate, the LG software gave me a ‘wow’ moment with the phone, the HTC was pretty much what I expected (Did I really need a free torch?).

I’ve seen criticism of the HTC design on two counts:

1. The built in stand – does it ‘stick out’, will it ‘catch on your trousers’, will it fall off after a few months use? 

IMO the stand is great!  It is genuinely useful, doesn’t ‘stick out’ unduly (though it is not flush with the back), it protects the camera and is way better than the ‘sticky out’ <insert a better adjective> camera of the HD2!  So a thumbs up for the stand!  I should add that I bought a clear plastic protective surround for the HD7 which means that the stand is actually slightly recessed to the back of the device case.

2. The recessed areas around the screen “they will be a lint trap”  yes, I suspect this is correct though their purpose is to house the excellent on board speaker system that compliments the built in Dolby Mobile and SRS Enhancement that is also a feature of this device.  I can live with that I think.

OK, I will keep adding to this review as I use the device, but I have a flight to catch (PDC – Yay!)

Please post questions about the device in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them.

SNAP!

In the last week before release I have managed to sneak in another little app: a variation on the classic game of Snap!

Seven

Definitely one to play with the kids. I made a decision early on not to involve any play that might have the potential of inflicting rough treatment on your new phone, that said, it was also important to maintain the essence of the game – which is, of course around the anticipation and excitement of … SNAP!!!

 

Four

Three

Two

In addition to the basic game I thought it would be nice to have some different playing surfaces and also the ability to add your own back to the playing cards (utilising the phones’ camera).  The idea is to have a photograph of each of the players – with a bonus being the identification of who owns the score boards immediately above – an option that can be added from the extended menu.

No idea how much interest there will be in this app but I had great fun putting it together!  Enjoy.

Tip 7–Watch out for colours & gradients in the Application Bar!

 

In my haste to refresh an existing ‘broken icon’ (see Tip 2) I made a ‘bad colour decision’ on the application bar that didn’t show up until it was too late.

Here are the offending icons with the default dark theme:

image

and here are the same icons in the light theme:

image

My take is that the real culprit here is in the use of gradients (‘simple colours’, such as those used for the ‘SOS’ icon, being less of an issue).

You can also provide a separate set of icons for each of the light/dark themes and change them programmatically (which I believe to be the recommended approach).

Here is the relevant portion of text from the official “UI Design and Interaction Guide for Windows Phone 7”, which is available here

“Use the user-defined system theme colour unless there is a compelling reason to override it. Using a custom colour can affect the display quality of the button icons, create unusual  visual effects in menu animations, and negatively influence power consumption on some display types.”

Tip 5–Don’t use formatting in your Marketplace Descriptions

 

This is one that I might experiment with in the future but a straight ‘copy and paste’ of formatted text is not a good example.

Submitted Text: (HTML)

A full featured Drum Machine featuring live pads and step input into sequencer and song arrangement modes.

  • Over 50 high quality drum samples
  • 4 immediately accessible and fully programmable kits.
  • Control over individual drum Volume, Tuning (pitch) and Position within the stereo field.
  • Multiple sounds can be triggered simultaneously giving a realistic drumming experience.
  • Position of the pads can be arranged and saved according to taste.
  • Full featured open/closed HiHat.
  • Unique ‘Jam’ Mode allows single samples to be spread over multiple pads.
  • Step Mode entry and playback of drum patterns
  • Song mode allows individual sequences to be chained together into a song.
  • Multiple songs can be stored on the phone.

Marketplace Result:

DontDoThis

(see here for other tips)

Getting your App published on Windows Phone Marketplace

 

“Congratulations Ian Walker of Web Services UK! Drums & Bass has successfully passed certification for Windows Phone Marketplace!”

Following application submittal to  http://create.msdn.com and ‘ingestion’ (where Microsoft test and certify your app) this is the message you receive on a successful submission   It means your app is live (if you elected to auto publish) or is ready to publish (if you selected manual publication)

I submitted a number of applications last night (I am in the UK) finally finishing the process around 1:30 am this morning:

MktPlace

I had the bright idea (no pun intended) of publishing a very simple app as my first submission – I wanted something that would pass and give me a little confidence in the process (and myself I guess).  So last night I put together an empty project, put some simple (and I do mean simple) graphics together and posted it – I made the background white (irrespective of theme) and called it ‘Torch’ (that’s what we call a Flashlight  in the UK).   

So here is my top tip for getting your app published in the marketplace: keep it simple!

Irrespective of this I was impressed with the turnaround, my understanding is that thousands of developers were uploading their apps to test the new process that went live last night, so it looks like it passed with flying colours.  Kudos to the guys at MS.

Tip 2 – don’t use Black or White on transparent backgrounds for your marketplace icons – fine on the phone but marketplace doesn’t like them! (example here – the graphic is white on transparent!)

Tip 3 – Try and get it right first time as even the smallest mistake means you will need to repeat the whole submission process (suspect this might change in the future)

Tip 4 – Don’t use ‘washed out’ colours for your marketplace background image (example here)

Tip 5 – Don’t use formatting in your marketplace descriptions (example here)

Tip 6 – When it comes to fixing (even minor) errors remember to increment your version number, or your app will fail ingestion and you will need to re-upload your XAP.

Tip 7 – Watch out for colours & gradients in the Application Bar! (example here).

Tip 8 When resubmitting open up another instance of create.msdn.com on your original submission to enable you to copy over any details that have not changed*.

* I am including this tip as you may, like me, have some concerns that opening up another instance might impact your re-submission – this does not appear to be the case.

VersionSmall

Related links:

”Marketplace and the App Hub” (Great overview of the marketplace by Andy Beaulieu)

“Anatomy of a WP7 submission (Marketplace walk through by Peter Henry)

Any colour as long as it is black

 

Henry Fords famous statement when asked about the colour of his new motor vehicle.

Of course, that was just fine, it was the only game in town, and it was a fantastic machine!  However, It wasn’t long before the market demanded something more, and it was a competitor that first offered multiple colours of automobile, Ford or course, had to respond quickly or risk future sales.

I am wondering if that is where we are with WP7 and the iPhone?  Will Apple now be forced to offer some additional options for the iPhone?  A slide out keyboard? A better camera? A larger screen? I suspect that if Windows phone is the success that it looks like it is going to be then history tells us that Apple will have no choice but to follow Microsoft. A bitter pill?  Not really,  probably just history talking.

There is a nice article on MS’ approach to their ‘hardware partners’ here:

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/10/windows-phone-7-4/

Windows Phone 7 Launch Apps.

Thought it appropriate to quickly précis  some of the apps for windows phone 7 that I am submitting to the marketplace for launch today (more to follow in the coming weeks).

In the main, todays offerings centre around a music based performance engine that has been developed for the platform using Silverlight and XNA.

 

Metro drummer

A full featured drum machine offering over 50 high quality samples with live, sequence and song based screens.

More here: http://rd3d2.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/metro-drummer/

 

drums and bass

A logical progression from Metro Drummer that adds the ability to compose drum tracks combined with a bass line, often the perfect accompaniment to a vocal and acoustic guitar based composition.

More here: http://rd3d2.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/drums-bass/

 

jamster

The sister product to Metro drummer with musical, rather than percussion based samples.

More here: http://rd3d2.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/jamster/

 

songster

A marriage of Metro Drummer and Jamster providing additional opportunities for fun and composition.

More here: http://rd3d2.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/songster/

 

Flashlight / Torch

Possibly the most useful of all the apps in the marketplace, turns your phone into a torch.

 

Shove ha’penny

the classic pub game for the UK brought to life for Windows Phone with multiple boards, coin types and players.

More here: http://rd3d2.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/shove-halfpenny-shove-hapenny/

 

I will be posting videos of these apps running on my LG GW910 device just as soon as I get a little time.

Drums & Bass

Drums & Bass provides a fully portable platform for both live rendition and composition of songs and/or vocal/acoustic guitar accompaniments.

It builds on the opportunities afforded in ‘Metro Drummer’ by adding a Bass (Guitar/Keyboard) option into the mix.

 

OneSettings

Any mix of bass and drum sounds can be stored to any of the four colour coded ‘kits’.

 

TwoSequencer

(Above Left) The initial menu can be expanded to show further options.

(Above Right) Step Entry in the Sequencer screen allows each sounds to be assigned its own Pitch, Volume and Pan positions at any point in time.

 

Sequencer1Sequencer2

(Above Left) The Bass pitch is entered via a popup keyboard.

(Above Right) Zoom mode allows for easier entering of notes in the step screen.

 

SixFeedback

 

(Above Left) Sequences can be chained together and arranged in song mode.

(Above Right) User feedback is encouraged via a link to a dedicated user forum.

NOTES

  • Over 50 sounds are provided ‘out of the box’.
  • The Hi-Hat shares its’ realistic action with the one in ‘Metro Drummer’.
  • The bass is monophonic by default (drum sounds are polyphonic)
  • The UI is multi-Touch enabled, allowing up to 4 pads to be played simultaneously.
  • Up to 12 sounds can be played simultaneously in sequence and song modes.
  • Individual note pitch is adjustable over a 20 note range
  • An unlimited number of sequences and songs can be stored (subject to device limitations)
  • Drums & Bass is written using the Silverlight and XNA platform for Windows Phone 7.