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Last week I released my first app for Windows Phone 7. The app is called “Viltolyckskartan” and it’s developed with Rikspolisstyrelsen.

Since this spring I’ve had the opportunity to test-drive a Windows Phone. And when Mango beta was released early this summer I started developing the app. After my summer vacation I did a live demo in a car with our project manager at Rikspolisstyrelsen.

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The app shows a map and uses Location Services to determine the user’s location. Every 50 meters the app sends a call to a web service at viltolycka.se and asks for every wildlife accident nearby. The web service responds with a list of all accidents and its coordinates. Then the app adds these accidents as PushPins to the map. When 3 or more accidents has occurred nearby, an alarm is triggered so the driver will be alerted that he/she is entering an area with several historical accidents.

For the moment our database stores accidents from January 2010 up to now. So we have a lot of data to work with. And more features will certainly be developed in the future.

Many might think of it as stupid to develop an app for Windows Phone 7, due to its lack of owners. Today WP7 has a market share around 1-2 %. The reason I decided to test developing for Windows Phone is:

- Windows Phone apps are developed with Microsoft .Net and C# which is the language I work with professionally, so I have great knowledge in that.

- Short learning time. I wrote a working app in only a few hours (even though the final product took a lot longer).

- The Marketplace is not near the quantity in apps from competitors iPhone and Android. So I figured, hey, if you want to get some attention, publish an app here.

- The app might be released on iPhone in the future.

Even though I’ve had access to the Mango update, this app is developed for the original (7.0) Marketplace. Microsoft began accepting Mango apps as of today, so I haven’t had the time to publish with features like multitasking yet.

If you have a Windows Phone 7, check out the app using this deep link.

Closing comments

Developing apps for Windows Phone 7 is really easy, especially if you are familiar with Microsoft .Net Framework and C#. If you have no previous skills with this technology, Microsoft provides free developer tools and a lot of online training, and it’s easy to learn.

Yesterday I attended the WP7 CodeCamp at Microsoft’s head office in Sweden. It was a WP7 coding event with approx. 40 developers and some people from Microsoft. We kicked off with an introduction by Dag König, presenting some news in WP7 Mango development and some example projects we could work with.

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Outside Microsoft. Pretty cool facilities.

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Our dev team working working on a Memory game using Augmented Reality. For four hours we brainstormed, and developed an app that we later showed for the other attendants.

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At 15.00 we took the stage and demoed our apps. Here you can see Jessica Engström showing off here XNA Game.

About an hour ago I arrived at the Ibis Hotel in Akalla, Kista. Not the worst hotel (even though its price would suggest that). So Marcus & Kim, you’re still in the lead.

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Tomorrow I will attend the Windows Phone 7 CodeCamp at Microsoft’s head office in Sweden. We’re 45-50 developers gathering at Microsoft for a whole day, focusing on development for WP7. Dag König will lead us through the new features in the Mango release.

Closing comments

Very exciting.

Last week I released our company's first Windows Phone 7 app in Private Beta. The app will be publicly announced soon, so the only description I can give for the moment is that it has to do with GPS and mapping.

Developing apps for Windows Phone is great and it just got better with the Mango beta and Windows Phone SDK 7.1 beta 2. Now you can easily simulate GPS and mapping in the emulator, which saves a lot of driving when testing your app.

A new and really cool feature in Marketplace is that you can publish an app under Private Beta (instead of publishing directly to the live Marketplace) . This gives us developers a chance to widely test the app by inviting other Windows Phone users to the private beta.

Our app is now being tested by several persons including Microsoft’s Nordic Windows Phone 7 Business Manager, Peter Wissinger, which is very exciting.

I will publish more information later on.

It's been a long time since my last blog post, mostly due to chasing my daughter around the house, beaches and cities. And also, for the last three weeks I've had vacation.

It has however been, not only a relaxing summer, but also a time for nerdiness. The last month I've evaluated several new and upcoming product releases. Amongst them are Windows Phone 7 "Mango", iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion. My closest friends know how curious I am regarding testing of beta products (often too early than healthy), so this is a very exciting time for me. One product I've tested for some time is Office 365, which was released last week.

For a couple of months I've been testing Windows Phone 7, which is quite the delight. The "Mango" beta (which Microsoft prevents me from discuss in detail) is a major lift for the newborn Phone OS. Many of its features are locked down and/or limited so I expect a new beta release in weeks or up to a month max.

It's not only the major companies who has new stuff up its sleeves. A lot is cooking at Mindbite as well, and we have several upcoming releases involving web and phones later this summer. With only one week left of my vacation it's soon time to continue working on some really cool solutions and in the next couple of weeks I will present some actual details about them.

Have a great summer!

I finally learned how to transfer phone calls with Windows Phone 7! Happy day!

After numerous tests without any success I posted my issue on Twitter which gave no response. Last Friday I joined the Facebook group “Vi som gillar Windows Phone 7” where I sent out a post about it. And today I got a response from Johan Huss at Microsoft with a how-to guide.

The guide for how to transfer phone calls worked successfully. Huge thanks to Johan Huss!

How it works:

  1. Answer the call.
  2. Press “Add call” and call the number you wish to transfer the call to.
  3. Use the “Backwards” button on the device.
  4. Place a call to “4”.
  5. Done

The workaround for transferring calls on iPhone and Android is to create a contact with the phone number “4”, which you place a call to if you want to transfer the phone call. So the method used in Windows Phone 7 is one step shorter, thus much easier.

Last week I started testing a Windows Phone. It can only be described as a “delight”, with only minor hick-ups. WP7 is a very competent phone OS and even though it has gotten some negative reviews I was surprised that Microsoft has managed to create an OS with so many features.

Design & Experience

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Microsoft has put a lot of effort into creating a User Experience that is as easy as it is eye-catching and revolutionary. They focused on creating both a lock-screen and a home-screen that give you almost any information you need. You don’t have to open an app to get information. At the look-screen you get information about upcoming events, new text messages and new e-mail messages.

The home-screen consists of a bunch of “tiles”, which are sort of a shortcut to their respective apps. The tiles can be moved, sorted and removed and you can also add more tiles from the App list.
The tiles contains information pushed from their apps, i.e. new messages count and missed phone calls. The calendar tile displays upcoming events, and as a developer you can customize your app’s tile and schedule updates like changing background image and putting a little number/counter in the tile.

So, my major experience from this last week is the fact that I don’t have to scroll around in apps as much as with the iPhone. I get most of the information from the home-screen. Most often I’ve only checked the lock-screen for indication of new information.

Integration

One of the features I’ve come to like is the integration between contacts and Facebook. From the People hub you get updates from Facebook and if you click on a contact that is connected to Facebook you get their list of Facebook updates.

For the moment there is no way to work with Twitter in the same way. It will be sweet when/if this feature comes to WP7.

Marketplace

The marketplace has a fresh layout and it’s easy to find the app your looking for. In very short time the Marketplace has grown with a lot of titles. There are many cool games with Xbox live integration. The only app I missed was Spotify, which is reportedly coming to WP7 soon.

Office

WP7 comes with Office pre-installed (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook). So you can create and edit documents that you can store on SkyDrive or a SharePoint installation. I have only tried SkyDrive which works great.

The Outlook app is impressive, with loads of features and a slick UI. The ability to flag a message is something I’ve missed in the iPhone mail app.

Developer tools

Since I’m a developer, this area is one of the most important for me. I’ve been developing Web and Windows applications using Microsoft .Net Framework since 2003 so developing an app for WP7 is very familiar to me. So I kicked off very fast when creating my first app (not released) which reads photos from the Flickr API.

The only thing I missed here was the ability to deploy the app from Visual Studio to the actual phone without registering as a developer with Microsoft. I understand why It’s like this, but it would have been sweet to be able to do this.

Hick-ups

I found only a few issues using the Windows Phone. First, I couldn’t get the latest update (NoDo) even though it’s released according to Microsoft.

The second issue, which is most severe, is that I can’t transfer a call to another phone. At our company we use a Mobile Phone Switch from the Swedish operator 3 (Hi3G), so connecting and transferring calls to other people in our switch is something we do many times every day. This is where we ran out of luck. We found no way to do this on the Windows Phone 7. We managed to create conference calls, but when the host hangs up or tries to transfer the call (using a Hi3G special method) the entire call is ended for all parties. We called Hi3G for instructions and they didn’t find any way to do this either. So I posted a couple of tweets about this without getting any reply.

So as of today I’m back with the iPhone until the day Microsoft releases an update that will address this issue. I never thought this would be an issue. Over the years we’ve used many different phones, and this even worked with Windows Mobile 6.

If you read this and know how to connect and transfer a call to another phone, please post a comment.

Closing comments

Windows Phone 7 is great! I hope Microsoft will manage to get a much larger market share in a near future. When Microsoft release a Swedish localization I will be the first guy to recommend the phone to everyone I meet.

Today I received a Samsung Omnia 7 with Windows Phone 7. And as my friends know, I’m a sucker for opening packages. So in mere seconds the phone was in my hand. Awesome feeling.

For the last hour I’ve been fooling around with the phone, checking settings and learning the basics. And my first impression was; oh my god, this phone is fantastic. It may lack some features like multi-tasking and Swedish keyboard (which I’ve been a bit negative about in earlier posts), but Microsoft has really outdone themselves. I love the start screen and the smooth UI/UX. The animations are also really sweet.

Short post, but all I wanted to say for now is that my first impression of WP7 is “Impressive!”. Next up is checking the developer tools, and learning how to connect a call in our 3 Switch. Maybe not in that order :-)

A few days ago me and my colleague Kim went to Linköping to attend Swenug’s (Swedish .Net User Group) seminar about Windows Phone 7. The seminar was organized by the newly founded Swenug chapter in Linköping/Norrköping, sponsored by the company Sigma.

The evenings speaker was Dag König, Developer Evangelist at Microsoft, who gave us a 2.5 hour presentation about developing apps for Windows Phone 7. The presentation was interesting, inspiring and somewhat frustrating.

Windows Phone 7 is really a nice phone with a compelling and intuitive UI. Apps are developed with .Net Framework in Visual Studio 2010 and since we have used this technology for a very long time we could start developing apps any day. The frustrating part is that the phone was released several years to late. The competition is too far ahead of Microsoft and the market share for WP7 is extremely poor.

The Windows Phone 7 was released in October 2010, but still it lacks Swedish language, Swedish keyboard and Marketplace in Sweden. So if you buy a Windows Phone 7 you can’t buy any apps. You can download free apps though.

For the moment, these languages exists in the phone:
English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.

Marketplace is available in:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom, and United States.

WP7 also lacks Copy/Paste and Multi-tasking, features that is kind of a standard in other smartphones. Rumors say these features will be released in an update later this year.

So, if Windows Phone had Swedish features and if you could buy apps from the Marketplace, I would consider switching my iPhone for a Windows Phone 7.

The fun part

As a programmer I develop applications using Microsoft .Net Framework daily and it’s an easy task to start develop apps for Windows Phone 7. The possibilities are great and I really hope that the market will adopt the phone. Nokia is one of the largest cell phone manufacturers in the world and a few weeks ago they announced their switch from Symbian OS to WP7. This could be the thing that will take WP7 to the market and makes it a product to compete with iPhone and Android. I surely hope so.

WP7 has a great API that gives the .net developers a great chance to create amazing apps. Our company is a Microsoft Certified Partner so we use Visual Studio 2010 Premium, so we have everything we need to start developing apps. If you’re not a partner or you don’t have MSDN Subscription you can download a limited version of Visual Studio 2010 for free. The WP7 SDK is also free, so everyone can start developing apps.

Microsoft has a huge developer community so if/when WP7 becomes a success, there will most likely be a large quantity of useful apps to buy/download in Marketplace.

Certification process

Just like on iPhone (and Android I suppose) there is a certification process for releasing you app to the Marketplace. From what we learned at the seminar it takes about 3-5 day to get your app approved (or most likely rejected at first).

The certification process consists of both automatic and manual tests made by Microsoft. Apparently they are very strict and you must follow the UI guidelines to be able to get your app approved.

Even though Swedish users can’t buy apps, they can distribute and sell apps in the Marketplace. To be able to buy an app you must have an American or British credit card.

Demos

Dag König has released two apps on the Marketplace; Trafiktitt and Trafikofon. They are free of charge so Swedish users can download them to their phones. Dag showed us parts from these apps’ source code and also started a new solution and developed a rough version of Trafikofon. It was very interesting and the coding was very familiar.

Dag’s last demo was a Push Notification demo. We learned how to register the app with a service and later on letting the service push updates to the phone. Push Notifications is one of the things I love most and the feature is a vital part of the OS.

What’s next for us?

We just begun testing WP7 development at Mindbite, and we will continue to gain insight in WP7. If or when the phone gains a larger market share we will be able to develop apps for our customers.

Closing comments

Windows Phone 7 is a great and beautiful Phone OS that gives the existing developer community a chance to create stunning apps and make money. It’s sad that Microsoft jumped on the train several years to late. But I hope they learned something and that they will start releasing updates that will make the phone a competing product on the already tough market.