Susan IbachTechnical Evangelist
Microsoft announced the RTM of Windows 8 the first week of August, and general availability by the end of October. We’ve got events to help you start or finish up your apps and get them into the Windows 8 store!
Yup it’s official. As a Canuck, I am also happy to see the announcement was made at the Worldwide Partner conference in none other than Toronto, Canada! For the first time we have dates for Windows 8 availability. The Release to Manufacturing (RTM) is expected the first week of August. That’s also when developers will be able to start earning money for their apps. In the Windows 8 Release Preview, all apps are still free. We also know Windows 8 general availability will be end of October across 231 markets worldwide and the public will start experiencing the world of Windows 8!
That means now is a great time to start coding a Windows 8 app, or to finish up the Windows 8 app you started, so you can get in the store in time for the general availability. We are having a number of hackathons where you can come out and get rolling and get some help with your code if you get stuck.
Vancouver | Friday August 3rd, 2012 | 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM | Simon Fraser University, Segal Graduate Building
Ottawa | Friday August 10th, 2012 | 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM | Algonquin College
Toronto | Friday August 10th, 2012 | 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM | Ryerson University, Ted Rogers School of Management
Montreal | Friday August 17, 2012 | 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM | Concordia University
You should come to the hackathon with a computer with Windows 8 and the developer tools installed. If you haven’t had a chance to explore the world of Windows 8 yet there are lots of great resources out there to help you get started.
Register now and get coding!
How do you take the HTML you know and love and give it a Metro look and feel for Windows 8 apps?
The Windows 8 team put up an interesting blog post this week about how you take existing HTML controls and style them to look metro. You can read the full blog post here, but I’ll highlight a few of the key points to get you started.
Don’t forget if you are working on an app, or thinking of starting an app we have hackathons across Canada in August:
Now let’s look at some HTML! Let’s take a look at the perennial favourite HTML control: <button>
a simple button control will actually look different in a Windows 8 native app than it will in a browser like IE10.
Let’s say you define a button control using HTML and render that same code in IE10 and Windows 8
<button>Windows 8 Rocks!</button>
Button in IE10
Button in Windows 8 Metro app
There’s more to it than just a default CSS file.
They’ve reworked the ways controls are built so you have more flexibility when styling the controls. Most browsers render controls using previously generated images and when you apply a style to the control, the browser discards the hardcoded image, re-renders the control in a baseline look and then applies the style you requested on top of that baseline. You can’t style directly onto new styles.
It’s pretty cool what you can do! Here’s a couple of examples of styling a checkbox control.
The Windows 8 team blog post goes into a lot more detail, explaining best practices for making sure your buttons scale well across different screen sizes, handling touch, accessibility features, and more! Could that last website you built work as a Windows 8 app?
Imagine It! Build It! Live it!
Who won the worldwide student competition to solve the world’s problems using technology?
When 76 countries send their best teams to compete at the World Wide Finals in Software Design you know the judges have their work cut out for them. This year’s winners were team Quadsquad from Ukraine with their project Enable Talk.
More than 40 million people in the world are hearing or speech impaired. To communicate they use sign language. Unfortunately, very few people in the world understand sign language which leaves them feeling isolated. The team was inspired when they were in the supermarket, watching a cashier trying to understand a speech impaired person and thought how useful it would be to have a device to overcome this communication barrier.
Using a smartphone and a pair of sensory gloves project “Enable Talk” to solve the language barrier between sign language users and the rest of the world! The gloves capture hand movements and transmit the movement pattern (the sign) to the mobile device via Bluetooth. The application matches the incoming pattern with stored signs and plays the sound for that sign using the Microsoft Speech API and Bing API.
What signs do the gloves recognize? Well the first part of the process is to capture the hand movements. You wear the sensory cloves each of which is equipped with flex sensors that capture finger movements. A compass, gyroscope and accelerometer determine the position of the gloves in space. So you create a library of sign that can be recognized. So even colloquial signs can be added and recognized.
Windows 8, Windows Phone, Windows 7, Bing
If you would like to see the team’s entire presentation from the World Wide Finals you can view it here. If you just want a sneak peak at what they’ve done you can watch the video below.
Congratulations Team Quadsquad!
The technology to do amazing things is here! What could you do? Imagine it! Build it! Live it!
Check out a few of the many cool apps out there for Windows Phone!
We all know there are great apps out there, the challenge is finding them! Our very own Canadian evangelist Paul Laberge is highlighting a few of his favourites every week. Here’s are this week’s highlighted apps. You can keep an eye on www.w00t.ms for his weekly blog post, or you can subscribe to receive his weekly “apps of the week” email to keep finding cool new apps for your Windows Phone.
We’ve had student apps featured in his blogs and emails as well, if you have built a really cool app that you think we should know about tell us!
Shaw Exo WiFi
This app helps you locate Shaw Exo WiFi zones near you. Extend your Internet experience beyond your home into public locations such as malls, parks, coffee shops, restaurants, and gyms. Our coverage is growing daily, with hundreds of locations in select cities across Canada.
Connecting to Shaw Exo WiFi is available at no extra cost to Shaw residential Internet customers. You will have WiFi access with leading broadband Internet speeds without the worry of expensive mobile data charges.
Stream video, wage online battles, and use data-intensive applications on all your wireless devices just as smoothly around town as at home. The best part is that once you sign in, you don’t have to re-authenticate each time you enter a new Shaw Exo WiFi zone.
Marketplace Link: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-CA/apps/4c4df4b9-d707-4922-8314-b8dccddb6e44
Country of Origin: Canada
By now, you are probably well aware of how important Microsoft’s partnership with Nokia is not only to the Phone business, but to other parts of the business including Bing. Clearly, the people at Nokia have a lot to offer our customers and their smartphones have been garnering rave reviews for their industrial design, with some in the press going so far as to say the torch for innovation in industrial design being passed from Apple to Nokia. Nokia’s Lumia line of Windows Phones include the 900 (available on Rogers), the 800 (available on Telus), the 710 (available on Rogers and Mobilicity) and the 610 (available on Koodo) and all of them feature Windows Phone 7.5, our award winning and visually stunning mobile platform. With this great industrial design and a cool hand of colours to select from to boot, it’s no wonder that apps built for Windows Phone 7.5 look great on these phones. This week’s edition of the Apps of the Week are dedicated to the apps that completely rock on the Nokia Lumia line of Windows Phones.
Nokia Drive (Nokia Exclusive)
Nokia Drive is a car navigation app that includes full offline support without the necessity of a data connection and coverage in more than 100 countries across 6 continents. Find where to go with access to millions of places and get there easily.
Marketplace Link (works only from a Nokia Lumia Windows Phone): http://windowsphone.com/s?appid=b5382dbf-0923-4195-b68b-f93b7ee76fe9
Country of Origin: Finland
Creative Studio (Nokia Exclusive)
Creative Studio makes image editing fun and transforms the way you take photos on your Nokia Lumia – you can add special effects to photos before you’ve even taken the shot. Created by Nokia, Creative Studio transforms standard photos into something extra special, with ease.
Marketplace Link (works only from a Nokia Lumia Windows Phone): http://windowsphone.com/s?appid=55a4097e-d65f-4a77-81a3-7fec8bacdedd
Nokia City Lens (Nokia Exclusive)
Augmented reality is on its way to Nokia Lumia. With Nokia City Lens, you instantly know more about the neighbourhood than the locals do. Nokia City Lens turns your phone’s camera into an augmented reality browser, revealing places and points of interest around you with stunning clarity. Just tap on a place to see business hours, reviews, and more. There’s no easier way to get more from wherever you are.
Price: Not yet available – will be released in 2012
Marketplace Link: Beta available to Lumia 900/800/710 users here - http://betalabs.nokia.com/trials/nokia-city-lens
PGA TOUR (Nokia Exclusive)
Get weekly inside access to the PGA TOUR’s best players and events with the official PGA TOUR Application. This app will enable you to follow every stroke of every player throughout the season.
Marketplace Link (works only from a Nokia Lumia Windows Phone): http://windowsphone.com/s?appid=39e74375-8ce6-42b4-8d37-3ac1c8cc1fb1
Country of Origin: USA
Browse, find and discover cocktails with a continously growing collection of drinks. The application features beautifully presented recipes and identifies cocktails that can be made from ingredients in your bar. It also gives suggestions on what ingredients to buy next to make additional delicious cocktails.
The application is regularly updated with new cocktail recipes, the latest ones added include several themed drinks.
Price: CAD $2.99
Marketplace Link: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-CA/apps/ddd1ad08-d9d5-df11-a844-00237de2db9e
News360 aggregates more than 15,000 different news sources around the web to bring you news stories in a concise and useful stream, along with photos and video covering the story. The semantic analysis technology behind News360 allows you to tailor your feeds to your exact interests and location, and get background information and dossiers about all the companies, people and locations that make the news.
Marketplace Link: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-CA/apps/078e239f-4bdc-df11-a844-00237de2db9e
Can’t decide where to go or what to do? Don’t worry! With Zufall Adventures you can escape the crippling effects of indecision and embrace the romance of spontaneity. Throw planning out the window, roll the dice and let chance lead you to your next adventure.
Zufall Adventures is the app that helps answer that insidious question, “What do you want to do?” Whether you’re looking for a quick bite for lunch, an exciting way to spice up date night, motivation to throw away the guide book, a place to spend the weekend, or an adventurous way to explore the world – Zufall Adventures can lead the way.
Start by telling Zufall how you want to travel (foot, bike, car), what type of adventure you are looking for (coffee, dining, exploring, shopping, overnight) and then set your limits. All you have to do is shake the dice and Zufall will identify your target zone on the map and alert you once you get there. Once in the Zufall Zone, you can ask the map to show you what’s in the vicinity for your specific type of adventure or you can discover it on your own. Then share your journey with your friends on Twitter and Facebook. Sound like you’re still making too many decisions? You can also set Zufall to the “I can’t decide” setting and let the dice do all the work.
In a hurry? Zufall Adventures also comes with a Quick Roll option. No selecting parameters - just shake the dice and go the selected number of blocks in the direction rolled.
Whether you are up for a quickie or an epic journey – Zufall is your best path to an adventure by chance. Unleash spontaneous fun with one shake of the dice.
Price: CAD $1.29
Marketplace Link: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-CA/apps/34c3afb5-aaa2-e011-986b-78e7d1fa76f8
100th Day of School (Nokia Exclusive)
Join Elmo in an interactive read-aloud experience! And don’t miss all the Sesame Street books!
Marketplace Link (works only from a Nokia Lumia Windows Phone): http://windowsphone.com/s?appid=0ec2cb6e-4067-4445-9b98-7f84a85f542b
Mirror’s Edge (EA Exclusive to Nokia Lumia Users)
ENTER THE WORLD OF MIRROR’S EDGE
Immerse yourself in the world of Faith Connors – an underground “runner” who must bolt into action to stop a deadly threat in a “perfect society” full of sinister surveillance and relentless pursuers.
ONCE YOU BECOME A RUNNER, THERE’S NO LOOKING BACK
Run up walls, slide down ramps, ride zip lines and hurdle between rooftops as you burn through 14 levels of increasing intensity. Think fast on your feet, engage in furious hand-to-hand combat, elude your enemies and push yourself to the very edge.
CHALLENGE YOUR FRIENDS
Upload your best scores to the XBOX Live Leaderboards so your XBOX Live friends can compete against you.
EXPERIENCE THE VISUAL POWER
Absorb the breathtaking graphics as you pound through a stunning cityscape flooded with realistic sounds, a pulsating soundtrack and dynamic camera angles. You’ve never seen or felt a game quite like this.
A simple but well thought out math game that helps kids learn math won the Windows Phone Game Design category at the World finals Imagine Cup 2012
Learning through video games is not a new concept, but designing a game that is effective for learning new concepts and still fun to play is easier said than done. Often we think the most difficult part of game design is the graphics or the physics. But not every game requires the complexity and development time of Halo. Puzzle games like Angry Birds and Bejewelled are extremely popular, but aren’t necessarily the most difficult games to create. Sit and brainstorm with a few friends and maybe you can come up with a new puzzle or a new twist on a classic puzzle. MathDash is a great example of a game which accomplishes a lot with simple graphics and a well thought out concept. The game won Drexel Dragons first place at the Imagine Cup 2012 World Finals in Australia in the Windows Phone Game Design category.
MathDash was developed by the team Drexel Dragons from the United States. They decided to try and help kids with basic math concepts by designing a game that makes you want to practice. Traditionally, students learning to solve math problems sit down and memorize common solutions. This approach teaches children there is only one right answer. MathDash allows a player to explore multiple possible solutions, by giving the player a continually changing, limited selection of numbers. The player quickly learns that trying to solve a problem with only a single solution in mind won’t always work. The game encourages players to approach problems from a different perspective, giving them an intellectual advantage by teaching them to think outside the box. At the same time, players of any age can enjoy the simple, engaging gameplay while competing for the highest scores.
The result is more challenging than you would expect. When I first tried the game, I got the equation x + y = 12 and found my brain stymied when I didn’t see two numbers that added up to 12. Then I combined a 6 and 2 to make an 8, then I was able to drag an 8 and 4 to the formula bar to complete the equation. I was impressed, this actually required some brain power!
For now you can download the code but I look forward to seeing this app in the marketplace so I can give it to my kids (who are math geeks but will enjoy the mental challenge of the game). I hope the team builds a version for the Windows 8 marketplace as well, because this game will also work beautifully on a tablet or slate.
Congratulations Drexel Dragons on a great concept and strong execution! With Smartboards in classrooms and touch devices becoming more and more common, educational games are a great market. Parents are more likely to spend money on an app to teach their kids than on a game for themselves. Reading? Geography? Math? French? Russian? Sign language? How would you make learning fun?
Dream it. Build it. Live it!