Microsoft and Bing announced their app called “We’re In” today for Windows Phone. The app essentially allows users to log into the app, along with their friends, and see each others location, making meet-ups and traveling infinitely easier. Just add your phone number to the app and add your friends via your contacts in the people hub and viola, you’ll see exactly where they are and they you.
We’re In makes organizing get-together’s, carpooling and trying to find people in a crowd a breeze. Any time you want to see where your friends are—We’re In can help you. It’s simple, invite your friends, and when they join, they’ll see your location and you’ll see theirs. When the invite expires, so does the shared location – no complicated process to worry about.
Check out the blog post on Bing for the entire description and a walk-through of the app and its features. “We’re In” is currently exclusive to WIndows Phone, but is promised for other devices very soon. You can find the app by searching for “We’re In” in the Zune PC software or on your Windows Phone.
When Microsoft bought out the popular video chat service Skype, we knew it wouldn’t be long before we started hearing about integration with Windows Phone. The wait seems to be nearly over as Neil Stevens, Skype’s Vice President, has started speaking about what their hope and plans are for the video service on Microsoft’s mobile platform.
Stevens mentions to Forbes in an interview that they don’t want Skype to be just another app on Windows Phone, but a closer part of the experience, which is the mantra of Windows Phone. This could only be achieved if they have access to “deeper levels of the OS” itself and much more so than their current clients on both iOS and Android.
A Windows Phone app, if done well, can show people what a really great Skype experience is like when there are no hardware or vendor limitations.
…We’re disadvantaged against [Apple’s video-chat service] FaceTime because of this closed environment.
People don’t want to start an app when they’re making a call. This is the way the world’s moving; it’s hard to do on phones but we have to move there.
The disadvantage Neil is speaking of is access to video processing and system components like the address book. Currently, Skype competes with Apples own Facetime product on their platform, but would seem to have deep access on Windows Phone, especially since Microsoft now owns Skype (at least it will once european regulators finalize the deal). Stevens notes that they cannot start implementing until the deal is finalized.
We’re not allowed to do anything in the meantime. We can get a plan for a plan, but that’s it.
One by one Windows Phone seems to be adding the features and deep integration that make it like no other smartphone platform out there. So, it seems you can do things two different ways: the app-centric Apple way or the integrated Windows Phone way, the decision is obviously up to you.
If you are a USA Today reader then you probably have the app for Windows Phone. The original release was great, but awfully limited. The first update for the app on Windows Phone is out and it is much better, if it works on your device. Some folks, including myself, updated the app and when it would launch, it would freeze on the splash page.
If this is happening on your phone, simply try to uninstall and reinstall the app. It worked for me and a few other users and now the app loads just fine. The new live tile is great-looking and the videos section really adds to the depth of the app.
New Features in v1.1:
– Live Tile! A photo mashup based on our latest headlines
– Latest news videos on a dedicated video panel
– Sub-section headlines: hold down any of the section tiles to bring up a list of sub-sections to choose from, i.e. Sports > MLB headlines. Tile will default to that subsection.
– Photo caption and credit for articles
– Recall last league viewed in Scores
– Major League Soccer scores added
– Celsius toggle for weather temps
– Support for international weather locations (limited maps)
– Weather alerts on current conditions screen
– Various bug fixes
For those who prefer Google Maps to the integrated Bing Maps solution in Windows Phone, you have a few unofficial solutions for your device, however, none are probably as good as gMaps by developer Alexey Strakh. Now gMaps has been updated to v1.10 and is now even better. The update includes:
1. Zoom buttons
2. Geo location information for each found object
3. Support for both Black and White themes
4. Fixed critical errors with zoom deep zoom, search details processing and your position and movement animation.
I personally still prefer Bing Maps, but each application has its use, so if you are a fan of Google Maps and would like a solid, highly rated application with some great features, head on over to the Marketplace and search for “gMaps”. There is a free, ad-supported version and an ad-free version for $1.99.
The recently released update for Windows Phone (build 7712) brings a few more features and polish to the overall OS, but with near-final code often comes a few bugs and issues. One of the issues I have come across is a bit of instability in a few apps. Overall, the update does wonders to the speed and stability of the operating system, but with any beta product, I have found a few issues as well.
One of the issues I have found on my own device is that the popular Fox News app for Windows Phone no longer seems to work properly after upgrading to the latest available build. The Fox News app has both articles to read and various videos to watch from their popular shows, but when you try and access one of these videos on my device, you’ll receive the following message:
“Videos are not available offline. Please connect via wifi or your cellular network to watch the latest video clips.”
You are also provided with a “Refresh” button to try and the reload the page which yields no results. I have tried to uninstall and reinstall the app numerous times and have tried multiple wifi networks to no avail. The app appears to work fine on the previous beta build and NoDo, so it appears to be just one of a few bugs in build 7712 as far as I can tell. I am using a Samsung Focus, so if you have the latest build (7712) and are not experiencing this issue either on the Focus or another model, please post a comment below and let me know. Also, if you have run into any other apps with a new issues which you believe stems from the latest build of Mango, please post a comment on that as well so I may do some of my own research and send a bug report. Thanks.
Mobile apps are usually very inexpensive when compared to desktop applications, so when you have an app or service, even as popular as Garmin’s StreetPilot, it’s a good thing to allow for a trial so that consumers can see how the app performs before committing the $39.99 the app costs.
At launch, Garmin’s StreetPilot was released without a trial and may have made many hesitant to purchase. Luckily, Garmin has now released a free trial mode of the navigation app which should allow more users to test out the app itself before shelling out that kind of dough. I think it’s an important move for app makers with premium, high-priced apps such as this to provide a free trial since there is no mechanism for returning apps if you are not pleased.
You can find the app in the Marketplace by searching for “Garmin StreetPilot” in the Zune PC software or on your Windows Phone.
When Windows Phone was originally launched, there was a game demoed which stood out from the others because it was a tower defense game like none other. The game was Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst and it was unique because it overlayed a tower defense game overtop real maps using GPS and Bing, so you could essentially battle it out in your own backyard. The game was original and exclusive to Windows Phone, so it is a sad day because via their own facebook page, they have notified fans that the game will not be coming back and the users which purchased the game in the last 60 days will receive a refund. Here’s the message posted to their facebook page:
As many of you know, Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst has been removed from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace on Windows Phone. If you purchased the game in the past 60 days, you will receive a refund credited to your account. Please note: with the removal of this game from the Marketplace, we will be discontinuing this page on Wednesday, July 27.