BitTorrent Sync 1.3 Now Supports Windows Phones

BitTorent sync-infographicBitTorrent Sync is an app that allows you to easily share your data through synced folders. It gives you an easy way to send important data from your computer or smartphone in a way that enables a client to access it. As a podcaster, I can see how BitTorrent Sync would be useful for sharing raw audio files that were recorded as part of a podcast with the person who will be doing the editing.

BitTorrent Sync previously offered an enhanced mobile experience for Android and iOS. Now, it has expanded to Windows Phone. This means those that use Windows Phone can now use BitTorrent 1.3. It also means that those who use Android or iOS can share their files through BitTorrent 1.3 with a person who is using Windows Phone.

You can download and use BitTorrent Sync for free. There are no size limits or caps on how much you can share through it. BitTorrent Sync skips the cloud, so your files are delivered at lightning speed.

Another great thing about BitTorrent Sync is the big idea behind it. The Official BitTorrent Blog explains it well:

Your data belongs to you. Not to advertisers. Not the NSA. Not the cloud. Sync lets you share information freely; direct to the people (and devices) you choose. Your information stays with you. Wherever you are.

BeeWi Combat Toys

BeeWi LogoTodd and Don have some fun with Tobias Schoeler from French wireless specialists, BeeWi, and on show at CES are Bluetooth battle robots. Controlled from a smartphone app, the robots can fight against themselves or other BeeWi remote controlled toys including helicopters. Very cool and lots of fun.

The robots will be available in the first half of 2014 priced at US$35 and will be supported on Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices. More information and more toys at www.bee-wi.com.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor, and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Nokia Lumia 1520 sneaks out early

Windows Phone fans anxiously await the next versions of the Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices from Nokia. For some fortunate customers, like the Xbox One, a few lucky people are getting the handset just a bit early. The latest in the line of Nokia phones falls into a category that has been dubbed a ‘phablet’, which loosely translates to an oversized smartpahone — one that rivals Android devices like the Galaxy Note.

The Nokia Lumia 1520 is set to be released in late November, when Microsoft has plans to also launch its next-generation gaming console, the Xbox One.  The 1520 purports 4G LTE and a 3,300mAh battery, with a 20 MP rear camera. And, now the oversized phone has hit the market a bit early, with an advance version apparently being sold at an AT&T retail location.

A poster in the forums over at Windows Phone Central has managed to land the device and posted images and a receipt as evidence. “Ok here is a copy of the receipt, this should provide all the ‘Proof’ that I own the phone”, says Michelle SV. Then, she proceeded to post images of the box being taken apart as well. It was compelling evidence, though not foolproof, as these things have been faked before,

The phone was sold unlocked and, beyond that, the customer claimed to have entered a second store and was also offered a Lumia 1520. Microsoft has, so far, failed to issue comment. However, given the recent travails with Xbox One thanks to another retailer, the company is possibly game planning a strategy to deal with these, increasingly common, mishaps that seem to be occurring.

nokia lumia 1520

Free eBooks From Your Local Library

These are tough economic times and if you want to save yourself a few pennies, stop buying ebooks, join your local library and borrow ebooks for free. The OverDrive Media Console app lets you download and read ebooks offered by your local library for nothing, and if audiobooks are of more interest, the app can handle those as well. The OverDrive app is available for most common smartphones and tablets, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Kindle Fire and Nook tablets. If you have a Kobo, Sony or Nook ereader, you can still borrow books from your library but you’ll need to use Adobe’s Digital Editions to download via your PC. If you have a Kindle ereader, you’re out of luck.

The app can be downloaded from most app stores and directly from OverDrive if your device’s app store doesn’t host the app. In the first instance, the app asks you to find your local library via simple search. Poking around I was able to find libraries in UK, USA, Canada, Mexico, Germany, India and Japan, so it has worldwide coverage but I’ve no real idea of how extensive it is.

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For my library, I had enter my borrower number and again I assume it will be similar for most public libraries. Once you are in the system, you can browse for your favourite novels and authors, and then borrow the book you want. Before you can download the book, you’ll need to sign-up for an Adobe ID and put it into Overdrive’s settings. This is all part of the ePub DRM, but getting an ID is straightforward and free of charge.

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Obviously the range of books is entirely dependent on your library but I found a good selection of books available (several of which I already owned!) and once you’ve got your reading selection downloaded, you can swap to Overdrive’s bookshelf to see what’s available for reading.

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As a reader app, OverDrive Media Console is good. There’s a bit of delay when opening a book for the very first time, but after that it’s snappy. All the other usual features are there – typeface selection, font size, line spacing, colour schemes, animations, but overall it’s well done. Reading books is easy and a pleasure.

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So, if you don’t want pay for ebooks and you’ve a tablet or smartphone, download the OverDrive Media Console, join your local library and start saving money. It’s a no-brainer!

Wreck-it Ralph hits Windows Phone

Disney is no stranger to hit movies — in fact most of the studios releases are expected to be box-office successes, and Wreck-it Ralph did not disappoint.

Now the blockbuster flick attempts to become a cross-over hit as a game. The game brings five fun sub-games within, inspired by some of the movie’s most memorable scenes. There’s Fix-It Felix Jr., where you fix what Ralph has wrecked; Hero’s Duty, which lets you suit up as Sergeant Calhoun and blast cy-bugs; Sweet Climber, where fizzy jet packs help get you toward the top; Turbo Time, a fast race for the gold; and Flight Command, a flight simulator that strengthens all of your piloting skills.

Wreck-it Ralph for Windows Phone is not free, but $0.99 is  rather small fee to pay for more than 100 levels of entertainment, involving wrecking, fixing, blasting and soaring. Good luck.

wreck it ralph

Original Angry Birds comes to Windows Phone, free until May 15

It has taken quite a bit of time, but Rovio finally brings its popular Angry Birds game to the Windows Phone platform. The original game — the version that launched the craze — lands in the store today. “Good news for all of our fans who play Angry Birds on Windows Phone, we have a brand new version of the original Angry Birds for you to play” the Finnish game studio announces.

The best news for customers on the Microsoft mobile platform is that the new game is free from now through May 15th. The game will have over 400 levels from the start. The Windows Phone 8 version will also have Xbox Live integration with new achievements and leaderboards.

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“This will be a completely separate download from the original Angry Birds title that some of you may already own. The reason why we’re re-releasing the game is that it will be technically easier for us to support in the future” Rovio claims. If you are worried that you will lose your current progress, then rest easy. Rovio points out that downloading this new, improved version will not wipe your old game, including your stars and level progress. Both versions are completely separate.

Microsoft attempts to woo Android users with ‘Switch to Windows Phone’ app

For a week now rumors have been rampant that Microsoft would release a “Switch to Windows Phone” app to Android users. The day has arrived and the app has landed in the Google Play store.

The free app is available today and attempts to make a switch from the Google mobile platform to that of Microsoft an easier transition. “Use Switch to Windows Phone to see how many of your Android apps are available on Windows Phone. Just run Switch to Windows Phone on your Android, and this app will check to see if your installed apps are available in the Windows Phone Store” the app tells us.

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Switch to Windows Phone will then proceed to save to the cloud the app list it puts together and keep it ready for you when you pick up that Nokia Lumia or HTC 8X handset.

Needless to say, Microsoft  is being attacked by Android phone fans — the app already has a two star rating, with only 22 users giving it five stars, while 213 customers handed it a one star review. Still, you have to hand it to Microsoft for trying. Perhaps the company may even land a few new customers who may have already been on the fence about switching.

Updated Facebook app coming to Windows Phone

Microsoft is now seeking beta testers for a new and updated version of the Facebook app for Windows Phone. Version 4.2.1 is still the current iteration on the mobile platform, but a new one is on the way. “Today we’re launching a new program designed to help speed up delivery of new features in the official Facebook app for Windows Phone and need sharp-eyed, energetic volunteers to download a beta version of our next release and tell us how to make it better” announces Microsoft’s Michael Stroh.

Users will find that the app is undergoing a major redesign and now includes several much-requested features, including new support for high-res photos, post sharing, and Facebook Timeline.

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Before you get too excited, Stroh cautions that if you “don’t like it when apps crash? This probably isn’t the program for you”. The good news is that you do not lose the current Facebook app if you decide to take the plunge then the beta will not replace the existing Facebook app, but instead run side-by-side with it.

How To Succeed With a Mobile App

Smashing Magazine LogoGetting into mobile app development often seems like a path paved with gold, but the reality is very different with many apps failing to succeed. Good apps do not simply “get lucky” but rather their developers work hard at  planning a successful app. Smashing Magazine’s article “How To Succeed With a Mobile App” shows the elements needed to plan for app success.

Smashing Magazine identifies six areas to consider for a great app.

1) The Idea. Find a vaccuum or empty niche for your app.

2) Money. Plan the business model for your app.

3) Define. Write down what your app will do in one sentence and stick to it.

4) Design. If the user has to think how to use the app, you’ve failed.

5) Coding. Native, high-quality, robust code is essential.

6) Marketing. Make friends, build buzz, launch big, love your fans.

But don’t simply read the above and move on. Check out the original article by Jeremy Olson at Smashing Magazine as it has plenty of further information for would-be app coders.

 

The Rise of the Smartphone

Today I was relaxing in a cafe, taking it easy on Sunday. As I looked around the other tables, everyone else was either looking at a smartphone or else had one resting on the table. They weren’t students or young professionals either; these were mums and dads, grandmas and grandpas.

Brewing coffeeHere’s the tally of what I saw:

Getting away from “my phone is better than your phone”, what might this highly unscientific observation say about the mobile communications market, at least in the UK?

First, it’s diverse. While Nokia and Windows Phone is nowhere to be seen, the three other operating systems seem to be pretty much holding their own.

Second, Apple has iPhones and RIM has Blackberries. Is the Samsung Galaxy now the de facto Android brand? The popularity of HTC seems to have fallen dramatically with the rise of Samsung.

Third, no-one was actually using their phones to make phone calls. In all the time I watched, there wasn’t a single call made or received but there was plenty of reading, swiping, tapping and pecking. It always seems that the PDA was lost in the convergence with the mobile phone, but the reality is that the PDA won the battle and “voice calling” is one feature among many.

Fourth and finally, smartphones are now ubiquitous and cross-generational. There wasn’t single ordinary phone to be seen and the range of the users suggests that age is no longer a discriminating factor.

As I said, entirely unscientific but still an interesting snapshot in the evolution of the smartphone.

Coffee brewing photograph courtesy of BigStockPhoto.