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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Getting 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.
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.
Here’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.
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Wireless expert WDS is reporting that high failure rates in Android handsets are costing mobile network operators as much as $2 billion per year in dealing with repairs and returns. Reviewing the four leading mobile operating systems, its study found that Android-based devices seemed more prone to failure as 14% of technical support calls on Android were for hardware, versus 11% for Windows Phone, 7% for iOS and just 6% for BlackBerry OS.
Simplistically, Android handsets were twice as likely to suffer a hardware fault that an Apple or RIM device. The study suggests that cheaper hardware, software customisations and OS updates all contribute to the failure rate and in turn, the increased impact on the network operators to provide technical support and customer service. WDS analysed over 600,000 technical support calls from July 2010 to August 2011.
“One thing we must be absolutely clear on,” says Tim Deluca-Smith, Vice President of Marketing at WDS, “is that our analysis does not find any inherent fault with the Android platform. Its openness has enabled the ecosystem to grow to a phenomenal size, at a phenomenal rate, and it’s this success that is proving challenging.”
He added, “The Android customer experience differs enormously between devices and this means that the way in which Android devices are retailed and supported must consider factors such as the hardware build and quality of components.”
If you are thinking about buying or upgrading your smartphone, you might want to bear this research in mind before you purchase.
The full WDS whitepaper can be downloaded from this page.