Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Get rewarded by Microsoft for building Windows Phone, Android or Asha apps

Microsoft (the bit that was formerly Nokia) have a program called DVLUP that rewards developers for releasing and updating apps to meet certain challenges.

As of today it's now available to developers in 178 countries.

If you're a developer and haven't already, you should register now and start getting rewards for the apps you're building. Especially if those apps are for the new Nokia X2 devices.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What apps could we create if....

The apps we consider building, consider are possible and consider as viable are determined in part by the current limitations of hardware.

In the future though many of those limitations may be gone.

What if we start building apps that ignore those limitations so they're ahead of the curve when those limitations go away.

Go back a few years and the thought of watching live TV on your mobile was crazy. But now it's commonplace. (at least in some parts of the world.)

So, what apps would you want (or want to build) if:

  • battery life wasn't an issue?
  • we had high speed connectivity all the time?
  • all devices had more disk space than you could ever fill?

Some settings that may be useful if you let StyleCop dictate where to put your using directives.

If you run the default StyleCop rules against your C# code you'll know that it wants you do different things with the order and location of your using directives than Visual Studio does by default.

Having recently discovered that some of the people I've been working with were manually making these changes every time, I highlighted the settings that will do this for you.

Hopefully documenting this here will help other too.

To have Visual Studio put “System” using directives first:

Tools > Options > Text Editor > C# > Advanced > “Organize Usings” > “Place ‘System’ directives first when sorting usings”

To have ReSharper (if you’re using it) put new using directives inside the namespace:

ReSharper > Options > Code Editing > C# > Namespace Imports > “Insert using directives when necessary” > “Add using directive to the deepest scope”

Monday, June 09, 2014

Shut up and ship: A basic app

A couple of weeks ago I was helping out at the //publish/ event where the aim was to finish off (and publish) an app currently in development.
The following week, over lunch, I was talking with a bunch of people at work about how we all have half started apps that never seem to get finished.
Unsatisfied with this as the status quo, I endeavored to publish something new. And to do it as soon as I could.

With demands on my time as they are, it's taken me 3 weeks to find a total of ten hours to get it done, but get it done I have.

I'd had an idea for a game kicking around and decided that would be what I'd finish.

In the interest of time I distilled the concept of the app down to it's most basic form. The graphics are basic and there are no sound effects but, hopefully, the essence of the game is there.

I'ts a very simple concept. From the store description:
Touch the screen and your score goes up.
The longer you keep touching the faster it goes up.
Let go and your score goes down.
Touch any of the moving elements and the game is over.

Score over 20,000 and you're doing well.
Score over 100,000 and you're doing really well.
It looks like this:

Why it should work:

  • It's really easy to pick up and play
  • Really easy to learn
  • Games are short so can be played any time
  • It's deceptively simple
  • There's a lot more going on in terms of scoring and strategy than may appear at first look
  • To get a really high score requires both luck and skill

Will it be successful?
We'll see.
Let me know what you think.

It's public but hidden in the store so you can find it here.

Any and all feedback appreciated.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Mobile industry experts: answer me this?

Forget what you think you know about me (if anything) and try and give me an answer that you'd give to anyone.

Earlier this week, at Computex, Microsoft announced the first new Windows Phone devices from new manufacturers.
Here's my question though:

Why are (smaller) OEMs signing up to produce new Windows Phone devices?

Here are some of my thoughts on the subject:

Since February Microsoft have announced the names of about a dozen OEMs who have said they are going to start producing Windows Phone devices. Almost all are currently producing Android devices, so why the change?

With Nokia devices making up the vast majority of those in the market, past manufacturers of WP devices stopping production and those that have remained making little effort in the space, what do these new manufacturers see in the platform to make it attractive?

While analysts have not been brilliant at predicting future mobile operating system market share, the broad consensus is that Windows Phone doesn't have a future with a large market share. So why the appeal?

With Microsoft buying Nokia's device business they will now be able to more closely integrate their devices with the OS. They claim that this will be good for all manufacturers but surely this still leaves them in a stronger position than anyone else. Doesn't it?

The Nokia brand name was argued by some to be the biggest thing that Windows Phone had going for it. With that going away, is Windows Phone going to suffer?

Network operators and Microsoft don't have a great history. Whether due to the Skype purchase or other past events, Nokia was believed, by some, to be the redeeming factor for Windows Phone. With Microsoft now owning the Nokia devices division are those old feelings likely to re-emerge and the operators turn against Microsoft again? If they do, or even just that they could, doesn't that make Windows Phone less appealing?

These new manufacturers are [assumed to be] intending to produce "low end" devices. This is where they'll be different from Nokia devices (who have a range of devices) but it's the low end where Nokia devices have numbers. Would Microsoft give up the low end to other manufacturers and focus on the high end--where they have an even smaller relative market share than smart phones as a whole?

Nokia and Microsoft spent billions advertising and marketing Lumia devices. Even then they only managed to achieve a relatively small market share. Can these, mostly, small manufacturers achieve sales without the deep pockets for such promotion?

Has Samsung got Android tied up such that no one else can be successful there? Doesn't Xiaomi prove this needn't be the case for smaller OEMs?

Is it because Microsoft have removed the license fee, for devices with a screen smaller than 9 inches running Windows, that now makes it more appealing? In theory this is now cheaper than paying for/licensing the patents that Microsoft owns and are part of Android. Is this price difference enough to make manufacturers change OS? Or could Microsoft be dropping Android patent licensing requests if the manufacturers are also building Windows Phone devices?

Is this just a way for OEMs targeting certain markets (primarily India & China) to differentiate within those, highly competitive, markets? If that's the case, is a different OS that is perceived to still suffer from an "app gap" able to provide an appealing alternative to iPhones or devices running android?

I'm not stupid and I've spent 10+ years trying to learn all that I can about the mobile industry (and developing websites and apps for mobile devices). Something just doesn't quite add up for me. Am I missing something obvious?

Your thoughts?

Monday, June 02, 2014