Remember: The Race to Market Challenge is On!

Last month, I posted a video announcing the launch of the Race to Market Challenge, a competition that challenges you to add some Windows Phone applications to our up-and-coming Marketplace and compete for one of four grand prizes: developer editions of a Surface table.

There’s a new video out, and I’m posting it as a little reminder for you would-be mobile developers, Windows Phone is a great way to get in on the ground floor of the world of mobile application development and win prizes at the same time:

I’ll be posting articles about how to access useful data and features on Windows Phone, including the Pocket Outlook Object Model (POOM, which gives you access to things like contact information) and using the GPS to get the user’s location.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Windows Mobile Case Study: Porting Amplitude to WinMo

HTC phone with Amplitude on screen (simulated)

The Windows Mobile Blog points to an MSDN article covering how Amplitude, an application for the iPhone, was ported to Windows Mobile.

Here’s a quick description of Amplitude, which is developed by Gripwire, a mobile and social app company based in Seattle, courtesy of the Windows Mobile Blog:

Amplitude picks up any sound in a user’s surroundings through the microphone and then amplifies the sound, rendering it into a rich graphical representation on the device. Amplitude can be used to amplify any sounds, such as human or animal heartbeats, that usually wouldn’t be picked up by the human ear. Amplitude provides a cool user interface featuring an oscilloscope that allows users to view and visually quantify, signal voltages, as you can see the volume of the sound that you are listening to.

The MSDN article on the Amplitude porting project covers a lot of ground, including:

Whether you’re thinking of expanding your iPhone application to other platforms or starting a new Windows Mobile app project, you’ll find this case study packed with useful information and links. I’m going to expand on some of the topics covered in the article in future posts on this blog.

And don’t forget – there’s the Race to Market Challenge, in which you’re automatically entered whenever you submit a mobile app to Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Here’s a quick reminder of what Race to Market is all about:


Windows Mobile Incubation Week: April 13 – 17 in Mountain View

Two Japanese schoolgirls showing off their cellphones to Darth Vader

I’ve written before that the current state of Windows Mobile makes me feel sad, and I’ve also written that recent developments like the new hexagon interface for the upcoming version 6.5 have given me reason to hope. Here’s another sign that The Empire is getting their mobile act together: TechFlash has a story about the upcoming Mobile Incubation Week, which will take place at the Silicon Valley Campus in Mountain View, California from April 13th through 17th.

Incubation Week - Microsoft

This will be the first Mobile Incubation Week, a jam session where startups are invited to meet with “technical gurus from Microsoft, technology veterans who have built their own Windows Mobile applications, and influential venture capitalists and industry experts”. They’ll see demos and presentations, get advice and assistance with the Windows Mobile platform and even start putting together Windows Mobile apps. At the end of the week, a winner will be selected from the participants, and s/he’ll be eligible for prizes and publicity.

The event is free as in beer; you just need to figure out how you’ll get to Mountain View and find a place to crash. Your group can be as large as three people – one or two technical people and one suit. All startups are eligible, whether or not you’ve built a mobile app. The only requirement is that you’re planning on building a Windows Mobile app.

Space at Mobile Incubation Week is limited, so if you’re interested, apply as soon as you can! You can find more details about Windows Mobile Incubation Week in this article in Microsoft Startup Zone.


More Thoughts on Windows Whatever-it-is-That-Runs-on-Phones

The Developer Angle

A sad-looking kid in a Darth Vader sitting at a fast food restaurant table

In case you don’t recognize the photo on the right, it’s the “Sad Darth Vader” photo from my earlier article titled This is How the Current State of Windows Mobile Makes Me Feel. I posted it in response to The Empire’s seemingly directionless efforts with its phone platform, Windows Mobile. Or, as it’s called now, Windows Phone. Or, as it used to be called, Windows CE. Or was that Windows Embedded?

Therein lies the first problem as far as developers are concerned: finding documentation on the subject of developing for Windows Whatever-it-is-that-runs-on-phones. It’s confusing because it’s hard to even figure out what the name of the SDK you’re supposed to use is – they all sound applicable. Is it Windows CE? Windows Mobile? Windows Embedded?

(By the bye, for current phones, it’s Windows Mobile, which is based on Windows Embedded CE. Now that this new brand, Windows Phone, is kicking around, there’s a chance that it’ll get filed under that name soon.)

Joey deVilla's Palm Treo

As an evangelist for The Empire, it’s my job to help developers figure their way around our various platforms, and I’m hard-pressed to think of a platform that appears more shrouded in mystery and confusion than Windows Whatever-it-is-that-runs-on-phones. Over the next little while, I’m going to post pointers to existing Windows Mobile/Windows Phone development articles as well as articles based on my own experiences developing for the Windows-based phone I picked up while at the recent TechReady 8 conference in Seattle. It’s a Palm Treo Pro, pictured on the left, and I chose it because out of all the mobiles at the Expansys booth (they always have a booth at the big Microsoft developer conferences), it was the one with the best “feel”.

My first pointer is to Microsoft’s own Windows Mobile 6 Documentation, located a couple of levels into the MSDN site. The main page for this section presents a giant point-and-click map of key topics for developers who want to write apps for Windows Whatever-it-is-that-runs-on-phones. I’m going to try out some of the exercises on that site and report back with stories of my experiences of getting started with Windows phone development, and whatever tips and tricks I pick up along the way.

If you’ve got any questions about developing for Windows Whatever-it-is-that-runs-on-phones, feel free to ask me, whether in the comments or via email. I may not have the answers myself, but since I’m on the inside at Microsoft, I can say that “I know a guy who knows a guy,” if you get my drift.

The User Angle

The upcoming 6.5 version of Windows Mobile – or more appropriately, Windows Phone – was announced earlier today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.  It features a user interface that’s considerably more finger-friendly than the current 6.1, whose stylus-reliant design seems stuck in the era of the Palm Pilot. Gizmodo’s Jesus Diaz seems to really like it, as evidenced in the video he shot for his article titled Windows Mobile 6.5 Hands On: The New Interface Rocks:

Windows Mobile 6.5 Running on HTC from Jesus Diaz on Vimeo.

Diaz ends his article on a positive note, a rare thing for a writeup on Windows Whatever-it-is-that-runs-on-phones:

From this first touch on, it looks like Microsoft is back in the game. They don’t have the upper hand yet, but they are clearly waking up. We will see what happens and how deep these changes really are once it gets released.

The Developer Angle, Once More

The apparent improvements in 6.5 and promised continued improvements in Windows Whatever-it-is-that-runs-on-phones version 7 are a good sign, but a lot of the success story I’m hoping for rests with applications for these phones. For that, there has to be a developer community that has the tools, resources and encouragement to develop for Windows Whatever-it-is-that-runs-on-phones. Building that community is a challenge that I’m taking up. What can I do to help?