Saturday, April 25, 2015

Microsoft quietly releases contacts+message backup app for Windows Phone.


As a community moderator on Microsoft Windows Phone forums, I get to interact with people worldwide with various issues and one among them is the ability to backup SMS messages. Currently, Windows Phone does allow the backup of SMS messages, which is then stored on OneDrive and available for restore whenever disaster strikes. The problem with that implementation is that it does not allow the user to view the content of the backup. I very often see such requests on the forums, especially from users in the legal profession. I have some good news for those users.


Microsoft has quietly released a new app called contacts+message backup that lets you save your contacts in VCF format and messages in XML format to your storage card. No data is sent to Microsoft servers. However, it is very unfortunate that the app won't work on devices without a storage card. Most Windows Phones have a SD slot, but it does not necessarily mean they hold a storage card; Like my Lumia 1520 for example which has 32GB on-board storage and makes a SD card useless for my needs. SInce Microsoft budget devices are quite popular out there, it kind of make sense to go with the storage card.

Download contacts+message backup free in the Windows Phone store. After downloading, the app won't show in the app list, it will be in Settings.

Lumia Beamer URL changed to Lumiabeamer.com in latest update.


I'm not comfortable passing my phone around to people when I want to show them something on my device. Thanks to Lumia Beamer, I don't do that anymore because Lumia Beamer lets me throw my phone screen on any web connected devices. Those people receiving the beam do not necessarily need to have the Beamer app, a simple browser is all that is needed for them to see what I want to show them. If the name is no indication, The Lumia Beam is Microsoft Lumia exclusive app, provided they run the Black firmware or higher.

After quite some time, The Lumia Beamer app got an update today that changes the beaming URL to Lumiabeamer.com. The old URL was beam.nokia.com. With Microsoft having acquired Nokia mobile wing, they are still transitioning everything Nokia to the Microsoft brand.

Grab the update from the Windows Phone store.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Telescope for Twitter's Periscope update fixes crash on login.


Live video sharing is the new craze these days after Twitter acquired Periscope, a company or service that lets users broadcast live video to their followers for the world to see. Periscope was launched last month on Apple's iOS only. Fortunately, the vibrant Windows Phone developer community has stepped up and made an excellent third party Windows Phone app called Telescope to give access to Twitter's Periscope.


As of now, Telescope allow users to sign up follow users and view broadcast. The developer has announced that more features are on the way, including the ability to broadcast. In the mean time, an update has been published to the store that fixes a bug that caused the app to crash on login. Indeed, many reported not being able to get past the login screen

Telescope is available free in the Windows Phone store. Give it a try if you haven't done so yet and send your feedback to the developer.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Skype Translator preview now speaks Italian and Mandarin.

Back in December last year, Skype debuted the preview of a new service called Skype Translator that lets users connect to people around the world without worrying about the language. Back then, Skype Translator only supported Spanish and English. Four months later, Skype is now adding Italian and Mandarin to the list of languages.

The announcement was made on the Skype blog today. the blog post state how "Mandarin is challenging language to learn, even for Skype Translator. With approximately 10,000 characters and multiples tons, this is one of the most difficult languages for a native English speaker to master, along with arabic, Japanese, and Korean." Italian was added following popular demand when Skype rolled out the sign-up page for the preview.

Besides the addition of Italian and Mandarin, this new release also include some "key" changes:

Text to speech translation:

  • You now have the option to hear the instant messages people send to you - in the language of your choice.
  • Continuous recognition - Recognized text translation as your partner is speaking.
Automatic volume control:
  • Your partner can speak while the translation is still happening. You will hear the translation at full volume, and your partner at a lower volume, so that you can follow the translation, which will help make conversations more fluid.
Mute option for translated voice:
  • There is now an option to easily turn translated audio oe or off if you would prefer to only read the transcript.
Read the full post on Skype blog.

Candy Crush for Windows Phone gets new episode, Nougat Noir.



A delicious game is all I need to make my day and Candy Crush serves my favorite candies. Today's update does not offer my favorite candy, but I'll greedily play the new Nougat Noir episode that adds 15 new levels to the popular Candy Crush saga. 


In this new episode, someone has stolen gold from the Candy Bank. Detective Dachshund will investigate and unmask the culprit. At the same time these 15 new levels will take you up to level 845.

Download the update from the Windows Phone store and work out your way to the top level.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Tubecast for Windows Phone gets 4K casting, landscape navigation and more.


The wonderful thing in the Windows Phone world is its awesomely creative and passionate developers. Android may have millions of apps in the Play store, a lot of those do not meet the quality apps made by the fantastic Windows Phone developers. Examples of such developers abound in Windows Phone land and Webrox is one of them.


Webrox developed Tubecast, the ultimate Youtube client that supports Chromecast, DNLA and AirPlay. And Tubecast is also a universal app, meaning it runs both on Windows Phone and Windows. Buy it once and it's available for download on all your Windows devices. Today, the popular Youtube client got updated with the following features:

  • 4K
  • Windows 8 merged design and code.
  • Horizontal navigation.
  • Improve annotation handling.
  • Improve DLNA (with new smart TV).
  • New pinch gesture and double tap for full screen videos.
  • Bigger newsfeed for logged users.
  • 'Network error' fixed, it was due to Youtube API quota.
  • All the player zone is clickable for play/pause.
  • Bug fixes.
  • New Icon.
Download:

Friday, April 03, 2015

Vine now lets you trim videos from the Camera Roll on Windows Phone.


Vine got an interesting update today that finally allows users of the looping-videos app to upload videos from Windows Phone's Camera roll. I know, you would have expected this to be inherently built into such a high profile app, but it was not the case when Vine was released. Today's update fixes that with a button in the capture screen that will take you to the camera roll and lets you select your stored videos and trim them to adhere to the 6 seconds vid you want to share. The update also lets users mix and match videos.

See the full change log below:
  • Uploading videos from your camera roll:
    - In the capture screen, you'll find a new button on the bottom left to access your camera roll.
    - Preview videos of any length length, and trim them to 6 seconds or less.
    - Upload a single video, or mix and match to tell a story!
  • Privately send Vine videos and texts back and forth with a friend.
  • Customize your profile with colors.
Vine is a free download in Windows Phone store.

Video Messaging: Get creative with 7 new Skype Qik live effects.


Skype Qik - pronounced quick - is Skype's second app that is cross platform, just like it's big brother Skype. But Skype Qik still plays in the messaging category albeit exclusively video. It can be compared to Instagram in that Qik lets you capture moments by shooting videos, add predefined effects to them and share with friends or groups of friends. Besides being a video messenger app, Skype Qik is really good at making your videos a great piece of art.  And it keeps getting better at that.


In the most recent update, Skype Qik got 7 new live effects. Users will be able to pick the effects they want while shooting the videos, hence the live effects. Simply swipe over the viewfinder to scroll through the fun effects before sharing the masterpiece with friends.

Check out the update in the Windows Phone store

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Surfy browser for Windows Phone gets double tap to close tabs and 'undo close tab'.


I really like how Android lets me choose which browser I like most and set it as the default so that it will be the browser to open whatever link I click on. This is a choice I would like Microsoft to implement on Windows Phone. We already have the choice of search engine, so why not extend that to browsers. My favorite browser is on my Lumia is Surfy and it got an interesting update today.

Surfy is very popular on Windows Phone. One of the features I like is the support for tabs which makes navigating between open tabs as natural as on desktops and tablets. In Internet Explorer, The update adds a new way to close a tab. A simple double tap will now close tabs. A nice feature for small screen devices. Double tap renders the tiny x button useless and can therefore be hidden in the browser's settings. Wait, there's more.

The developer also included an undo option in the menu that will bring back a tab that was closed by accident. A simple tap on "undo close tab" will magically bring it back. 

Wait, there's more. See the full log below:

  • Close tabs with a double tap.
  • Undo the closing of a tab using the 'undo close tab' menu item.
  • Close tab buttons can be hidden via the advanced section of the Options screen.
  • Tab virtualization to improve stability when the app is running low on memory.
  • New tab context menu items: close other tabs or duplication the current tab.
  • Turn off downloading of images via the Network section of the Options screen.
  • Disable or enable downloading of images for individual tabs.
  • Surfy remembers image settings for individual web domains.
  • New darker gray theme color available for tab background.
  • Enhanced scroll bar.
  • Night dimmer is now darker and with red light to reduce disruption to sleeping and melatonin levels.
  • Night Dimmer is now also present in the hub and launch pad.
  • Theme now includes darker gray for tab background.
  • Back and forward navigation improvements.
  • Numerous enhancements and bug fixes.
A pretty big update that you can download in the Windows Phone store:
  1. The free version is fully featured but limited to three tabs.
  2. The paid version is just $1.99. Not much, so support the developer.

Friday, March 27, 2015

gPlus, an excellent Google+ client for Windows Phone receives minor update.



Google attempt at building its own social network to rival Facebook has so far not been met with success and that no matter what Google fanboys want you to believe. Facebook remains the undisputed leader in social networking. However, if like me, you still hang out on Google+ and would like to do so on a Windows Phone, there's the excellent gPlus app, a third party client that brings Google's network to your Windows Phone with a modern UI - it is not a web wrapper. 

With gPlus, you will be able to create and edit your post and comments, upload your photos, join communities and circles. All that from your Windows Phone.

gPlus was updated today with some bug fixes and can be downloaded/puchased in the Windows Phone store at the price of $0.99.