Friday, January 30, 2015

Duolingo for Windows Phone is now ready for schools with progress tracking and sharing.

There are quite a few language learning apps in the Windows Phone store and even fewer manage to stand out of the lot. Duolingo is one of these apps. Besides being cross platform, Duolingo brings you the experience of learning while having fun. Similar to a game, the less mistakes you make earns you hearts. Lose all hearts and you start the level again. It really is a fun way to learn French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Danish and, of course, English.  

Initially, Duolingo was designed for your own personal learning on your phone wherever you are. With today's update, the learning gets to a new level. The app is now capable of tracking students progress. A feature that makes Duolingo school-ready as students can now share their progress with their teacher, or kids with their parents. 

To enable progress sharing, both parties must have the app installed. Go into the menu and tap "progress sharing" and you will see two sharing options: email field and a field for section or class if provided by a teacher. Add any information on that screen and tap "save changes". After enabling progress sharing, the parents, teacher or friends simply login to Duolingo's dashboard to track the student's progress. It is that easy.

If you're a teacher or student, go into the Windows Phone store to download Duolingo for free.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

How to send and receive WhatsApp messages right from your computer browser?

The cross-platform free messaging app got updated today on Windows Phone and other mobile platforms as well. This update brings the ability to send and receive messages right from your computer, Windows or Mac. But you will need Google Chrome installed. This new feature works with the following mobile platforms: Windows Phone, Android, Blackberry, Nokia S60 and Blackberry 10. Besides Chrome on your computer, the latest version of WhatsApp itself must be installed on your device. It is available in the Windows Phone store for free.

Launch Google Chrome on your computer and enter the following address: Launch WhatsApp on your Windows Phone and tap "whatsapp web" in the menu. Use the built in code scanner and point it towards the code generated in Chrome browser. A screen instantly appears with your conversations and you can initiate new ones as your full WhatsApp contacts are also available within Chrome. If you're concerned about privacy, don't be. The extension only mirrors WhatsApp on your phone. So everything is actually taking place on the phone. Users will have to go through the code scanning procedure each and every time they want to use WhatsApp on their PC.
Your phone still needs to be powered on and connected for this to work. It is an extension and nothing more. The advantage it offers is the ability to send and reply to WhatsApp messages on your PC without having to stop whatever work your doing to pick your phone to interact with WhatsApp. My only issue is that the connection is lost when the phone goes in stand by mode. How do you like WhatsApp Web?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Podcast+ Pro gets image performance improvements and notification when pressing back button.

Podcast+ Pro is currently free for a limited time to celebrate the New Year. It was made free last week. I was using the default Windows Phone Podcast app before and my major complaint about it was how downloading several podcast simultaneously was an awful experience. Fortunately, Podcast+ Pro handles multiple downloads well. I'm enjoying the new experience now.

Podcast+ Pro was updated today with the following features:

  • Added: notification when pressing the back button in main page.
  • Improved: performance improvements for the image.
  • Improved: playback control panel in the upnext screen and the episode screen.
  • Improved: the slider in the playback control panel.
  • Fixed: some known bugs. 
Download Podcast+ Pro as it's still free in the Windows Phone store.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Drive a Renault Alpine A110 and Lykan Hypersport in Gameloft's Asphalt Overdrive.

Can you afford a $3.4 million car? That's the price of the Lykan Hypersport, a car I will never drive in my lifetime. But thanks to an update to Asphalt Overdrive, i'll get to enjoy seeing the car on my device in Gameloft's world. The Renault Alpine must be as expensive or maybe even more. The car was produced in 1961 and is a piece of collection.

Along with the addition of the two new cars and some bug fixes, here's what is new in this update:
  • Joyride Race: How long can you last against the clock? Keep hitting Checkpoint Gates to survive! You can even use cars above your level in this brand-new game model!
  • New Storyline and Tutorial: Learn to master Boosts and the Combo system to score 3 Stars on every mission.
  • Open Gangs: You can now allow any player to join your Gang instantly!
  • Bug fixes & Optimizations: We have corrected bugs with Energy Refills, fast swipes in the Garage, and other small issues. We also improved responsiveness, and the cars can now be moved in the air!
Asphalt Overdrive is available free in the Windows phone store with in-app purchases.

Facebook Beta for Windows Phone updated with improved Most Recent page and more.

Facebook remains by far the world's largest social network despite attempts by Google with its Google+ which never managed to even make a dent into Facebook's popularity. IMO, Google+ only managed to become the largest gathering spot for the fan boys of the ad company.

Meanwhile, on the Windows Phone platform, the beta version of Facebook has been updated with a few improvements and fixes. If you're not aware, Facebook beta is an app Microsoft uses to test new features before they make their way to the official app. Both apps are available in the Windows Phone store. Use the links at the end of this article to download.

What's new:

  • Improvements to the Most recent page.
  • Improvements to News Feed story templates.
  • Fixes related to People Hub content.
  • Fixes to address issues with sharing partners.
Download Facebook Beta in the Windows Phone store.

Download the official app here.

Clock O' Matic for Windows Phone gets customized live tile, transparent analog and digital clock.

If you're out there looking for a good time app for your Windows Phone Phone, I suggest you give Clock O' Matic a try. It's an all-in-one app at the price of free in the store. At that price you get a clock, alarm, stopwatch, countdown timer, a live tile clock and a world clock. All that without ads. 

It seems the developer took a lot of inspiration from Android Lollipop clock with "changing shades and elegant design". Note sure I'm in for an Android experience on my Windows Phone, but the app is useful nonetheless as any app of its kind. Take the live background for example. It is not fluid and seems to be in a loop mode, you can tell by watching that the animation restarts every 15 seconds or so. But I suspect it is a OS limitation. 

And there are these three dots at the bottom right of the app that takes you into the app settings. This is plain ugly, so Android. While I understand the developer took it's inspiration from Google's clock for Android, inspiration does not mean copying or mimicking. Google's clock is not the most beautiful app on Android either, unlike Timely.

There seems to be some issues with the global clock too with cities listed more than once. Some big cities are missing: Washington, Seattle, Beijing, Calgary for example. Once you found the city, add it to the app home screen for future reference.

The alarm clock has got the time picker which makes it more convenient to set an alarm time. The analog design is not user friendly and I had a hard time to set an alarm with it. To make things simple, I suggest that this big clock be removed and make the time picker the default.
If the developer is reading this, I hope he/she will take my critics positively. Clock O' Matic is a nice app and will definitely work better with some improvements, especially on the design front. Even the app icon is similar to the Android version of the app.

Clock O' Matic has also been updated today with customized live tile with transparent analog and digital clock. 

Download Clock O' Matic free on the Windows Phone store.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Spotify update brings "bold and beautiful new look" and more localized content.

Music services like Spotify and Pandora are not officially available in my country. But I do get to enjoy them, at least Pandora, on my devices using a VPN service. It is, however, not the best of experience. Up until the service is made available to Mauritius, I have no choice but to listen via a web browser on my notebook. 

That said, the official Spotify app for Windows phone got updated today with with a new design, a way to better organize your music collection. The browsing feature has also been improved to deliver more relevant and localized content. 

What's new:

  • Spotify has a bold and beautiful new look: playing your favorite music has never looked so good.
  • Your Music on Windows Phone: Helps you save, organize and browse your music collection.
  • Updated Browse feature: delivering even more relevant and localized content.

Spotify subscriber can pick up the update in the Windows Phone Store. To lean more about Spotify, check out their website.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

HealthWeight for Windows Phone gathers health facts from your Withings Scale.

Withings Scale is a wireless device for tracking your weight and if you happen to own one and use a Windows Phone, HealthWeight is an app you should get to track your data from the Scale. Beautifully designed, HealthWeight is a third party app developed by Valentin Michalak and Julie Grienenberger, a fellow Windows Phone MVP. The latter had a discussion with the Withings team about getting an app out for Windows Phone. Unfortunately, Withings was not at all inclined into making one. Fortunately, Julie and Valentin got together to fill in and bring a third party app for Windows Phone users. And Windows Phone developers excel at making such apps, even adding features of their own that makes official apps pale in comparison. Don't believe me? Check the reviews of Health Mate, Withings' official app for Android, on the Play store.

Thanks to HealthWeight, owners of Withings Scale WS-50 and WS-30 will be able to effortlessly track their weight and other health achievement on their Windows Phone. Besides owning one the above-mentioned scales, a free Withings user account is also required. The app will let you create one if you don't. 

The app is available both in French and English. The overview in the store lists the following features:

  • Possibility to view most important information and your goal in a dashboard.
  • a "my account" page with important healthy facts and funny statistics like the number of times you used your scale.
  • Many surprises.
HealthWeight is available free in the Windows Phone store. Julie Grienenberger stated on her website that the team is working on making HealthWeight even better. To me, this app would be perfect with Microsoft Band support. If health tracking is important to you, HealthWeight will be your best companion to reach your goals.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Telegram Messenger gets experimental stickers.

I do NOT use Telegram Messenger. With that said, the yet another multi-platform messaging app got an update to experiment stickers on Windows Phone 8 and 8.1. Typing an emoji will reveal a selection of matching stickers users can choose from. The update logs mentions the availability soon of the dozens more. 

If you're there looking for yet another secure messaging app, check out Telegram Messenger. I'm going to finally sign up and start using it. I had the app loaded on Windows Phones since it's release. Telegram Messenger is a free download in the Windows Phone store. Interestingly, it still has the beta tag.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Tubecast updated with 480p 60fps video, HD audio and more.

Tubecast is an excellent YouTube client with great support for Chromecast, AirPlay and DLNA. Google's proprietary dongle that lets Android and iOS users project media on their phones or tablets to a TV. The Windows Phone app has been getting better and better. When it was first released, all it could do was to play a video at a time. Tubecast has improved a lot since and is getting more mature and interesting if you own a Chromecast dongle.  

Tubecast was updated today with a slew of features and bug fixes. The most noteworthy features are support for 480p with 6fps and faster app launching. See the full change log below:

  • New video quality: 480p SD
  • New Audio download quality: HD
  • Faster start-up
  • Downloaded files disappearing > bug fix
  • New DLNA smart TV support: Sony Bravia
  • Optimization of network data consumption
  • PIP follows the side menu on opening
  • Bug fixes
Tubecast is a free download in the Windows Phone store and is limited to 20 casts. You can unlock this to cast more videos and support the developer by buying the pro version for $1.99.