All posts by sushovande

image.png

Complete Diff of the Assemblies and Types between Windows Phone SDK for 7.1 and 8.0

image

First Floor Software have published a complete diff of all the assemblies and types between the Framework that comes with the old Windows Phone SDK and the new Windows Phone SDK.

The largest chunk of assemblies removed from 8.0 seems to be in the absence of the XNA framework, and certain Xbox-Live gamer services. There are many many assemblies added to 8.0, essentially making it a much more complete .NET framework. This is probably a by-product of the NT kernel in Windows Phone 8, which allowed them to port over a larger chunk of the desktop .NET. Hopefully this means more compatibility with many .NET code snippets and controls out there!

Check the entire diff for rundown.

210s.png

All Windows Phone 8 handsets to possibly get offline maps as part of the OS

In the video of the HTC 8S that was leaked today by WPCentral and TBreak, we noticed a small change in the settings of the default maps app in Windows Phone 8 – an option to download them for offline use.

210s

The setting reads: [download maps] Search for places and get directions without a data connection.

Hopefully, this means that turn-by-turn directions will not be exclusive to Nokia anymore. On the flip side, this makes the decision between Lumia 920 and HTC 8x even harder to make.

The person doing the hands-on demo begins using the maps app at 3:33 in the YouTube video. The settings page is shown at 3:52.

video-out

Instructions for cooking your own ROM with video out posted

Following on the heels of earlier reports of video-out functionality, the fine folks over at XDA-Developers have posted instructions on how to get video out for your Windows Phone. This modification installs a an app that can toggle the USB mode of the phone from Zune Sync to Video Out – allowing you to project your phone screen on a windows machine.

Please keep in mind that installing a custom ROM requires significant technical expertise… and in most cases – some hardware work, and is quite risky. There are several steps to this procedure – including rooting your phone, cooking the appropriate ROM, in case of HTC, installing a workaround, and then installing the desktop client.

Go to the XDA-Developers’ thread for more details.

Windows Phone handles certificates more securely than Android and iOS.

In light of the recent controversy with the entire collection of Apple devices of a prominent journalist being remote wiped, this study on the security of remote wipes presented at Blackhat 2012 becomes more relevant. In that study, security researcher Peter Hannay shows how to use a man in the middle attack with a rogue network router to force an Android or iOS device to wipe itself.

image

In a corporate environment, employees typically access their corporate email from their phones by connecting to an exchange server. This server is authenticated with a certificate, which can be self-signed by the business, or can be purchased from a trusted certificate provider. In his experiments, Peter found that it is possible to force iOS devices to wipe themselves even if the certificate was authorized from a trusted cert authority. Android devices got wiped when the exchange server used a self-signed certificate, but not with trusted certificates. Windows Phone 7.5 did not get wiped, because the only way WP7 trusts a new certificate is if the user explicitly installs it.

We’ll chalk this one up as another win for Windows Phones in the corporate environment.

Source PDF via @davux.

icon.png

Wp7 Game Review: Bomberman Vs Zombies

icon Bomberman Vs Zombies by Contlex is a Bomberman clone that was already available for Android and iPhone, and is now in Windows Phone marketplace, and has been garnering some attention. Is it worth a purchase? Read on…

Gameplay: As in the original Bomberman game, you are a person with infinite supply for explosives, and you have to clear the entire screen off creeps before you are allowed to proceed to the next level. The concept is simple, but the gameplay is surprisingly hard, specially by the standards of today’s game. You have to anticipate the position of the enemies several seconds in advance, and you have to take into account the fact that if they see it in plain sight, they will probably avoid it by taking a different route. While there is some strategy involved here, the first few levels definitely sound like a lot of trial and error, and luck. There is a good variety of different zombies, including skulls and a teleporting zombie. Powerups are not that frequent, and there are negative pickups also.

screen1

Controls: I tried playing the game initially with the default swipe controls, unfortunately, it is really difficult to do it properly. When you swipe, the bomberman continues to move in that direction till you tap. In a game that involves constant evasion and movement, this did not work well at all. So I switched to the big D-pad, which worked much better. You may have to occasionally drag the map around manually, when it gets confused and lets the Bomberman escape beyond the screen. The controls were responsive and felt natural.

Music: The sound of the footsteps is really annoying. The setting for the music is a binary on/off, so it’s a pity, because the ambient music in the menus and the screams of the zombies are quite well done.

screen2

Graphics: The art is very well done, and all the objects and the environment felt quite cohesive. The gameplay was buttery smooth and had no hiccups at all.

Odd Stuff: For no apparent reason, the free version of the game requires access to the location sensor (it doesn’t have ads either, so that is all the more surprising.) There are a few bugs in the game, like some tutorial text that goes away too fast to read, and “the hatch is open” messages appearing twice (once for getting the key, and once for killing all the zombies).

Overall impression: After a long hiatus from reviewing games on wpsauce, I am truly happy to be returning with a quality title to review. You should definitely pick up this game, because it is among the better ones out there. You may have to mute it before you play, though.

Download the free version or the paid version ($1) from the windows phone marketplace.

wp7-privacy

Microsoft Research demonstrates how to protect privacy while releasing location data to apps

At the recently concluded SIGMOD conference in Scottsdale, AZ (the premier conference for database related research), Microsoft Research and Cornell University had a research paper titled MASKIT: Privately Releasing User Context Streams for Personalized Mobile Applications (PDF). The paper shows a way to release sensitive sensor data (like location information) to installed apps on a cellphone while protecting the privacy of the user.

In order to explore a better tradeoff between privacy and utility, we can let the user control at a fine granularity when and what context data is shared with which application. For example, a user might be okay to release when he is at lunch but he might be hesitant to release when he is at a hospital.

All cellphone platforms today provide a way to disable location data collection by apps – but Götz et.al. argue in this paper that explicitly turning location data off itself is an indication that something interesting is probably happening. In fact, they claim that in more than 50% of the cases, an adversary was able to figure out what a user was up to even when  they had disabled the sensors.

Consider a user who suppresses his location when he is at a hospital. This, however, might not be sufficient: when he releases his non-sensitive context while he is driving to the hospital, the adversary can infer where he is heading. Similarly, when he releases the use of a hospital finder app, the adversary can again infer where he is heading.

Installed apps can learn user behavior from figuring out exactly when the user turns location data off – and build a behavioral model of the user. In the paper, they introduce a module that intelligently decides to either send the accurate sensor value to the app, or block it completely. They do it in such a way, that it becomes theoretically impossible for the app to build a model of the user’s behavior. They did quite detailed testing as well, including a PC and Windows phone:

We have evaluated MASKIT on a PC as well as on a smart phone, with real public traces from 91 human subjects over the course of nine months, representing user contexts over 266,000 hours.

They found that using this privacy protecting system did not significantly reduce the utility of the apps that depend upon sensor data, while at the same time providing a theoretically proven guarantee that sensitive information will not be leaked.

While this is obviously a research paper, the existence of a windows phone prototype gives us hope that this will eventually make its way to the operating system, which will definitely make it one of the only platforms to deeply care about the user’s privacy. We also applaud Microsoft for taking the matter of privacy so seriously.

Reference:

Michaela Götz, Suman Nath, Johannes Gehrke. MASKIT: Privately Releasing User Context Streams for Personalized Mobile Applications. In Proceedings of the 2012 ACM SIGMOD international conference on Management of Data, 289-300

grow-icon.png

Wp7 Game Review: Grow

grow-icon

Grow is an innovative arcade game in the Windows Phone marketplace where you have to make your fish feed on smaller fish to grow up. Conceptually, it is similar to Katamari Damacy, but the execution and visual styles are quite different. At WpSauce, we are big fans of indie games, especially ones that innovate in concept and gameplay, so we recommend you check this game out!

grow-screenshot-1

grow-screenshot-2

 

In Grow, you play a small orange fish that starts out in the middle of an aquarium, with plenty of small fish swimming around. The idea is that you have to eat fish that are smaller than you and avoid fish that are larger than you. Thankfully, all the fish larger than you are made visually distinct, by both their significantly larger size, as well as by a red glow around their body. When you gobble up a fish, it leaves some orange bubbles behind, which you can collect to gain stars on the levels. Grow has an item shop, where you can buy upgrades for your in-game items, including the speed of the fish, powerup slots, etc. You use those orange coins in that shop.

Grow trailer for windows phone

 

I found myself using the tilt controls throughout the game, although the game allows you to use a dpad or swipe controls as well. The music reminds me of the ocean. The visuals of the game were quite polished and enjoyable, and it did a good job of conveying dangerous fish vs. benign ones.

I loved Grow, since it’s gameplay was innovative, it’s visuals polished and it had a lot of replay value. Download Grow from Windows Phone Marketplace, for $1.99 with a free trial.

gs3-apollo

Samsung Apollo device in works, with Galaxy S3 design, coming October [Rumor]

We’ve been tipped of this news from a person with sources in Samsung. Apparently, a Windows Phone 8 (Apollo) device is under development in Samsung. This design of this device will be based on the Galaxy SIII, that was recently announced to mixed reviews. Our tipster also tells us that this device is apparently targeted to be released in October 2012. He also mentions that work on the Galaxy S4 is already underway.

Since there is no official confirmation, we’re filing this under ‘believable rumors’ for now. We do note that the picture of a white windows phone device with Galaxy S III like design have been making the rounds lately, and this tip may be a confirmation of that.

[Image credit: modified from The Verge]

shaktimaan-icon.png

Windows Phone Game Preview: Shaktimaan

shaktimaan-iconIf you grew up in India in the ‘90s, you could not have avoided watching the Indian superhero series: Shaktimaan. Shaktimaan was a an evil-fighting, cape wearing superhero who used his yoga skills and power derived from 7 chakras (or elements like water, fire, earth). His most impressive power was his superhuman strength and his ability to start spinning and fly off to far-away places extremely fast.

Viacom 18 have now released the official Shaktiman game, and it’s totally free. In the game, you play as the superhero in a terrible hurry to get somewhere. You have lasers at your disposal, which you use to blast off and avoid various debris and rocks on the way. The controls use the accelerometer and are fairly intuitive. The powerups echo the chakras in the TV serial, and affect various health bars and attack powers.

shaktimaan-screenshot1
shaktimaan-screenshot2

The marketplace description reads:

Play as Shaktimaan – The Greatest Cyber Yogic Hero.

Tamraj kilvish (king of darkness) has kidnapped a innocent child.You as Shaktimaan have to fight against all evils to save the child. You can reach Tamraj’s kingdom only if you gain seven chakras of kundalini through various levels. Battle the evil forces of tamraj in various levels. Destroy the Crystal of Black Power to kill Tamraj in the final showdown.

- Use super powers of Sun, Om, Fire and water.
- Save shaktimaan from negative elements.
- Destroy the evil elements.
- Gain Chakras at each level to unleash powers of Shaktimaan.
- Constant action throughout the game.

So does it have the phrase “Andhera kayam rahe”? Play the game for free to figure out.

ecg-viewer.png

Wp7 App preview: ECG Viewer

ecg viewerIf you were curious as to what doctors see when they look at your ECG, here is an app that might satisfy your curiosity. ECG Viewer was made by a student of impact lab at Arizona State University, and lets you see the heart rate at various heart rates and parameter values. It can also simulate a heart attack and show you how the ECG changes when it happens.

ecg viewer screenshot

The marketplace description reads:

ECGViewerPrelim is an educational app that helps to learn about heart signals or electrocardiogram (ECG). It generates realistic ECG signals from a well known model, ECGSyn, developed by Mcsherry et al. This app does not use any personal data or does not need to sense ECG from the user. Using this app, one can learn about the characteristics of a typical ECG signal, such as P,Q,R,S, and T waves, simulate arrhythmia and learn how it affects the ECG signal, see the effects of changing the heart rate, or the amplitude of the different waves in ECG. Overall this is an app that educates people about heart signals in a fun way.

The main features of this app are:

  1. Veiw a normal default ECG
  2. Start and Stop buttons for streaming control
  3. Change heart rate using the slider
  4. Simulate arrhythmia or heart attack
  5. Change the amplitude of the different waves in ECG

The main contributor of this app is Ayan Banerjee, a PhD student at Arizona State University. The theory behind this app is documented in a paper "GeM-REM: Generative Model-driven Resource-efficient ECG Monitoring in Body Sensor Networks" by Sidharth Nabar, Ayan Banerjee, andeep K.S. Gupta, and Radha Poovendran. The icon is developed by Sushovan De.

ECGViewerPrelim is free in the marketplace.

Disclaimer: the developer of this app is my roommate.