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Daily Archives: October 14, 2011

Windows Phone 7 App Recap – Freebies


The folks over at Microsoft were kind enough to let Platform Nation in on some Windows Phone 7 action for the last couple of months, and while I was initially hoping to give you all the details on Mango (Windows Phone’s latest OS release), I decided to give you an overview of some of the apps I’ve been using instead. If you’re looking for an OS review, stay tuned, as we’ll be getting more coverage on Windows Phone 7, which will include a full overview of the (in my opinion) incredible features that are packed into this OS.  I even picked up an HTC Trophy from Verizon for myself and my wife, we liked what we saw that much.

But I’m getting ahead of myself; in this recap, I thought I’d highlight some of the quality Free apps in the marketplace that I’ve come across so far.  This is far from an inclusive or exhaustive list, but what you’re about to see is what I have used and loved so far.  The links for the apps will take you to the Marketplace for the app, where you can download and add it to your phone from the website – no syncing to your computer is necessary!

Weave – News Reader: Weave is an app that “gets” what being a Windows Phone 7 app is all about.  It utilizes the Metro theme well, bringing you news based on topics you select when you first load it up.  Think the default options suck (they don’t)? Then use the in-app Google Feed search service to add more, or even punch in the RSS feed address directly (Like, say, http://feeds.feedburner.com/platformnation). Going through the news in the list will show you twenty articles on a page, with a click taking you to whatever the article has before the More tag.  You can easily view the article from within the app to see the entire article, share the article with Twitter, Facebook, instapaper, or even email the link to yourself.  There is also a section of the app for featured articles, which takes the top news from what you like and puts them in a list of about 8 tiles horizontally.  Personally, I didn’t find it to be particularly useful, and usually just opted to go into the list of news for the particular topics I was interested in.  There’s some lag time initially while it loads up all the news, and if you have a lot of categories, this could take a little time (30 seconds at most), but you can read what you had downloaded before while you wait.  Overall, a solid news reader, and at 1MB, a lightweight one as well. Would be nice to see some Live Tile support (A top story headline perhaps).

AppFlow and WP7applist – App Discovery:  I list these two different apps together because they both do the same thing, and do it well.  Even with just 30,000 apps so far, finding what you want (or what you SHOULD want) can be a little tricky.  Surfing through the default marketplace on the phone is hit or miss for app discovery, so using AppFlow or WP7applist will help wade through the crap to get to what you should have.  Both feature search functions such as New & Impressive (new apps with high ratings), Apps Gone Free, and Highest Rated.  AppFlow has a few more search functions, such as Hidden Gems (low download but high rating) or David vs. Goliath (Official and unofficial apps for the same function, compared together).   WP7applist does have a nice live tile that shows the number of new marketplace releases in the last 24 hours.  Pick up either one, and start finding more things to download.

Sudoku, Minesweeper and Flowerz – Games:  Free games are always good.  Free Xbox Live games are better. And free Xbox Live games with achievement points?  Sign me up.  Sudoku and Minesweeper should need no introduction.  Both have a similar looking layout, with clean and crisp graphics that are both intuitive and responsive.  As a nice added bonus, you gain experience for completing (or partial credit for failing) each game, and this experience will allow you to level up and unlock powerups.  Examples of these powerups would be things like adding in all possible answers in pencil mode, or providing one correct answer (in Sudoku), or revealing a section of squares (which mark all the mines) or getting a shield that protects you from one mistake (in Minesweeper).  These powerups use energy that is accumulated over time, so it doesn’t imbalance the games too much, it just adds a nice perk to playing.  Both of these games offer 50 achievement points each.  Flowerz, which is a match-3 game, offers 200 points.  While well put together, the limited game modes in Flowerz will make it tough to plow through beyond the first couple of playthroughs. That being said, there is some decent challenge to the game, and I liked the leaderboard integration, that keeps you going by showing your score against what your friends have done in the game.  I just wish it wasn’t so.. blah.

TouchDevelop – App Development: My final app for this first review is a great example of what I really hope is the new Microsoft when it comes to developing software that really makes your excited about them.  TouchDevelop is a development tool for Windows Phone 7 that allows you to create apps from within the phone itself.  Well, “Apps” is a strong word – scripts might be better, as you run them from within this app, but there is a social aspect in that you can publish your scripts for others to use.  The tool is very robust, while still being accessible, and there are great tutorials to help you along.  If you ever wanted to channel your inner developer, or if you want to see some of the stuff that other people are creating with this tool, check this app out.  It stands out as being something truly unique and, well, awesome.  I have a feeling that as more people get on board with this tool, you will begin to see some truly creative programs being shared, and this will only help to create cooler features for your phone.

Like I said, there are a TON of great free apps out there (and I have more that I use every day).  Hopefully these apps will get you started on getting your news, finding new apps, playing some games, and maybe even making some of your own.

If you like what you read, or want to give feedback on what you want to see in the future, let us know in the comments section below.

Source: http://www.platformnation.com/2011/10/12/windows-phone-7-app-recap-freebies/

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2011 in App, Facebook, Verizon, Windows Phone 7

 

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Your dead iPhone is a gold mine – literally


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — If you’re one of the more than 1 million Apple enthusiasts who pre-ordered an iPhone 4S this week, you’re likely looking to ditch your old phone.

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The day that Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) unveils a new iPhone is like the Black Friday of cell phone trade-in services. Gazelle, one of the best known of the so-called “recommerce” sites for electronics, said that it received a phone every six seconds during Apple CEO Tim Cook’s presentation on Oct. 4.

As sales of expensive smartphones grow rapidly, trade-in sites have also risen in popularity. Their services give customers the opportunity to make some cash off their old devices, which shoppers can use toward their shiny new handsets. At one point last week, Gazelle had offered up to $284 for some iPhone 4 trade-ins.

But what happens to your trade-in once you ship it to Gazelle, ReCellular, NextWorth, Amazon (AMZN, Fortune 500) Trade-In, or any of the other recommerce sites out there?

First, cell phones are inspected for wear and tear and to see whether they still work. Damaged phones are assessed for salvageability.

All phones then go through a memory wipe. Each trade-in company said it wipes memory in two steps to ensure your data is completely erased from the phone. If the phone doesn’t work, the companies will physically destroy its memory.

“We make sure there are no late-night texts still on your phone,” said Joe McKeown, vice president of marketing at ReCellular.

Where old iPhones go to die

Phones that are in excellent shape are typically either sold directly to consumers on the trade-in companies’ sites, or they’re hawked on eBay (EBAY, Fortune 500) or Amazon. Gazelle receives so many iPhones that it tends to sell Apple’s smartphones to wholesalers, since the recommerce company lacks the manpower to sell all of them on eBay or Amazon.

But it’s in the traded-in junk where it starts to get interesting.

Can the iPhone 4S win over consumers?

Old phones that are in workable condition and still have some demand for them (think Motorola RAZR, LG enV) are sent to wholesale partners. Those wholesalers have access to retail chains in and out of the United States that specialize in selling used feature phones to customers.

“You’d be surprised, but these wholesalers find demand for those items around the world — usually in developing countries where there’s not a lot of supply for those products,” said Israel Ganot, CEO of Gazelle.

New but broken phones are typically sold to wholesalers that recondition the devices and sell them back to carriers or retailers for warranty replacement handsets.

Gazelle said about 90% of its devices are resold. ReCellular said roughly 80% of smartphones and 60% of feature phones are ultimately sold back to consumers.

“Typically there is some value in a device, but if it’s so old or broken, it needs to be recycled,” said Jeff Trachsel, spokesman for NextWorth.

How old?

“We’ll get those old bag phones or brick phones that are about a foot long,” said ReCellular’s McKeown. “Every day you get something like that.”

Gazelle said it has a small museum in its headquarters of surprising things people sent in, including a Motorola (MMI) DynaTAC 1980s-era “brick” phone, a Motorola StarTAC phone, a pager, a first-generation iPod, and an original Nintendo.

But “ancient” and broken technology actually has a lot of value — to trade-in sites, if not to you. Most won’t pay more than a few cents for these old phones, but they’ll happily recycle them if you send them in.

There are 0.034 grams of gold in each cell phone, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That’s the equivalent of 0.001 troy ounces, worth about $1.82 at today’s prices.

Melting millions from gold scraps

There are also 16 grams of copper, worth about 12 cents, 0.35 grams of silver, worth 36 cents, and 0.00034 grams of platinum, valued at 2 cents.

In bulk, that’s a ton of precious metal. In fact, ReCellular said it recycled enough gold last year to make 1,500 wedding bands and enough copper to make two Statues of Liberty. The trade-in companies all send parts to one of just two smelters in the United States, so that tiny amount of value becomes a treasure trove of bling.

“They’re doing this in very, very high volume,” said Ken Byer, CEO of Cloud Blue, Gazelle’s recycling partner of choice. “There’s more gold in a pound of electronics than a pound of gold ore, so it’s certainly worth it.”

So when you send in your old phone to get some cash, it could eventually become someone’s wedding ring.

Source: http://money.cnn.com/2011/10/13/technology/iphone_trade_in/?source=cnn_bin

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2011 in Apple, iPhone

 

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