Archive

How to create a RSS feed web tile with notifications for your Microsoft Band

This is a blog post not only for developers, but also for users (I will try to get not to technical in this post).  I managed to buy a Microsoft Band 2 for me here in Europe two weeks ago, and of course I am still exploring all the functionality that it has. A web tile is one of the cool features it supports – with a web tile, you can add your digital footprint to the Microsoft Band. And the best thing: you don’t need to be a developer to create your own! Microsoft provides a web kit that creates the tile for you!

Let’s have a look at the (not so hard to understand) steps it takes to create your own web tile:

The First step is to choose the layout, which also describes the type of the web tile:

Screenshot (82)

After selecting the feed tile template, you need to find the RSS url of your blog or other source site. Paste it in the desired field and hit the next button.

Screenshot (83)

Microsoft’s site now reads your RSS feed and provides you the single fields that come with your feed. When you hover with your mouse over the fields, they’’ll get highlighted. Just drag and drop them into the Microsoft Band preview image on the left hand side.

Screenshot (77)

Now that you have selected the data that should appear on the Microsoft Band, let’s set up the notification for the web tile. This is where it gets a bit tricky, but most feeds should be covered by the following image:

Screenshot (79)

No worries, I am telling you what is done here. The first and second line is the title and the description of the notification. You can put in there whatever you like. The most important part is the condition expression below the Band preview. Sadly the documentation provided by Microsoft is not as detailed for feed tiles as it should. Luckily, I found a post at StackOverflow that explains a little bit more. If you’re a developer, feel free to read the full text. If you are a user: just drag and drop the guid field of the “item” section into the first and also into the last field and set the condition to not equal. If your feed gets a new item, you will get a notification on your band with that. This condition looks if there is any new guid in the items list of your feed – and if so, sends out the notification and shows the badge.

In the last step, we just need to provide some details about the web tile we have created. If you want to have all features, you must provide both images:

Screenshot (80)

If you want to have control on how the image looks like, you should provide the images already flattened into a transparent and white image already. The result could look very creepy otherwise. After that, you have finally created your web tile – congratulations!

Screenshot (81)

Once you have downloaded the web tile, you just need to mail it to yourself or anyone who wants to use it. The other option is to put it on your OneDrive and just share a link to your web tile. To share the link you need to add the link of your online storage to this: “mshealth-webtile://?action=download-manifest&url=”. The web tile I created for my blog is in this case: mshealth-webtile://?action=download-manifest&url=http://1drv.ms/1TDRGSC . This link only works on phones (also Android and iOS). It opens the Microsoft Health app (that needs to be installed for the usage of web tiles, anyways) and asks you to install the web tile:

wp_ss_20160226_0001

Once you have done that, your web tile is ready to go. Once you have a new entry in your RSS feed, the notification should appear on your band. If you want to force the update, just force the Microsoft Health app to sync with your band. After that, you should see the notification and also the badge count. Here is a shot of the one I did for testing:

WP_20160226_17_48_20_Rich_LI

I only began to play around with web tiles, and already was able to create a pretty good result so far. As I will explore them more and more, I will continue to blog about it. In the meantime, I hope this blog post is helpful for some of you. Have fun, everybody!

Posted by msicc in Archive, 1 comment

WordPressUniversal – a PCL library for WordPress based C# mobile apps

WP_CSharp_Lib

As I have already developed a news reader app for my blog, I got asked quite a few times if I want to share my code to help others creating their apps. As I need to redesign my blog reader to match the latest OS features of Windows and Windows Phone, I decided to create my WordPressUniversal library.

Automattic, the company behind WordPress, integrated a powerful JSON API into their JetPack plugin. My library is based on this API. Please make sure the JSON API is active on the blog you are developing your app for.

The library currently provides the following features:

  • getting a list posts or pages
  • getting a list of all categories
  • getting a list of comments for the site and single posts
  • supports Windows Phone 8 & 8.1 Silverlight, Windows Phone 8.1 RT, Windows 8, Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android

The library deserializes all data into C# objects you can immediately work with.

It is still a work in progress, but as it provides already a bunch of options to get you started, I am making this public already.

I am constantly working on the library, so be sure to follow the project along.

Note: JetPack’s JSON API does not support guest commenting at the moment. I already reached out to Automattic to (hopefully) find a solution for this. If you cannot wait, Disqus has a portable solution for Windows Phone apps.

Please make sure to see the documentation on my GitHub page.

If you have any questions, idea, wishes for me, just post a comment here or ping on Twitter.

Happy coding everyone!

Posted by msicc in Archive, 17 comments

Service post–domain chaos finally has an end (msicc.net is back)

 

moving_chaos

 

Some of you might have noticed that a lot of chaos was going on with my domain msicc.net in the last few months.

The reason were some serious issues with my old hoster – that would be a evil long post to describe.

As backup, I used msicc.cloudapp.net, a virtual machine on Azure that I set up to play around and learn more about webservers on Linux. Sadly, I just don’t have enough time to dive deeper into that.

Now that msicc.net is finally working again, this will be the primary address to go to.

I will shut down the server on Azure soon. If you come across links for my blog with msicc.cloudapp.net, just remove the ‘cloudapp.’ part of the link, and you will end on the corresponding blog post on msicc.net.

Also my apps for Windows Phone and Windows 8 are working again (some small updates will come with an update).

Sorry for any inconveniences caused by this.

Posted by msicc in Archive, 0 comments

[Updated] NFC Toolkit uri schemes

app2app_nfctoolkit

If you are following me, you might have noticed that uri schemes actually are playing a big role in my Windows Phone apps. (read more)

NFC Toolkit, one of my main projects, offers now also the possibility to interact with your apps.

One of the unique features of NFC Toolkit is profiles. Profiles are designed to open up to 5 settings pages in a row (as directly setting them is not possible because of OS restrictions). At the end of a profile, an extra from within the app or another app can be launched.

In Phase I, NFC Toolkit enables other developers to add their custom uri association/scheme to the list of launchable apps in profiles.

Here is how the uri needs to be formatted to work:

"nfctoolkit:addmyapp?appname=<yourappnamehere>&urischeme=<yoururischemehere>"

I will add more uri associations with the next updates and update this post with them.

[Update 2]

Starting with version 0.9.8.1 of NFC Toolkit, I added new uri schemes to enable you to write data on NFC tags. Here is the list of possible writing records:

  • website record:
"nfctoolkit:writetag?type=smartposter&url=<url>&title=<title of the website>&languagecode=<two letter lang code (standard: en)>"
  •   text record:
"nfctoolkit:writetag?type=text&content=<your text here>&languagecode=<two letter lang code (standard: en)>"
  • send mail record:
"nfctoolkit:writetag?type=mail&mailaddress=<mailaddress>&mailsubject=<mailsubject>&mailbody=<mailbody>"
  •  settings page:
//supported pages: flight mode, cellular, WiFi, Bluetooth, location, lock screen
"nfctoolkit:writetag?type=settings&page=<settings page name as listed above>"
  •  launch system app:
//supported pages: 
//"Alarm", "background tasks", "brightness settings", "Bing Vision", "Calculator", "Calendar", "call history", 
//"Camera", "Data Sense", "date + time settings", "ease of access", "find my phone", "Games", "Help+Tips", 
//"Internet Explorer", "internet sharing", "keyboard settings", "kid's corner settings", "language + region settings", 
//"Maps",  "Messaging", "Music+Videos", "Office", "OneNote", "People", "Phone", "phone information", "Photos", 
//"Rooms", "SIM Applications", "Start", "Store", "theme settings", "Wallet"
"nfctoolkit:writetag?type=sysapp&name=<system app name as listed above>"
  •  launch any app by name or publisher name:
//launches the store page search in NFC Toolkit and searches for the app/publisher
"nfctoolkit:writetag?type=launchapp&appname=<app name or publisher name>"

On top of that, I added an uri scheme that allows a plain launch of NFC Toolkit:

"nfctoolkit:home"

I updated my custom uri scheme test app as well for you. Download it here: CustomUriSchemeTestApp

Happy coding everyone!

 

 

 

Posted by msicc in Archive, 5 comments

Merry Xmas, everyone!

 

Merry-Christmas

 

This year was an amazing year. We got a lot of new devices, great apps, and a lot of development work was done.

Now, with Xmas around the corner, I want to wish all of you a

Merry Christmas!

After the xmas days, I will start a new series here on my blog, together with my review post of 2013.

Enjoy your family time, and may god bless you all!

Posted by msicc in Archive, 0 comments

Are lockscreens outdated?

In one of their latest shows, Vernon and Andrew from the awesome Glance and Go Radio discussed whether or not having a lockscreen still makes sense.
Unlike many people may think, lockscreens were not really meant to protect a device from being accessed by other individuals, but derived from the keypad locks cell phones used to have to avoid accidentally performing a phone call while carrying the device in your pocket (butt dialing).

While you may argue about the actual use on touch devices, I find lockscreens a great way to further personalize my device. Especially with the new features Microsoft introduced with Windows Phone 8.
Meanwhile several dozens of all kinds of lockscreen apps can be found in the Windows Phone store. Some of them offering quite unique features. I’m currently going with Lock Buster, which you can find here.

And even though there are certainly more important parts of the OS which need optimization and improvements, I seriously hope Microsoft hasn’t reached their end of the line with the lockscreen options. I personally would like to be able to add more than just 5 apps to it. I don’t see a single reason why a second array of icons couldn’t be added.
And while these icons at least serve the purpose of letting users know about the amount of new items for the configured apps, I don’t see it necessarily stop there. I’d love to be able to tap the icons to have them reveal more detailed information about what’s awaiting me. These could simply be displayed above the clock. Perhaps with a net slide or fade in effect.
That’s just my personal opinion of course.

What do you think? Would you rather get rid of this ancient feature or keep it?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Posted by dkp1977 in Archive, 1 comment

Announcement: beta test for NFC Toolkit

 wp_ss_20130201_0002

NFC Toolkit, my latest app project, is ready for a first beta look.

If you want to take part in this beta, please consider following points before applying:

  • You need a WP8 device with NFC
  • You will need NFC tags for now, as communication between devices is still in development
  • You are willing to give serious feedback to improve the app

This will be a long time beta, means that even if the app goes live for all customers, I will continue developing with this beta before launching new versions. If you join the beta, you can use and test all new features before all others.

NFC Toolkit aims at normal users, that don’t need all to technical information but want to use NFC.

The beta has following features at the moment:

  • basic tag reading
  • tag writing of most commonly used tag scenarios
  • profiles! This is one of the main features of NFC Toolkit. It is all about settings based on a NFC tag.
  • more unique features to come!

Send your MS Account via mail, if you want to participate in beta testing this all new Windows Phone 8 app.

 

Posted by msicc in Archive, 0 comments

Who is it that actually complains about WP?

complaining_about_WindowsPhone

That’s a question that’s been driving me for some time now. When I first came to Windows Phone – on my HD2 back in the days – I was kind of disappointed too. Coming from Windows Mobile and Android I was used to have access to almost anything in the system. I used to have all these nifty things like a file browser, a task switcher/manager, custom lockscreens, custom alarms, custom ringtones. Well, I spent more time for tinkering with the OS than I actually used the device. Not to mention that I flashed my device at least twice a week. Why? Because every single iteration of the ROMs I used was supposed to bring a little more stability and speed. I can’t even tell if this was actually true, but I always considered it well worth a shot.

So after flashing the first DFT WP ROM onto my HD2 – which was months ahead of the first update aka NoDo – I came to realize that MS obviously took a couple of steps back in terms of features. It almost felt as if they were approaching mobile OSes the same way Apple did. Which I found kind of shocking to say the least. Pre NoDo – and even pre Mango – WP7 lacked a lot of features that I felt were a necessity for each mobile OS. There wasn’t any multitasking, no official Messenger app, no social networks. But unlike many other users I saw the potential this new OS had. Even though it was lacking in so many ways. After spending a couple of weeks with it I started to lose the feeling to actually need file browsers, RAM cleaners, task managers and even the whole lot of customization I had gotten used to. Windows Phone’s strength was the focus on delivering information without the need of digging through a thousand of apps. It was its focus on providing a unique user experience and convenience that only Apple managed to provide with iOS so far. And from my point of view they did it in a much better way.

NoDo, Mango and now Windows Phone 8 all built up on these strengths. They added more features and even more access for devs to the underlying system. Each and every single feature Microsoft added was well thought about and felt right. It didn’t have that Frankenstein like patched together feeling I’ve always had with Android and even Windows Mobile.

I’m not blind though. I know that Windows Phone still lacks a few things and certainly doesn’t do everything right. Backups anyone? Podcasts? Xbox Live video support? Unlike many others I at least don’t have any issues with synchronization. But I can see that this is still considered a construction zone rather than a top notch solution. Zune did a better job there. But these are downsides every single OS has to deal with. There isn’t something like perfection.

I’m going to cut the chatter here now and go to what was supposed to be the original topic:

so who are actually the users who complain so much about Windows Phone and what it does or does not? That’s the point I was making with my personal story. It’s mostly these people who feel limited, because of the lack of customization. Limited because of the lack of access to the system. What these people see as boundaries is in fact the exact opposite. Windows Phone set them free. Free from things they actually don’t need. The issue is, they refuse to give into it. They refuse to take the time it needs to get comfortable with it. If more people would really USE a Windows Phone for more than just a couple of hours, they would see and feel the difference. Just like I – and many others now – did.

Bottom line is, it’s up to Microsoft and the OEMs to convince people that Windows Phone does (almost) everything a smartphone needs to do these days. And it does it in the most beautiful and convenient way possible.

Posted by dkp1977 in Archive, 9 comments

Tap+Send: The Love Story of 2 NFC Devices

NFC1

Innovation in technology is hit and miss for a number of reasons. To prognosticate what advances in technology will be accepted by the general public is by no means, an exact science. There’s a constant barrage of new expensive toys with exclusive features that are “sure” to turn the world upside down, only to hit the market and fade into oblivion as a “niche market” concept. There are more than a handful of these types of advancements in the devices we all use on a day-to-day basis now, regardless of preferred OS. Yet for all intent and purpose, most don’t get utilized because of a lack of end users with similar features. NFC is one of those exclusive features and having 2 devices with it, I’ll explain why I see this being a feature that is here to stay.

nokia-speakers

I won’t spend much time explaining NFC as most of you know about it. Quickly, NFC(near field communication) is a set of standards for devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into close proximity. Up to this point, most of the NFC ado has been made about NFC tags and the Qi wireless charging capabilities with our Windows Phone 8’s: Charging plates, charging stands, phone covers with Qi, the JBL PowerUp speaker that can charge your device while playing. Being such a new innovation in smartphones, there are limited accessories to aid in this new technology, even HTC used JBL’s speaker for Nokia to advertise its most recent Android device. In addition to the lack of accessories currently available for NFC enabled devices, there are a lack of end users who actually own a NFC enabled device. NFC is about sharing and if you have no one to share with, it becomes one of those “niche market” features fading into the past, full potential never being realized.

tap-send-wp8

My wife and I both have Nokia Lumia 920’s which has led to a unique experience among smartphone users, being able to utilize many aspects of the NFC’s features and that is what I’ll focus on now. One of the drawbacks to WP7 was the inability to share via Bluetooth. This was remedied in Windows Phone 8 allowing for the next evolutionary stage is sharing photos, videos, songs, documents, contacts, or websites…via NFC. No more waiting while you tried to get your Bluetooth to find the other incompatible device right next to you, no more waiting for the other person to email you with that important file or pic even though they’re standing next to you, no more waiting for file to download when opening your email, no…things have changed. Tap your phone and give or get that info now in a fun and engaging manner! I am beginning to see the Tap and Share feature as perhaps the most innovative feature with the largest amount of potential to the end-user. Of course like most new technologies this is assuming it can make it onto enough devices and into enough hands, driving the hardware cost down and finding its way onto lower cost devices for the masses to use. Without “the masses”, NFC, aside from wireless charging, losses its luster. In some sense, I’m actually rooting for HTC and Samsung to have some success with their Android devices utilizing NFC, the better they do, the better results all OS’s with this feature will do. Again, NFC’s success really does rely upon the masses.

Share1

My wife and I use the Tap+Send feature frequently. We’re constantly sharing pictures and with Tap+Send, it’s always much faster and a sure bet the recipient gets the file! I’ve found that we’re both more likely to share pics when it’s as simple as Tap+Send. Send 1 or send multiple, it doesn’t matter. Honestly, I’m finding myself impatient now when I know someone is sending me a file and I have to wait for it to arrive in my inbox and still have to download it! Another added benefit to sharing your pics or videos via NFC is the data aspect. I avoid having to use up my allotted data both with my carrier and at home on WiFi, for those of you with shared family plans or have data limits because of satellite internet, you understand.

App

A close 2nd in utilization when it comes to Tap+Send: App Sharing, we do this at least once a day! As many of you know sharing apps via your WP8 was made easier by Microsoft when they gave us the ability to share it directly from the app side of your device. By pressing and holding an app, “Share” is now listed as on option and even better…you can do it via Tap+Send! Lightning fast access to the app’s direct link in the Windows Phone Store! Again, no waiting for it to show up in your inbox, it’s just there! I actually transferred all my apps this way when switching over from my old 920 to my new 920 to see how arduous it was. I’ve used App Reinstaller and it can take quite a long time to auto-populate your entire app history. I was blown away at how fast I was able to get my new 920 up and running with all my old apps!

sharing

We also share music via Tap+Send. I’m going to start by saying that neither of us has a music pass of any sort. When we see something we like we purchase it, so I’m not sure how sharing music on a pass will work. My experience with music and Tap+Share has been sending and receiving music from my computer or music purchased from Zune and Xbox Music, all which has transferred and played without a hitch! It’s a relatively quick process, taking about 30 seconds from share to play!

Contacts1

My wife and I have busy schedules between our marriage, kids, friends, activities, and work. We have many people who are friends in common and some aren’t for one reason or another, thus our people hubs are similar but not an exact match. There are many apps that help share contacts and WP does a pretty good job at giving you ways to share contacts as well, however none come close to the efficiency and speed with which you can do it when shared using Tap+Share! 2 taps and a phone “high-five” and the info is waiting to be saved.

Ready-for-enterprise

The last way I’ll look at is actually tied into the “Gold Mine” Microsoft sees in enterprise, sharing your documents via Tap+Send. The ways I’ve talked about using Tap+Send have been for the average user, but we all know that Microsoft is targeting businesses globally with WP8. The ability to share documents as simply as touching phones can be a game changer. Running late and can’t wait for that file to get to your inbox…need it now…phone “high five” and off you go! Not a gimmick, time is money and that makes dollars and sense!

I hope in time that we’ll see more and more devices showing up on the market NFC enabled at every level of phone: high, mid, and low range. This will take time but it’s time well worth it. When I stop and think back 2 years ago, I think about my Windows Mobile HTC Touch Pro 2, it could share via Bluetooth but it was a disaster of a process to get it to pair or be paired with not to mention the inability to retrieve most of the files types being sent! Our beloved Windows Phone has come a million miles from its predecessor, not without bumps in the road. Without those bumps though, many would forget all the amazing feats accomplished and adversity Microsoft/Windows Phone has managed to overcome!

Posted by TheWinPhan in Archive, 1 comment

Be a social network ninja with this Windows Phone apps

 

social networking ninja

This post is all about managing your social networks with your Windows Phone.

Windows Phone itself has a good integration of  Twitter, Facebbok and LinkedIn, but there is not the full functionality. That´s why we need apps.

As I am very active in several networks, I am showing you my “ninja stars” for social networking. For downloading the apps, just click on their logos.

MeTweets (1.49$/1.49 €)

Metweets

I tested a lot of Twitter apps in the last two years. Every Twitter app I used longer than one day had its on charme and features. MeTweets is the best one I used so far. It uses real push notification for mentions and DMs, has a clean interface and a really cool unique feature: scheduled tweets! The developer of the app is constantly improving the app, and it is really worth ever cent!

Hashtastic (1.29 $/1.29€)

Hashtastic

You know FollowFriday on Twitter? Whit this small app it is easier than ever to choose the tweeps you can recommend to follow. The app shows a list of all tweeps that interacted with you to make it easy to choose those tweeps that are worth following. The app has a free trial that shows ads, if you want to remove it, it will cost you 1.29 $/1.29€.

Follorep (free)

Follorep

Want to know who is following you and who has unfollowed you? No problem, Follorep is here for the rescue! Track your account status, and easily follow/unfollow tweeps with a few taps on your Windows Phone screen. The app ist currently available for free.

Klout Kikimeter (free)

klout kikimeter

If you are using Klout.com to measure your social influence, the best Windows Phone app is Klout Kikimeter. The app comes with a live tile that shows your current Klout score. You can compare your score to other users and share information about you Klout score. The app is not perfect, but the Metro styled live tile and that it’s free makes it worth to install.

Cumulotweetus (0.99 $/ 0.99 €)

cumulotweetus

With Cumulotweetus you can create so called “Tweet clouds” from your timeline, mentions, or any other user´s timeline. You are able to adjust the words, mentions or hashtags before you post it to your timeline. Nice and unique little app that I won´t miss anymore. Costs you only a buck, check it out!

Facebook (free)

fb

As on all other OS platforms, the “official” Facebook app is kind of disappointing. You can do a lot of things there, like reading your news feed, check in to places, view upcoming events or accept and send friend requests. The two reasons why I use the app are because the Facebook integration enables not all the features the app has and with Windows Phone 8, you can get a personalized Locksreen, which looks pretty nice (especially with the photos from my WinPhan friends).

Page Manager (1.99 $/1.99 €)

pagemanager

What the official app is missing, is managing and posting as fan page. But Srikanth, a fellow WinPhanDev from Australia, has closed this gab with his absolutely awesome app Page Manager. Check out our full review here.

4th & Mayor (free)

4thMayor

If you are using Foursquare, there really is only one choice for an app on Windows Phone: 4th & Mayor. The app is running fast and provides all the features that you can use on your Foursquare account. You can pin friends and places as well as a qick-check in tile to your start screen. The app supports several live tiles as well as push notfications.

Pinboarder (0.99 $/ 0.99€)

pinboarder

 

If you are using Pinterest, then you should check Pinboarder. Mark recommended this app to me, and I like it really much. I tried also some other apps, which simply did not work because Pinterest does not support Windows Phone officially. But this one does, lets you add new Pins, search for other users and browse Pinterest. Really great app.

LinkedIn (free)

LinkedIn

Like Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn integration is limited on Windows Phone. In fact I nearly didn’t realize that it is there yet. Luckily there is the very well done official app, that lets you search for other people, see your subscriptions and check you connections.

Geekli.st (currently in beta)

geeklist

Geekli.st is a social network for geeks. On geekli.st you can share your geek achievements in form of cards, share links, and post so called micros. Every one of them can be hi-fived, which means you like the item. The Windows Phone app is written by Ilija, who has done an awesome job and is constantly working towards the official release of the app. If you are on Geekli.st and want to access the beat, please read this.

If you have any suggestions for other social network apps, feel free to add a comment. I will check them for sure!

 

Posted by msicc in Archive, 3 comments