Xploding Boxes updated with Windows Phone support

wp_ss_20150324_0002Xploding Boxes has been updated to version 5.3 in BlackBerry World, Google Play, the Amazon app store, the Nook app store, the Windows 8 app store, and the Windows Phone app store. This update adds 10 new levels to the game, and also adds support for Windows Phones for the first time.

About Xploding Boxes

Xploding Boxes is a strategy game where the goal is to start a chain reaction that will explode all of the boxes on the screen. Each level presents a different look and number of touches, requiring a different strategy to solve.

The game itself, and the first 25 levels are available for free, while a one time in-app purchase can be used to access the rest of the levels for just $2.99 while still maintaining your progress from the free levels.

Links & Information

Amazon now allowing for fine grained control of BlackBerry app Support

With the Amazon app store coming pre-installed on new BlackBerry 10 phones, Amazon is continuing to improve the support given to developers. Last month Amazon began explicitly adding BlackBerry phones to their testing procedures, and now they are giving developers the option to individually select support for various BlackBerry phones.

amazon

Previously all BlackBerry phones were just included under the generic “all other Android devices” category while a specific per device breakdown like what is now offered was only available for the Amazon Fire line of products.

How to invoke the Classic Camera app

The Classic Camera app can be invoked using the following code…


InvokeManager mInvokeManager = new InvokeManager(this);
connect(mInvokeManager,
      SIGNAL(childCardDone(const
      bb::system::CardDoneMessage&)), this,
      SLOT(childCardDone(const
      bb::system::CardDoneMessage&)));
InvokeRequest request;
request.setAction("bb.action.CAPTURE");
request.setTarget("com.ebscer.classiccamera.card");
request.setMimeType("image/jpeg");
mInvokeManager->invoke(request);

The response data contains the file name of the captured image.

Thoughts on BlackBerry Cascades from 2011

Flipping through an old notebook, I came across my notes on BlackBerry Cascades from BlackBerry DevCon 2011. This was half a year before the framework was released, and a good year and a half before the launch of BlackBerry 10. Since then I have become an expert at Cascades, but it is interesting to see some of my earlier thoughts.IMG_20150311_233508_crop

  • 2D and 3D
  • 90% of UI could be lists
  • QML declarative UI from Qt
  • Asynchronous to help rendering rate
  • Signals to handle events
  • List Types – (SQL,XML,JSON)
  • Uses BBX IDE
  • QML looks nicer than C++
  • Beta in fall (November)
  • Everything in BBX is Qt

Somethings I got right, and with some others I look a little silly. For example Cascades has no support for 3D. In fact Cascades is actively bad at working in three dimensions and doesn’t even support giving z-values to elements. Also the beta wasn’t launched in November (at the time only a month away), but instead the next May. The emphasis on lists was a bit overblown. Creating 90% of an app out of lists can be true for pretty much any framework, and somewhat ironically I don’t actually use a ListView for creating the lists in most of my apps anyhow. The one thing that was apparent to me from the very beginning is that QML is far nicer than C/C++ ever was…

My annoyance with the 10.3 camera

With OS 10.3 BlackBerry has added many great features such as app folders with an unlimited size, apps with theme colors, and advanced interaction’s like “Lift to Wake” feature. Despite all of this the newest version of the operating system took a step back with the new version of the camera. Unlike previous versions of the BlackBerry 10 camera app that allowed you to tap anywhere on the screen to take a picture the new version of the app requires you to use a small button on the bottom of the screen. Not only is this the loss of a feature, but it also sometimes makes it tricky to hold the phone when taking a picture.

IMG_20150309_130646_editGranted this is a minor annoyance, but I decided to fixed it anyways. So I created a new camera app.

The Classic Camera app can be purchased from BlackBerry World for $1. This camera makes it easy to take a picture by simply allowing you to tap anywhere on the screen. Also, there are options on the bottom of the screen to quickly toggle the flash, camera, and image ratio. After capturing an image a preview will appear in the lower left corner that can be tapped to preview or edit the most recently taken photo.

Links & Information

icon480

Classic BlackBerry OS Statistics

For the fourth straight month the usage of BlackBerry OS was unchanged, with 55% of users on OS 7.

StatsFeb2015

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free BlackBerry strategy game Pixelated. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of February 2014 through the end of February 2015, and does not include BlackBerry 10 or PlayBook devices.

BlackBerry users begin to switch over to 10.3

After half a year of waiting, BlackBerry has finally released 10.3.1 to most of their users. A number of carriers are still holding back updates, but the newest BlackBerry OS is finally getting a chance to take off. With the release coming later in the month this isn’t fully shown in the monthly averages, but adoption has been quick and is broadly over 60%.

2015Feb-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions
2015Feb-StuffINeed-BB10OSVersions

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of February 2014 through the end of February 2015.

Z10 and Q10 remain the most popular BlackBerry phones

Two years after the release of BlackBerry 10 the original Z10 and Q10 remain the most popular phones. Meanwhile the Passport is approximately three times as popular as the Classic so far.

Feb2015Devices

Overall 39.9% of BlackBerry 10 users have a phone with a physical keyboard.

All of these statistics are based off of the data collected by BlackBerry World in the month of February for downloads of the free check-list app Stuff I Need (which is also available for Windows Phone and Android users).

Starbeams updated to add support for Windows Phone

wp_ss_20150224_0003Starbeams has been updated to version 2.0 which expands the number of available levels up to 200. This new version of the game also adds support for Windows Phone in addition to BlackBerry 10 and Windows 8 operating systems.

About Starbeams

The object of the game is to assign colors to each star in order to ensure that none of the stars are connected to another star of the same color. The game starts off easy, but quickly gets more complex, adding more colors and seven pointed stars that can not be changed.

Links & Information

IconS150

Customers quick to switch to OS 10.3.1

On February 19th BlackBerry finally released an OS update for their existing in market phones, making OS 10.3.1 available to customers beyond those using the BlackBerry Passport. A few carriers (such as Verizon) are still dragging their heals, but the new OS is now an option for most. Traditionally BlackBerry 10 users have been very quick to adopt new OS versions, and initial results show that 10.3.1 is no different.

First a disclaimer. The following data is presented on a per day basis, making the sample sizes relatively small. In an attempt to make the sample sizes as large as possible data from across different apps have been merged together into a single data set, which itself can have an effect on the data. As a result the data is a bit more messy than the monthly averages I typically post.

10.3.1.Launch

Even over this short period of time the update of 10.3.1 is very noticeable. In the six days before the 19th only 11.2% of users were running the newest OS, while that number jumped up 62.6% in the six days following the 19th.

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of all Ebscer apps that support BlackBerry 10. Data shown on the chart is from the February 13th, 2015 through February 25th, 2015.

Buffalo Metro Rail app updated

IMG_20150219_103945The app for the Buffalo Metro Rail has been updated for both Android and BlackBerry. This update fixes a date related bug, and also resizes the map for BlackBerry Z10 users.

About the Buffalo Metro Rail app

This app shows the departure times for trains along Buffalo’s Metro route. The app automatically selects the proper schedule for the day, allows for sorting options, and also shows a map of the full light rail line. Additionally the app only needs to be synced once a month, and can otherwise be used without an active internet connection.

Links & Information

512

Head Words gets three new categories

IMG_20150122_123537The Head Words game has been updated to version 1.1 in BlackBerry World. This updated adds Bible, Celebrities, and Singers as three brand new categories in the app. Additionally, the app now prevents the screen from timing out while a game is in progress.

About Head Words

Head Words is a multi-player guessing game similar to Celebrity, Hedbanz, and Heads Up. After selecting a category, one player places the phone on their forehead while the other players give clues. With one minute to guess as many words as possible, the player can tilt the phone down for each correct answer, or tilt the phone up to pass. At the end of round a word list will show what was guessed right and wrong. The swipe down menu provides an option to turn the sound on or off.

The game includes five categories for free, and the option to purchase access to eight additional categories for a dollar each.

Links & Information

480X

How to get a Slider to stop at discreet points on a Windows Phone app

By default the Slider control that Microsoft provides for Windows Phone Silverlight applications is missing some key properties such as the IsSnapToTickEnabled property. However this can be recreated in code to give Windows Phone apps the same functionality.

First the XAML…

<Slider x:Name="slider" Width="450" ValueChanged="Slider_ValueChanged" Minimum="0" Maximum="10" SmallChange="1"/>

Then in C#…

public void Slider_ValueChanged(object sender, RoutedPropertyChangedEventArgs e)
{
        try
        {
            int newValue = (int)e.NewValue;
            slider.Value = newValue;

            //code goes here, using newValue
            //as the slider's value...
        }
        catch (Exception) { }
}

Canal apps updated for BlackBerry and Android

IMG_20150213_111144Apps for the New York State Canals have been updated for both BlackBerry and Android users. These apps give you the ability to see the locations of all locks and boat launches along the Erie Canal, Cayuga-Seneca Canal, Oswego Canal, and Champlain Canal. Additionally the apps also contain a map view to give a visual representation to where everything is. The most recent update accommodates the new data that is being supplied by New York State, and also adds a link from the landmarks directly back to their respective locations on the map.

Links & Information

Erie Canal

192

Cayuga-Seneca Canal

114

Oswego Canal

114

Champlain Canal

114

Stuff I Need updated to version 2.6

The free Stuff I Need checklist app has been updated for Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone. This new version adds a few new features, including an improvement to the responsiveness of the pull down tab on both Windows 8.1 and BlackBerry 10.
IMG_20150212_114759

New in version 2.6

The Android version of the app received improvements to the text input fields, where they now automatically use sentence case capitalization and automatically submit when the return key is entered. Additionally, the sorting was improved so that it is no longer case-sensitive.

The BlackBerry 10 build of the app improves the use list switcher (especially on the Z30, Classic, and Passport phones), streamlines the app, and also makes an additional backup of some settings to the users BlackBerryID.

Windows Phone users will see the biggest changes, as the app has been modified to become compatible with the action center added in Windows Phone 8.1. Additionally, the app now includes an option allowing users to pick alternative font sizes and makes it easier to select existing items.

About Stuff I Need

Originally conceived as a grocery list app, this minimalistic checklist app can be used to keep track of the stuff you need to get, or the stuff that you need to do. New items can be added to list with the ‘Add’ button on the bottom of the screen. Items on the list can be edited (or deleted) by giving them a long press. Lists can be switched by pulling down on the tab at the top of the screen. This will expose a spinner that shows all of your current lists. New lists can be added by using the “+” button on the right side of the expanded tab. Making use of three or more lists requires the use on a one time in-app purchase. Lists are automatically deleted if you delete all items in a list and restart the app.

Links & Information

icon300