Windows support added for Niagara Border Crossing app

wp_ss_20150823_0002The Niagara Border Crossing app has been released for Windows Phone and Windows tablets and desktops. Any Windows devices running either Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 can download the app for free. As with the BlackBerry version, this app shows wait times for border crossings over the Niagara River between the United States and Canada.

Wait times are shown for all four of the bridges between Western New York and Southern Ontario. These include the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, the Rainbow Bridge, and the Peace Bridge. Separate times are shown for cars, trucks, and also for those using the Nexus lanes.

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Forcing a dark theme on Windows Phone Universal Apps

While the introduction of Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 has done a lot to clean up the look of apps, Windows Phone still allows you to give your phone a light theme which can make your app look weird. This requires you to do additional testing for your apps and optionally hard code colors for some elements on the screen.

In 2013, I described how to force a dark theme on Windows Phone silverlight apps, but things have changed when it comes to the newer universal apps.

The ApplicationBar has been replaced by the CommandBar, and is fortunately rather easy to theme in XAML. The following code will force your CommandBar into a dark theme.

<CommandBar Background="#1F1F1F" Foreground="White">
</CommandBar>

Niagara Border Crossing app released

IMG_20150814_160322The Niagara Border Crossing app has been released for BlackBerry 10. This app shows wait times for border crossings over the Niagara River between the United States and Canada.

Wait times are shown for all four of the bridges between Western New York and Southern Ontario. These include the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, the Rainbow Bridge, and the Peace Bridge. Separate times are shown for cars, trucks, and also for those using the Nexus lanes.

Links & Information

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Pixelated updated for BlackBerry 10

z10Pixelated and Pixelated Plus have been updated to version 3.6.5 for BlackBerry 10 users. This update speeds up the application’s launch speed, and also fixes a font related bug.

About Pixelated

Pixelated is an addictive puzzle based strategy game that requires a mixture of skill and luck in order to accomplish. The object of the game is to change the colour of the squares until the entire screen is a single solid colour. Starting with the square in the upper left corner you can change the colour of the blocks in order to match that of the surrounding squares. This is done repeatedly until the entire screen is a single colour. The object of the game is to clear the screen in as few moves as possible. Under the default settings you must do so in under 22 moves in order to win. The game is controlled by the large colored blocks at the bottom of the screen.

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Slow start for 10.3.2 rollout

The month of July saw the use of BlackBerry 10.3 continue to slowly climb. Verizon and a few other wireless carrier who had been dragging their heels finally released an OS update, but one out of five users are still on older operating systems. 10.3.2 is not really any different from 10.3.1 and has only been officially released by a few carriers and as a result appears to be getting very little interest from users so far.

Overall 78.5% of Pixelated users and 80.9% of Stuff I Need users were running some variant of OS 10.3 in July.

2015July-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

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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 July 2014 through the end of July 2015.

App support for Windows 10

Yesterday Microsoft launched Windows 10. All Ebscer games that have supported Windows 8/8.1 have also been tested on Windows 10 without any issues.
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The available games for Windows 10 are…

If upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 8.1 then all of your saved settings and progress should transfer over to the new operating system without any extra steps.

Optimistic about Windows 10

Windows-10Windows 10 is set to be released at the end of the month, and I am somewhat optimistic about how it will do. While most PC users chose to skip Windows 8, I think that version 10 will get the widespread adoption that Microsoft is hoping for.

A few years ago when Windows 8 was set to be released I rushed to get my game Xploding Boxes ready for the launch. This turned out to be a bit of a misplaced priority as most users choose to stay with Windows 7, and not upgrade. This time it seems as if Microsoft has actually remembered that most PC users don’t have touchscreens and will be rolling out an OS the people actually want to use.

Unfortunately I don’t think that too many of these new users will be interested in the types of puzzle games that I have created for the platform. Instead the potential looks to be more that Metro-style Windows 8.1 apps will be able to act as a new baseline for your more boring business types of applications.

How to disable hub notifications from BlackBerry Blend

IMG_20150710_143534Starting with the release of version 1.2 of BlackBerry Blend it is now possible to disable the frequent connection notices that would previously appear in the Hub.

To do this you need to update Blend on both your phone and on your desktop, than on the phone you need to unselect the “Connection Notification” option.

This simple change removes the main annoyance that had previously plagued Blend.

Use of 10.3 continues to increase

June saw the use of 10.3.x continue to increase. 75.1% of Pixelated users, and 78.1% of Stuff I Need users were running OS 10.3.0 or higher.

There continues to be a very small number of users on 10.3.0 with most users on 10.3.1 and a few users on 10.3.2 instead.

2015June-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

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With Verizon finally rolling out a version of 10.3 to their users in early June, these numbers should be up significantly next month. 10.3.2 currently has very few users and with very few new features it is unclear how many carriers will be pushing out this update to their users.

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 June 2014 through the end of June 2015.

Update to Weather Beautiful app

Z10cropThe Weather Beautiful app has been updated to version 2.1 for both Android and BlackBerry users.

This is a simple weather app that displays stunning photography of your surrounding area. In addition to the current temperature and weather conditions, the app also allows you to scroll down for a full weekly forecast.

New in version 2.1 is the ability to swipe right in order to advance to the next background image, or to swipe left return to previous background image. Also the overall file size of the app has been greatly reduced, with the BlackBerry version 70% smaller and the Android version 61% smaller. Additionally on BlackBerry 10 the app now shows a custom splash screen while loading.

Links & Information

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Twinkle update adds support for Android

AndroidTwinkle has been updated to version 6.0, adding new features, new colors, and Android support.

About Twinkle

This app allows you to set and keep track of upcoming and past events. Twinkle will tell you how far away an event is, and share it with a friends through social networks. The app includes an number of options for sorting or filtering your views in order to allow you to easily be able to manage and share a large number of different events.

New in version 6.0

The biggest new feature is the added support for Android phones. Designed to conform with Google’s material design guidelines, the fully native android app has been completely rethought for the platform.

BlackBerry 10 users will get two new background colors (Brown and Teal), in addition to fixing a bug that previously prevented changes to the filters to last between app restarts. Also, the details line is now hidden when the event doesn’t have any details.

Users of traditional BBOS phones have not been left out either, as that version of Twinkle has been updated to version 4.3 to give access to the two new colors.

Links & Information

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BlackBerry 10 users leaning more international

A look at BlackBerry 10 users in 2015, is far more international than in years past. Canada is still has the largest user base, but India and Nigeria have also now moved themselves into the top five.

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In January 2014 this breakdown looked far different. At that time Canada, the United States, and the UK had combined for 53.8% of the market, but in early 2015 they only consist of 27.4% of the market. Most of the difference comes from a larger share of the market going to countries in Asia and Africa.

India has grown from 2.8% to 11.5%, Nigeria has gone from 1.1% to 5.2%, Russia has gone from 1.0% to 2.0%, and China has increased from 1.6% to 2.8%. Meanwhile Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany have seen their marketshare drop. The numbers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia have stayed rather consistent. The end result of this, is that the BlackBerry 10 user base is more geographically diverse than ever.

These numbers are generated from downloads of the Stuff I Need checklist app from January 1st to June 9th of 2015. The data was collected by BlackBerry World when the app is downloaded.

Theming ListPreference Dialogs on Android Lollipop

ListPreferenceSetting a custom theme color for your Android app is as simple as setting a colorAccent color in the app’s styles.xml file. Yet while this will theme most of the app, oddly ListPreference pop-ups and other dialogs do not naturally inherit the theme used by the rest of the app.

In order to fix this both a dialogTheme and an alertDialogTheme need to be explicitly added to the app’s styles.xml file. The result should look similar to this…

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<resources>
    <style name="AppTheme" parent="android:Theme.Material.Light">
        <item name="android:colorPrimary">@color/primary
        <item name="android:colorPrimaryDark">@color/accent
        <item name="android:colorAccent">@color/accent
        <item name="android:dialogTheme">@style/DialogStyle
        <item name="android:alertDialogTheme">@style/DialogStyle
    </style>
    <style name="DialogStyle" parent="android:Theme.Material.Light.Dialog">
        <item name="android:colorAccent">@color/accent
    </style>
</resources>

Use of BlackBerry 10.3 continues to slowly climb

As BlackBerry announces the upcoming release of OS 10.3.2 the previous versions of the OS continue to slowly get adopted by the market. Pixelated showed 67.7% of users on OS 10.3 last month, while the Stuff I Need app had 73.3% of downloads going to 10.3.x devices.

Adoption of 10.3 is steadily going upwards, but remains at a slower rate than either 10.1 or 10.2 where in years past.

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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 May 2014 through the end of May 2015.

How to treat Android’s up button like a back button

When opening up a child screen on most android apps an arrow will appear on the upper left corner of the screen indicating that you can go back to the previous screen. Android’s documentation refers to this as an “up” button (despite the fact that it clearly points left). While at first glance it appears to similar to the back button it is subtly different.

More complex apps may have a use for the difference in this button’s behavior, but for simple apps the up button acts like a back button that additionally blows away minor state information (such as scroll position) on the parent screen. Fortunately there is a simple way to force the up button to act the same as your standard back button.

In the child activity find the onOptionsItemSelected() method…

public boolean onOptionsItemSelected(MenuItem item) {
    int id = item.getItemId();
    if (id == android.R.id.home) {
        NavUtils.navigateUpFromSameTask(this);
        return true;
    }
    return super.onOptionsItemSelected(item);
}

and replace NavUtils.navigateUpFromSameTask(this); with finish(); so that your new code now looks like...

public boolean onOptionsItemSelected(MenuItem item) {
    int id = item.getItemId();
    if (id == android.R.id.home) {
        finish();
        return true;
    }
    return super.onOptionsItemSelected(item);
}

Now the back button on your action bar will work just as well as the back button at the bottom of the screen.