New version of Pixelated Shapes

IMG_00000136Pixelated Shapes has been updated to version 1.3 for Android, BlackBerry, and Windows 8. This updated reduces the file size by 7% for the BlackBerry 10 version of the app, while also adding support for the BlackBerry Passport that is due to be released next month. Meanwhile the Windows 8 version of the app got updated in order to better support the variable sized side by side apps supported by Windows 8.1

About Pixelated Shapes

Pixelated Shapes is a twist on the classic version of Pixelated that replaces the familiar squares with triangles and hexagons. The object of the game is to get the screen a single color by slowly growing a blob out of the upper left hand corner by matching it to the colors of the surrounding shapes. This is done repeatedly until either the game is won, or you run out of moves. Under the default settings you must clear the screen in 29 moves or less in order to win. A one time in-app upgrade can allow you to adjust the difficult, switch color schemes, change to different game modes, and get an indicator giving you the number of remaining moves.

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Morse Code app updated for BlackBerry Passport

Q10The BlackBerry 10 Morse Code app has been updated to version 2.2 in BlackBerry AppWorld. This new version of the app includes a number of optimizations and also adds support for the BlackBerry Passport.

About Morse Code

This app will take your text, and translate it back to you in Morse Code. Any text can simply be entered, and then by pressing the “Play Morse Code” button, can be turned into an audible Morse Code signal. The application also allows you to adjust the speed of the playback in words per minute in order to accommodate different skill levels.

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App released for the Champlain Canal

IMG_20140817_233813A brand new app has just been released in order to help you navigate the Champlain Canal in upstate New York. The app can be download from BlackBerry World, Google Play, and the Amazon Appstore.

With apps having already been released for the Erie Canal, Cayuga-Seneca Canal, and Oswego Canal there are now apps available for navigating the whole New York State canal system. These apps give you the ability to see the locations of all locks and boat launches along the canals. Additionally the apps also contain a map view to give a visual representation to where everything is.

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Stuff I Need checklist app updated

CampingListCropThe Stuff I Need check list app has been updated to version 2.5 for BlackBerry and Android. For BlackBerry 10 users the app makes a few visual tweaks, support for the BlackBerry Passport, and has also been optimized to give the app a 15% reduction in file size. For Android users the newest version of the app allows you to set a custom text size, which is a feature that was added to the BlackBerry version of the app last summer.

Amazon Appstore

The Android version of the app is also now available in the Amazon Appstore.

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.

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Creating new projects to optimize BlackBerry 10 apps

Since first releasing the BlackBerry 10 SDK in early 2012, BlackBerry has continued to work on improving their tools. I have recently discovered that significant optimizations are made in newly created Cascades projects. I am currently working on an update to my Stuff I Need app, and have been able to get a 17% reduction in the app’s file size simply by recreating the project from scratch in Momentics. In addition to the smaller install size, the app also appears to be launching quicker. This was done with no changes at all to my code. Using all of the same assets, qml, and c++ files, I created a new project, and then copied my existing files in. The new project contains a few changes to the .pro and the bar-descriptor.xml files, but the majority of the changes seem to be taking place behind the scenes. So for anyone that has been writing BlackBerry Cascades apps for a while now, it may be worth it to recreate your apps and get some free optimizations to your code.

Starbeams gets another 10 levels

Z10Starbeams has been updated to version 1.8 for BlackBerry 10 and Windows 8. This update adds an additional ten levels, and also adds support for the soon to be released BlackBerry Passport.

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.

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Update released for the Rotary Phone App

Q10-3The Rotary Phone app has just been updated to version 1.1 in BlackBerry World. This app sends your phone back in time, and gives you a classic rotary interface from which to dial out numbers. There is even a setting that allows you to automatically dial out after seven or ten digits have been entered. The new version of the app has an install size that is 14% smaller, and also adds support for the soon to be released BlackBerry Passport.

Video

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Newer versions of BBOS continuing to rise

In the past month there has been a two percentage point increase in the number of users on the traditional BlackBerry OS using OS6+ and OS7+. The growth curve still lags significantly behind that of BlackBerry 10, but there has been some consistent growth for a few months in a row now.

StatsJuly2014

July saw 53.87% of users running BlackBerry OS 7.

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 July 2013 through the end of July 2014, and does not include BlackBerry 10 or PlayBook devices.

How to get a TextBox in a Windows 8 app to support auto-capitalization

Unlike with most platforms, TextBox controls in Windows 8 metro apps default to a lowercase keyboard instead of assuming that the first word of a sentence should be capitalized. This can be frustrating for users of virtual keyboards who would rather use less keystrokes and let the OS take care of basic formatting. The fix for this is non-obvious, but fortunately quite simple. The solution consists of making sure that spell check is enabled for the TextBox.

This can be done either in XAML with

<TextBox IsSpellCheckEnabled="True" />

or in C# with

TextBox tb = new TextBox();
tb.IsSpellCheckEnabled = true;

Adoption of BlackBerry OS 10.2.1 starting to level off

While the newest version of the BlackBerry 10 operating system has had very good adoption rates (especially compared to BBOS and Android), the pick-up rate of OS 10.2.1 is starting to level off. In the month of July, Pixelated saw 86% of downloads come from users running the newest version of the OS, while the Stuff I Need app saw 93% of users fully upgraded. These numbers are only up slightly from June.

2014Jul-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

2014Jul-StuffINeed-BB10OSVersions

Overall these numbers are still very good, but it looks as if it may take some time until the final 10% of users upgrade their phones.

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 2013 through the end of June 2014.

The BlackBerry Passport screen is bigger than it looks

The BlackBerry Passport is due to be released this September, and the phone’s 4.5 inch screen is much bigger than it first appears to be. Mainly this is due to the fact that the Passport will have a square screen as opposed to the 16:9 ratio that dominates the industry. The tradition of measuring screen sizes based on the diagonal favors widescreen formats (and may be part of the reason that BlackBerry and Apple both moved their phones from 4:3 screen ratios to their current 16:9 ratios). Measuring instead by area, the screen of the BlackBerry Passport is equivalent to a 4.9 inch widescreen phone.

passport

The table below compares the Passport to other BlackBerry phones, giving the area in square inches and then a comparison to the size of the Passport.

Phone Area
Passport 10.11 100%
Z30 10.68 106%
Z10 7.78 77%
Q10 4.79 47%
Bold 9900 3.76 37%
Torch 9800 4.92 49%

How to sideload apps onto WindowsRT devices

With WindowsRT Microsoft has made a bit of an odd platform that only accepts apps from the Windows store and does not provide a simple way to install any custom built apps. The easiest way to sideload an app onto a WindowsRT tablet is to set it up as a developer test device. Unfortunately this does require you to be able to log-in to a Microsoft developer account. Not only is this account not free, but you will be required to reconfirm your credentials every three months. Still this is far easier then the other options to sideload onto WindowsRT.

Step one:

First you need to find the Windows PowerShell app open it using the “Run as administrator” option. Then confirm yes at the UAC prompt. Open the keyboard to type Show-WindowsDeveloperLicenseRegistration and hit enter. Then agree to the prompt, and then log-in to your developer account.

Step two:

In Visual Studio create a Windows Store app in the same manner you would as if you were planning on releasing the app to the store. However once the executable is generated in the AppPackages folder, instead of uploading the .appxupload file find the similarly named test folder and transfer this whole folder onto your WindowsRT device. For WindowsRT devices without support for USB drives this is a challenge all on its own, where the best solution may be to email yourself a .zip file.

Step three:

Now with the folder on your WindowsRT tablet find the Add-AppDevPackage.ps1 file, touch and hold to bring up the right-click menu and select “Run with PowerShell”. Confirm that you do in fact want to open the file, and then follow the multiple prompts within PowerShell. Eventually the app will load be able to run the app as if you had installed it from the app store.

Physical Keyboard users still in the minority, but trending upwards

This past month the percentage of BlackBerry 10 users with a physical keyboard reached an all time high at 37.2% of the market. This number has been trending upwards for the past half year, and is only likely to accelerate when the BlackBerry Passport and Classic launch in the fall.

KeyboardsJun2014

Currently the BlackBerry 10 ecosystem is still dominated by the BlackBerry Z10 which accounts for 55.1% of BlackBerry 10 phones in use. The most popular keyboard device is the BlackBerry Q10, but the Q5 has also seen a sudden boost in popularity, after lagging behind the Z30 for most of its life.

Jun2014Devices

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

Use of OS7 ticks up another percentage point

OS 7 now consists of 52% of the BBOS market. This is a very slow uptake when compared to BlackBerry 10, but at the same time it is continuing to inch forwards.

StatsJun2014

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 June 2013 through the end of June 2014, and does not include BlackBerry 10 or PlayBook devices.

BlackBerry 10 OS distribution

BlackBerry 10 has seen a continuing slow uptake of newer OS versions in the month of June.

2014Jun-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

2014June-StuffINeed-BB10OSVersions

Pixelated saw 86% of users on the newest OS version, while the Stuff I Need app had 92% of their users on the newest OS.

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 2013 through the end of June 2014.