Thoughts on OS

As was expected, there was not too much that was new in the announcements at BlackBerry Jam Asia. The only real news was the reveal of the DevAlpha C with a full keyboard. Besides that it was just the steady march of progress as the promised updates were released for the DevAlpha, and the SDKs. My thoughts on the updates to the DevAlpha are below…

New Version of AppWorld

The DevAlpha version of AppWorld (now renamed to just BlackBerry World) now allows for payments (and in-app payments) to take place. Also new in BlackBerry World are Trending, and Top Grossing lists. I am particularly happy to see a Top Grossing list as it has a tendency to show off apps that use in-app purchases like Xploding Boxes.

Blue headers

Any Cascades apps that make use of headers or alert dialogs, now see them in a garish blue color. To me it comes across as iOS-style ugly, and reinforces my decision to just create my own headers anyhow. I much prefer the more flat industrial look that Cascades had when first released and had less rounded corners and no gradients.

New Homescreen icons

BlackBerry has done away with the boxed-in icons that they were using in the last release, and while the new icons feel slightly small it is most likely due to the need to design for screens that are only 720px wide. This change goes back to giving developers more freedom in their icon design, and I may un-boxify some of my icons.

Default font sizes are larger

I don’t really have any thoughts on this, but it is noticeable.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I know my Canadian friends already celebrated a month ago, but thank you to everyone. I am extremely thankful to have my current job of creating apps, and would be unable to do it without the support that everyone has given my over the past three years. Thank you.

PlayBook users quick to adopt OS 2.1

As seen with previous OS versions on the PlayBook, users have been very quick to adopt OS 2.1 when it was released last month. October saw 73.3% of PlayBook users running the new OS. Most of those running early versions were from the first week of the month, when OS 2.1 was not yet released.

This data was collected by AppWorld at the time of download, for the popular PlayBook strategy game Pixelated. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of June 2011 through the end of October 2012.

OS 7 now on 1 in 4 BlackBerry phones

October saw the use of BlackBerry OS 7 increase to 26.5% of users. This was the largest single month gain in the past year, but follows two months of very little change. The increase came mostly at the expense of OS 5.0 users, as the other OS versions remained mostly steady.

The majority of remaining OS 4.x devices are Curve 8520 devices running OS 4.6.1 in the UK. In fact, an astounding 58.1% of all OS 4.x devices are in the United Kingdom.

This data was taken from downloads of the free BlackBerry strategy game Pixelated. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of October 2011 through the end of October 2012.

Xploding Boxes gains more levels

Xploding Boxes has been updated to version 4.1. This new version adds an additional 10 levels, bringing the total number of levels up to 350 for the full game.

New in version 4.1.0

In addition to the new levels, this version of the app also improves the smoothness of the screen transitions in the PlayBook, Nook, and Android versions of the app. Additionally, for Android users, the app no longer requires you to download and instal the AIR framework. On the Nook, the app now adds support for the newly released Nook HD models. For BlackBerry 10 DevAlpha users, the app now supports an active frame for when the app is in a minimized state.

About Xploding Boxes

Xploding Boxes is a strategy game for BlackBerry, Android, Nook, and Windows where the goal of the game is to start a chain reaction that will explode all of the boxes on the screen. Each level gives you a different number of touches, and requires a different strategy to solve.

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

Links & Information

Pixelated available for Windows 8

Pixelated is now available to be downloaded through Microsoft’s Windows 8 store for laptops, desktops, and tablets. This version offers all of the same features that are found in BlackBerry version of the game, except that access to Pixelated Plus is gained through an in-app purchase instead of a separate download.

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 on the side of the screen.

Windows 8 features

The game runs on x86, x64, and also ARM processors like those in the recently released Microsoft Surface tablet. Additionally your games are automatically synced across all Windows 8 devices that are registered to your Microsoft account. An upgrade to the full version of Pixelated Plus can be achieved through a $2.99 in-app purchase that unlocks all grid sizes, all difficulty levels, your game statistics, and displays the number of turns that you have remaining.

Links & Information

How to create a Toast in C# for Metro apps on Windows 8

The documentation that Microsoft provides for creating toasts is far more complicated and confusing then it really needs to be. The sample app for Toast Notifications runs over 20 files and multiple projects, yet the good news is that it is actually quite simple. The basics can be demonstrated in less then 10 lines. This is primarily done by writing the toast’s xml structure by hand as a string.

string title = "TITLE";
string message = "toast details";
string imgURL = "ms-appx:///Assets/Logo.png";

string toastXmlString = "<toast><visual version='1'><binding template='toastImageAndText02'><text id='1'>"+title+"</text><text id='2'>"+message+"</text><image id='1' src='" + imgURL + "'/></binding></visual></toast>";

Windows.Data.Xml.Dom.XmlDocument toastDOM = new Windows.Data.Xml.Dom.XmlDocument();
ToastNotification toast = new Windows.UI.Notifications.ToastNotification(toastDOM);
ToastNotifier toastNotifier = Windows.UI.Notifications.ToastNotificationManager.CreateToastNotifier();