We met with Windows Phone developers who are part of a small group of companies that participate in Microsoft BizSpark, a worldwide program aimed at helping startups use Microsoft technologies (and stick with it for the long haul). They were in San Francisco for Mobile Acceleration Week, and Microsoft has identified each as having a promising Windows Phone project. During the event, each company got help and mentoring from Microsoft, both on terms of technical and marketing expertise. Every project that was presented was intended to run on the Windows Phone platform. I have compiled some notes on what was presented, and Windows Phone users may want to take a look.
CitySourced: this is an application that lets city residents file reports about damages, vandalism and other things that the city should fix. This app has been out there for some time, and the service has been expanding rapidly, but we were shown what the upcoming Windows Phone 7 was going to look like, and the design is very nice. What’s important however, is the usefulness of this app: because it can also integrate photos and a GPS location, which is already so much more than what the city would normally get with a phone call. Secondly, it is much more cost-efficient as calls can cost $2 per minute. Finally, CitySourced plans to add video (with audio) support to its app so that residents can file reports about weird noises, or simply send something that is more compelling in terms of information.
News 360: This app tries to solve the user information overload problem by using their own algorithms to sort through 10,000 sources across the web. The News360 use analytics and user behavior to understand what’s “important” or “relevant”. They create a set of custom feeds that caters to a user’s particular interest. News 360 also analyses your social network (FB, Twitter…) to get a sense of what your “interest graph” is. The App is available for Windows Phone 7, but also on other platforms.
Sticher: This is an app that lets users access more than 7000 radio stations on-demand. Most popular radios are represented, but it’s normally possible to find something on pretty much any topics covered by radio. But what is “smart radio”? As its name indicates, the app can stich radio shows, and its creators think of it as digital video recorder (DVR) for radio. In the future, the developer would like to use semantics to understand what you like and how to serve you just the piece of a radio show that would of interest to you (I like that!). The timeframe is not set in stone, but the developer hopes to get this within the next few quarters.
Mobile Republic: this is a news aggregator that lets users access news “by topic”. Each user can choose a number of topics (sports, technology, etc…) and it is possible to access the full content -not just an excerpt- from the app. Mobile Republic is an international company that already covers a numbers of languages worldwide as its semantic engine works with many languages. The app exists on most the popular OSes, and even on Bada and others systems that don’t enjoy much hype.
Rdio: Rdio demonstrated the Windows Phone 7 version of its music service. If you don’t know Rdio, you can check their website at rdio.com. The point of today’s demo was to show the progress on the Windows Phone 7 app, and it seemed to work quite nicely. It’s not done yet, but the overall goal is to get all the features that mobile users can enjoy on iOS or Android to the Windows Phone platform. The appearance is feels very much Windows Phone like as the developer tries to integrate with the native user experience as much as possible.
WNM Live: WNM calls itself a “social discovery network”. The creator of the service had the idea when he was trying to search for a tennis partner online and could not quite find a tool to do that (Craigslist can yield weird results for “search Tennis partner”, he says…). The app has a location-based element which is 100% public, so every other users can see it. At any moment, you can see who’s nearby and you can even filter by online users (meaning: who’s looking at the phone now).
If you want to contact someone, there’s actually a VOIP function in WNM Live! It is possible to browse users by interest (each user has a list of interests). To be clear, this is not a “hook-up” app, it’s genuinely build to connect people based on interest. At the moment, there’s only a Windows Phone 7 version (+web) but Android should be next. I’ve seen this type of app before, and I wonder of many people like to be contacted by a random stranger – we’ll see. The service is still experiencing rapid growth.
SKEDi: This service merges the calendars of the whole family into a unified calendar, so that everyone knows what others are up to, or if they will be available at some point in time. This is a two-way process: not only SKEDi gathers data from all the calendars, but it also writes events to the calendars of each user. SKEDi will try to use the native OS look and feel as much as possible so that people feel “at home” in their respective mobile environments.
At sign-up time, each user will basically give permission to SKEDi to read, write and share their calendar items to other members of the family. Fun fact: the “maybe” reply to an invitation does not exist.
inTooch: as it names sounds, tries to keep people in touch, and it wants to do it in a way that would “put business cards in a museum” says the company representative. After a call, inTooch automatically asks if you want to stay in touch with the caller, and with a single tap, it sends an SMS that contains a link to all the required information for your contact to stay in touch with you (of course, each user stays in control of which type of information is shared – mobile, home, address, etc.. ). At the moment, the app is available on Android, but Windows Phone 7 is in development.