HTC Incredible out in the wild. Features an underclocked SnapDragon CPU


More info and pictures of the HTC Incredible have popped-up today. According to some poster at the Androidforums, the Android 2.1 device packs a SnapDragon chipset under-clocked at 768Mhz (like the Acer Liquid), 512MB of Ram (+ a 8Gb micro-SD?), 8Mpx camera with WVGA video capture and It measures 117.5 x 58.5 x 11.9mm. It should be head to Verizon in Q2 2010.

source: Androidforums via Engadget

Opera Mini 5 Beta for Android released


The good folks at Opera have finally released the Android version of the much acclaimed Opera Mini 5 Beta browser. The application can be download right now through the Android Market for free. For those of you who who missed last week’s news ,Opera Mini 5 Beta is now a native Windows Mobile app, which means that you no longer have to run the browser through the Java applet. Head over here for more info.

Windows Phone 7 Series will support WVGA & HVGA resolutions, no programmable shaders (at launch)


Microsoft’s Shawn Hargreaves just announced that 2 screen resolutions will be supported on Windows Phone 7 Series: 800×480 (WVGA) at launch and 480×320 later (possibly in Q1 2011?):

The phone features an image scaler which allows games to render to any size backbuffer they like, and have it automatically stretched to fill the display, with black bars along the edges if the backbuffer and display have different aspect ratios (an idea that will be familiar to Xbox developers). This scaling is handled by dedicated hardware, so does not consume any GPU resources, and it uses a high quality image filter that gives much better results than bilinear filtering like you would get if you did this yourself on the GPU. The scaler is important for two reasons:

At launch, all phones will have a 480×800 (WVGA) display resolution, but we will add 320×480 (HVGA) in a future update. Of course you can detect the native resolution and program your game to adapt to this if you want, but the scaler allows games to pick just one resolution, always render at that fixed size, and still run correctly on phones with different native screen sizes. For bonus points, we automatically scale touch input to match your chosen resolution.

480×800 is a lot of pixels! This is a great resolution for displaying text, browsing the web, etc, but it can be a challenge for intensive 3D games to render so much data at a good framerate. To boost performance, some games may prefer to render at a lower resolution, then scale up to fill the display.

The other piece of info reveiled yesterday is that XNA Gmae Studio 4.0 won’t expose programmable shaders because of the tight developement scheduled for WP7. but this fuctionality should be included in a future update:

The phone supports full hardware accelerated 3D, but we are not exposing programmable shaders in this release. Charlie Kindel summed up the reason for that in a great article about focus and priorities:

“We will do a few things and do them very, very well; we are better off not having a capability than doing it poorly. There are always future versions.”

Instead of programmable shaders, we augmented the existing BasicEffect with four new configurable effects: SkinnedEffect, EnvironmentMapEffect, DualTextureEffect, and AlphaTestEffect. These are designed to run efficiently on the mobile GPU hardware, and I think do a good job of providing enough flexibility for developers to create awesome looking games, while also meeting our goals of being able to ship a robust and well tested product on schedule.

This may disapointing to some devs given that the GPU inside of the SnapDragon chipset (AMD Z430) features a unified pixel & vertex shader pipeline (based on the Xbox 360 Xenos GPU). I guess that Microsoft still needs some time to update Direct3D Mobile. Hopefully updates will be released soon after the initial launch this fall.

All about Xbox Live on Windows Phone 7 Series

Microsoft’s Andre Vrignaud live-tweeted the Xbox Live on WP7 session that took place at GDC today.

  • Q: Will games have to go through cert? Or just XBL games? A: all games go through cert, XBL games will have a few more reqs.
  • Other resources: Windows Azure – microsoft.com/windowsazure
  • Other resources: pitch your Xbox LIVE-enabled game: wpgames@microsoft.com
  • Wrapping up… get the dev tools at creator.xna.com, go to MIX10 for more next week!
  • Focusing on asynch (turn-based) “mobile minute” friendly gaming at launch. No ad-hoc local WiFi/Bluetooth gaming initially.
  • Most APIs are present on all platforms – make it easier to write clear, crossplatform code.
  • Why Push? Efficent battery util, low memory/CPU use, simple model, no persistent connection required, web 2.0 friendly.
  • @smartyp Yes, these WP7/XBL capabilities are available to both Silverlight and XNA-based games.
  • Push Notif. to Tile: Allows you to push visual notif. to pinned tiles on user’s home page. See at a glance what’s up in game.
  • Notifications not guaranteed delivery – best effort.
  • Notifications: Raw (cloud notifies app), Tile (user pins notif. to quick launch menu), Toast (Cloud sends a title and sub)
  • Extend games with HTTP: consume 3PP web services (weather, shopping), connect to own WS. We will have policies, need to talk with us.
  • Game Invites handled through email; player chooses email recipients.
  • Avatars: 2D avatars for launch, via web service.
  • Trial Mode: developer owns trial experience. Simple check, can be simulated to test. Send player to Marketplace to purchase.
  • XBL Leaderboard data blob is 4KB – place to store ghosts, races, game data, etc. Some cool stuff you could do here with this!
  • Leaderboards: Track friends, score or time-based, fixed set of columns, game defined blob of data, paging, easy API.
  • Think I see a blog post ahead about Achievements best practices, recommendations, and learnings we’ve had over the years…
  • Achievements: real achievements, real gamerscore. Up to 20 achievements, 200 GS max.
  • Profile: your WP7 phone knows you by your Windows LIVE ID (associated with your Gamertag). Use existing WLID, or create new.
  • XBL conn. opt: HTTP req/resp, push notifications, XBL features (2D avatars, invites, profile, achievements, lb, trials)
  • XBL at fingertips with WP7. Games Hub = where XBL meets WP7 OS. Profile, game library, turn notifications, browse spotlight.
  • Some aditional XNA Game Studio 4.0 information was also posted by Charlie Kindel:

    XNA Game Studio 4.0

    •  
      • Power: XNA Game Studio 4.0 includes powerful audio and graphics tools that allow developers to create all types of games, from casual 2-D games to 3-D games with high-quality graphics.
      • Productivity: XNA Game Studio 4.0 is a managed code platform, which means that Microsoft has done the back-end work that will save developers time in the coding process. It allows developers to be more productive and focus on gameplay and design.
      • Portability: XNA Game Studio 4.0 makes it possible for developers to adapt games built on previous versions of XNA Game Studio to work on Windows Phone 7 Series without re-coding the entire game. Also, once a developer has created a Windows Phone 7 Series game, they can use some of that code in XNA Game Studio 3.1 to adapt that game for Xbox 360, Windows or Zune.
    • XNA Game Studio 4.0 is a set of software tools that will be used by developers to create games for Windows Phone 7 Series. This updated version of XNA Game Studio will allow game developers to create better mobile games faster by providing:

      Pedigree: Microsoft has invested in XNA Game Studio for the past four years to make it one of the most comprehensive and trusted tools for developers. There have been over 1 million downloads of previous versions of XNA Game Studio since its initial release in December 2006

    Game Development on Windows Phone 7 Series

    •  
      • Collect Achievements and build your Gamerscore
      • View Xbox LIVE leaderboards
      • See your Xbox LIVE Avatar
      • Access Spotlight feeds
      • Add Xbox LIVE friends to your friends list while out on the go
    • Windows Phone 7 Series is a whole new approach to phone software, distinguished by smart design and truly integrated experiences. It offers users new ways to find and play games, including:

      The games hub. The games hub will contain all the games an individual has acquired through the Windows® Phone Marketplace. We are partnering with a select group of publishers to create great Xbox LIVE games for the games hub. The Xbox LIVE features include the ability to:

      The marketplace hub. Windows Phone 7 Series includes the Windows® Phone Marketplace, where apps and games will be sold. Both independent and professional developers can offer games as apps via Marketplace, giving consumers a wide array of games to choose from.

    GDC isn’t finished yet so we can expect more WP7S info in the coming days (and next week at MIX). Stay tuned…

    Motorola partners with Microsoft to deploy Bing search & Bing Maps on Android


    This was….unexpected. Motorola and Microsoft have just announced a new alliance for search and mapping on Android. Starting in Q1 2010 all Motorola Android handsets sold in China will feature Bing Search & Maps. I see this as Microsoft’s payback to Google in regards to what happened to the Bing Search deal with Verizon last year (you know what they say about Karma..):

    LIBERTYVILLE, Ill., March 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT) today announced a global alliance with Microsoft Corp. (NYSE: MSFT) to deploy Bing services on Motorola devices powered by Android. This new offering, launching in China on smartphones in Q1, will provide consumers a choice when using search and map functions on their Android-based devices.

    With this collaboration, consumers will enjoy a pre-loaded Bing bookmark on their mobile browser and an enhanced search widget with Bing integration. By enabling users to customize their devices and select their own Search provider, Motorola, with help from Microsoft, is expanding the capabilities and range of services currently offered in the marketplace and opening the doors for increased personalization.

    “We believe that consumer choice is one of the most critical components to ensuring a rich and seamless client experience,” said Christy Wyatt, corporate vice president of software and services, Motorola Mobile Devices. “Motorola and Microsoft have enjoyed a longstanding collaboration and the addition of Bing services to our Android-based smartphones in China is another important step in empowering our end-users.”

    “Mobile devices continue to be a critical place for customers to access location-based services such as local search and mapping,” said Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of the Online Services Division at Microsoft. “We are pleased to expand our long-standing relationship with Motorola to bring powerful Bing location-based services to Motorola’s innovative new mobile devices, providing consumers with more choice and flexibility in mobile search.”

    Search and Maps capabilities through Microsoft will initially be available in China, starting in Q1 2010, through either pre-load or over-the-air updates for devices already in market.

    This is clearly the result of Google’s decision to shut-down Google Search in china (causing Android OEMs to be unable to sell their phones in the country)

    Source: PRNewswire