Posts Tagged ‘wp7’


Birdsong Retirement

by David Wynne

Today we’re announcing the imminent removal of Birdsong, our Windows Phone Twitter client, from the Windows Phone Marketplace.

We started developing Birdsong on pre-release Windows Phone hardware and when it was released, almost 2 years ago, it was one of the first fully featured Twitter clients to hit the marketplace. At it’s height it was the top ranked paid for Twitter client in 91% of territories, and the #1 paid for social app in 51% of all territories.

To any casual observer it is fair to say that our zeal for maintaining Birdsong’s market position has waned and we now feel it fairer to remove it from the marketplace than leave it there until the next change in the Twitter API renders it unusable.

Our decision is fuelled by two primary factors. Firstly Twitter has made it abundantly clear that they no longer wish to encourage the development of clients that emulate the core Twitter experience. Any developer who has built a client around the Twitter API will have always been aware that they were ultimately at the mercy of Twitter, but in recent months Twitter have had a distinct change of heart in regards to 3rd party developers that has been well documented and dissected elsewhere to the point there is no need to cover it further here.

Secondly Windows Phone Marketplace has not proven itself, for us at least, to be a financially viable proposition at this moment in time. The revenue generated from Birdsong sales vs. the internal cost of development and push service hosting simply doesn’t add up. We genuinely have high hopes for the Windows Phone platform and still very much hope that it manages to find it’s feet.

We’d like to extend our thanks to all the users of Birdsong over the last 2 years, especially the enthusiastic folk who helped us beta test each version. We apologies to those who are still actively using Birdsong and are inconvenienced by our decision, it was not an easy one to come to. Thankfully our friends over at Rowi are offering a great Twitter client (both free and premium) and we’d encourage any Birdsong users to take a look at their app.


Windows Phone 7 – Two Years On

by David Wynne

It’s that time of the year again, when all the big players and related hardware manufacturers try to out do each other with product launches and roadmap announcements.  Amazon has announced a new range of tablets/Kindles, Nokia a couple of new Windows Phone 8 handsets, Microsoft has finished Windows 8, announced its own tablet hardware and has Windows Phone 8 announcements yet to come.  Apple meanwhile are expected to make some iPhone/iPad announcements this week that will likely create the biggest buzz of all.

Windows Phone 8

Back in March 2010 I was at Mix in Las Vegas to take my first look at Windows Phone 7 I wrote a couple of blogs on my first impressions of what I’d seen and what it meant in the wake of the iPhone 4 announcement.  I summed up my feelings at the time by saying; if they manage to get “it’s a really good device, but not quite an iPhone” status – that would be a good result.  Two years on I think we have to say “it’s a decent device, but it’s certainly not an iPhone” and that that isn’t really good enough, as results have shown.

Microsoft made some good decisions; they went their own way with the UX (we won’t call it Metro anymore) for which they’ve earned well deserved plaudits. They provided a good developer experience – whilst a lot of Microsoft framework decisions are far from prefect, the emulator is excellent and if were a developer coming from a SL/WPF background you can be up and running really quickly.

Unfortunately they also made some bad decisions; the hardware is not up to scratch – outside of the core OS apps, performance isn’t good enough.  Add into the mix some of low-end hardware that ships with WP7 on it and a users experience and impression can vary wildly.  Over the last 2 years, I’ve used a WP7 everyday switching between 3 different handsets (HTC HD7, Samsung Omnia and a LG Something).  I didn’t really enjoy the HD7 (and it broke), I really liked the Omnia (but it broke) and I genuinely hated the LG (which I purposefully broke… I didn’t).  On one end of the scale the experience was positively awful and on the other, whilst is was good, it still wasn’t as good as it should’ve been.

After my Omnia broke and I gave up on the LG, I decided to switch back to my iPhone 3GS – a device which is now 3 years old.  I suddenly realised that over the last 2 years, I had worked out all the websites that provided the best mobile experience of their services (Facebook, Guardian, BBC and IMDB all do a good job!) because either the app for that service didn’t exist on WP7 or was a 3rd world experience behind it’s Android and iOS counterpart.  Unfortunately the WP7 eco-system is literally years behind that of iOS which largely set the template for smart devices and the “app” market.

Some decisions also got made on Microsoft’s behalf – their choice of technology in Silverlight could be seen as a misstep.  Prior the WP7 announcement I predicated that they would go Silverlight, it made so much sense at the time.  I was a fan of Silverlight, because I was a developer and it was a great development experience.  Silverlight never really got a foothold and then HTML 5 came along, and with a little help from Microsoft itself, really put the nail in the coffin.  Now that Microsoft really are pinning their HTML5 colours to the mast with Windows 8 and whilst it’s not really being fully announced yet, if Windows Phone 8 doesn’t follow the Windows 8 development model, I think we’d all be a little surprised at this point.

Even if switching the development mode is the “right” decision, it’s not likely to be a popular decision with WP7 developers, few of whom have really seen a return on their investment in the platform to-date in any case, so might not be willing to invest again when everything changes yet again.  There’s also a growing sense that WP7 was really a sticking plaster and WP8 will start again… again, which could mean Windows Phone 8 is less WP7 3.0 and more W8 1.0.  And with a 1.0 release comes inevitable bugs and wrinkles.

At the end of the day the only way to win in the consumer market is to provide users with a great experience – that’s all that matters.  Experience is everything.  Gimmicks, add-ons and short lived promises mean nothing in the end.  Most people who live outside the tech bubble that I, and most people reading this inhabit, are more concerned about whether the music they’ve already bought will work on it, will they loose all their contacts and can they play angry birds or watch the BBC iPlayer on it?  Almost more importantly, if the answer to any of the previous questions is yes – then they will expect a smooth and slick experience.  Users don’t know when they’ve had a great experience, but they certainly know when they’ve had a bad one.  So if the hardware is slow and apps stutter, aren’t responsive, miss features, are always behind other platforms or just plain don’t exist – users will turn elsewhere.

As I was 2 years ago, I remain hopeful that the platform can find it’s audience.  Microsoft have struggled a little in their new role as follower and really need bring some clarity to proceedings if they’re to make up ground on the leaders.


New Birdsong Push Notification Service and v1.8

by Jon Sharratt

Just a quick post before the weekend to formally let you all know that myself and Joe today have released the new Birdsong push notification service.

Push Notification Service

We have released our shiny new service to Windows Azure today (a release on Friday…. naughty).  It has been a low risk release as the notification and live tile functionality as you all know hasn’t been working for a while.

With this in mind we wanted to get it right and have spent the past few weeks concentrating on implementing site streams from the twitter API to ensure we can provide you with almost instant notifications and live tile updates (phone connectivity depending).  I hope you all enjoy the new and improved service.  Development and testing has been an enjoyable challenge for myself, Joe and our test lead Samera.

NOTE: You will need to resave your notification settings for each account in your current Birdsong version (latest is v1.7) to take advantage of the new service.

NOTE: If you enable notifications in your current application favorited tweets and retweets will come through.  When version 1.8 is released these options will be configurable.

Birdsong v1.8 (Coming soon)

In regards to the next version of the Birdsong client we will be enhancing features for notifications to allow you to enable or disable toast notifications for favorites and retweets when they occur.

The final feature we have also added gives you the opportunity to turn on live in-app updates.  This feature will automatically refresh your timelines when you are mentioned or a direct message is sent to you.

As for the technologies we used and how the push notification was redesigned.  I shall leave that for another post…..

Have a great weekend, oh and don’t forget to set your do not disturb settings ;o)


XPF to be open sourced

by David Wynne

Way back in 2010 we announced the public beta of a new framework called XPF, a layout framework for XNA.  It enabled WPF/Silverlight style layouts to be created in XNA solving the pain point of doing 2D layouts in XNA.  It was built from the ground up in pure XNA, supported data binding, attached properties etc and came with a bunch of out of the box controls like Button, Border and the always popular Grid.


What happened?

We were working on a project that had a huge amount of 3D and 2D content and as such was the test bed and, if you like, the thing driving the backlog of XPF.  We were also planning to productise XPF and sell licences so that others could use it in their products and we could make a few quid.

Two things happened.  The project we were working on fell by the wayside and Microsoft announced that they would allow you to combine Silverlight & XNA on the next version of Windows Phone 7 OS.  The impetus for XPF was lost and, as is often the case with start-ups, our attentions were focused elsewhere.

Where is XPF now?

The code for XPF is still sat in a private repo on  We really did do a ton of work on it, as you can see from the numerous blogs we wrote as we went.  There are literally hundreds of BDD specs covering every aspect and thousands of lines of code goodness.

We still get a lot of interest in XPF and pretty much decided months ago that there wasn’t the market to really productise it, so would instead turn it over to the open source community.  We didn’t really want to just flip the switch, make it public and slap an open source label on it however – we wanted some form of curation.  After all we’ve put a lot of our time and effort into the codebase.

What’s going to happen?

In February I started chatting to a Jaco & Jonathan in South Africa about what was happening with XPF and to cut a long story short, we’ve got to the point where they have agreed to shepard XPF into the open source arena – with some help from us of course.

Jaco, Jonathan & I have just had our first Skype call together to get the ball rolling and over the next couple of weeks they’re going to get the code base updated and ready to go public.

It would be great to see XPF brought back to life and to provide real benefit to those who’ve shown interest in it over the last couple of years.  We’re not totally sure how the project will pan out and obviously it’s early in our working relationship – but hopefully we’re moving in the right direction and together we can open up XPF to everyone!


Return of Swiss Typography – Metro

by Sari Griffiths

It’s been a month already (where has my month gone?) since  I attended a workshop for Windows Phone Design Clinic on Thursday 10 May at Soho, London, organised by Microsoft and Nokia.

Can’t believe it’s Microsoft

I was 10 mins late coming in and as I walked in, I was greeted by a presentation showing classic Swiss Typography. This the kind of stuff I learned about at art school and the kind of stuff I’ve got a quite a few books about at home. Examples include beautiful urban transport signs from around the world and the famous grid system.

Here are some posters by Josef Müller-Brockmann – typical Swiss Typography.

The audience was about half developers and half designers, so I’m not sure how the developer folks took to this presentation, but my honest first opinion was: this is a lovely design – can’t believe it’s Microsoft. (Sorry!)

I have seen their Metro design templates prior to the workshop, so I knew it was pretty ambitious. But hearing from Dave Crawford first-hand how it came about and what it was all about, it really hit home. This was really happening and it was very well thought through.

When iPhone changed the smart phone market, it was revolutionary. But its iOS design relied heavily on real life metaphors of buttoned machines. I suppose this was to  provide some clues to how a crazy device with no buttons works.

That’s a while ago. These days, users are happily swiping and pinching their devices away – they know how these button-less things work now. It is the perfect time to rethink interfaces for touch devices.

It was surprising that it came from Microsoft.

Let’s face it, they were not really known for good graphic design (Some old fun: Microsoft repackage iPod video). Their brand was more of ‘you can do anything as long as you know what you’re doing’ and it’s about performance, not the look’.  Whereas Apple was more about ‘user experience’ and ‘our way is the right way’.

Lately, I think there is a shift in this positioning. Apple is still criticised for not making iOS open enough etc, but as long as their user experience is concerned, it’s anything goes. They are not doing much about their slipping standards of user experience and slick graphics, that they were once famous for.

Android provides an alternative to iOS, but it is an alternative. The interaction models aren’t very different. It basically has a few more physical buttons than the iPhone. Having said that, it is a jolly good alternative with lots more freedom for developers.

And now with Metro, Microsoft is providing a new approach, rethinking the interaction model for touch screen devices.

Two points stand out for me.

1. Panorama interaction: the edge of screen isn’t the edge of screen.

The screen they call ‘panorama’ is a wide page with a few columns. You have to swipe to see it all, but it’s pretty intuitive to use. It really brings the horizontal direction into play, not just vertical.

2. Back means back.

Metro doesn’t encourage apps to have a ‘home’ button. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but if you can get away with it, it’s better for it not to be there. Having this principle really challenges you to think about interaction and user experience, and not to default on the standard website model that you see a lot on iOS.

Respect your device

In one of Dave’s slides, he told us to respect a few rules. “Respect your device” was the most memorable one.

There were a few comments from the audience about some clients asking for the apps across mobile devices to be identical because they want consistency. Between iOS and Android, their similarity allows these apps to seem pretty identical, but not in Metro.

I thought the question for this situation will be “what ‘consistency’ means in this context?” It is unlikely that someone is holding two devices side by side, using the apps and saying “oh, they’re not the same”. It’s more likely the user feels they are the same. If your back button didn’t go back as you expected it to do, you feel it’s wrong, even if that’s what happens with other devices. Consistency can only come from how well the app operates on the particular device you’re using.

Having worked on an app for iOS and Android, for both to have the same feel, I know that they can’t be identical either. There are subtle differences due to the existence of the back and menu buttons, forcing architecture to be different. However their visual styles could be very similar, giving the illusion that they are identical.

Okay, I admit that recreating an iOS app for Metro requires a much harder rethink than doing the same for Android. Several speakers at the workshop recommended going back to the drawing board rather than trying to translate. And actually, your app could work much better in Metro than in iOS as a result of it by digging deep into the concept of the app and the brand.

So would I use it?

Yes is the simple answer.

I am a long-term iPhone user but I really wanted to try this out. It’s great having someone challenging the way we interact with devices. It’s a beautiful system to use and look at. I’ve asked for my company phone to be a Windows Phone 7.

I am also looking forward to doing some work on Metro. Although it’s really well thought through, it is not an easy task to design for one. You still need a good design to make it work. But it’s really exciting to see where it’s heading UX-wise. Now, what I’m not so sure about, is what it’s like for devs…?

For further reading about designing for Metro:



Birdsong v1.2 Released!

by Cain Ullah

Birdsong v1.2 is now available in the marketplace!

v1.2 is all about filling the functionality gap and preparing for copy/paste. So what’s new?

  • Multiple accounts – via accounts.
  • Geo-tagging – you can attach your location, exact location or a nearby place to tweets.
    • Via settings you can control whether to always auto geo-tag all you tweets and whether you want to share your exact location by default.  These settings are account specific.
  • Configurable timeline font size – via settings.
  • Favourite/Unfavourite a tweet.
  • Share tweet/DM via Email or SMS
  • Delete Tweet
  • Delete Direct Message
  • Profile page now shows whether a user is following  you.
  • Threaded conversations automatically scroll to the bottom.
  • When viewing an individual tweet or DM, you can select enable copy from the application bar menu which switches the text of the message into copy mode.  This is in preparation for the March update that will introduce copy/paste.
  • About page (in settings) now links to the @redbadgerteam profile, our support portal (directly within the app) and a direct link to our announcements forum to see what’s new in the release.

What got fixed?

  • Certain lists didn’t allow you to tap the header to jump back to the top of the list (like favourites).  They  do now.
  • Retweets now propagate across all timelines not just the one you retweeted from.
  • Opening some links in Internet Explorer caused an unhandled exception.
  • Some minor translations have been fixed.
  • We’ve upgraded to the latest version of Rx (Reactive Extensions).  The previous version had a serious bug in that would throw random NullReferenceExceptions.  With the new version Microsoft have fixed this.

If you experience any problems or have any feedback we want to know about it – let us know via or you can email:

We hope you enjoy Birdsong v1.2. If you haven’t already got it you can get it in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

We’re already working on push notifications (live tile / toast) to be shipped with v1.3 so watch out for that!


Birdsong v1.1 Released

by Cain Ullah

LogoWe are happy to announce v1.1 of Birdsong is now available.

This release is primarily about stability and performance.  We’ve tried to address all known issues and done a ton of performance work which should mean the whole app is a bit faster and updates are far quicker.

Along with greater speed and stability v1.1 also brings:

  • Runs under lock screen.
  • Landscape mode is now supported throughout the application (bar a couple of places).
  • Multi-lingual support: English (United States), English (United Kingdom), German, French, Spanish and Italian.

The following major issues should now be resolved:

  • Tweeting certain special characters sometimes resulted in failure to send a tweet.
  • Retweeting a mention resulted in message entities no longer being highlighted.
  • Using Birdsong on some form of “guest wireless” which required sign-in via a web-form, caused an unexpected error.
  • Unable to scroll beyond the first few favourites.

We have implemented a migration strategy so that v1.1 will make some changes in the background without effecting your current data or settings. The data store will now work very differently to provide you with enhanced performance.

With v1.1 we’re also changing how we deal with support issues and feedback.  All support issues will now be serviced via our new support portal; which offers ticket management, user forums and feature requests all in one place.  The support portal can be found at:

If you experience any problems or have any feedback we want to know about it – let us know via the support forums or you can email:

If you do not already have Birdsong for Windows Phone 7 it is available in the Windows Phone Marketplace.


Birdsong Feedback Is Moving

by David Wynne

One of the changes we’re making with the upcoming release of v1.1 of Birdsong is how we deal with support and feedback.  As of today we have moved support, feedback, user forums and feature requests all under one happy roof at our brand new support portal at

Naturally you’ve got questions as to why we’re moving everything and what’s going to happen to the feedback you’ve already provided; hopefully we can answer those questions here.

Why the change?
We want to offer the best support, respond to all feedback and hear your feature requests.  We couldn’t do that all in one place under our old feedback site.  With the new one we can.

What happens to requests I’ve already made?
Worry not, if you head over to the new Feature Requests forum you’ll find them all there.  We’ve moved over all the feedback, all the comments and kept a record of the number of votes each request had.

How do I vote for something on the new site?
The new forum has a similar voting concept that will allow the most popular features to bubble to the top.  Instead of assigning a limited number of votes, you can simply choose to “like” an idea.

What happened to my votes?
Unfortunately we can’t alter the number of votes an idea has on the new site, so it will appear everything has started back at 0.  Fear not however, we’ve recorded the number of votes each idea had in the description on the new site and we promise we’ll take them into account when prioritising features.

What else do I get?
Announcements on upcoming releases, a Community Help forum so the Birdsong community can start helping each other out, and an integrated experience with our new support ticketing system.


We’d like to thank everyone who’s provided feedback and feature requests to date – your feedback genuinely has an impact on what we choose to work on next – so don’t stop!

The new home of support and feedback for Birdsong is


Birdsong Quick Tip: Status Bar Icons

by Cain Ullah

The status bar in Birdsong provides you with an ‘at a glance’ view of the status of your timelines. To make the ‘at a glance’ status more intuitive it relies on iconography so following on from David’s Tweet Property Icons blog earlier today – this is a very brief blog explaining the icons used in the status bar.

Timeline Icons

Status Bar

Each timeline will have an icon associated to it to identify the timeline type. A brief description of each is below:

Friend Home – This timeline will include tweets for everyone you follow

Mention Mentions – Every tweet in which your tweet screen name is mentioned will appear in this timeline

DirectMessage Messages – Contains Direct Message conversations between yourself and other people who follow you

List List – Any saved list that you have specifically added in the timeline configuration will have this icon associated to it. If you have multiple lists configured they icon will be the same for them all.

Search Search – This is again a specifically configured timeline. This may be a saved search or a new search but both will be identified with this icon.

Download Status

When Birdsong is attempting to download your latest tweets, status indicators appear next to the timeline icons.

Status Bar - free icon set Updating – When a timeline is being updated, this indicator will appear next to the icon for that timeline. This will only appear on one timeline at a time. In the image to the right the list timeline is currently being updated.

Status Bar - No free icon set Update failed – If Birdsong experiences a problem whilst updating one of your timelines a sad face icon will appear next to the relevant timeline icon. This is most commonly caused when Birdsong can’t access the internet.

These icons will remain there until the next successful download.

So, as I said, a very brief blog but hopefully this will be of some help to some of you.

Follow us at @redbadgerteam and don’t forget to feedback with any new enhancement requests and vote on existing ones. We will be prioritising our development according to user demand.

Get Birdsong Now!



Birdsong Quick Tip: Tweet Property Icons

by David Wynne

One of our favourite features of Birdsong is the Tweet Property Icons – they appear to the bottom right of tweets in your timeline and quickly let you know what lies within.  Here’s a quick run-down of what they look like and what they mean.


If you see the conversation icon, it indicates that the tweet was “in reply to” someone and you’ll be able to tap through to the conversation and see every response in context.





Birdsong’s integrated picture viewer recognises and integrates with all the major picture services (twitpic, yfrog, flickr, plixi and moby).  If you see the picture icon, you’ll get a thumbnail of the picture which you can tap on to view in full screen.



We integrate with Bing Maps, so if your friends geo-tag their tweets you’ll get a thumbnail map of their location and be able to tap through to a full interactive Bing Map.




If you’ve earmarked a tweet as a favourite, you’ll see the star tweet property icon in your timeline.





Some of your friends may choose to limit who can see their tweets and protect their account – if you’re one of the special ones,  you can feel even more special with this delightful padlock icon.


Follow us at @redbadgerteam to pick up on more quick tips!

Download Birdsong from Zune Now!