Best Alarm Apps in Windows Store.


Windows store like the android app store is populated by a lot of junk apps that don’t work. For the past few days, I was searching for a decent alarm application and I found that very few of the alarm application actually work. The main problem is that the alarm apps stop running the moment you visit another app.

So here I am going to document the best Alarm Apps in Windows 8 and the various pros and cons.

1. Smart Metro Alarm

Key features:

1. Multiple Alarms can be set and stored forever. No limit on alarms stored

2. Snoozing, repeating and alarms that repeat on specific days are supported

3. Night Mode to be used as a night stand clock.

4. Stopwatch that works even if the app is closed.

5. Snapped View works properly.

Pros: All the above features actually work. I have bought this alarm and the developer keeps updating this app every week. Alarms ring properly and stopwatch works fine. .The biggest feature is that the alarms actually work even if the lock screen is on or the app isn’t running.

Cons: Overtly simplistic UI.UI could be improved

Rating 8/10

Link

2. Sunrise Clock

Key features:

1. Multiple Alarms can be set and stored forever. No limit on alarms stored

2. Night mode.

3. Choice of 5 beautiful background picture.

4. Very attractive UI

5. Works in snapped mode.

Pros: Very nice UI. Has the concept of sunrise, so if you keep the alarm app on and go to sleep it will simulate a sunrise with time but, if you are like me you will be too sleepy to notice. Over all the app works great as long as you keep it open. You can choose from 5 different sounds

Cons: The app doesn’t work, when the lock screen is on or you are seeing another app. The alarm unfortunately doesn’t ring when any other app is open. So if you by chance fall asleep without opening the app then your alarms won’t ring. A very serious problem. And also no option of snoozing.

Rating 5/10

Link

3. HD Alarm Clock

A bit pricey alarm clock with heavily customizable features.

Key features:

1. Multiple Alarms can be set and stored forever. No limit on alarms stored

2. Choose your own alarm tone.

3. Very nice UI

4. Obstacles for deep sleeper.

5. News are shown in one screen.

6. Beautiful themes and work well.

Pros: All the features work as expected. One cool thing is obstacles that are put in place during an alarm

Con: The alarm stops working if the app isn’t running or the lock screen is on. The only problem that seriously impairs the functionality.

Rating: 7/10

Overall winner: Metro Smart Alarm

Display Image from Stream in Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8


The alternative title could also have been “Converting Stream to  IRandomAccessStream in windows store apps and windows phone 8.”

Frequently we might need to extract an image from a stream and display it in a XAML control,also called Image.

Typically the Stream can come from WebResponse or through any other source.

Stream stream= response1.GetResponseStream();

Where response1 is the WebResponse.Now it’s a daunting task to extract the image from the stream in Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 specially since we do not have access to system.imaging and related namespaces. So how do we go about it ?

Step 1:

Convert Stream to Memory Stream.The reason for this is that later,we need to convert Stream to IRandomAccessStream section.Memory Stream inherits from Stream.Memory Stream is a special class for accessing and storing the data in memory.

The MemoryStream class creates streams that have memory as a backing store instead of a disk or a network connection

MemoryStream ms = new MemoryStream();
 stream.CopyTo(ms);

Step 2:Convert MemoryStream to IRandomAccessStream.

This is the trickiest part as because there is no built in simple of way of doing this.IRandomAccessStream ia windows RT stream for random access of data.While coding,you might need to convert to and fro between .NET streams and Windows RT streams.For doing that,there are extension methods . These are AsInputStream and AsOutputStream .The problem with AsInputStream is that it converts a Stream to an IInputStream.  What we need is a Stream converted to an IRandomAccessStream

Lets see how this is done,

We implement an user defined function for doing so

 

 public static async Task<IRandomAccessStream> ConvertToRandomAccessStream(MemoryStream memoryStream)
        {
            var randomAccessStream = new InMemoryRandomAccessStream();
            var outputStream = randomAccessStream.GetOutputStreamAt(0);
            var dw = new DataWriter(outputStream);
            var task = Task.Factory.StartNew(() => dw.WriteBytes(memoryStream.ToArray()));
                await task;
                await dw.StoreAsync();
                await outputStream.FlushAsync();
            return randomAccessStream;
        }

What this basically does is creates a new InMemoryRandomAccessStream which implements IRandomAccessStream.Then we point to the location in the output stream at which to begin through the GetOutputStreamAt function..Then we create the Datawriter and manually asynchronously copy the data from the memory stream to the output stream and store it.

step 3:

we set the source of the bitmapImage

IRandomAccessStream a1 = await ConvertToRandomAccessStream(ms);
await bitmapImage.SetSourceAsync(a1);

Step 4: Finally

imageBox1.Source = bitmapImage;

We set the source property of the XAML image control and set it to the bitmap image.

Here’s the consolidated code.

Stream stream= response1.GetResponseStream();
BitmapImage bitmapImage= new BitmapImage();
MemoryStream ms = new MemoryStream();
 stream.CopyTo(ms);
 IRandomAccessStream a1 = await ConvertToRandomAccessStream(ms);
 await bitmapImage.SetSourceAsync(a1);
 imageBox1.Source = bitmapImage;