Four years ago, I asserted: "Windows Phone 7 series is a lost cause", and it was. But you gotta give Microsoft credit for persistence. Today the foundation is solid, and app developers are finally starting to notice, like they did in 2004 with Apple's flagship operating system.
But pundits howl like the zombie apocalypse, which is pretty good analogy for mindless Android and iOS users constantly clicking and scrolling. Microsoft's Windows Phone "glance-and-go" design philosophy is all about living beings and interacting with them rather than cold plastic and metal slabs. (Say, isn't that where we lay the dead before burying them?)
Today, Microsoft announces the first major update for Windows Phone 8.1, called Update 1. It introduces new features and improvements over the version which the software giant unveiled earlier this year at Build 2014, and makes way for Cortana to arrive in new markets.
In Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, Microsoft adds Live Folders, allowing users to group live tiles on the Start screen. Like the name suggests, it is able to display updating information on its tile, coming from the items it contains. A live folder can be created by dragging a live tile on top of another.
There are now more than one million apps in the Apple app store but a study by Deloitte's showed that 80 percent of apps get less than 1,000 downloads each. If we assume (very, very conservatively) that those apps cost an average of $10,000 to develop -- that is at least $8 billion being wasted making apps no one uses.
In reality, the cost is often over $100,000, which makes the wastage around $80 billion. That is a lot of marketing and development dollars being spent that could have been better used on something else.
Microsoft has released Skype for Android 5.0, a new version of its chat tool that includes free audio and video messaging. The latest release concentrates on providing support for one single upcoming feature: find your friends.
The feature, which should roll out over the next few weeks, will give users the option of connecting Skype to their phone’s address book, making it easier to connect with existing contacts through the chat service.
The option to change the Windows Phone 8.1 lockscreen is a new feature Microsoft showcased in early-April, at the unveiling of its new operating system, but that is not yet ready for prime time. As you may recall, Windows Phone head Joe Belfiore has said that it will be available later down the road through a dedicated app.
But, how close are we to its release? Well, Belfiore says that the development of the lockscreen app is in its final stages, with the software giant and prolific Windows Phone developer Rudy Huyn (who also works on the lockscreen app, as announced at Build 2014) now focusing on "loose ends".
Every smartphone user needs a good mapping app, something to get them from A to B with the absolute minimum of hassle.
Google Maps is a great first choice, and of course there’s plenty of other options. But if you need something that will work anywhere, up mountains or down dirt tracks, then Maps.Me is a must-have.
While two-factor authentication acts as an effective security barrier against malicious attacks, it also makes the login process more cumbersome for legitimate users by requiring them to type in security codes, on top of usernames and passwords. Luckily, there are dedicated apps that can make things easy.
One such app is Microsoft account (the choice of name is not particularly inspired), which was just released by the software giant to allow its Android users to manage -- validate or deny -- log in requests, when two-factor authentication is turned on for their Microsoft accounts.
It feels a bit ironic to be discussing, in 2014, if C++ is a viable, or more importantly, a great choice for multi-device, multi-platform app development. It’s ironic in the sense that despite the attention Objective-C, Java, and C# get for app development, most of the software we use on a daily basis is written in C/C++ and after all these years represents the largest community of developers.
There are many reasons to use C++ for your current and future app development and I will discuss five key reasons after a brief history.
Ever struggled to find a particular file on your Android mobile? Wish you could exert more control over your photos and other media, or uninstall more than one app at once? You need a file manager, and not just any file manager, but Tomi File Manager 1.4.2 at that.
Tomi File Manager packs in lots of useful features, works with both internal and external storage and is far more than a simple tool for viewing files -- plus, it’s free.
The official Twitter app may be good enough for casual Windows Phone use, but only a third-party client has all the right features for the social network's power users. While there already are a couple of good picks available in Store, the arrival of Tweetium, best known as one of the most fully-featured Twitter clients for Windows 8.x, just beefed-up the selection.
The developer, B-side Software, has released Tweetium as a beta. It is meant to be tested just by "select" existing "customers", according to its Store description, but we can still take a look.
Google has started to roll out Google Maps for Android 8.2, focusing its attention of cyclists with the addition of some handy new features.
The app also introduces voice control for vehicle navigation, effectively turning the user’s Android mobile or tablet into a GPS navigation system.
You may recall that, earlier this month, BBM finally made its way to Windows Phone Store, after arriving on Android and iOS last year. It was not made publicly available, as BlackBerry chose to conduct a beta testing trial before its official launch.
As one of the folks who quickly signed up for the beta program, I just received an email from BlackBerry detailing what sort of features are available to test, what the known problems are, and how to provide feedback. Here is what fellow beta testers can expect.
Cloud storage service Dropbox has detailed a new partnership with mobile operator Deutsche Telekom, that will result in its Android app being preloaded on the majority of devices sold in certain parts of Europe by the German company and its subsidiaries.
This partnership also impacts Deutsche Telekom's current customer base, who will be helped to "discover" Dropbox. The Android devices that will come preloaded with the app will be available, starting in October, in Central and Eastern European markets.
Windows Phone developers should be commended for the great job they are doing with third-party apps, which are, sometimes, even superior to the real deal. But, while they cover quite a few popular services, like Dropbox, Gmail or YouTube, I have yet to come across a competent client for Google+. For some reason, all Windows Phone apps I have tried either did not work as advertised or were acting as a wrapper for the mobile site.
As a result I have stopped trying to use Google+ altogether on Windows Phone, switching over to my laptop or tablet whenever I want to reach followers on the social network. But, thanks to G.T.F.O. Productions and its gPlus app, that might change.
Barely a month after its initial release, and Piriform has released not one, but two minor updates to its new Android cleaning app. CCleaner for Android 1.02 promises improved analysis and cleaning processes as well as a handful of new features and tweaks.
The app, which requires an Android phone or tablet running Android 4.0 or up, provides a selection of cleaning tools for reclaiming storage space and improving performance by removing junk and other unnecessary files.