HERE's upcoming availability for Samsung Galaxy smartphones was announced in late-August, and, at first, it appeared to be an exclusive launch. But, shortly after, Nokia's arm revealed that the app would actually be made available for every compatible Android smartphone "later this year".
HERE launched in beta for Samsung Galaxy smartphones only two weeks ago. For a first public release, the amount of features available is rather impressive, even for someone like me who is used to the fully-featured HERE suite on Windows Phone. And, now, everyone with an Android smartphone running any of the three Jelly Bean iterations or newer can also test what HERE has to offer (as long as the device has 1 GB of RAM or more), as the app's availability is extending beyond Galaxy smartphones.
Today, Nokia officially brings HERE to Samsung Galaxy smartphones, expanding the reach of its powerful mapping software outside of Windows Phones and handsets that bear the Nokia branding. For the time being, the app is exclusively available in the South Korean maker's app store for Galaxy devices, but, later, it will make its way to other Android smartphones as well.
The HERE app may currently be labeled as a beta, but it does not skimp on features. It arrives with pretty much all the major features that Windows Phone users are enjoying from the HERE suite, which says a lot about Nokia's plans post-Lumia. Let's take a look.
While traveling, my smartphone's always running out of juice sooner than it normally does. This leads to some frustrating moments, like being unable to make calls, open a map or send texts, not to mention having to watch the percentage indicator. Not knowing where someone is, for instance, is never great news in such situations. I know I could use an external battery charger, but I tend to avoid them, and for good reasons.
They generally tend to be bulky, ugly, and almost fragile. Getting the impression that what can only be regarded as a tool is flimsy is not confidence-inspiring -- if it breaks, it's going to be a problem. Microsoft's new Portable Power appears to be different, however. And why wouldn't it be, when it has some Nokia DNA in it?
Nokia Lumia 830 is meant to act as a gap-filler in Microsoft's Windows Phone 8.1 line, slotting in-between the Lumia 930 flagship and the Lumia 735 budget-friendly offering. It's a mid-ranger, in both hardware features and price. It is also the successor to the two year-old Lumia 820, as its name implies.
Microsoft has high hopes for Lumia 830, calling it "the first affordable flagship" and marketing it as cheaper alternative to the likes of Apple iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy S5. It's a strategy which could pay off in emerging markets, where consumers want premium devices but cannot afford the cost premiums. We will have to see how the market reacts to Lumia 830, which goes on sale starting this week.
Microsoft has announced that Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 is now rolling out for Nokia Lumia 930, just shy of two months after it introduced the latest version of the tiled operating system. The flagship is the first Nokia-branded handset to be officially updated to Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, and among the few that officially run this installment.
Even though, on Nokia's support forums, the software update is described as being "minor", it actually offers quite a few notable improvements over the previous firmware release. Contrary to expectations, it does not bring the Lumia Denim enhancements along with it.
Windows Phone is a very polarizing operating system to say the least. Many consumers refuse to give it a chance, and the ones that do, either hate it or love it. Despite the shortcomings of Microsoft's phone-focused OS, I find it to be a very rewarding experience. Of course, the biggest complaint is a lack of apps, and while there has been much improvement in that area, it is still a valid argument when compared against the iPhone or Android.
Apps aside, it is an intuitive experience that enhances one's life rather than take it over. Android and iPhone users are often in a zombie-like state while using the device, as if it is the sole-focus of their existence. Windows Phone is designed more to be glance-and-go. Unfortunately, while Nokia Lumia handsets have been wonderful, brand-diversity and selection has been severely lacking. Luckily, Microsoft majorly scored by getting HTC to produce a version of its One (M8) that runs Windows Phone. Can the sexy HTC handset outdo the sexiness of the popular Lumia line?
You should always shoot RAW, if given the option. As opposed to JPG, it's a lossless format. What the sensor sees is exactly what you get in your files. You also get lots more breathing room when editing photos without an apparent drop in quality. Shot in black and white and want to go back to color? No problem, RAW gives you that option. Want to recover shadow details without messing up the look of the image? Again, it's possible, as long as you shoot RAW. Want to recover details from blown highlights? Well, I am sure you get the gist by now.
If you are the lucky user of a Nokia Lumia 1020, Lumia 1520, Lumia Icon or Lumia 930 you can also take advantage of RAW capture. But, after you'll enable the feature, you will soon run into a problem -- what app to use to edit those unusually large files (with a DNG extension), right on your Windows Phone? Well, you can use Rawer.
I remember it like it was yesterday: when Lumia 1020 was unveiled, Microsoft and Nokia were very happy to announce that Flipboard would "soon" be coming to Windows Phone. That was in mid-July 2013. Fast forward to today and the app is still not available. "Soon" has a certain urgency to it, which, for some strange reason, always seems to be missing in its association with Windows Phone.
Microsoft and Nokia could have jumped the gun more than a year ago by touting that the app would arrive shortly after Lumia 1020's announcement, and Flipboard could have inadvertently delayed the launch since. No matter, "soon" sure ain't soon. Regardless, Flipboard is still on its way as its public listing on Windows Phone Store implies. This is one of the major missing titles; the sooner it is available the better for the platform.
When Microsoft announced Lumia 830 earlier this month, it made no specific mention of the so-called "first affordable flagship" arriving in US stores. The price was also listed in Euros (€330, before taxes and subsidies) from the get-go, reinforcing the idea that, like many other Nokia-branded devices before it, Lumia 830 was destined for other markets.
However, that does not appear to be the case, as US mobile operator AT&T has revealed that it will offer Lumia 830. But it remains to be seen whether the new Windows Phone will also make its way to Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint.
Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 are the oldest Nokia-branded Windows Phone 8 devices, being announced two years ago. The former was the Finnish company's flagship, until Lumia 925 came along, while the latter was introduced as a mid-ranger, succeeded only now by Lumia 830. The good news is that, despite their age, they continue to receive software updates, a reassuring sign, no doubt, for platform enthusiasts.
Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 have already started to receive a software update to Windows Phone 8.1 in many markets across the globe, but the much-awaited version of the tiled operating system is only now making its way to the AT&T-branded models.
HERE may be commonly associated with Windows Phone, but that is not stopping Nokia from also offering its powerful software on Samsung's Galaxy smartphones as well as the new Gear S smartwatch. Microsoft should be worried, as one of the main differentiating features of its Windows Phone -- the exclusive availability of the HERE suite, among top mobile platforms -- just vanished into thin air.
HERE is making its way to Galaxy smartphones with virtually all of its core features intact. That means turn-by-turn navigation in nearly 100 countries, detailed offline maps for up to 200 countries, live traffic information in more than 40 countries, and directions when using public transportation in more than 750 cities from more than 40 countries. It's pretty much the whole shebang.
Microsoft is right to ditch Nokia brands that may interfere with its Windows Phone plans. X devices of questionable value and out of fashion Asha feature phones do not represent the future. But, the company's homebrew smartphone platform might, and it needs all the attention it can get to become an immediate rival to Android and iOS. Right now, consumers are not seeing Windows Phone as a top pick, so changing this perception should be the one and only task Microsoft should undertake as far as phone-making is concerned.
Yet, today, Microsoft announces a new dumb phone, known as Nokia 130, which it calls "the most affordable mobile phone with video and music player". It costs €19, which is much, much less than what a prospective buyer can expect to shell out for an entry-level Nokia Lumia Windows Phone, like, for instance, Lumia 520. So why is Nokia 130 here?
Months after its unveiling in early-April at Build 2014, Windows Phone 8.1 is finally rolling out to compatible smartphones. Among the latest Windows Phone 8 devices to receive the coveted software upgrade are the AT&T variants of Nokia Lumia 925 and Lumia 520, the latter of which being a branded version of the most popular Windows Phone to date.
AT&T customers using Lumia 925 and Lumia 520 can apply the software upgrade right away, suggests the US mobile operator, by heading to the Settings menu, opening the phone update submenu and tapping on the check for updates button, the last of which will reveal the option to kick off the install.
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?)
We all know Google is the darling of the mapping world. If you are going on a trip, the search-giant's navigation solutions are arguably the best. However, it is dangerous to allow one company to essentially own an entire aspect of technology. Luckily, there are additional solutions like Apple Maps and Nokia HERE, to at least offer some semblance of competition. As a Windows Phone user, I have learned to love Nokia HERE as an excellent alternative to Google Maps and navigation. While HERE is lacking in some areas, it has the potential to be great.
Even though I love Windows Phone, I love Linux too -- shocking right? Yes, believe it or not, you can love both Microsoft products and open-source. Not all Linux users have tattoos of penguins urinating on the Windows logo. Hell, I own an iPad too -- the horror! Well, today, Canonical announces that it has formed an agreement with Nokia HERE to provide A-GPS technology to Ubuntu computers, including phones. Don't worry you strict Linux enthusiasts, Microsoft does not own Nokia HERE -- it was not part of the Nokia acquisition.