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.
Now that Windows Phone 8.1 has scored a huge win by receiving support for Fitbit wearables, Microsoft is giving prospective Nokia Lumia 635 buyers the option to purchase a bundle that also includes a Fitbit Flex activity tracker.
The bundle, that starts at $148.95, is good for both the AT&T and T-Mobile versions of Lumia 635, that cost $99 and $129, respectively, on Microsoft Store when purchased individually. Flex goes for $99.95 alone on Fitbit's site. That equates to savings of $50 when buying the two devices as a bundle on Microsoft's online and brick and mortar shops.
Even though Microsoft is planning to downsize its Nokia X efforts (to the point where there will likely be no new device announced), the software giant is still supporting its Android lineup by rolling out a new software update.
The update introduces the multitasking functionality from the Nokia X2 lineup, giving users the ability to easily switch and close running apps. It can be triggered by tapping on the App Switcher icon, after swiping down from the top of the display.
Despite its repeated attempts to elbow its way into mainstream popularity, Windows Phone is going on four years old and is still being slapped down by iPhone and Android -- like an overly buoyant younger sibling with a penchant for multi-colored tiles.
Trouble is, now more than ever the pressure is on. LG, Samsung and HTC have all already fired their flagships into the market, and with the promise of a bigger, bolder iPhone in September, it's high time we saw a Windows Phone that can start leading the pack rather than trailing behind it.
Nokia Lumia 520 has proved to be an extremely important entry-level handset for Windows Phone, allowing the platform to reach more consumers and become more relevant in emerging markets. Its successor has to live up to high expectations, as it has to exceed the 12 million activations mark quicker than Lumia 520 has managed to, in order to be considered a success. That is no easy task, when the competition in the entry-level smartphone market is heating up.
So does the new Lumia 530 have what it takes to become a worthy Lumia 520 successor? Well, it at least gets off on the right foot, as Microsoft says its new Windows Phone 8.1 entry-level offering is expected to cost €85 before any local taxes and subsidies, and under €100 "on the highstreet". And that goes for the Dual SIM version as well; it will play a key role in increasing Windows Phone's popularity among price-conscious buyers.
Eighth in a series. What goes around comes around. It's cliché but describes my return to Nokia after abandoning the brand five years ago. I never expected to come back, and the app experience, while a backwater compared to Android or iOS, is little different than when I left. Cameras are great and app selection limited, but it's hugely improved because of Microsoft.
Nokia was in 2009 still the world's mobile handset leader, except for one major market: The United States. As such, Symbian dominated mobile app development, even as iOS rose in prominence. (Remember: Apple opened its app store in July 2008, and the first Android phone shipped a few months later.) But the majority of apps and supporting services, developed by Nokia and third-parties, best suited the rest of the world. Americans had limited choices on the company's handsets.
Today, as part of an expected restructuring plan, Microsoft announces that it will cut 18,000 jobs within a year. The company claims this move will "simplify its organization and align the recently acquired Nokia Devices and Services business with the company's overall strategy". Yes, basically, Microsoft wants to get rid of excess employees, and the software giant is doing so following Satya Nadella's last memo to employees.
Of the 18,000 jobs to be cut, 12,500 positions are to be eliminated as a direct result of its deal with Nokia. The job cuts are not expected to be carried out completely until the end of June, 2015, and will cost Microsoft between $1.1 and $1.6 billion, which includes between $750 and $800 million in severance packages. The writing has been on the wall since the Devices and Services purchase was finalized earlier this year.
Microsoft has introduced Preview for Developers to give Windows Phone users early access to new releases, specifically betas, of the tiled operating mobile system. The program is also supposed to ensure a seamless upgrade path to the official firmware, once it is available.
While I have had no issues upgrading to an official firmware ever since I started using Preview for Developers in late-2013, it looks like there might be a problem in upgrading to Lumia Cyan for those of us who have relied on the program to install Windows Phone 8.1.