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.
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.
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.
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.
Lumia 635 is one of the three Nokia-branded Windows Phone 8.1 devices announced so far. It is designed to compete in the low-end smartphone market, where it goes up against similarly-priced handsets from rival Android manufacturers. It is also the only device in its lineup to officially reach US shores, with T-Mobile being the first local mobile operator to announce its availability.
But Lumia 635 will also be available at another US mobile operator. Starting July 25, AT&T will offer the Windows Phone 8.1 smartphone through its GoPhone prepaid service and, starting August 8, the device will also be available through the mobile operator's online and brick and mortar stores.
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.
One year after it went on sale, Nokia Lumia 1020 is still the smartphone to beat when it comes to delivering the best Windows Phone imaging experience. That can be attributed to its mighty 41 MP camera, which continues to be in a league of its own, unmatched in resolution by any of its modern rivals.
In the US, Lumia 1020 has been an AT&T-exclusive since its launch, in July 2013, much like other Windows Phone flagships which have been released in the second-largest smartphone market. But, now, you can buy it unlocked, right from Microsoft Store, without any AT&T branding in tow.
Nokia Lumia 520 is the handset that has helped Windows Phone become a serious competitor in the low-end smartphone market. It is also the first Windows Phone I would wholeheartedly recommend to folks looking for an affordable, yet capable smartphone. (I like it so much that I have actually bought one for my other half, to replace an aging iPhone.)
Consumers have taken notice of Lumia 520, proof being that the best low-end Windows Phone has topped 12 million activations, according to Microsoft chief operating officer Kevin Turner. That may not rival iPhone's figures anytime soon, but it still makes it a huge hit among Windows Phone users.
No matter how you slice it, Windows Phone Store is a ghost town. Too many popular titles just aren't there right now. As developers take their sweet time to release the desired offerings or overlook the platform altogether, could Android apps be the answer to Windows Phone's long-lasting shortcoming?
It wouldn't be unusual for Microsoft to get in bed with Android, as the software giant already sells Android-based devices, which make up its Nokia X series (admittedly, Nokia launched it). If it works there, it could work just as well for Windows Phone. It's not like the platform has anything to lose, considering the measly market share it claims since inception. Right? Well, it's not that simple.
After months of waiting, Nokia Lumia 930 is finally available. That is, of course, unless you are living in US, where Microsoft will not make the Windows Phone 8.1 flagship officially available. Sure, you can buy Lumia Icon instead, as it offers pretty much the same specs, but what if you are not, or not do want to be, a Verizon customer?
The first option is to import Lumia 930 from Europe, where it is sold by major retailers, some of which offer international shipping. Clove, which is based in UK, carries the smartphones, in black, orange and white, at a price of £362.5 (which is about $621) without any local taxes. Or, you can head over to Expansys US, which sells Lumia 930 for not much more.
After being announced in late-February, BBM finally landed in Windows Phone Store earlier this week. The messaging app is not yet generally available though, as it was published as a private beta. But BlackBerry is giving impatient BBM fans and prospective users the opportunity to join an "external" testing program.
Ahead of the public release, BlackBerry also showcases what the first BBM iteration can do on Windows Phone. First off, the Canadian maker has designed the app so it feels and looks, per BlackBerry's own words, like a native Windows Phone offering. That is a significantly different approach to what it has done with BBM for Android and iOS, both of which look much like the BlackBerry OS counterpart.
Microsoft's Mobile division just released Video Tuner, a new Windows Phone 8.1 app that gives users the ability to quickly edit videos right on their smartphones. The free offering is a Nokia Lumia-exclusive, at least for now, meaning that some platform users will be unable to install it.
Microsoft says Video Tuner offers "basic, yet powerful" tools, which include mundane ones like crop, flip, mirror, rotate, speed change and trim, as well as more advanced features like the option to add a soundtrack and tweak the sound level.
Following the launch of Windows Phone 8 in late-2012, Microsoft's smartphone platform has significantly increased its market share, reaching more consumers in more regions across the globe. Its rise can be attributed, for the most part, to sales of low-end handsets, like the affordable Nokia Lumia 520 and Lumia 625, which are prevalent in emerging markets.
So, it should come as no surprise that emerging markets make up roughly half the list of the 20 largest Windows Phone markets, according to a new report from Windows 8 and Windows Phone advertising network AdDuplex. The leader of the pack, however, is US, with 11 percent of the user base.
Twitter may have an official Windows Phone app, but the offering is sorely lagging behind its Android and iOS counterparts in the features department. That is because the updates come only a couple of times per year, and, even then, they fail to bring the latest goodies on the platform.
Luckily for those who are willing to put up with the offering, Twitter has finally released a new update for its Windows Phone app, the first one to come in 2014. And to show just how much it cares about the platform and its users, Twitter has not even announced the update on its blog (but, Microsoft did).
I have been waiting for BBM to make its triumphal arrival in Windows Phone Store for quite a while now. Its launch was revealed in February. Android and iPhone users are luckier, as the messaging app already launched on those platforms in the fall of 2013. But it now looks like Windows Phone users might soon also be able to join the party, and exchange PINs.
BlackBerry has published the BBM app for Windows Phone, but sadly for interested users it is not yet available for everyone to download, as it now undergoes private testing. That means only a select few can install it. Still, some progress is better than no progress at all, especially for those rocking a smartphone running the tiled operating system.