Windows 10 is shaping up to be the best Windows yet. I am still wrapping my head around it, but after going through most of the changes I think there are a ton of things to like about it, which is an astonishing achievement. Microsoft really managed to surprise me, and I didn't expect that, to be perfectly honest.
However, what seals the deal for me is how all the changes tie together. I can now say that there are clear benefits to using the latest Windows across all devices that support it. It makes total sense, for the first time. In fact, without even trying the new Preview release, I am sold on Windows 10. Count me in as one of the first to make the switch on all of my devices!
It is fair to say that Windows Phone still needs quite a few major titles in Store before the so-called app-gap can be considered a thing of the past. Take cloud storage services for example. You can embrace OneDrive if you want to stick with Microsoft services, or, as an alternative, use Box. But neither Dropbox nor Google Drive are an option. Both are hugely popular services, and their availability can be a deal-breaker for prospective Windows Phone users.
The good news is that at least Dropbox's availability on Windows Phone is no longer an issue, as the cloud storage service just launched its app in Store. It's undeniably a major win for the tiled smartphone operating system, which has consistently been criticized for lacking an official Dropbox client.
Windows Phone is the last major mobile platform to receive an official Mega app, following Android, iOS and even BlackBerry. It took quite a long time for the offering to make its public debut in Store, as the cloud storage service, which launched two years ago, first mentioned details surrounding its development in mid-2013.
Expectations are high, also taking into account the fact that Mega currently sits in Windows Phone Store as version 2.0. What does it have to offer? Well, let's take a look at the features it has, and should have.
No matter how much Windows Phone has progressed, it feels like it will always be held back by its app store. Lots of nice titles continue to be unavailable, despite claims of the so-called "app-gap" closing. It is not, clearly. When top developers eventually release their apps on the platform, they usually come long after their Android and iOS counterparts and are rarely updated. Let's not even talk about feature parity, which is a huge issue on its own. Of course, that is if those top developers can be convinced to support Windows Phone in the first place, which isn't always the case. It's not an easy thing to do.
Windows Phone Store is also not helped by the developers who decide to abandon or leave the platform altogether. The latest blow is dealt by Chase Bank, which has supported Windows Phone for more than two years. It just announced that it will take the latter route, packing its bags and leaving the platform in just a few days.
Twitter is my favorite social media site because it is easy to use. There aren't tons of privacy "gotchas" like on some other sites. I can log in, share my thoughts in 140 characters and be done. Best of all, the time line is basically chronological. On Facebook, I have no idea what the heck is going on -- the order of posts sometimes seem to be random.
So if I like Twitter for its simplicity, I should also want to Tweet without much effort too, right? Right. In a new update for Windows Phone, users can now send Tweets using Cortana. Will you use her to relay your social media communiques?
Microsoft has made lots of mistakes with Windows Phone. Without a shadow of a doubt, one of the biggest screw-ups is the lack of an upgrade path from Windows Phone 7 to the next major installment, Windows Phone 8. The software giant basically shot itself, and its mobile platform, in the foot there. But let's let bygones be bygones, shall we?
The reason why I am bringing this up now is that there's chatter about Lumia 532 being "Windows 10 ready". And it's not just a rumor, no. Microsoft's own landing page for the Windows Phone advertises this, when doing a search for the device. Strangely enough, some are taking this with a grain of salt, like it isn't obvious. But it is. Lumia 532 will get Windows 10. Microsoft isn't going to make the same mistake twice, otherwise it will kill the platform for good.
For a while Windows Phone users complained about the lack of apps, one of which was Spotify. The music service is now there and things are improving in general for the platform. Now Spotify has a major new update for Microsoft's mobile devices, bringing it more in line with versions on competing handsets.
The big feature is the addition of Your Music. This option allows customers to better organize and browse their tunes, as well as create playlists and view cover art. If you find something to your liking, you can simply hit "save" and move on -- it will be there for you in the future.
I have a confession; I love Windows Phone. I must whisper this, as Microsoft's mobile operating system has fallen out of favor with the tech community. Well, it was never popular to begin with, but lately, even fanboys have been jumping ship. It's hard to blame them, as there are many limitations to the platform; most notably apps. With that said, I still enjoy it.
If you are like me, and haven't yet given up on Windows Phone entirely, you are in for a treat. Today, Microsoft announces that Lumia Denim is officially rolling out for more devices this month. What does this mean? If you have a Lumia handset, better performance and new features are on the way.
Windows Phone is most-preferred by low-end smartphone buyers. In fact, Nokia Lumia 520 alone accounts for more than 25 percent of Windows Phones currently in use. However, for consumers in developing and emerging markets even a smartphone as affordable as Lumia 520 may be priced out of their budget.
Less-expensive options are needed for the platform to increase its user base, so, today, Microsoft announces its most-affordable Windows Phones yet -- Lumia 532 and Lumia 435. The two devices are designed to offer basically the same Windows Phone experience as their more expensive siblings, but at prices starting at as low as €69, before any local taxes and subsidies are factored in.
Whenever I see contests and sweepstakes, I am usually dubious. Why? I just don't see the fun in a random drawing. Sure, winning a prize is fun, but if you win it for doing nothing other than signing up, where is the sport? I prefer a contest where the winner earns a prize.
Today, Microsoft announces a rather sweet contest aimed at developers (developers, developers...). Well, not just any developers, but game developers in particular. If you can create a really great Windows game, the company may fly you to the 2015 Game Developer Conference.
There's something of an air of excitement surrounding the release of the next version of Windows. The various builds of Windows 10 Technical Preview have delighted, frustrated, aroused, and annoyed in just about equal measure. Whichever side of the fence you fall on, one thing is certain about Windows 10 -- even months before its launch it has got people talking.
There's not long to wait until we get our hands on the next build, but now attention is shifting away from the desktop to mobile devices. There has long been talk of Windows 10 merging mobile and desktop platforms, and the launch of a new Windows Phone app shows that the time could be coming when Windows Insiders see their first glimpse of Windows 10 for phones.
Mobile devices equipped with a kill switch are starting to become fairly common, in no small part thanks to Apple and Google, which have added this nifty security feature to their respective operating systems, iOS and Android. Now, US chip maker Qualcomm is also joining the party, albeit using a different approach, which, on paper at least, appears to be superior.
That's because Qualcomm has decided to go for a hardware kill-switch, which will first ship in its flagship mobile processor, Snapdragon 810. The main selling points? Users will be able to take advantage of it no matter which operating system runs on their Snapdragon 810-powered device, or whether the operating system offers such a feature or not.
The tablet market experienced something of a slump in 2014 and things don't look like being much better this year according to a new report by research specialists Gartner.
It estimates that tablet sales will reach 233 million units in 2015, an increase of only eight percent over last year's figure. Worldwide combined shipments of devices (PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones) for 2015 are estimated to reach 2.5 billion units, an increase of 3.9 percent over 2014.
When it comes time to buy your next smartphone, will you be swayed by hardware or operating system? Forget iOS for a moment; put Apple's mobile OS out of your mind for right now. Hardware to a large extent determines price, and an upcoming range of budget phones from Alcatel offers an interesting choice.
The Pixi 3 -- that rainbow-colored delight you see above assaulting your eyeballs -- comes with a choice of four screen sizes, and three OS choices. The smallest measures just 3.5 inches, but 4, 4.5 and 5 inch models are also available. But the interesting thing is that each is available with a choice of Android, Windows Phone or, erm, Firefox OS installed.
I'm not easily impressed. Lots of tech products see the light of day each year, but only a few I consider to be truly great. And by that I mean technology that I want to have in my life, that brings value, and, last but not least, that makes me feel good. The subjective factor is just as important, I believe, when it comes to the things that I have to look at and interact with on a daily basis. That's just the way it is, and I'm fine with it.
Because of this, a pretty long list can get really, really short in no time. My colleagues have already shared their favorite tech products of 2014 with you, and now the time has come for me to do the same. It's BetaNews tradition, after all. So, without further ado, here they are.