Windows Phone, we meet again. I have a love/hate relationship with Microsoft's Mobile OS. You see, I love using it -- particularly the social media integration with Facebook and Twitter. The glance and go philosophy of the platform really appeals to me. I want a smartphone to blend into my life and not dominate it. However, I am heartbroken by the lack of apps, most notably, Google's.
And so, here I am with the Nokia Lumia Icon and I am very excited. This shouldn't be too surprising though, as I declared the Lumia 928 to be my favorite smartphone of 2013, despite the lack of apps. So, what do I think of the Icon? Read on for my impressions.
Microsoft is expanding its collection of Bing apps on Windows Phone with the addition of Bing Health & Fitness. The offering, that debuted on Windows 8.1 last year, is meant for "Microsoft testing purposes only", but is available to download for other users as well, provided they want to eat healthy and stay in shape.
"The Bing Health & Fitness app helps you stay on top of health and fitness trends and provides the tools you need to support a healthy lifestyle. Designed for Windows Phone, the Health & Fitness app brings together great fitness, nutrition and health content, along with trackers, tools and other features", says the app's description. Now let's take a look at its features.
It is usually Bill Gates who is heralded for his philanthropy, but according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, it is Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg who is currently the most generous. In another change from the norm, malware threats to OS X, Linux and Android have increased, showing it is not just Windows that is prone to attack. As if to prove this, Mac malware has been discovered that has been designed to steal Bitcoins from victims. Factor in all of Apple's devices and the company managed to sell more units than Windows PCs are sold, although this revelation caused quite some debate.
Twitter found itself in the headlines after the James Dean estate tried to gain control of a fan's James Dean-related account. Twitter has already spoken out about the shackles binding companies from being open about government data requests -- companies are practically falling over themselves to add their names to the list -- and Dropbox is in agreement. The European Commission has expressed a desire to wrestle some control of the internet from US hands voicing fears that too much influence was being exerted,
Plex, if you aren't familiar with it, comes in two parts. There's a server that you install on a, preferably, always-on computer. Then there are the end-user apps, which are available for multiple mobile devices and set-top boxes. The server is free, but the apps will set you back $5 (OK, $4.99 if you want to be technical).
However, now through tomorrow, Valentine's Day, the service is offering a discount to its potential customers. "Until Valentine’s Day, we’re offering all our mobile apps for 50% off: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows 8. Not enough sale for you? We’re also offering 3 bonus months on a yearly Plex Pass bought with PayPal (that’s 15 months for the price of 12)", the company announces.
Apple overtakes Microsoft! That’s not a headline you'd expect to read, and when you look at sales of Macs versus Windows desktops, Macs and Windows laptops, or any combination of these, it is Windows devices that are always going to come out on top. But look at things from a different angle and it is a very different story. In Q4 2013, the number of Apple devices sold exceeded the number of Windows PCs sold around the world.
This is an interesting demonstration of the notion that mobile devices are very much on the increase. Compared to Windows PCs, Macs account for a very small percentage of computer sales, but once sales of iPads, iPods and iPhones are factored in, Apple overtakes PCs -- not by much, but it is still significant. It is also worth noting that while Windows Phone is widely derided for poor sales, once these smartphones are included, Windows devices return to the top of the charts -- but again, not by much.
The Nokia Lumia ICON, also known as the 929, has become a bit of a white unicorn. It has made brief appearances on the Verizon site, leaked out around the web, and generally been a bit of a nuisance in its reclusiveness. Despite all of that, it continued to "not exist".
Now the handset is finally official. Verizon will officially launch the new phone on February 20, but customers can pre-order it now, if they just can't wait.
According to figures released by International Data Corporation (IDC), 2013 was the year that smartphones really took off -- a staggering 1 billion units shipped. As has been the case for some time, it is Android and iOS that continue to dominate, with Google's mobile operating system claiming a 78.1 percent market share, and Apple's 17.6 percent. As has been the norm, Windows Phone found itself in third place, although it did manage to increase its market share to 3 percent.
The figures are based on shipments in the fourth quarter of 2013, and when compared to the same period in 2012, Android and Windows Phone both made gains while iOS lost some of its market share. Jumping from 70.3 percent of the market in 2012, Android's growth was impressive, while iOS dropped 3.3 percentage points from 20.9 percent. Looked at in terms of percentage points, Windows Phone's jump from 2.6 to 3.0 percent of the market, it still represents an improvement of more than 13 percent.
IT professionals wanting to perform certain tasks on remote devices from their Windows Phone will be pleased to know they can now take advantage of a Putty client to log in and get the job done. The app just landed in Store, and is currently undergoing private testing. For those who may not be familiar with it, Putty allows users to connect via SSH and Telnet to other devices that have support enabled for the two previously mentioned protocols.
There is a very good chance that your router, which is a common device in Internet-connected households, supports SSH and Telnet connections. When one (or both) is enabled, it is possible to use such an app to, for instance, view stats and modify configurations remotely. But, a more popular use for Putty is remote access to servers, allowing administrators to keep a close eye on what is happening and intervene when needed, like in case of attacks.
Having quality, official apps available, and frequently improving, for popular services is a key part in increasing Windows Phone's chances of breaking into market share double digits and, therefore, getting more developers to consider releasing their offerings in the Store.
While third-party alternatives have already proved to be viable options, it is clear by looking at the Store rankings that Windows Phone users have an undeniable craving for installing the real deal. Official apps lend more credence, after all, and are less likely to be removed without prior notice, unlike their unofficial counterparts. And this brings us to the Flickr app which Yahoo has officially admitted it no longer has any plans to update.
Even though more than one year has passed since Windows Phone 8 arrived, Microsoft has yet to officially take the wraps off the upcoming new version of its tiled smartphone operating system. This long release cycle is uncommon in this business, as more popular competitors boast two major iterations launched in the course of a year. Windows Phone 8.1 has a lot of catching up to do, giving us plenty of leeway to compile and compare our own wish lists before the grand unveiling.
The foundation that Windows Phone 8 has laid out for its successor, starting with the original release that was subsequently improved by three minor updates, is solid enough for Microsoft to build upon and launch something mind-blowing (whenever that happens). Nothing else will cut it, as the platform needs a big boost to overcome the paltry 3.6 percent market share from last year. And, it is about time Windows Phone gets a solid head start on the competition, that has created an unshakable duopoly in the market, responsible for 94.4 percent of smartphone shipments in 2013. What Microsoft decides to bake in Windows Phone 8.1 can make or break the operating system's chances of ever becoming that respected third player, that is taken seriously due to its traits not its incidental place on the podium.
Phew! Well it seems that 2014 is finally in full swing -- the past seven days have been the busiest in a while. It was a busy week for security. A piece of malware came to light that was using Windows computers as a means of infecting the Android devices connected to them. Yet another security breach meant that the credit card details of Michaels customers were compromised.
While the computing world worries about whether or not the NSA is reading their email or recording their phone calls, school children in Britain learned that their computing activities are being monitored in the classroom. There was celebration as companies such as Microsoft and Google won a lawsuit that means they are now able to reveal more information about US Government data requests.
Beats Music has been on a wild ride since its launch. Registration was closed within days of the big event, as the service claimed system problems. It then reopened, adding extra time to the free trial period in an effort to say "sorry" for the problems. Most recently, the release of the Windows Phone app was pushed back.
Well, that mobile app, which was originally slated for release last Friday, has finally seen the light of day. The service quietly made it live today, with not so much as an announcement on the company blog.
Google is the undisputed search king, but it is not the only player in town. Microsoft's Bing is a distant second, but some people prefer it. While I prefer Google's offering for search, I like Bing for one thing -- rewards.
Yes, Bing Rewards is pretty darn cool, as it provides perks to users for simply using the service. This is a win-win relationship as users earn points for searching and Microsoft gains search activity. Users can then redeem points for things like raffles and gift cards. Sadly though, the experience was not available for mobile -- until today. Microsoft releases Bing Rewards for iOS and Android. Shockingly, Windows Phone is not yet supported.
Bad news for Microsoft today, as a new report that was just released by research firm Strategy Analytics places its smartphone operating system, Windows Phone, at less than 4 percent market share in 2013. It may be in an honorable third place, but, by contrast, Apple's iOS, which ranks second, had a market share of 15.5 percent in the same period, while Android, the most popular of the bunch, dominated the landscape from afar with 78.9 percent market share in the past year.
In 2013, shipments of smartphones running Windows Phone reached just 35.7 million units, leading to a low market share of 3.6 percent. Overall, a previous Strategy Analytics report released earlier this week places smartphone shipments in 2013 close to one billion units (990 million, to be exact). The tiled mobile OS grew in both shipments and market share compared to 2012, from 18.8 million and 2.7 percent, respectively, but has yet to reach a threatening position to its more popular rivals, even for iOS which has been losing market share in major markets across the globe.
The underwhelming Nokia Lumia sales from Q4 2013 have put a damper on Windows Phone's momentum, as, for the first time last year, the Finnish maker moved less units compared to the previous quarter. Growth was already slowing down, as I pointed out three months ago, but a decline in moved units was unexpected, potentially leading to irreparable damage, in the short and the long run as well, for the market share of the tiled smartphone operating system.
Lumia sales are extremely important for the growth of the platform because Nokia's Windows Phone market share has been holding steady around the 90 percent mark for a very long time. This means that if the Finnish maker has a great quarter, in regards to Lumia sales, the tiled smartphone OS has a better chance of holding its own against Android and iOS, and increasing its market share. Luckily, we do not have to wait any longer to find out how the Lumia sales from Q4 2013 have impacted Windows Phone, as Kantar Worldpanel ComTech just released a report for the respective quarter.