A little while back rumors surfaced suggesting that Microsoft was on the verge of investing in Android. Not directly, you understand, but via Cyanogen Inc. In August, Cyanogen Inc met with Satya Nadella but it seems that the talks amounted to nothing.
The company is on the verge of raising $110 million of financing, but Microsoft will not be involved. According to a report by Bloomberg, Microsoft will not be contributing to the funding, but could still be interested in perusing commercial ventures with Cyanogen Inc to help push Microsoft apps onto more Android devices.
OK, I'm starting to get worried now. I've been working my way through each of the public previews of Windows 10 and, on the whole, I've been fairly impressed. Not blown away, but generally satisfied. But some of the recent screenshots that have been leaking out have me a little concerned. -- there's more than just an air of Windows Phone, and that turns my stomach.
Yes, I know that there's meant to be a merging of paths between Windows for phones and Windows for the desktop, but for Microsoft to veer towards the look and feel of Windows Phone is a huge mistake. I only hope that the screenshots currently doing the round from build 10036 are not representative of the build we're waiting to be released.
Despite my colleague Wayne Williams' eloquent suggestion that the naming conventions used for Lumia devices is part of the reason for the low uptake of Windows Phone, the platform still has a serious problem when it comes to apps. Whether there is a real problem or not, the perception is that Windows Phone -- or Windows 10 for Phones -- is rather lacking in the app department. Fear not... Microsoft has a solution.
Rather than pumping out a glut of new apps of its own, or encouraging developers to produce third-party apps, Microsoft is adopting a slightly different tactic. At MWC 2015 this week the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL were revealed, but Microsoft also announced that web apps will be permitted in the Windows store. Could this be what app-hungry consumers have been waiting for?
Let’s face it, you’ve picked the mobile operating system you like. Whether you’ve opted for an iPhone, a Lumia handset or a device running Android, the chances are you’re not going to switch allegiances no matter what others may do or say to try to convince you otherwise. At the same time, few people would argue that their handset of choice is perfect.
You’ve picked your side when it comes to OS, but what about the handset itself? Apple, Samsung, HTC et al keep releasing slightly tweaked versions of last year’s handset, perhaps adding a faster processor, a larger screen and more memory. One thing is constantly overlooked, however -- battery life. And it’s time for things to change.
My colleague Brian Fagioli was right to reject Microsoft’s laughable claim that Windows Phone is experiencing 'impressive growth', and to also brand the tiled mobile OS as a failure. Android and iOS completely dominate the mobile space, and Microsoft -- which owns the desktop -- is nothing but a bit player.
If you ask anyone why Microsoft has failed to succeed they will probably say "apps". The Windows Store has a fraction of the apps found in the Apple App Store and Google Play (aside from the main names, few of the many apps I used regularly on my iPhone are available on Windows Phone) and there are dodgy clones and fakes to be found throughout the store. But while that is definitely a factor I think the real blame for Windows Phone’s failure lies elsewhere.
Every mobile operating system would have you believe that it has the best built in keyboard. It's clear that plenty of people disagree judging by the number of alternative keyboard apps that exist in the Windows Phone, Apple and Android stores. Sometimes even the best software keyboard isn't good enough, but few people are enamored with the idea of carrying around a full size Bluetooth keyboard.
There are numerous mobile keyboards that are particularly suitable for use with smartphones and tablets, and today at MWC in Barcelona, Microsoft threw its hat into the ring with the Universal Foldable Keyboard. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to a large money wallet, this svelte device connects via Bluetooth to whatever mobile device you happen to be using -- including the newly announced Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL.
As you’ll already know, the 2015 Mobile World Congress (MWC) is going on right now, and most of the big players are announcing and launching new handsets. Samsung and HTC have announced new versions of popular phones, and Microsoft (in the form of Stephen Elop, Julia White and Neil Broadley) is set to take to the stage imminently.
Thanks to a premature news posting on Sunday we already know some of what to expect. A headline that made its way into feeds tells us the tech giant will be revealing the Lumia 640 and 640 XL, devices which, the company says, will keep "you prepared for anything".
Windows Phone is a failure. Of course, the term "failure" is subjective, so let me explain. Very few consumers are buying them compared to Android and iPhone, and very few developers are creating apps for it. Yes, some people are buying them, and some talented developers are developing, but "some" does not make a success.
Ultimately, on all platforms -- desktops, mobile devices, game consoles, etc. -- it is the apps and games that move the hardware. Right now, there are no killer apps on Windows Phone compared to Android or iOS. In other words, what is the benefit of using Windows Phone to the average consumer? There arguably is none. Today, Microsoft chooses to proclaim that the platform is seeing "impressive growth". Like "failure", the word "impressive" is subjective, but I think everyone can agree, nothing about Microsoft's mobile platform is currently impressive.
Microsoft Garage is home to all manner of innovative projects from Microsoft employees, and today a new batch of projects has been unveiled. As Garage is a cross-platform venture, there are apps for Windows Phone, Android and desktop Windows, and the myriad tools cover everything from app development to the weather.
On the productivity front, Mouse Without Borders is a name that might seem familiar. Strictly speaking, this is a re-release rather than a new release, and the utility makes it possible to control up to four computers with a single keyboard and mouse by acting like a virtual KVM switch. If this isn’t your sort of thing, there are plenty more tools to explore.
The vast majority of consumers who embrace Windows Phone buy low-end smartphones, so it should not come as a surprise to see manufacturers launching even more inexpensive devices running the tiled operating system. After all, as I said a few months back, Windows Phone is synonymous with the low-end.
The latest such offerings come from Kazam, TrekStor and Xolo, vendors which may not have established brands across the globe, but which are better known in their home markets, UK, Germany and India respectively, for their affordable solutions.
Some of the features that have made Windows Phone special, differentiating it from its rivals, are slowly being stripped away. The latest victim is Rooms, which Microsoft has announced it will no longer be supporting starting next month. What a shame.
The software giant says that, as a result, users of Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 8.1 will be unable to chat with their Room contacts, create new rooms, add or remove members, or change permissions. And, if they upgrade to Windows 10 Technical Preview, their beloved rooms will be gone forever.
When it comes to sharing photos services like Instagram and Flickr spring to mind, but there are countless others buried beneath the waves of information and programs available these days. Many fly under the radar, and some of those may be better than the big name alternative you're using.
All of that is not say that Microsoft's Xim is better -- that's simply a matter of personal taste. What I am saying is that you've likely never heard of it. The app has one simple mission -- "share your photos, not your phone". It goes a bit further, promising that the recipients of your shares don't need to have the app to view your images.
The chances are that you have tried out Windows 10 on your computer already and now -- at long last -- you have the opportunity to try it out on your Windows Phone. Windows Insiders can now grab the first public build of Microsoft's latest mobile operating system and try it out for themselves.
Windows Insiders have been eager to see what Microsoft has done with Windows Phone, and earlier today Gabe Aul cryptically hinted at when the first build would be released. Now it has gone live. As with all preview builds, this is far from a completed product, and there are a few caveats to bear in mind.
The Windows Phone Windows Insider App was recently updated, indicating that a mobile build of Windows 10 is imminent -- but when? Answering questions from eager users on Twitter, Microsoft's Gabriel Aul has given some cryptic hints about when the first preview of the successor to Windows Phone 8.1 will be launched.
Over the last few months Microsoft has been popping out new builds of Windows 10 left, right and center. While we now have a pretty good idea of how things are going to look and feel on the desktop, the same cannot be said of mobiles and tablets.
HERE Maps users on Android and Windows Phone are being treated to a major map update today, which expands the list of regions where turn-by-turn navigation is available, improves map quality in a number of regions, and increases the accuracy of public transit information in more cities, among other things.
In fact, Nokia claims that there are too many changes in this update to list individually, but says that they impact users all over the globe. Let's take a look at the biggest changes.