The app-gap is still not a thing of the past for Windows Phone Store, but, fortunately, things are getting better. There already are lots of third-party alternatives -- some of which are quite good -- to many prominent apps. And, thanks to the functionality enabled by Windows Phone 8.1, it is possible for more types of apps to launch, like Fitbit and Microsoft Remote Desktop.
The biggest progress, however, is made when well-known developers launch their apps on the platform. This week Windows Phone scores big, as both language-learning app Duolingo and computational engine WolframAlpha make their appearance in Store.
Windows Phone is a very polarizing operating system; some hate it, while others love it. I fall into the latter, but I struggle using it, as I place a high value on app availability. It is for this reason that I use Android; there are many quality apps for Google's mobile operating system.
Unfortunately, fragmentation has plagued Android; many users are stuck on outdated versions of the operating system, as manufacturers and carriers abandon phones. The only way to avoid such a problem, is to buy a Nexus device, such as the fabulous Nexus 6. While Android beats Windows Phone on the app front, as of today, Microsoft's mobile operating system beats Google's regarding updates. You see, every Lumia device running Windows Phone 8.x will be getting an upgrade to version 10!
Windows Phone is a fantastic mobile operating system, hindered only by a lack of apps. To be more specific, Google's lack of support makes Microsoft's mobile operating system a non-starter for many. Hell, my colleague Joe Wilcox recently declared his disdain for the platform, even though he loves the hardware. It's unfortunate, really.
Today, Microsoft officially announces the Lumia 535 -- notably missing the Nokia branding. The first handset featuring "Microsoft Lumia" branding is a low-end affair that will do nothing to sway Windows Phone detractors, or woo users of the popular iPhone. Instead, it represents affordability and style, targeting cost-conscious consumers in emerging markets.
Over the weekend I started to seriously review my photos from Comic-Con 2014. Goddamn, there are some good ones—each and every one taken with Nokia Lumia Icon, which is essentially identical to the 930 model reviewed by colleague Mark Wilson. He panned the device because of Windows Phone 8.1; I'm in love because of the camera. But sometimes love is lost, and regretted. My sister has the Icon now.
I lug around iPhone 6, which camera by every measure that matters to me is inferior but one—startup shooting speed. Apple's shooter can't compete with the Icon. Fanboys will disagree, but, hey, they always will. The difference isn't fewer megapixels—eight compared to 20—but the intelligence and usability baked into camera and editing apps, lens, sensor, and choices the device makes when auto-shooting.
As you may know, HTC One (M8) launched as a Verizon-exclusive in late-August. Shortly after its introduction, both AT&T and T-Mobile revealed that they would too carry the Windows Phone, but at a later date. The former was the first to get it, last week, but now you can also buy it from the magenta carrier.
While things were pretty clear about the cost of buying One (M8) for Windows from AT&T, T-Mobile left this information for the day when it is actually available through its stores. Luckily, if you have waited this long, you will not be disappointed.
Since taking control of Nokia's Devices & Services business in April, Microsoft has introduced a couple of important new Windows Phones. We have the replacement of the popular entry-level Lumia 520, called Lumia 530, and the much-awaited successor of two year-old mid-ranger Lumia 820, dubbed Lumia 830, as well as two in-between offerings, Lumia 730 and Lumia 735.
Under Microsoft's leadership, there appears to be something fresh for everyone looking to be part of the Windows Phone world, except up-to-date versions of Lumia 1320 and Lumia 1520 phablets. And, next week, we will see the software giant unveiling yet another Lumia Windows Phone, this time, perhaps, even featuring its own branding, instead of Nokia's.
NFC payments are all the rage nowadays, in no small part thanks to the support that Apple Pay is receiving from financial institutions and iPhone users, and raving reviews from the media. Naturally, this may tempt you to give NFC payments a go, to see what all the fuss is about. But what if you have a Windows Phone? Apple Pay is obviously out of the question. What can you do then?
As you may know, Windows Phone supports NFC payments out-of-the-box, thanks to a feature known as Tap to Pay. Like Apple Pay it leverages the built-in NFC chip in your device. The only thing standing between you and paying through it is its lack of support. However, there is another way you can make NFC payments with your Windows Phone, and that is by using the Softcard app, which just arrived on the platform. Here is what you need to know about it.
A lot of wearable devices have accompanying smartphones. The Apple Watch has the iPhone 6, Galaxy Gear ties in with a number of Samsung Galaxy handsets, while the Motorola Moto 360 marries happily to just about any Android phone. Falling into the same works-with-anything camp is the recently announced Microsoft Band.
With a newly launched wearable, you'd think Microsoft would be keen to push it as much as possible. So when the company decided to bundle a wrist-worn device with the new Lumia 830, which do you think it opted for. Yeah... the Fitbit Flex...
Microsoft officially announced today that the Nokia branding will not be used in conjunction with its future Windows Phones. The software giant will sell its upcoming smartphones as Microsoft Lumias. However, it will continue to make use of Nokia's name for dumb phones.
The tech media may act surprised, but, in fact, we have known that this was bound to happen for more than a year. In early-September 2013, when the sale of Nokia's Devices & Services to Microsoft was announced, the terms revealed that the software giant would eventually have to drop the Nokia branding.
Microsoft app launches are usually predictable. Most are offerings which aim to get us hooked on the software giant's most-prominent products, like Office, OneDrive, Outlook.com and Xbox. But, every once in a while, Microsoft does something out of the ordinary, like it wants to tell the world that, much like startups, it too is capable of intriguing and exciting things.
After launching a lovely keyboard for Android Wear, Microsoft just released a whole bunch of apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone, made by an in-house team of "hackers, makers, artists, tinkerers, musicians, inventors" called Microsoft Garage. The most interesting offerings are Torque, which my colleague Brian Fagioli just covered, and two lockscreen apps, for Android and Windows Phone.
So… we now know that Windows 9 is by far the least successful version of Windows ever, grossing Microsoft a total of $0. But Microsoft is as keen as ever to look to the future, and it's pinning its hopes on the newly revealed Windows 10. At the unveiling in San Francisco we learned quite a lot about the upcoming version of the successor to Windows 8.1 (yep... it's going to sound weird for a long time), but there were also a lot of unanswered questions. It was interesting to see that the demonstration used build 9841 which we have already seen in leak, and in this regard there were few surprises. Between the release of Windows 10 Technical Preview Microsoft still has a lot of work to do, and a lot of people to convince to upgrade.
What do we not yet know? We don’t have a release date, at least nothing that has been pinned down. We know it will be some time in the second half of 2015 -- if everything goes to plan -- but that's quite a big Window. We also don’t know what costs, if any, might be associated with the operating system. It has been suggested that Microsoft would make Windows 10 available free of charge, but nothing official has been said on this front. We have no idea what sort of upgrade path may be available -- would this be Microsoft's opportunity to usher everyone away from Windows XP once and for all? Simply offer a free upgrade to an operating system that addresses the issues users have raised and the security problems associated with an ancient version of Windows should diminish.
Sending files to someone else has always been a bit of a problem. Often they’re too big for email, sharing via public cloud services raises security concerns and of course flash drives and DVDs can fall into the wrong hands.
Korea-based startup Send Anywhere has an answer to making file transfers easily and safely in the form of an updated version of its iOS app and a new app for Windows Phone.
Microsoft did something rather unexpected earlier this month. The software giant unveiled a revamped MSN, saving the online portal from oblivion -- its biggest merit lately is being the default website for Internet Explorer. The new MSN looks great, connects users to Microsoft's consumer-facing cloud services, and can be tailored to suit their preference. It also makes it easy to trigger a search across the InterWebs. Heck, I have even said it might work as the Bing landing page.
Fast forward to today and Microsoft announces that more than 10 million users have tested the new MSN, with more than 80,000 of them also submitting feedback. Those numbers look really good. And they should, considering the online portal's Microsoft-focused audience. The feedback it has received must have been good also, as Microsoft announces it is rolling out the new MSN in the next three days.
Microsoft has announced that Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 is now rolling out for Nokia Lumia 930, just shy of two months after it introduced the latest version of the tiled operating system. The flagship is the first Nokia-branded handset to be officially updated to Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, and among the few that officially run this installment.
Even though, on Nokia's support forums, the software update is described as being "minor", it actually offers quite a few notable improvements over the previous firmware release. Contrary to expectations, it does not bring the Lumia Denim enhancements along with it.
Windows Phone is a very polarizing operating system to say the least. Many consumers refuse to give it a chance, and the ones that do, either hate it or love it. Despite the shortcomings of Microsoft's phone-focused OS, I find it to be a very rewarding experience. Of course, the biggest complaint is a lack of apps, and while there has been much improvement in that area, it is still a valid argument when compared against the iPhone or Android.
Apps aside, it is an intuitive experience that enhances one's life rather than take it over. Android and iPhone users are often in a zombie-like state while using the device, as if it is the sole-focus of their existence. Windows Phone is designed more to be glance-and-go. Unfortunately, while Nokia Lumia handsets have been wonderful, brand-diversity and selection has been severely lacking. Luckily, Microsoft majorly scored by getting HTC to produce a version of its One (M8) that runs Windows Phone. Can the sexy HTC handset outdo the sexiness of the popular Lumia line?