While Windows Phone gets a lot of attention for what it doesn't have, the Microsoft mobile platform is slowly making progress. Now it is scoring a major win, and getting on par with rivals, as Spotify announces it will be going free for Windows Phones.
The new update means customers can now listen to their music without ponying up the monthly fee for a Premium account. The new free version is ad-supported, and customers can still choose to pay the monthly fee for Premium, and eliminate those ads -- and also get offline playlists, as well.
Asha and Series 40 "feature" phones (read cheap, crappy phones) may be taking their last breath -- Microsoft plans to kill them off by the end of 2015 -- but it's never too late to try spicing things up by changing the default browser, eh? This is precisely what's happening with the ill-fated handsets, along with the Series 30+ range, as Opera Mini replaces the current Xpress Browser. Despite the seemingly short-lived nature of the deal, Opera Software is upbeat about the arrangement as, undoubtedly, will any poor blighter suffering with one of these handsets.
What is there to look forward to in the browser switch? Like other versions of Opera Mini, the version replacing Xpress Browser benefits from built-in compression that reduces data usage and helps to speed up web browsing. The deal will come as something of a surprise to many, and it has come rather out of the blue. Starting in October, Asha, Series 30+ and Series 40 handset owners will start to see notifications inviting them to upgrade, and newly produced handsets will come with the browser pre-installed.
Official Windows Phone apps are steadily growing in numbers and quality, as more and more developers support the platform and improve their existing offerings. PayPal is the latest top title to get a much-needed revamp.
Based on my experience, PayPal for Windows Phone was in dire need of a major upgrade, as it failed to provide the same features that Android and iOS users get. Fortunately, according to PayPal, much has changed with the latest version, suggesting that the subpar experience is a thing of the past now.
Windows Phone boasts more than 300,000 apps in Store. Now that the news is out of the bag, let's move on to something that actually matters.
I'm skipping the obvious comparisons because that number is meaningless to the average consumer making up the bulk of smartphone buyers today (and who is unlikely to take advantage of even 1 percent of those titles). It doesn't tell prospective buyers how many great apps are available in Store, or how many great apps are missing. It's just a figure that serves only one true purpose, and that is telling fans, enthusiasts, pundits and other tekkies how much progress was made since the last serving. But that doesn't make you feel all warm and fuzzy, does it? Here's what should.
All Windows Phone 8 devices are supposed to be compatible with Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, but it looks like one of them, namely HTC's inconspicuous Windows Phone 8S, will be stuck running Windows Phone 8.1 going forward. That's a shame.
Due to what appear to be hardware incompatibilities, HTC has announced that the first major update for Windows Phone 8.1 will not be offered to its Windows Phone 8S users. The Windows Phone 8X flagship, which it introduced in late-2012, will, however, receive Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1.
Windows Phone users who are enrolled in the Preview For Developers program can now install Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1. The major update, which was announced less than a week ago, is set to officially roll out to the masses in the comings months.
The most important user-facing changes that Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 introduces are Live Folders, a new feature which finally enables folders on the platform, and improvements to the stock apps, privacy and security. Of course, it also makes way for Cortana's first expansion.
Four years ago, I asserted: "Windows Phone 7 series is a lost cause", and it was. But you gotta give Microsoft credit for persistence. Today the foundation is solid, and app developers are finally starting to notice, like they did in 2004 with Apple's flagship operating system.
But pundits howl like the zombie apocalypse, which is pretty good analogy for mindless Android and iOS users constantly clicking and scrolling. Microsoft's Windows Phone "glance-and-go" design philosophy is all about living beings and interacting with them rather than cold plastic and metal slabs. (Say, isn't that where we lay the dead before burying them?)
Microsoft, it is time to reconsider your Windows Phone plans. The tiled smartphone operating system's market share came in at a tiny 2.7 percent in Q2 2014, dropping from the 3.8 percent it claimed in the same period of last year. As a result, Windows Phone saw a 28.94 percent decrease year-over-year in market share, caused by low shipments of only 8.0 million units in the second quarter of the year, 0.9 million units less than in Q2 2013 when its shipments were at the 8.9 million units mark.
The data is from a new report issued by research firm Strategy Analytics, which adds "Windows Phone continued to struggle in the United States and China", the first two largest smartphone markets worldwide. There, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech places the platform at 3.8 percent and 0.9 percent market share, respectively. That is lower than in other markets such as Australia, where Windows Phone was able to reach 5.3 percent market in Q2 2014, as well as some parts of Europe.
The competition is heating up in the smartphone space, as, in Q3 2014, a dozen vendors have what it takes to shake up the top five smartphone makers list, according to a new report from research firm IDC. Judging by the standing from Q2 2014, the likely players in danger of losing their spots are Huawei, Lenovo and LG.
Samsung and Apple continue to be in a position of strength, with the two being responsible for 25.2 percent (74.3 million) and 11.9 percent (35.1 million), respectively, of the 295.3 million smartphones shipped in the quarter that ended June 30. That said, both lost market share compared to Q2 2013, when they claimed 32.3 percent and 13 percent, respectively, thanks to shipments of 77.3 million and 31.2 million units, respectively.
Being a tech enthusiast is usually synonymous with being out of shape. Thinking back to the movie Revenge of the Nerds, it was clear that computer users were weaklings. As time marched on from the 80's, tech nerds went from simply being weak, to being fat too. Yes, we tech nerds like to sit in chairs and eat bad food. Of course, I'm generalizing; I am positive there are physically fit computer nerds. With that said, I have not encountered many.
Thanks to the smartphone, technology has become more and more mainstream and simple to use. An iPhone or Android device is in the hands of all ages. I have encountered many older people that have never owned a PC and likely never will, that own an iPhone or Android device. The mainstreaming of technology has brought the merging of previously non-tech things with tech. For instance, I recently saw a WiFi connected crock pot. The surprising trend, however, is technology and fitness. Dongles such as the Fitbit have been all the rage lately, but sadly, Windows Phone users were left out -- what else is new, right? Today, this changes as Windows Phone gains a Fitbit app!
It's generally never a good idea to hitchhike. Any time a guy sticks out his thumb, or a girl sticks out her leg, it could be the beginning of their troubles. Quite frankly, getting a ride from a stranger seems like the start of a horror movie.
The latest rage in getting a ride, is Uber. If you aren't familiar, it is an app that connects someone with a car and someone who needs a ride -- for a fee. However, the company partners with reputable car services that do background checks on drivers. In other words, as opposed to hitchhiking, it should be a safe experience. Today, Uber announces that the app comes to Windows Phone.
Despite its repeated attempts to elbow its way into mainstream popularity, Windows Phone is going on four years old and is still being slapped down by iPhone and Android -- like an overly buoyant younger sibling with a penchant for multi-colored tiles.
Trouble is, now more than ever the pressure is on. LG, Samsung and HTC have all already fired their flagships into the market, and with the promise of a bigger, bolder iPhone in September, it's high time we saw a Windows Phone that can start leading the pack rather than trailing behind it.
Nokia Lumia 520 has proved to be an extremely important entry-level handset for Windows Phone, allowing the platform to reach more consumers and become more relevant in emerging markets. Its successor has to live up to high expectations, as it has to exceed the 12 million activations mark quicker than Lumia 520 has managed to, in order to be considered a success. That is no easy task, when the competition in the entry-level smartphone market is heating up.
So does the new Lumia 530 have what it takes to become a worthy Lumia 520 successor? Well, it at least gets off on the right foot, as Microsoft says its new Windows Phone 8.1 entry-level offering is expected to cost €85 before any local taxes and subsidies, and under €100 "on the highstreet". And that goes for the Dual SIM version as well; it will play a key role in increasing Windows Phone's popularity among price-conscious buyers.
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.