After months of waiting, Nokia Lumia 930 is finally available. That is, of course, unless you are living in US, where Microsoft will not make the Windows Phone 8.1 flagship officially available. Sure, you can buy Lumia Icon instead, as it offers pretty much the same specs, but what if you are not, or not do want to be, a Verizon customer?
The first option is to import Lumia 930 from Europe, where it is sold by major retailers, some of which offer international shipping. Clove, which is based in UK, carries the smartphones, in black, orange and white, at a price of £362.5 (which is about $621) without any local taxes. Or, you can head over to Expansys US, which sells Lumia 930 for not much more.
After being announced in late-February, BBM finally landed in Windows Phone Store earlier this week. The messaging app is not yet generally available though, as it was published as a private beta. But BlackBerry is giving impatient BBM fans and prospective users the opportunity to join an "external" testing program.
Ahead of the public release, BlackBerry also showcases what the first BBM iteration can do on Windows Phone. First off, the Canadian maker has designed the app so it feels and looks, per BlackBerry's own words, like a native Windows Phone offering. That is a significantly different approach to what it has done with BBM for Android and iOS, both of which look much like the BlackBerry OS counterpart.
Microsoft's Mobile division just released Video Tuner, a new Windows Phone 8.1 app that gives users the ability to quickly edit videos right on their smartphones. The free offering is a Nokia Lumia-exclusive, at least for now, meaning that some platform users will be unable to install it.
Microsoft says Video Tuner offers "basic, yet powerful" tools, which include mundane ones like crop, flip, mirror, rotate, speed change and trim, as well as more advanced features like the option to add a soundtrack and tweak the sound level.
Following the launch of Windows Phone 8 in late-2012, Microsoft's smartphone platform has significantly increased its market share, reaching more consumers in more regions across the globe. Its rise can be attributed, for the most part, to sales of low-end handsets, like the affordable Nokia Lumia 520 and Lumia 625, which are prevalent in emerging markets.
So, it should come as no surprise that emerging markets make up roughly half the list of the 20 largest Windows Phone markets, according to a new report from Windows 8 and Windows Phone advertising network AdDuplex. The leader of the pack, however, is US, with 11 percent of the user base.
Twitter may have an official Windows Phone app, but the offering is sorely lagging behind its Android and iOS counterparts in the features department. That is because the updates come only a couple of times per year, and, even then, they fail to bring the latest goodies on the platform.
Luckily for those who are willing to put up with the offering, Twitter has finally released a new update for its Windows Phone app, the first one to come in 2014. And to show just how much it cares about the platform and its users, Twitter has not even announced the update on its blog (but, Microsoft did).
I have been waiting for BBM to make its triumphal arrival in Windows Phone Store for quite a while now. Its launch was revealed in February. Android and iPhone users are luckier, as the messaging app already launched on those platforms in the fall of 2013. But it now looks like Windows Phone users might soon also be able to join the party, and exchange PINs.
BlackBerry has published the BBM app for Windows Phone, but sadly for interested users it is not yet available for everyone to download, as it now undergoes private testing. That means only a select few can install it. Still, some progress is better than no progress at all, especially for those rocking a smartphone running the tiled operating system.
Sixth in a series. On July 1, I officially started my "Microsoft All-In" summer sojourn. Surface Pro 3 is my PC and Nokia Lumia Icon my smartphone for the next couple of months. Google gets the boot -- at least for awhile. I now largely use Microsoft products and services and third-party apps available for the company's platforms. Many commenters wonder why, so let me explain.
I last used Windows as my primary platform in 2010 -- never for Windows Phone. Like other BetaNews reporters, I tend to write about products used regularly. Writing is more authoritative from experience, and often only long-time use reveals hidden problems or benefits. The reality, and it's something obviously seen in comments: Microsoft platform users largely make up BetaNews readership.
Consumers looking to purchase a high-end Windows Phone 8.1 smartphone only have one option to consider right now -- Nokia Lumia 930. It comes with all the right features for a device of flagship status, like a powerful processor, large screen, solid camera and wireless charging. It was announced in early-April, but it finally goes on sale this week.
A lot of Windows Phone enthusiasts are waiting for Lumia 930 to hit store shelves, myself included, as it is the first Nokia-branded Windows Phone 8.1 device to come with respectable specs in a decently-sized package. It can be argued that it is the natural replacement for those Lumia 920 users looking to upgrade.
Something of a quieter week this week -- perhaps because of Independence Day and preparations there for. Still, there was plenty of news to keep us busy, including the NSA releasing a transparency report -- for what it's worth. Facebook found itself in the firing line after it transpired that the social network had been conducting psychological experiments by meddling with users' newsfeeds. Security is an on-going concern in technology, but it's something we have tendency to think about only in relation to computers and smartphones. One of the latest targets for malware and attacks is the power grid, and it's hard to tell what sort of havoc could be wreaked.
Microsoft tried to do its bit for security -- arguably in a misguided fashion -- by taking control of dynamic DNS service No-IP, and accidentally taking out a number of legitimate sites in addition to those malware-related ones -- the intended targets. In more positive Microsoft news, enhancements were made to Office 365's collaboration options. Windows Phone is still struggling in the smartphone market, but Microsoft will be hoping that this month's launch of Windows Phone 8.1 will help to improve things -- will the addition of folder support be enough? Looking further into the future, Joe pondered what Microsoft should do with Nokia. He also decided to give Windows another chance, helped along by his new Surface Pro 3.
Fifth in a series. Two years ago today, I stepped away from Apple, following a boycott later abandoned. My problems were philosophical, regarding the company's aggressive patent litigation that thwarts innovation. This July Fourth I seek freedom from Google, and not for the first time. I don't oppose the search and information giant, nor like fanboy rally for it. I declare independence as a practical exercise; an experiment. Can you -- OK, I -- do without Big G's expansive portfolio of products and services? I want to know.
In many regards, Google is the Internet gatekeeper U.S. trustbusters asserted Microsoft would be, in their late-1990s court case. Big G is unquestionably a monopoly that integrates features and products for competitive gain. In the United States, Google's search share is about 67 percent (3.5 times greater than second-ranked Microsoft), according to ComScore, and as much as 90 percent in some countries. Android's worldwide smartphone share is about 80 percent, according to IDC.
As the third-most popular smartphone platform, it is difficult for Windows Phone to attract as many top developers as Android and iOS do through its tiny market share. As a result, it is not uncommon for popular titles to be unavailable in Store long after their launch on Google Play and Apple App Store. Sometimes, popular titles do not arrive at all. It is a sad state of affairs, as it directly affects the reach Microsoft's platform can enjoy. But, wait, it gets worse.
A new comparison reveals that of the 25 top free offerings in Apple App Store, Windows Phone Store only offers six of them: Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Facebook, Pandora, Spotify, and WhatsApp. Of the remaining 19 titles, 13 are games. I honestly expected to see Windows Phone missing a couple of apps, but definitely not as many. Put differently, 76 percent of the 25 top free iOS apps are not available officially on Windows Phone. It is surreal.
Communication tools have evolved so much in the past couple of years alone, with developers adding even more features and improving existing ones to allow us to better communicate and understand each other. Improved voice and video calls? Group chats? Instant translations? New, cooler emoticons? You bet!
On the other hand, we have chat app Yo, which, instead of trying to offer more than the rest of the growing pack, is trying to differentiate itself by giving users as little features as possible -- they can only say "Yo". It launched nearly two weeks ago for Android and iOS, and now it arrives on Windows Phone too.
In April, Microsoft concluded acquisition of Nokia's Devices and Services division, announced in September 2013. With ownership comes responsibility, which starts with Microsoft preserving and reviving an iconic brand. Before the phone maker fumbled touchscreen smartphone market, the brand dominated the world -- commanding overwhelming cellular handset market share across Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America.
Some competitors strayed from the path Microsoft follows. For example, Google wrongly sold Motorola to Lenovo, which is reason for big smiles up Redmond, Wash. way. Hardware's research and development value to software and services cannot be overstated. Apple gets it, and I thought Big G did, too. Nokia is a vitally important asset to Microsoft that goes way beyond Windows Phone.
Samsung Galaxy S5 may face stiff competition from the likes of HTC One (M8), LG G3 and Sony Xperia Z2, but it is doing quite well sales-wise in major markets, according to a report released today by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. Apple's older iPhone 5s, however, still edges ahead.
"In the USA the Samsung Galaxy S5 was the second highest selling smartphone in May just behind the iPhone 5s", says Kantar Worldpanel ComTech global strategic insight director Dominic Sunnebo. "Apple loyalty is high in the US, with former iPhone owners making up just 8 percent of Galaxy S5 sales. The majority of those switching to Samsung were LG and HTC users".
In the absence of proper folder support, a number of Windows Phone developers -- including Nokia -- have decided to take matters into their own hands, by releasing apps that give users the option to group live tiles on the Windows Phone 8 homescreen. The results are not folders, however.
The live tiles that are created are just shortcuts which open the app enabling the feature. The grouped items are displayed within that app. Welcome to Windows Phone-style faux-folders. The reason why the feature is missing out-of-the-box, even in Windows Phone 8.1, is because Microsoft has decided not to implement it, likely because the tiled operating system is meant to be experienced without folders.