As you may already know, Windows Phone 8.1 was showcased by Microsoft in early-April. The presentation was shortly followed by the introduction of three smartphones running the new tiled operating system, namely Nokia Lumia 630, Lumia 635 and Lumia 930, of which only the first has launched.
Because Windows Phone 8.1 is a huge upgrade over its dated predecessor, Windows Phone 8 users, naturally, want to know when the upgrade will officially roll out. The latest iteration is already offered to members of the Preview for Developers program, but, believe it or not, not to the Windows Phone 8-toting public, who makes up for the large majority of Windows Phone customers.
Being number three can be good. In the Olympics, it is good enough for a bronze medal. However, there are different levels of third place, as it depends on how many competitors there are.
When it comes to smartphones, Windows Phone is a distant third in a race that only has three legitimate competitors, with iPhone and Android being the other two. Microsoft’s platform however, is making huge strides and today gets two premium apps -- Adobe Photoshop Express and Roku. Apple and Google should be worried.
Some people say Google is better than Bing, and maybe they are right. However, that is a subjective statement. What they really mean to say is that Google is better for them. In reality they are both great search engines with different pros and cons. My favorite aspect of Microsoft's search engine is Bing Rewards -- a program that rewards users for searching. Hell, if you are searching anyways, why not get rewarded?
Sadly, Microsoft released a Bing Rewards app for Android and iOS, but not its own Windows Phone platform. This was hugely disappointing for users of Microsoft's mobile operating system, including myself. Today, Microsoft levels the playing field and makes it available for Windows Phone too.
Microsoft has realized that the only way to get more vendors to embrace Windows Phone is to make it easier for them to release Windows Phones. And that decision is paying off if its most-recent partnerships are of any indication.
Allview and Hisense, two vendors that target specific markets using low-cost devices, are now supporting the platform. The former, a Romanian company, has unveiled two new Windows Phones while the latter, which is based in China, has teased its newfound affinity for the tiled smartphone operating system on microblogging site Sina Weibo.
"Abandonware". It’s the scourge of the industry. Every time a vendor abandons a software product, a puppy dies. Or an orphan. Or a Java developer.
Regardless, nobody likes to see their favorite app/game/platform get left behind. It’s the worst kind of techie betrayal. You spend days, weeks or even months mastering a product only to have the virtual rug pulled out from under you.
Both Microsoft and Google have agreed to add a kill switch their mobile operating systems. Following an agreement with the New York Attorney General, the next versions of Windows Phone and Android will include a feature that will render handsets useless if they are stolen. The attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, published a report yesterday outlining the importance of such a feature, and revealed that two of the biggest names in technology are on-board.
It's something that authorities have been calling for for some time now, citing the sheer number of mobile phone thefts taking place around the world. Schneiderman's report points to Apple as proof of the efficacy of a kill switch. Thefts of iPhones dropped by 17 percent in New York City after the introduction of a remote wiping and locking feature. The Secure Our Smartphones report took fire at Samsung. The company had opted not to include a kill switch, and thefts of Samsung handsets jumped by 40 percent in NYC. "Reactivation Lock" has since been implemented on a small number of new Galaxy handsets.
Microsoft has figured out a way of making wireless charging readily available wherever you go. While that may sound futuristic, it actually is far from it in fact. All you need is the right pair of pants.
Microsoft has teamed up with British designer A. Sauvage to bring the convenience of wireless charging in the "Modern Man" trousers, which are part of "London Collections". The technology bit is achieved by making (clever) use of the Nokia DC-50 wireless charging plate, which is based on the popular Qi standard.
The Lumia Cyan software upgrade, which is set to roll out this summer, brings Windows Phone 8.1 to the crop of Nokia-branded Windows Phone 8 smartphones. Hardly surprising, the latest firmware will come bearing other gifts on top of a better operating system, among which are a slew of changes designed to squeeze extra performance out of high-end PureView cameras.
In a Q&A session on Nokia Conversations, when asked about the firmware's imaging changes, Microsoft's Juha Alakarhu reveals that the Lumia Icon, Lumia 930 and Lumia 1520 cameras are the Windows Phone 8, PureView-equipped devices that benefit from Lumia Cyan. Here are the sort of improvements users can expect to see.
Manufacturer support is key for Windows Phone in the ongoing battle against its more popular rivals, Android and iOS, as it needs a more diversified handset portfolio to successfully cater to the needs of a wider range of consumers, most of whom are not part of its growing user base. The platform is heading in the right direction though, as, since earlier this year, Microsoft announced a significant number of new partnerships, some of which have already borne fruit at Computex.
Indian smartphone maker Micromax, which is the second-largest vendor in its home market, is the latest new partner to add to the Windows Phone collection. The company just announced the Canvas Win W121 and Canvas Win W092, which are similar in specifications to the Nokia Lumia 630 and Lumia 525, respectively.
Part of the Windows Phone app-gap problem is the lack of support from wearable companies, that either bump into software limitations or prefer to focus most, if not all, of their attention on Android and iOS, which make up for more than 90 percent of the smartphone market.
As a result, many users of the tiled mobile operating system turn to third-party apps, constantly ask manufacturers for support, or just give up on the idea of using wearables altogether. With Windows Phone 8.1, however, things are looking up -- Fitbit is jumping onboard.
With a massive 6-inch screen and low-end specs, the Lumia 1320 is the Windows Phone aimed at price-conscious phablet enthusiasts. The aging handset, that was unveiled by Nokia in late-October 2013, has been available on the market for quite some time, but is just now reaching US shores.
Starting today, the Lumia 1320 is available at local mobile operator Cricket Wireless, that sells the Windows Phone phablet off-contract. The price? After a $50 mail-in rebate through Cricket Visa Promotion Card, it costs $229.99. That is $20 less than what Cricket asks for the smaller Samsung Galaxy Express. Not taking into account the mail-in rebate, the Lumia 1520 goes for $279.99.
Features are extremely important in mobile apps as they give users the ability to do all sorts of interesting things with their smartphones and tablets. But, a great design matters as well (just as much, probably, if not more), as it builds up the enjoyment of using those kind of offerings. And, yes, we can have both.
Apps that do not place an emphasis on design, relying on dull-looking interfaces, put me off, plain and simple. It is an unfortunate situation that plagues many capable offerings, especially on Android, but on Windows Phone too. My toolkit app of choice is mighty-powerful, but looks like it was designed by robots, which is why I find #1 ToolKit to be a refreshing alternative.
Battery packs may not be the most exciting or sexiest gadgets on the market, but the LUM-008-01 Power Bank from Lumsing has a good stab at changing things. But stabbing isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when picking up this battery pack for the first time. Yes, the manufacturers "Harmonica style" description is fairly accurate but this is a unit that is rather weightier than the handheld instrument favored by blues and folk musicians. The mass of 236g (8.3oz) coupled with the way it nestles in the hand brings to mind a form of cudgel; this is a battery pack that could double as a murder weapon. Maybe that's just me... I should probably evaluate it for what it is.
Let's cut to the chase. This is a battery pack. There's a limit to how animated one can get about such a device, but Lumsing's offering gets off to a great start by being so easy on the eye. It's good to look at, and it also feels good in the hand. Style drips from every port. In all there are three ports: one USB input for charging the unit itself, and two outputs for charging other devices such as mobiles and tablets. There's one low powered 1.5 A port and one rated at 2.1 A so there's scope for charging all manner of devices.
As a regular Facebook Messenger user, I prefer my Google Nexus 7, instead of my Nokia Lumia 920, to chat with other people. It is not due to the larger screen size, but because the Android app feels so much better than the Windows Phone counterpart. The former is fast, totes all the greatest features Facebook Messenger offers, and comes with chat heads, which are both cool and useful.
Thankfully, Facebook Messenger for Windows Phone is delivering a better experience with each update it receives. It may not happen as often as I would like, but the popular social network is slowly improving its offering, with the latest version adding some much-needed changes.
Microsoft could renew its partnership with HTC in order for a more diverse range of handsets to be available on the Windows Phone platform.
Nick Parker, head of Microsoft’s OEM division, told a packed press conference at Computex that HTC could soon be back in the Windows Phone fold, according to CNET.