Why I have really joined the smartphone crowd

iphone4A few years ago I wrote about my experience of changing to a Nokia (now Microsoft) Windows Phone. I was a fan of the Nokia hardware design, and was working at an ERP software company that had a partnership with Microsoft, and I didn’t want to be like the crowd (i.e. iPhone or Android), so it seemed a reasonable decision to go the Windows Phone route. I also referred to reports about smartphone market share that I thought were biased – see here.

The truth is that now I have joined the crowd, the iPhone crowd. Continue reading

Windows Phone rant

Just a quick rant about Microsoft’s Windows Phone.

phoneI have a Nokia (now Microsoft) Lumia smartphone running Windows Phone 8.1. There is a function called Internet Sharing, which allows you to use your phone as a Wifi hotspot for other devices, and it has been working fine for me – that is until I came back from the USA (see previous post).

Now, when I switch on Internet Sharing to allow my Windows laptop to have Internet access, the browser shows that it can’t connect to the DNS server.
When I checked the Windowsphone.com site for queries on Internet Sharing,  it seems that Windows Phone caches DNS settings, so somehow I reckon my phone has US DNS data still on it.

Here’s the rant – you cannot reset or clear the DNS cache on Windows Phone. The only way to do it is to reset the entire phone! Microsoft, really, that’s your solution?

Upgraded to Windows Phone 7.8

I have just upgraded my Nokia Lumia to the Windows Phone 7.8 (that’s the brand name, the software version is 7.10.8862.114)

Microsoft has improved the user experience with features like additional background colours, and the ability to resize the tiles. They also seem to have improved the resolution on the screen so content looks clearer.

There’s a blog here that provides more details.

My big upgrade and review – Windows Phone

I have recently upgraded my mobile phone – I used to have a feature phone, Nokia E51, but upgraded to a smart phone, Nokia Lumia 710. The big upgrade though is the operating system; the E51 ran Symbian, the Lumia runs Windows Phone 7 (actually it’s 7.5, Mango). Getting used to the physical phone, from one with real keys to one with a keyboard display, wasn’t the biggest adjustment, but getting used to the new operating system with its new way of doing things, actually doing everything, was an enormous challenge.

This change in the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) was enormous. I think the last time I had to adjust to such a significant UI and UX was when I changed from a PC running DOS to one that ran Windows. You get to learn to do things a certain way, and then with the new operating system you discover that in order to learn  about the new things you have to unlearn the old ones.

It probably took me a week to get used to the new UI (keyboard etc), but longer to become familiar with the UX (e.g. how the keyboard works in different situations). However, after I got used to doing things differently, I began to appreciate the new things that I couldn’t do before. Microsoft’s integration of Windows Phone with its Internet services and Office web applications is amazing. I am referring to how you can use SkyDrive to store not only pictures you take with the phone, but also notes and reminders you can create using the web version of Windows OneNote. You can also upload Word and Excel files to SkyDrive and read them on the phone.

As a phone, Nokia have done a great design and engineering job on the Lumia. Combine that with the capabilities of Office and other Microsoft software, and the Windows Phone is the best business-oriented phone I have seen. The iPhone is great for individuals, but if you work in a business environment where Microsoft predominates, Windows Phone is far better suited for your needs.

From a social point of view, Windows Phone allows you to share photos to Facebook very easily (Microsoft’s purchase of Facebook shares probably helped that) as well as other social networks like Twitter. There is also a very useful feature in contact management – Windows Phone allows you to combine your standard contact details with other details that the same person may logged via your phone elsewhere. For example, I could combine people’s Outlook contact details with their Google email address and Twitter handle. The only major weakness though is that there is no way to easily send someone’s contact card via an SMS (text message).

Windows Phone also allows you to combine calendars; so I can see my work-related Outlook Calendar and my personal Google Calendar appointments in one phone calendar view.

There is an app store, the Market Place, where you can download free and paid-for apps. The apps I really needed – e.g. for TwitterEvernote, RememberTheMilk – I could find on the Market Place. I also found that Amazon provide a free Kindle app for the Windows Phone, so for the first time I have started considering Kindle books.

If I was interested in games, I might be able to say something about the Xbox features on the Lumia Windows Phone, but as I am not, I won’t. The music apps – Microsoft’s Zune, and Nokia Music – work well together and I found it very easy to use. But you do have to download Zune to your PC to in order to sync the music between your PC and the phone.

In sumary, I like the Nokia Lumia and am very glad I got it. I also think Microsoft have done a great job with Windows Phone in terms of its look-and-feel and general usability.

Anyone else got some comments?