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Windows Phone, the Apps, the Phone..

imagesI’ve had my Nokia Lumia 920 since November 2012 and I chose the phone because i was fedup with just how staid and old Android was feeling, and an iPhone was old hat. WP8 was the new kid on the block and I wanted to give it a go..

So what are my thoughts on the Phone, the OS and the Apps?

Generally speaking I have nothing bad to say about the phone or the OS expect for two small bugs i’ve had over the past few months. so lets cover off the bad stuff first and then move to the highlights..

The Bugs

Nokia-Lumia-920The first was the Black screen on call bug, its pretty well documented on the internet, as is Microsoft and Nokia’s prety much ignoring the issue and hoping it goes away. Basically when you make a phone call there is supposedly a little proximity sensor in the phone which detects light, so when you pull the phone away from your ear the screen lights up again. useful if like me you have a pin on your Voicemail lets say. I had this problem for a month, tried all the solutions, then it disappeared, about a week later it came back for 6 weeks. I was getting a bit wound up about it (as i do) then post update it stopped happening. I’d suggest Microsoft turned off the feature or recalibrated it in a display+touch update

The most recent annoyance has been the phone hanging at 18:00ish every day, the physical buttons work fine, but the screen just won’t work, to resolve the problem, i hold down all 3 physical buttons and (down volume, camera, power) and when the phone vibrates i take my finger off the middle one, hold down the other two till the blue Microsoft logo comes up. the time is reset to september 2012 but the phone works again. My thinking is this is a heat issue, but i’m sure an update will fix it.

To be honest Microsoft and Nokia are really good with the updates to this phone, and most issues do tend to be fixed quite rapid.

The Phone

I’ve said before on other posts this isn’t a small phone, however the screen real estate is wonderful, just the right size for me. The best thing about this phone however is the third button down, because it launches the camera after a long press (2 seconds) and the camera is wonderful, its more than wonderful, its actually the first phone I have ever had where i’m able to take photos which look great, not too washed out, usable, i’ve published some of them on my 500px site and got great feedback. the camera is sharp.

The 4G as well, is amazing, when its giving out full speed there is nothing better than a movie streaming or a webpage or train times being instant. An eample of 4G is yesterday in Waterloo getting the train time in milliseconds with the trainline app.. 3G seems like dialup in comparison. Quick, easy and user friendly is just how a mobile device is supposed to be.

The OS

windows_phone_8_start_screen_640x360_211018488674_640x360To state how different WP is to the competition, is like telling you how different peas are from an elephant, there isn’t any place to start, its not without its need for changes, grouping of apps, grouping of live tiles, notifications similar to android would be nice, a notification telling me what apps are new etc, these are all features Microsoft could add and update. The tiles are very easy to use and if Apple copy even slightly this idea in IOS7 then they are on the right track.

I’m still amazed that no one has figured out that while Windows 8 and Windows RT are a dogs dinner, the WP8 platform would work great on a tablet platform, whats needed is there, and the illusion of a lack of apps is just that, an illusion. This OS is speedy, has a good following and is gaining traction, a company like Nokia could do worse than build a 9 and 7 inch tablet based on specifically this OS.

The Apps

The apps i’d recommend and use the most on this phone are:

Amazon Kindle

kindle

Needs no introduction, its Amazon’s official book reader

BBC News Mobile

news

Not an official BBC App, however very well done and very quick app which links in well to the BBC News site using the WP8 interface guidelines.

Camera360

Camera360

While there is nothing wrong with the default camera app, the Camera360 App provides the user with what i feel a better interface, and has a set of filters built right into the App.

Creative Studio

creativestudio

The WP8 OS isn’t short of good apps for changing photos, however this one has a stock set of filters and crop etc, wht it does well is its use of touch interface.

Countdown

buscountdown

A well written UK bus countdown timer, figures out where you are and tells you when the next bus will arrive.

Effectual

effect

This is one of the better todo lists i’ve seen so far, it links into your microsoft account and you can tag items with the application, and assign dates and the like to items as you’d expect.

Evernote

evernote

This is my go to app for storing documents on line, i love it’s cross platform approach and ease of use the WP8 app is no different.

Facebook Beta

facebookbeta

I’m interested in this because Facebook are not writing it, Microsoft are, they are working on getting the touch interface easier to use and doing a good job, much better than the “official” Facebook app. Really you don’t need a specific Facebook app because of the built in People Hub, but its a nice to have.

Insync

insyb

The best Google Drive app out there bar none.

Lazylens

lazylens

Another great photo filter app with a good touch interface

Mehdoh

mehdoh

This is the best Twitter app i’ve found and supports all the suite of tools for the twitter system, again while the People Hub covers twitter this is a must if you use lists and other features.

Metrotube

metrotube

With Google being utterly useless on the whole WP8 apps area its good to see some decent third party apps stepping up to the plate, metroapp is everything you will need from a YouTube app.

Plex

plex

If you use plex, then this phone has the right screen size and clarity to plug into this sytem

Skype

skype

Apple has facetime, Google has Hangouts, Microsoft has Skype, of those 3 your grandparents have heard of the last and as such its the standard right now for cross platform video and voip calls. The integration is quite tight as well as calls open and can be made as part of normal phone calls.

Spotify

spotify

Still in beta this is a welcome addition for streaming music, far better than the Rdio alternatie

Thumba Photo Editor

thumba

Another and the final photo editing app, again a different slection of filters, editing functions and proper use of touch technology.

Translator

translator

This is a recent adddition and a very interesting one, using Bing’s translate functions the app will take audio, visual or text input and translate it into English, so for example hold the camera up to a French sign give it a few seconds and the sign will overlay the English.. pretty cool..

TVCatchup

tvcatchup

Years after starting to use this service it still amaes me that i can watch (in the UK) live TV on my computer, ipad and WP8 device. Great.

Tubemap

tubemap

Probably the simplest of the apps here, and one of the most useful, living in London this helps hugely…

Conclusion

A breath of fresh air on the smart phone market, this is a great phone, with a good if slightly flawed user interface which i think is not getting the attention it deserves because of its Desktop sibling. There are more then enough apps on it and the library is growing fast.

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2 comments on “Windows Phone, the Apps, the Phone..

  1. Chris Gasque
    May 6, 2013

    Great review and app rundown.

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