Reason for slow Windows Phone 8 growth

Recent big banner apps will make you question the title, and even it is definitely positive to see Windows Phone get some decent titles…and now that the smoke has cleared lets focus on it’s slow uptake in markets-developing and matured.

I had a conversation with a good friend whom I convinced to get a Lumia 620 in India, when he asked me about Windows Phone. When I showed him my device, I had a Samsung Focus running Windows Phone 7, at the time Microsoft had recently announced Windows Phone 8. So didn’t have the Lumia 920 I have now. Long story short, he got the Lumia 620 when it was available in India at a price tag of 16000 INR. He opted for Windows Phone 8, when he could have got far more powerful Android devices at cheaper price plans- likes of Xolo, Karbonn, Micromax, etc.

So, I followed up with him to check how he liked his purchase 8 months later. This guy is not tech endowed by any stretch of imagination, at the same time he isn’t tech illiterate. He knew about Amber update and upcoming Update 3 and Nokia Black update. Some of his gripes were absolutely legitimate and I took some time to reflect and rephrase. His conclusion was Nokia did excellent, Microsoft needs to do better. Windows need work to be more popular. He said more popular, he is obviously referring to Android being the more popular one, which his friends are making him green with envy with their elaborate app illustration, OS features etc.

Also, he came from Symbian. OS that was the first home of Nokia and Nokia had a firm hold in India in that era. He missed some Symbian specific features which goes to show how advanced the OS really was, even if it wasn’t touch-friendly.

This is the list:-

  • Absence of Truecaller. This is an app request. Telemarketing is crazy in India, as you can imagine, and a way to see who is calling helps cut down on junk calls and there is no such service as donotcall.gov. There is an app in Windows Phone Store, but it sucks at best as it doesn’t scan for calls in real-time. API limitations.
  • Proper file-manager. My kind people for some reason like to micro-manage with folders and directories. I can see cases where this could be useful to have.
  • Same key for volume and music- This is listed as the top complain for the platform. Separate controls are needed.
  • Whatsapp isn’t as advanced as Android counterpart.  Whatsapp is the de-facto messaging standard in India. It sucks apparently on Windows Phone. I can’t relate, since I haven’t used Whatsapp on android.
  • Put phone in sleep but still keep alarm active. Symbian was perfect at this. Current Windows phone behavior is stupid. If you are low on juice and still wanna wake up, it is dead meat.
  • OTG support. On-the-Go USB support which turns a USB device into host so other device can connect to it. I don’t know if Android does this.

Below is the gripe that was fixed with Update 3, that he forced on my advice using the developer program:-

  • Orientation lock. Seriously, Microsoft It takes you three years to add this basic feature in a supposedly advanced mobile Operating System? Shame on you and your world’s bigger software make status quo. Seriously, like you should drown your employees.
  • Other storage occupied 2 GB of storage on his 8 GB phone. Baffling and probably sad if your investment fills up with crap over time.’
  • Quitting apps via close button. Enough Said.

I haven’t added my gripes to the above list:-

  • Notification center. Something Android has had for years. Windows Phone will probably get it in Spring 2014.
  • Quick Toggle for controlling settings. Like it should be there.
  • Google Now like feature. Again, Cortana or likes is coming in Spring 2014. Again, waiting game
  • Better API.

Microsoft thinks Windows Phone is gaining popularity, but if it doesn’t address the problems listed above…these may be its brightest days as people who have these phones will opt for something else, Android. iOS is elite crowd only, so iPhones are out of discussion for 90% of people.

So If anyone is reading this from Redmond, If you think you have won the battle of smartphone in markets by beating Apple. Think twice before you decide to slack off for another two years. You are shooting at a moving target- Android. and by the time you get the above mentioned features, the world would have moved to the next awesome feature Android will get before Windows Phone and Windows Phone will be caught with it’s pants down, chasing to get that feature….again.

Journey with Windows Phone is that of a perpetual wait, for developers, for consumers, for manufacturers. And this is a deeper problem that Microsoft has than just getting those apps.

Fix Missing photos in Nokia Camera on Lumia Windows Phone

Otherwise a pretty snazzy app; I had an issue lately where I was missing the photos taken with Nokia Camera after a soft-reset, which got me fishing around for solutions.

It turns out the solution is within the app.  From Nokia Camera. Open Settings. Under Pictures, scroll all the way to bottom and there is an option for restoring your missing photos. “Find photos and videos shot with Nokia Camera”. Click on it and Wait for it to finish. For best result, don’t get out of the app. Let it restore completely. It may take a while depending on how many photos you were missing.

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Important Information about GDR3 or Update 3 for Windows Phone 8

Most frequent concerns/questions:

 

Will updating the developer preview mean losing all the current data?

No, The update keeps all the app data/settings intact. You won’t even notice a change other than what was officially announced as part of update 3.

 

Will Amber update features like Glance/Pro cam stop working?

No. Again, This update is an OS update. Amber was a firmware update that Nokia supplied. Amber features are unaffected by the update, if anything I have noticed more stability so far.

 

Will I get the official Update 3 when it becomes available?

Yes. Those features will be enabled as the Update 3 goes live in coming weeks. Lumia users will also get the Nokia firmware nicknamed Bittersweet Shimmer,  when it becomes available at a later date.

 

Will I have to reformat when that becomes available?

Official update will be a straight update, meaning no loss of data or reformat needed…..just a natural update.

 

How does one get the preview update?

pre-requisite: You will need Amber + GDR2 to get GDR3(update 3) for obvious reasons.

Well, it is quite simple actually.

Step 1: Get the app studio account. It is free. Head to http://apps.windowsstore.com and Click on Start building, login using the same Windows ID you used for initial phone setup. Agree to terms and condition

Step 2: From phone, Windows store or PC/webstore Download the app –http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/preview-for-developers/178ac8a1-6519-4a0b-960c-038393741e96.

Step 3: Run the app, login using the same Microsoft Account and accept the terms and condition and check the box.

Step 4: Go to Settings->Phone update. Check for Updates. Voila!

Note: Update time will depend on the amount of data you have on the phone. Mine was stuck at “installing 100%” for about 10 minutes. Be patient. Also, there is the defamed “spinning gears” “cogs” etc., but at least it has a progress bar now. Again, be patient. My spinning cogs were stuck at about 5% for 20 minutes etc and the rest was a breeze.

 

Things to look forward to in the Update 3 Preview: (There are under the hood features, which user could care less about. For full update list google GDR3 features)

I’ll cover the features that user will most likely encounter or use on daily basis. so here it goes

  • Close running app- using the close button. This feature can be accessed using “long-press” back button gesture. Bad thing is that the close action is only enabled when one hovers over the app that needs attention.
  • Screen Rotation lock- Finally! This feature is in Settings->Screen Rotation. Turn it on to keep  the phone locked in portrait while reading news/email in bed. I wished there was a way to opt out,orientation lock, in apps like Photos etc.
  • Driving Mode– This feature is in Settings->Driving Mode. Follow the on-screen instructions to set it up. You can disable calls/texts etc while driving. There is a cool car icon in phone’s status bar when the driving mode is enabled. I have mine set to automatic.
  • Custom Ringtones– Yes, Now you can assign different tones for messages/appointment etc.

Enjoy!

Lumia Bittersweet Shimmer + GDR3! Feature leaks

Courtesy of a user named xs2K on Wpcentral, who got his hands on an Indian version of the firmware and software running on Lumia 920. GDR3 and Bittersweet Shimmer, which will replace Amber in future. Let me know what you think!

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He further claims that the phone “feels” faster than previous variant. He confirms following features:

Orientation Lock (see screenshot)
Driver mode (Will upload screenshot in a bit)
Close apps via multitasking (see screenshot)
Silent NFC (don’t have anything to test this with)