get Glance Screen background now!–Amber+GDR2 required

More customization comes to Glance screen. Now, you can choose from preloaded images or add your own. Select up to four images to update the screen.

Glance Background: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/glance-background/7c3378ff-2844-480b-b2e2-783537201b84

Problem with iPhone…

I was travelling for work over the past week. I wasn’t exactly baffled when I saw that everyone from the taxi ride to and fro from airport, the airport queues, waiting line, plane etc. are all flooded with Apple iPhone and I don’t just mean that. These phones vary from iPhone 3gs(maybe 3), iPhone 4/s, and some iPhone 5’s. There are so many iPhones in usage everyday. Very many….It is so hard to imagine what these people would be using if they weren’t using iPhone.

Although, I saw a few iPhone’s running iOS 7 within days of it launch. I am sure the next time I travel, the number will be a lot higher. Gets me to think how big of an influence Apple really is. Covering all these userbase has to be quite challenging for Apple in terms of feature selection, device selection etc. Either that of Apple puts out anything and crowd will buy it regardless. Don’t quite know exactly as the crowd wasn’t exactly iSheep crowd, perhaps they were but most of them were business oriented. Which brings me to reason the biggest problem with the iPhone; The biggest problem with the iPhone is that it isn’t really a problem for most. People seem to like and enjoy using it or like being oblivious—don’t quite know. But in any case, That is a huge challenge for competitors to overcome. All phones are compared to the de facto- iPhone. Samsung has about the same brand, but nowhere near the same loyalty. This poses the challenge for Windows Phone, Nokia and Microsoft. A market so well-established and controlled by Apple that is nearly impossible for them to penetrate the Apple user-base. And the problem is that people aren’t exactly unhappy with iPhone. People look for options when they are unsatisfied with their current option and that just doesn’t seem to be the case in Apple’s side.

On a more technical note, I have friends that think that Apple isn’t the industry standard and that it lacks innovation but they are tied into the Apple platform as they have made lot of app purchase from the app store that makes it difficult to carry over their apps to another platform. With Windows Phone, often times these apps have to be not only re-purchased but they are not even available with no hope in sight to know when they will get it. Can’t speak much for android as there is nothing appealing about the UI. I am sure there are lot of junk apps in Android Market.

 

So, there. The problem with iPhone is that People don’t have a hatred towards iPhone overall. Makes it difficult for Microsoft to compete with Apple in US. period. Price-point is the only reason, they are winning in emerging markets. The moment Apple makes cheaper phones, that market is dead too.

Nokia becomes the Samsung

Nokia takes a lot of heat for things they do and things they don’t do. By that, I mean their nefarious practice of using a “pity” ecosystem over a “grandiose” or so they say. Let’s dissect what really happened before and after their decision.

 

Android and Windows Phone:

Android was well established, had a fan following, ecosystem was thriving and it was definitely coming up to challenge iOS whether it was based on its merit or marketing push  combined with lack of alternative platform—is a matter of hot debat. People who argue about Android being open doesn’t know how it is better, so they latch onto the “openness” fruit when in reality they don’t even know what “openness” could do for them or what it means. In my view and it holds true up until ICS 4.0, Android couldn’t hold a candle against iOS in terms of user-experience, usability, app-selection, app-quality. end of discussion. period. Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG, Motorola were all dying to make the “flagship” android phone to compete against iPhone in hopes to make something that could come close to competing against the juggernaut. They all tried and tried very hard, by launching so many different flagship devices in a span of year, two-year- it was hard to keep up with. I, frankly, lost track and lost interest in that. As years go by, currently in 2013. There is Samsung and then there is HTC and then there is “others”. HTC is a mixed bunch which I’ll discuss a little later.

Windows Phone launches to rave reviews, bold design, innovative approach to smartphone UI that the world has never seen before. It was different. It was fast. It was unique. Windows Phone comes at a time in smartphone history where it was fighting against a two well-established and deep-pocketed players- Android and iOS. iOS was premium, Android- not so much. Windows Phone hoped to capture the middle market. But, the gap was very small. Android was taking a huge chunk with every day that passed. It became huge making every bit that difficult for Windows to grow and thrive. Launching on a low-profile, low-hope to succeed mindset- Samsung, HTC, LG decided to make pity hardware for the platform. With Samsung becoming huge on Android, they were done innovating on Windows side. Leftover technology from Android-world trickled down to Windows Phone, despite Samsung being a Microsoft partner. HTC was that stripper of manufacturing world that would try to be a good-wife to one, but then sees a customer and ends-up stripping thereby ruining the marriage. If you think Windows Phone should have succeeded then, You are naive and short-sighted. There was less chance of it succeeding than Dane Cook becoming straight. No one was making good hardware which is essential for a “flagship” phone. HTC was fooling around. LG had down-syndrome. You get the idea. Android was the happening place and to some extent the trend still continues.

To summarize the past, Samsung did Android. They did Android good. It was the Galaxy brand. Premium brand for Android with ecosystem push and support that propelled it. Samsung cared about the ecosystem and invested in it. HTC was the stripper as mentioned above. Windows Phone was the bad-neighborhood that people rarely drive to  to check on to see if all is well. Windows Phone was nothing. Android was everything.

 

Nokia’s resurgence

Nokia decides to ditch Symbian. They had two options Windows Phone or Android. There was an Android ecosystem, dominated by Samsung already which as years go by becomes the juggernaut, and then the low-key, low-activity Windows phone ecosystem that was in no-way thriving but there is no, one player fighting to become the “premium” Windows Phone handset maker. Samsung was well-established and rooted in Android. Nokia would have had a tough time if they jumped on Android bandwagon if they wanted to make a name for themselves. HTC, Motorola, Sony, LG—they were all struggling- living and breathing, but almost dead example of success on Android. Why would Nokia have succeeded? What can it bring to table that other makers other than android don’t already bring? The problem was ecosystem was managed, controlled by the Samsung machine with no room for the other players to grow. Samsung kicks them out before they could grow. You have to plant a seed and nurture it before it turns into a fruit-bearing plant. Samsung was the lawn-mower. Nokia could have done Android only, but again Samsung would have killed it. They could have done half-hearted things like HTC or LG but look at where they are now. The only option and the one that sounded like a “tough-sell” at the time was to do Windows Phone. Make it the best premium ecosystem they can make by making the “best” premium hardware they can make coupled with the best service they can bring to the table. Nokia gave a push to Windows Phone brand in ways that was noticed all around the world. Something that Microsoft never got pre-Nokia boarding period. So much so that Nokia and Windows Phone was synonymous and still is and growing stronger by day. Lumia line became the galaxy. Lumia line is bigger than Windows Phone line in terms of branding. People know Lumia even if they don’t know that it has Windows Phone in its gut. Nokia became the king of the Windows Phone ecosystem just like Samsung became for Android ecosystem. Nokia became the Samsung of Windows Phone. Windows Phone is Nokia. Nokia has a long way to go before it can make money like Samsung does. But as it stands today, There is Android ; There is Windows Phone. Then, There is Samsung; There is Nokia and then Everyone else and their ecosystem with an exception of Apple.

So, if Nokia were to chose Android. There wouldn’t be a Nokia as Nokia is today. A competitor promoting an ecosystem and the best one at it just like Samsung. Nokia, chose the underdog in hopes to revitalize it and I would argue it is far better off now than it would have been have they decided not to.  To an extent where Windows Phone wouldn’t exists if it wasn’t for Nokia and Lumias. Nokia is to Windows Phone as Samsung is to Android.

Using “Groups” in People hub on Windows Phone

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Windows Phone was designed on the paradigm of hubs. When I think of hub, I think of channels or stations (junction) where everything “plugs” into. A surge protector, a network/switch hub would be an example. Windows Phone has many of these hubs- People, Music+Video, Games. etc. For Camera features, there is something called “Lenses” which-in a nutshell-is the same thing as a hub but functions a bit differently. For this post, I’ll focus mainly on the People hub and how I use it and what advantages it offers over using individual apps for each task on other platforms. People hub has Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn integration to keep tabs of friend’s activities from all your social network in one convenient place. People Hub on Windows Phone is the best example of how “friends” from different networks should be looked at. They are just friends. Not, friends from facebook, friends from twitter, friends from linkedIn—just friends. I mean that’s how we refer to them in real life. This in itself is an amazingly unique and incredibly useful characteristic  The one feature I absolutely love in People hub is the Groups feature.

The key to my Groups experience with People hub lies with Twitter.  Twitter is where I follow people with different interests, likes, needs, humor, expertise etc. I follow a vast variety of people on it ranging from actors to news to tech to travel etc. For the most efficient use of this feature, You HAVE to follow the right kind of people to get the desired results. I mean really. In the screenshot below, I have grouped a handful of people that provide me with funny updates all throughout the day. I called them “Tweeps”.   And then I have a group called “Best Friends” which keep me up-to-date on what my friends are doing from all social networks- regardless of them being on FB, twitter. To setup a new on, I click on the + icon in the bottom menu bar.

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I pinned the group called Tweeps onto my start screen  by long pressing and “pin to start”. So now, they show live updates on my start screen without having to open the group. In the picture below, you can see how I get updated information from my “selected and trusted” group of friends to keep me posted on worldly matters or just plain humor, in my case.

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Insight:  This method can eliminate the need of any news app update(potentially google reader), sports app update, world matter, politics etc. This method updates the tile in intervals of 30 mins and is the most basic form of update but it gets the work done in the most easy and efficient way. It is also, in my testing, light on resources and battery and eliminates the need for third party apps in doing so.

 

Suggestion for other Groups:

  • News group- Get information on world, US news, breaking news by following the respective twitter handle.
  • Stocks group- Get information on stocks breaking out or doing well or not so well, again by following the handle that does the best job.
  • Family group- To keep tabs of people that you care about the most. Things they do on various social network.
  • Sports group- To see how a certain team is doing in NBA, NFL, hockey, cricket etc.
  • Celebrity group- To keep track of what your favorite role-models are doing or who recently joined rehab.
  • Technology group- To get recent information on what is happening in tech world. follow handles like techmeme, gizmodo, engadget etc.

Hope you enjoyed this post and put  Groups to its full use.