Archive for the ‘iOS’ Category

Patrick Moorhead from Tech.pinions recently wrote an editorial with the title, Leaving the iPhone- How Windows Phone 8 Stacks Up and he brings up many if not all the misgivings many users have when they switch from an iPhone or Android phone to Windows Phone.

I could tell from reading Patrick’s editorial that he didn’t spend much time with the Lumia 920 phone and also didn’t seem to have anyone to get answers to his questions.

Here is the prolog to his editorial, followed by my wordy response (you can read his entire article which is well written and obviously has good intentions at the link above)

“Approximately six weeks ago, I made the decision to stop using my iPhone 4s and immerse myself in Android, which I lumia 920did for about a month. I wrote about that here. After Android, I wanted to try out Windows Phone 8 for an extended period of time and I want to share my experiences with you. My goal here is provide some insights into how an American, technically astute Apple iPhone user would feel about using Windows Phone 8. I don’t represent the masses, but do represent the demographics of a an influential block of analysts, press, pundits, etc. I will talk about the pros, cons, and things that just didn’t matter one way or the other when comparing my iPhone 4s to the Windows Phone 8 powered Nokia Lumia 920. The 920 is considered by most as the flagship Windows Phone 8 phone and a good representation of the state of the art.

Let’s start out with the Windows Phone 8 (WP8) plusses.”

Here is the email with a few typos corrected and nonsense turned into sense. 😉

I’ve been a fanatic Windows Phone user since day 1 and know the ins and outs of Windows Phone 8 as well as Nokia’s apps.

While you did write a very balanced article for your seemingly short time spent with the 920, there are few things I think need clarification or explanation.

Navigation with Nokia Drive+ Beta

First off, yes it is beta software, but what you may not have known is this is the nearly 9 month old version 2 of Nokia Drive app which was released on Nokia’s first Windows Phone 7.5 devices. The most current version of Nokia Drive is version 3.x and is available on both Symbian and Nokia Lumia smartphones powered by Windows Phone 7.x.

Windows Phone 8 will receive the updated version of the Drive app as well as new features including better traffic data points. It will take time for Nokia to weave this updated Drive+ 3.x software into the new APIs for Windows Phone 8, the current and future version of Drive+ is not a standalone product, but is fully integrated into the OS and therefor meets and exceeds the features and performance of it’s predecessor (I am speculating on the performance here).

Turn-by-turn with street names.
This is in fact is 100% available in the software you reviewed, but for some nutty reason isn’t the default voice which auto downloads when you first run the Nokia Drive+ software – I truly hope that this is changed when the updated non-beta version ships because everyone I talk to with a Lumia has this same experience.

To have the street names announced you simply open Drive, Settings, Voice and select “English US announce Street names” or something to that effect. Street names are available for nearly every language and more are being updated as we speak.

Microsoft Office
Yes, you did mention how flawless the opening and editing of Office apps is and how ridiculous it is that Excel is included, but you neglected some additional usability features that Office on Windows Phone offers which, in my opinion, tips the scales in Windows Phone’s favor.

OS level SkyDrive integration!
Office defaults to opening and saving files to SkyDrive! So 100% of the files you keep on your PC or Mac are always accessible to you no matter where you are. In addition, the files you most recently opened on your phone are cached for quick access and if changes have been made since you lasted opened your cached file, you are notified of the changes and offered to download the current file. This all happens nearly instantly on your phone and takes the worry out of having multiple versions of your documents or presentations, etc scattered around the drives of all the computers you use on a daily basis.

Additionally, you can also easily and quickly access files saved to your phone or files that you recently opened in your email.

Did I mention that 100% of what I just mentioned is accomplished without ever installing a SkyDrive client app on your phone!? Yep, SkyDrive is baked into every Windows Phone 8 device sold and gives you easy access to any folder on your computer. Your Word, Excel, Power Point, PDF, files etc all appear like they are on your phone.

Most people synch their Libraries to SkyDrive. Not only is it a simple way to keep an off premises backup of all your data, but you are also making them accessible to you everywhere you go.

SkyDrive app
On Windows Phones you do not need to install a SkyDrive app to access the files on the cloud. But if you want to add and remove folders, files or move them from one folder to another, then you will want to download the SkyDrive app, most people will never need or use it, but it’s there for the more advanced user. SkyDrive client software for Windows Phone operates much the same way as its counterparts for Microsoft Windows 8, RT, Phone, Xbox 360, iPhone, iPad and Android.

You can synch entire folders/directories on your PC or your Mac.

Photo Tile
The Photo hub by default has two folders; Camera Roll and Saved Pictures. In addition to these two folders, a 3rd folder is created the first time you take a “snapshot” of your Windows Phone screen. All of those folders have your files stored locally in your phones available storage.

Then there are all the photos that you have stored on your computer and synched with SkyDrive and all the photos you have uploaded to Facebook.

The Photo hub also features the following screens you can easily swipe left or right to reveal: Favorites, which places all the photos from any of your online or offline folders at your fingertips. What’s New which shows new photos that were posted on your Facebook or Twitter accounts – not just the photos you posted, but also the photos which your friends posted to your Facebook wall and lastly the reveals the camera related apps you have installed on your phone.

Photos are also synched from your SkyDrive, Facebook, even Dropbox via a 3rd party called Cloudy Box. The API are there for any vendor to use and unlike Apple, these features are royalty free and are open to every developer.

Camera
One of my favorite camera features has to be the dedicated physical camera button and how that single “universally understood” camera button can wake the phone with a long-press, open the camera app even a phone which is password locked and not compromise security.

Windows Phones are the only phones you can hand to your aunt or grandparent and you don’t have to give a lesson on how to “take a photo” – priceless….

Camera Lens
Camera Lenses are unique to Windows Phone as well. This is a new feature in Windows Phone 8 which keeps all of your camera mini-apps or apps which use the camera of the phone in one easy to access location or hub from inside the Camera app.

These new Lens apps, as well as former apps that have been updated to support Lenses do not have to replicate the Windows Phone Camera app, etc. because they operate from inside the camera app. This not only makes things easier from a user’s perspective, but it also is easier for the developer as well because it gives their camera app the ability to save photos and videos to the sandboxed Windows Photos Tile which would normally be off limits to most developers.

While every Lens compatible app you install is can be set as a Tile on your Start Screen or opened from your App List like any other app, but every installed Lens can be easily access with one touch of a button from inside the phone app.

Example, take your phone from your pocket, press the camera button for a couple seconds, the camera turns on and you can either instantly take a photo or open any one of your Lenses to take a panorama or translate a sign in a foreign language to English, scan to a PDF, the options are limited only by the developer.

Application List, no endless Screens
I am not surprised that you didn’t know about being able to jump alphabetically through your apps with a ‘tap’ not press of the letter. This feature is not turned on by default, but only appears after you have loaded or installed 40 or 45 apps – I can’t recall what the current “magic number” is at the moment.

When I show how the Alpha jump feature works to an iPhone or Android user they go crazy! They love it and prefer it the endless screen after screen of apps which never seem to be organized properly. (see the heading below called Alpha Jump for more)

Having your apps listed alphabetically isn’t new and is used on other smartphones. The difference is, is that Windows Phone lines all your apps up in a single easy to read column which displays a thumbnail of their Tile and their applications name. Simple, clean straightforward. No clutter or distractions. The thumbnails are small and square in shape while their associated app name is in large clear type. Other platforms seem to emphasize the each apps unique and zany icon and their names are small and secondary.

Another benefit to a standard and consistent way to display lists, such as your list of installed apps, is that it behind every Start Screen displaying your most frequently viewed or favorite app Tiles and Live Tiles you are only one swipe or click away from a simple alphabetical list of every app you have installed. This is true for all Windows Phones as well as every computer running Windows 8 or RT – not only do users love and appreciate this, but IT departments do too since they can quickly move beyond your personalized Start Screen and find what they need in seconds.

One thing I do know for sure is that if you know how to use Windows 8 Modern UI, RT UI or Windows Phone UI, you can pick up a friend or spouses phone and be able to find any app easily and quickly. IT departments can ignore the Start Screen and custom tiles and Alpha Jump quicker than looming through screens or swiping endlessly to S for Settings, etc.

Alpha Jump
Being able to quickly jump through long lists in Windows Phone by tapping on a block with a letter from the alphabet in it is a root and basic feature of Windows Phone. Any built-in feature in Windows Phone as well as nearly every app in the Windows Phone Store also implements this feature.

Let me offer a quick description of how this universal feature works. First, you are presented with a list of the names of your contacts all sorted alphanumerically in a single column. If you have a contact or business which begins with a number or symbol the top of your list will feature a solid box with a “#” inside it. Immediately below this box is your contact’s name, followed by boxes with the letter “a” more contacts and so on.

If you do not have a friend or contact for every letter in the alphabet that letter’s box is not present.

To quickly access your contact Steve, you would tap any of the boxes described above which are visible, such as the “#” or “a” and immediately your screen changes from a list view displaying a list of names, to a screen filled with square tiles of each letter of the alphabet. If the list you are viewing does not have a contact which begins with a letter or symbol, that letter’s box is left blank – only the letters representing your list are in view.

This method of jumping to a quickly to a letter in the alphabet is much quicker than pressing Search and typing in the typing in the first few letters of their name on the keyboard. Unlike other areas of the Windows Phone OS which is more forgiving of typos, this is one area of the OS that has all typing assistance turned off.

A good use for the Search function in People, is when you want to find all your contacts who work for XYZ Corp. Type xyz into the People Search and all your contacts with xyz in their name or business name pops up.

Once you master jumping to specific a specific letter in your People hub, then you can use the same feature throughout Windows Phone and Windows Apps such as Facebook.

Jumping using the letter tiles/blocks is now second nature to me, it’s like pressing “Accept” when installing a new app on your pc – you do it without even thinking.

Sharing Contacts
Sharing contacts as well as sharing webpages, photos, videos, etc. is indeed possible on Windows Phone and unlike the other phone platforms, search is fully part of the core of Windows Phone.

Nearly everything you create, discover or produce on Windows Phone is easily sharable in a consistent way from every app that allows sharing. Just press the three periods at the bottom of nearly every app (. . .) which will expose the lesser used functions of your app.

If I could include a post-it note in the box of every Windows Phone Sold, it would say “if you can’t find what you are looking for, tap the . . .”

Simply put, the new Modern interface is designed for simplicity hides everything but the most common functions from view.

To share a contract with someone, you open the contact, touch the . . . to expose the additional functions that are relevant, select Share Contact, confirm by selecting the checkmark, and a new screen pops up titled, Send From; choose from Tap+Send to share the contact wirelessly via NFC, Bluetooth, Messaging or optionally select from any of your email account which are also listed.

Want to share a photograph? It’s done the same way. Microsoft took care to add many of these every day functions into the operating system itself. Every app works the same way, although you may see more or less locations you can share with depending on what you want to share.

For example, Internet Explorer 10 adds the option of sharing the webpage you are viewing with your Xbox 360 running Internet Explorer. Find a great video on YouTube and want to share it with your friends, watch it on your TV. The best part, is that once the webpage opens on your Xbox/TV, your phones screen becomes a touchpad for your Xbox so you can browse the web on your 50” HDTV as easily as you can on your laptop’s 15” screen.

Simple and consistent wins every time.

Having these menus or functions hidden is maybe one of the reasons that makes Windows Phone so easy for beginners to use and easier for them to access features in Windows Phone than on other platforms which lay everything out in front of the user, all the time and distracts from getting your task(s) accomplished.

A great example of this is how my Mother, who was 78 years old at the time, got her first smartphone about 5 months before her trip to Tanzania. It was a hand-me-down which I had passed along to her in hopes of being able to use the phone for email, etc while traveling. I should mention that my Mother was never able to figure out how to use voicemail on her mobile phone and only received calls or placed calls with it either by memory, or by looking up the phone number.

She started off with a Samsung Focus which she gradually began to use more and more than her dumb flip-phone until one day she called me and told me that she decided she liked having a smartphone and would switch to it full time.

When Nokia released the Lumia 900 on AT&T, my Mother spent actual money on her first phone (all her previous phones were all free phones on contract) and get the latest and greatest for her upcoming trip.

She wasn’t going to Tanzania alone, she was going as part of a group. She knew a few people before she went, but for the most part, she didn’t know the other members. She was the only person who had a Windows Phone and she was nervous that she would forget how to access a feature and wouldn’t be able to get help.

Well, she surprised everyone when she returned home and told everyone how much she used her phone! She used it for simple things like photographs and emails, but she also used it for navigation, translation, finding restaurants and boutiques and markets too.

While everyone else had iPhones and one person had an Android phone everyone was asking my mother who never had a smartphone before for information. She became the go-to person for everything. Even though everyone else had smartphone, none of the other people could figure out how to get their “smart” phones to give them the information they each wanted to make their trip more enjoyable or productive.

Yet, my mother who happened to be 20 years plus their senior was able to accomplish nearly every task quickly enough soon enough, the questions were going to my Mom and not the one of the several tour guides.

I realize that a 78 year old women being able to use so many features on her smartphone isn’t a ringing endorsement to the 20-something generation, but it does say a lot that My Mother who is now 79 and I, the geek do use the same phone. 

Mail/Outlook
The mail client is pretty darn good and I think much better than what you find on iPhone and I think you agreed with me on this one, but I would also say that it’s better than the latest Jellybean version of Android too.

Mail fully supports synching folders, you can merge multiple email accounts into one Inbox, you can pin a specific folder to your Start Screen as a Tile too. This is great if there are email you receive that are urgent and you need to take action right away. Here is a good example of how Live Tiles work and how pinning a Tile to your Start Screen representing different folders can be helpful.

You have a Tile representing your work folder or work email address, you have another one for your Inbox and maybe a 3rd Tile for emails come from eBay, craigslist, etc.

It’s 10pm and you that your Work Tile shows that new email(s) have arrived and since you are not on call you can ignore that notice until the following day.

By the same account, you are at work or on a business trip and you see that the Tile you have designated as your Inbox has new mail and you can safely ignore it until you have a break or at the end of the day. There countless practical uses for Live Tiles and they are only limited by your imagination.

And just maybe you will want to excuse yourself from a meeting to read the email from eBay.

Full Search
You did mention how the Mail client’s search is more limited than iOS, and I haven’t used an iPhone in quite some time, but I find that the Mail search does more than you mention. I’m not list them off, but trust me, they are there and depending on your mail service/host there are several queries you can use.

Multitasking
First let me start with a feature you didn’t mention but many people consider a bug or failing of Windows Phone.

Apps always open at their home page and not where you last left it.

This is by design, most people are not power users or are cutting and pasting from one app to the next, etc. They are not actively working with 4 or 5 apps let alone 3. They open their app for News, read the headlines and maybe an article or two and then put down their phone.

When they come back their phone and are at the Start Screen, they open their News app again and instead of being presented with the latest headlines, they see the last article they opened. If they don’t get around to opening the News app for several days, seeing an old article has gone from annoying to confusing.

So by default, if you open an app from its Tile or the App list, it will always open from the same home screen.

There are valid reasons why people want to switch apps and be on the page where they last were, and I’ll get to that now…..

Power Users eat their cake too
Yes, as you not in your editorial, holding down the Back button is a pretty elegant and convenient way to see what apps you have open in the background – I say ‘open’ because while Android may have apps ‘running’ in the background sipping at the phones limited battery reserves, Windows Phone uses a pause and quick resume feature to conserve resources but keep many of the benefits of having an app running in the background.

By holding down the dedicated back button on your Windows Phone you can horizontally scroll to your open apps and return exactly at the point you were at when you last left it.

Users who come from Android or iOS love to close apps they are not using because many of the apps on those platforms do drain the battery and the more you have running in the background, the sooner your phone will run out of power.

So while it usually isn’t as necessary to close apps on Windows Phone, there is a simple way to close apps and you don’t need to download and install another program to do it.

To close any app you are no longer using, all you need to is tap the Back Button until you are no longer in the app. On occasion it may take tapping the back button several times, but a trick is to re-launch the open app and the previous copy of the app you had open is replaced by this new instance and can be closed with one tap of the Back button.

To verify that the app(s) is closed, long press the Back button and verify that it is no longer displayed in the multitask view.

Running in the background
So, yes, most WP apps suspend when in the background not because Microsoft doesn’t allow apps to run in the background, but I think it’s that MS discourages this practice and have put some great alternatives in place that developers can alterably use, such as quick resuming, etc.

When a Tile is a Live Tile
Unlike apps which are suspended in the background, Apps which support Live Tiles, Tiles that display content downloaded periodically form the internet like email, weather app, news apps, etc. can drain the battery and if you allow enough apps access to update, especially the apps you don’t have on your Start Screen, they can lead to draining your phones battery faster than you would expect – and I am pretty sure that many users new to Windows Phone install a lot of these apps and are not aware that even if they do not open the apps or pin the app to their Start Screen, they are all working in the background none the less.

Turning off Background Apps
Apps which are set to operate or update in the background notify the operating system of this when they are first installed and a list of those apps is provided in the Settings section of the phone. Many of these apps are enabled by default and you can manually “block” these apps from working in the background without opening the offending app. Simply select “blocked” under any app name that currently lists itself as “allowed” – voila!

You can also easily re-enable those same apps by opening the app you want to re-allow to update in the background and turn the feature back on.

Battery Saver
First and foremost your smartphone is a phone. Yes, it’s great at game playing, listening to your favorite music or podcast and checking your email. But if it comes down to saving some battery power to make or receive a phone call or having the current temperature or new emails displayed on your phone most people will choose phone calls over the weather (we can look out our windows if we have to).

By default when a Windows Phone is running low on battery it automatically turns off all apps and Live Tiles operating in the background – this is called Battery Saver mode.

You can still check the weather, check for new email, etc, but they will only be refreshed or updated when you request it.

Battery Level Indicator
When the Battery Saver mode is activated heart shape is placed over the battery/power indicator.

As an aside, another complaint by iPhone and Android users is that while the current time is always displayed on the top right of your Home Screen and many apps, it does not display the following status icons unless they need attention.

Signal Strength Indicator
When you are traveling in an area or are in an office building or department store and your phone can not access your phone carrier’s cell towers or the signal is very weak, then Windows Phone will show the status.

If you are curious or OCD about things like battery life or signal strength, you can easily lightly swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal the status bar where all the status indicators you expect will be shown and then disappear after a few seconds.

The thing to remember, is that the information that you desire is there for you to access and you don’t have to open 2 folders and then tunnel down several menus to access it.

YouTube
Yes, not having an official YouTube app and being provided with a YouTube tile that open the mobile YouTube website on IE sucks. Windows Phone was designed for multimedia content!

Why does Windows Phone not have an official YouTube app as full-featured as the iPhone and Android phones? It was recently leaked via Microsoft that while they have a YouTube app already developed and have apparently had one since the dawn of Windows Phone. Google refuses to give Microsoft permission or a license to distribute it.

Windows Phone did initially launch with a YouTube app, but was later replaced with a link to the m.youtube website
Thankfully, there are several 3rd party apps which provide access to YouTube’s complete library of videos from some very cool and creative Modern UI based apps. The downside is, that they are ever playing a game of cat and mouse as Google keeps changing the tools needed for these apps to work. Interestingly, the changes Google makes do not interfere with either Android products or Apple products. :/

While these 3rd party apps are great at delivering content, they are not as friendly when it comes to uploading either videos taken with your phone or are stored in your Xbox Music + Video hub. Many of the YouTube-like apps can upload videos, but only if you record the video from inside their app, since these apps are not authorized to access the video files stored on your phone.

I am hopeful that these vendors will soon be able to use the phones new Lenses and be able to access the phones videos that way. (This may not even be possible, it’s just wishful thinking on my part)

Phone Search
Yes, I too wish that a universal Search was present in Windows Phone. There are many occasions I would like to search my calendar for past or future events or appointments. There was an app I used for a while for Windows Phone 7.5, but I don’t recall the developer or the apps name, but while it did make searching the calendar possible, it wasn’t as good or seamless as I would have liked.

I know Microsoft is expanding the search capabilities on Windows Phone 8. I met a young women who introduced herself to me as an intern who works for Microsoft and she personally designed the backend of a future search for the Messaging portion of the phone. She mentioned that is was modeled after the search that is integrated into the Mail client.

Lack of Windows Phone Apps?
Yes, the apps you mention you use daily are either not present or sometimes inferior to their iOS and Android counterparts. I have held the hands of several friends and work associates who found that this is one area of Windows Phone which was not as robust as the smartphones they had switched from.

Is every app available for Windows Phone which is currently available for iPhone or Android? No, Windows Phone does need more apps for a small fraction of users before they feel they can switch platforms – I get it. But don’t forget, none of these features even existed several years ago and we all survived for without them.

Part of what I do, is listen and ask questions. After hearing their complainants and asking them what they were using these apps for, I reminded them (several times) that that those features are built-in to Windows Phone and that they should relearn to use Local Scout and Nokia City Lens or OneNote.

When is Bing more than Bing?
When you press the dedicated search button on a Windows Phone, it opens up a window to search the web/internet, but this isn’t just a quick way for Microsoft to get you to use their search engine over Google, no, this is much more.

At the bottom of the Bing Search screen are three buttons you won’t find on your computer’s Bing page: Scout, Music and Vision, here is a summary of what each function does:

Bing Local Scout
Think of Scout as in an army scout. A scout was sent ahead of the troops to food, water, shelter, roads, etc. Scout on Windows phone is similar in that this Scout shows you all every restaurant from the closest one to you the next 20 ones from your location. You can even search by cuisine, star rating, whether the establishment is open or not, or if they are currently offering deals. You can even opt-in and allow Microsoft to study your searches and make recommendations for you.

Bing Music
Music in Bing doesn’t play music, it uses the phones mic to listen to the music playing and tells you what the song playing. If you have ever used Shazam, you know what Bing Music does, but how Bing accomplishes this is quite different and can provide you with a match in as little as 4 seconds when connected to wifi, if it can’t get it in the first few seconds, it keeps attempting to match the song or comes back asking to try again.

Assuming you have Shazam on your home screen of your iPhone or Android phone, and you open Shazam it still takes several seconds to load, then takes and other tap to begin the mandatory 10 second recording from the phone’s mic before it even uploads the sample to their server.

What Bing can do in as little as 5 seconds, Shazam takes a minimum of 15 seconds. In side by side tests with identical phones, Bing was able to find the track before Shazam each and every time before Shazam even finished recoding the sample.

Bing Vision
Simply put, Bing Vision uses your phone’s camera to quickly translate signs or menu’s from a foreign language and give you a fast literal word-for-word translation without using an app. You don’t need to be traveling in a foreign country to use this feature either, if you are a student taking a foreign language you can quickly translate a word or series of words you are having difficulty with.

Translation is not limited to just English there is direct translation available to and from 30 languages without downloading or opening any app – although this feature does use your internet connection.

Does Bing Vision replace a dedicated translation app? NO, this is quick and dirty and what most people need when they are presented with something they cannot read. Microsoft and others have full apps which translate voice to voice, to text etc. Why download and install a translation app when you may never need to use it?

Barcodes, QR codes, book covers, CD and DVD covers

You can also use Bing Vision to look up prices, reviews, ratings, etc of book, CD and DVDs – all without taking the time to find and run the app. Want to look up a barcode when you are shopping? Maybe you need to see reviews, find the right edition or see what other colors the product comes in.

Use Bing Vision, I have never used any other device or app which locks in to a bar code faster than a Bing Vision. Another time saving feature is you don’t have to have several barcode apps for electronics, groceries, home furnishings, etc. Bing find the items and then presents you with fast results on all the things you expect to find from a barcode app without the fuss.

Every feature in Bing Music and Bing Vision are instantly stored for you to access in the future, possibly when you have more free to time to read the reviews and ratings.

Bing finds and organizes Information
In addition to these three integrated features, you can also swipe left and right and discover what’s playing in your local theaters, local deals aggregated from several discount sites, the most active videos being played on the internet, the top new stories and lastly, current local events. This is all without opening an app. No switching screens to locate the app, no waiting for the app to load, no waiting for the app to connect to the internet to download the current data, etc. All this and more is at your fingertip and can be accessed in less than a second.

Is Windows Phone 8 right for you?
Is Windows Phone right for your friends?

Granted, Windows Phone is not for everyone and Microsoft needs to put a lot more effort into educating all users on how Windows Phone operates and how it’s intentionally designed differently than the other phone on the market.

Windows Phone is not an immature platform like many like to claim, It’s actually quite advanced and in many time saving and tangible ways we use everyday it is vastly superior to anything that Apple or Google has to offer.

I hope you took the time to read this message as it took me quite a while to respond thoughtfully and in a way that wouldn’t put you off. I hope I succeeded and I look forward to your future article on whether you will switch to Windows Phone 8.5.

John Freiman
San Francisco

Sent from my Nokia Lumia 920 powered by Windows Phone 8

No, there is no surprise here and anyone who claims that it is a surprise and/or revolution – well, they are either intentionally feeding into the hype or they are reporters (enthusiasts) who are wearing Apple Inc blinders.

128GB iPad – this is not surprising, this is typical Apple and the same tactic all premium brands with “inflated” product prices do.

When the iPad was released with a 64GB option there were a certain percentage of people who will pay top dollar to have the best.
When these “top of the line” models sales begin to decline then Apple has no choice to release a new model which will take over the top of the line spot.  This new model also must not cost Apple any more in R&D.

This model is not designed but for a few to buy, no, this model is not created because users are craving more storage.  This new 128GB model was designed to sell more 64GB models and bring that production and it’s higher margins and higher net profits back to the levels it was selling at when first launched.

16GB and 32GB parts costs are pretty much fixed because those memory sizes are mass production and foundries have no problem manufacturing them.

64GB parts are newer, there are less factories manufacturing them, but Apple purchased them a year in advance and because Apple purchased so many of these parts they have a lower price as compared to other vendors. Why? Because Apple’s huge guaranteed order helped pay for the factories and advanced technology required to make them. Everyone else buys these new 64GB parts for considerably more because the memory manufacturer still needs to make a profit for this new part.

So the iPad 64GB model is the sweet spot for pure profits and Apple is not going to let this highly profitable products sales decline, in fact they need to sell more of them.

Enter the 128GB iPad.  Now when people are shopping for their iPad they will be presented with four options, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB.  If you were shopping for an iPad and didn’t need anything fancy the 16GB model would be sufficient for most users, but iPads, just like iPhones can not be upgraded once you buy it so most people will buy the 32GB model.

The iPad is luxury device for most people.  Between smartphones, laptops and desktop computers, most users do not have a “need” for an iPad, but they have a “want” for an iPad.

Before the 128GB iPad was announced most people looked at the 64GB model first with glazed over eyes and drooling down their chin.  But who can justify getting the top of the line iPad when in fact you don’t even know what you are going to use it for?

In comes the 128GB model to distract and be the new product  people crave and see in the Apple Store and can not justify so what do they do now? They are not practical and do not buy the 32GB model which would have been fine just last week, no, they purchase the 64GB model, one step down from the best.

Sure, there will be people purchasing the 128GB iPad, but those people aren’t looking at the prices and never have. This model is not made to be sold, it’s made to convince you to buy the 64GB model which makes Apple the most revenue and profits.

Before you ask, no this same model does not entirely apply to the Microsoft Surface RT and Surface Pro.  Yes, Microsoft is making good money on each Surface sold, but you see they are selling only two memory configurations for the RT and Pro each, and Microsoft also includes an industry standard MicroSD slot so people who purchase any of Microsoft’s 4 Surface computers at 32, 64, or 128GB can upgrade them with an additional 64 or 128GB of storage.

So, remember what I just taught you not only have I saved you a few hundred bucks, but I also kept some revenue away from Apple Inc. 😉

kids-share-content

So, have you been reading the reviews for the HTC 8X, Lumia 920 any of the several other Windows Phone 8 devices?  Maybe you stopped reading them because you don’t believe that Windows phone is a mature platform and trails iPhone and Android? There are no apps for Windows Phone – hogwash! Are there apps which are “missing” from the Windows Phone Store, yes. But are these the apps you will be installing? Hardly. Perhaps the only app missing from the Windows Phone Store that the average user will be wanting to use is Instagram, and not that Instagram has been acquired by Facebook, it shouldn’t be long before Microsoft makes arrangements to bring Instagram to Windows Phone. You will be able to find many, many apps of all sorts on Windows Phone.

Well, then you haven’t heard the entire story and you might be interested in some very real ways where Windows Phone 8 can school the iPhone and Android phones on some very real ways.

1. Child Safety:

IPhone:  The Apple  iPhone allows you to block users from running certain programs, using the phone’s camera, iOS can even limit iTunes purchases to those without parental advisories.
But all these “restrictions” have to be set on the phone and each restriction must be set individually.

Android: Google’s efforts to protect children is nearly nonexistent and if you want to set anything other than restrict the purchasing of apps in the Play Store you are out of luck because Google doesn’t have any way to protect your children and leaves that up to app developers.

Windows Phone 8: Microsoft’s latest Windows Phone 8 operating system has a cloud based approach to child safety and is fully integrated into the Windows Phone 8 and the settings you create on the cloud permeate to their Windows 8/RT user profiles as well as Xbox 360.
Microsoft also makes it super simple, select from Child, Teen, Adult or Custom.  The settings you choose for the Xbox 360 overlap to the settings your choose for Windows Phone 8, Windows 8/RT.
As a parent, it always seems like our children learn how to bypass every measure we put in place so that they can be free from restrictions.  One of the benefits of this cloud based parental controls system is that you, as their parent, can always check the settings of your child’s account online and not have to go through each setting on their phone to see if they are all set appropriately,

2.  Share your phone with your children, or protect your personal data from others

iPhone: n/a

Android: n/a

Windows Phone 8: Windows Phone 8 has a special mode which creates a “phone within a phone” on your Windows Phone 8 device.  This mode is called, Kid’s Corner.  Kid’s Corner can be used with your toddler or pre-teen who doesn’t yet possess their own phone.  Kids corner lets you select the apps which can be used in Kid’s Corner, the music they can play, the games you deem appropriate as well as the videos they can watch.   All this protected by your phones password.
No longer can your kids pick up your phone and drain the battery when your not watching it. This same Kid’s Corner prevents expensive app and music purchases as well as the embarrassing emails and phone calls made to your boss or co-workers or a costly international call.

Do not confuse Kid’s Corner with Parental Controls.  Parental controls are set on a phone which you give to your child as their phone.  Kid’s Corner is a secondary user account created on your personal phone and it limited to running only the apps you allow.

3. Camera – Simple to use and Keeps your Phone Secure!

Each Windows Phone has a dedicated camera button. that’s why when you look at a Windows Phone device you will likely never see the camera app set as a Live Tile.  Whether the phone is off, on, password protected or in Kid’s Corner mode, all you have to do is press the dedicated camera button on the phone an the camera activates.
When your phone is unlocked, any photo you take can be instantly tagged and shared on Facebook, sent via mms/text message email, etc.  When your phone is locked, the camera still functions as above, but with one important difference.  The camera operates, but you can only view the photos you just took.  You can’t share them, go into other menu’s on the phone and the only photos you can view are the ones you just took.  To gain access to the other features again, enter your phone’s password.

Another thing you may read about in a basic review of Windows Phone is that photos taken with the phone are taken just like a ‘real camera’ press the camera button on the top right of the phone – viola, no teaching Aunt Mary or your Mother on how to take a picture with your phone.  No taking 3 minutes to teach someone to us your phone as a camera in stead of taking your photo.

These are some of the things you will not hear much about because they cant be compared to the competition, because the competitions offerings aren’t as sound, as mature or as easy to use.  It may not be because the reviewer is trying to hide these features from you, it’s more likely that they don’t have children and don’t care about those things.

Why does this happen, why don’t these reviewers talk about these features which will make any parent’s job a little easier and children a lot safer?  Because they know how to use iPhone, or they know how to use Android, both of those operating system operate very similarly to one another.  Windows Phone and Windows Phone 8 doesn’t work like the others.  this is by design.

Microsoft could not place these child modes or child and teen safety features in their phones if they did not create a new platform.  A new platform which puts emphasis into safety; Safety from intruders, from thief’s, hackers as well as keeping your children safe.

So, as a parent, you should be looking for a phone which you and your family can use and one in which the phone manufacture puts as much emphasis on designing a fresh and easy to use phone as well as a company which has designed their platform for every user in the home, even if they are too young to have there own phone.

Keep a lookout for the next edition of Features you wont hear about on Windows Phone soon.

Microsoft has already shown that they mean business and are ready to rebrand Zune as Xbox Music and Xbox Video so that every Xbox, Windows 8 PC, Windows 8 Pro tablet/slate, Windows RT and Windows Phone device can use and share music and movies between Microsoft devices, but is this enough for Microsoft to become a leader or a contender in the online music service space?

I think Microsoft should extend their Xbox SmartGlass for iPhone, iPod, iPod Video to include access to Microsoft’s Xbox Music Pass.

This service by distributed by Microsoft and has been available on Every Zune, Windows Phone and Windows PC running Zune software has allowed users to either pay a small monthly free or a reduced rate for pre-purchasing an entire year of service with the ability to download, not just stream high quality music.

For under $100 a year (or between 7-10 full CDs, or up to 100 tracks on iTunes) you can download nearly any CD, compilation, track or tracks of your favorite artists, or even download full CDS from artists and bands you never heard of, but want to give a try. If you don’t like it, delete it from your phone or PC, it’s that simple!

So, would Microsoft ask Apple to plug into their FairPlay technology for a Xbox service? Could Microsoft bypass the DRM in iOS6 and iTunes and apply their PlaysForSure technology there?

Time will tell, but i can already see that Microsoft is keeping not only their sites and future open, but they are also embracing companies that have the lions share of users and are taking a play from Apple; sending out a baited fishing rod and reeling them in one user at a time.

Everyone knows Apple can create amazing cutting edge products with the latest and greatest features, but it’s new designs are limited by their own success.

Sure Samsung Galaxy S III has some great tech and the Nokia Lumia will arguably have the best – everything:
Highest resolution screen in the US
Best clarity with higher than retina display ppi
Best color accuracy ans viewability with it’s “Apple like” IPS panel
Best motion and video playback with their PureMotion HD+ tech
Few to no scratches with it’s Corning Gorilla Glass display and unibody design that while resists scratches, and when it does they are nearly invisible thanks to it’s color solid plastics
It has the PureView technology in their camera which not only has software enhancements, but also OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) for smooth video and highly detailed photos in low light
Wireless (wire less) charging
Synaptics Clearpad tech so the phone can be used with (nearly) any device or digit; fingers, gloves, car keysand even fingernails (what admin assistant, secretary or manicurist doesn’t look forward to that?!)
WiFi (seemingly single band until it’s reported otherwise)
Bluetooth 4.0
2nd Gen Lumia with 4G and/or 4G LTE
Windows Phone 8 based on the multi-threaded Windows NT core as well as Windows 8 and Windows RT
Etc, the list goes on and on with new software enhancements by both Nokia, Microsoft Research (think PhotoSynth) and Microsoft

These are all or many of the things Apple can no longer design and then be manufactured. There is no way that even Apple and their manufacturers could make 10 million of these devices for launch and then be expected to be of good quality or even able to secure all the parts to make so many handsets.

I point to the iPhone 5’s 8MP BSI camera. While the physical camera is technically inferior to the optics of the 4S, Apple was able to use great software algorithms to make the iPhone 5’s camera produce photos on par with the last gen (1/2 gen) phone.

So, will the “iPhone 6” have these new wonderful features that are found in the Lumia 920 – I’m sure many of them will, but only after other companies test the waters and manufacturers can mass produce these technologies.

I also bet that the next iPhone will run iOS11 and will fully merge iOS and OSX into one OS and will be heralded as “Amazing!” 🙂

AS Microsoft begins to embrace and merge the desktop with the handheld market Apple is doing the opposite.

No longer is the Mac and Mac OS at the forefront of Apples business plan. We see evidence of this every day.

The iPhone and iPad are getting all the new features, they get hardware refreshed every year like clockwork, now they are alternating iPhone and iPad hardware announcements so iOS stays in the publics eye.

The iMac and PowerBooks have not seen a major revision in tech specs in 2 years, smaller, lighter, yes, but not any faster.
Their servers based on Mac OS have not changed at all in 24 months!

Why? Apple had grown the Mac OS market as much as they can/want. All their R&D is going into the Lowe power ARM architecture which is what the iPhone, iPad and AppleTV are running on.

No, to grow Mac OS market share and not waste R&D on enhancing that platform Apple will release Mac OS X for all existing Windows PCs.

Yes, it’s true, because I said so. 🙂

There has never been a better opportunity for Apple to make this major shift, everything is falling in place:

• Windows is radically changing for the first time since 1995, now that people are faced with upgrading to something NEW they are more likely to consider Mac OS X
• Mac OS X runs on “entry level” hardware – well, entry level for Windows OEMs.
• Mac OS X will easily operate on Windows PC made 5-6 years ago and likely wouldn’t need to even upgrade memory
• with Apple no longer investing in x86 architecture they need to keep their developers happy with a growing market to keep them developing for the existing market

Apple can do it, they already have native graphics drivers for Intel, NVIDIA, AMD/ATI, the only thing to develop are core drivers for the AMD chipsets and AMD instructions – don’t forget, Intel is running AMD x64 instructions….

This will happen and it will happen in October 2012, don’t trust me? Think i am off my rocker? Im open minded and eager to hear your views.

So let’s start with the elephant in the room.  Windows Phone 7.0 and 7.5 phones will not be upgradable to Windows Phone 8.  All existing and potentially new Windows Phones released before and possibly after the release of the Windows Phone 8 platform will be upgradable up to Windows Phone 7.8.

Windows 7.8 is designed to give current Windows Phone the look and feel of Windows Phone 8 without loosing any of the features and benefits of their current phone(s).  This is not very different from what Apple has done several times in the past.  We don’t think about this much and we shouldn’t, this is how great platforms are developed and quickly forgotten.

Some Examples of how many times Apple replaced existing architecture for a clean break to the future

* Apple 1 to Apple 2
* Apple 2 to Apple III (Apple III+ gave back some backwards compatibility)
* Apple 2/III+ to Apple Lisa
* Apple Lisa to Mac
* Apple MacOS for PowerPC to MacOS 10 for Intel x86
* Apple MacOS 32-bit to MacOS 64-bit

Just like Micorosft is now doing with Windows Phone 8, Apple has done and continues to do similar upgrades and breaks compatibly with older systems or not all features are available for older generations.

This has happened with each generation of the iPhone, a new OS is released and only some features are available for older generation phones.

People didn’t get angry at Apple for coming out with new Phones or coming out with new features exclusively for the newest device(s) — consumers accept this as fact and the way business is done.

Heck, there is no technical reason why an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 can not run Siri, yet it is only available for the newest iPhone 4S.  And iOS 5 is no different, many features will not be coming to the 4 and nearly no new features will be accessible in iOS 6 when installed on the 3GS.

So now we will talk a little bit about Microsoft’s history

*  Microsoft DOS (MS DOS) 1.1 all the way to MS DOS 6.1 (Windows 2 ran on DOS 6) all were backward compatible with earlier computers.
*  Windows 1.x allowed users to run all their DOS apps either in a window or full screen
*  Windows 95 ran all the apps for released for Windows 1, 2.11 AND still ran DOS app
*  Microsoft developed OS/2 for IBM and while IBM wanted to continue to run all older apps as DOS and Windows had done before OS/2, Microsoft pushed ahead and created Windows NT – breaking compatibility with some but not all apps
*  And since Windows NT in 1993 until today, most all of those apps designed in the early-mid 1990s still operate today on Windows 7 and soon Windows 8.  I know this because I have friends who still install 10+ year old licensed apps on their new PCs without having the pay the high price for the latest versions -which they don’t need

So, Windows Phone 8 will run “all the apps” designed for Windows Phone 7.x un-modified, even on new higher resolution screens.

Will the release of a new Windows Phone 8 platform make everyone’s existing Windows Phones garbage? Heck no!  These phones are still excellent phones and I guarantee that these phones will have better battery life than any new dual-core or hi-res Windows Phone 8 devices.

In fact, I don’t think that Windows Phone 7.x is going anywhere.  I bet there will continue to be a market worldwide for single core Windows Phone 7 devices.  The hardware is still competitive with current single core smartphones, apps being designed and released today still run incredibly fast on first generation phones running at clock speeds of “only” 1GHz.

People who use Android and iOS don’t completely understand that a modern OS can work well on a single core device, but it does – Windows CE was designed from the ground up to work on low power risc processors.   Poor performance isn’t driving Microsoft to develop an updated Windows Phone 8 platform, quite the contrary, Microsoft is bringing the power and function of a PC down to tablets and to smartphones – there is a difference.

Android really needs dual and quad core phones and tablet to keep up with iOS and now Windows Phone 7/8, why? because the Android platform is a wild west with no one company driving features, performance or even making sure that your second let alone third or fourth core is actually being used by apps and the Android OS.

I don’t see that happening anytime soon, it’s just not possible to do.  There are several reasons for this and I’ll just say some of them as they come to mind; several ARM cores and specialized versions of those cores and graphics chips from multiple vendors, multiple wifi chipsets, Bluetooth stacks, sime have video output, different sized screens, and speeds, etc. etc. etc.

Then add one more BIG thing, since there is no product cycle driven or directed by Google like their is for iOS and Windows Phone, you have new phones designed nearly from the ground up every 3-6 months from every vendor.  No two phones are the same, and no two phones or tablets can share the same OS and drivers. There just isn’t enough time for Samsung, HTC or LG to fine tune the Android OS for any or all devices they manufacture or ship.

So, should the announcement of Windows Phone 8 keep you from purchasing a Windows Phone 7.5 device today or next month?

That depends and I think that people reading this or other tech blogs may want to wait, but the market for smartphones is so much larger than the techie community that I think that 90% of the people looking for their first or second smartphone SHOULD buy a Windows Phone device.

The Windows Phone 7.x devices and apps aren’t going anywhere and I believe that many will still be developed in the future.  Will there be new apps that can only run on Windows Phone 8 – SURE, but if the phone you use or purchase today does everything you want or need, a new Windows Phone 8 will not make your phone any less desirable or less functional.

Now that Microsoft has shown many of the new things coming to Windows Phone 7.8 and Windows Phone 8 things are just going to get better, people are going to respect you more and they might even think you are cool for getting in on the Metro bus early.

I know I am super happy with my Nokia Lumia 900 LTE phone and it does everything I want it to do – except maybe run Skype in the background – but seriously, do I really use Skype to do that anyway? Nope. 😉

I don’t think anyone truly believed that MS would put the NT kernel onto existing Windows Phone 7.x devices.

I am happy enough with receiving the new Windows 8 Metro interface.

Sure, newer apps and technologies will only be available to the latest Windows Phone 8 devices, but that’s really not all that different than Apple with iOS.

When the 4S was released it came with Siri and the currently and still shipping iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 do not have Siri and the 3GS does not have many of the new features on iOS 5 and the upcoming iOS 6 leaves many features missing on older phones – which are by the way still selling well in stores.

I am excited for Windows Phone 8.  If all the phone vendors put 110% support behind Windows 8 like Nokia has, people will run to new beautifully crafted phones.

Microsoft Surface has shown the OEMs what they are capable of and not just that; they are also telling the industry, If you don’t design compelling products – we will! 🙂

People upgrade phones, tablets and computers for new features and additional functionality.  It’s not because their device/computer no longer works, it’s that they expect and want more.

Today’s Windows Phone 7.x devices are great products, they do everything and more than when they first shipped whether it was 18 months or 2 months ago.

What happened to all the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th gen iPhones???  They got handed down to family and friends because they are still great phones – I see this being true for Windows Phones as well.