I STARTED USING a Windows Phone 8 just after St Patrick's Day 2013. I like the phone, its range of apps and its handling of multiple email accounts.
The only snag I have with the phone relates to my Microsoft account. Microsoft thinks I'm in the UK and won't let me change my credentials. But that doesn't stop the Store from processing my transactions.
Friends in the WP ecosystem tell me to get my ass over to the XBox world and to start leveraging SkyDrive. I have noted their points and plan to deep dive into both places because I need the phone backed up better than I kept my original Nokia Lumia.
There are several things about the Lumia 820 that make iOS 6 look lame.
- The Windows Phone Store cuts me slack when my credit card fails to pay on the first go. Try that with the Apple Store.
- In-app Old Skool games like Tapitude keep our back seat driver occupied for half of the battery's life.
- The People Hub tells me if one of my Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn friends are awake or in-country.
- All my photos and videos automatically upload to SkyDrive.
- Because of Nokia Music, our five year old has bought more singles in a month than I did in any teenaged year.
- I can pin so many useful things anywhere on the Start screen and many of those things are Live Tiles that show fresh information incrementally.
I've made a few other observations and recommendations during the past fortnight while poking around with the phone--one I got for free when Nokia Care opted not to repair my broken Nokia E7.
I close down apps to keep things snappy.
A lot of people use the Start button too much.
You can press it to go back to your Start screen or press it and hold it to use Speech.
But I think it's more important to press Back to leave an app. If you don't, the app is ready to resume. That can bog down the operating system when you're doing something important like Temple Run.
Tiles on the Start Screen mesmerise me--they're like apps that keep updating. Many Tiles offer information at a glance, so I don't even have to go into the app to learn the temperature is, number of fresh emails you have, or whether point of contact recently posted a picture on Facebook.
I also pin contacts to Start so I get their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn updates right from that Tile. This helps me look informed during meet-ups.
I have most (but not all) of the apps I need.
My Go-To app on all platforms is Evernote and I've pinned my 999 folder to the Lumia's Start screen.
I'm happy to know I've free phone calls to relatives located eight time zones away because Skype and Viber work just as solidly on WP8 as they do on iOS 6.
I still need a simple To-Do app like Wunderlist and I think it's going to be 2Day mashed up with Toodledo. I'm paying for both of them so now I have to knuckle down and make it work.
I've found dozens of great apps in the Windows Phone Store and it's relatively easy to determine whether they're worth paying to use. App Discovery is simpler with Windows Phone, probably because there are hundreds of million fewer WP apps than iOS apps.
I get intelligent contact management.
The People Hub is a stalker's paradise. The People Hub is one of the simplest ways to create personal dossiers. It is so easy for Windows Phone to amalgamate everything shared by people on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and then display it in one tiled area. That same part of the People Hub can be used to text, email, IM, Facebook chat, share stuff, and have a group chat.
Windows Phone knew thousands of people in the various accounts I maintain online. More than 6000 names came onto the Nokia Lumia when I added my email accounts. Some of the accounts spawned duplicate entries when LinkedIn details differed from the legacy addresses of several hundred of my business contacts.
Once all those contacts were in the phone's People Hub, I could browse albums in the Photos Hub. When I connect and comment, I often see replies landing on my Me Tile before I see the comments on the apps themselves.
Around once a day, I hit Start , tap People , and see what's new.
And around once a week, I send business e-mail to people I've previously placed into functional groups. You can do the same thing with any other smartphone but it's not as simple to see dynamic elements like recent tweets, social networking updates and shared photos.
The phone syncs efficiently.
I really really like being able to use Windows Explorer with Windows Phone. And I really really really like having 32GB SD cards that I can swap into the phone with my music and videos ready for Atlantic crossings. It's also dead-handy knowing I can strip off the back of the phone and insert a spare battery--no jockeying for the limited power points on public transport anymore.
I get peace of mind.
I hadn't realised that I turnend on a Microsoft service that automatically saved things to the cloud. When I set up backups on my phone, I noticed some things happening.
- My photos are automatically uploading to SkyDrive. Handy that.
- All my text messages are backing up. I use some strings of text for project management files.
- I'm also creating backups of my Lumia’s settings, including the list of apps I’ve installed, my theme color, Internet Explorer favorites, and account details.
I also turned on a Find My Phone function. Now I can log into windowsphone.com and see where my phone is located on a map. I can remotely ring it, erase it, lock it and post a message. Not that any gurriers would steal a Windows Phone when there are so many easy iPhone targets walking about.
Bernie Goldbach is a creative multimedia lecturer who has owned a Nokia phone since 1997. He also uses a fourth generation iTouch, a Nokia N8 and a Motorola Xoom Media tablet several times a week.