Windows Mobile 10: Η πτώση?

Διάβασα πρόσφατα ένα άρθρο που μιλούσε για την πτώση των πωλήσεων των smartphones με λειτουργικό Windows Phone/Mobile. Προφανώς φαίνεται ότι υπήρχαν πολλές προσδοκίες σχετικά με τα (επίσημα) Windows Mobile 10, όπως το ότι θα αναβαθμιστούν όλες οι παλιές συσκευές σε WM10, ότι θα υπάρξει στενότερη σχέση ανάμεσα σε διαφορετικές συσκευές (π.χ. ότι θα περνάς εύκολα περιεχόμενο από την μία συσκευή Windows 10 σε άλλη), ότι το Continuum θα παίξει και σε παλιότερες συσκευές κλπ.

Δυστυχώς το λειτουργικό:
1) άργησε πολύ να ετοιμαστεί χάνοντας διάφορες προθεσμίες που ανέφερε η ίδια η Microsoft,
2) τελικά βγήκε αλλά δεν ήταν έτοιμο (ακόμα τρέχουμε με διάφορα bugs που λύνονται και επανέρχονται κατά καιρούς),
3) δεν έγινε διαθέσιμο σε όλες τις συσκευές (άρα όπως την πατήσαμε από τα Windows 6.5 που δεν αναβαθμίστηκαν πλέον, την πατήσαμε στο μεταξύ και με τα Windows Phone 7 που έφτασαν μέχρι την 7.8) και τώρα με τα Windows Phone 8 που έφτασαν μέχρι την 8.1 με πλήρη ασυμβατότητα μεταξύ των διαφορετικών εκδόσεων) και τελικά τα νέα features είτε δεν ενθουσίασαν είτε είναι διαθέσιμα μόνο σε ναυαρχίδες (βλέπε Continuum)
4) Official εφαρμογές που περίμενε ο κόσμος είτε άργησαν πολύ να εμφανιστούν (βλέπε Instagram που ήταν ανενεργό 3 χρόνια, Google Apps), είτε δεν υπήρξαν ποτέ.
5) Ακόμη και οι ναυαρχίδες δεν ήταν έτοιμες όταν κυκλοφόρησαν (βλέπε προβλήματα στο διαδίκτυο με 950/950XL.

Όσο για τους κατασκευαστές, ελάχιστα μεγάλα ονόματα κατάφερε να πείσει για το νέο αυτό εγχείρημα, οπότε δελέασε κατά κύριο λόγο Ινδούς κατασκευαστές (εντελώς low-end συσκευών) και διαφόρους μικρούς που έψαχναν την τύχη τους. Κάτι premium συσκευές από HP με docks κλπ θα τις βλέπουμε μόνο σαν collector’s items σε περιοδικά, αφού δεν θα κυκλοφορήσουν ευρέως.

Και να σας πω και κάτι απλό – προσωπική εμπειρία που δείχνει την απομόνωση και ασυμβατότητα των Windows Mobile 10 σε σχέση με τις υπόλοιπες συσκευές: Μπήκαμε πρόσφατα μια παρέα σε ένα Toyota Aygo και παίζαμε με τη multimedia console που έχει (και υποστηρίζει MirrorLink). Λοιπόν, η μόνη συσκευή που δεν κατάφερε να γίνει pair μέσω bluetooth με το console ηταν το δικό μου Lumia 735 με Windows Mobile 10. Μετά ψάχνοντας έμαθα ότι παρότι η Microsoft είναι μέλος στο consortium που σχεδιάζει και υλοποιεί το MirrorLink, δεν έχει προσθέσει ακόμη την υποστήριξη στις φορητές συσκευές της (και μιλάμε για ιστορία που έχει ξεκινήσει από το 2012 – ίσως και νωρίτερα). Τα ίδια και χειρότερα για υποστήριξη USB OTG, που θεωρείται ακόμη ένα εξωτικό feature για τα Windows Phones.

Την ίδια στιγμή ασχολούμαστε ακόμη με το αν ο email client (Outlook) για το κινητό θα υποστηρίζει μαύρο background και πότε επιτέλους θα έρθει η υποστήριξη για HTML signatures στα emails (που χρειάζεται για σοβαρούς σκοπούς), ακόμη και στην desktop έκδοση της εφαρμογής.

Καληνύχτα σας Windows Phones.

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Using a Windows Phone without a Windows button…

It is one of the lessons I learned the hard way:

I have this really nice LG Optimus 7 Windows Phone mobile for about a year now and I have been really happy about that. I just replaced the battery and could not complain about its performance in any case. One day, I decided to make my youngest son (just 15 months old) happy and gave him the mobile phone (airplane mode on) in order for him to listen to music, which he really loves! I decided to take my eyes off him for some minutes, so that I can check my emails…I soon realized that he was really quiet, therefore he was into something not good for me. Indeed, when he saw me he gave me back my phone, which was still playing music – but with the Windows button missing!! (just to remind you that the Optimus 7 is one of the few Windows Phones with hard buttons – not the soft ones available in the majority of the other Windows Phones).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I started looking around for the button but it was nowhere to find… so I understood: I had to wait until this little guy pooed and do a little ehm… research before I found the button again, shining! After a nice wash and disinfection, the button was ready to be glued back into place.

I got a nice, strong glue, in order to make sure that it will not be peeled off again by this little guy. I tried to drop one drop but the glue run quickly, so instead there were 3-4 drops in the mobile phone’s button place. I though that it would only make it stick even better and I was right: There was so much glue inside that it apparently run off the button hole and it made the hole button hard as a rock! There is no way to press the Windows Phone button now as it is stuck for good! Acetone did not do anything apart from making the black color turn to grey…

Now I have to learn how to operate my Windows Mobile phone without its flagship button. I only miss the direct transfer to the home page, as I can move there  indirectly, by pressing the Back button a couple of times (or more in some cases…). But the hardest lesson I learned is not to trust my sons with my gadgets,at least not until they become old enough to understand the pain I am going through after seeing my gadget being treated like that!

My laptop, also abused by my youngest son…

My life with my brand new mobile phone – LG Optimus 7

About 4 months ago I received a call from my best friend, asking me if I wanted to buy his Windows Phone 7 (WP7) phone. I was really surprised, because a) I knew how much he loved his phone and b) I already had a fully working mobile phone that I also loved (an HTC Touch HD – Blackstone, with Windows Mobile 6.5). However, since I wanted to have at least a back up mobile phone, just in case, I decided to give it a try.

After a few days, the LG Optimus 7 was in my hands, in its original box and with all original stuff in it. In fact, my friend also gave me a long hands-on with the mobile, since I was fresh in the WP7 area and I had no experience with this OS. The interface was so easy to use that I could not believe that! Only three main screens: The home screen with the tiles/shortcuts, the app list and the settings screen. That’s all. No file browser needed for digging up the files,  no complicated menus leading you in hidden settings, nothing. Access to almost everything with a slide or with a click.

Photo taken from GSMArena.com

The phone has three hardware buttons: The left one is for back, the center one is the Home button and the right one is the Search button. They work flawlessly, no matter what you are doing. It also features a micro-usb port, a dedicated camera button (works even with the phone in hibernation), the volume buttons and of course a power button on the top. Unfortunately no micro-SD card slot… it would be really useful but it just doesn’t exist

The specs of the phone are quite interesting for its price: 3.8-inch capacitive screen (480×800), 512MB of RAM / 512MB ROM and 16GB of storage. Yeap, that’s plenty of storage of a mobile phone, trust me! The CPU is a Qualcomm QSD8650 Snapdragon @ 1GHz supported by an Adreno 200 GPU. In practice, the mobile phone works smoothly, with no lag noticed at any time, no matter what. And this is what matters.

Apart from that, it also sports a number of connectivity features, like Bluetooth, GPRS/EDGE/HSDPA, and of course Wifi. In addition, it has a 5MP camera (2592 x 1944) with autofocus, shooting video at 720p and a LED flash! Yes, it is my first mobile phone to feature a camera with a flash after more than 15 years! Amazing…

But enough with the theoretical stuff… what about how the phone behaves in every day use? Well, it is fast. Apparently Microsoft got the message from Apple, where hardware and software is seamlessly combined and the other one from Google, where software tries to make up for any hardware that can be available (not always successful, though) and the result is excellent: The phone is snappy and it never crashes! I don’t know how this happens, but I had seen no crash or app not working since I bought it (almost four months now). No need to soft reset and of course no need to hard reset. Tweaking is only for the brave at heart, since jail-braking your phone needs some work (much harder than in Android) so most of the users are happy with what they have: A fully working mobile phone!

The camera is also nice, better than the ones of my previous mobiles (sorry HTC!). Not only 5MP but also high quality, with vibrant colors and sharp details. Videos look pretty nice, too and the flash is often more than welcome (even though brighter than I would like).

The phone is also really durable: It has been through a series of drops on asphalt, cement etc and I only noticed some minor scratches on the hard plastic body. The screen does not have a single scratch yet, despite my careless usage – thanks to its Gorilla Glass coating! The battery life is also great, especially for a used phone: It will take me more than a day of use before I need to plug the charger in. During weekends, when things are more relaxed, there is no need for me to charge it.

As for the software: WP7 may be the last in line (the newest OS compared to iOS and Android) but it has a Marketplace populated with an ever-growing number of apps, most of which are free. I have found all my favorite apps there (Skype, YouTube, news reading apps, photo apps like Instacam etc.). I had no problem finding nice free apps for the recent Euro 2012 as well as for the London Olympics, navigation apps, tools, converters etc. I am currently not missing any of my Android apps.

So, what’s the bad side of the phone? Well, it is not the phone to blame, it is the OS. First of all, I have a terrible problem with the vibration pattern: Microsoft’s view on “Vibrate & Ring” is “vibrate three times and then let the ringtone begin”! For me it is a bug; for them it is a feature… that cannot be fixed in any way. I have lost quite a few calls when I am on the road and I cannot even hear the ringtone, while the vibration stops very quickly…

In addition, there is a total lack of Greek support (unicode) when composing SMS. This will only allow Greek users to compose an SMS of 70 characters instead of 160, due to the lack of support for unicode languages. Since free solutions are not compatible with LG Optimus 7, the only solution is a commercial application, for which one has to pay. Is this also a feature Microsoft?

Last but not least: Ok, we’ve got Skype. It is a Microsoft app anyway. Can you please make it work in the background? Otherwise it is useless. Or is this also a feature?

My overall impressions from this mobile are really nice. It is very easy to use, nice to hold and sturdy. It has all the features I need, it is a real tool. Would I ever go back to my Blackstone? Well, I may miss some things but no, I wouldn’t. I understand that this would be one step backwards. Hoping that the rather annoying issues will be fixed in the next OS  update (7.8 – there will be no WP8 upgrade for the existing devices), I will stick to my Optimus 7.

::Edit::  While I was working on this post, I got a message that there is an update for my phone to v.7.10.8112.7. As soon as the update completed and the phone rebooted, I was also informed that there was another update to v.7.10.8773.98I am not sure what exactly was updated (and I cannot recall the latest version of my Optimus 7 (before the update) but updates are usually more than welcome!