A lot of blogs have been showing off and talking about new Windows Phone 8.1 features that are the big picture features I love like Cortana, Action Center and even the new Calendar views.
Well, I have the new build and I have to say I’m loving it too. These features are great, but I’ve noticed a bunch of smaller features that I also adore. Let’s talk about these smaller, but very cool features:
A week ago I splurged and upgraded my Lumia 920 to the Lumia 1020. So to those of you who were expecting me to switch over the Android or an iDevice; I'm still entrenched in the Windows Phone world. And this phone cements my opinion to stay. Let's talk about the good and the bad.
I like the weight. I was worried that with the camera bulge that this would feel like a much bigger device but if anything it feels smaller than the 920. I haven't looked up the weight but it feels really nice. I actually find the camera bulge useful as a pivot point to hold the phone.
Today I picked up a Lumia 1020. I am impressed with the camera as you'd expect but I am also loving the size. It's about the same size as the 920 except for the extra camera bump. It feels lighter than I expected. The AMOLED screen with Gorilla Glass 3 looks great too.
While I was setting up the new phone, I headed over to Windows Phone's website to install my apps. The website has a feature called "purchase history" that allows you to look at what apps you've purchased and re-install them on your phone with a single click. What is interesting is that it seems I've installed over 750 apps over the time I've had with Windows phone. Yeah…750. I was surprised too.
If you made it to build or spent much time watching the videos one of the stories many heard from Microsoft revolved about creating HTML5/JS applications for the Windows Phone 8. Unfortunately the story confused a lot of people (at least by the questions I've been getting lately.
Let me be clear...you *can* create HTML5/JS/CSS applications for Windows Phone 8. Yup. In fact, you could do it with Windows Phone 7 and 7.5. This is how PhoneGap works. The XAML page simply hosts a WebBrowser control and loads all of the assets locally in the XAP. What you can't do is create WinJS application. Let's step back a little and explain that better.
Today Microsoft is finally releasing the new Windows Phone 8 SDK. As I've been updating my Windows Phone book for this new incarnation of the device, I am excited that the SDK is finally going to be available for public consumption.
Even though the new phone has completely changed the underlying operation system to use the same WinRT sub-system that powers Windows 8, the basics of how to build apps on the phone is primarily the same. This means if you have experience building XAML-based projects, you should be right at home with Windows Phone 8.
So the Windows Phone event is over and I’ve had time to digest it somewhat and read between the lines. At the time (for those who read my twitter feed), I was quite reactionary and upset at much of the news. Most of this what as a user of a Windows Phone, not as a developer of a Windows Phone. Do note that another caveat is that I am an author of a Windows Phone 7.5 book, and the thought of my book being suddenly obsolete was upsetting as well (but that happens every time one of my books passes the new car smell line). So let me talk briefly about what I think about the news from both a user and a developer on the Windows Phone platform.
The big news for most users is the fact that Windows Phone 8 won’t work on current hardware. To me this is short-sighted as it seems to punish the only fans the platform has so far. This was especially relevant since I *just* received my Nokia 900 (after having a HTC HD7 for the last 15 months). The idea that this new piece of hardware was going to be out of date in only 4-6 months upset me. But let’s think about it in broader strokes that just me. Is this a good strategy overall?
UPDATED: Changed links to be universal, not US specific.
A lot has been made since a report from Microsoft late last week (http://shawnw.me/HPEh0R) that seemed to say that Silverlight on the phone was going away in Windows Phone 8 (Apollo). I liked a lot of what this article had to say (from e-week):
My new article in DevProConnections Magazine is now live. If you want to see the top ten features of Windows Phone 7.5 (according to me), go see the article now!
If you have any comments, let me know!
A long labor of love of mine has finally been birthed. My Essential Windows Phone 7.5 book is now available for Kindle. You can also pre-order the physical book from Amazon or directly from Pearson. While I’ve been assured that the book is printed, sometimes it can take some time to make it into the retail chain for different outlets. To clear up some of this confusion I thought it would be helpful to tell you how you can get the book depending on which retailer you go with:
So the Windows Phone Marketplace hit 40K apps. What does it mean to the platform? There are a number of articles out there that talk about the 40,000 apps and compares them to other platforms but I think they are missing a key differentiator.
Articles like the PC Magazine article point to the fact that Apple got to 50K in one year (faster than Microsoft) and that it took Android in 18 months (a tad slower than Microsoft). But to me the real remarkable news of this milestone isn’t the speed…it’s the size of the marketplace for that is astounding in my opinion.
As many of my readers know, I’ve been neck deep in the Windows Phone. More recently, I’ve been digging into Windows 8 development as well. On my most recent trip, I spent quite a bit of time with the BUILD tablet. Good news is that it’s a pretty good piece of hardware. Even though it’s not ARM, I am still getting a good four hours of battery life. This version of Windows 8 is early but I do think there are some things that Windows 8 should learn from what they’ve done with the Windows Phone. Here is a short list of what I think the team should look at on the phone:
In-App Back Button
One major feature that was much requested for the new version of Windows Phone was the ability to run agents behind the scenes. The desire was to be able to execute code periodically so that a developer’s application could keep itself up to date (or tell the user about a change) when the application was not running. Microsoft has allowed this in Mango (e.g. Windows Phone OS 7.1) and allows several different flavors of agents:
In my previous post, I encouraged users to upgrade their applications to the newest version of the Windows Phone so that users that get Windows Phone 7.5 (or developers who already have it) can benefit from a newer version of your application. While I readily admit, some of that post is pure selfishness as I want apps to be ready for Mango (and on my phone ;) But there are some things to consider.
In Windows Phone OS 7.0, you could update your Live Tiles (but not create them) – but you had to do it via a push notification. In Windows Phone OS 7.1, this changes to allow you to not only update the Live Tile for your application, but your application can create multiple Live Tiles.
I am currently reading the Mango (Windows Phone OS 7.1) version of my Phoney Tools project. But I have a particular problem: I need to maintain both a 7.0 and a 7.1 version of the project builds. You might have the same issue with your own project so I thought it’d be a good way to show off some special features that Visual Studio has to help you solve these sorts of situations. Essentially my goal was to maintain one set of code but build both sets from the same source.
First off, I took my original project and created two solution folders and created the 7.1 projects as shown here:
Ok, maybe I can’t leave it at that. As Windows Phone 7 users upgrade to Mango, they probably want a Mango (e.g. Windows Phone OS 7.1) version of your application. Don’t disappoint them. This doesn’t mean you should completely retool your application for Mango. But if I am suggesting that you don’t spend a lot of time on the new app, then why create one to begin with? Fast Task Switching.
In finishing up my new Windows Phone book, I had to deal with the confusing version problem. There are three version numbers to be aware of:
So what is Mango? It comes down to this:
I was asked at a recent Silverlight Meetup what happened to me? He was concerned that I was sick or something worse so I thought it was worth a post.
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