Blog > December 2011
A good opportunity to play with the phone today as my trains are cancelled so I'm looking forward to that whilst I brave the buses.

My focus today is on phone contacts. And like everything, this has both its good points and it's not so good points.

In the good box, we have access to contacts from a wide range of services including Windows Live, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Exchange/Office 365, we have phone contacts being backed up, aggregation of social media posts, and photos (more on that later) as well as a log of all interaction you've had using the phone with this person.

In the not-so-good box, we have the inability to move a contact from one store to another (ie. From Windows Live to Office 365).

I did have quite a bit of frustration with contacts mobile numbers being tagged as Work, Home or Office instead of mobile and therefore not being able to text them. Ok, not with that specifically (as that's my own fault) but rather trying to change what the number is tagged as. The box is grated out that identifies what type it is and from my experience as a UI designer grated out means disabled. I've not got used to that yet... Initially I found myself entering the number again for the contact as mobile and deleting the original entry, until I realised and thought I'd give it a whirl.

I'm really loving how Windows Phone 7 shows all of my photos in one place from a wide range of services... And I don't know what Microsoft are doing with compression but it's FAST! Both at loading the libraries and the images in each library.

Over the next few days I want to play with voice command, Bing Search and Bing Maps.

Posted: 23/12/2011 08:45:21 by Kurt Farrar | with 2 comments

One little annoyance I'm slowly finding with the phone is the inconsistent capitalisation of the first letter. Has anyone noticed this? Or is it just me?

What I mean is that in some places when I type 'windows' the w will already be capitalised. In others... It's not. For example, some fields appear to be first letter capital by default and others not.

I'm finding myself pressing shift when I enter some fields negating the capitalisation and resulting in a lower case letter, then deleting it and retyping it so that it's upper case. In other instances I think... "Ahaa! I've sussed you, I won't press shift!". I type my letter and it appears in lowercase, so again I have to delete and retype.

Default calendar
I've found a few people commenting that they thought the calendar was odd in Windows Phone 7. I have to wonder... What's so odd guys? When I started using it, it didn't feel alien at all.

I did however encounter a little frustration when trying to figure out how I specify which calendar (Hotmail or Outlook, for example) it should put appointments into by default.

What I found is that it remembers what you last used when you use the + icon to add an appointment. I'd initially been adding appointments by directly clicking on the time and adding a short description, so it was just defaulting to my windows live calendar (not what I wantedj. When adding by the + icon I select my Outlook calendar (Office 365) as the calendar and following that appointments all newly created ones added by tapping the time on the calendar have defaulted to the correct calendar. Took me some time of looking around for a "default calendar" setting somewhere (there isn't one... If you too are looking for one).

I suppose this way is more intuitive and the OS is being more intelligent, I'm just used to specifying stuff like that.

Posted: 22/12/2011 08:56:46 by Kurt Farrar | with 1 comments

My post today is about the alarm clock. This may seem like a bit of an odd thing to discuss, and there may be something more behind why, whether physically, mechanically or psychologically... I don't know... But for some reason... The alarm clock on Windows Phone 7 doesn't seem to wake me up.

For comparison, for the last year, we've depended on my wife's iPhone 4 to wake us up in a morning. Each night, I set the alarm and have set the ringer to the one that sounds like some sort of submarine... "Dive! Dive! Dive!" and each morning (bar the odd one where my 4 year old son has wandered in early in the morning and dismissed the alarm straight away because it interrupting the game of Peppa Pig that he's helped himself to)... It's woken us up.

With Windows Phone 7 I find myself still waking up to the iPhone 4 alarm despite my Windows Phone 7 one having been set to go off twice before it reaches that time.

I've yet to attempt to load any other ringtones onto my Windows Phone 7, perhaps that's something I should look at doing today, perhaps even getting the same sound that is proven to wake me on the iPhone.

Has anyone else experienced anything like this?

Posted: 21/12/2011 08:40:45 by Kurt Farrar | with 0 comments

A week on since I first switched to Windows Phone 7 and how am I feeling. Well in a word...


It has been (so far) nothing like I expected. I didn't really think I would like it as much as I am... My expectations were that it's better than a BlackBerry, but worse than an Android, and that I'll settle for that as I've got a fast, touch-screen phone with a hardware keyboard. In reality? I think I've got an iPhone contender in my hands - there isn't really anything that I'm missing from my iPhone that Windows Phone doesn't do.

I'm really enjoying the reaction from people. The Dell Venue Pro is a very nice looking phone, albeit big, and a little heavier than an iPhone... It looks great, and the size lends itself well to a larger screen, and AMOLED screen is lovely and bright.

Gaming, with the rubberized edges and the curved body feels more like I'm playing on a PSP than any phone. Graphics in games look smooth, and animation/motion is smooth, responsive and stutter free.

Within a week I feel like I know my way around the device quite well... No dropping to think were things are and what I have to tap to get to something. I'm also very much enjoying keeping up to date with my cousin's trip to see her boys in California from Facebook, as well as everyone else's latest news. Something I felt was a little more difficult than it should be on the BlackBerry, and not as easy on the iPhone... Try it for yourself on an iPhone... View all status updates by family members (for example).

I'm also getting used to the battery life. When I first got the phone I was hammering for probably 7 hours a day, and the battery was dying before the end of the working day, whilst now my usage has calmed to a more realistic level it's well into the evening before battery saver even kicks in.

Have I mentioned battery saver yet? An excellent feature. Microsoft have realised that maintaining a constant connection to the server for the purpose of push notifications is a battery draining operation, so there's an option to automatically save battery when it gets low by turning push notifications off. This feature takes a phone from having less than 1 hour battery left to more than an hour, though I've not measured the exact time increase, I'm just going off the on-screen guidance.

Does Google Android offer a similar feature? I've know android owners turning every feature of the phone off to try to get a working day out of the battery.

Posted: 20/12/2011 08:49:20 by Kurt Farrar | with 1 comments

Showing it off
Tonight I took great pride in showing off my new phone to my brother. To my surprise, he actually thought it looked good, and liked how things popped out.

My brother is nothing like me on the technical side of things, completely non-gadget, so he normally has no interest whatsoever in me showing off my latest piece of kit.

He did however seem to like the people HUB and how it allowed me to easily see what just my family have been up to (I've setup a group and added my family members to it and pinned it to my start page; I covered this in an earlier post).

Office HUB
Tonight I've also had a play around with the Office HUB built into Windows Phone 7.5. It's great to see a range of office apps included in the OS, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and a personal favourite, OneNote. I didn't have a particular use while trialling, it was more just to evaluate but what's there looks good. With integration with both my SharePoint portal (via Office 365) and Windows Live SkyDrive, a while host of documents were available. I tried one of each type, and it's really quite snazzy. Given the resolution of Windows Phone 7 it's quite nice and sharp on screen, and the controls are quite intuitive. In PowerPoint for example I was able to browse through the slides, view the outline and add notes to each slide. I could see this being really useful for reviewing slides prior to a presentation, say on the train, adding some notes then using as cue-cards during the actual presentation. I often find that time after time presenters put far too much into the slides themselves leaving far too little to 'say' other than repeating what the audience are intelligent enough to read themselves. This could be a way for those people to have something to prompt them what they need to say whilst lightening the slides content for the audience. Obviously I can see a few risks here too... Battery?!? What if it dies JUST before the presentation starts, or worse, in the middle? That'd surely put any presenter that needs the notes, off. What if the slide deck gets changed last minute, a slide is added or dropped and your notes are put out of sync? If everything were to work the Microsoft way, the original slides would be held on your company SharePoint portal, you'd annotate and push your changes back up, and then the goon that decided to drop the slide last minute without telling you would make the changes directly to the SharePoint version meaning you can pull the latest version down right before the presentation.

All very risque, and although I agree that this is the way business today should work, in reality I find businesses every day that are still taking the Office XP approach, producing documents rather than collaborating on them in an effective manner. No versioning, no document management or document control, and everything being circulated by e-mail.

SkyDrive app
That brings me nicely onto the SkyDrive app that was released this week from Microsoft which allows consumers to access a similar set of collaboration and sharing tools that their corporate friends are using. I suppose there's good intention with SkyDrive in general... Get the consumer to buy in, from a young-age... And they'll promote this way of working in the workplace. I can see SkyDrive being a big hit with university students for example working in groups on projects etc.

But why a Windows Phone 7 app? I can see the appeal of an iPhone app (which was released at the same time) but a WP7 one? At this point you may be thinking, why the hell not?

The office hub already contains integration with SkyDrive for the Windows Live account that you signed into the phone with. So you've already got the functionality that this app offers, and its only presenting it in a marginally nicer way (preview of image in a folder, as the folder icon, for example).

The only reason for this app that I can guess, is for users that are guests to the phone... I.e. They don't want to add their account to the phone, or the phone owner has another SkyDrive account that they want to access temporarily.

I do think this could have been included as a post Mango update though, more integrated into the functionality that is already offered through the Office hub.

Have you tried this app yet? Has anyone tried this on iPhone? Does it offer document editing on iPhone? Just curious... Let me know.

Posted: 19/12/2011 07:11:39 by Kurt Farrar | with 0 comments

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