Yeah! Windows Phone!

This morning, I woke up to an early Christmas present…. Verizon was finally updating my Lumia 922 with Windows Phone 8.1.  I’ve only been waiting for this for what seems like forever.

There were actually two updates that needed to be done, but I think the first one was related to the fact that I had recently factory reset my phone to fix a few other odd problems it had been having. Not totally sure, but who cares, right?  It’s on 8.1!!

Go Verizon!!!  (Sort of, but not really…)

To Trash or Archive? That is the Question…

I’ve spending most of the week here in chilly Bellevue, WA at the MVP Summit!  For this trip, I’m staying connected with my Windows Phone 7 and my new HP Envy X2 with Windows 8. I’m  accessing my Gmail account from both OSes and I noticed something interesting with the handling of mail within their individual apps.

On the Windows Phone, the mail application has a trash icon for deleting messages.  When I delete from the phone, the API call to Google is “archive” and that message is simply archived and moved out of my inbox.

On the Windows 8 native Mail application, the trash icon sends the API call for “delete” to Google, sending the message to the trash, which is removed after 30 days.

Perhaps the reason is because when you are on your phone, you probably aren’t actively “managing” messages and archiving them allows you to remove them from your device, but not really delete them.  From your computer, you might be more actively sorting and addressing messages, where a true “delete” function is more desirable.  Or maybe I’m over thinking it.  Since the applications were developed by different Microsoft product groups, they simply selected different API functions. 

While it might be desirable to have the same experience across both of my Windows devices, I can use the difference to my advantage – making sure that my mail ends up where I want it, depending on where I delete it from.

3 Weeks with the Samsung Focus 2

I’m happy to report that after nearly 3 solid weeks of use, my Samsung Focus 2 has not crashed.  No more text message of death.

The form factor is managable (about the same size as an iPhone but rounder at the corners) and I really only have one complaint – it’s not easy to tell the top from the bottom.

The screen is nearly perfectly centered in the device and while their are some visual differences between the top and the bottom, there is nothing truely tactile to tell which end you grabbed when you pull it out of your bag or pocket.

Also, while the power button is easily accessible if the phone is in your hand, it’s angled toward the back side, it’s hard to press when the device is sitting flat on a desk.  You have to lift the side of the phone to reach the button or pick it up entirely.

Overall, these are minor issues and I completely recommend the Focus 2 as a Focus Flash replacement, particularly if you are tired of crashes caused by text messages.

Windows Phone: Round 2

When Samsung put out the Focus Flash in November of last year, I jumped on it. I was excited to try out the Windows Phone OS and while I still miss the real keyboard that I used to have on my Blackberry Curve, I’ve adjusted.

Form factor is a big deal for me when it comes to a mobile device.  While I don’t always type with one hand, I like to have the option so I can reply to text messages and make calls while holding a coffee or walking my dog.  Since my company primarily uses AT&T for mobile phones, the Samsung Focus Flash was the smallest device available, mirroring the form factor of the iPhone and I can work the keyboard without too much issue one-handed. I loved it.

I honestly love the Windows Phone OS. Everyone who asks, I tell them that killer features is the People Hub. No need to remember if your loved one sent you an email or a text with that valuable tidbit you need to reference – it’s all there in the history.

Feeling the pressure of the firehose of data coming at you via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? Worry no more… create some groups for your key people so you don’t miss the highlights and peruse the other postings later.  It’s wonderful.

I was pretty sure I had landed the perfect combination of phone OS and phone hardware for my needs.  And then the crashing started.

Turns out lots of people with the Focus Flash were experience the “SMS of Death” issue. Attributed to the proximity sensor or some other such nonsense, random text messages would lock up the device entirely, requiring a battery pull to reset the phone.  I read a lot of the forums regarding the issue, but when push came to shove, it just seemed to be an issue with this particular phone and there wasn’t a good solution.

I lived with it for a while. The Windows Phone rebooted so quickly that the battery pull wasn’t a big deal in the beginning.  Sometimes I could read enough of the txt to not have to bug the sender to repeat themselves. And then it got annoying. And tedious.

So I started looking for other Windows Phone options. And they are all huge.  Sure I’d love a Lumia 900 or an HTC Titan or whatever. But they just seem too big. So I managed – the pros of Windows Phone still outweighted the trouble with the Focus Flash.

Then quietly, I notice that you couldn’t buy new Focus Flash phones anymore. Instead of directly addressing the issue, it seems Samsung just decided to stop making the phone.  In mid-May they started offering the Focus 2, which is a bit of a combination of the original Focus and the Focus Flash.  The form factor is still small, just a bit bigger than the Flash and more rounded.  And white. Very white.

So I jumped again this week. I figured I’d road test it at TechEd. At best, I’d have a solid phone that didn’t crash.  At worst, I’d have a phone that wasn’t any better or worse than the previous one. Stay tuned.

Interested in Learning More about Windows Phone?

Go “Behind the Tiles” and learn more about the “Metro” style interface and the future with Windows Phone at your local Best Buy!

Register for this invitation-only engagement brought to you by Microsoft and have the opportunity to:

  • Attend a Nokia Lumia 900 instructor-led demo lab
  • Get the latest information on Windows Phone for IT and Developers
  • Play with some of the latest and greatest Windows Phones
  • Network with peers and Windows Phone experts
  • Have a chance to win great prizes

Food and beverages will be provided to help you recharge your battery.

The number of attendees at each event is limited, so don’t delay. Register today (registration code: MVP) to join in.  Dates vary by location from April 23rd to May 17th.

Participating Best Buy locations include:

  • Charlotte, NC
  • Chicago, IL
  • Dallas and Houston, TX
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Irvine, San Diego and San Francisco, CA
  • New York, NY
  • Portland, OR
  • Redmond, WA
  • Waltham, MA

From BlackBerry to Windows Phone

Last week, I landed myself brand-new Samsung Focus Flash phone with Windows 7.5.  I had debated about going with the older Samsung Focus model in mid-October, but figured it was probably worth the wait for some new hardware too.

Having a physical keyboard on the BlackBerry was hard to give up, but outside of the lack of real keys, I pretty much love everything about it right now.  One of the big factors in deciding on what phone to select was my ability to hold it and have a reasonable chance of being able to type with one hand.  The Focus Flash is the only phone in the Samsung Focus line that is the same width as the BlackBerry Bold 9700.  If I wanted a tablet, I would have bought one that has a screen larger than 4.3 inches.

As someone who spends a good amount of time using Twitter and dabbling in the other popular social media sites (depending on where my friends are), the People Hub has got to be the best idea since sliced bread.  Being able to group certain friends and family members and highlighting a tile for that group on home page is fantastic.  Even after a week, I feel less like I have to constantly watch my Twitter stream or check Facebook because I can easily view the postings from the people I care about the most.  The native integration for interacting with Facebook and Twitter lack some of the more robust features, but it certainly good enough for the majority of my social media interactions.

The live tiles on the home page are great for highlight the next appointment and the latest status updates from the People Hub.  Not having to open the calendar to see my next appointment is a nice bonus.  Plus having a miniature “digital picture frame” that highlights my favorite photos is a fun feature.

I know many iPhone lovers may find faults in some of current features in the Windows Phone. There isn’t the extensive catalog of apps yet and some of the ones that exist lack some of the more refined functions that more mature apps for iPhone and BlackBerry have.  But I think it’s only a matter of time before those app offerings catch up.  And I have a list of things that I do miss from the BlackBerry – battery life being one of them and I’m developing a wish-list of things I hope to see change or become available in 2012, but that’s a post of its own!