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One of Windows Phone 8’s new features is Over the Air Updates. Its predecessor had to be connected to the Zune application to receive updates. So this is a pretty good feature.

The WP8 update distribution lands somewhere between iOS and Android in terms of availability. When Apple releases an update, it’s distributed to all devices worldwide at the same time, so there is practically no delay. Android is the exact opposite of this (except for Nexus devices), since their manufacturers (Samsung, HTC etc.) has to apply all their features to every update before they can be released. With Windows Phone, the manufacturers (Nokia, HTC etc.) also applies some customizations and firmware. But since WP8 is very strict there isn’t much to customize, so the updates are released somewhat faster than Android updates. Still, they are far behind Apple.

This morning I received my first OTA update for Windows Phone 8, Portico; 8.0.10211.204. So I gathered some screenshots from the update procedure.

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This is the Nokia Wireless Charging Pillow by Fatboy. It’s seriously one of the coolest and best looking phone accessories I’ve ever used. Just plug in the pillow’s power cable and put the phone on top of the pillow and charging begins immediately.

How does it work? My answer would be Magic. But you can read on here for a more conventional answer.

 

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I accidently put an iPhone on top of the pillow, but it melted in tears and vanished… So long, sucker!

Are you afraid of losing your phone? People get robbed or misplace their phones all the time. Since your phone carries everything from family photos to important and classified business information, one great feature (that I hope you will never actually need) is “Find my Phone”.

The feature is not exclusive for Windows Phone. Similar services exists for both iOS and Android.

The first thing you do when configuring your new Windows Phone, is to check the following Settings.

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What to do when misplacing your phone

Go to www.windowsphone.com and sign in with your Microsoft Account. Be sure to use the same one that you used when registering your device. Then go to the “Find my Phone” view.

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From this view you can get information, and a map view displaying your phone’s last known location. If you have several phones, they can all be found using this service.

What to do next?

I consider the phone to be near me

Click on the “Ring” link. If successful the phone will start ringing at a loud volume. If it’s nearby, you should hear it.

I believe the phone has been stolen

If it contains important business information, click the “Erase” link. This will send a signal to the phone, that if successful will erase all information on the phone.

You can also lock the phone using the “Lock” link.

Cinemagraph is an App released by Nokia on its Lumia phones, so it’s not really a Windows Phone 8 feature.

With the App, you record a short video sequence, and then mask with your fingers which parts that should be moving and which parts that should stay still. The results are quite funny :)

My test subject, Kim Gunnarsson (AD at Mindbite)

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Click here for some other cool Cinemagraphs (not made by me nor with a Nokia Lumia phone)

This is my second post about Windows Phone 8, where I explore the rich features of Microsoft’s newly released mobile OS.

Before my first Windows Phone I hardly ever used SkyDrive. Just like (almost) everybody else I used DropBox. But when Microsoft started to put a lot of focus on SkyDrive and released a desktop sync utility (for Mac and PC), a smarter and more easy-to-use web interface, and most importantly a vast integration on Windows Phone, I decided to switch from Dropbox to SkyDrive.

SkyDrive is much like Apple’s iCloud, but with one significant difference. All content (except phone backups) can be browsed on the phone, the computer (Windows Explorer or Finder) and in any web browser. So the score here is about 100 – 1.

Windows Phone Backup

It’s simple to setup Windows Phone backup. Go to Settings and then Backup. You have 3 configurable backup settings; App list + Phone settings, Text Messages and Photos (which includes videos).

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In the Photos setting, you should select “Best Quality”, because “Good Quality” isn’t really that good. It however demands a Wi-Fi connection to be able to backup your photos.

Restoring your phone is even simpler than configuring the backup. Just reset your phone, and after signing on to your Microsoft Account, you will be presented with the option to restore the phone (or to treat it as a new one).

The only strange behavior I noticed here, was when I skipped restoring the phone, and all my text messages was restored anyway.

Office Hub

The Office Hub is a great place for working with your documents (Word, Excel, OneNote) stored on your phone, Office 365/SharePoint and SkyDrive.

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Pictures Hub

From the Pictures Hub you can access all your images stored on SkyDrive. If you take a picture with the phone, it’s synced to SkyDrive and you can then access it from your PC, Mac and Web Browser.

SkyDrive App

The SkyDrive App is in my eyes kind of useless on a Windows Phone, since you can access all information from the phones integrated software. It’s not pre-installed, so if you want to use it, you have to get from the Store.

Closing Comments

Without SkyDrive integration on the Windows Phone, it would only be half a phone. I love the fact that I can work on a document or a “OneNote-note” on my computer or in my Web Browser and then pick it up and continue on my phone.

I also love that I can browse all my SkyDrive stored files from almost any device. It gives me a feeling of control of my information. And I consider Apple’s iCloud to be the exact opposite of that.

If you read this and believe I’ve missed anything good (or bad), you are most welcome to post a comment about it.

Earlier this week we acquired a new Nokia Lumia 920 with Microsoft’s most recent phone OS, Windows Phone 8. The new OS was released on October 29, but the Nokia phones were released in Sweden just last week. So of course, we had to add it to our arsenal of developer phones.

Our company has been developing apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone for over a year. One of the apps is called Viltolyckskartan, which can be downloaded from this link.

Windows Phone 8 is major update from Windows Phone 7 (.5), but it requires a new phone. It contains both major and minor updates to the OS, and in the upcoming months I will be blogging about most of these updates.

So, here we go with feature #1

Screenshots

With Windows Phone 8, you can take screenshots of your screen. Big feature? – No, not really. But I consider it essential and it was kind of a bitch that your couldn’t do this on WP7, especially for developers. It is also a crucial feature when blogging about other WP features. So thank you, Microsoft!

How it works

At the same time, press the Power button and the Start button (Windows logo). The image will be saved in its own folder in the Photo hub.

So, just because I now can, I will share my start screen (which is composed by two screenshots). As you can see, without entering a single app, I can directly see missed calls, new message count, social updates, last email+email count,  app updates, my next appointment, Groupon deals, and also the current outdoor temperature.

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For the second year we have reached the gold status level in our partnership with Microsoft. Mindbite AB is now a Microsoft Gold Partner in the Application Development competency.

Gold

We completed the competency requirements a month ago, which means that we’ve been a Gold Certified Partner for about 13 months (including last years achievements). The competency we’ve been working with was formerly called Independent Software Vendor (ISV).

The competency has now been merged with the following competencies and is now called Application Development

  • Software Development
  • Web Development

We are very happy with this transformation and we believe that our customers and future customers will have a better understanding about the meaning of this partnership. Simply put, it means that we are the best at Application Development. And this is important since we work with both Web Development and Software Development for several platforms, including computers, tablets and phones.

The requirements for this competency are tough, so we are very proud of our achievements. And we will continue our hard work to keep our gold partnership with Microsoft.

As a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Company we place ourselves in the top 5% of Microsoft Partners worldwide. In Sweden we are currently one out of 36 companies with this competency. Worldwide we are one out of 908 companies. In our region “Småland” we share this competency with only two companies; Visma SPSC AB and Litium Affärskommunikation AB.

After a lot of thought, and after considering buying the Google Nexus 7, I finally decided in favor of iPad mini.

Since I read about the Nexus 7, I started thinking that a 7-8 inch display would be better than a 10 inch display in some ways. It’s lighter and easier to type on. You know, small hands… small iPad.

I’ve spent a small fortune on apps for iOS, so that was also a reason when choosing iPad mini over Nexus 7.

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And one of the best things with iPad mini, is that it fits in your pocket. Well, not really. But it is damn small.

Finally, it’s here. The new Office suite. Microsoft Office 2013!

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At the Mindbite office we’ve been running Office 2013 Preview since its release in July. Two weeks ago, Microsoft finished the code and it was released to manufacturing (RTM). As a Microsoft Gold Partner we receive their products earlier than the consumers. At first we were informed that we would get our hands on the RTM-version in November, but we were surprised when Microsoft released it to us yesterday.

All Office 2013 applications (Word, Excel, Outlook etc.) has a beautiful and clean design. They have also put a lot of effort into Cloud integration. Working with files and notes on SharePoint or SkyDrive works like a charm.

 

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The new icons from my most used Office applications. Looking good!

 

Installation

Installation is as easy as usual, and takes only a few minutes. Product activation has been expanded with other options than the usual product keys.

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The Windows 8 Start Screen with Office 2013 applications

This is my Start Screen. There isn’t a lot of focus beyond Visual Studio and Office ;)

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Screenshots from some of the applications

Notice that little smiley face in the applications? I don’t know if it’s remains from my old installation of Office 2013 Preview. We’ll see after my next reboot. It shouldn’t be there anyway.

Microsoft Word 2013

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Microsoft Excel 2013

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Microsoft PowerPoint 2013

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Microsoft Outlook 2013

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Closing comments

I love the new Office. This is a product update you should consider buying when it’s released.

By the way, Microsoft has also released the following products in the Office Family; SharePoint Server 2013, Exchange Server 2013, Lync Server 2013, Visio 2013 and Project 2013.

With the release of Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 and Visual Studio 2012, this is year to remember. It’s probably the biggest release year in Microsoft history. And they have done it with honors!

Since the release of iPhone 3GS me and my colleagues at Mindbite has been quite the iPhone fans. When iPhone 4S was released about a year ago, everyone switched to one. They look good and they feel good. A vast number of useful apps are available so there is little to miss about the iPhone.

Last summer (2011) I took the time to try Windows Phone 7 and even developed an app for it. As a frequent beta user in many of Microsoft’s beta programs I got into the Windows Phone 7.5 Mango beta program and received the beta version early. A few months later I was developing an iPhone app for a customer and switched back from Windows Phone.

I must say that I have missed the Windows Phone for the last year, and when iOS 6 was released some time ago, me and my colleague Marcus got quite disappointed by it and started looking for good alternatives to the iPhone. Marcus bought a Samsung Galaxy S III and he’s now evaluating it for 30 days. Read his blog about it over here (in Swedish).

A few days ago I tried the new iPhone 5, and it’s even more disappointing than iOS 6. The device is taller and they have changed the back material from glass to some other scratch-sensitive material. I hate the fact that you must put your good looking phone in a not so good looking case, because you’re afraid to break it.

My feeling is that Apple innovation peaked a long time ago. I keep waiting for that moment like when the first iPhone was revealed. I want to be surprised. So, last weekend me and my new pal kicked it off. His name is Lumia and looks real handsome. He’s of no help when it comes to boiling eggs or managing my bank account. When I leave home forgetting to turn on the alarm, he is not the go-to-guy. And for every moment when I have nothing to focus on, and I do like every other iPhone addict, reaching for my phone to bring ease to that little boring moment, he’s even more boring.

But when I want to manage my e-mail, stay up-to-date with my friends or work on a Word, Excel or OneNote document, he’s my best friend. Everything works fast and smooth and I can do and watch everything I need without tapping around a bunch of dead icons.

The best thing with Windows Phone is that it has a lot of fantastic features built in. I have only installed a few apps, like Netflix and Adobe Reader. Social media interaction like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn already exists in the phone. Even the dreadful Facebook chat is nicely integrated into the phone.

My favorite part of Windows Phone is the People hub which connects me with everyone I know. It’s hard to describe how good it is, you simply must try it. On the surface it doesn’t look like much, but when you start working with it right, you won’t need Facebook or Twitter apps. You can create groups and extract the information you want or just click on an interesting person and see a history with all your communication and also the person’s Facebook and Twitter feed.

Now, you might think I’m some kind of wacko that puts down an iPhone for a Nokia Lumia with Windows Phone 7.5. And if you do, I understand you. It’s hard to compare Windows Phone with other phones, because the Windows Phone lacks some features and abilities. But I don’t want to be that guy that walks around with a phone in front of me all the time. The Windows Phone matches the person I want to be. And with the upcoming Windows Phone 8 and Surface, this is a good step in acclimatizing to greatness.

Take a look at this old commercial for Windows Phone, and you might understand how I think. It’s actually tragic, because it’s true.

Closing comments

I miss Bike Baron. I miss it a lot.