Nakedmolerat’s Nokia Lumia 920: Windows Phone OS, Kid’s Corner, Speech

, posted: 3-Jan-2013 15:31

Intro

One thing about the Windows Phone is that I never thought that the tiles concept could actually work. Unlike Android, the interface can be overwhelming if you are not used to a smartphone. With Android each manufacturer has their own 'skin'. For example HTC has HTC-sense and Samsung has Touchwiz. This type of customization means that phone owners using different manufacturers' products will have different experiences. It also contributes to 'slow' and staggering updates. On Windows Phone the user interface is similar between different devices from different manufacturers.

Tiles

Once the phone is set-up, you will see various blue tiles on the screen. Some of the tiles are animated. For example 'People' will show pictures of your contacts randomly. These tiles are actually a 'shortcut' for each app, contact, etc. How to put these tiles on your start screen? From the app list, you press and hold. It will offer you the option to 'pin to Start'. The colour of all the tiles is set in the settings - Theme. Unfortunately you are not able to set each separate tile to different colours.

Some tiles can be 'live'. The live tiles concept is different from the Android widget where you can see continuous updates. The Windows phone 'live' tiles will only update every 30 minutes. For example the app that shows battery percentage will not show the correct percentage until the update is due. However, you can always 'force' an update by opening up the app itself. Since the tiles are only a 'shortcut', you don't have the ability to toggle Wifi/Bluetooth/GPS switch while on the start screen. This is something that you have to get used to if you move from Android.

The Windows phone tile can be resized to 3 different sizes: square, square x 4, square x 8



By swiping the screen to the right, you will see the app list. It can be scrolled up and down. Clicking on the letter box, will bring up lists of alphabets that act as a shortcut to your apps. One thing for new users to note is that your 'games' will not appear on this list. Instead, you have to select 'Games' which will open a new 'games' screen.

 

Lastly, you have settings. This can be selected from the app list and it will show you all available settings. The settings are designed to be incredibly easy to understand.

One thing to note is that Windows Phone 8 offers unique features that allow your children to use your phone safely. This is the Kid's Corner

Kid's Corner

You can enable Kid's Corner by going to Settings |- Kid's Corner | On/Off. You can then select which apps are available in that area.

Once set, you can access this by swiping from the Lock Screen to the left side. Normally you swipe upwards in order to unlock your phone.



Example of my Kid's Corner:

 

What is limited in kid's corner?
  • Internet Explorer disabled (no web access).
  • No in-app purchases can be made unless you setup a PIN to your wallet.
  • Your child is not able to access your regular apps or settings.
  • Clicking in-app links will open up internet explorer and you can navigate by clicking further links but the address bar is disabled.
  • No calls or text messaging allowed.
  • Bing search button (bottom right) is also disabled.
  • Volume is limited to 20 instead of the usual 30.
You are still able to customize the tiles in kid's corner.

This is a brilliant idea. No bill shocks and no more having to 'reconfigure' your phone after a few minutes in your child's hands. Unfortunately, the Lumia 920 is not waterproof. So you might want to make sure those little hands are dry and clean!

Speech

One feature of the Windows Phone that most impressed me is the voice assist ala Apple 'Siri' or Samsung 'S-Voice'. Holding the windows button for 2-3 seconds will make the phone ready for voice instructions. Prior to that, you will need to install speech language (different from the language setting you did at the beginning of setting up the phone). This has to be done via Settings | Speech. For English, you have three options:
  • English (India)
  • English (United Kingdom)
  • English (United States)
I use English (United Kingdom). This seems to work better with my accent.

  

As per the pictures above, you can set the phone to play audio for confirmation. I found this extremely useful when replying text messages while driving. Incoming text messages can be played to Bluetooth, Headsets or Wired Headsets.

When I first received this Nokia Lumia 920, I hadn't read about the speech capability of Windows Phone 8. I did play with the settings prior to that. I found them too simple and I didn't expect it to function well. I was out driving and all of a sudden my car stereo stopped and the Lumia informed me that I had a text message. It asked if I would like it to be read or ignore. The phone was connected via Bluetooth.

Once done, it automatically asked me if I would like to reply, do nothing or re-read the text again. I chose reply. You can start replying to the text. It will stop after a certain length and ask if you would like to add more, send the text message or start your text from scratch again. I found this great and easy to use. I was able to reply a few of my texts with no difficulty while driving around town that day.

An example of the instructions is in the screenshot below. It turns out that some apps can utilize this exceptional speech programme. Surprisingly, you can also use speech while on the call with someone!

  

The phone integration with Microsoft One Note allows you to dictate a note-taking. All you have to do is to say 'note' and your message thereafter. This is extremely useful if you need to jot down points after a phone conversation.

Summary
  • The phone O/S is simple and incredibly easy to learn. Great for someone who is new to the smartphone scene and wants something that 'just' works.
  • Tiles are great but maybe the live tiles concept can be made similar to the android widget.
  • Tiles customization should be improved so that users can set different colours or sizes.
  • Kid's corner is a great innovation.
  • Speech is one of the best features I came across. For some reason, the Android phones that I have used did not offer a speech feature as great as the Windows Phone.
About the author

Hi, my name is Fergus. I am a big fan of the nakedmolerat character in Kim Possible - Rufus. I work in  the health sector. I am also a volunteer firefighter when I am not working. I started using computers when I was five years old. I am the 'guy' that family and friends approach when they have issues with their computers. I am also an Android fanboy (Yes! I believe Android will takeover the world soon). It was such a great opportunity when Telecom New Zealand and Geekzone offered me to be one of the Nokia Lumia 920 / Windows Phone reviewers. I hope my reviews are helpful to the readers.


Other related posts:
Nakedmolerat’s Nokia Lumia 920 wrap up
Two months on with the Nokia Lumia 920
Wade’s Nokia Lumia 920: the hardware






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Telecom New Zealand
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New Zealand


Telecom Tech is a different type of blog. We're sponsored by Telecom New Zealand, but most of the posts here are from every day users like you.

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