Nokia Lumia 1020 Social Features

, posted: 30-Oct-2013 12:56

This post will be another software focused one - looking at the social features and how they integrate with Windows Phone 8. As mentioned in a previous post, Windows Phone 8 supports Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and Microsoft accounts out of the box. These accounts then populate the People App on the phone.

The People app serves a number of functions. It is first and foremost your contacts app - with all your contacts from whichever accounts you have added to your phone. You can link them (it makes vaguely intelligent suggestions) to combine contacts from different services. You’re also able to selectively filter contacts based on service - useful for removing your business (LinkedIn) or Twitter contacts, which I don’t necessarily want in my contacts list.

Tapping a contact will take you to their profile view - this shows all the info you have for that contact, from multiple services if they are linked. You can tap on an email address to send an email, or a phone number to text or call directly. Swiping right shows the What’s New view - this shows all updates for that contact from twitter, Facebook or any other accounts you have added.

Swiping right again brings you to photos, which will bring up a link to their photo albums (again from Facebook). Another swipe to the right brings up the history tab - which shows a chronological record of all emails, calls, texts and messages. Tapping on any particular one will open the original message or call entry.

Back in the People app itself, swiping right brings up the What’s New view - which is the same as the contact specific view, but for all contacts. It is a quick and easy way to see all the updates from your contacts in one place quickly.

Social Media accounts also add sharing options to apps like the Camera. Selecting Share will bring up a list of all accounts on the phone - email or social network. Unfortunately you cannot share the full resolution 41MP images directly to any of these, only a 5MP version. The only way to get the full size images is through USB.

Sharing to Facebook allows you to tag faces with your contacts as you upload. Sharing to twitter (if you have the twitter app isntalled) allows to apply one of eight filters. Not really my thing, but if you want to make your photos look like terrible scanned film prints, you can.

Outside of the built in functionality, there are still full-fat applications for use for the major social networks - Facebook and twitter as well as LinkedIn. Instagram is conspicuos in its absence, however the app is on its way according to Nokia. Google+ is another no show - it is the mobile site only for now, which is decent, but the missing application integration limits its use.

 

So overall if you stick to the core services (Facebook and Twitter) there is good integration across the Windows Phone environment and full apps to get full functionality. I’m not a heavy user - but I can keep up to date on what is going on through the People hub and share family photos when I need to quickly and easily.

My Geekzone username is wasabi2. I am an IT consultant located in Auckland. I am currently working at SKYCITY. I have been interested in technology since I was a kid, where I got started breaking the family PC. These days I spend a lot of time keeping up to date with the latest tech. My house has all mobile ecosystems covered (Android, iOS, Windows Phone).



Lumia 1020 for Work

, posted: 30-Oct-2013 12:28

My posts so far have focused on the consumer features of the Nokia Lumia 1020. Today we will have a look at using it for work.

Phone Calls

First off - it works great as a phone. Calls are clear in both directions and volume is good, even with traffic in the background. The included in-ear phones have a mic attached with a button for answering and hanging up calls which again provide clear audio.

Speech and Voice

You can also configure the handset to read out your texts and also give you the option to read a reply back. This option can be enabled for Bluetooth devices or all headsets. The quality of the text to speech varies - I have had it translate a full message on the first try and yet still refuse to recognise the word bro. The speech to text function does require a data connection - your speech is processed in the “cloud”. This does mean that the quality and speed of recognition is far better than you could expect from local processing. You can also use speech to control some functionality, such as making calls, sending a text or dictating an email (see http://www.windowsphone.com/en-nz/how-to/wp8/basics/use-speech-on-my-phone). Again quality varies depending on your accent and your choice of words.

Email

Windows Phone 8 supports a number of email account types and you can have a combination of them:

  • Outlook (Exchange ActiveSync, outlook.com, Office 365)
  • Hotmail
  • Nokia Mail
  • Yahoo Mail
  • Google
  • POP/IMAP

The most common you will see deployed in corporate environments is Outlook - either with On-Premise Exchange, Hosted Exchange or Office 365. All of these support the deployment of ActiveSync policies - which allow the lockdown of certain device settings such as password policy, device encryption and remote wipe. The other account types provide calendaring, contacts and email, but no device management.

Inboxes can be linked or kept separate. I have a Personal Inbox which collects my GMail and outlook.com addresses into one inbox, while my work email is kept in a separate container. Contacts however are all combined by default, but you can exclude them from display on an account by account basis. Calendars from all accounts are visible in the Calendar app again, separated by colour (which you can choose). These can be turned off and on per calendar. You can for example have multiple Google Calendars and only choose to display some of them.

The 1020’s large screen is great for reading email. Size and the high resolution means text is sharp and Windows Phone 8’s particular text style means it is easy to read. The inbox and folder views are white/grey and blue text on a black background. Swiping cycles between all, unread, flagged and urgent emails.

 

Reading a message is black on white. I haven’t had any issues with content not rendering correctly. When a message is open you can tap respond - which gives you the option to reply, reply to all or forward. The other buttons are delete, previous message and next message. Nothing revolutionary there, but very usable and easy to read.

Keyboard

Again, nothing amazing about the on screen keyboard - it just works. My only issue is it takes up a lot of the screen. The line above the keyboard shows word suggestions based on what you are typing. Words can be added to the dictionary, otherwise it is fairly comprehensive. I find it the keyboard much easier to use than the iOS or stock Android equivalent - especially on the 1020’s larger screen.

Citrix and Remote Desktop

Windows Phone 7 suffered from a lack of remote desktop and citrix apps - luckily both are present on 8. Citrix Receiver is available from the Store and works as you expect, which in my experience means it is an entertaining novelty. While it is cool to launch Office and other business apps on my phone, their utility is severely limited by a too small screen. This is not the 1020’s fault - I don’t consider anything smaller than 10 inches to be actually useful for remote screen purposes. The issue is made worse when you have to use the keyboard, which takes up half your screen!

  

What it doesn’t do

So that’s all the good stuff, what isn’t great? No VPN support of any kind is available on Windows Phone 8, though it is promised for early 2014. S/MIME and Certificate management are also missing and again planned for early 2014 (apparently).

The device management functionality is also limited to that provided by ActiveSync - which is a long way from what is available in iOS. Yet again - updates are promised in 2014.

My Geekzone username is wasabi2. I am an IT consultant located in Auckland. I am currently working at SKYCITY. I have been interested in technology since I was a kid, where I got started breaking the family PC. These days I spend a lot of time keeping up to date with the latest tech. My house has all mobile ecosystems covered (Android, iOS, Windows Phone).



Nokia Lumia 1020: some photos

, posted: 17-Oct-2013 19:54

Much has been made of the Nokia Lumia 1020’s ability to take high resolution stills. However the 1020 is also capable of burst shots using the Smart Cam app. On high end devices (anything over 512MB of RAM apparently) it captures 10 images at 5MP - while low end devices capture 1MP images. To capture burst shots you simply start the Smart Cam app, point and click. A circular progress bar shows that the capture is in process - then you are able to either start having a play with the post processing or take another set. The photos benefit from the Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) tech in the 1020, meaning that you get a stable set of shots just holding it.

Smart Cam has five post processing options. You can start using these either immediately after taking a set, or later. Images appear in the camera roll, tagged with “captured with Nokia Smart Cam”, tapping on the tag opens the set in Smart Cam. In Smart Cam, you can swipe between the different modes - each will show a preview and tapping on it will take you into that mode. Once you are happy with the results you can hit Save, then you have the option to share it through the usual options (Facebook, Email Accounts, MMS etc).

The first post processing option is Best Shot. This automagically selects what it considers the best shot in a sequence. I had mixed results with this - sometimes it got what I considered the best, other times not at all. Tapping on the photo lets you swipe between all 10 shots and pick the one you like manually.

Next up is Action Shot. A bar along the screen has 10 dots - one for each shot. You can include or exclude shots and have them super imposed. The quality of the output depends a lot on your subject media. A single, fast moving subject with a static background can result in some really cool time-lapse photos. Too much motions usually ends up as a blurry mess.

Motion Focus blurs all the background of the image - keeping the moving parts in focus. You can swipe left and right to select which shot you want to have in focus. An example is the best illustration as you can see below.

Change Faces is pretty self explanatory. Take a burst shot of a group, then you can change faces from individual shots onto others - immensely helpful when one person blinks in one shot.

The last option is Remove Moving Objects. By going into this mode, certain objects appear with a + or - over them - allowing them to be selectively included or excluded. You can see from the example below - I have completely removed the subject (which isn’t quite what you’re meant to do). It is very useful for removing people that happen to walk behind your subject.

So all in all a cool set of effects. There is obviously a fair amount of heavy lifting going on in the background. Opening a set of photos in Smart Cam takes up to 5 seconds, and swapping between modes can take up to a further 5 seconds per mode. Luckily there is little to no delay between actually taking shots - so the post processing options are probably best left to reviewing at home. It is a pain to have to switch between Pro Cam and Smart Cam depending on what type of photo you are intending to take. However the two are likely to be combined in the near future (possibly even this month).

My Geekzone username is wasabi2. I am an IT consultant located in Auckland. I am currently working at SKYCITY. I have been interested in technology since I was a kid, where I got started breaking the family PC. These days I spend a lot of time keeping up to date with the latest tech. My house has all mobile ecosystems covered (Android, iOS, Windows Phone).



Nokia Lumia 1020: my usage

, posted: 16-Oct-2013 18:55

It has been a few weeks with the Nokia Lumia 1020, so this update will be a general review of how I use it and what it is like. I have definitely acclimatized to the yellow - in fact I am starting to like it. For one thing it is very hard to lose your phone - and combined with the camera bump there is never any confusion as to whose phone is that at meetings any more. Ironically the most common comment I receive is “Is that one of those new iPhone 5s?”. Sorry Nokia, you did it first (and better) but common opinion still requires Apple to invent everything new.

Windows Phone 8 (which I covered in some detail in previous blog posts) still meets my needs just fine. The workflow for making calls, sending texts and emails and consuming text continues to be enjoyable. The Xbox music application plays my music just fine. Podcasts continue to do my head in, due to a combination of really limited software on the syncing side and downright ridiculous restrictions on the Windows Phone store side - where most non-US devices are still unable to use the store to sync podcasts.

I am still loving having a larger screen than old phones. The 1020’s 4.5 inches seem to hit a sweet spot - big enough to show a ton of information at once but small enough to still be usable. Having said that I am very interested in some of the larger form factor devices coming from Nokia (which are due to be announced this week). Unfortunately I have managed to pick up two small scratches on my 1020’s screen. I am at a loss as to how. Gorilla Glass 3 is meant to be highly scratch resistant and I have not been rough with mine at all. I have a new case and screen protector on the way regardless. Given some research it appears that this is not a common issue however.

Battery life is good. A day of moderate calling, texting, emailing and an hour or two of music leaves me with about 40-50% charge, even taking some photos and video along the way. The bundled Nokia charger does the job well, and can work when in a powerboard without blocking other plugs (despite having the USB cable come out the left hand side of the charger).

Which brings me on to Accessories - the situation here in New Zealand is unfortunately woeful. There are no cases, no screen protectors anywhere I have looked. Both of mine have been ordered from the US. Nokia’s own Camera grip accessory, which adds an extra battery, tripod mount and enhanced shutter button - is nowhere to be seen, neither is the wireless charging clip on case. This is an avoidable situation and a frustrating one and something we have already seen occur with other Nokia handsets in the past.

I thoroughly recommend purchasing a case. The camera bump sticks out - meaning on your phone will usually be resting on it - and I am now nervous to leave it with the screen down. In addition, the phone’s body still feels remarkably slippery and I am terrified of dropping it - hence no photos from my daily ferry ride in. Maybe once i have it secured in a nice grippy case.

I have continued experimenting with the camera - I will be covering Nokia Smart Cam in a following post, this app provides burst shot and post processing - and taking some video. I find myself more willing to take a bit of time to take photos and video because I know the results will tend to be pretty good - even for a rank amateur. I now have far more photos and videos of my toddler than I know what to do with. Taking high resolution snaps with Pro Cam and reframing is still fun too. My last shot was of a visiting Chinese military ship in Auckland Harbour, which I was able to zoom in on what appears to be a couple of officers having a laugh.

In getting the 1020 I also moved my business connections from Vodafone to Telecom. Full disclosure they provided the handset and credit. I have moved to the new Ultra $39 plans - this gives me more minutes, texts and data than my previous plans for less money - so I am pleased there. In addition I am very happy with coverage in West Auckland, which seems to be much improved over previous tests. Data connections switch between H and H+ when in the city and speedtests show anything from 8 to around 20Mbps down. I eagerly await the release of Telecom’s 4G service next month to see what speeds I can expect.

My Geekzone username is wasabi2. I am an IT consultant located in Auckland. I am currently working at SKYCITY. I have been interested in technology since I was a kid, where I got started breaking the family PC. These days I spend a lot of time keeping up to date with the latest tech. My house has all mobile ecosystems covered (Android, iOS, Windows Phone).



Nokia Lumia 1020: the phone side

, posted: 10-Oct-2013 20:28

The Nokia Lumia 1020 can be looked at a couple of ways - is it a phone with a camera, or a camera with a phone. This post will discuss the phone side and how it stacks up in that department.

The 1020 ships with Windows Phone 8.0.10328.78 or GDR2, which is the latest available at time of writing, with GDR3 expected either end of this year or early next. Coming from Windows Phone 7.8, 8 is significantly better - the rough edges left in 7.8 are gone. It is on the whole more stable and the dual core processor in the 1020 seems to remove the rare occasions where particular apps would start slowing down.

If you have never used Windows Phone before, it does take a bit of getting used to. The standard row of icons or folders as used in Android and iOS is gone, replaced with the Modern (formerly Metro) interface which is now common across the Microsoft ecosystem (Windows 8, Xbox). Essentially you have a set of tiles in 3 sized (soon to be 4 with GDR3 and higher resolution devices). A tile can either be static or live - where it updates. An example would be the messaging tile, which updates with the number of text/mms messages, or the photo tile, which cycles through your favourite photos. Swiping to the right brings up a full list of applications.

First step upon setting up the phone is adding your accounts. A Microsoft Account (formerly live account, formerly Hotmail) is required to connect to the store and make purchases. I have an outlook.com account (which was originally a Hotmail account back in the day) but the majority of my daily activity is done in the google ecosystem so my outlook.com account is set to forward all email to my Gmail address. So my Google account is next to be added (GDR2 updated Windows Phone 8 with CardDav/CalDav support, so you are able to use Google account fully in the future). Then I add Facebook. I do not add my Twitter or LinkedIn accounts - I don’t need that amount of info flooding my phone. Finally I add my work ActiveSync.

Accounts added here will populate the built in apps - People (contacts, status updates, etc), Calendar and appropriate mail accounts. You can still download and use the native apps for Facebook, Twitter, etc without adding the accounts directly to Windows Phone. This is how I use Twitter and LinkedIn without flooding my People app with work colleagues or NRL players.

The 1020 supports the following account types out of the box:

  • Outlook (Exchange ActiveSync, outlook.com, Office 365)
  • Hotmail
  • Nokia Mail
  • Nokia Account
  • Yahoo Mail
  • Google
  • IBM Notes Traveller
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • POP/IMAP

The People app combines Contacts, Recent Activity and a What’s New tab - which contains activity from any of the accounts added to the phone. It is a quick way to see what is going on without checking all the individual apps. Contacts does what you expect and pulls contact info from all your accounts and allows you to combine contacts from different sources. Recent just shows the contacts that you’ve been interacting with.

Messaging handles all text, online chat and mms messages - grouped by conversation. Tapping any conversation will bring up the messages and tapping on the name of the other parties will take you to their contact entry, from which you can text, email, post on their wall or phone (depending on what contact details you have).

Phone does what you expect. Default view is call history, with buttons to call voicemail, bring up the keypad, go to the people app and search. The calendar is functional, but nothing special. Multiple calendars are supported and show up in different colours - in my case my personal and work calendars.

The mail application does everything you expect, again grouping by conversation. You can link mailboxes as required. The mail client is a great example of how readable text is throughout Windows Phone - large typefaces abound and go well the the overall flat design language used throughout. The majority of screens are dark with lighter text, again aiding in readability.

Windows Phone also comes with a mobile version of Office - allowing you to read and do basic editing of Word, Powerpoint and Excel documents. You’re not going to be writing a novel on there but they are perfectly serviceable for basic viewing and editing. The Office app allows access to documents stored on Skydrive, Office365 and the phone itself as well as any email attachments you have opened. OneNote is also included - again offering syncing to SkyDrive. Interestingly enough, there is no native pdf reader. You need to download Adobe Reader.

Which brings us to the Store. Perfectly functional, as long as your needs are basic. As a Windows Phone user you need to get used to being a third class citizen amongst app developers. That TV ad for the new app from your local supermarket/bank/city council? It will be on iOS and Android. New Mobile Game? iOS and Android. Remote Control App for your LED lights/TV/Blu Ray? iOS and Android. However understandable - Windows Phone has barely broken double figure market share in Europe - it is still immensely frustrating if your phone is where you experience these apps. I am lucky enough to have an Android Tablet - so that is my go to for those type of apps, while my phone does everything I need it to - phone, email, photos, text and the limited other thing I use it for - reddit, social networking and the occasional game.

One cool thing Windows Phone 8 adds is Kids Corner. Essentially a ring fenced sandbox, it is accessed by swiping right from the lock screen. You can give it a name, set a background and colour scheme, then assign apps and media to it. Those items are the only accessible items from the Kids Corner. It also disables the search capacitive button, so it helps with accidental presses there too. So if you want to let your toddler play Angry Birds without worrying about them emailing the boss or calling Guatemala, you can. My three year old loves it - especially given it has a picture of him as the lock screen.

Moving on we come to the desktop software side of things. Windows Phone 7 used the Zune desktop software to handle media and syncing. Zune was something of an odd piece of software but it was very pretty and did what it needed to. Zune does not support Windows Phone 8 - instead there is a Metro app: Windows Phone and a Desktop app - Windows Phone for Desktop. Both offer less functionality than Zune - they can be used for viewing what is on your phone and copying media to them. That’s it. Plugging your phone into your PC also brings up your phone storage as a removable drive which allows you to drag and drop content in there - effectively defeating the purpose of these apps in the first place.

This wouldn’t be that big a deal apart from 1 thing - podcasts. Zune supported the adding of custom podcasts via RSS, then syncing them, included tracking if they were played or not. That isn’t supported. Being in New Zealand we also have no access to podcasts through the Store - something that may or may not be added in GDR3. You are left with two options - use Zune to manage your podcast downloads, then the Windows Phone app to synchronise the Podcasts folder (two apps, no tracking of what is played) or a third party podcasts app. One step forward, two steps back.

So Windows Phone 8 is good - but it has its limits. On the corporate side there is still no VPN support and the MDM features are nowhere near those of iOS or even Android. The App Store, while growing, is still a long way from the Apple App Store or Google Play. Android and iOS deliver significantly more choice through apps (iOS) and customisability (Android). However, Windows Phone 8 is remarkably smooth, reliable and most importantly a good experience. I can do what I want to quickly, without fuss. It is also a step up from 7.8 in terms of stability and functionality. Specifically the bug that would cause my Lumia 800 to occasionally hard lock when playing music and using 3G data is not apparent here.

My Geekzone username is wasabi2. I am an IT consultant located in Auckland. I am currently working at SKYCITY. I have been interested in technology since I was a kid, where I got started breaking the family PC. These days I spend a lot of time keeping up to date with the latest tech. My house has all mobile ecosystems covered (Android, iOS, Windows Phone).



TelecomTech's profile

Telecom New Zealand
Auckland
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.

We choose tech savvy Geekzone users to "test drive" the new handsets from Telecom New Zealand.

The team will post firsthand reports on using these smartphones on New Zealand's smartphonenetwork. Make sure to keep an eye on this blog. Who knows who might be our next "test drivers"?

   

Catch up on previous Telecom Tech reviews - read about the Nokia Lumia 1020Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy Note II, Nokia Lumia 800, Nokia Lumia 710 and HTC Sensation.





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