Build 10136 of Windows 10 Mobile, announced here, is significant because it marks the point in the latest evolution of Windows Phone where the next-gen builds are good enough for serious testing. I hesitate to say 'good enough for day to day use' because, like all early OS builds, battery life is questionable. But it's certainly good enough to load on all your applications and data (on a sacrificial device) and to, metaphorically, kick the tyres. Which is what I've been doing for the last 48 hours. Here's my report, caveats, warts and all. [Updated 23rd June with extra screens and amendments.]
Recent Features - Develop
Late last week, a stylish new Twitter client was launched for Windows Phone - Aeries. It's in my review list, but I'm waiting for the application to stabilise before delivering a full verdict. In the meantime, though, I caught up with its developer, Brad Stevenson, chatting about his new Twitter app and all things Windows (Phone). See the video below.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, it seems, and my attempt at simplifying the situation in terms of applications and Windows Phone 8.1 multitasking/optimisation was rightly picked at by a number of developers, who live and breathe this stuff. So I got in touch with one of them, Sarah Fegert, and asked some of the more pertinent FAQ-style questions....
Variously referred to with a '1' on the end (or not), the official Developer Preview version of Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 (I'm using the numeral, as it's less confusing!) is now available and I thought a summary of what's in it would be appropriate. Along with my (admittedly marginal) deliberation that this is a smaller update than the original 8.1/Cyan step upwards, and that enrolling on the DP track might not, on balance, this time, be worth it?
Apple's famous mini-slogan "It just works" is well known to all and, on the whole, it's true, with the company having complete control of the hardware, software and accessories, so there's little left to chance. Turning to Windows Phone 8 and using it as something of a power user, I'm reminded of the slogan but have to confess that I'm tempted to amend it to "It almost works"...
Developing apps that run across platforms is an area with a number of key players. One of those is the Unity middleware gaming engine. I wanted to find a bit more about the history of Unity and Windows Phone, so I caught up with Tony Garcia (Unity's Executive VP of Business Development), and his team at this week's Unite 2013 Conference in Vancouver.
If there's one thing that is going to get developers interested in programming on Windows Phone, it's money. If Windows Phone proves to be a fruitful place to do business, then people will do business. But one of the biggest tools to help developers earn money isn't available on Windows Phone, and when it is, it may not have the reach to be effective.
Each mobile operating system has its own way of multitasking. As such, Windows Phone 7.5 has its own unique way too, which might be somewhat strange if you're coming from, say, Symbian. Even if you're not a developer, it can be useful to know why your phone works as it does, and so here is our guide to understanding the nuts and bolts beneath the hood of your Windows Phone.
Microsoft's Brandon Watson, Senior Director of Windows Phone 7 development, and Nokia's Reggie Hutcherson, Director of Windows Phone Experience, held a talk at Nokia World 2011 about the opportunities on offer to Windows Phone app developers. The talk was aimed to show that they understood the needs of developers, and how serious both companies are about obtaining and supporting as many developers as possible. While this is what you might expect both companies to say, Brandon Watson in particular putting himself forward as being available, anytime, to any serious developers that wanted to talk to him.
Marko Ahtisaari, Senior Vice President of Design at Nokia, and Albert Shum, General Manager of the Windows Phone Design Studio, held a panel at Nokia World 2011. They explained how the design teams from both companies worked together to bring the Lumia 800 to fruition. Each designer talked about the way in which their teams had designed their products, and how well the design values of the two companies matched. Whether you're into design or not, it was an interesting insight into how both software and hardware designers form and refine their ideas.