I'm at SXSW all this week, and that means Windows Phone is working hard to keep me up to date with the online world, as the social networks, emails, Facebook updates and Twitter replies all come pouring in. Compared to previous years at SXSW, Windows Phone is making some things a lot easier. Here are five areas where I'm finding my smartphone making my life a lot easier in Austin during the conference.
At Mobile World Congress a few weeks ago, Rafe sat down with Aaron Woodman, Director for Windows Phone at Microsoft, to talk about Windows Phone 7.5's new reduced hardware requirements, the entry into new countries (most notably China), the partnership with Nokia and future directions for the platform, and a potential direction for Microsoft's Windows Phone marketing.
The debate started on Phones Show Chat last week, with Myriam arguing passionately for sealed batteries and me being equally sure that I wanted the flexibility of getting access to the battery in my phone. Why the argument, you may wonder? What's the big deal and what are the pros and cons of each approach? I'm glad you asked, read on. [Summary: your phones are all doomed, I'm right and Myriam's wrong....!]
If we're weren't convinced before, then the Mobile World Congress announcements make it clear. Nokia is pushing Microsoft to move into the lower cost end of the smartphone market. With the announcement of the ZTE Orbit and the Nokia Lumia 610, the battle lines are being drawn against the Android foot soldiers and the remaining special forces of Symbian. But Microsoft doesn't have all its troops to call on.
As I look through the games under my Xbox Live title, I can see a variety of styles of games. There are incredibly detailed and complicated titles like Infinite Flight (reviewed here by Steve, our other Flight Sim nut), there are the long and involved strategy games like Plants vs Zombies (my review is here) or Fusion: Sentient (review), or the quirky fun of Katamari (in our App directory). But the games that I keep coming back to on my handset are the casual games. Certainly, for me, the games that are working well on Windows Phone are the same games that follow the design philosophy of the platform. Glance and Go works for Live Tiles, and it appears Glance and Game is also working.
How's that for a controversial title? What I examine below is that there's more than one way to arrange focussing when shooting video on your smartphone - the rightly popular system of having continuous auto-focus does a good job a lot of the time but also manages to infuriate occasionally too. How bad is the problem, what are the alternatives and can I offer any tips for Symbian or Windows Phone users?
It's all very well having a camera in your Windows Phone - but you know in your heart that it's not really a match for a standalone, compact camera. However, don't be disheartened, because the times you'll use your phone for snapping away will likely be totally different to the formal occasions when you'll be packing your standalone. With a little care and bearing in mind the top twelve tips listed below, there's no reason why you can't have a lot of fun with, and produce some decent snaps on, your new Windows Phone.
Instagram... there's a lot of speculation out there about the popular iPhone social network photography app, that it will make the jump to Windows Phone before it goes to Android, but it's all rather nebulously attributed back to a site that runs the story with an unattributed quote (hence the story not popping up in our Flow section). Still, it makes for some feel-good headlines. But it has got the AAWP office thinking... what apps would we like to see ported over to Windows Phone?
HTC are big. HTC are getting bigger with the Titan 2. HTC are growing the Titan 2 with a 16 megapixel camera. HTC are growing the Titan 2 with a 16 megapixel camera because AT&T think it's a good idea to have an alternative flagship. But hold on... Nokia are back in America. Nokia are back in America with a super fast LTE handset because AT&T would quite like another hero phone. Do you get the feeling AT&T have done really well out of the recent Windows Phone announcements?
As I sit at my desk looking at around a dozen smartphones of all shapes and sizes (hey, I'm a journalist, and privileged that way), running four different mobile OS platforms, I find my decision on which to use as my main phone based on a number of hardware factors (screen size, form factor, camera) that you'll probably empathise with, plus one that you might not expect. At the top of my list of characteristics for a perfect smartphone is a loud, high quality loudspeaker. Yes, really.