Right now in San Francisco, GDC (the Game Developers Conference) is going on, with the great and the good of the mobile game industry in attendance alongside their colleagues from the desktop computer, console and handheld worlds. For Windows Phone gamers, there's not a lot of good news coming out of the Moscone Center.
This is both horribly controversial and also horribly subjective - and I know it's a popular meme to hate Microsoft's new 'tiles', especially on the desktop. But, regardless of their shape, the Windows Phone Start screen elements make me more efficient - I'm comparing it all to trying to live with Android, iOS, Symbian and Blackberry OS 10 - and Windows Phone is the one I keep coming back to with a sigh of satisfaction. And yes, that surprised me too...
Apart from the occasional sporadic appearance of a yellow Lumia 1020 here at SXSW, walking the trade floor and surfing the crowds at the many music gigs for their handset of choice is not a fun experience for a Windows Phone fan. Countless start-ups, accessory manufacturers, promoters, and web services, are all focused on iOS (to be fair, Android gets a bit of a look in, but not much). Windows Phone needs another approach, and building up some strength in niche areas could be one answer.
This week and last I find myself once more in Austin for the SXSW conference, and once more I'm reminded of just how awesome Microsoft's OneNote is. Shipping as part of the core app experience on every Windows Phone, it's an app that I suspect many have ignored. Well, it's time to look at it again, because it really does show you just how well your smartphone can work in a cloud-based connected environment.
As the resolution and quality of cameras in smartphones has risen dramatically in the last five years, it's easy to forget that these devices aren't just for snapping people and things around us right now. With the technology now included - here demoed on the especially capable Nokia Lumia 1020, but this also applies to any other decent camera phone, of course - it's perfectly practical to archive and transfer printed images from older times. In this feature, I explain a use case that made a lot of sense to me and I pass on a few tips.
It's fair to say that voice control of Windows Phone has been somewhat underplayed by everyone over the last couple of years. Partly that's because it's been some way behind the state of the art in terms of Google Now and Apple's Siri, but that era is hopefully about to end when Cortana arrives in Windows Phone 8.1. But, with that still months away from our devices, it might be worth getting yourself into the habit of talking to your smartphone in the meantime. What exactly can you say/do on Windows Phone right now?
The rule of thumb is that it takes three versions of a Microsoft operating system to reach a solid foundation for growth. With Windows Phone it might not take three versions, it might take a free version instead. What impact would a switch away from a paid licencing model mean to Windows Phone and the ecosystem?
Adverts promoting mobile apps in traditional media have become increasingly common over the last five years, but they are usually generic, or focused on the iOS or Android platforms. However, in today's edition of the London Times it is noteworthy that there's a Windows Phone specific app advert promoting the recently published Barclays Mobile Banking app.
It's all very well seeing phone manufacturer after phone manufacturer adding faster image processors and (ever so) slightly larger sensors in their smartphone cameras. It's all very well them proclaiming in their marketing "the best phone camera ever". And, in extreme cases, even adding two lenses and two sensors. But, ultimately, physics wins. It always wins. Never mind the tiny sensors used in even the likes of the brand new Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2, use a large sensor like that in the Nokia Lumia 1020 and photos are immediately better, especially when allied to Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) and (when needed) also to a proper Xenon flash.
San Francisco based Swrve has looked at the in-app purchasing data across their own network for January, and the numbers they reveal are interesting. I can see two major points from the data that have already had an effect on the mobile app ecosystem, and the rise of freemium has not diminished the opportunity for developers.