Smartphones are great. I got a beautiful Samsung Omnia 7 Windows Phone this time last year and don’t think I’ll ever go back to a dumb/feature phone again. Part of the reason smartphones are so smart is that they have an always on internet connection. Unfortunately, the big mobile phone networks/carriers in the UK (Orange, Vodafone, Three & O2) see this as a great opportunity to squeeze even more money out of you. My phone was originally on Three’s network and although they had great speeds if you went over their measly data allowance you got charged a hefty sum. One month I got charged £15 for data alone! When I called their customer services I was told I’d have to pay if I wanted this itemised and it was my fault for going over the allowance. After about 30 minutes of arguing and being put on hold I gave up, chucked out the Three SIM card and looked into better value options.
I was very fortunate to get gifted a 12 month AppHub subscription from Microsoftie Mike Ormond.
This means I can develop apps and games for Windows Phone 7 and Xbox!
This is all very exciting and means I can get into development again. It’s been a long time since I’ve done any hardcore coding and I’m looking forward to the opportunity. I’ve had loads of ideas for apps as I have been using my own Omnia 7 phone so that should keep me busy.
As a quick test I submitted an app I created a few months back with AppMakr. This is a free service that helps you build apps from any RSS feed e.g. a blog, twitter feed,YouTube channel etc. It was really easy to do and also lets you add in advertising. This means I can offer my app for free while also funding next years AppHub subscription. I also found the App Submission walkthrough on CodeGuru very useful. Hopefully I’ll get some more useful apps out soon and who knows, maybe even a game, but for now I’m hitting the submit button and awaiting approval!
I I was reading a well worded explanation of what the catch-all term “4G” is over on blog.three.co.uk.
I was really pleased to hear their plans on 4G. I have heard the term used a lot on US blogs and it didn’t seem very straight-forward. I wasn’t even sure if the UK would be using the term.
I have a Samsung Omnia 7 and that gets great data speeds. That could be partly down to the new IE browser on Windows Phone 7 though. In most areas I get a “3G+” icon in the top corner instead of just “3G”. This made me wonder am I getting the HSPA+ service already? That would mean I could potentially get speeds up to 128Mbps!
This is a continuation from my previous hardware review of my Samsung Omnia 7
Windows Phone 7 (WP7) is Microsoft’s latest and greatest operating system (OS) for smartphones. They have left behind a long legacy of Windows Mobile code (stopping at v6.5) and built a new OS from the foundation of their Zune mp3 player. Transitioning an mp3 player into a phone sound like a familiar idea? Well it’s no secret that this is Microsoft’s final chance to regain some of the market that Apple swept away from them. Their slow response to change, or innovate, also led to Google’s Android OS get a strong foothold in the market as well as a loyal following. So, has Microsoft done enough to sway the tide? Check out my review below to see if I think it has.
I was a very lucky winner of a competition on the ubelly blog, receiving the amazing prize of a Samsung Omnia 7 smartphone featuring the new Windows Phone 7 (WP7) operating system.
I received it mid-December so I have had just over a month to get used to it. This review is mainly focussing on the Omnia 7 hardware, I have reviewed the Windows Phone 7 OS in a separate review. This is my first ever smartphone after using a Nokia 6233 for 3 years so bear in mind I won’t be comparing it to any androids or iPhones.
Scalix is an Exchange alternative. It’s not as fully featured (and development seems to be at a standstill) but it is a lot cheaper than Microsoft’s offering. They even have a free community edition but that doesn’t offer Outlook or Exchange connectivity.
We had successfully managed to sync Scalix to Windows Mobile 6 devices as well as iPhones and I was hoping it would also work on WP7.
My first attempt failed and ,after reading that WP7 only uses a subset of ActiveSync functionality, I presumed it wasn’t possible. However, after struggling with IMAP, and not wanting to go near POP3, I managed to get ActiveSync up and running on my Omnia 7.
I can sync my calendar, contacts and email just like what is available with an “Outlook” (Exchange) account. You also get “push” email functionality and a nice “Live Tile” for your home screen (although not as cool as my attempt above). It doesn’t seem to sync if I flag an email but if I read or delete one then that change syncs.
Read on to get the walkthrough
I find it a bit cumbersome to navigate through all the apps I have on my WP7 Samsung Omnia 7. Once you move from the start screen to the app list all you get is a long alphabetical list of apps. There is no way to group or rearrange them so sometimes the quickest way to open them is use a voice command.
I wondered if I could just use my Start screen for all of my apps. I presumed there would be a limit but this doesn’t seem to be the case. So far I have pinned over 75 apps to Start plus 10 games, as well as several maps, artists, albums and a radio station. All of this has made no difference to the speedy responsiveness of the phone but I can now achieve some amount of organization and grouping by moving the tiles to the relevant position. You also get the added benefit of seeing the icons in their full size glory and expose any “live tile” functionality.
I imagine Microsoft will do something about the never-ending app list in a future update but for now this seems like a workable alternative. It’s far from a perfect solution, I have a niggling feeling it may affect battery life.
If you know of a limit or have a better idea on sorting your apps then please leave a comment. Stay tuned for my full review of the device coming in 2011. Happy New Year everyone!
Posted from WordPress for Windows Phone
This is a back-dated post due to me having a shuffle around on my blog. I’ll still have the main What I Use » WP7 page but I wanted away of updating that without loosing my app history
I got my Samsung Omnia 7 at the begining of December 2010. As one of the early adopters I thought I should keep a list of the apps that I have downloaded that have lasted longer than a week. They all work in the UK on my Samsung, I can’t vouch for other hardware/locations. I let my kids play with my phone so a few of the apps are for their benefit…honest.
I haven’t paid for a single app yet so all the ones below are available from the marketplace for free 🙂
You may also want to look at all my WP7 posts on my blog for other tips and reviews.
- Adobe Reader
- Beezz – awesome twitter client
- Big Oven/Tesco Real Food – Recipe Finders
- Break.com Videos – Some funny photos & videos delivered daily, saves me hunting around YouTube 😉
- CardStar – Keep all your store loyalty cards (e.g. Nectar, Boots, Tesco) on your phone as readable barcodes. UPDATE, this app doesn’t seem to work at Tesco or Sainsbury’s self-service checkouts. I’ve been to embarrassed to show it a real checkout. Still it’s a glossy way to keep a backup.
- DIY Calculator – Really handy at working out your materials and costs for any DIY projects, seriously considering buying this app.
- Photo Apps
- Photogram (Samsung Only)
- Photo Studio (Samsung Only) – 3 nice effects but needs a bit of tweaking. Currently defaults to VGA quality instead of 5mp.
- FotoChop – add captions to pictures
- PicFX – Great Tilt-Shift option
- Pic-o-Twit – Upload directly to Twitter
- PictureFrame – Provides Slideshow ability
- Touchnote – send a photo as a real physical postcard
- Send to WP7 – Pushes a link from your Desktop browser to your phone
- Currency Convertor
- Facebook – lovely way to get to most Facebook features
- Foursquare – not used much but seems good so far
- Flixster – good for finding local UK cinema times and user reviews. I wish it would let you add your own review to one’s existing Flixster account.
- Fuels – track your fuel consumption
- IMDb – I use this practically every time I watch a film now to find actor info or other interesting facts
- Hangover Helper – genius idea for those who wake up not knowing where they are or what they did last night
- Last.fm – good for an instant hit of decent music
- Shazam – Identifies tracks playing on a radio/TV and lets you download it staright to your phone. Magic.
- Lyrics – Search for song lyrics. It also identifies the currently playing track so you can sing along
- Level – A working spirit level for your phone (Shame Omnia doesn’t stand on it’s edges!)
- Lunar Phase – Check what phase the moon is in or when the next full moon is
- Maps [built-in] – Works great. Just needs turn-by-turn navigation to replace my TomTom
- OneNote [built-in] – Take notes, add pictures, voice recordings, sync to SkyDrive
- Shopping List – Brilliantly simple but advanced enough to cover my needs
- Springboard Series for Windows – Technical articles & videos from Microsoft for IT Pros
Weather [by the Weather Channel] – Doesn’t look very nice but it’s accurateWeatherBug – Much nicer representation of the weather, good live tile and the RADAR maps work to.
- Where’s my Car? – Locates your car in case you forget where you parked
- World Clock – always handy to see when that state-side broadcast is really happening
- WordPress – Blog while on the go
- YouTube – A necessary evil 😉
- Games, Timewasting
- Magic 7 Ball
- Fun Sounds
- Fake Calling
- Flashlight 7 – great strobe effect for raving!
- Flowerz – not particulary great but only free XBOX Live game atm
- Fruit Ninja (demo)
- iBlast Moki (demo)
- Fast Food
- Ice Ball
- Impossible Shoota
- Omni Jump_Free
- Plan Bee
- Pirates Ahoy (Fruit Ninja rip-off)
- SkyDiver Classic
- Swipy Man
- Tic Tac Toe – Great 6×6 grid option
- Unite – Tilty fun
- Ultra Air Hockey 2
- Word Tangle Free
Let me know what you think in the comments or add any recommendations of your own.
Other “What I Use” pages
Update: Zune is dead 😦
Well it’s actually regenerated into Xbox Music. A lot of the content on here is still valid but the links may not work. Go to music.xbox.com for full details
Don’t you just hate the fact that sometimes you need to install bloated, slow iTunes to download and organise your music collection? Well stress no more, coinciding with the release of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft have opened up Zune to international waters.
Zune goes where you go. Whether on your PC, Xbox 360, or Windows Phone 7 you can enjoy, discover, and share your entertainment anytime you want. zune.net
What’s a Zune?
The Zune software is a media player, originally designed to manage Microsoft’s own mp3 player (iPod competitor) the Zune. You would use the Zune app to sync your music to your device or download new music from the online marketplace. It is very similar in functionality to how iTunes works with iPods. However, it differs dramatically in it’s design. You can’t help but be impressed with how the software works. I installed it a couple of years ago, even though I didn’t have a Zune (as I’m in the UK) purely because it looks so good. I could also use it to download podcasts so I could sync them with my generic mp3 player.