I did it (again)

As you might remember, I tried out Windows Phone 8 a while back (see here and here). While the operating system itself was already good at the time and I really liked the better mail client and overall GUI experience, in the end I went back to the iPhone. Too many things were missing.

Now with the GDR3 update things are starting to look better. So let’s have a look at what I didn’t like about the previous experience:

  • No VPN. Sorry, massive fail, this is just not going to fly, except of course if MS drops all pretense of Windows Phone being for businesses. Still nothing, rumors about an update next year though. From what it sounds like, could be DirectAccess – which would be awesome and totally blow the competition out of the water. Fingers crossed.
  • No screen rotation block. Kidding, right???
  • Battery hog. Not even a day on the Lumia 820 using mainly WiFi at home and at the customer with some Edge/3G/4G in between. I was teaching all day, so not much fiddling going on on the phone. Bluetooth was active and used while in the car, push mail enabled for a single Exchange mailbox. NFC and “more sensitivity on the screen” disabled. I’ve had a similarly bad experience before on the Lumia 800 – is it possible that Windows Phone is just not made for prolonged WiFi connections? I noticed a huge drain on the weekend when I was at home the whole day, so it would have been 100% WiFi. In the evening I was down to around 12%.
    Solved for me – the battery in my Lumia 1520 is like the phone itself – massive.
  • It’s way too easy to accidentally turn off the phone. Still the same, just have to pay attention I guess.
  • No 3rd party editing of the calendar. I’m sure there’s a reason for this …?
    Check out SuperCalendar. Now that’s the kind of calendar app that should come with the device. I was also able to schedule an appointment in my Exchange calendar from this app, so I guess that’s fixed.
  • Not possible to reassign the “search” button to something that will work outside of the US. Say for example Google. Even Yahoo gives better results than Bing. Still the same – either improve Bing, or let customers chose.
  • Call quality sucks.
    Call quality on the Lumia 1520 is great.
  • Facebook. The official app sucks big time. There’s a beta in the US app store. If you’re in the wrong region then for once you’re not out of luck – just install it directly by opening this link on the phone. This “beta” is also from Microsoft and while it’s a HUGE improvement, it still falls very short of the iPhone app. What’s more, some of the controls don’t react, or you have to hit them very precisely in the center (for example the notifications icon).
    The latest Facebook App is ok. Not quite on the same level and with the same responsiveness as the one on the iPhone, but it’s a massive improvement. I’d say 85% accomplished.
  • No RDP client. RDP, as in “Remote Desktop Protocol”, as in “this is how you connect to a MICROSOFT Windows server to remotely manage it”. Has been the way to do it for ages, and while there are new and sometimes better ways to do it, for now that’s how you do it.
    Found one, works ok. It even supports TS Gateway.
  • No WorkLog app. Ok, it doesn’t have to be precisely this app, but something that lets me register the time I work at customers so I can bill them? And something that works reasonably well, lets me do an export at the end of the week/month/whatever (csv sent as an email is ok)?
    I’ve tried several alternatives, nothing comes quite close. Might have to create an app myself. The best I’ve found so far is TimeTracker.
  • No usable Dropbox app. Something that lets me connect to my dropbox and for example open an excel file. I know it can be done on Skydrive, which I also have and which works great, but sometimes, stuff is on Dropbox and can’t or won’t be moved off elsewhere. Oh, and it would be really nice if I didn’t have to go through the autzorization for Dropbox every time I launch the app. Boxfiles works ok, though I find myself shifting to SkyDrive more and more. Maybe because of the whopping 200GB storage I got when I bought the Surface? 😉
  • Kindle – ok, they have an app. I can open my books, start reading, WhisperSync works. When it comes to having an overview of the books I have on the device, which books I have already started reading and so on: Nothing. Still not perfect. It looks like the WinPhone App doesn’t have the same priority with Amazon as do the other apps?
  • No Control4 app. Not good – this means I can’t control the lights and audio/video at home. Still not good. Keeping an iPad Mini to control this plus the Naim unitiServe streamer…
  • WhatsApp doesn’t push updates to the tile most of the time. Kind of essentials functionality for such an app, in my opinion.
    Seems to work now.


So what it comes down to at the moment is this – I still don’t have VPN on the device, though that should be coming “soon”. Bing still sucks, at least if you’re not in the US, I can’t control my lights and audio/video from my phone and Amazon is doing a somewhat poor job keeping their app on the same level for Windows Phone as they do on other platforms.

On the plus side I have an ultrafast Windows Phone with a huge display, lots and lots of battery power and the whole office stuff including Mail just works better than on any other platform. For the time being that’s ok, now hopefully Windows Phone will get some more traction so we’ll start seeing a bit more apps.

Missing right now are the following apps:

  • Control4
  • Naim nServe
  • Fitbit
  • WorkLog
  • AirPlay (including Video)

I’ll revisit this blog entry in a half year or so – who knows, the situation might have changed by then… And yes, I’ve switched back to Windows Phone, got me a Nokia Lumia 1520.

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