Windows Phone 8.1 - is it finally mature?

If you are just looking for the answer, don't bother, the answer is no.

If you look at my blog posts, you'll notice that I had tried out all the major phone operating systems, from Android I moved to iOS and then to Microsoft's Windows Phone 8. Of course, I knew exactly what I was getting into before the purchase, but I saw a huge potential in the design of the UI. I got the flagship Nokia Lumia 925, which at that time was the top of the line from the Windows Phone lineup.

I can analyze and write down all the good and bad about that phone, but this blog post is about the WP 8.1 update and place of the WP in the phone market.

Windows Phone 8 is an interesting OS, the look and feel is like from another universe (both good and bad parts), but it has a lot of missing features. Having a Nokia Lumia 925, I was one of the firsts to get the new update. What can I say, it was one of the biggest disappointments ever. Yes, it did fill the big hole of the missing features, but the problem is that the hole is getting deeper and deeper every year, as Google and Apple adds new features to their OS.

Nokia Lumia 925 updateing to Windows Phone 8.1

If you are thinking switching to Windows Phone, don't get the flagship. Get a Lumia 520, 525 or 560. After you get the hang of it you can decide if it's something for you or not, and if yes than you can move up the product line. Like I said before, Windows Phone is at least 2 years behind its competitors, and it will be.

In conclusion, if you want a phone that has all the features, works flawless and has great support, get an iPhone, if you want a phone that works great, but has a lot of features and apps missing buy a Windows Phone and if you want a phone that can be infected, lose all your data, once a week runs out  of memory and has a terrible support, you guessed it: get an Android.


How to make app folders on Windows Phone 8

After the big launch of iOS7, I decided to switch to Windows Phone 8. I really think that the look of iOS7 is one of the worst designs in history. I really like flat design, but what Apple did is just a big mess, there is no continuity, no beauty, the colors are way off etc.

However, I like flat design. If Apple is on the move to switch to everything over to this new trend, than why shouldn't I switch over to the pioneers of the flat design: Windows Phone 8.

If you are bored with Android or with your iPhone, or just want to see something else, I would recommend giving a try to a Nokia Lumia device. The OS is smooth and fast, but in many cases it feels unfinished or just a beta version. For ex. right until now there was no way to close an app running in the background, or there weren't to many options to organize your apps, you had the start screen and the apps screen where all the apps are in alphabetical order.

So if you wanted to have your apps at a touch of a button you had to pin everything you needed to the start screen and after a while you just a had a long scrolling mess of tiles.

Luckily on the 9th of January 2014 Nokia released the Nokia Black update, and with it came the App Folders, so you can now organize your start screen tiles into folders.

There are a few guides out there how to use them, so I thought why not help out a little bit the Windows Phone community. In order to use folders, you will need an extra application, in my case this wasn't downloaded automatically, so I had to install it from the WP Market.

In order to create a folder find the AppFolders app in your list, open it and create a new folder.

Name the folder and add your apps to it. I created a folder for some apps related to driving and car care.

And there you go, you just created a folder for your apps.

All what is left is to add it to your start screen. This is the same as pinning an app to the start screen, hold your finger on the folder until the menu appears, and then select "pin to start"

And that's it, you got a folder with your apps on the start screen. You can always re-size it to one of the three sizes available.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the section below.


Why the Jelly Bean update for Sony Xperia P sucks

Or we could also say, how the latest update ruined my +Sony Xperia phone.

Friday, the 26th of April I got a notification on my Sony Xperia P that there is a new update available, finally Android 4.2 Jelly Bean can be installed officially on my phone. I was never a fan of rooting phones and getting into hacking and cracking the firmware up and down, I just want to use the phone as it came out the box, and of course doing every update that the manufacturer recommends.

And here is my problem: I did every update that the manufacturer recommended, in our case JB for Xperia P. Unfortunately for me it was one of the biggest disappointments I ever had. Instead of adding a new features to an already amazing phone I ended  up with a huge step backward.

One of the reasons I choose the +Sony Xperia™ P phone was because of the lock screen notifications, the one I saw presented here:

In other words, simple and great. I could see who called me, or who sent me an email without fully unlocking the phone or swiping from the top. Just a simple press on the side button I could see what's going on. Guess what: after the Jelly Bean update it's gone! Why would they take a good feature out? Were there people complaining about it? I don't think so. If you didn't want to see the notifications you could simply turn off the feature. The new version of Android for Xperia comes with the new lock screen from the +Sony Xperia Z which is nice if your previous phone was a Nokia 3310, but it's a huge step backwards from the earlier versions. There are two buttons on it, one for music and one for the camera, and to unlock it you just swipe "anywhere".

The new lock screen on Android Jelly Bean for Sony Xperia P

Moving on. An other great feature I liked was (yes: was) the LED notification. It blinked in different colors for different events. For. ex. if somebody sent me a message on Facebook it would blink on blue, if I had a missed cal it would blink on green. With this I didn't had to check my phone over and over again, I knew that I had a missed call even before turning on the screen. It's gone now, the LED only flashes on white, no matter what is the notification. So I even if I get a spam email selling Viagra  I get the same notification as I would for a missed call. So another great feature GONE.

The only option left for the lock screen: changing the wallpaper

Another strange modification is the background color for contacts and call list. It used to be black, now it's white. As a result it's much harder to read it in direct sunlight, even with the backlight turned all the way up, not to mention that at night it burns your eyes. Even bigger disaster is at the messages: white background with dark blue speech-balloons and black text. It's almost impossible to read a message. What were the guys who made this thinking, why is this better than a black background with some nice white letters? Also, to keep it more interesting they left the settings menu with the black background and white text, so no more continuity for UI: sometimes it's white, sometimes it's black, sometimes you can see it, sometimes not. Talking about "sometimes not": the incoming call screen is also white, the answer button is a bright green circle. Get a call on a bright sunny day and you'll find yourself looking for a shade just to see who is calling. They even changed the dark top menu bar in the album to a brighter one, so it's very hard to see the icons now.

And now for the small pieces: I set the Xperia live wallpaper as my background, it was really nice and elegant, but somebody at Sony thought that we don't need it any more, so the new firmware is missing this. It was a WALLPAPER why would they take out? Did it bother someone? It's really hard for me to understand "upgrades" like these. Instead of this I get to use the nice rainbow colored wallpaper featured on the Xperia Z, some other static wallpapers or I could use one of the live wallpapers that came with the phone, EXCEPT the one I used for 3 months.

Another feature that was nice was when you pinched out on the home screen all the widgets appeared floating and by pressing on it, it would take you to the screen where it was set. Well, this gone too. Know you have to wipe from screen to screen to find what you are looking for.

This is what happens when you try to pinch out to see all the widgets

So of course, if you ask me that should you update to the latest version of Android on your Xperia P, I would defiantly recommend not to. Not because of me and because every single feature I liked about the phone is gone, it's because there are some serious bugs in this release: for ex. the new stamina mod (hyper-super battery saving feature) kills everything, I saw people complaining that their phone wouldn't ring when it was activated, for me it drained the battery faster then when it was turned off.

If somebody at +Sony is reading: please bring back the UI of the ICS for the Xperia P. It was PERFECT! You can still give the option for the users to change their appearance to the new rainbow look from Xperia Z, but I guess many if us would prefer a legacy look. People choose Sony because they want something different, elegant, refined, something else from the boring and ridiculous Samsung design and UI. Don't let your customers down!

Right now I am looking for an option to downgrade to the offical ICS for Xperia P without rooting my phone. If anybody has an idea how to do it, please let me know in the comments.


How to autostart Waze when getting in your car

I love Waze. For those who don't know what Waze is, it's a community based traffic and navigation app for Android and iPhone users. I use it every single day when I am in my car, the problem is (or was) that every single time when I got into the car I had to unlock my phone, start Waze and then put the phone in car mount. I know it's not hard, but if you can make something to go easier why not.

So here is what you need to start Waze automatically when you get in your car:

- a smartphone with NFC standards.
- NFC tag
- NFC Task Launcher from Google Play

But what is NFC? NFC, or Near Field Communication, is a set of standards for smartphones and similar devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into close proximity. It can be used for contactless payment, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections, Social networking and smartphone automatization.

More and more phones support the NFC standard, so there is a chance that your phone also supports it, you just didn't know about it. According to gsmarena.com there are 154 Android phones that have NFC support. If you have an iPhone, then you can just hit the close button, as iPhones do not have NFC support for now. Maybe with the 5S NFC support will come to the iPhone too, but for now only Android and Blackberry phones have it.

Now that we have a smartphone with NFC support, we will need some NFC tags. You can pick up some from eBay, 10 pcs for $9.58. There are some that you can put on your key ring  there are ones that you can use as stickers, what ever model you want. I got one that I can just stick where ever I want.

NFC sticker tag

Next up you will need to install NFC Task Launcher from the Google Play. It's a free app and it will you to write to your NFC tag.

Start the app and select Car from the Location Profiles:

 You can then set the desired settings that you want to have when getting in your car. For ex. I want to turn on the Bluetooth, start Waze, disable Wi-Fi and turn on the GPS and Mobile Data:


After you set the desired events, you have to place your phone on the NFC tag, so the settings can be transferred to your tag. And that's it!

Now you just stick the NFC tag where ever you want in your car, and when you get in, you place the phone over the tag and presto, Waze starts. I put mine on my phone holder, so when I put my phone into it Waze will start.