Skype needs the windows mobile/windows 7 treatment: It needs to be scrapped & rebuilt from the ground up.

     So I have a small confession to make….. There is 1 Google product I do use: Google Voice! I’m not proud of it. I don’t make it publicly known. I use it for random things like my business, forwarding calls, giving out to guys I meet at bars, etc. It’s free & somewhat convenient. Checking messages from my computer and the rare international phone call make it worth having. But I REALLY want to get rid of it. I got it in place of visual voicemail for my windows phone which is still not available (thanks AT&T and T-Mobile). The voice to text feature ranges from funny to annoying. The early adopter understanding I had in the beginning for it is over. I have many ways of doing messaging built into my windows phone and then I have a bunch of cross-platform apps that use my data for sending and receiving text messages. And as of last year 1 big thing has changed: Microsoft owns Skype.

     Everyone has been talking about the potential of Microsoft owning Skype from where it can be: built into Windows Phone OS, part of the Xbox and a better windows app. Many have been complaining about it taking a while for a WP7 app to be made available. It is now in beta so stop your bitching. Many question the redundancy: Skype has a built in messenger and Microsoft has live messenger. Skype would compete with Lync. Bla Bla Bla. But what no one has been talking about is that Skype needs to be treated like Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows 7. It needs to be scrapped as we know it and rebuilt from the ground up. Have you been to the main Skype site? I’m not putting a screen shot of it. It’s too ugly to sully my blog with. Go to skype.com and cover your mouth as so you don’t cover your screen with vomit. I’ll be waiting right here. …………………..

     Good your back and you’ve cleaned yourself up. It’s like taking a really bad acid trip back to the 90’s right? That site would look great if I were still sporting a flat-top, guess jeans and getting down with the new jack swing on my Walkman. The site looks bad and the desktop client looks worse, unlike the slick Windows Phone Beta app. Then if the site/desktop client weren’t enough of a mess try to figure out the pricing. I DARE YOU! Google voice for the most part for the time being is free. I can call an old fashioned land line for free so long as it’s in the US. The lay out is simple and easy to use which is surprising for Google. Microsoft needs to rip Skype to shreds and start it over from scratch.

  1. Fix the pricing structure: I don’t expect nor want free. $9 a month for domestic and international calls (don’t charge extra for a phone number), visual voicemail and messaging (don’t apply to windows phone users as it’s built in). No more Skype points! I hate Microsoft points on the Xbox and Zune so I don’t want to have to figure them out in order to make a call. Microsoft knows how to do subscriptions as they’ve been doing it with Zune and Xbox live. Free Skype to Skype calls. Just make it that easy. Make the free messaging as universal as possible. Connects to Live, Yahoo, AIM, Google chat, iMessage, SMS, etc. Include unlimited call forwarding that can be tied to a mobile number, a work number and a home number.
  2. Scrap the Skype website. Microsoft.com and windowsphone.com looks so much better. Go totally metro with HTML5.
  3. Keep the Facebook integration but I don’t want to have to think of where I’m sending a message. Just like in windows phone. Also tie a Facebook profile to the Skype phone number.
  4. Skype is for personal use. It doesn’t need a lot of business features. That’s what Lync is for. Video/Audio calls and messaging only. It really doesn’t need much more than that. It doesn’t need advanced screen sharing or gotomeeting features.
  5. For windows there should only be 2 versions. A Metro Windows 8 app and a Windows 7 app. The Windows 7 app should look and feel like a version of the Zune Desktop (which is the way all windows desktop apps should look). Simplified menu options; Contacts; status, call (video or audio), messages (Video and Audio). Merge all my contacts. I don’t want to have to think of where a contact is. Combine all my Facebook, outlook and live contacts.
  6. Hotmail allows user to create multiple addresses that can be managed from 1 account. Do the same with phone numbers. That way I can have a business number separate from my personal number.
  7. Voice to text isn’t necessary but visual voicemail is a must. Visual voicemail and text should be handled like Messages in Hotmail. Where messages from select people can be flagged and put at the top at all times unless a message is marked urgent.
  8. Text Message forwarding. If a text message comes to my Skype or my mobile, it should forward everywhere. If someone txt’s me it should go to Skype, live messenger (which means every messenger connected to live), Facebook messenger and my mobile phone (should Skype not be enabled for some reason). Bonus if you can give it a Blackberry messenger like feature.
  9. Video mail! Send a video message. This is awesome in live messenger. Please move it to Skype.
  10. Skype was the trailblazer as far as VOIP. Now it has 3 big competitors; Google Voice, Vonage and Magic Jack. Microsoft makes some great hardware. Skype has Home Phones and some other accessories. It needs only one for the home phone. A Wi-Fi box that a home phone can plug into. Most coreless home phones have a satellite system that allows for extra handsets to be connected to one 1 phone jack.

     Skype is still the future of making phone calls but somewhere between 2005 and 2011 it lost its way and need to be rebuilt from the ground up as something that’s WAY easier to understand & easy enough for anyone to use. I have full confidence that Microsoft can make great looking software. I use their stuff all the time. So I’m not worried about the Windows Phone, Xbox app or even the desktop/metro app too much. But I want to switch to Skype and kill my Google Voice without having to figure out what my monthly bill will be. Currently if I buy Skype premium it says I get an allowance of minutes. How many I don’t know. SMS starts at 4.7¢ per message. I get unlimited with my T-Mobile plan and free with Whatsapp. About the only thing I’m getting with it is sending messages from my PC. Skype premium doesn’t say that it includes a phone number. In fact the pricing for a number is baffling. And while I can forward calls from Skype to my mobile and home it doesn’t say whether it works the other way around. For Skype to be a success, Microsoft has to bring it into 2012 fast. Either that or Microsoft has to make Hanson, Hootie and the blowfish and the Barenaked Ladies hit bands again.

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Windows phone by the numbers.

 

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     Much has been made of the sales numbers of windows phone. How many phones? How fast windows phones are selling? Where there selling? Who’s selling the most of them (Not Sprint or Verizon. Let’s get that out of the way now)? These questions are usually brought up by the never ending army of Monday morning quarter backs. Better known as the tech-press. All of whom insist Microsoft is going about selling Windows Phone all wrong to everyone from the OEM’s, the carriers down to the consumer. These stories are mostly by bloggers looking for 1 thing: click bate! What headlines drag eyes to their website so that people eventually click ads. These have always seemed cheap to me. Doing this is a lazy form of journalism. Whenever I see these 5, 10, 8…. Stories, I come to one conclusion regardless of what their writing about. It’s a slow news day and the writer is paid by how many pieces they release. I doubt that any of these people that write these stories actually know or care about how to give windows phone sales a shot in the arm.

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     Not that they need a shot in the arm. Windows phone market share is on the rise. Slowly? Yes! But it is going up. Microsoft just like Apple and Google before them is on a slow but gradual upswing. They dumped their previous mobile platform and started from scratch. They have more apps in their marketplace after a year and a half on the market than Android & iOS had at this point in their growth. What the press wants is a horse race. Microsoft has obligations to many different people. Its customers, their shareholders, their business partners. You know who they have no obligation to what so ever? The press! Microsoft has since the launch of windows phone been putting its focus on the consumer. Where it ought to be because ultimately we’re the ones who buy the phone.

     But as long as everyone is obsessed with list, I’m going to engage in an act of hypocrisy. I’m going to write the definitive list on how to get windows phone sales moving.

1: Windows phone doesn’t need a hero device. It needs a halo device:

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     You know why people buy fords? Because they park Mustangs in the front of the lot. You know why people buy Chevy’s? Because there are Corvettes in the show room windows. Do you know what sells Daewoo cars? Absolutely nothing! That’s why they got bought out by GM and you never see them on the road ANYWHERE. Windows Phone as an O.S is great. The handsets on the other hand have been mediocre for the most part (Except Nokia. Their actually trying) . LG may not be a design leader but they put DLNA on their 1’st generation phones and are putting NFC on their 2’nd generation windows phone the Miracle. HTC makes big phones. That’s it! You want a phone that doubles as a surf board? Get the Titan 2. It has a good 12 MP camera. No Beats audio! No NFC! No ports for SD cards! Samsung makes a light phone with a nice screen. Otherwise it’s a stripped down Galaxy S 2. They don’t even offer the same accessories. Windows Phone is a great engine stuck in your mom’s minivan for the most part.

     Windows phone needs a premier line of devices. The Lumia line is a nice start. But where are the phones with NFC, DLNA, Docks and accessories available at the store? There are a lot of handsets that are trying to keep par with the iPhone but nothing that leap frogs it or tries to stand out. OEMs’ like to complain about differentiation. But very few seem willing to put their money where their mouth is. Windows Phone needs a Halo device. It needs a device to draw people into the stores. As far as everyone is concerned all android phones are droids. Windows phone needs a high end device or line that will be standard bearer for all windows phones. It needs to hit every point possible for a high-end device. It has to look HOT. Not a black slab with a chrome bezel. When it comes to car design the rule goes as follows. If you can be hit by it and not know what it is, it was a bad design. Except for the Lumia line and the HTC Radar, all windows phone devices look Ho-Hum at best. It’s not like Apple is the king of design. They made an all glass phone with a bad antenna. Knocking them off their pedestal should be a cake walk. OEMs’ are capable of making a well-designed devices. When it comes to laptops you can look like a MacBook or you can look like the Asus Bamboo. If you can make a laptop that looks good but not like a MacBook, then you can make a phone that doesn’t look like a large 3’rd generation iPhone.

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     Have LTE, NFC, and DLNA. Throw in the whole can of alphabet soup. Hardware matters! People know that the price of the phone isn’t what’s written on the initial sticker. It’s the price you pay for it over the course of 2 years. If you want to throw crapware on the phones. Make it damn good crapware. Uninstall-able but irresistible crapware. Augmented reality, exclusive games. Find your own Siri. Recruit developers. You have your app stores in the marketplace. Your offerings aren’t setting the world on fire. Bundle the phones with stuff. Stereo Bluetooth headsets, docks, armbands and cases. Something! I live in NYC where I can find almost anything so long as it’s not an accessory for My Samsung Focus S. Not even a Samsung made alarm clock. People buy the iPhone because if they do they can get the stereo with the dock, the millions of cases, skins and accessories that they may never even need. Granted that androids aren’t exactly uniform when compared to the iPhone. They do have accessories.

2: Developers! Developers! Developers!

     Apps matter! The average consumer doesn’t know how many apps the iPhone has or how many apps are available for android. They know that there are a lot of them. And that everyone else doesn’t have as many. Remember when the Droid initially launched the droid? Their marketing wasn’t just focused on the end user. They also advertised to Developers. Microsoft has great relationships with developers and they provide great tools. But sometimes people need to be beaten in the head with things like this. Microsoft has to advertise to everyone on a large level. So far unless I’ve been missing the ads, Microsoft has been only advertising to the end user. There needs to be an all-out developer campaign. Microsoft has been doing all it can to get the developers of the top apps from Android and iPhone to repurpose their apps for windows phone. From begging to bribing but many developers are dragging their heels and the ones that are making cross platform apps aren’t submitting apps on par with their iOS/Android counterparts. Some do not follow the Metro UI guidelines. Don’t just have an advertising campaign. Have a widely advertised developer challenge with a large prize. The check should literally say oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo as it’s being handed to the winner. A contest where the end-users pick the best apps. Microsoft gets that developers are just as competitive as anyone else. They’ve even got Xbox style achievements for developers. This is just taking it a step further and having a public, user decided contest. A Windows Phone app X-Prize. 

     Another way to get developers coding for windows phone at a higher rate is to buy apps from developers. Remember, Apple didn’t make Siri. That was an app in the app store. If developers feel like they can make a lot of money by making a popular app for Microsoft. That even if it doesn’t make as much on the windows phone marketplace as it would iOS/Android but that Microsoft might buy it, they’ll code it. Time for Microsoft to become like Borg.

“We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own perfection. Your culture will adapt to service us. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”

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There are other Siris’ out there waiting to be found. Other Halo games. Buying apps not only gets developers interested in coding for windows phone. It helps to add new features to windows phone that the competition simply won’t have. It adds apps and games and potentially services that are exclusive to Microsoft. They’ll take that over being ripped of by Apple. The last thing we would want is to have an app on windows phone and then have it bought by Apple and Google.

     When it comes to windows phone, Microsoft is playing the long game but they intend on winning. Windows wasn’t what it is today 2 years after it launched. It took years. Windows wasn’t even popular or taken seriously until almost a decade after its initial launch. The Xbox was laughed at when it launched. Sites had death clocks as to when Microsoft would pull the plug on it. Now their juggernauts that are dominant forces to be reckoned with. Over the next 5 to 10 years windows phones will be as ubiquitous as windows itself. And the Monday morning quarter backs will have to find something else to write list about.

Almost Every App

     zuneclan.com-Glass-Windows--Zune-Wallpaper  &  homepage = ?

 

     For the most part I’m satisfied with the windows phone marketplace. There’s not an app from iOS or android that I would really want bad enough to make a jump. Windows Phone is too good to leave for any app really. Microsoft has jumped through many hoops to get the top apps from iOS and Android into the marketplace. But there are apps that I would like to see on the platform that are missing. Go to the marketplace and type in the words gay dating or lesbian dating. Do you see anything? neither did I! Pretty much every minority group is represented in the marketplace except for gay people. I can find an app that’s particular to ethnicity, sex or religion. But GLBT apps are few and far between and GLBT dating apps are absent. I personally don’t believe this has anything to do with Microsoft. This is on the part of developers of apps like Grindr, Bender, Boy Ahoy, Adam4Adam, guyspy, gaydar, badoo, manhunt, savage love and are you interested. there’s nothing in mango that keeps them from having their app on windows phone. windows phone has the same rules as iOS. Unless their looking for Brandon Watson to hold their hand through the process of making and deploying an app there’s little reason to make their app available to windows phone users. Straight dating apps are also missing from the marketplace such as Blender and skout which are made by the same developers as Grindr and BoyAhoy. Their reason as some have stated is market share. but many of these apps are available on blackberry which is loosing market share every day. never mind that their apps would only work on some blackberry’s. I get that it’s a double edged sword when it comes to app. You can’t have apps without market share and you can’t have market share without apps.

     But developers of apps with larger demand are on the marketplace. plants vs. zombies, bank of America, angry birds, whats app, and seesmic are all cross platform. Glympse, Evernote, Bejewled and Grooveshark are all on that dead platform known as WebOs and many popular apps are available on Symbian. It can’t simply be an issue of market share at this point. Windows phone has no where to go but up and MANY market forcasters have said that they see windows phone becoming a strong 3’rd player in the next 2 years. Even GLBT organizations are missing. there’s no Gay.com, the advocate or HRC app available. An entire minority group is absent from windows phone not because of Microsoft but because of the apps that are supposed to cater to my community. So I’m writing this to ask you to help let these devs know there apps are missing from the marketplace. Windows Phone isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Microsoft has lots of money which means they have a lot of time to build and market this platform. that nows the time for them to be a big fish in a small pond because if they wait someone else will make an app that does what their app does and then they will be struggling for attention. you can reach them on twitter @Grindr , @blendr , @adam4adam , @Gaydar , @guyspyapp , @benderapp , support@skout.com for skout and boyahoy and ask them why their apps are absent from the windows phone marketplace. Their not banned, their apps can easily be ported and windows phone unlike blackberry, symbian and webos will not only be around in the next 5 years but is growing in market share. And if you can please show this post to Brandon Watson. Now I’m going to get to writing strongly worded letters to the devs of words with friends and mint.com

Roman David DeSilva

MetroHeads.wordpress.com

 

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Is John C. DVorak a sanctimonious, cynical asshole with an ax to grind?

So I haven’t posted anything in a while because I’ve been busy with personal stuff. I’ll be back at it again soon. but I was provoked into posting today after reading this.  Go on and read it. I’ll give you a few minutes……..

Done? Good! so if you’re a good little Metro-Head like me, you probably hit the ceiling and had a few words with John C. DVorak. I probably shouldn’t waste time being angry at DVorak. It’s not like he has a great “journalistic” track record. This is the guy who said that there’s no future in the mouse.

So this article has set me off. But this horse’s ass has had it coming for a while. So after windows phone launched, DVorak was on the TWIT podcast and the topic of Windows phone 7 came up. He said that windows phone should have had Facebook built into it. That Microsoft was stupid for not leveraging it’s stock in Facebook to get it integrated. He was corrected on air and pointed out to him that windows phone does have Facebook integration. He then complained that it’s Microsoft’s fault that he didn’t know that because they should be advertising that feature. THEY WERE RUNNING FUCKING ADS DURRING PRIME TIME TOUTING THAT. I SAW THE 1’ST ONE ON SMALLVILLE.

I don’t like pointing it out over and over again but I’m a dog walker. Tech blogging is a hobby about a passion. I KNEW WINDOWS PHONE HAD FACEBOOK INTEGRATION FROM MWC 2010. He’s a paid fucking “journalist” that’s been doing his job since I was born. I guess he couldn’t find something about windows phone to hate because he wrote this article. Does PCMAG.com have a quota for its writers? No really? Do their writers have to write X number of articles a month or they get strapped naked to the hood of a 57 caddy and whipped 50 times?

I don’t know if windows phone has a soul. I have yet to see it write a song, paint a landscape or if it’s seen a miracle that could’ve only have been a message from the divine. I do know that when you have nothing to write, pull as much shit out of you ass and hope that no one notices. Esspecially if your a no-talent hack with a deadline. After the All Things D demo of Windows 8 Dvorak was once again on TWIT. He, Leo (Human Master Card: He’s who ever his guest want him to be) LePorte and Gina Tripani were ragging on Windows 8, calling it the next vista. He at some point stated that Windows 8 is doomed if there’s no way to get back to the windows 7 ui. Here’s some video for you. If you never saw the demo before. Don’t worry, neither has Dvorak. Skip ahead to to 8 min 26 sec. Before he made his guest appearance on TWIT he wrote an article stating the exact same thing.

As you saw from the video you can use the new metro ui and easily get to the windows 7 ui very easily. You can use the same O.S on a desktop or tablet. You just have a choice in the Ui regardless of what your using. This was pointed out to him on the show by both Leo and Gina. But Dvorak is a lazy horse’s ass. As of this day that article has not been updated to correct this. What bugs me about Dvorak is that if your wrong, if you make mistake after careless mistake. when you say things like there’s no future for the mouse. The iPad will be a failure. the list goes on. HOW THE FUCK IS IT THAT YOU HAVE A JOB AND ARE ASKED TO BE A PUNDIT ON ANYTHING?

Dvorak has an agenda (Irony). He’s someone who can be easily spoon fed negative information about Microsoft and repeat it like a well trained parrot. for him the hay day of computing was back when a PC was the size of a warehouse and required coal to be shoveled into it’s boiler regularly and except for the Apple 2, computers have gone down hill since then. John is insisting on holding onto this old definition of what’s a computer.

Dear John! In that will windows 8 kill Microsoft article. You said Personal computing is like a car with the dominant metaphor being that of the desktop that we’ve been kicking down the road since the 80’s. That the car hasn’t changed much since the 1930’s and neither should the computer. Sweet John, the car has changed. It no longer kills us when we start it. much of it has voice command. Some cars have the steering wheel mounted in the center of the car. we can have cars with the engine in the back or the front and many cars have to engines. 1 for gas and the other for electricity. some cars even drive themselves. the car has evolved much more than you believe John. And the computer needs to evolve as well. If this scares you I’ll find a commodore 64 or an Altair & you can play with it in a 38 Studebaker. The Metaphor of the desktop is more like you hair line. quickly fading into the distance. never to be seen again.

Dvoraks entitled to his opinion but when your wrong or blatantly biased, in a decent society, shouldn’t you quit or have be FIRED as to not make an ass out of yourself and your publisher?

I don’t like suggesting in anyway that someone should lose their job. But Dvorak has a bug up his ass the size of a Volkswagen. What he has against Microsoft I don’t know. Is Microsoft more evil than apple? well Redmond hasn’t sent at cops and their own jack booted thugs to find a phone they lost twice. more evil than Google? Microsoft only gave away a browser. They didn’t dump an entire mobile o.s on the market to increase their search dominance. so the only thing left to do is pull out a doll and ask where the bad company touched him. because that’s the only thing left to ask.

I’m done with Dvorak. He Was a lot more entertaining on cranky geeks. But since 2008 he’s gotten more pretentious. More cynical. More annoying and frankly he’s become a predicable bore. He’s the Glen Beck of tech journalist sans the black board and charming personality. His only talent is causing frustration that he’s considered an authority on ANYTHING. When he’s a guest on TWIT I wont be listening. PCMAG.com is dead to me and I’m not follow him on twitter.

In the original Freddy Krueger movie, Nancy turned her back on the monster and it lost it’s power. At least until the next scene (spoiler alert; Freddy comes back 10 more times over the course of 30 years) I’m ignoring Dvorak. At least until he’s capable of saying something that makes sense.

Lets Tango! The feature bomb between Mango & Apollo.

*Pure theory* The Windows Phone 7.7 “Tango Update”. After Mango but before Apollo: notifications, sharing and UI.

     Recently there’s been news of an update that’s supposed to coming to windows phone after this falls mango update and before the Apollo update being dubbed Windows Phone Tango. This is an excellent opportunity to further leap past iPhone and & Android. While not much is known about this supposed tango update. I’d like to take a stab at what it could be. Everything here is pure theory & wishful thinking.

     My rule of thumb in life is that having a new trick up your sleeve does you no good if everybody knows to keep their eye on your arms & hands. A good trickster has an arsenal everywhere possible & just when they think you’ve run out of tricks. Spout an arm & pull the trick out from its sleeve.

     Windows phone while very robust is not quite mature. There are missing functions & features. One Can argue that WP was rushed out the door. But one can argue that it was by design. Its not like Microsoft doesn’t know how to make a phone O.S. They’ve been doing it a really long time now. Microsoft was mobile back when I wasn’t even old enough to drive. So the feature & function gap between Windows Phone & Zune HD or Windows Phone & Windows Mobile 6.5 can’t be by accident.

     I’ve come to believe that Microsoft has intentionally left gaps in Windows Phone. Not to have a sensational update every now & then. Not to simply implement functions & features differently. But to try and leap frog the competition by doing these things differently. Otherwise Windows Phone would be a nice looking app driven phone similar to the iPhone.

     When Apple showed off IOS 5. After the feelings of; about damn time & well where have I seen that before. I realized something. Apple blinked! The company that “never compromises or capitulates.” The company that “insists on calling the shots.” That company, basically said us too.

     We can point to them doing this before with copy & paste & multitasking. Ping or Game Center (Zune Social & Xbox Live rip offs) Or if your old enough to remember Steve Jobs saying that tablets are toilet computers back in 2001. But Apple didn’t just copy core features & functions. They out right ripped off their competition & even stole from independent developers. And they did it badly. So lacking Apples “elegant & brilliant simplicity”, the new iOS features seems tacked on.

     Why all this happened I don’t know. But being someone that when they see a weakness in an enemy. I believe there’s only 1 thing to do at that moment. Exploit it! The iOS devices have ironically become to mobile devices what Microsoft is to its detractors in respect to the desktop market. iOS has started to become Windows. By the cult of Macs own standards, Apple has run out of ideas & are going to push the platform forward by tacking on features from other platforms.

     Developers are mostly interested in Android and windows phone right now. iOS 5 is a desperate attempt at becoming what they rebelled so hard against and I predict they will fail miserably at it. Their even using old plays from soon to be defunct companies. iMessage, Apples proprietary messenger doesn’t appear to have learned from BlackBerry. When you’re down market its o.k. to have exclusive features & apps. But at the top of the totem. It’s best to be a little open.

      Using apps that to some degree communicate with your platform and mimic your platform’s features on competing platforms allows for everyone to share the experience that your platform delivers. Then you can that app to entice them to your platform for a better experience. BlackBerry messenger hasn’t saved RIM. If anything, unlimited texting plans have started to kill it off. Better third party messengers each gave their “one of one-thousand cuts” iMessage, Skype & Google are just going to throw the dirt on RIMs coffin.

     But Skype and most likely Google messenger will be available cross platform. Even on iOS. Facetime has yet to be available on windows, Chrome OS or Linux. Apple is banking on the model they use with Final Cut and Garage Band. But that works for the market, that would for the most part, buy a Mac in the first place… a very niche market of aging hippies, trust fund hipsters and trendy people that like paying a lot for a computer that they check their email on 99% of the time and occasionally does other things with their new toy. This isn’t going to work with phones. They have too much market share.

      Proprietary functions and features didn’t help RIM (the members only jacket of mobile phones). When people got bored of their phones, it became less like crack and more like baby aspirin. People moved off Blackberries and went to iPhone. You may not have noticed it but Apples UI is pretty dated. Even folders haven’t helped it. Android may be annoying & confusing but its not the stream of endless icons that don’t do anything. Metro UI is the happy middle ground between Goggles chaos & Apples authoritarianism.

     So how do we exploit this weakness? Feature overload! Apple may have the majority of apps. But iOS doesn’t have a lot of features. Its an app driven experience. That’s quickly becoming a moot point as devs are coding for more than just iOS. HTML 5, The iPhones savior from their lack of flash is ironically making the web an app store (Facebook project). And what few features they have simply suck. The notification is a piss poor rip off of what’s in Android. Phones only have so much screen real estate.

     There’s nothing cloud about the iCloud with iTunes. Their doc solution is nothing compared to office 365. And in order to use it on the go, you have to buy their mobile office suite (ever used iWork? Aside from keynote, avoid turning in documents using it.) iSync may come close to Zune in the wireless sync dept. But then again, if its anything like ping or game center. Stick a fork in it.

     Turning the volume into a camera button & putting the camera button icon on the lock screen is a nice trick. Question. If I’m right handed (like 95% of the world) how do I take landscape pictures now? Btw: the camera button is supposed to wake the phone up. For a company that prides itself on simplicity, I still have to press the top button. Then press the camera button. I can still take a photo faster on my wp7 device with 1 less step.

     But if you want features Apple. Follow WP down this rabbit hole. If you want to do what I’m about to do. Contact Joe Belfiore the VP of windows phone. Brian Seitz of Microsoft marketing. Matt Akers & Jessica Zahn of Microsoft mobile devices. If you have an idea. Pitch it to them. Since I’ve been a Zune user, I’ve been throwing Microsoft Zune ideas on their old Zune forums. You can now do it at windows phone answers. These are the ideas I’ve sent since you’ve read this. They do listen and sometimes they do respond. Start of each message with “feature idea for windows phone.” if you contact them via twitter, use twitlonger. I don’t know if Windows Phone 7.7 “Tango” exist. But there’s no harm in asking for a few more features.

Here’s just a few ideas I sent them:

Notifications:

     The drop down notification screen in iOS 5 & Android is a of a mess. Leave what’s in windows phone as is. What I’m proposing is in addition to what’s there. I would only suggest adding a photo in place of the name of who sent the photo if available. You know how if you swipe down from the top of the phone you get the battery meter, signal information, Etc. What if you pull down twice to check notifications or pull down on notification bar and you got a notification dock? Similar to the iPhone task bar (2 can play at this game Apple). Once the drop bar is down, you can pivot between notifications. Its essentially a smaller version of the tasks manager in mango.

     Then simply tap the notification and go straight to the appropriate app. For stuff like messages, tap the mini tile to get the message and a dialog box to send a quick response. Should you just want to browse but not answer. Just swipe it the bar back up. This isn’t a screen hog like Android or iOS notification screen. And unlike WebOs, this doesn’t stay on the screen. When in an app & you get notification, rather than just tap to respond or swipe to the right to dismiss. You can pull down & get that bar. This would handle every notification that the phone gets while the phones display is actively being used (games, video and browsing) otherwise, the standard notifications stay. Its even accessible from the lock screen.

Sharing:

Live spot:

      I’ve been begging for this. The kin may not have been a success. But features like the kin loop, kin studio & kin spot were awesome. Kin loop is making a come back with groups and twitter integration. Kin studio is being integrated into windowsphone.live.com. Possibly with a Metro UI design in html 5 as seen in SkyDrive. The kin spot needs to come back. The kin spot would be accessible from everywhere in the phone except the start screen & lock screen. Accessible from Pictures, Zune, camera, IE & some 3’rd party apps. It would do everything the spot did in the Kin. Share any information & media with anyone the user chooses.

New Features:

Windows live movie maker and photo gallery built into the o.s:

     Edit photos and movies on the fly. In my 1’st attack of the killer app of the week I suggested that Microsoft buy Thumba. But Microsoft already has this on your desktop.

Windows live desktop remote:

     SkyDrive gives you 25 GB of free space. But if your desktop is always on and online. That’s 25 +. Access your files from anywhere. Think of that Tonido app I recommend a while back.

Expanded services:

SkyDrive with DropBox support:

      Think of it as SkyDrive with a DropBox app. You can do everything that you would do in DropBox, but from SkyDrive & windows phone. Share files & folders. Back up more than 25 GB of your stuff (requires DropBox account). Effortlessly swap files between SkyDrive & drop box. With out changing the behavior of either service. This would be mutually beneficial to both if Microsoft in exchange for access to DropBox API, DropBox users would get a year free subscription to office 365 (cheaper than giving away a Xbox with every PC purchased). Dropbox users would jump at the chance to get 25 GB of free space & would get a windows phone & keep an up to date version office to use it. Dropbox would save on hard drive space & offer their users document sharing & collaboration services.

UI changes:

Please move the battery & connectivity icons to the side under the arrow on the home screen. They’re to small to see at the top. Make the tiles start at the very top of the screen. Put the arrow that’s there right now, also at the very top. Under the arrow have the time. The hr. larger in font size than it is now. Keep the min the same font size but have it next to the hr., on top of am or pm. Followed by larger but translucent connectivity icons that stand out against the background. You had it in the Zune 80.

     The analog representation of a batter is useless. A hollow circle divided into 4 is better. Have the percentage of remaining power in the center. This would help fill in the empty space. Finally background image on the home screen. The pictures hub proves you can have tiles and a background image.

Get to your apps faster:

     Auto categorize the apps for me. Productivity, social, business, etc. Just like they are in the marketplace. Put the categories in alphabetical order. When I tap them, they open drop menu style (think of clicking a folder in all programs from start button) to reveal their correlated apps in alphabetical order. bonus if there is some way of letting you know that there is a new app there that has just been downloaded & not been used.

App interoperability:

     Here’s something that it seems that no one has done either on the desktop or the mobile space. I have a last pass account and the app on my phone & PC. But so many mobile apps have accounts that are password protected. Like banking apps. What can’t lastpass just as it does in my desktop browser, fill in details & account information on an app for me?

IE9 advanced:

     use windows live mesh to sync favorites & history between desktop IE and mobile IE.

Plug in support:

     Apps like lastpass are great on the desktop and there’s a mobile version. I would like that mobile version to work like it does on the desktop. Pull the toolbar up & tap extras. There you can find toolbars that you install ready to go.

Silverlight & flash support built in along with html 5.

Landscape UI:

     Landscape shouldn’t be about giving you the same experience & information as portrait mode. Landscape has the potential to give a different & more immersive metro UI experience. Different gestures for getting information faster from apps.

Start Screen:

     When in landscape, what if I got a different version of the metro UI? A hybrid between the next Xbox dashboard & Windows 8. With a favorite or most used apps hub, Weather, recent notifications & updates, personalized live tiles, a different background than the portrait start screen. Gestures in this alternative landscape UI would also be different. For instance; you can get a quick preview of what’s going on in a in a live tile with a pinch & zoom gesture. The live tile would give as much information as can be displayed. Rather than open the app by tapping & holding. You would expand the tile like you would zoom into a point on a picture temporarily and get a small preview window. Think aero-peak!

     In the Zune hub, it would be similar to a hybrid between Zune desktops quick play & the next Xbox dashboard. You’d get your favorite artist, pinned playlist & podcast. As you swipe left or right you’d get the Zune social with favorite friends & their recent activity. Swipe further & you get the Zune hub associated apps like iHeart radio, twit, etc. Landscape in the photo hub would be similar to what I just described. Albums that have alternating photos. Facebook & SkyDrive folders, Etc.

     In the Zune hub, it would be similar to a hybrid between Zune desktops quick play & the next Xbox dashboard. You’d get your favorite artist, pinned playlist & podcast. As you swipe left or right you’d get the Zune social with favorite friends & their recent activity. Swipe further & you get the Zune hub associated apps like iHeart radio, twit, etc. Landscape in the photo hub would be similar to what I just described. Albums that have alternating photos. Facebook & SkyDrive folders, Etc.

     Xbox hub in landscape would also be a different experience than in landscape. Rather than give you the same UI experience and options in landscape mode. What you’d get is something more like the Xbox Dashboard.

     You would get an experience similar to the Xbox 360 dashboard sans the games and music. You would be able to access apps live Netflix, ESPN, and other services that you get on the Xbox.

iCast (this would not be the name of it. Unless Microsoft really felt vicious & ballsy):

     Did you see Tokyo drift? In one of the scenes of that movie, the spectators were live broadcasting a race while watching it on their screen. Not recording it as it happened. But watching it live as it was being broadcast by other phones. Are you getting the same idea I’ve got?

     Remember the bump app that was on the iPhone and android? why can’t something like that be built into Windows Phone 7.7? Especially with NFC coming. At the very least this can be done with Bluetooth.

Lets go star trek on both Google & iPhone:

     How about translating audio from 1 language to another then back. Someone says something in Spanish or Japanese. My phone audibly translates it (headphones necessary) and it can take what I say & translate it back into the desired language.

     With BlackBerry biting the dust. It would be a good idea to start targeting RIMs old customers & devs. Eating up WebOs core market by bringing the best of those features to Windows Phone. That would be the appetizer. Microsoft has to work its way up the main course then desert. Windows Phone has around 30,000 apps. That’s going up against androids 300,000 & iOSs’ 750,000. But Windows Phone can make the app count a moot point if they kill them with features. Namely features that stay true to what Windows Phone so awesome. A feature driven experience with glance able information. The o.s that gets out of the way & lets me do what I want to do.

The Nokia Sea Ray. Don’t believe your lying eye.

 

     The Nokia Sea Ray that was shown this week may have been impressive. But what we saw is anything but what we’re getting. But believe me, that’s a good thing.

 

 

 

     Earlier this week, Steven Elop of Nokia “secretly” revealed their 1’st Windows Phone device. Code named sea ray (more than likely it will get a euro style alphanumeric name. But I could dream that they will call it sting-ray) its essentially an N9 running Windows Phone O.S with virtual buttons in place of the 3 main buttons. As you can see from the pix above. It’s a case of meet the old boss, same as the old boss. The Nokia N9 is a good phone and this bodes well for their 1’st Windows Phone. This is not the droid that that we’re looking for. Believe it or not that’s a good thing. Don’t get me wrong. The hardware is awesome. NFC, an 8mb Carl Zeiss camera. Front facing camera, 1gb of ram. An AMOLED display with 16 mill colors. A high res display. Behind a 3.9 curved gorilla glass. A 1420 MAH  battery in an aluminum body. But what we saw is not what we’re going to get.

     1’st of, we all know that this was an intentional leak. Elop barely pretended to act like it was meant to be a secret. This was a little red meat for the investors and the tech press. I’m not just a tech nerd, I’m also a car guy. When car companies test new products. They use a mule. All the guts of a new product but in the body of a modified car that already exist. Phone companies do this as well. Remember the iPhone 4 in a bar last year?
It was hidden in a shell to disguise it as a iPhone 3gs. Nokia has been almost
Apple like in its secrecy regarding the next windows phone.

     But if your going for Apple like secrecy, why not go all the way & throw the dogs off the scent. Nokia is not going to re-hash the N9. Having the N9 & the sea ray sitting next to each other in the stores would be confusing. If your just going to re-hash hardware, why not go all the way:

If all Nokia was going to do was release an N9 with a camera button and windows phone o.s. They could release it now. According to Elop, the 1’st WP device will be available late this year. Reports say this fall. I’m not an engineer, but an extra button can’t be that hard to add into the manufacturing process. Elop knows this! He also knows that windows phone has to compete against the iPhone & Android on more than just specs which Nokia can do without breaking a sweat. Nokia has to compete on style to. Elop does plan on re-hashing the N9 guts to some degree. But not the $2.00 shell it comes in.

     Does anyone remember that Nokia windows phone that leaked when the partnership was 1’st announced?

 

They then showed it during the announcement of their partnership. Do you know how much it cost to have a designer to make a phone. Then to have someone with Photoshop make a rendering? Multiple renderings to be exact.

 

 

Nokia is not re-hashing the N9 shell. Further more Nokia while they have the power to alter the UI, they won’t. Never mind that they said they won’t. They don’t want to fragment the platform. If they wanted to do that, then they would’ve gone with Android. So those virtual main buttons, were also part of the mule.

     The specs will be similar to or exceed the N9. Nokia has been working on dual core smartphones. People forget that Microsoft gave permission to Nokia to do a lot of things with windows phone. That includes the CPU restrictions. Nokia also wants back into the u.s market. That 3.9 screen will become a 4. The 8mp Carl Zeiss rear camera will be the minimum. But I wouldn’t be to surprised if there’s a 10 or 12 MP. Front camera will stay the same.

     Nokia has the power to guild the future of the O.S but where they plan on competing on is being the box WP comes in. So far other than the focus, the venue pro & maybe the hd7 WP device offerings haven’t exactly set the world on fire. In fact the Dell venue has had its issues. The HTC Evo is better hardware & Samsung’s galaxy line puts the focus to shame. Windows phone has been an awesome o.s on meh hardware. Nokia plans on doing for windows phone what Motorola did for Android. Having the premier windows phone device.

     Other than HTC who have been rumored to be making a 10 or 12 MP camera WP device. The other partners have been silent on future WP devices. They’ve been screaming about their next Android hardware. But unless they have followed Nokia with the secrecy route. Assume that what we see is what were going to get with a few tweaks until Nokia starts handing them their proverbial ass’s.

Expected Specs:

Price:


TBA. Should be competitive with the iPhone

Frequency:


Pentaband WCDMA 850, 900, 1900, 1700, 2100, Quad band GSM/EDGE 850, 900, 1800, 1900

Phone Style:

Touchscreen Bar style

OS:


Windows Phone 7.5 Mango

Sound:

Alert types; Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones

Loudspeaker;
Yes

3.5 MM audio jack

Dolby Mobile sound enhancement; Dolby Headphone support with active noise cancellation with dedicated mic.

Thickness:


7.6–12.1 mm

Length”:


116.45 mm

Width:


61.2 mm

Weight:

160 g

Built-in Memory:

1024MB RAM, 8GB, 16GB and 64GB.

High-speed Data:

HSDPA Cat10: 14.4Mbps, HSUPA: Cat6 5.76Mbps

Connectivity:
Wi-Fi (G and N), NFC, Bluetooth (Yes, v2.1 with A2DP, EDR) and Micro-USB ver 2

Screen Size & Display:

4 -inch WVGA (854×480) AMOLED display with curved Gorilla glass, no air gap, anti-glare polarizer.

Multi-touch input method

Screen Colors:


16M colors.

Sensors:

Proximity sensor for auto turn-off.

Accelerometer sensor for UI auto-rotate.

Four-axis gyro sensor.

Camera:

Primary; 8 MP, 3264×2448 pixels, Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus, dual LED flash.

Features; Geo-tagging, face detection, touch-focus. Raw image format support.

Video; Yes, 720p@30fps.

Front facing camera; 3 MP.

Camera Resolution:

8 or 12 megapixel with dual LED Flash and Carl Zeiss autofocus sensor and 2nd camera for video calls.

Ringtones:

MP3, WAV

Radio:

Yes, Stereo HD-FM radio

Speaker:

Yes. Dual Speakers with Dolby.

Colors:

Black, Canary Yellow, Magenta, Cyan

Processor:

ARM 1.3 Ghz, Dual Core.

Battery:

1500 mAh, Talk time: (GSM/WCDMA) up to 11 h / up to 9 hours.

 

     This will be an awesome phone. Will it be an iPhone killer? I don’t like that standard. Depending on what Apple releases. This will at minimum be on par spec wise with it and definitely give it a run for its money. If I am wrong and what we see for the most part is what we’re going to get. Kiss the droid good bye. Prepare for HP’s next pre phones to be delayed and regardless of how hot this phone is, the Blackberry (the members only jacket of mobile phones)  will be dead by spring of next year or will be bought by a more successful carrier. From then on the other partners like the ones I mentioned above will feel the pressure to make some kick ass hardware for windows phone.

I’m very excited for Nokias’ 1’st windows phone. I’m already shopping for the accessories ^_^

Attack of The Killer App of the week.

     Welcome to THE ATTACK OF THE KILLER APP OF THE WEEK.

 

screaming woman

      I’ll be highlighting the best Windows Phone app or apps of the week. There’s rules for being a killer app. You have to hit at least 4 out of 6 of them to be in the list. If your app doesn’t make the cut, hit them back & tell them to read this site to get a better understanding of what a Windows Phone app is supposed to be.

mad scientist

 

    1. Be Dynamic; To be a killer app it has to do a lot. Not just 1 thing really well. We’re talking Swiss army knives here. Not switch blades or scalpels. Further more, Looking good is the icing on the cake. It has to get the job done.

    2. Ease of use; The app has to be self explanatory. If it requires a tutorial or more than 5 minutes to figure out (more time than it takes a doctor to scrub up for surgery), you won’t find it here.

    3. Good customer support; Does the app have a website with support. Preferably with an account or at the very least twitter help.

    4. Hub integration; Windows phone is about app integration. Not diving in & out of app to do something that’s in 1 field. If its a stand alone app for the sake of being a stand alone app. A music & video app that not in Zune or a picture app that’s not in the photos hub. Then it will find itself not in another place. That’s in the killer app of the week list.

    5. Engaging; Does it make me want to look at my phone more than a surgeon general would advise. Microsoft ads be damned!

    6. Bang for the buck; Is it worth it? The price of a phone isn’t what you pay when you get it. It’s the price you pay to use it. That means the data plan & the apps that make it worth owning.

Lets get to it:

 

27541_50367913584_4483_n Tonido: This is an awesome productivity app for both your phone and your PC. This is so simple a baby chimp that’s been repeatedly dropped on it’s head & force fed lead paint chips can use it. Step 1: Download the app for your windows phone. Step 2: Download the desktop app. Its light weight and runs in the background. I love my main PC to death but at times it runs like an over size netbook. So I don’t install anything that is going to make it run slower than it already is. I’ve had no performance issues. Step 3: Follow the simple instructions and now you can access any file on your computer. If for some reason you haven’t installed Windows live Mesh, you don’t have a SkyDrive account and haven’t signed up for Office 365. Or worse yet, your like me and you need every means of accessing you files possible. Then meet your killer app. For any file that that you haven’t Synced with Microsoft’s free live services and Apps, this free app allows you to access all your files so long as your home PC is on and online. The mobile app is pretty straight forward. No extra bell and whistle here. It mirrors your system file tree so that you can find your files. Both the app and the desktop client are free and mobile app can stream media and download docs and pictures. So now you can leave your computer at home. Send the money for you chiropractor to Tonido instead. And if you have any questions, you can reach them on twitter pretty easily.      

wp7_browse wp7_screenshot


 

pcr PC Remote: Best tool for those of us that are to lazy to be at our computers to use them. PC Remote is also perfect for those of us that have Wi-Fi enabled PCs’ that are connected to a large monitor. Just like Tonido, Download the app for you phone, install the PC client & follow the instructions. PC remote uses your Wi-Fi connection. Again, the desktop client is very light weight. My oversized netbook doesn’t even act like its running this in the background. So what’s the point of this app. Much like apple has a remote for their iOS devices to control their OSX hardware. This is the perfect answer to that on the W7 and Wp7 side. It controls the browser, Power Point, Windows Media Center, iTunes, Netflix, VLC, Hulu, Media Player classic, & most importantly *Zune*. The list goes on. No need for a really good wireless Keyboard & mouse. Control the most basic of functions from your couch. You can reach them via Facebook or at PCRemoteServer@gmail.com.

 pcr1      pcr2      pcr3pc


thumba_photo_editor2551Thumba Photo Editor: I’ve been hoping that Microsoft brings Windows live photo gallery to windows phone for editing pictures on the phone. For .99 cents Thumba Photo Editor is pretty close. It integrates into your photo hub. Just the way God and Joe Belfiore intended it. Whether you want to do a quick touch up or overhaul a really bad photo. This is the photo app for you. If you have any problems you can reach them at thumba@thumba.net not that you really will need to. The app is easy to use and very self explanatory. Not to mention trouble free.

See the awesomeness yourself.


     Very rarely do I say this but Thumba, Tonido and PC Remote are apps so good, I really wish Microsoft would just out right buy them and make them part of Windows, Windows Phone and Zune. They all hit the right price mark, their all easy to use and they all, make it so that not only do you not really have to use multiple apps to do the things in a related field because they are the Swiss army knife or their fields. But in the case of Tonido it actually saves you from having to lug around a computer. They all have good customer support and in the case of Thumba, the app was written for Windows Phone by integrating into to photos Hub (are you listening to me Flicker). PC Remote fills a gap seen by Windows Phones largest competitor & it’s easy to install and use.

     So that’s the Attack of the Killer App of the week for the week of 06/10/2011. If you have a killer app suggestion email me at WPRoundUp@live.com or hit me back on twitter @foxmental_x or @WPRoundUp or find me in the Zune social, I’m foxmental_x. Send a link to the app or the correct name of the app & tell me why this is your killer app. I’ll try it out for a week & if I like it, it’ll be a killer app of the week. Also, I’ll be starting a separate site for everything regarding Microsoft. It’s called Redmond Revolution & this month I’m starting a weekly podcast of the same name. Check back next Friday for……

 

ATTACK OF THE KILLER

 

scared women

 

KILLER APP OF THE WEEK.