Windows 8.1 File API Improvements

For anyone that has been wondering what I’ve been doing in the past year, I’ve been working on some cool improvements for the WinRT File API. Yesterday the preliminary documentation was released and my awesome teammate Marc gave a talk at Build about the improvements, including API improvements, the new StorageLibrary API, and the integration with SkyDrive. The Build talk and a few more links are below.

Build Talk (video & slides)

MSDN documentation

Windows App Builder Blog post

Download Windows 8.1 Preview and try it yourself!

How to change APN settings on T-Mobile Lumia 810

Nokia Lumia 810

T-mobile’s exclusive Nokia Lumia 810, my current phone, does not have a built-in way to change APN settings, so even if you unlock the phone, there seems to be no way to be able to use a data plan on another carrier as the APN settings appear to be hardcoded in the phone’s firmware and T-Mobile and/or Nokia have disabled Windows Phone’s native way of changing APN settings.

Thankfully, there is a way! It involves installing Nokia’s Access Point app available for European Lumia 820 and 920 devices, which will let you change APN settings on WP8 Lumias. Here’s how:

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Nokia Lumia 900 Trial – Part 3: Speed, Buttons & Build Quality

Nokia has loaned me an AT&T Lumia 900 to try out via its Trial a Nokia program. I’ve been using the phone for about a week and I’d like to share my thoughts on it. It will mostly be a comparison with my current phone, a factory-unlocked Samsung Focus Flash. I will not review Windows Phone, only the phone and its particular features.

Speed

The Lumia is definitely faster than the Flash, but because of Windows Phone’s great performance this is only really noticeable when loading games. The Lumia loads games in about two thirds of the time the Flash does. I find it a little unfair to compare the top-of-the-line Lumia to the budget Flash, and it’s not really a big factor unless you play a lot of long-loading games. Performance during actual gameplay is identical on the ones that I’ve tried.

Buttons

My first Windows Phone, the LG Optimus 7, had exclusively physical buttons. My second and current, the Samsung Focus Flash, has touch buttons for Back and Search which I press accidentally all the time. The Lumia 900 also has touch for Start. I still miss the physical buttons on the Optimus 7, but the Lumia seems an improvement over the Flash because I don’t seem to press the buttons accidentally so often. I’m not sure why this is, but I think that the larger screen keeps my fingers off the touch buttons.

I’m left handed, and I’d much rather have the volume buttons on the left side like the Flash than the right side like the Lumia. It’s very awkward to change volume on the Lumia during calls.

Build Quality

The Lumia 900 feels very high quality. The polycarbonate exterior is way better than the cheap plastic in the Focus Flash and much lighter than the rubber and metal in the LG Optimus 7. The only negative I’ve found is that the small metallic strip surrounding the camera is scratched very easily with regular use.

Nokia Lumia 900 Trial – Part 2: Screen, Apps & Sound

Nokia has loaned me an AT&T Lumia 900 to try out via its Trial a Nokia program. I’ve been using the phone for about a week and I’d like to share my thoughts on it. It will mostly be a comparison with my current phone, a factory-unlocked Samsung Focus Flash. I will not review Windows Phone, only the phone and its particular features.

Screen

The Lumia’s ClearBlack display is not only large, but very, very good quality. Despite the lower DPI than the Flash (larger size, same resolution), I cannot really notice pixilation. The screen also works great in sunlight, something that has really surprised me. It does have to wait a little less than a minute to become usable (probably due to the adaptive brightness), but once it does it’s an enormous improvement over the Flash’s Super AMOLED display which is useless in the sun.

Apps

I thought Nokia Transit and Nokia Maps would be killer apps. They aren’t. Many free transit apps in the Marketplace are way better than Nokia Transit. Nokia Maps is about as good as Bing Maps, and Bing Maps search seems to work better, at least here in Seattle. I’m sure Nokia Maps are better outside the US, but other free apps in the store like Gmaps makes buying a Nokia phone just for the maps experience a bad reason. I don’t drive, so I didn’t test Nokia Drive.

Sound

I don’t know if the problem is the phone or AT&T (I use my unlocked Focus Flash on T-Mobile), but the sound quality during calls is much worse in the Lumia 900. It feels muffled and very hard to understand. I’ll try to test it further and see if it improves.

Nokia Lumia 900 Trial – Part 1: Size

Nokia has loaned me an AT&T Lumia 900 to try out via its Trial a Nokia program. I’ve been using the phone for about a week and I’d like to share my thoughts on it. It will mostly be a comparison with my current phone, a factory-unlocked Samsung Focus Flash. I will not review Windows Phone, only the phone and its particular features.

Nokia Lumia 900

Size

Size was the main reason I wanted to trial the Lumia 900. I have a Samsung Focus Flash, a tiny little 3.7” budget Windows Phone. Before trying the Lumia, the size of the Flash felt perfect to me and I though having a bigger phone would be very cumbersome because of my small hands. I had actually reconsidered upgrading to a better phone like the upcoming Lumia 920 when I found out its screen size. I was actually afraid of the larger screen.

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