App Spotlight: Tetra Lockscreen re-imagines your Windows Phone lock screen!

by Shijaz Abdulla on 23.10.2014 at 13:30

The stuff you can see on a Windows Phone lock-screen just got better!

Introducing Tetra Lockscreen, the most amazing lockscreen app I have seen to date on Windows Phone.

Tetra Lockscreen is a free app that lets you add “widgets” to your lock-screen such as calendar, location, activity tracker and stopwatch, giving you easy access to these useful tools without having to unlock your phone.

Each widget can have multiple ta bs that you can swipe sideways for more views. All without unlocking your phone.

Thanks Ahmed Ibrahim for sharing this tip!

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App Spotlight: Truecaller now available for Windows Phone

by Shijaz Abdulla on 22.10.2014 at 20:58

TrueCaller is now available for Windows Phone and it works perfectly. (Not that I am personally a big fan of it, though).

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This app requires a phone restart when installed and integrates directly with the Windows Phone OS to display caller id information of unknown callers. It can also notify you of spam callers.

Metrash2 is now available on Windows Phone

by Shijaz Abdulla on 05.10.2014 at 21:05

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Metrash2 app from the Ministry of Interior, Qatar is now available on Windows Phone. Download it from the Store.

Metrash2 is a mobile-based platform to access various e-services offered by the Ministry of Interior in Qatar, including Visa services, Traffic services, e-Gate, etc.

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Why the iPhone 6 is still not ready for business

by Shijaz Abdulla on 04.10.2014 at 13:59

I have always used Windows Phone. When the iPhone 6 was announced and news surfaced about all the unexplainable excitement and commotion around it, I decided to take a look and see what is it that makes thousands of people around the world so crazy about these devices. I welcome change, especially when it is positive.

So I took out my credit card and pre-ordered (yes, paid for and bought) an iPhone 6 64GB Silver online and got it delivered via Aramex Shop & Ship.

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First, a little bit of background about myself – I am always on the go, I do not have a desk job. Naturally I read and write email – a lot of email – on my phone. I use the phone so that I can be productive and so that I get things done faster. And I use quite a bit of WhatsApp.

Second, I am a Microsoft employee and my primary responsibilities do not involve Windows Phone sales, and Microsoft didn’t pay for the iPhone 6 I bought nor do they pay me for writing this post. This is purely my personal point of view.

I was excited when the new iPhone arrived. Gleefully got myself a nano sim and plugged it in, created an Apple ID and started setting it up.

In just a week I’m sad to say, I was disappointed. The iPhone is a great toy. But unfortunately that’s what it is. At least for what I need from a phone, the iPhone 6 / iOS 8 poorly delivered.

Don’t get me wrong. Apple’s iPhone 6 has a great camera, feels good to hold, great screen, reasonable UI, and a lot of “non-standard” apps in the store – but that’s not all that matters.

Let’s take a deeper look:

1. The email experience

  • iOS 8 displays a single mail app icon on the home screen, regardless of how many accounts you have, and the icon displays the total number of *unread* email. This is great, except that I don’t care about unread email. I care about *new* email.
  • Windows Phone on the other hand lets you create a separate live tile for each mail account on the home screen, with instant notification of new email since the last time you opened the app. Much better, thanks. Below you see two tiles (one large and one medium) showing two different mail accounts with 1 and 4 new emails each. On the large live tile, I also get to see an animated preview of my new messages.

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The basics of typing

  • OK, let’s go to actually typing an email. Guess what? The period (.) and comma (,) are the two most commonly used punctuation marks in the English language – and both of them are not available on the iOS 8 keyboard, unless you tap on the button for numbers. That’s two taps for a dot. (Yeah, you can type a double space to put a dot, but that’s two taps too)
  • On the Windows Phone, the comma and period are on the standard keyboard face. Easy.

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Predictive Text

  • Let’s talk about predictive text. This varies based on the example, but I have seen far better suggestions from Windows Phone than iOS 8.
  • iOS limits to 3 suggestions on the screen, meaning you will end up typing more.
  • Windows Phone shows more and better suggestions. It also predicts text using your contacts (Jane, Justin and Joseph are in my contacts list), while maintaining your privacy. It also does predictive emojis! 🙂

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Now lets try that with Windows Phone:

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Arabic Predictive Text

  • Doesn’t exist in iOS8, at least at the time of writing this. See link on Apple’s website for QuickType. Yes, I checked Settings too.
  • Exists in Windows Phone, and definitely much better. I think some of the intelligence comes from Bing search indexes. I was even able to type some full verses from the Qur’an merely by tapping with the help of Predictive Text Input.

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Attaching files

  • OK let’s see how to attach a file. If you’re new to iOS, you need to fumble around a bit to figure this out. You need to press and hold an empty space in your email to open a menu, and then choose “Insert Photo or Video”. It’s more difficult than it sounds.
  • On the iPhone 6, You cannot attach more than one photo at a time! You need to repeat above process for each file.
  • On the Windows Phone, there is a simple “Attach” button on the toolbar (highlighted in red). It doesn’t get simpler than that. And, you can attach multiple photos in one go!

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2. Sharing Stuff

I was surprised when I saw how limited a sharing capability the iPhone had.

Sharing from built-in Camera app

  • On the iPhone 6, you can’t share a picture directly from the Camera/Photos app to WhatsApp. You need to open WhatsApp, tap the Attach icon, and choose the picture.
  • On the iPhone 6, you can’t share via Bluetooth with non-Apple devices. You need AirDrop.
  • On the iPhone 6, you can’t share more than 5 photos via email from the camera/photos app.
  • On the Windows Phone, you can simply share from the Camera app over Bluetooth, NFC (simply tap the phones to share), WhatsApp, email, and pretty much anywhere.

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When you select more than 5 pictures, the Mail option vanishes on iOS 8.

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3. The Health hype

OK, so health is not very business-themed, but most people care about health including people who send emails from their phones.

  • I found the user interface and capabilities of the new Health app on iOS 8 quite mediocre, compared to what is available on Windows Phone. While the Medical ID feature on iOS is nice, it looked complicated to get the app to work like what it looks like on Apple.com. You needed to define sources for health data (which looks like other apps or maybe the Apple Watch) and only then you see a dashboard.
  • Update 10/11/2014: Fitbit just announced they currently have no plans to integrate with Apple’s HealthKit.
  • On Windows Phone, the phone starts tracking your steps, distance etc as soon as you set it up. You can also add GPS workouts and track your calories by logging what you eat.

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Windows Phone also has an animated live tile that helps you track your steps, distance, etc.

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Conclusion

Overall, the Windows Phone provided a simple, easy to use, and more importantly, a connected experience which the iOS lacks.

For the conclusion: What do you expect? I just went up to the nearest Vodafone store in Qatar and bought myself a Nokia Lumia 930 and got 5 free accessories (Wireless charging plate, Portable battery, Nokia Purity by Monster headset, portable speakerphone, and a treasure tag). And it cost me less than the iPhone 6 64GB.

As for the iPhone 6, it will find peace with an immediate family member.

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A few things to ask Cortana

by Shijaz Abdulla on 15.04.2014 at 23:55

With the developer preview release  of Windows Phone 8.1, I decided to give it a spin. The first thing that caught my attention was the Notification Center, a much awaited and essential feature.

Second on my list was Cortana.

In this post, I share some interesting things I asked Cortana, with screenshots of her replies:

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I also asked “Where am I” and she told me where I was (complete with a  map), and also “is it hot outside” and she gave me the weather. She also told me what my next appointment was. Impressive!

System Center Service Manager mobile clients

by Shijaz Abdulla on 06.12.2012 at 07:02

Our partner LinkDotNet has developed Service Manager clients for mobile devices. The app is currently available for Windows Phone, Windows 8 and Apple iOS.

Check them out:

Our partners LinkDotNet and ExpIT both offer Arabic versions of the System Center Service Manager portal.

Gulf countries to get Windows Phone 8

by Shijaz Abdulla on 01.07.2012 at 14:47

In a blog post, the Windows Phone team announced the list of countries where Windows Phone 8 would be available.

Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Kuwait are among the countries slated to get both the Windows Phone 8 App Hub as well as the Marketplace.

This is definitely a step in the right direction, keeping in mind Windows Phone 7 which was not available in the Gulf.

Below is list from the Windows Team blog, subject to change. Click to expand.

The Windows Phone Marketplace and AppHub for developers are coming to more countries and regions for Windows Phone 8.

Windows Phone 7 update released (March 2011)

by Shijaz Abdulla on 23.03.2011 at 05:57

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Microsoft has released an update for Windows Phone 7, and below is a (long) summary of what’s included in the latest update as per the Windows Phone website:

OS version: 7.0.7390.0

  • Copy & paste. You asked for it—now it’s here. Just tap a word and drag the arrows to copy and paste it on your phone. You can copy text from emails, text messages, web pages, and Office Mobile documents, and paste it anywhere you can type. To learn more, see Copy & paste.

  • Faster apps and games. Nobody likes to wait. That’s why we’ve whittled down the time it takes for apps and games to start up and resume. It’s all part of our focus on getting you to the things you love, easier and faster.

  • Better Marketplace search. We’ve streamlined Marketplace search to make it easier to find specific apps, games, or music. Press the Search button in the Apps or Games section of Marketplace and you’ll see only apps or games in the results. Press Search in the Music section of Marketplace to search just the music catalog.

  • Other Marketplace improvements. We’ve improved the stability of Marketplace while you download apps. We’ve also improved the experience of downloading apps larger than 20 megabytes, upgrading from trial apps to paid apps, using a credit card with an address outside the United States, sharing links to apps via email, sorting Xbox LIVE games by release date, and creating an Xbox LIVE account from within the Games Hub.

  • Wi-Fi improvements. We now display your phone’s Media Access Control (MAC) address in Settings. (You might need this info if you try to connect to a Wi-Fi network that uses MAC address filtering. To learn more, see Connect to a Wi-Fi network.) We’ve also removed the limit on the number of Wi-Fi profiles that you can store and reduced the time it takes to start your phone if you’ve stored lots of Wi-Fi profiles.

  • Outlook improvements. We’ve improved the experience of viewing iPhone photo attachments you receive from a non-Exchange-based email account (such as a Google Mail, Hotmail, or Yahoo! Mail account), using the Global Address List (GAL) when connecting to Exchange Server 2003 using Exchange ActiveSync, and working with email display names that contain brackets (for example, "David Alexander [Contoso]").

  • Messaging improvements. We’ve improved the experience of receiving Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) messages if your phone uses a PIN-locked SIM.

  • Facebook integration. We’ve improved the experience of syncing Facebook accounts.

  • Camera improvements. We’ve improved the stability of switching between camera and video modes.

  • Audio improvements. We’ve improved the experience of using a Bluetooth headset to make calls when you’re playing music or videos.

  • Other performance improvements. This month’s update also includes software from several phone manufacturers that improves the performance of specific models. Naturally, if you don’t have one of the affected models, we won’t install this portion of the update on your phone.

[above information obtained from the Windows Phone website]

Windows Phone 7 is a remarkable breakthrough in Microsoft’s foray to the smartphone space. I’ve been using an HTC HD7 which runs Windows Phone 7 for a few weeks now and I am already in love with it. I especially like the blazing performance and responsiveness of the phone, the integration with social media and bringing all that I care about right here on my phone, and above all – the intuitively re-designed interface. For those of you who haven’t seen Windows Phone 7 yet, and have only seen previous versions of Windows Mobile – be informed, this is nothing like what you saw before.

Nokia and Microsoft: Partners in building a new global mobile system

by Shijaz Abdulla on 11.02.2011 at 18:17

Nokia and Microsoft announced today in London announced plans to form a broad strategic partnership that would use their complementary strengths and expertise to create a new global mobile ecosystem.

The strategic partnership in a nutshell:

  • Nokia to adopt Windows Phone 7 as its principal smartphone strategy, and help drive the future of Windows Phone 7.
  • Bing to empower Nokia’s search services. Microsoft adCenter to provide search advertising services on Nokia’s phones.
  • Both companies plan to combine assets and develop innovative mobile products on an unprecedented scale.
  • Nokia maps to be integrated with Bing
  • Microsoft development tools to be used to build solutions on Nokia Windows Phone 7 devices
  • Nokia’s content & app store to be integrated with Windows Phone marketplace.

See the official press release.

When the alarm didn’t go off…

by Shijaz Abdulla on 03.01.2011 at 01:41

Teacher: Johny, why are you late?

Student: Sorry ma’am, my alarm didn’t go off.

Teacher: What a lame excuse young man?! And why didn’t it go off.

Student: I don’t know ma’am — the alarm on my $299 clock.. er.. cellphone didn’t go off!

Teacher: !!!

Why Apple, were you not anticipating 2011 when you designed the iPhone?

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