On Friday May 2, Joe Belfiore, VP in the Windows Phone team participated in a reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA). There were several good questions and more importantly, several good answers there. One of the revelations from the AMA was an upcoming File Manager app for Windows Phone 8.1.
The app’s existence, and the fact that it should hopefully land in the Store around the end of May, was revealed by Belfiore in response to a question about file management on the phone. In fact, in his response, he mentioned that it is a highly requested feature and that he was glad to announce that the app is coming.
WOO HOO! SOMEONE ASKED THIS QUESTION!! I’ve been waiting! in fact, I’ve avoided tweeting on this very topic just for all you redditors. Seriously.
in fact– you GET A CORTANA T-SHIRT FOR ASKING!! :) (PM me your size and we’ll get it to you.)
*** YES *** We are doing a File Manager for WP8.1! I know a LOT of you are looking for this (thanks for the tweets, I’ve read them all). In fact, I’ve been running a build of it on two of my phones for the last week or so and it’s getting to pretty good shape.
We are expecting to get it into the store HOPEFULLY by the end of May.
Some screenshots that he linked to:
The app by itself is nothing special. All the functionality that you expect from a file management application seems to exist. The design is quite consistent with the Windows Phone design language, with the large tiles for folders and the large names of files making them easy touch targets.
However, my first reaction was of disbelief, that there were in fact many requests for such an app:
Folks getting excited over a FILE MANAGER app for a PHONE? Ugh. That’s so low on *my* priority list. How about actionable notifications?
Right, so normal users shouldn’t and wouldn’t care about managing files on the phone. However, Windows Phone supports external storage and with Windows Phone 8.1, even apps can be installed on the external storage. With microSD card storage capacities going up and the push to lower cost of phones making on-board storage minimal, it may very well be that most Windows Phone users will need a way to move files back and forth between the device storage and external storage.
Hence, this app deserves the attention it has apparently got. However, it is a good sign that Microsoft is pushing all such functionality to apps and making several things possible as a result: make it optional for customers to use this app or not; make it easy for Microsoft to update the app based on features and functionality requested by the customers; keep the OS size smaller so that phones will low on-board storage don’t end up using much of it for the OS itself, and not have to wait until the next version of OS to deliver this functionality.
I like the fact that Belfiore chose to reveal this app on reddit. I suspect most of the requests for such an app would have come from the “power users”, and those are the type of users who would be on reddit to hear what he may have to say.
My phone (Lumia 920) does not have external storage so this app is not for me yet. I may get one of the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 devices and if they have expandability, I will most surely get an external card and will need this app. Looking forward to it regardless.
If you were disconnected from the world for the past several months, you wouldn’t know that Microsoft is going to release the next version of their operating system for personal computers, called Windows 8. Let me rephrase that: Microsoft is going to release an operating system for mobile, highly-connected devices, with touch input at the front-and-center, and along with that operating system, it is also providing an upgrade to their existing Windows 7 operating system.
The look and feel of Windows is very different from earlier versions of Windows, and as a result there has been a lot of uncertainty and (unfair) judgement about it being circulated in the tech press. Instead of writing yet another article about how this whole thing is confusing, my goal here is to make it simple for someone who wants to know more about “The Big Launch” that Microsoft is undertaking at the end of October.
First and foremost, there is Windows 8. It is the operating system that will ship on most PCs and it is also something that you can upgrade from virtually any previous Windows version. This operating system runs the new “Start Screen” with Live Tiles, and will allow you to install apps (yes, there are now Windows Apps) from the Windows Store. Additionally, Windows 8 has a “desktop” environment that may seem familiar to users of Windows, especially Windows 7/Vista. Here, you can install applications outside of the Windows Store, for example CutePDF and Winrar. There is no restriction on what you can install in Windows 8 “desktop” environment. For apps on the other hand, unless you work at a company that supports it, or if you are a developer with the correct settings, you cannot install them from anywhere else except the Windows Store.
Windows RT is the radical new operating sytem that Microsoft is introducing for the first time along with Windows 8. It will not ship as standalone software, and instead, it will only be available as part of devices that ship with this operating system. Think of it as the software that runs your appliances like a DVD player or your car navigation system. Windows RT also has the same “Start Screen” as Windows 8 and you can install apps from the Windows Store just like Windows 8. It also has a “desktop” environment but you cannot install anything there. Yes, you read that right. Microsoft has locked the desktop environment so customers cannot install any software on the device except the apps you can get from the Windows Store.
Microsoft does ship Windows RT with a version of Office 2013 for free. It is called Office Home & Student 2013 RT which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Think of Windows RT as Windows 8 with only the Windows Store Apps along with Office. (Yes, I know there are more “desktop” applications that come with Windows RT, but at a high level, this should suffice.)
All the apps you purchase from the Windows Store will work on Windows RT devices as well as Windows 8 devices.
Windows Phone 8
Microsoft also makes operating system software for phones, called Windows Phone. The next revision of this software, called Windows Phone 8, is also due to be released at the end of October. Windows Phone 8 is built on the same core as Windows 8 so application developers can reuse their logic between a Windows 8 app and a Windows Phone 8 app.
Although the apps are not the same across Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, a lot of app developers are using the cloud to power native experiences across multiple platforms and devices. Evernote, for example, will have a Windows 8 app as well as a Windows Phone 8 app (in addition to other platforms), both delivering native experiences for the screen sizes, keeping most of the data and logic in the cloud so it is easily portable.
From a “devices” perspective, it is important to keep Windows Phone 8 in mind, but if the discussion is about “computers”, you only need to consider Windows 8 and Windows RT.
Having discussed the software at a high level, here’s the quick overview of Windows:
Windows RT is the new mobile operating system built for increasingly popular simpler devices like tablets and slates. It comes bundled with Office and the only way to get more apps is via the Windows Store. It cannot be bought in the store, it comes pre-installed with devices like tablets and hybrids.
Windows 8 is Windows RT combined with the ability to install any application that you can buy off the shelf today. It is built for more powerful computers, but retains all the advantages of mobility-focused Windows RT. It introduces many upgrades in that “desktop” environment over its predecessor Windows 7 and is generally installable on any PC that runs Windows 7 today.
The second complexity that will come in terms of increased choice is via the increased form factors of devices that are going to hit the market. Windows 8 being a touch-focused operating system, has led OEMs to ship many PCs with touch capabilities. So in addition to the simple desktop, laptop and tablet form factors, we have touch-screen laptop, devices with detachable screens/keyboards, laptops that convert to slate with a flip or a twist, and touchscreen all-in-ones. Additionally, PC makers as well as component makers have promised much better trackpad/touchpad technology in new devices and Windows 8 gesture support.
You don’t need to worry too much about the increased choice – just know that you can take advantage of touch, via direct touch on the screen or via indirect touch on the touchpad on laptops or separate trackpads that will ship with PCs, especially all-in-ones.
What will be tricky to decide and can only be done after trying a few PCs, are the convertible PCs. An Ultrabook-sized laptop, i.e., thin and light, that flips completely to convert to a touch slate, or a similar laptop where the screen detaches and becomes a standalone slate. I happen to prefer the convertible laptop (specifically, the Lenovo IdeaPad YOGA) but those detachables also sound quite interesting. Again, since we have not seen these form factors before, it is best to try them out before making a decision. (Yes, I know these existed in the Tablet PC era, but remember, Windows XP and even Windows 7 were not touch-first like Windows 8 is, and those PCs were thick and heavy. Besides, there was no app ecosystem like the Windows Store to enhance functionality in the PC.)
Of course, if you end up buying a pure slate form factor, Windows 8 and Windows RT both support Bluetooth so you can always slap an external keyboard and a mouse if you don’t see yourself always needing them.
Windows 8 is dramatically different from Windows 7. It also adds the mobile OS Windows RT. It is bound to create snap judgements from tech press used to “old Windows way of doing things” or those enamoured with anything that Apple produces. Having used Windows 8 over the past few months constantly on a very old PC with keyboard and mouse, I can assure you that for most people, it is going to be a significant ugprade over whatever else they have been using. It is fast, it is efficient and with the move towards an app-centric world, its functionality will constantly get enhanced by third-party developers building innovative apps and distributing them through the Windows Store. It will add some learning curve, especially for folks with muscle memory, but as we have seen with touch OS like iPhone/iPad’s iOS, it is much easier to learn navigating via touch than navigating via keyboard and mouse.
Don’t base your opinion on what’s being written by tech writers, especially those who have not really used the operating system. Certainly they have not used it on “Windows 8 hardware” so their opinions are either based on conjecture, or fear of change, or simply with a motive to get more pageviews because that pays the bills. I am sorry I had to create this disclaimer but having read the stuff that has been written about Windows 8, I can’t help but shake my head.
Having said all that, I must say, Microsoft’s efforts to educate what is Windows 8 and how it is different from Windows RT and which form factors are available and how to choose, has been abysmal. They may be able to train Microsoft Store employees in the last week before launch but how about the many other stores that are going to sell Windows 8 PCs and Windows RT devices? How are those employees going to guide the customers in the right direction? It would be a pity if customers see a beautiful ad on the TV showing “Windows 8″, go the store and happen to find a Windows RT tablet to be the cheapest, and go home and find out that they cannot use Quicken or Photoshop on it.
Windows 8 is too good for Microsoft to throw it off the rails like this. Hope they do enough in the “last mile” to guide customers in the right direction. They can’t rely on people like yours truly to keep demystifying and simplifying for them.
Are you sold on Windows 8? Do you plan to get a Windows RT device? Let me know in the comments!
Nokia’s latest Windows Phone smartphone for the budget conscious buyer is out of the bag. The Lumia 625 was announced earlier today, confirming much of what had been suggested in earlier leaks. Realizing that there is a growing demand for large screens, Nokia has equipped the Lumia 625 with a 4.7’’ screen. Interestingly, this is the largest display we’ve seen in a smartphone from Nokia. Even the latest flagship – the Lumia 1020 – sports a 4.5’’ display. However, in order to accommodate a larger screen at a lower priced phone, Nokia had to compromise by lowering the resolution to WVGA (480 x 800 pixels). This amounts to a pixel density of 199, which is a fair bit lower than the standard these days. The IPS LCD being used is also said to suffer from narrower viewing angles and inferior outdoor visibility. Nokia has, however, retained the “super-sensitive touch” feature from its flagship, which enables the touchscreen to work even with gloves.
In terms of hardware, the phone is quite capable. It runs on a Snapgradon S4 chip, which features a dual-core 1.2 GHz Krait CPU and Adreno 305 GPU. However, only 512 MB of RAM is available, which means that not all apps and games will run on the handset. The 625 comes with a 5 megapixel rear camera capable of recording stills at a resolution of 2592х1936 pixels and full HD videos (1080p) at 30 fps. There is also a VGA front cam. The handset is LTE equipped and supports Bluetooth 4.0, but NFC didn’t make the cut. The 2000 mAh battery is a significant step up from the 1300 mAh battery in the Lumia 620, and should ensure good battery backup. Talk time is rated at 19 hours on 2G and 13 hours 20 minutes on 3G. The Nokia Lumia 625 is expected to be launched across Europe, Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia (including China and India) in Q3 for about $290.
Nokia has announced the much awaited, and speculated, next generation flagship Windows Phone 8 device – Nokia Lumia 1020. The phone brings the 41 MP PureView camera from the Nokia 808 to their Lumia series, although reengineered from ground up.
The PureView 41 MP sensor comes with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and features 6 lens optics (the most seen in a smartphone as yet). It features Xenon Flash for still images and LED for video. The phone offers high resolution with 3X zoom. Apart from the optics, the phone also bundles exclusive software – Nokia Pro Camera mode and Nokia Smart Camera Mode.
The phone is powered by Qualcomm 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 dual core processor and 2GB RAM. It features a 4.5” AMOLED WXGA (1280 x 768) display uses Gorilla Glass 3. The battery on the phone is an average 2000 mAH. The phone includes 32GB internal memory.
[VIDEO] Hands On: Nokia Lumia 1020 – Hardware
The Nokia Lumia 1020 comes in three colors – Yellow, White, and Black. Apart from tbe regulars like Nokia Wireless Charging Cover and JBL PowerUp Wireless Charging speakers for Nokia, the accessories announced include a Nokia Camera Grip PD-95G that provides extra battery and also acts as tripod for camera!
[VIDEO] Hands On: Nokia Camera Grip
Nokia Lumia 1020 will be available in AT&T stores starting July 26. The phone can be pre-ordered online from July 16. The phone will be available for $299,.99 with a 2 year contract. While Nokia did not announce global availability dates, they mentioned that the phone would be available in China and select European markets in this quarter.
Nokia recently unveiled the new Windows Phone 8 based Lumia 925 smartphone. This handset is the successor of the company’s previous flagship device, the Nokia Lumia 920. It comes with the new Nokia Smart Camera mode which allows you to capture ten images at once and edit the pictures with options like Best Shot, Action Shot and Motion Focus. The Nokia Lumia 925 is made entirely of metal, instead of the shiny polycarbonate materials used in the previous Lumia smartphones.
Jo Harlow, executive vice president of Nokia Smart Devices, said,
“We keep innovating. We’re advancing experiences on the Nokia Lumia portfolio whether that means great new benefits for an existing Lumia owner, or bringing new showcase devices like the Nokia Lumia 925.”
Nokia Lumia 925 features a 4.5 inch AMOLED WXGA display, sporting a resolution of 1280 x 768 pixels, Gorilla Glass 2, 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, Windows Phone 8 OS, 8.7 megapixel camera with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), autofocus and dual LED flash, Full HD (1080p) video recording at 30fps, 1.2 megapixel front-facing HD camera, Nokia Smart Camera mode, 1 GB RAM, 16 GB internal memory, 64 GB expandable memory and more.
It also comes with a 3.5mm headset jack, Office 365, Xbox Live, A-GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 3G Connectivity, IE9 with HTML 5 support, 7 GB Microsoft SkyDrive cloud storage, USB 2.0, Bluetooth 3.0 + EDR, NFC (Near Field Communication) with SIM based security, Here Maps, Here Drive+, Wireless charging support, up to 55 hours of music playback in offline mode, up to 12.8 hours of talk-time, up to 440 hours of stand-by time and a 2000 mAh battery.
The Nokia Lumia 925 will be available in White, Grey and Black colors. This handset measures 129 x 70.6 x 8.5 mm and weighs 139 grams. The Nokia Lumia 925 will go on sale from next month in UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and China, followed by the US and other markets. This handset will be priced around €469 (approx. $600) excluding taxes.
Last month, Nokia unveiled the entry-level Lumia 520 and mid-range Lumia 720 smartphones at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2013 in Barcelona. These devices are powered by the Windows Phone 8 Operating System. Nokia India’s official store as well as Flipkart has already started accepting the pre-orders of the Lumia 520. It is touted to be the cheapest Windows Phone 8 smartphone.
Nokia Lumia 520 features a 4 inch WVGA display, sporting a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, 1 Ghz Qualcomm MSM8227 dual-core processor, Windows Phone 8 OS, 5 megapixel rear camera with autofocus and LED flash, HD (720p) video recording and playback, 512 MB RAM, 8 GB internal memory, MicroSD card slot, 64 GB expandable memory and much more.
Other features include a 3.5mm headset jack, A-GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, 3G Connectivity, Office 365, Xbox Live, IE9 with HTML 5 support, 7 GB Microsoft SkyDrive cloud storage, USB 2.0, Bluetooth 3.0 + EDR, Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps, Bing Maps, up to 61 hours of music playback in offline mode, up to 10 hours of talk-time, up to 360 hours of stand-by time and a 1430 mAh battery.
The Nokia Lumia 520 comes with a price-tag of just Rs.10,499 (approx. $190) in India. This handset is expected to go on sale from the second week of April. If you want to experience the Windows Phone 8 OS without burning a hole in your pocket, then you should definitely go ahead and get the Lumia 520. You can pre-order this device from Nokia India’s online store as well as from Flipkart.
Last year, Nokia launched three Windows Phone 8 powered smartphones — the entry-level Lumia 620, the mid-range Lumia 820 and the high-end Lumia 920. This week, the Finnish mobile phone manufacturer is expected to launch two new devices — the Lumia 520 and Lumia 720 at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2013 in Barcelona.
As the name suggest, the Lumia 520 and Lumia 720 are the successor of the last generation Lumia 510 and Lumia 710 smartphones. @evleaks, which is popularly known for tweeting the leaked press shots and specs of the upcoming smartphones is back with the leaked images of the Nokia Lumia 720 and Lumia 520. The image shown below is the press shot of Lumia 720, while the image posted below is the Lumia 520.
Nokia has codenamed the Lumia 520 and Lumia 720 as Flame and Zeal respectively. The specs of these devices are currently unknown. However, the Lumia 720 is expected to come with a 4.3 inch display, 1 GHz dual-core processor, 512 MB RAM, and 8 GB internal storage, while the Lumia 520 is expected to pack a 4 inch display, 1 GHz dual-core processor, 512 MB RAM, 5-megapixel camera, 4 GB internal storage and much more.
Both of these devices will run on the newer Windows Phone 8 Operating System. The designs of Lumia 520 and Lumia 720 are strikingly similar to what we have previously seen with the Lumia 820 and Lumia 920. We also know that these devices will be launched with a number of vibrant colors. If these rumors are true, there won’t be much surprise for Nokia fans at the Mobile World Congress 2013.
Earlier this month, Samsung announced the mid-ranged Ativ Odyssey smartphone. This device runs on the newer Windows Phone 8 Operating System. Samsung Ativ Odyssey comes with the unique Samsung sharing applications such as Photo Editor, Mini Diary and Now, an application that provides weather, news, stock and currency updates instantly. This handset is exclusively available for the Verizon Wireless subscribers in the US. If you are planning to buy one, then don’t forget to check out the complete specs below.
Samsung Ativ Odyssey features a 4 inch Super AMOLED display, sporting a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, 1.5 GHz dual core processor, Windows Phone 8 OS, 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash, full HD (1080p) video recording and playback, 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera for video chat and so on.
Other features include a 3.5 mm headset jack, 8 GB internal memory, MicroSD card slot, 64 GB expandable memory, A-GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, USB 2.0, 4G LTE Connectivity, Global Ready calling, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 1 GB RAM, Samsung ChatOn, Samsung Hub, Windows Phone Store and a 2100 mAh battery.
Verizon Wireless subscribers can get the Samsung Ativ Odyssey for just $49.99 with a 2 year service agreement. This handset is definitely useful for those, who want to experience the new Windows Phone OS without burning a hole in their pocket. To get this device, head over to this page.
Along with the recently launched, Ascend Mate and Ascend D2, Huawei has also unveiled an entry-level Ascend W1 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2013 in Las Vegas. Unlike the first two smartphones, this handset runs on the Windows Phone 8 Operating System. The specs of this device is somewhat similar to the previously launched Nokia Lumia 620.
Richard Yu, CEO, Huawei Consumer Business Group, said,
“Inspired and powered by people, the Ascend W1 is a combination of Huawei’s user-centric design philosophy and Windows Phone 8 software, bringing consumers a truly compelling alternative. The addition of the Ascend W1 to our smartphone portfolio gives consumers access to an even wider range of Huawei smartphones. At a price that makes sense to consumers, Ascend W1 underscores our commitment to put smartphones within reach of every consumer, no matter who you are or what you want from your phone.”
Huawei Ascend W1 features a 4 inch IPS LCD touchscreen display with OGS technology, sporting a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels, 1.2 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8230 processor, Windows Phone 8 OS, 5 megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash and auto-focus, 0.3 megapixel front-facing camera for video calls and so on.
Other features include a 3.5 mm headset jack, 512 MB RAM, 4 GB internal memory, MicroSD card slot, 32 GB expandable memory, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, up to 470 hours of stand-by time, up to 630 mins of talk-time and a 1950 mAh battery.
Huawei Ascend W1 will be available in blue, red, black and white colors. This handset will go on sale in China and Russia from this month, followed by Western Europe, Middle East, USA and other selected countries in the coming weeks.
Samsung has just added a new smartphone in its popular Ativ family, the Samsung Ativ Odyssey. This handset runs on the newer Windows Phone 8 Operating System and it will be exclusively available for the Verizon Wireless subscribers in the US. Samsung Ativ Odyssey comes with the unique Samsung sharing applications such as Photo Editor, Mini Diary and Now, an application that provides weather, news, stock and currency updates instantly.
Samsung Ativ Odyssey features a 4 inch Super AMOLED display, sporting a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, 1.5 GHz dual core processor, Windows Phone 8 OS, 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash, full HD (1080p) video recording and playback, 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera for video chat and more.
Other features include a 3.5mm headset jack, A-GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, USB 2.0, 4G LTE Connectivity, Global Ready calling, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 8 GB internal memory, MicroSD card slot, 64 GB expandable memory, 1 GB RAM, Samsung ChatOn, Samsung Hub, Windows Phone Store and a 2100 mAh battery.
Samsung Ativ Odyssey is a Global Ready smartphone, which gives users the ability to call and email from more than 220 countries in the world. This handset will go on sale in the coming weeks. The price of this handset will be announced soon.