Tag Archives: Windows Phone 7

How many apps do you really need for a phone?

I must have had this conversation a dozen times, and seen it from various trolling on the internet … the Windows Phone Store doesn’t have very many apps, and therefore iPhone / Android phones are better.

Honestly .. I can’t say I’ve noticed ..

The stores of course differ wildly in size, back in March 2011 the “app store” sizes for each of the major handsets was (apparently)

  • Apple – 330,000+
  • Android – 206,000+
  • Windows Phone 7 – 11,000+

So .. only 10k apps (I believe the number is a lot higher this year, especially with Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Office 2013 all making their moves towards an “app” model) but the premise is the same .. there are a LOT more apps for iPhone / Android than there are for Windows, but does that actually make a difference to your phone?

I thought I would share what apps I have installed and use regularly, just to see how much I am “missing out” by not getting myself the latest shiny tech device from competing providers.

So here they come, in no particular order..


Take your pick, there are a whole bunch of them out there in the Windows Phone marketplace. There is the official twitter app plus the popular rowi and Seesmic variants.

For 99% of what I need I actually use the built-in “People Hub” which allows me to read the latest tweets and also post some of my own updates too. However it doesn’t include direct messaging, search or (un)follow capabilities so a dedicated app is still sometimes useful.

Facebook (only just!)

Same story here to be honest. The “People Hub” does pretty much all I need and I can’t say I have logged into the web interface of Facebook for almost 2 years. I still use a dedicated app (in my case the “official” Facebook app, published by Microsoft) but this is only to check direct messages and occasionally change the odd setting or check something .. but I only tend to fire it up once every 3-4 months.

Honestly I could survive with just the people hub which is built into the phone (as I can always use a computer for those hard-to-reach places if I am desperate) .. but there are dozens of Facebook apps in the marketplace anyway so I tend to have one to hand anyway.


Probably the first one I install to be honest. I used to use AccuWeather but now Microsoft have released their very own Weather app (which I have been using for the past few months). Its useful to have it pinned to the home page so I get live-tile updates (in case I can’t be bothered to look out of the window), but its nice to know if I should expect rain in London before leaving for work so I can grab a rain-coat or umbrella.

Adobe Reader

This is just for simple PDF support. I occasionally receive PDF files as email attachments and sometimes download them (usually terms and conditions) from websites so having some kind of PDF app is a must. Luckily the integration is solid and it launches “on demand” when a PDF file is opened.


Now I’m not even sure if you would need this in Windows Phone 8 due to the HTML5 and Native Flash support in the IE10 browser but on my WP7.5 device I still need an external app to view YouTube videos.

Again, the integration is seamless, if you click to view a video the app launches automatically then plays the video in the native phone video player.


Simple this one .. I have dual LED bulbs on the back of my phone (for the camera) but why not use it as a flashlight (or a “torch” as we say in the UK).

I live in a very dark part of the countryside so having a handy flashlight when I need to navigate my garden at night, or getting from the car to the house without tripping over things is really useful.

Tube Map

Ok .. I admit it .. the London Underground is a bloody rabbit warren. If you haven’t lived there for 30 years, don’t like jellied eels or don’t understand what “dog and bone” or “apples and pairs” means then you will need a tube map!

I specifically use one which allows me to have offline maps because (surprise!) there is no signal on underground trains 🙂


And .. that’s it ..

As I have a Nokia phone it comes with world leading Voice Turn-by-Turn SatNav courtesy of “Nokia Drive” with full (free!) offline maps worldwide and offline searching too, as well as a whole bunch of camera functions, public transport apps and streaming music.

All Windows Phones have Office built in which gives you excellent Word / Excel / PowerPoint / OneNote integration (the OneNote is especially awesome and I use it all the time!)

Social integration is baked in with LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (which are the 3 social networks which I tend to use on a daily basis .. probably like most people in the SharePoint industry).

The “cloud storage” story is an interesting one as SkyDrive is baked in across the product (you can auto-upload your photos, as well as opening documents from the office apps and browse photos using both the People Hub and the Pictures Hub) but arguably you might get a bit of legs from installing a custom app (there is for example dedicated DropBox and SkyDrive apps in the marketplace)

Wireless HotSpot capability is built in so I can use my phone as a roaming wireless router for my laptop / tablet of choice (along with the usually Bluetooth / hands free functions).

And the email client supports a whole range of email accounts from Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo through to Exchange and Nokia Mail .. or even just a custom POP / IMAP email account.

The only thing that really stands out is more the “one off” apps that crop up from time to time. You are watching TV and they say there is a companion app .. or one for online banking .. or an app which goes with your latest cook book .. these all seem to be Android and iPhone .. but I survived without having apps for absolutely everything so I think I’ll continue to survive with a Windows Phone.

What is your story?? Any apps which you really can’t live without? (that you can’t find in the Windows Phone marketplace?)

That is one smashed phone ..

Well, it was bound to happen eventually as I use my smartphones every single day and this is the first one I’ve managed to spectacularly break after about 6 years of using them.

I went and dropped my Nokia Lumia 800 from about 4 feet onto a wooden floor and the screen (well .. the gorilla glass covering it) has smashed and now spiderweb cracks covers roughly 1/4 of the screen.

Ironically this only happened when I took the rubber “condom” (protective covering which goes over the phone) off because I thought it might be interfering with my signal (it wasn’t!). The normal covering on this device is quite shiny and doesn’t give you much traction, which led to the phone slipping out of my hand.

Quite impressive is that the touchscreen still works fine, in fact apart from making it difficult to read in a few places it hasn’t really affected the functional at all.. There is one thing though which is that the proximity sensor (which detects when you are holding the phone to your ear and turns the screen off during calls) can’t see through the cracks at the top of the phone. This means that during a call the screen won’t activate and therefore I can’t do trivial tasks like .. hang up, or activate the speaker, or use the keypad!

Luckily I’ve found a local repair shop who will do a replacement screen and glass for £100 with a 24 hour turnaround, so I am dropping it off tomorrow and hopefully will have it back Friday.

For those of you who want to laugh at my clumsiness, a photo of my phone is below 🙂

Yep .. that’s a smashed screen alright!

Hey check out my new brick .. it looks just like a Nokia Lumia 800!

Today has not been a good day as I am now holding a completely useless “bricked” Lumia 800 .. but first let us wind back 3 weeks when my wife and I became proud owners of brand spanking new Nokia Lumia 800 phones running Windows Phone 7.5 (“Mango”).

The new Nokia Lumia 800, running Windows Phone 7.5

Yep .. thats right .. we both got the same phone (she got the blue / cyan one .. I got the black one). You might think this a little sad (his and hers?) but honestly I find providing “tech support” far easier when we both have the same handset 😉

Anyway .. so we left the store, brand new phones in hand. They were very shiny, they looked slick, they started up quickly and seemed like honestly damned good phones.

We both got our email setup quickly (both Hotmail and Exchange accounts) and while my better half was merrily catching up on Facebook, I was very impressed with the SharePoint integration and how it automatically configured the Office Hub when it realised my email account was on Office 365! Very slick…

What Battery Problems?
Now I had heard that there were battery problems, but a recent software fix seemed to sort this out. One of the very first things I did (with both phones) was plug them into Zune, get them synced up and install the latest software fix (so my phone is currently fully patched and running the latest version!).

My wife’s phone was having an issue with battery life before the update (it dying after 12-15 hours) but this was well documented, and after we updated the phone everything seemed to be fine ..

in short .. life in the Hatch household’s mobile world was good ..

so now lets wind on to last week ..

What do you mean you can’t turn it on ??
The first sign of problems was actually on my wife’s phone (the blue/cyan one for those of you paying attention!). She was coming to meet me in London after work and the usual agreement of “I’ll send you a text message when I’m outside your office” .. now the work day came, went and started slipping when I finally got a phone call from a pay-phone … my wife was frantic as her phone had turned itself off despite still having over 20% battery life remaining! and it would not turn on!

Eventually I managed to meet up (strangely difficult without constant-on communication .. how on earth did I manage before I had a mobile phone?) and I looked at the handset itself… I tried 6 times in a row to turn the phone on and kept trying periodically for another 10-15 minutes … I tried it again one final time and it worked, buzzing into life like a defibrillator had just kicked it into life. I quickly logged in, went to the Settings and checked the “Battery Saver” and it said it had 23% battery with approximately 15 hours remaining …. how bizarre …We didn’t see the problem happen since (and we both use our phones quite a lot every single day) so I put it behind me and we kind of forgot about it ..

now lets wind on to today (or more accurately last night)

Congratulations! Its a Brick!
I was heading over to a friend’s house .. now this particular friend has been having problems with his Android phone and was quite keen on looking at the latest flagship Windows Phone .. so I took mine out of my pocket and tried to unlock it … nothing .. dead as a doornail.

I tried to turn it on .. nothing … held down the power button for up to 30 seconds … tried again .. still nothing. So then I thought .. “maybe the battery is dead??”. So I borrowed his micro-USB charger and left it to charge for 20 minutes. I then came back .. still won’t power on.

So now I am panicking .. I took my precious new phone home and left it on charge for 9 hours overnight but this morning? Nothing .. no life .. completely dead.

Now I have since attempted various tricks on the internet from various forums:

  • Some people said it can’t recharge if the battery hits 0% so heat the phone up and THEN try plugging it in .. this didn’t work!
  • Tried holding down the power button for 8 seconds (apparently this resets the power-cycle) .. that didn’t work
  • Tried unplugging and re-plugging the charging cable several times in a row while either holding down or randomly trying the power button … didn’t work
  • Tried a “hardware reset” by holding down the Volume Down, Camera and Power buttons … that didn’t work either!

So what now? My new shiny Lumia 800 is officially bricked!

I will be taking this back to the Orange store that I got it from ASAP .. I expect them to replace it .. but I have already seen evidence of this strange issue on my wife’s phone last week .. so will this keep happening?

I really hope this is a software bug (so they can release an update) .. or perhaps a really rare glitch in hardware that just HAPPENS to have struck both me and my other half at the same time.

If any of you have experienced the same problem please let me know in the comments… Otherwise I’ll see what happens when I get mine replaced / repaired and let you all know!

My top missing features in Windows Phone 7 – SharePoint Contacts, Tasks and Calendars

I have been an advocate of Windows Phone 7 (WP7) for quite some time now, especially having owned and used a WP7 device for over 9 months now. However, there are some things that I really do find lacking.

Microsoft have been pushing the SharePoint integration with WP7 quite hard, especially with the recent announcements for SharePoint Online to support BCS (which basically opens up the door to have WCF calls made from your Office 365 SharePoint Online site, so you could do two-way WP7 applications which integrate tightly with your SharePoint applications!).

However, there are some features which I think would really concrete this device for small businesses as THE device to have.

Let me give you two example quotes from small businesses who were looking to implement Office 365 / SharePoint Online with a Windows Phone 7;

Plumbing Business – We would like to use SharePoint task lists to document jobs and push those tasks to our plumbers using their phone.
Our problem is that when the plumber updates the task, we want to it write back to SharePoint..” 

Pub Landlords – We want to use SharePoint Online to track and store all of our suppliers and contacts that we use, but how do I get those contacts onto my phone? If one of my suppliers calls, how do I know who they are?”

These are just examples of some of the reasons why I think WP7 is missing a trick.

Missing Feature 1 – Use SharePoint Contacts as Phone Book
At the moment there is no way for my WP7 device to use a SharePoint contact list as a phone book. This is a MAJOR piece of functionality I have been asked about by the last 3 clients who were implementing SharePoint Online.

They have all of their contacts centralised and through the web. They can bring them into the desktop Outlook application (with even two-way synchronisation!) but they can’t even get them read-only on their phone.

You really should be allowed to “link” one or more SP contact lists with your phone book, so that when someone in your sales team get a phone call the contact details pop-up.

Missing Feature 2 – WP7 overlay with SharePoint Calendar
Pretty similar story here for the calendar. Person is out on site and wants to engage with their {Supplier | Customer | Partner}. They get asked simple requests like “can you book a meeting room for us next week?”

How awesome would it be to be able to bring up a SharePoint Calendar being used for resource bookings, central meetings or events, and overlay it with your own personal calendars (so that you get notifications and can view everyhing in one calendar).

They already do this with Hotmail / Live accounts, so why not SharePoint? This really is a must .. the ability to invite / write to that Calendar from the standard Calendar interface would be a bonus!

Missing Feature 3 – Working with SharePoint Tasks
This is a standard one here .. and really works on so many different levels;

  • I want to see my tasks in a SharePoint List in my WP7 calendar
  • I want to get notifications on my WP7 when a SharePoint task is overdue
  • I want to be able to update the details of a SharePoint task while I am roaming, and people in the office to see those details straight away

If you can wire in the SharePoint workflow / events to the Task list this suddenly becomes very very powerful! You could build entire business centric applications using nothing other than some centrally controlled Task Lists, some Workflow (which you knocked up in SharePoint Designer in a couple of days) and an off-the-shelf WP7 device!


This really is the tip of the iceberg, I could go on and on, but I really think that until this gets fixed the WP7 will continue to be nothing more than a decent consumer device, with little to offer to businesses beyond what other handsets are doing.

Any Android / iPhone / Blackberry (or lets face it .. 10 year old Nokia) can synchronise your Exchange Mailbox … it is the SharePoint (and other LOB) integration that will make WP7 an “Enterprise” device!!