Windows Phone 8.1 Initial Experience

After having used Android for last few years, I finally decided to switch games and try my hands on Windows Phone 8.1. My official work experience has been mostly on Microsoft and Windows and I have closed followed the development of both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 and then their newer versions and have written my share of white papers on it as well (till last year). One of the main reasons for staying away from Windows Phone 8 or 8.1 so far had been the lack of availability of various apps that I found need in my day to day work.

With time however the availability of applications has improved and while not every app is still there in Windows Phone 8.1 incarnation, but the scenario is surely better off than before. So when my Samsung Galaxy S3 started giving problems (hanging, call drops, charging issues, breaks in song playback and in general a distinct slowness in response times), I decided to get myself a new phone. However didn't want to spend a whole lot. So looked up for best phone options within my limited budget. Unfortunately some of them were available only online and I was more looking for an option to exchange the Galaxy S3 (haven't tried OLX yet).

Of the various models that my regular shopkeeper showed me I finally narrowed down to Nokia Lumia 730. I will not get into a feature listing here for all that information is easily available online. It took me about half a day to get most of my stuff up and running. Fortunately I store all my contacts now in Google and hence getting them on my new phone was fairly easy without requiring any phone to phone syncing. A few names still got missed out (probably when I added them I missed marking them as Google contacts). Anyway except for Citibank app, I have most of my other apps on the phone now and working fine. The phone's response time and in general the response to touch is amazing so far.

There are some differences between the apps functionality like in Whatsapp I cannot clear the conversation in a group, in Twitter I cannot find an option to “add to list”, but in the ICICI's iMobile app, I actually find the UI much better, where the accounts are displayed segregated by the type, so the information is much more easier to understand.

Windows Phone 8.1 included a new feature called Cortana. Cortana is supposed to be phone's assistant and helps do our work better and faster. The online article says that it is available in India, but when I tried to run it, it gave an error saying that it isn't supported. I finally managed to get it working, by following this article. I haven't put it to much use as yet, but this one feature that I will play around a bit with in days to come.

The other feature that I surely wanted to use was Kids Corner. My daughter likes to keep checking my or my wife's phone and I wanted to restrict her access so that she doesn't gets into my official emails or other such things. So I went to settings and enabled Kids Corner and added a few apps and games to it and activated it. Surprisingly when I launched it, it prompted me to type my lock screen password. This is a bug that people have made a lot of noise about and there have been claims from Microsoft and Nokia that this has been fixed (see here and here). But seems like the reality is that the bug still exists and to get into kid's corner my lock screen password is required. It essentially makes the feature much less useful, for the idea is that my kid should be able to use my phone when I am not around. She can still use it, but every time I need to first unlock it and then let her use it. Kid's corner can sure have its own password, but it should be different from my lock screen password.

So much for this feature. Anyway I have still more things to explore on the phone. Hopefully will get back with an updated account of it shortly and Microsoft will, in the meantime, fix this bug and release an update. 


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