Windows Phone - something went wrong

I was happy with my Lumia 925 running WP8.0. Photography, navigation and OneDrive integration were the most important features for me. The app-gap wasn't really an issue for me, but I was getting an impression that Windows Phone is being neglected or ignored. Some highly anticipated apps eventually arrived (Instagram, Vine) but are not up to date or even still in beta.

8.1 arrives

From my point of, simply put, WP8.1 is a disappointment. Prior to release, I didn't have any major expectations, although 8.1 brings some new features like Cortana (not available for everyone), Action Center with notifications. After updating to 8.1, my experience started to go downhill. Here are main issues.

Battery life

The first thing I noticed was much higher battery usage. Given the way I was using my phone (background tasks reduced to minimum), I was able to get up to 2.5 days usage on a single charge. WiFi was always on, but it wasn't draining the battery. 8.1 changed that, battery would last 1.5 day only, having WiFi always on would drain the battery. Performing two hard resets did not change much, playing around with battery saver and background tasks slightly improved battery life, but it's not what I used to be. I know it might sound strange, but in that regard I am kind of olds chool - I like it when battery lasts quite long, Nokia 6310i anyone?

Action Center and notifications

When it comes to notifications Microsoft was late to the party. Previous iterations (8.0, 7.8, 7.5) only have toast notifications that appear for a brief moment. 8.1 introduced notifications quite late and it's a half-baked product. While notification items are good for me, Action Center has only 4 customisable options (more cannot be added). WiFi switch is one-way toggle that allows to switch WiFi on, then it acts as a shortcut to WiFi settings, so it's not one tap to switch it off. Also, when lock screen is protected with password, you are asked to unlock phone when using one of those things.

Windows Store sucks. Big time!

It really does, but by saying that, I don't mean the app gap mentioned at the beginning. There is an ongoing issue with fake apps and Windows Store is polluted with them. Most of those apps are just web wrappers and are skewing the search results and general perception. Just try to search for 'Facebook' or 'YouTube', you will get loads of thrash apps. What's even worse, searching for one specific apps, won't bring it in the results. Bloody annoying!

Core apps decoupled

Windows Phone team decided to make some core apps as standalone apps. Probably there were some reasons to that but I won't dig into details. The biggest offender here is Xbox Music app; it was so bad orginally, that people refused to use it; the app itself received a lot of updates to address some issues. Another one is OneDrive - a standalone app, that you can get from the store, but some core aspects like backups or images auto-uplaod are embedded in OS and decoupling really doesn't make sense. Yes, it is easier to applies update over the course of time, but performace is sacrified.

So...I made a switch...

Sort of, but don't call me infidel yet. I bought a refurbished iPhone 5 and moved my main number. iPhone was the only alternative there, I can't really stand Android. I've been a long time iOS user, started with first generation of iPod Touch, then tried iPads (but never an iPhone) so I was familiar with the platform already.

To clear some things up, iOS isn't perfect. Transition from iOS6 to iOS7 was painful to me, iOS8 makes some things a little bit better but there are a lot things to improve. Jailbreaking device (Pangu, TaiG) unlocks true potential and makes a lot things much easier/usable, customisable control center being one them (check Cydia, it is really worth it).

There's light at the end of the tunnel

Hopefully, it is not a bullet train. Even though I've switched to iPhone, I am still using my Lumia 925. There are couple of reasons:

  • photography - great camera with bright lens (f/2.0)
  • navigation - Here Maps/Drive is a class of its own
  • apps development - as a .NET developer, finally got my head around and started doing some 'proof of concept' apps for myself (can't say same about Objective-C); hopefully, I will finalise some of those

On top of that, Windows 10 with its features and improvements looks really promising so I am not going to abandon Windows Phone completely. Unless Windows 10 sucks, we are about to see it. Windows Phone community has been given a lot of promises.

Devices! Almost forgot to mention devices

That is another huge topic, but I will keep it short and focus on Nokia/Lumia devices. I won't mention other phones here (HTC and Samsung) as I am not interested in those.

My first smartphone was Lumia 800 followed by 925. After Microsoft bought Nokia, expectations were set quite high, especially when it comes to flagship handsets. From my point of view, Microsoft has introduced way too many low-end and mid range phones. Lumia 930 looks great on paper but current 925 or 920 users can't find compelling reasons to make an upgrade. I get the idea that Microsoft wants to build user base, low-range devices will do the job (low-end phones are very popular in India and South America), but Windows Phone needs a flagship, badly. People are still waiting for one to arrive and it better be soon, ideally when Windows 10 premiers.

Saving forms with sisyphus.js

If you are looking for a jQuery plugin to save forms as drafts locally, sisyphus.js will do all the hard work for you. This lightweight jQuery plugin uses Local Storage (or jStorage if older browsers have to be supported) to maintain state of forms.

Plugin comes with some handy options; setup is very simple and multiple forms on the same page can be targeted. By default, plugin looks after all form elements, and if there is a need, some of them can be excluded.

Check out the latest version on github.

Cloud storage gets bigger

Cloud storage is getting bigger and even more competitive. I'm using Dropbox as a main cloud storage provider, but I got very pleased by a recent changes in MS SkyDrive. As an existing user, my storage has been increased to 25GB and still I don't have to pay for it.
Meanwhile new users signing up for free accounts ,will get 7GB, that is more than my Dropbox after referral updates.

To be keep up with others, Microsoft has released desktop apps for Mac and PC, there is also an update for iOS devices. Here is the comparison of SkyDrive with other providers.

Google also introduced their cloud storage, so there are plenty of providers to choose from: