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My Windows Phone 8.1 Review, I am still on the fence

Apr 14

Written by:
Monday, April 14, 2014 9:32 PM  RssIcon

wp80 Over lunch today I read the WP 8.1 developer preview was available…..YUP! I couldn’t resist, I had to update it.  Here’s my initial thoughts!

At Build, nearly two weeks ago, Joe Belfiore announced the details of Windows Phone 8.1, and if you’re a Windows Phone developer, you probably were going NUTS trying to figure out WHEN Microsoft was going to actually release it?!?!?!?!  Notification center, VPN, Calendar improvements, and ooooooooohhhhhh Cortana!  I can FINALLY add calendar events just by saying what I want??!?!!?!?!??  WHEN Joe?!  WHEN!??!??!!  Soon.  DOH!!!!!! 

Well today, it was released to WP developers.  If you have a WP license, COOL! It’s easy.  If you don’t, you can fake it by registering on the Windows Phone App Studio Beta site.

Now, if you’re reading this, chances are, you’ve been burnt by installing “bleeding edge stuff!”  Right? Right?  Ya, me to. DOH!  But today……over lunch….. with some trepidation, I couldn’t resist my inner-self saying “….come on!  Ya know you waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant it!”  DOH!  I clicked that link!

The Process – What you need to know?

Preview Here’s the Cole’s notes version.  You goto the link, goto another link on the Marketplace, download the app, use your phone (no, it’s not updated yet, easy thar-pardner LOL) to goto the Preview for Developers (goto the P’s in your app list) and follow the instructions. 

For me, I had to go through the update process twice.  Ginny Caughey caught my tweet today and even said, that could be part of the normal process, just go with it (ok, ok, I’m paraphrasing, but she did say it’s normal).

The phone will reboot, download, install, reboot, backup, rinse and repeat.  I would HIGHLY suggest you do this while the USB is plugged in.  Hey, why take a chance of your battery running out in the middle of this, right?  This is a BIG update, don’t take any chances.  And although the process is not long, not painful, be patient!  Just let it do it’s thing.

Once you’re done…..try out a few things, like your email.  DON’T be surprised if you find yourself re-inputting all your passwords.  I did.  For all the email accounts I have\use on my phone (including the multiple calendars I have).  So if you’re in a rush or if you NEED your phone this afternoon……keep this for another time when you’re not so rush.

CEO Summary

I like it a lot so far and I haven’t even tried Cortana yet!!!!!  I’ve used it regularly this afternoon and tonight without any reboots, hangs, mishaps or misadventures.  In that regard, this is a ROCK SOLID update!  If you’re a WP developer with an 8.0 phone, you need to try it out!  BUT, remember, there are the standard “you void your warranty” warnings, you COULD technically brick your phone….blah blah blah, I’m sure these are things you’ve read…….and ignored before! HAHA LOL  So if you’re one of those people who ignore the regedt32 warnings when you open up your registry editor, then you could be a good candidate to try it out.

DEV Details

Pros

  • image Notification center, FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  YAHOO!!!!!!!!!!!  Now if you miss any toasts, or notifications, you have ONE place to go check them out in the future.  NICE!
  • VPN….FINALLY! YAHOOO!  I haven’t set it up yet, so I haven’t tried it at work, but I will in the next week or so.
  • Calendar app has a great new look and FINALLY the monthly view is not pretending to show text for calendar events (before it would show, from what I could tell Lorem Ipsum text) but now it shows lines, colored if you have multiple calendars, VERY handy to decipher what’s going on).

Cons

  • STILL no way to make individual word corrections when you accidentally had a misspelled word to the autocorrect keyboard.
  • LockScreenI DON’T like how the ToDo list on the calendar is two more clicks away from what it was before!  It used to be one swipe on the Calendar, now you have to hit the ellipses at the bottom (careful to hit the right place) and then clicks Tasks, all this time, you have to wait for the transitions.  Not practical IMHO!
  • I DON’T appreciate having to reset all my color Settings.  Hey MS, you might not think it’s a big deal, but when I have four people’s calendars on there, AND the settings are confusing (I have 15 color settings, YOU explain to me how that’s not confusing), you shouldn’t have touched my previously selected colors!
  • There’s a bug with the Windows Explorer connection to the files on the phone.  While writing this article, I’ve found the connection from the phone to Windows Explorer and seeing the screen caps is not nearly as “live” as I thought it was going to be (steps to repro, take a screen cap on the phone, open Windows Explorer, navigate to your phone, Pictures, Screenshots and yours is there, now take another screen cap, hit F5, and what you’d expect to see…..it’s not there). To get it to show up, you have disconnect the phone and start over again.
  • I was hoping the Lock Screen would have more than ONE calendar event listed, after all, there HALF of the screen available, why can’t the lock screen list 2/3/4 upcoming calendar events?!?!?!!? This comes in handy when you have multiple people’s calendars and you have closely times upcoming events but currently only see ONE.
  • IMHO, there remains a bug with the Tasks, try setting up a new task and set the Reminder Time for 7:00am tomorrow morning. Now, go sync your hotmail account, now goto your Hotmail\Live account, open up Calendar which lists your Tasks (ie todo list), and find your new task (I called mine Testing).  The UI and Reminder Date\Time and the Live Due Date\Time and notifications are confusing, how does one day and 17 hours match up with what I set on the phone?
  • image image

On the Fence

  • ScrnCapsMicrosoft changed\updated the calendar and this is a VERY delicate point for me!  I don’t game on my phone, I use it as a PDA (no, not public displays of affection, Personal Digital Assistant).  The OLD Calendar had my ToDo list right off the top pivot, but now it’s two more clicks away. CRAP! I’m not sure I’ll be using it that often now?!  I LOVED that I could use it from the web and my phone, but now it’s hard to get to on the phone, NOT NICE!
  • I haven’t tried Cortana yet cause I was at work this afternoon and didn’t have time to change my region and play with it yet, maybe later this week?
  • There’s an option to show another two columns of tiles, cool feature, I turned it off after I tried it out, the tiles were too small for my liking.
  • Microsoft has a new way to get screen captures (press vol up and power buttons together).  They had to do that to support removing of the dedicated three buttons at the bottom (back, Start and search) and the old way of doing screen caps (PWR and Start).  When you do the old way, you’ll be “reminded” of the new way.
  • I wish Microsoft would put semantic zoom on the Calendar instead of View then day\week\month\year settings, just let me zoom in and out!
  • Microsoft changed the google and Exchange email icons on the start menu.  Not bad, I just wasn’t expecting it that’s all.

Conclusions
For a small investment in time, you too can get a solid update to your Windows Phone.  You’ll get Notification Center, VPN and if you’re willing to virtually move to the States, Cortana (just make sure “move” back to your home country to install apps from the Marketplace).  I’m not sure the calendar settings are going to get changed, which makes me a bit disappointed, and will make me start looking for replacement apps and websites.  But overall, I’m glad I did it so I give you some deep down details about it.  If you’re not using the Calendar like me, then I’m pretty confident you LOVE the 8.1 dev preview! 

Now that you know what’s in store when you do the update, it’s time to grab a coffee and get coding!  If you DO install the update, please leave me a comment to let me know how it went!  I hope it goes smoothly!

UPDATE 04-15-2014

Two other observations I've found is excessive (well, IMHO excessive) heat and battery drain.  Just while using the phone yesterday, I found the back of my Lumia 1020, specifically the bulging lense, to get excessively hot.  Previously it would only get that hot while playing games.  Now it's all the time. Secondly, I charged my phone over night (100%), and within ONE HOUR of leaving the house, the phone was already down 20%.  Huh?  It was suggested to goto Batttery Saver and turn off undesirable apps because the update may have turned them back on.  DOH!  Not very nice Microsoft.

 

Resources

Marketplace: Preview for Developers

Microsoft: Windows Phone App Studio Beta

PCHenry.com: Ever notice the Calendar view on your Windows Phone?

Twitter: Ginny Caughey (WP MVP – this means she KNOWS what she’s talking about)

Windows Phone Central: Windows Phone 8.1 Review

The Verge: Windows Phone 8.1 now available to download

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1 comment(s) so far...


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Re: My Windows Phone 8.1 Review, I am still on the fence

After a bit of complaining last night about new update bugs, and after an exchange with two MVPs (Peter Ritchie and Colin Melia), I heard back from a Microsoft person (Andrew Clinick).

My one beef was\is, I'm going through a lot of effort to document my bugs, is someone even bothering to read them? Well, from Andrew's Twitter profile page (twitter.com/andrewclinick/status/461710419065712642), it would seem like I got someone's attention. (If PeterR and ColinM....maybe, kind of, sort of sent one or two emails last night, I thank you very much!!!!!!) Seems like someone IS listening and paying attention! Thank you!

Andrew asked "what's the bug"? Great question, here's what I have so far (reverse order from the two ms sites);
Bugs:
Where are the photos and videos stored?
social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/46350582-88f1-49ef-a7e3-d7cba4b9acde/where-are-the-photos-and-videos-stored?forum=winphoneosissues#46350582-88f1-49ef-a7e3-d7cba4b9acde

Emails not showing up for contacts
social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/4edb1d0a-4341-4129-960e-b65295f7b011/emails-not-showing-up-for-contacts?forum=winphoneosissues#4edb1d0a-4341-4129-960e-b65295f7b011

Editing a calendar event already started won't save changes and gives NOT user feedback of errors
social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/df820d41-3ea1-46e0-bc25-8d9d1d841da3/editing-a-calendar-event-already-started-wont-save-changes-and-gives-not-user-feedback-of-errors?forum=winphoneosissues#0c8089ce-0c4a-4153-bcce-864b65b513e9

bug with Lock Screen not going away
social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/bb0733d5-1304-4e51-b699-7719d8dce364/bug-with-lock-screen-not-going-away?forum=winphoneosissues#bb0733d5-1304-4e51-b699-7719d8dce364

Bug with video feedback
social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/885b842d-5033-47a5-b256-026ce88cd0cc/bug-with-video-feedback?forum=winphoneosissues#885b842d-5033-47a5-b256-026ce88cd0cc

Bug with Calendar view, missing calendar events in the day view
social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/be5144d9-e716-4904-903f-3a949f8a6be8/bug-with-calendar-view-missing-calendar-events-in-the-day-view?forum=winphoneosissues#be5144d9-e716-4904-903f-3a949f8a6be8


Suggestions:
Support upside-down Home Screen
windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/suggestions/2786941-support-upside-down-home-screen

how do you mute everything in one shot?
windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/suggestions/5847219-how-do-you-mute-everything-in-one-shot

in the new games app, where is the sorting by most recently played?
windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/suggestions/5847216-in-the-new-games-app-where-is-the-sorting-by-most

No way to make single corrections for Keyboard suggestion
windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/suggestions/5847209-no-way-to-make-single-corrections-for-keyboard-sug

Put agenda view button on the app bar in the Calendar app
windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/suggestions/5847191-put-agenda-view-button-on-the-app-bar-in-the-calen

show more than one upcoming event from the calendar on the lock screen
windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/suggestions/5847186-show-more-than-one-upcoming-event-from-the-calenda

little green triangle in Calendar not enough to highlight current day
windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/suggestions/5847174-little-green-triangle-in-calendar-not-enough-to-hi

PLEASE bring back the old Agenda view
windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/suggestions/5847164-please-bring-back-the-old-agenda-view

put the volume application in the notification center
windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/suggestions/5847136-put-the-volume-application-in-the-notification-cen

By Peter Henry on   Thursday, May 01, 2014 9:02 AM

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