So Nokia shipped me a Lumia 920 to play around with, through their Nokia Connects program. It was supposed to have arrived yesterday already, but I had given inadequate address information so the courier wasn’t able to find me.
I have to say, I had pretty high expectations for the device as I’ve been following Windows Phone as a platform somewhat and also had some good discussions with friends about it (see my blog post here). Having used the device (it’s yellow by the way) for a couple of hours tonight, getting it setup, etc. – I have to say, I’m already impressed. It really is a breath of fresh air.
Oh and I should probably say what phone I’m currently using – iPhone 4 (been using it for 2.5 years now).
Contacts and Calendar
Right off the bat my biggest worry was not understanding how to use the phone, but getting all my data synced. I had not looked anything up in advance and decided to play along. Nokia is famous for having this “Data Transfer” feature in their phones since sliced bread. It worked so and so in the past and I definitely saw it in the application list, but immediately thought that it was meant for data sharing between Nokia phones.
I looked around for a solution to export my contacts from my MacBook Air to a file and then try to have them imported. It seemed like a lot of work so I decided to give Data Transfer a try. I paired up the devices and Lumia 920 immediately started pulling in my 850 or so contacts from the iPhone. In about 2 minutes everything was done and the basic setup for the phone (I still consider it one) was done.
Setting up my calendar wasn’t as easy, but not too difficult either. I’ve been using iCloud’s calendar due to the syncing functionality working so much better in an Apple only environment. Nokia of course relies a lot on Microsoft’s tools, being on Windows Phone, so I had to sign into my Live account and from there go to calendars. From there, I imported my iCloud exported calendar file (.ics format) to get it first working in the web based system (which is super smart of Microsoft – to keep all strings at their end and not allow device manufacturers to connect data for clients).
After the import had succeeded, the phone automatically pulled in my calendar data as I had also signed in to my Live account on the phone. Simple enough and definitely a very positive surprise for the on-boarding experience.
A lot of people have told me that WP8 doesn’t have that great of a catalogue for apps. I agree, a lot of the new innovative apps are still created for the iOS first. However, I found the most basic apps for myself very quickly; Spotify, Evernote and a couple of others. I’ve also realised that while I use a certain selection of apps I’m pretty used to a standard set of some 10-15 apps at any given time.
Some applications I was missing though are a good podcast player (I’m pretty certain there is one, but I couldn’t settle on anything yet) as well as the Economist. I listen to the audio articles of The Economist during my morning and evening commute quite a lot and it’s a great way to “read” the content when you really don’t have time to sit down in front of a magazine or newspaper as they call themselves.
I’m sure there are a couple of other apps I still need to find to get my daily routines working, but so far I’m really impressed with the initial experience.
And finally – the social networks
My first two applications I installed were Facebook and Twitter. Even without the network specific apps, you are able to follow what’s going on in your circles as the platform ties really nicely the social actions into the user experience. You have this People tile, which shows streams of notifications aggregated into one from all your social networks. You’re even able to see the latest updates from people when you view their profile. Very simple, but still so much different to how the iPhone works.
I remember hearing many talks by Marko Ahtisaari about things working in silos and how it really isn’t the best way to use the phone by always going back to the home screen to start things off. It really isn’t and one thing I really liked is that you are able to pull individual items from inside the applications to the home screen and pin them there. I was already playing around with pinning a few important Evernote notes to the home screen to keep them constantly there for quick access.
That’s about everything so far – lots more to write about (and photograph) in the coming two weeks for sure.