Cortana in the UK – Developing for Windows Phone and installing Windows Phone Developer Preview

After my excitement last week testing the Windows Technical Preview (aka WIndows 10) it got me to thinking about my phone.

My chosen mobile device is a Nokia Lumia 920 which I’d updated to Lumia Cyan, otherwise known as Windows Phone 8.1. I’ve had the 920 for a little over a year having switched from an iPhone 4s at contract renewal. I am not an avid smart phone user, I have very little time for exploring Apps outside of the built-in and social media Apps you would expect. I had become bored with iOS’s flat, “blank faced” operating system, akin to a Windows desktop full of icons if you will. By contrast the live tiles and bright colours of Windows Phone I found new and exciting, appealing to my desire to be drawn to interact with my phone. I decided I could not reprogram myself to constantly pick up and play with my phone so a phone that tempted and teased me through interactive tiles to play with it, well lets just say I have no desire to go back to iPhone, even iPhone 6.

So I’m running Windows 10 on a laptop with its shiny new start button and I get to thinking about Windows Phone 8.1 and more importantly the features I know our cousins across the pond are enjoying that are currently still to be deployed in the UK and much of the rest of the world. If I can run a beta OS on my computer surely I’m game to do the same on my phone?

So I head to Microsoft’s Developer Site over at dev.windows.com. You’ll want to go to the “Develop” link at the top and then “Downloads”. On the downloads page you’ll want to scroll down to Windows Phone and then under the Windows Phone Preview text follow the “Find out more” link.

If you are not a hardened developer (and I’m not) then the easiest way to dabble in developing for your phone is to look into option 2, “Build Apps using App Studio”. App Studio is a high level “App Creator”, allowing you to create Apps with little or no knowledge of code. This may be something I will visit in a future post but for now we’re interested in the link “Start New Project” in the top right corner of the page.

You will need a Microsoft Account to proceed further but once signed in you are dropped into the App Studio creation page showing you various templates to get started with developing your first app. By all means delve in but for our purposes we need go no further, by simply triggering an App Studio account using our Microsoft Account we have enrolled ourselves as a developer. We can now click “OS Preview” at the top of the page and then go straight to step 3 “Download the App“.

At this point we need to switch to our phone (assuming you’ve come this far on a PC). ‘Preview For Developers’ is an App for your phone which once installed will ask you to sign in with your developer Microsoft Account. Sign in complete, you will be asked if and when you would like updates to be applied to your phone.

Developer Preview App

Word of Caution! At this point there is no going back. You cannot downgrade your phone from a developer preview version you can only stop future updates. If you decide you want to try the developer OS on your Windows Phone then once installed you are committed so be sure!

So there you have it, roughly half and hour of download and update time and your phone will be running the latest preview version of the OS. Say hello to Cortana, the Battery Saver App, and various settings tweaks.

Cortana-Windows-Phone

I have experienced no problems running build 8.10.14176.243 on my Lumia 920. I enjoy using Cortana, it’s a clever piece of AI programming and to my mind more personal than Siri. It’s worth mentioning that one of my other devices is an Apple iPad Mini running iOS 8.0.2 which I enjoy as a device and it helps keep me abreast of Apple’s iOS development.

You follow this article at your own risk, I am purely tempting you by showing the way. I accept no responsibility for anything that happens to your phone be it fools, mishaps, or regret. This is not an official article and you should refer to Microsoft’s own resources before proceeding.

It’s ironic when not everyone likes U2

Comedy Apple Privacy

I wonder whether Apple’s Tim Cook appreciated the irony of the two images adorning the Apple.com homepage this week? The Apple CEO’s message regarding the US tech firms commitment to privacy appeared right alongside an image advertising the band U2’s album with the strapline “And it’s already in your iTunes music library”.

I believe Apple should learn an important lesson from the comedy juxtaposition of images, and it seems they have with the release of a “one click removal button” just days after the album launch. It seems not everyone keeps abreast of the iTunes marketing hype and unaware of the free nature of the album initially cried “virus” on social media sites. Even as the outraged re-tweets subsided it became apparent that free stuff is not necessarily welcome stuff, and more importantly some Apple fans were most definitely not U2 fans. So the removal button is made available and the furore died down but what should we take from this?

Well in my opinion Apple should learn that lovely as their precious hardware is, we the consumer are the actual owners. And the giant behemoth that is the iTunes Store, spewing forth it’s free stuff and recommended items we’ve never heard of? Well lets say it again loud, “We are the consumer!“, we may like free stuff but it should be our decision over the digital content that enters our lives.

Aside from the fact that I became bored by iPhone, personal control is one of the reasons I love my Windows Phone. I applaud Microsoft for giving me a phone OS which allows me to remove almost all the pre-installed Apps (including Mail and People). There are very few things that can’t be removed from a Windows Phone 8 should you with to return your phone to the Nokia 6210 era. As it happens I like some of Microsoft Apps, they took time but they’re really trying and are starting to have some pleasing results. It could be that as the underdog in the mobile arena they are that much more focussed on listening to their consumers needs rather than lording it over the great fan-boy masses. Whatever the reason I hope Microsoft maintain the current ethos of Windows Phone 8.1, it’s a breath of fresh air and at present is free from the whiff of Orwellian control you feel from the Apple and Google sphere.

This stories a couple of weeks old and you can read the BBC’s take on events here but Apple really should choose their homepage advertisements with care.