Sunday, July 21, 2013

Windows Phone - Productivity on the Go #SummerSwitch

We're into the home stretch with the #SummerSwitch program. I've talked about a few things I do and don't love, including availability of apps, screen size, and the camera. If you haven't already, or if you'd like a re-cap, you can read my first posts here and here.

This past week I've been spending time with the Microsoft Office apps and SkyDrive. The Windows phone comes with free mobile versions of Office products, including Word, Powerpoint, OneNote and Excel, which is great for productivity on the go. The mobile versions don't have all the bells and whistles of the desktop versions, but they do allow you to open attachments from email, read, edit and save. So, the next time someone sends you an excel file, you can actually open it up and see what's happening before you get home to your computer.

When combined with SkyDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage service, Office apps allow you to access your own files from your phone as well. Want to review your Powerpoint slides on your way to the big presentation, or make some edits to your report during your commute to the office? Windows phone has you covered. Just save your files to your SkyDrive, then pull them up on your phone with the Office app. Review, Edit, Save. Then log in to SkyDrive on your home or office computer to access all your changes.

You can also create new files on your phone.  Open the Office app and scroll across to the "Recent" list. Click on the + at the bottom, then select either Word or Excel and you'll be presented with a blank document to work on. Once you've finished, just save to your SkyDrive for later access across your devices. The mobile app provides some templates as well: Word Agenda, Outline, Report; and Excel Budget, Event Schedule and Mileage Tracker. I am thinking this will provide me the work-around I need in the absence of a proper Blogger mobile blogging app. When the muse strikes me I can create a Word document, write my post, save it to SkyDrive, then copy it into Blogger when I'm back on my laptop. I'll be able to add the images and formatting I want at that time, but the text will have been saved and ready to pop in. Much better than publishing the post without images and formatting, then later editing after it's been live. And much better than writing the post in my head and later forgetting what I wanted to say. (I do that a lot.)

Another blogging plus with SkyDrive - I can save pictures taken with my phone to my SkyDrive. So, if I just need a couple of quick images, I don't need to connect my phone to download the files to my laptop. I can just save them to SkyDrive and grab them right from there in my Blogger upload screen. Easy, right?

One negative - I would really like to be able to attach a SkyDrive document to an outgoing email. The native email client on this phone will allow me to attach only photos, either from my phone or from SkyDrive. I even tried dropping a document into a photos folder, but the email client wouldn't recognise it. I can send a SkyDrive document via email by first opening it, then sharing it, selecting the email option. But I can't just click "reply" to an email message and then attach the file I want them to see. The current set-up adds a couple of steps, but it seems this is something that could be addressed in an app update. (I know Microsoft is listening, so I have my fingers crossed!)

So, Do I Switch?

I think so. I am still not 100% happy with the availability of apps, but my critical ones have been dealt with. Will more developers expand their offerings to include Windows phone versions? I certainly hope so, but of course there's no guarantees. Can I live without Candy Crush Saga on my phone? If I can't, that's a bigger problem for me to deal with!!

I still hate the search button down in the bottom right corner. Maybe one day I'll get used to where it is and stop bumping into it? I do, however, love the back button in the lower left corner and how easy it makes it to get back to another app you were using.

I'm disappointed with battery charging. The battery life is good, but I can't charge the phone through the USB in my car. It charges well plugged into an outlet, and charges, but not quite so quickly, plugged into my plugged-in laptop.

I love the screen on the Nokia 920 and the physical size of the phone. I love the speed at which it runs. The live tiles are awesome. The free Nokia streaming music service provides great listening entertainment. And it's comfortable to watch Netflix on this 4.5 inch screen. Plus the camera and photo editing capabilities are really good and allow me to do a lot right on the phone. And I've just told you how convenient and productive it is to have the Microsoft Office capabilities built-in for mobile work.

This phone has a good mix of business and entertainment value. I've become really comfortable with it, but there's still lots to explore. And I will.

Now to talk to Rogers about switching my plan and number ....

Thank you to Microsoft, Rogers, Nokia, and Hart Galla for this opportunity to get acquainted with the Windows Phone. It was a steep learning curve, and there was definitely frustration at first, but in the end I am really happy with the functionality of the Windows Phone. Oh. And it makes phone calls pretty well too ;)

Disclosure: I am participating in a month-long #SummerSwitch challenge. I will receive compensation for my participation and testing of a Windows phone, which has been provided to me by Microsoft Canada. All opinions on the blog, as always, remain my own.

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