Windows Phone 7 Mature Enough?

February 25, 2012

It seems that the three big smartphone operating systems are Apple iOS, Android OS, and Windows Phone 7 OS (WP7), with the number of handsets sold in that same order. Personally, I don’t know anyone who owns a WP7 smartphone, and I’ve only seen three people in public that have one. Since I live in the Redmond, WA area  (headquarters for Microsoft) you’d think I’d see more people with WP7 phones but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Now, so far as app development I’ll have to say programming for WP7 with the Visual Studio IDE is the easiest of the three OSes, followed by Android and iOS. I really don’t like iOS app development since it is much lower-level programming than Java for Android and C# for WP7.

But with all this it seems that Microsoft is pushing ahead with WP7 full force and has the handset maker Nokia in their back pocket creating some nice hardware. So it seems prudent to stay in the loop to keep an eye on the improvements made to WP7 over the next several months. An easy way to do so, is by installing and running the WP7 emulator as described on this link. Here, you’ll install the developer’s emulator which will allow you to run WP7 on your PC just like running it on the hardware. If you don’t want to go through all the steps of installing the emulator, etc. you can get a nice preview by going to this link from your web browser. My understanding is that this web-based demo works ok with the Chrome browser, but not with Firefox, or IE. The best way to view this demo is actually from an Apple iOS or Android OS device using the built-in web browser.

Sprint Nexus S 4G – Bad Radio

February 12, 2012

I love my Nexus S 4G smartphone because of the bright screen, quick operation, and the fact I can install custom ROMs if desired. The one thing I really am disappointed with is the cellular radio performance. I routinely only get 1 or 2 bars with my Nexus S on the Sprint Network, while with my old Palm Pixi I almost always got a full set of bars. In fact, it seems that I often get zero bars and switch from 3G to 1x while driving around the Seattle area. What’s up with that?

From what I’ve read in various forums, this issue is common with the Samsung Nexus S 4G phones, so I don’t think it is because I have a defective device. Before I began installing custom ROMs on my Nexus I notice the same issues with the the stock Gingerbread OS as well.

Since the life of the Nexus S for Sprint seems limited with the upcoming release of the newer Samsung Galaxy Nexus, I may need to do an early upgrade to that new device. I’ll only do it if I know for sure the radio signal strength has been improved over my Nexus S phone. I’ve also contemplated switching off Sprint and move to Sprint or AT&T for better phone selection, however, I would have to give up my unlimited data plan which I don’t want to do.

Windows 8 Preview – I don’t like it!

February 12, 2012

Microsoft released their Windows 8 Preview install files several weeks ago, so I decided to give it a test run using the VirtualBox Emulator as my platform on my iMac system. After successfully installing Windows 8, I started it up and tried working with it. The first thing you see is the “Metro” desktop screen which looks like the main screen for a Windows Phone 7 device. I was really confused what to do at this point, so I simply clicked on the big “tiles” on the screen. Most of them didn’t do anything, but when I clicked on the “File Explorer” tile the OS brought up the standard Windows Vista/7 File Explorer application. I was expecting some fresh interface, but instead it seemed to be this Metro screen with the same old Windows Vista apps running on it.

I know this is just a “Preview”, but if the final Windows 8 version looks similar, I don’t think it will generate any excitement for the Windows community. In fact, it may drive people looking for other alternatives such as Linux or Mac. I definitely don’t see any reason to upgrade from Windows Vista or 7 to this new OS.

Custom ROM for Kindle Fire

February 12, 2012

If you’re in to using custom ROMs for your Android devices, you probably already know there’s two Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) OS ROMs available for the Kindle Fire Tablet. Both are still very beta, and unusable for my purposes since I use Netflix and these beta ROMs don’t have video decoding working yet.

One alternative custom ROM that I found that seems “safe” is Paul O’Brien’s MoDaCo Kindle Fire ROM. I say that it is safe, since it is based on the stock Kindle Fire 6.2.2 ROM with some custom tweaks to increase performance. Another big plus (actually, a really big plus!) is the inclusion of the Android Market App in this custom ROM which allows you to access and download apps on the Android Market.

I’ve been using this custom ROM for the last few weeks and runs very stable on my KF. I’m also using a 3rd-party launcher called “Go Launcher” which replaces the Kindle’s bookshelf app launcher with something more similar to Ice Cream Sandwich’s App launcher.

The hardest part with installing a custom ROM on your KF is rooting it, but once you’ve done that and installed an app such as TWRP future ROM updates is a piece of cake. I suggest you check out this site for tips on rooting your Kindle Fire.