Mi app store induced Whatsapp obsolescence

TLDR: If you are using a Xiaomi phone like the Mi 4 or redmi series then:

  1. Go to the Whatsapp site and download and install the apk (you may need to enable third party app installs in settings)
  2. Disable auto updates on the Mi app store to prevent similar issues with other apps

On opening Whatsapp yesterday (13 Jan), I was greeted by a message saying that the version of Whatsapp was obsolete and had expired on that day. Oddly, there was no update available on the Google Play store and I was not on their beta testing program either.

A bit of searching seemed to indicate that this was a MIUI problem, in particular due to their Mi App Store which seemed to be updating apps automatically. There was however no app update on it either.

Finally read on the discussion thread that downloading the apk directly from the Whatsapp site fixed the problem for most and that was exactly what I did. I also went and disabled the Mi app store auto updates to ensure that other apps don’t end up this way.

Lifeline

A simple yet engaging game for the mobile world. Imagine you’re communicating with a person stranded in a remote location and guiding them along. Your inputs could easily be a matter of life and death at that.

In terms of game mechanics, it is a very simple game since it’s just plain text with A-B choice making. The real novelty is in the game pacing as the communication happens in real time, so you’ll be playing it over the course of a few days.

The game’s currently on sale on both the App Store (just ₹10 in India) and Play Store, so go get it and enjoy a round of innovative story telling.  

Mi 4: 2 month usage review

Xiaomi Mi 4 unboxed
Xiaomi Mi 4 unboxing

I finally replaced my Galaxy S3 in April after almost 3 years of service. It had begun to show signs of aging for a while, and I had managed to extend its usability for a few months by flashing Cyanogenmod on it last year. The gadetitis relapse hit me in March this year and I began scouting for my next Android phone in March. After lots of debate, it boiled down to the 64 GB versions OnePlus One and the Xiaomi Mi 4, and the Mi fan festival ensured that price was not going to be a factor when choosing between the two. In the end, the smaller form factor and IR port of the Mi 4 won and I even ended up renewing my Flipkart First subscription to get the phone in a day.

In terms of build quality, the Mi 4 has a very premium feel to it with its steel frame and from the front it has a striking resemblance to the iPhone 5\5s. The back though is a lot more mundane plastic, but there is a faint pattern visible under direct lighting. When it comes to the specs, it is pretty much a Nexus 5 in a prettier package. While it is missing NFC, it does have an IR port that can let you control TVs, ACs etc.

The camera, while pretty decent, pales in comparison to the iPhone 5s that I also own. Colours can turn out a bit oversaturated in shots and the video stabilization has its own issues resulting in jitters if you pan around quickly with shaky hands. I also discovered that the Carousel app from Dropbox can prevent you from shooting videos if you enable the camera overlay option in that app. I missed quite a few video opportunities before I was finally resolved the issue.

The on board storage of 64 GB for the price is the real icing on the cake, and this makes a difference over SD card slots when you have a huge library of games like I do thanks to the Humble Mobile Bundle sales. The 2014 flagship class specs comprising of a full HD display powered by the SnapDragon 801 ensure that games fly on the device. It is definitely a lot faster than my iPad mini that’s based on the aging A5 platform. I haven’t faced any heating issues with the phone so far, and the only time it heats up is when the signal is weak or while charging a severely depleted battery.

On the software front, MIUI also adds a touch of iOS-ness to the usability with some of its design philosophies and then some. Though it’s based on KitKat (without ART support at that), there are also a lot of thoughtful additions that MIUI brings that has kept me from switching to the Google launcher and making Google Now a first citizen. Lack of Lollipop is a bit of a downer, but ART brings its own set of compatibility issues with many games, and I’m quite happy with the phone’s performance and usability for the time being.

The missing NFC hasn’t bothered me much so far, and it was a rarely used feature of my Galaxy S3 as well. However, with Android Pay around the corner, NFC is bound to become a must have feature. That said, it will be at least a year or two before there’s any significant penetration of the service, and that always leaves room for a phone upgrade.

Battery life has also been quite good for me and it easily lasts a day even with some gaming and maps usage. During days of lighter usage, it even manages to stretch to 2 days. In fact, it easily beats my iPhone 5s in the battery life department and I can rely on it to get me through a busy day unlike the iPhone. Overnight discharge is also minimal – around 5-6%, while charging is also quite fast and I can get through a day by charging the phone for an hour in the morning.

Overall, I’m quite happy with the phone and don’t find any compromise or downgrade unlike some of my earlier purchases. It represents one of the best value devices on the market currently, though the Mi 4i is arguably better value if you’re not too fussed about metallic builds and IR ports.

4 Years of Smartphone use

It was a little over 4 years ago that I got my first smartphone, and a little over a month ago since I got my 7th one (I do have 2 connections so it’s not that bad). These 2 phones cost me almost the same, but in terms of specs, they couldn’t be any less similar. Here’s looking back at my many smart life companions:

Samsung Galaxy S LCD (2011)

This was my first smartphone bought in Mar 2011, well after the smartphone revolution had started. It cost me around Rs 19,000 at that time and came with a then decent 8 GB storage and the Samsung staple microSD slot. In terms of overall specs, it was just below the Galaxy S flagship of its time but the performance was pretty reasonable to start with. I loved the fact that I finally had Google Maps in my pocket. My primary usage of the phone was also for internet access as my main voice connection was CDMA based and it was on a dumb phone. The phone began to show signs of trouble around a year later when it used to require a soft reset every other morning to wake up. Plus the OS was also stuck on Android 2.2 FroYo with no immediate update in sight.

HTC One V (2012)

I finally grew frustrated with the recurring freezes and lack of OS update in my Galaxy S and decided to scout around for a replacement. Found the just launched HTC One V whose looks I liked quite a bit, plus it had the then shiny Android 4.0. I bought it without too many second thoughts at Rs 17,000 though the phone was in many ways a downgrade from the Galaxy S with its lack of a front facing camera and no magnetometer meaning trouble navigating maps. Still, I was quite happy with the phone and a few of my friends and family members even bought this model based on my recommendation. Then less than 2 months later, during an office offsite meet, it decided to die on me. It turned out that a lot of people had been facing similar issues with this model. Haven’t considered or recommended a HTC phone since.

Samsung Galaxy S3 (2012)

I bought this phone more out of frustration with my last purchase and decided to buy a phone with no compromises that’ll last me a few years. It had just been launched and so I ended up paying a hefty premium at Rs 39,000. However, the phone was a huge jump in both usage experience and quality over the last ones and I ended up using it for nearly 3 years before it finally bit the dust. It started off on Android 4.0 and went all the way up to 4.3 officially. KitKat was not released officially for it due to its 1 GB RAM, but I flashed it with Cyanogenmod last year for its unofficial KitKat upgrade. It had also begun signs of slow down around the 2 year mark, but the flash gave it some breathing room. It also became my Android gaming platform for my Humble Bundle games, and a mobile mini tablet of sorts.

Samsung Galaxy Pop CDMA (2012)

I finally upgraded my CDMA connection with this device out of barely a dozen choices as I had grown tired of having to maintain a disconnected phonebook on a dumb phone. It cost me around Rs 8,000 which was a significant premium over the equivalent GSM model, and that too for just 256 MB of on board storage. Moreover, my CDMA SIM did not support data and I actually ended up using it as a wifi only smartphone. Though it was stuck on Android 2.2, it wasn’t a bad experience overall considering the fact that I used it almost exclusively for voice calls. Overall, not the best deal but given the limited options in the CDMA space it served its purpose. This was also my first online phone purchase.

Nokia Lumia 720 (2013)

I began having network reception issues with my CDMA connection, and after a few months of bearing it, decided to move over to a GSM connection which obviously meant a new phone. Windows Phone was looking quite promising at that time with 8.0 having been launched a few months back with pretty positive reviews. I was sure that I didn’t want another flagship and so narrowed down to the Lumia 720. It cost me around Rs 17,000 and was one of the best value models of its time. The camera was the best in class and the battery lasted 2 days comfortably. It wasn’t a fast phone, but it had a smoothness that Android lacked. The OS update situation was also quite rosy with the Windows Phone preview updates trickling in without any troubles. I was very happy with the phone until I dropped it at home and shattered the screen. That of course meant a replacement of the phone and not the screen.

Apple iPhone 5s (2014)

I made some nice phone comparison spreadsheets to rationalize the different model features, and the iPhone 5s was definitely not the best value even though it had a price cut due to the imminent iPhone 6 launch. I was looking for an upgrade in the photography department as well. The Lumia 925 and not yet launch 930 were top contenders as the 720 replacement, but the app situation finally won over as I had built up a good collection of iOS apps thanks to my iPod touch and iPads. I ended up getting the 16 GB gold model for around Rs 46,000. Almost a year later, the only gripe I have with it is the limited storage, but the iCloud photo library optimization has managed to keep things going. The photography has definitely been a revelation, and I don’t see the performance of the phone becoming a limiting factor anytime soon.

Xiaomi Mi 4 (2015)

This completes the Android circle for the time being, with the 64 GB model coming in at Rs 22,000 – just a little over 10% more than my first smartphone. It has pretty much all the bells and whistles one can hope from a flagship including an IR blaster and the specs are top of the line as well. It was a long deliberation between this and the OnePlus One, but the size and IR blaster finally won out. So far, I haven’t had any reason to complain, but given that it’s an Android phone I’ll reserve the final verdict for a year down the line as that’s when the slowdown begins. For now, it is definitely an excellent phone and a big upgrade over the Galaxy S3 it replaces. Let’s see whether it matches the 3 years of service as well.

A Tale of 3 App Stores

I setup my company’s app store accounts for iOS, Android and Windows last year and have been managing them for over a year now. The journey has been quite interesting, starting from signing up for the accounts to switching to a MacBook Air last April for iOS development. Here are a few observations on the journey so far:

  • The signup process is pretty simple for Android and Windows and the cost is also minimal. Apple on the other hand has a comprehensive process if you opt to setup a company account that allows you to have development team members. Plus they are the costliest of the lot at $99 per year.
  • For all the flak that Android draws for its developmental difficulties, its app store management tools are the best. you can easily setup a decentralized account granting access on a per app basis to different team members. This makes it very convenient and easy to work with multiple development partners in case of an enterprise.
  • Windows Store unfortunately is on the other end of the spectrum with no support for any kind of team members. So, the account manager is left to do all the app listings and package uploads.
  • Apple is somewhere in between, allowing team members, but not providing app level access controls. So, one development partner could potentially look at the others’ work. Plus, the main account P12 certificate needs to be shared if you want to allow anyone other than the account owner to upload apps.
  • Alpha and beta testing is also very simple on Android where you can just upload the package, setup a Google Group to manage the testers and setup the process.
  • Testing for iOS is also fairly easy now that TestFlight is integrated into iTunes Connect. However, if you want to allow external testers then your app needs to go through a review process.
  • Windows Store does not seem to offer any testing support at the moment.
  • On the store management app front, Apple seems to be the only one offering an iTunes Connect app that lets you monitor your account. Nothing equivalent for Android or Windows so far.

Overall, Android or more specifically the Google Play Store seems to be the easiest to manage with a decentralized enterprise account while Windows Store involves a lot of administrative overhead, with iOS closer to the Play Store. Let’s see if the situation improves with Windows 10 over the next one year.

The New Microsoft?

Just replace Google with Microsoft and turn back the clock by 15-20 years in the below article and you will notice striking similarities in their strategies to capture the market:

Google’s iron grip on Android: Controlling open source by any means necessary | Ars Technica.

The decisions make perfect business sense and is possibly the easiest way for Google to maintain control over Android while taking care of the fragmentation issues that have plagued the platform over the last few years. As an end user this has both positive and negative implications. The good part is that we do not have to depend as much on OEMs and carriers for Android updates and features. The bad news is mainly for the open source fanatics who thought that Android was “open”.

Of course, if you are an Android device maker, particularly one that is floundering in the face of the Samsung onslaught, then you are in a tough spot. Case in point is HTC that has been making pretty distinct devices that get good reviews, but doesn’t have any profits to show. Good acquisition target for Amazon it seems.

Then, there is also Google’s strategy to suffocate the Windows Phone platform by ignoring it and depriving it of first party Google Apps. Another strategy that makes very good business sense, but not really in the spirit of “Don’t be Evil”.

In a broader sense, the “Don’t be Evil” Google is long gone, having been replaced by a business savvy one which is a natural transition for maturing companies to survive in the marketplace. I just hope that Google Services don’t do to the internet what Microsoft did with Internet Explorer and Office…

Thinking about the most forward thinking smartphone in the world

As with the “S” iPhone releases so far, the iPhone 5s continues the trend of looking practically the same as the previous version while making radical improvements under the hood. I have never had and iPhone of my own so far, but that should not stop me from sharing some thoughts on the new release:

  • The A7 processor with its 64 bit architecture is undoubtedly the most forward thinking part of the launch. In 2 years, Apple’s entire mobile portfolio should be 64 bit, and 3-4 years from now, most iDevices will be 64 bit as well given the typical upgrade cycles.
  • The A7 also probably sets the foundation stone for a possible move to Apple’s own SoC on their larger devices like the MacBook and iMac. The A7 is in touching distance of Intel’s new architecture for Atom, and 4-5 years of incremental updates should bring it up to the good enough mark. Of course, Intel would have pushed the performance envelope even further by then, but how much of that will be meaningful remains to be seen.
  • It should be interesting to see what happens to the Apple TV going forward. It has the most modest of specs at present, and without an app platform there is no need for much improvements in performance. This is likely to change by the end of the year, or at most within the next year.
  • The GPU is also interesting as it supports pretty high resolutions (well above 4K). Another point to think about for the Apple TV.
  • Then, there is the M7 motion processor that is decoupled from the main SoC. This serves as a perfect test bed for whatever wearable device that Apple may be designing, but also indicates that there are likely to be A7 based devices without the M7 – iPads maybe or even a future Apple TV.
  • Motion processors seem to be getting popular, and Google-Motorola arguably beat Apple to market in this regard with the Moto X. On the Android front, this is bound to bring in some efficiencies resulting in better battery life. And there is of course Google Now which is bound to start making greater use of such processors sooner rather than later (Kit Kat & Nexus 5?).
  • The TouchID fingerprint sensor is likely to be just as radical, and I’d say a bigger feature than Siri. Initial usage feedback is pretty positive. Let’s see how it holds up in the longer term given that the 5s is supposed to be a future thinking device.
  • The lower “s” of the 5s is also pretty forward thinking given that we’ll have a Galaxy S5 in 5-6 months.
  • As for the Android copycats, we can be sure that the flagships of next year will feature 64 bit processors, motion processors, fingerprint sensors (S Finger a la S Voice?) and dual tone flashes. Hopefully they also get out of the megapixels race on the camera front and go for larger pixels (Windows Phone seems to have avoided it so far).
  • iOS 7 also possibly indicates what a notification centre on Windows Phone would look like given the similar design language in many areas.

Update: Some very interesting thoughts by Cringely as well about Apple outmaneuvering Microsoft on the no compromises PC model:

Jump forward in time to a year from today. Here’s what I expect we’ll see. Go to your desk at work and, using Bluetooth and AirPlay, the iPhone 5S or 6 in your pocket will automatically link to your keyboard, mouse, and display. Processing and storage will be in your pocket and, to some extent, in the cloud. Your desktop will require only a generic display, keyboard, mouse, and some sort of AirPlay device, possibly an Apple TV that looks a lot like a Google ChromeCast.

Windows Phone and the Google Contacts problem

Ever since I got my Lumia 720, I have had issues with missing phone numbers for some of my Google contacts. The same contacts showed up with all their details on my Galaxy S3. Since practically all my contact data are stored on Google this was a real downer in an otherwise excellent experience with the phone.

Thankfully, a bit of research on the web along with some experimentation led me to the problem and the eventual solution. The problem seems to be phone numbers that have been categorized as Main in particular on Google contacts. These are not recognized by Windows Phone and don’t show up in the contact details. The only solution to this is to categorize the number as ones recognized by Windows Phone like Home, Work or Mobile.

You can also see from the screenshots that while some categories are common to Google contacts and Windows Phone, quite a few are not. In such cases, you should opt for the Windows Phone option as Google contacts is quite flexible since it allows user defined categories (Android phones also seem to be flexible in this regard) while Windows Phone does not recognize ones outside its list.

A couple of other things to keep in mind:

  1. Windows Phone does not provide you a send SMS option from the profile view unless the number is categorized as Mobile or Mobile 2.
  2. If you create a number with a Windows Phone category not available on Google contacts, it will show up on Google contacts, but may have a different label. For example, Mobile 2 ends up as Car. So, don’t be surprised.

 

Nokia Lumia 720 – One Month Usage Review

I recently ported my Reliance CDMA connection to Airtel GSM, and this called for a change of handsets. I was using a Samsung Galaxy Pop CDMA with Reliance, along with a Galaxy S III as my primary internet device. My requirements for the new phone were quite simple:

  1. Good battery life since this was to be my primary phone for voice – the Galaxy Pop used to serve me for 2-3 days (without a mobile data connection though)
  2. Price around Rs 15,000
  3. Smooth and reliable performance

Given the above constraints, Windows Phones seemed to be the way to go, and also give me some platform diversity. There were 3 options – the Lumia 520 (Rs 9500), 620 (Rs 13,000) and 720 (Rs 17,000) which have the same internals (CPU+GPU) thus having similar user experiences. I was pretty tempted by the 520’s price, but the lower quality screen, lack of compass (really important for navigation) and smaller battery was a downer. The 620 was pretty compact with a good screen and within budget, but the small battery was again a downer. The Lumia 720 was above budget, but its huge 2000 mAh battery with a well received camera, display and compact design clinched the deal in the end.

That’s enough of background, so let’s jump to the main review.

Specs, Design and Build

Yes, I got the red version (there’s also the cyan, yellow, white and black) which has a matte finish. It’s a unibody polycarbonate construction, so no removable battery but the thickness is pretty low. Wireless charging is also supported through special cases (not yet available in India at the time of writing).

The build seems to be quite robust as I had an inadvertent drop test from my pocket on a wet footpath in Mumbai within a week of purchase. It landed on the bottom right corner and ended up screen down – definitely not the kind of experience you’d want with a brand new phone. Thankfully, I got away with just a chipped corner as visible in the picture below. Looks like the Gorilla Glass 2 works.

The display is 4.3″ with 800 x 480 pixels in line with Android flagships from 2010-11. The black levels are quite good (not AMOLED levels of course), and outdoor visibility has also been pretty good thanks to Nokia’s coatings and polarizing filters. The ~220 ppi resolution is middling, but text is quite legible without much of aliasing. The display is also supposed to support super sensitive touch allowing it to be used with fingernails and through gloves. I have personally turned it off.

The LCD display’s RGB layout under a macro lens (in absence of the Anandtech review with the pic)

The buttons (volume, power & camera) are all placed on the right side of the phone, and I had to get used to the power button placed in the middle. The shutter button protrudes a little more than the other two, possibly due to it being a two-stage button. The micro-SIM tray is on top while the micro-SD card slot is on the left side. Both need to be ejected using a pin (supplied in the box). The micro USB charging slot rounds off the bottom edge.

Camera

My personal experience with the camera has been very good so far, in line with other reviewers. It is a 6.7 MP shooter with an f/1.9 Carl Zeiss lens and LED flash. The dedicated shutter button which doubles as a camera quick launch shortcut is really handy. The colours come out quite saturated, and I seem to prefer the resulting shots from the Lumia 720 to my Galaxy S III, particularly indoors. It also helps that the camera launches quicker on the Lumia 720 than on my year old Galaxy S III. The GSIII does hold a large advantage in the shutter lag and continuous shooting speeds. The Lumia 720 takes a couple of seconds to lock focus and capture the frame which can result in a somewhat different composition.

Shots taken indoors without flash under reasonable lighting conditions turn out really good on the Lumia 720, even better than the GSIII thanks to the large aperture (almost a stop faster). However, under dim light where you require the flash, the GSIII comes out ahead.

The default camera app on Windows Phone is pretty basic, especially when compared to the Android OEM camera apps, but gets the job done. You can always get hold of other apps (lenses as per WP terminology) to expand on the functionality. There’s a nice ProShot app (paid – just Rs 110 though) that gives you full manual control over the camera settings. Higher end Lumias (PureView branded 920 & above) of course get Nokia Pro camera app with the latest update, so this is the app to get for the lower models.

Video output is also pretty decent though it supports only up to 720p video. Then again, I don’t really shoot much video and have a good old DSLR if I want to do serious shooting.

User Experience

It has been almost a month since I got the Lumia 720, and so far the experience has been really good barring a few quirks that I’ll cover in the next section. A little bit of context in terms of my usage of the Lumia 720 – my primary internet device remains the Galaxy S III with its significantly larger screen. Plus, I’m pretty much locked into the Google ecosystem (Gmail, Maps, Keep, Contacts etc) and any platform that is not Android will be unable to give you the best experience (iOS included, though Google is trying its best for that platform while actively ignoring Windows Phone). Microsoft Exchange support is also not the best on Android with experience varying with the OEM in question (I found the HTC interface quite different from Samsung’s).

However, the Lumia is my primary phone for voice calls and SMS, and in this regard, the experience has been very good aided in no small way by the humongous 2000 mAh battery that gives me 2-3 days of service without a hitch (and that is with data services and email sync enabled). I have also configured my office Microsoft Exchange account (mail, calendar, tasks & contacts) on the Lumia and find the experience to be a lot more consistent than when I had it configured on my GSIII.

The interface is really smooth without any stutters that you find in Android handsets in this price range. The 512 MB RAM does make its size felt when you see the “Resuming” screen when launching apps, but once launched most apps have a very uniform experience. The Live Tiles Metro interface is quite handy with the People hub being one of the strong points in organizing and staying in touch with contacts.

The ability of apps to control the lock screen background out of the box is also a nice touch. For example, you can allow the facebook to cycle through your photo albums (you can choose the albums) for the lock screen. Notifications are however almost useless on the Windows Phone platform. The closest it has to a notification centre is the lock screen where you can see unread\new counts for up to 5 apps of your choice along with details for 1 app. Live tile counters also try to solve this issue, but still can’t match up to a dedicated notification centre. This is especially a big downer coming from the rich notification centre experience in Android.

On a positive note, the Lumia 720 came with a 6 month Nokia music subscription and the collection is quite good. The songs are downloaded in the form of 32 kbps MP3 files that can be transferred to a PC. So, if you have an iTunes Match subscription and re-encode the tracks to 80 kbps (minimum for iTunes Match to consider them) or higher, you can get hold of high quality 256 kbps versions for free.

The 8 GB phone storage can run out pretty quickly if you start clicking a lot of photos, videos & downloading music. Good thing that the phone supports up to 64 GB of SD storage (apps can’t be transferred to SD though), though I haven’t popped in one yet.

In terms of apps, some of my most used ones like Whatsapp, Kindle, Foursquare Facebook etc are present. But, the lack of the usual cloud backup apps like Dropbox and Google+ is also a downer, though you can backup photos and videos to SkyDrive.

The browsing experience is also ok, though the absence of alternatives like on Android can get in the way given that many sites don’t play well with Internet Explorer. E.g. Meru cabs presents their desktop site in mobile IE on the Lumia.

Sharing across apps also works quite well (better than iOS) with the ability to easily share photos and videos through apps like Whatsapp, facebook and email.

Maps and navigation is also pretty decent with the ability to download offline map packs for specific states in India. I am a Google Maps user on my GSIII and haven’t spent too much time with HERE maps and drive combo. The Lumia 720 has a built in compass (unlike the 520), and navigation shouldn’t be problem. Traffic information is also available on HERE maps.

I really miss the blocking mode that silences the phone at specified times of the day (typically for the night), and the absence of apps like Llama and Tasker available on Android, possibly due to OS limitations make it impossible to get third party solutions for automating tasks. I use Llama quite extensively on my GSIII to automatically silence my phone in office, during meetings, in movie theatres, switch on wifi at home etc. NFC, though available and supported, is not an option either due to the limited scope of actions. NFC can only be used to launch apps\settings and not automatically toggle them.

Quirks

Pretty all the issues I have had with the phone are due to the OS, i.e. Microsoft, and here they are briefly:

  • Poor Google contacts integration – I have found many phone numbers missing from my contact list that show up nicely on my GSIII.
  • No notification centre – it can get really tough to figure what your phone was buzzing you for.
  • You can’t edit phone number in the dialler – can be a bit of a problem when you are roaming and need to prefix digits before dialling.
  • NFC support is really limited – you can just launch apps\settings but not trigger any actions automatically.
  • Quite a lot of apps are available, but many are not updated regularly.
  • Google actively ignoring the Windows Phone platform – they dropped active sync support, haven’t introduced any official apps (barring search) and are trying their best to prevent Microsoft from creating any substitutes.
  • The dedicated hardware search button is practically useless – I don’t use Bing (the lens is useful though, a la Google Goggles). In fact, even Google dumped the hardware search button in Android long ago.

Conclusion

I am quite happy with the Lumia 720, but that is largely due to the fact that my usage is split between the Galaxy S III and this phone. It would definitely be difficult to get by with the Lumia 720 as my primary phone, but it complements the Android phone perfectly. Why not just stick to the Galaxy S III you say? Battery life for one, and the general degradation in responsiveness of the GSIII over the last one year for another.

Nokia has lost out big in the smartphone race, but it has really introduced compelling choices in the Windows Phone 8 camp. If you are a first time smartphone buyer (no Google contacts baggage, app dependency), the Lumia 720 is a very good choice. In fact, for a new smartphone user with a budget below Rs 20,000, it would be very difficult to beat the Windows Phone triumvirate of the Lumia 520, 620 and 720 (especially the 520 below Rs 10,000) in terms of user experience (smoothness particularly). Then again, I have seen many of my friends and colleagues shy away from Windows Phone to the Android camp due to its radically different user interface. On the high end, Nokia PureView branded Lumia phones (920, 925, 928 and 1020) have the best cameras and the Lumia 1020 is practically a Point & Shoot replacement. So, if you are planning to replace your camera and have an old smartphone (or none at all), the Lumia 1020 is a really compelling choice.

As for Windows Phone, Microsoft really needs to up its game like it has with Windows Blue\8.1, and bring the platform up to speed in terms of must have features (notification centre, browser). Nokia is doing its best to stay in the game and introduce cutting edge features where possible (Lumia 1020), but is slowed down by Microsoft’s slow rate of platform updates.

Now that I’m a Windows Phone user, I can appreciate its merits vis-à-vis Android and iOS, and hope that Microsoft can up the game the way Mozilla did for Firefox in the last couple of years in face of Chrome’s rapid ascent. Microsoft’s iOS 7 moment can’t come too soon.

Numbers: Who’s Winning, iOS or Android?

The reports may contradict each other in numbers for iOS and Android, but one thing for sure is that Microsoft and Blackberry have been comprehensively relegated to the “Other” category. It’s also clear that Google and Apple are both winning (Google wants the ad\service revenue which comes from a market share majority, while Apple wants the profits from hardware):

Android if you’re talking about market share; iOS if you mean financial success. So far, this is a strikingly different market than the PC business back in the 1990s, when market share translated directly into financial success.

via Who’s Winning, iOS or Android? All the Numbers, All in One Place | TIME.com.