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Sunday, July 29, 2012

WP Shortcut Tiles for Windows Phone - Demo video

Today I want to show you another app that I use on Windows Phone. It's called WP Shortcut Tiles and what it does, it helps you access some of the phone's settings with a single click. The app can add various settings like WiFi, Mobile Data, Bluetooth on the homescreen as tiles. This way you don't have to go into settings and dig for these settings, you just need to click on the live tile.

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Check out the demo in the video below:


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Weather for Windows Phone - Demo video

Today we check out the Microsoft official Weather application for Windows Phone. The app is pretty simple but very effective. It's lightweight and it has a live tile that shows you the current weather conditions for the location you have chosen. The first screen shows the current weather conditions and a short hourly forecast for the current day. The next screen shows you the forecast for the upcoming days.

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Check the video below for a quick tour.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

fim for Windows Phone - Demo video

Windows Phone supports Live and Facebook chat out of the box, but today we get to talk about the elephant in the room, GTalk. I've been looking high and low for a simple GTalk client, and here is what I found, fim. It supports GTalk and Facebook chat too, and it has a live tile that notifies you of incoming conversations.

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Check out more in the video below:


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Quick Lists for Widows Phone - Demo video

Today I want to show you an app that for a family person is vital. It's called Quick Lists and it's you daily used shopping list. The app has a very clean UI and supports multiple lists. You email even your lists to other people. What I like most about it is that you can add plenty of items using just your keyboard. Hitting Enter will add the item to your list.

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Here's the video:


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Metrotube for Windows Phone - Demo video

I got a buzz yesterday from the guys at Metrotube. They saw the PrimeTube video I showed you yesterday and they mentioned that Metrotube was officially recommended by the Nokia Conversations blog. I thought it's only fair to give it a chance too. So here it is, on video:

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Just got word from LazyWormApps, the company that develops Metrotube, that there IS a rotation lock control for when you watch videos in bed, so keep that in mind when you choose your YouTube client. I use both Metrotube and PrimeTube :)
I like how LazyWormApps stands behind their product, way to go :)


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

PrimeTube for Windows Phone - Demo video

Today we take a look at one of the best YouTube clients available for the Windows Phone platform, PrimeTube. The application is full featured, free and free of ads. It's in my opinion the best YouTube client for Windows Phone.

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Take a look at it in the video below:


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Creative Studio for Windows Phone - Demo video

Today we take a look a the Creative Studio app for Windows Phone. This app is developed by Nokia itself and it's available only for Nokia Windows phones.

The app helps you enhance you photos and add various effects, as well as creating funny photos with all kinds of face warps and more. Check it our in the video below.


Help needed. Support me to become the Nokia Lumia Amazing Ambassador

Hey friends and readers. Today I need your help. Nokia Romania is holding a contest where I could win a Nokia Lumia 800. If I would win this phone, I will also be able to cover Windows Phone on this blog.

In this final phase of the competition, there are only 4 contestants left. The voting closes on August 5th, so please vote me until then and if you can encourage your friends to do so too, I would be deeply grateful.

Follow this link and hit like in order to support me.

Thank you.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Evernote for Windows Phone - Demo video

Last week I received for testing purposes a Nokia Lumia 800 from Nokia Romania. It's part of the Nokia Romania Lumia Amazing Ambassadors contest. Me and three other people received a test device and only one of the four will get to keep it for good at the end of the contest. The contest is gonna run for three weeks and in the meantime I decided to demo for you guys as many apps as I can. You should expect at least one video per day.

To kick this off, here's Evernote in action:

Sorry if the image is a bit blurry in this one.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Windows Phone 7.8 is a good deal

Most people are worried about the fact that WP7.8 is not gonna get the brand new apps that can be written for WP8. I honestly believe that is not true, and here us why. WP8 has zero use base. Why would any same software company invest time and resources into developing applications for an OS that has no install base? If Microsoft would have upgraded the existing phones to WP8 any developer would have had a few million reasons to write apps using the new APIs. But with zero phones using WP8 why would anyone give up Silverlight or XNA?

Maybe after WP8 gets some sales, developers will start writing WP8 only apps. The developers that created the currently available apps will most likely continue with Silverlight and XNA because it could be a royal pain to start migrating your current code base to a completely different language. And since Silverlight and XNA are still supported, and most probably will be that way for all time, there is no real reason to start migrating.

So maybe the WP7.8 phones won't get those fast C/C++ apps, but the current crop is pretty satisfying and it will most likely still grow. Most major apps are available and with the customer satisfaction rate of Windows Phone, it's hard to think that people will care about not getting the WP8 update.

But new purchasers will most definitely care about it. Most people will think "why should I buy a WP7.5 phone now and not wait for WP8 phones to launch?".

Well the answer is simple: by the time the new apps designed specially for WP8 will have a significant impact in the Marketplace your phone be it WP7.8 or WP8 would have been replaced by a new one. It took the Marketplace two years to get where it is today. Keeping in mind that current devs will not be switching to the new language anytime soon, another two years may pass until the number of WP8-only apps will become relevant and a purchase decision factor. By that time, your current WP device will be surely replaced by a new one, probably a multi core device.

Anyway, this is my opinion. If you have any comments on the matter you can leave a comment below.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

nWeather review - Free weather app for Nokia Belle

Today I will show you a fresh new weather app. It's called nWeather and it's been on the Nokia Store for short while. It's not your usual weather app with lots of screens and lots of features, it doesn't have a widget(yet) but it gets the job done. The application is written in Qt by Badcoke.

The application has two main screens. The first one that you are presented with is the screen where you need to enter the name of your city. Once you press the "Let's go button" you are taken to the second screen that shows you the current weather conditions and a three day forecast. You can swipe across this screen to get either the forecast or the current weather conditions.

The app is not some award winning weather app, but it looks gorgeous, and that's the main reason I decided to present it to you guys. For me it's the perfect weather app that shows you all you need to know in the most pleasant and simple way possible.

The app weights 3.4MB and you can download it from here: nWeather on Nokia Store


N8PictureADay #61 - My little farm boy

My kid fell in love with another kid's tractor. We barely managed to detach him from the damn thing.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

SymPaper for Nokia Belle review - Read it later

SymPaper is Symbian’s only Read it later client, or at least the only that I know of. It is a paid app and this review is meant to help you make this decision: is it worth it?

It all depends on how often you use Read it later/Pocket on your Symbian device. But first of all, let’s see what Read it later is all about. Well, let's say you encounter a nice little article that you want to read but don’t have the time to do it. Usually you just bookmark it and come back later to read it. But what it you can’t find that article anymore? What if it was removed, or something else happened and you just can’t read it anymore? Here is where Read it later/Pocket comes in handy. When you add a page to Read it later it’s not like you’re just bookmarking it. Read it later will download that page and will keep it’s content in your account until you decide to delete it. So even if that article that you were interested in is no longer online, you can always read it with Read it later.

Next question I hear is “what apps use Read it later?”. Tough question. Unfortunately not too many. It would be great if the Belle browser used it, but Nokia did not integrate such functionality in it. The main social applications, however, do support Read it later. Gravity is my choice when it comes to Twitter and fMobi when it comes to Facebook, and both support Read it later. I have to note here that Gravity too has a Facebook client and Foursquare client with Read it later support.

But the advantages do not stop here. You can have these pages across all your devices, be them Windows Phone, Symbian, iOS, Android or desktop computers, and that my friends is the power of Read it later. You see an article on your phone, you send it to Read it later and later when you’re at home, you get your tablet and you read.

The application main view consists in the list of articles that you have added to your account. From the context menu you can choose to see All articles, Read articles or Unread articles like a filter.

Using the “plus” button you can add an article by specifying it’s URL and optionally it’s title.

The article view is very simple and offers you a simple toolbar with the ability to mark the article as read or share it. You can share the article by SMS, Email, Twitter or Facebook. From the context menu you can delete the article, re-sync it which means the app will try to re-fetch the original URL of that article or open it in browser.

In the settings there are lots of tweaks that can be used to customize your SymPaper experience and data usage. First you have the Fetch mode where you can decide if the articles you already read should be fetched from the Read it later server or not. Second you have the number of articles to be fetched. By default this number is set to 500. You wouldn’t want to download a whole bunch of ancient articles, right? Next you have the search mode that decides how you want to search for your articles. Here you have two options: search in title or in article content. I suggest you use the title search and only if you can’t find what you need switch to content search as this may be an exhaustive search. Next option is Auto Sync At Startup which synchronizes with your Read it later account each time you run SymPaper.

The article settings section is all about the reading experience, so here you can tweak that. First of all we have the font size and here you can choose from four predefined sizes, which should be enough for anyone regardless of their screen size. Next we have the theming or skin options. The Light list theme and Light reader theme will instruct SymPaper to use white background an black text color within the items list and article reader. While that may be OK for non AMOLED screens, I strongly recommend you keep using the dark theme on AMOLED displays. The Images option decides if your article reader displays images or not and the maximized reader option removes the system status bar from the same article reader. The Automatically Mark As Read option will mark an article as read once you’ve opened it.

I have to say that SymPaper may be Symbian’s single Read it later client, but it’s basically all you need. It’s written by the same Talv Bansal that wrote SymNote I reviewed last week.

The app is paid and you can get it from here: Download


N8PictureADay #60 - More flowers

Macro shot in very bright sunlight. Check out the details :)


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Office suite comparison review for Nokia Belle - Quickoffice vs Smart Office

Today we're featuring a battle of office suites and we get to see which suite is better and for whom. I was planning to do a three way comparison between QuickOffice, Smart Office and Microsoft Office Mobile, but the Nokia Belle variant of MS Office is just below par and cannot be compare with the other two, so including it in the review would have been a waste of time. Plus MS Office has only SkyDrive integration which means no Google Docs or Dropbox and that for me is a buzz kill. This review will be centered mostly on Word document editing and a little Excel part too. Why? Because any way you look at it, PowerPoint presentations are painful to work with on such small screens(yes even a 4 incher is small for PowerPoint).

QuickOffice vs Smart Office

Let's start with the initial impressions.

Smart Office

Smart Office is quick. I mean really quick. It opens document files faster than your email client opens a mail. It's that quick. The user interface is very fast and very intuitive with advanced options hidden away. Everything about Smart Office is about touch and gestures. It was born for touchscreens. Viewing a document is a breeze. Zooming in and out it very fast and sharp. The text reflow option available for the document viewer is a must for every editor out there. Besides being a very quick editor viewer, Smart Office is also well connected. It integrates Google Docs and Dropbox directly into the Smart Office file browser.


Quickoffice does not impress with blazing speeds or very intuitive interface, but there is something about it that screams professionalism. The user interface is a bit sluggish at times, but that is because it is at the same time a viewer and an editor. I'll get back to that later. Quick office is also very well connected, supporting Google Docs, Dropbox, Box and SugaSync. As far as documents in the cloud goes Quick office wins the day. Quickoffice also has text reflow on the editor which comes in handy on a small mobile display. Of course that doesn’t mean you can’t see the entire print preview, that option being available in the context menu.

File support

Excel file view: Left - Quickoffice, Right - Smart Office

Smart Office supports Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files while Quickoffice supports only Word, Excel and PowerPoint. However Quickoffice can be complemented by Adobe LE Reader developed by the same company. I was able to open most office files with both suites with a few exceptions. Quickoffice was not able to open some Excel files created by Microsoft Mobile Office while Smart Office did and Smart Office was not able to open any Excel files from Google Docs while Quickoffice did.

Viewer and Editor

Smart Office default view, toolbar on top, one on the bottom

I for one prefer to open PDF files with Smart Office because it displays them faster. On the documents side I prefer Quickoffice because of the ease of writing documents. Both apps offer text reflow for documents. You no longer have to zoom in and out to properly see the contents of your document, instead it gets reformatted to fit your screen. This is a technique mostly used in modern web browsers to help people experience web sites on the go. The same principle applies here but with documents.

Quickoffice default view, text reflow, context menu

When it comes to viewing office files people have their own preferences. Some like to see the full print layout while others prefer the readable view that text reflow allows. Both apps allow both views but have different defaults. For example Smart Office opens all documents by default in the print layout view allowing reflow after the document is opened, while Quickoffice works the other way around, first opening the reflow layout and later seeing a print preview. It's really about what you prefer.

When you need to edit your documents with Smart Office you have to place you cursor where you want to insert text and then press the Edit button in order to insert new text. A full screen edit box is then opened and you can insert your text there, but you do not see the rest of the document, just the new text you are inserting. That can be a bit frustrating for people who use hardware QWERTY phones such as the E7 or the E6. With Smart Office you have to format your text after you insert it. The text reflow function of Smart Office works very well, even when zooming in and out, but I would have liked to see an option to use the reflow by default. Instead you have to activate the function every time you open a different document and that’s just silly.

Quickoffice takes a completely different alternative by placing a keyboard button in the middle of the Belle toolbar. Place your cursor anywhere inside the document, press the keyboard button and just start typing. This way you see your document as you change it. This is why I like editing files with Quickoffice way better than with Smart Office.


If you need a office software suite that can view files perfectly and need little to no editing of your files then Smart Office will surely meet your needs. The price can also be a factor here since Smart Office costs a quarter of what Quickoffice will set you back. However, if you need serious document editing on the go, then Quickoffice is the clear winner here. On a side note, users of N-series and E-series phones will already have Quickoffice installed, all the need is an update to the latest version.

I like Quickoffice better because it is optimized for mobile use. Starting with the big buttons welcoming screen, continuing with the large list items file explorer list and on to the default mobile(reflow) view of the documents, Quickoffice is designed to be used on the go. With Quickoffice's user interface you can check your documents even when you are behind the wheel(not driving of course) since the UI elements are large enough to use with one hand. On the other hand Smart Office's browser displays smaller text and thinner fonts and the default view is print view, which makes it unusable in your car. If that's one of the decision factors in a purchase think about that one too.

Some people asked me how I can edit documents on my N8 touch screen without smashing my phone to the ground in frustration. Well you can’t with the default Belle keyboard, but once you use the Nokia Beta Labs version of the Swype keyboard things change. I used to think that I needed a physical keyboard to properly write reviews, but I was turned by the progress that Swype made in the last period. Remember that you need to download the Swype version from Beta Labs, the one existing in the Nokia Store is a pain to use. Who said the N8 can’t be a great business phone? :)


N8PictureADay #59 - Innocent flower

Just an innocent flower macro...


Monday, July 2, 2012

N8PictureADay #58 - Macro

Macro of vegetation around the office.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

N8PictureADay #57 - Baldie

My little jailbird was trying out mommy's shoes.