Category Archives: Windows Phone

Shazam Now Integrates With Nokia Music

Shazam is one of my favourite apps, and I always wondered why it didn’t integrate with Nokia Music, specially now that Windows Phone 8 lets apps talk to each other. I tweeted this to the Shazam team, they responded. Fast forward a few months, and the integration is live.

The brand new Shazam app for Windows Phone 8 now lets you simply tap on the Nokia Music button in the song you’ve tagged, and it takes you the music store where you can buy/download the song.

Shazam Nokia Music -1 Shazam Nokia Music -2

This Shazam + Nokia Music combo is even more awesome if you live in India, or another country where Nokia Music has a subscription model. You listen to a song, like it, tag it and download it, all for the grand cost of zero.

In addition to Nokia Music, Shazam also gives you options to view the song on YouTube or download it from Xbox Music or get the artist biography or Discography.

Shazam Now Integrates With Nokia Music

If you don’t already have it, get Shazam here.

HERE City Lens Is Actually Useful & A Great Travel Companion

While Nokia Maps and Drive (now rebranded as HERE Maps & Drive) have become available to other Windows Phone 8 users, the one location app that’s still a Nokia exclusive is City Lens. HERE City lens is an app that use augmented reality to show users points of interest around them. It uses a live feed from the camera’s viewfinder and places POIs on top of what you’re seeing through it, thus letting you know what is where.

HERE City Lens

This application has been available for a while, but despite all this time I didn’t really use it much. My belief was that it was more of a marketing tool for Nokia to get the WOW! rather than an app that could actually be useful in the real world. I was mistaken. While on a recent trip to San Francisco, I didn’t pack for the weather and needed to shop. Since, I had no clue about where I should be headed or which stores were around me, I decided to give City Lens a go on the Lumia 928, and I was impressed.

Once you launch the app, it lets you choose the kind of POI’s you want to see around you.

HERE City Lens Is Actually Useful & A Great Travel Companion

Then, you can just pan the camera around and see what is where, and how far it is.

HERE City Lens Is Actually Useful & A Great Travel Companion

But that’s not all, it you put the phone down, but still have it in the landscape mode, it will plot all those places on the map.

HERE City Lens Is Actually Useful & A Great Travel Companion

Finally, if you turn the phone into portrait mode, it will simply display a POI’s in a list, sorted by distance. Really useful if you’re looking to browse quickly.

HERE City Lens Is Actually Useful & A Great Travel Companion

Here’s a look at the app on video:

I liked how the application responds to the manner in which you’re holding the phone. very smart and elegant. So the next time you’re in an unfamiliar location, don’t forget to give HERE City Lens a try, chances are that you’ll like what you see.

Camera Shoot Out: iPhone 5 v. Lumia 928 v. Lumia 720

I have had the distinct pleasure of carrying three extremely capable camera phones with me, the iPhone 5, Nokia’s Verizon exclusive Lumia 928 and the Lumia 720. While the iPhone 5 and the Lumia 928 are flagship devices, the Lumia 720 is the surprise that keeps on delivering. For a mid range device, it has an exceptional camera capable of some amazing low light performance.

But before we get into the nitty grittiness of which camera is better, or what advantages or disadvantages each brings, lets look at a few photos shot in varying lighting conditions. The first photo will be the iPhone 5, follow by the Lumia 720 and the Lumia 928 in the end. Clicking on each photo will get you the full resolution image.

iPhone 5

Lumia 720

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 02

Lumia 720

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 03

Lumia 720

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 04

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 05

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 06

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 07

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 08

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 09

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 10

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 11

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 12

Lumia 720

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 07

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 07

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 07

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 07

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

The iPhone 5, just like the iPhone 4S before it have long been hailed as some of the best camera phones on the planet, and it is for good reason. The iPhone rarely lets you down, and the ability to tap to adjust the exposure is a boon, like none other. That really comes in handy when the picture you’re trying to take has a bright light in the background. The pictures produced are generally sharp, but when it comes to low light photos despite the 808 PureView like compression that the iPhone 5 employs, there does tend to be a lot of noise. Leaving HDR on also helps as you get two photos, and get effectively choose between the better looking one in the end.

The Lumias on the other hand both work their magic in the low light. The Lumia 720 with its industry leading f1.9 aperture lets a lot of light in, while the Lumia 928 with its Xenon flash and Optical Image Stabilisation takes a slightly different approach. The OIS means that the shutter can stay open longer and let more light in, minus the camera shake. You cannot unfortunately force the Xenon to fire, it will only be used if the phone determines that there isn’t enough light. So you cannot use it like a fill-in flash when shooting against the sun for example. Fortunately there is a ‘Backlight’ mode in the Lumias that takes care of this problem, but you have to choose it everytime from the camera settings.

While I tried to keep the settings as default most of the time, due to the Lumia 928’s OIS some night pictures would turn up too bright. That means that you must play with the exposure to get that perfect shot.

So based on my experience with these three devices, here is what I think. The iPhone 5 is a great dependable camera that does most things well, the Lumia 720 despite the much cheaper price does an excellent job in keeping up, and at times even manages to beat the iPhone. The first two photos are a prime example of that. The Lumia 928 is the most capable camera of the 3, but not if you only use it in the default mode. However once you start playing around with the settings, it really comes into its own. Expect a much bigger gallery of Lumia 928 images soon.

Any questions, let me know!

Lumia 928 For Verizon: Unboxing & Overview

The Lumia 928 is the only Lumia that comes with a Xenon flash, 3 high amplitude audio capture mics and a loud speaker with more thumb than most of its competition. If along with Verizon’s excellent LTE network, these are things that excite you, then read on for the unboxing and overview of this device, that costs $99 on contract.

Lumia 928

The Lumia 928 while looking different from the Lumia 920 (more square than rounded, less colour options) is still very similar to it. Most internals are still the same, a 1.5 Ghz dual core Snapdragon S4 chip, 1 GB of RAM, NFC, a 2000 mAh battery, a 4.5″ Gorilla Glass 2, super sensitive Pure Motion HD+ display, 8.7 MP Carl Zeiss camera with optical image stabilisation, HERE apps, Nokia Music and other apps like Smart Shoot, Cinemagram camera lenses.

Where the Lumia 928 improves is:

  • Despite packing a Xenon flash, is only 10.1 mm thick.
  • 3 HAAC mics for great audio capture no matter where you’re shooting.
  • A louder speaker on the back (although the quality can be iffy at full volume).

(YouTube link)

In case there’s something you’d like me to cover sooner, please let me know in the comments section below.

Creative Studio For Lumia Receives A Major Update: Brings Tilt Shift, Colour Pop, Collages & More

Nokia’s Creative Studio has come a long way since it first came out. Its not only much faster, but it pretty much enables you to do anything with photos that you could think of. Earlier it allowed you to the basics – crop, rotate, add filters, adjust the colour balance, brightness, vibrancy, clarity and remove red eyes, quickly and easily. But the new update takes the Creative Studio’s abilities to a new level, enter:

  • Blur: Focus Object, Radial+Tilt Shift

Creative Studio Lumia_1 Creative Studio Lumia_1

Focus Object lets you manually draw around the subject you want to highlight and the blurs the background.

Creative Studio Lumia_1

Radial mode does the same thing, but gives you a circle you can work with.

Creative Studio Lumia_1

Tilt Shift on the other hand keeps everything between two parallel lines in focus and blurs the rest. You can also set the blur level.

  • Colour Pop – Turns the photo into black and white and then highlights the colours you choose.
  • Collage Mode – The first photo you choose is the biggest, and then you can keep adding photos. There is sadly no way to choose between different frames yet.

Creative Studio Lumia_1 Creative Studio Lumia_1

Creative Studio is a free download from the Windows Phone Store. Thr best part about this update is that it works flawlessly on the slightly lower spec-d, Lumia 520, 620 and 720 as well.

With The Lumia 928, Nokia Concentrates On HQ Sound: Both Recording & Playback [+Other Specs]

Nokia Lumia 928 has just been announced, and its big differentiator from the Lumia 920 is supposed to be the Xenon flash and the new squared design. But that’s not all that has improved. The Lumia 928 also packs three high-audio-amplitude-capture (HAAC) microphones to ensure that users get great HQ audio capture, no matter where the recording is taking place. It could be a concert, a noisy room, a party but the HAAC mikes ensure that the audio is distortion free and rich. As long at the audio isn’t above 140db, your video will sounds great. To give you a better idea of what that means, jet engines produce a 140 db sound.

Lumia 928 Sound

But that’s not all. I’m glad to see Nokia also invest in high quality sound output from the phone. Nokia claims that the Lumia 928 features “one of the most advanced loudspeakers available for smartphones”. Inside the Lumia 928 is a powerful digital amplifier that is “combined with real-time measurement and control, resulting in unmatched clarity and loudness”. I like the sound of that.

Lumia 928 Loudspeaker

We’ll get an idea of how true this is very soon, but if the speaker grill on the back is anything to go buy, Nokia’s claims might not be far from the truth. Nokia’s made of the best sounding phones in the past, the Nokia X6 and the 5800 Xpress Music come to mind. Here’s hoping the Lumia 928 continues that tradition.

While the cheaper devices generally have insanely loud speakers (think Xpress Music Nokias), great sounding high-end smartphones should be also be a priority for all manufacturers. Hopefully Nokia’s May 14 Lumia announcement for the rest of the world will feature similar kit as well.

Before you leave, here is the Lumia 928 spec sheet.

Lumia 928 Specs -1

Lumia 928 Specs -2

Hat tip to @WhatTheBit for the link to the Lumia 928 reviewer’s guide