I was thrilled when the Microsoft Lumia Connnects team asked me to attend the 2015 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (SPAIN!) with them this year. If you have never heard of this convention, it is the largest in the world for the mobile industry and a showplace for the latest tech gear and trends in smart phones. It was a whirlwind trip, but I did get to see some of the city (more on that later) and, of course, I heard about new tech coming from all the major players, especially Microsoft. We had a huge section of the exhibition hall, with a hot air balloon front and center that was broadcasting all the info coming out of the MWC. I have to say, it was pretty fun to getting an elbow in my side over and over as my tweets were appearing on that huge, round, glowing screen. Below the simulated hot air balloon was a real hot air balloon basket, housing two DJs, who gave us a great soundtrack while we explored the Microsoft goodies that will be released this Spring. Here are my three favorite announcements from Microsoft at MWC.
It's pretty clear that I love phones, and tech, and apps. I was excited when AT&T asked me to check out their new app for iPhone called DriveMode. With a tween who also uses a phone and will be driving soon (OK... soon being a relative term here, as in a few years from now)... it's important for me to set a good example on my phone. The problem is - IT'S HARD! When so many notifications come in and life is moving so fast, sometimes I need a little help. DriveMode kicks in once the car is going over 15mph and basically provides a shield while you are driving - silencing incoming notifications. You can also set the app to send a custom auto-reply for you to let people know you are driving. Depending on what screen you have open, a top banner will blink red saying "DriveMode" - which is a good reminder that it can wait till later to use your phone. However, if you really need something, the app provides one button access to 5 emergency numbers, music and the navigation app of your choice. Or, if let's say you are the passenger and want to access your phone - you can quickly turn the DriveMode app off with the big green slider.
I hated Snapchat from the moment it was released. As someone who has a decade-old blog, the idea of sending quick photos that disappear made no sense to me, other than for sexting or bullying people. I tried it, didn't like it, deleted it. With the arrival of Stories and Discover on Snapchat, it's gaining more and more power, and not just with teens. Brands are creating pages there and I wanted to know why, so I re-downloaded it this weekend. The interface continues to be terrible. Non-intuitive other than the idea that yes, I am supposed to take photos and share them... somewhere. I can "discover" little snippets from brands and swipe around to look at content in a completely disorganized way. I can press and hold to view... something?
Ever since I started using my Windows Phone Lumia, people have been constantly asking me about the apps. What are they like? How many are there? The good news is, there are a lot. I am still missing a few of my favorite iPhone photography editing apps, but in general, everything I need is there. So here is a list, current for 2015, of all the apps you should get as soon as you get a Windows Phone. They are in alphabetical order, and I left off games because that's a whole 'nuther post in itself!
6TagThe best Windows Phone Instagram app.[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]
Adobe PhotoshopExcellent basic photo editing.[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]
AfterlightLots of lovely filters.[/ezcol_1third_end]
Let me just preface this with the fact that my aunt is just barely a "senior citizen" by age and she sure doesn't act elderly (ha ha ha) but she has been retired for some time and has had health issues that have restricted her movements. Most times she uses a walker and sometimes uses a wheelchair... and her computer is on it's last legs. Rather than replacing a desktop where she had to continually sit in one uncomfortable spot to use, I knew we had to get her a tablet. I reached out to my friends at Microsoft Lumia and they loved the idea of helping Aunt Heidi out. I decided they should send the tablet to me, I would set it up, and then bring it to her when I was visiting recently. Again, let me say, for the sake of my Christmas presents, my aunt is certainly not stupid. She could have done all this herself. But in this time where technology moving so quickly, it was just so much easier for me to get it all ready for her and then spend our time together teaching her the tablet. And doing touristy stuff.