I’ve had my Windows Phone 7 for about a year, now, and I’ve found it to be the useful, flexible device I’ve owned. Plus, it’s fun to use. Over the course of the past year, I’ve laid several other devices and programs aside and have, instead, allowed my phone to take over their former roles. Below, I’d like to talk a bit about the various ways that my Windows Phone has become the central device in my life.
I find that the integration of Facebook, LinkedIn and twitter into my phone has virtually eliminated the need for me to ever have to open any of these sites in a browser. Granted I’m not a super user of any of these sites, but other than profile updates and the like, the phone offers all I need. I’m notified of any Tweets directed at me or any mentions of me on Facebook, any person from my contact list that I pin to the start screen allows me to immediately see a change in their status and the People Hub allows me to browse a consolidated feed of all the news from all the sites. In addition, I can upload photos to my accounts, post a status or check in.
It’s fun to follow the traffic and popular content on my blog. Used to be, I had to browse to the Google Analytics site to get this information. However, I know open an app on my phone, Phonealytics Free, and see a graph of my hits by date as well as by post. A nice application that allows me to see what I want to with a couple of taps and swipes.
One device that I used to keep in my Jeep was a Gamin Nuvi GPS. The maps were getting old and the windshield mount had just broken. About this same time, I became aware of the Garmin StreetPilot app for windows phone. I downloaded the trial and gave it a try. I was amazed at how much better the features were in the phone app compared to the device. Within a week of obtaining the trial version of the application, I upgraded to the full version and have used it daily since. The app offers turn-by-turn directions via voice (with street names), traffic information and delays, photos of highway exits and information on what lanes you need to be in for the next turn. You can save favorite locations, as well. There is never an issue with the age of the maps or information about places of interest as the maps are downloaded as needed and the app uses Google Search to find locations.
Music and Podcasts
A second device I always kept with me was a 128 GB Zune. I kept my entire music collection on the device and periodically updated podcast feeds to it. My Jeep has a plug for auxiliary inputs and I’d just plug the Zune into the Stereo and listen to this media as I drove. The Windows Phone Marketplace now has a podcast section that allows me to subscribe to podcasts on the phone. I can specify how many episodes to keep on the phone and the phone automatically updates my subscriptions over wifi when it has access to it. This has allowed me to always have fresh podcast content without having to worry about plugging a device into my PC for syncing.
It would be impossible for me to keep my entire music collection on my phone, but it would be great to have access to all of it via streaming. I recently found the tversity application in the marketplace and gave it a spin. The app requires that you install an application on a PC containing your content and that application exposes the titles to the phone app. I already had my collection on a Homeserver, so I installed the tversity application and configured it to expose not only my music collection, but also my videos. Now, I can stream my music to my phone wherever I am, over 3G. The video is a bit jerky over 3G, but works great over WiFi. Another device I no longer need.
There are many other apps that I used almost every day that make my life simpler. Access to cloud storage from any device with the SkyDrive app. Access to OneNote notes from anywhere make it easy to stay organized. The Lync app allows me to stay in touch with coworkers via text and voice.
My phone is easily one of the best purchases I’ve ever made and I’m excited to see what Microsoft does with the platform going forward.