Nokia Normandy Take 2 ?

Last week I blogged my thoughts about Nokia Normandy and how unlikely it is.. since then (and not because I had anything to do with it) there has been talk about Nokia / Microsoft forking Android. The Verge posted about it.. so did WSJ so did Reuters.. Ed Bott wrote a nice summary as well :).

Ignoring all that.. I still think forking android is pretty big deal.. but what about this ?

* Asha as it stands today has a few Microsoft services and a few Nokia services. Post buy out, Nokia services will transition to Microsoft versions of the same ?

Android itself is a patent minefield and so is Dalvik but what if Nokia just forked Dalvik ? not the whole Android stack, just the runtime that will enable many apps to run ? Blackberry has done it.. so has Jolla.. so why can’t it be done for Asha ? Is it that big a deal ?

That would make Normandy Android like yet retain most of Microsoft driven services..

Nokia Normandy – a cause for concern ?

A Nokia Android device would be mean a wet dream for many :) Being a ‘softie at heart, I was very glad to have Nokia joining Microsoft as a Windows Phone Partner. Now and again I see examples of how they might have contributed to certain API

Of course I have read umpteen number of times that Nokia would have been better off had they gone with Android. Every 2nd person would tell you that they love Nokia’s industrial design and if offered a choice,  they would jump to Nokia’s android offering (if there was one). Enter Normandy – an extensively leaked device that has generated much marketing for Nokia – Metro UI skinned over Android. This has left many salivating…

So will Normandy see the light of the day and what happens when Microsoft completes the purchase of Nokia Devices division ? Is it really a Trojan horse like many would like to believe ?

The more I think about it, the more unlikely it seems – every decision whether its short term or long term is based on economics. Lets start with licensing

Licensing cost:

Google’s Android source is freely available and anyone can fork it and use it create a custom android distro. Most stock android apps are a part of Google services and that has to be licensed. While OS can be used freely, getting a forked distro at part requires considerable work.

Additionally from the approximately $220 million income, a guestimate mentioned something in the region of $200 million as patent related income from Android device manufacturers etc. If Microsoft itself adopts Android, I doubt it can continue to collect patent licensing fees – must read on reciprocal licensing terms of android later.

Its all about Services:

That is an interesting notion. Apple primarily makes money off device sales and all supporting services generally break even – even with multi billion downloads, the App Store and related income just breaks even. In Android world, Samsung makes more money from Android than Google primarily because its hardware margins that generate most revenue.

Of course google does have plenty of services and in addition to licensing them, Search is the only service that makes most contribution.

What would Nokia in the short term and Microsoft in intermediate term bring forward for Normandy ? Well Microsoft’s Bing and Xbox related services. Whilst Bing is great for English language results, I don’t know any non-English speakers who use Bing. Xbox Live doesn’t really work on Phones, Music / Videos are just that – they provide an option just like iTunes or Google Play. Office would be nice but again it doesn’t earn any money on devices.

Having Office and a few other core application would sweeten any Microsoft offering however would generate little revenue Oh and there’s Skype – it offers better products on iOS and Android than Windows Phone

Flood market with cheap device:

Normandy’s spec are very much like those of Lumia 520. While that is one of the most selling windows phone, I always advice people to buy 720 or better. One of the newest / cheapest Android Devices – Moto G has a substantially capable hardware. If Nokia / Microsoft take on Android, they will spend a good amount of time optimising runtime to make it run on poxy hardware. Again if the expectation is to win the market with low end devices, there is little money to be made from devices.

Final thoughts

I personally feel that all these considerations make it very unlikely that Microsoft will ever touch Normandy. Microsoft has agreed to purchase Devices division and both Asha and Lumia brands will come over to Microsoft. There is no mention of Normandy and that would have to be an additional consideration. I think Normandy was means to make Microsoft take Nokia seriously. Nokia itself (once transaction goes through) can only release anything mobile on 1st Jan 2016.

If you want me to speculate, i’d say there is a greater probability of Normandy staying hidden until 2016 – of course weird this have happened.

Windows Phone development 2.5 years on #wpdev

A Lot has happened since I purchased HTC Mozart WP7 device back in March 2011. There is now way I would have known about how things would change as a result.

So what has happened in the last 2.5 years ? Well I have about 23 odd apps in Store, they generate some revenue and as of 28th October, total app downloads hit 200,000. There are some that get lots of downloads but generate 0 revenue but they do generate goodwill and some day might pay off.

One such app is Cineworld app for Windows Phone. Developed in May / June last year, it has evolved a lot since early days and it has over 55,000 downloads and 2000+ UK Store reviews

Of course most of these apps were developed without any thoughts to modern app design / architecture :)

What started as a hobby is now a full time job (bye bye enterprise development). I still do hobbyist development (as I was telling a colleague, life is pretty boring – wpdev takes all free time) - recently published 1Shot beta app that allows high res capture and skydrive sync – something that Nokia themselves did not do.

I work for a respectable name in mobile commerce – Monitise alongside Alla Goichuk. From rogue hobbyist I have almost turned into a decent (wanted to say goes by the book… yeah right who am I kidding) Windows Phone developer.. hell I even occasionally talk about my preferred MVVM framework :)

My passion for Windows Phone development and for Metro (aka Modern UI Principles if you wish) remains high. I look forward to creating and seeing windows phone apps that grow beyond stock templates. Will I still feel the same when downloads hit 500k ?

Install Windows on a UEFI device and #wpdev sdk issues

When I got the Haswell ultrabook from Intel, it had a Windows 8 x64 build. I eventually upgraded to Windows 8.1 but I faced issues when trying to hibernate / shutting it down. This seriously affected my hobbyist dev as a I tend to leave stuff open and hibernate the device.

So to solve the problem I tried to reinstall Windows 8.1 using USB key (using Windows 7 USB / DVD tool).. however the boot loader would just ignore it and revert back to boot selection screen. I eventually reinstalled the PC using Windows 8.1 Clean and refresh option and that works as advertised. But I had some issues when installing WP8 sdk.

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I tried in vain to install it but it wouldn’t have anything. Eventually I figured I had to do a clean install of Windows 8.1 so scouring the next, I came across this post… the tool Rufus is almost identical to stock format tool crossed with usb dvd tool :)

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That worked, the UEFI bootloader finally allowed me to install using usb key however I still have the same issue with WP SDK. Turns out some certs were out of date. I again checked for root certificate update and downloaded tool from Windows Catalogue but that didn’t do much either..

so finally I reset the system date to the day I got the device.. I remember install WP SDK then and bang it installed just fine.. silly bugger

Lumia 1020 and Pro Cam app

For the last 10 days, I have been trialling the Lumia 1020. It comes in an awesome cylindrical box that looks like a giant zoom lens. Of course they could have packed the whole thing in more compact cylindrical box but that’s a different thing. the box is charcoal grey – again I’d have preferred something deeper darker black.

But the box was opened in no time and the phone was peeled off without second thoughts. You want unboxing videos, go to YouTube.

Two things struck at the first glance…

  1. Camera bump is quiet wide.. 3 cm in diameter. its about a 2 mm or so in thickness..
  2. The body reminds me of Lumia 800 – the tapered edges, curved glass. The feel is very matt – unlike Lumia 920

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As a result of the bump, the positioning of device on horizontal surface leaves much to be desired. I occasionally use the phone while it’s on table or breakfast bar.. nope the circular design of the bump means that it’s not stable and clatters while in use.

Also at work I plug the device for testing whilst I am developing. The device depending upon where you placed it rests on the bump – which can be a good thing depending upon how you see it but it’s still not stable.

Weight wise it is somewhere between Lumia 925 and Lumia 920. You have to remember that 920 has Induction charging circuits which 925 and 1020 lack. 925 is also lighter because of aluminium frame.

Now we know it’s all about the camera with 1020 – it sure is grand. By default pro-cam is now set to be the default lens. Nokia is selling pro-cam and the concept of reframing which isn’t too bad – however I am not a big fan of how low-res + high-res images are managed on 1020. This feels like a hack and it shows. To me it feels a big departure from previous Windows Phone experience.

Additionally the high res CMOS comes with an increased in minimum focus distance. It’s now at least 20+ cm. having done a macro series with 925, I can’t believe how hard it has been to get macro focus without using digital zoom. Sure 1020 can do a 3x digital zoom without loss of quality but that defeats the purpose.

So what is so wrong with Pro-cam? Well Pro-cam takes a 34 / 38 mega pixel picture and save to Camera Roll (with some tweak possibly direct move without photo lib API). It then resizes the image to 5 meg and saves that camera roll as well but this time with knowledge of photo lib.

This just means that there are two files in camera roll when you plug it into a PC – however the photo library has no clue about the high res version. And since it has no clue, the high res image is not synced with skydrive. The low-res image is uploaded to skydrive. Now you could say.. nothing wrong with this!!. Let me tell you this, I have been using 920 / 925 as a point and shoot replacement – skydrive uploads full 8.7 megapixel pic and I hardly ever plug my device to copy pictures out. Most of the times, checking skydrive is a tiny bit easier and faster. 1020′s camera experience spoils that fun.

I was sufficiently annoyed to pen an email to Stephen Elop which he kindly replied to. And having gotten so far, I decided to write my own app that would be like stock app but take high res pictures. In a few mins, I had a sample working and it was copying high res to camera roll using photo lib API.

All this time I had assumed that pro-cam behaviour was purely because WP Dev team couldn’t fix the API. I was so wrong that I penned another email to Stephen Elop. I do not expect an answer for that.

The stock windows phone camera still works however it has no idea about supported high resolutions and will continue shooting at 8.7 megapixels. Do I think stock app will be updated. sure it can be updated and should have been updated by Microsoft, If GDR3 doesn’t fix that, we will have to wait for Windows Phone 8.1

I will be returning the trial 1020. Not sure I want this device right now. Might consider waiting for 1520.

If you really want 34 / 38 megapixel pictures, get used to pro-cam or get a 3rd party app – mine should be out in a few weeks.

So how did I get #GDR2 for #Lumia920

I have been debating whether to pay up for Navifirm to be able to find and install GDR2 for Lumia920. I remember Andy Wilson paying up and tweeting that he couldn’t find his devices firmware there. So I decided its not worth going down XDA-developers route, instead I could just wait a bit.

Yesterday evening, Wolfgang Ziegler, tweeted that he installed #GDR2 on his device and I said.. that’s it.. bloody hell.. time to get on with it.

So like my usual cheerful self, I quickly glanced at the post, downloaded Nokia Software for Retail 3.0.8 and back.. I have an update waiting to install.. blimey.. proceed without caution :)

Didn’t I say my usual self ?

1.3 gig download, installed in 10 mins, after configuration, of course bloody backup can’t be used as by default APN isn’t set and data connection is off.. hang on.. it was working fine when I reset the Lumia925.. quick check.. damn what.. no Amber / GDR2.. how the hell..

Oh well I suppose it was intermediate update.. plug in again and bang.. NSR says another update waiting to be installed.. for the first time I actually paid attention to the update version.. bloody thing was asking me to update the same version and forcing ROM overwrite each time..

Damn you Hermit Dave.. stupid git.. never read the instructions.. RTFM.

While trying to find Nokia Software for Retail, I remember being tempted into reading How to download Nokia Firmware with Nokia Data Package Manager.
So next step.. download and install Nokia Data Package Manager.. input correct details and search.. oops latest version is same as the one shown in NSR.

Another idea.. last year when I was hacking about trying to install 7.8 on Lumia800, I downloaded another firmware, remained a few files to match the product code and then used Nokia Care Suite. Quick check.. already had latest Nokia Care Suite – installed while I was deliberating :)
back to Wolfgang Ziegler blog, downloaded the ROM for his device :) A quick rename and tried flashing with NSR and NCS.. ooops some files are missing.. nope rename wouldn’t do…

Check on XDA-Developers said you can install other ROMs.. as long as you just pick the version, start programming, select ROM and then plug the device when prompted.. did that, it said.. product codes don’t match.. Proceed ? Hell yes.. 10 mins flashing and after a few nervous minutes.. device up and running and bang.. backup worked as APN was set correctly like on Lumia925.. wohooo looks like I have GDR2.. quick check proved that to be the case :)

Job done..

Macro Photography with Lumia 925 – Part 5

I love taking Macro photos with Lumia 925. Its awesome and the results are often almost professional looking. So what do I have this time ? Well still onto insects :P

This time I have a dust mite, some more dragon flies (taken on different days) and finally a caterpillar. the caterpillar was really fast and was contantly trying to catch up with the phone. Eventually I managed to out run it.

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Macro Photography with Lumia 925 – Part 4

So what do we have this time ?

for starters I found harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis, the most invasive ladybird on Earth. This isn’t native to UK. Next up an orchid at home – flowers once every year. Then we have some berries that no one eats.. Bramble.. yes they are back and starting to ripen :)

Lastly we have a spider – I can clearly make out the eye :) and we have a snail my daughter caught.. again the eyes are clearly visible !! Don’t forget to few them in full size by click them :)

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Macro photography with lumia 925 Part 3

//We in the UK have had a great 3 weeks of sunshine and has proved good.. lots of insects about..  I was joking the other day that I need to find bees, wasps and centipede to take macros. Of course i revolt at the thought of centipede being 2 inches from my hands. I need Lumia 1020 for precise that reason.. that a bit further back and do a loss less digital zoom :)

So what did i find in the last 2 days, well dragon fly, butterflies, some weird T shaped insect, something that looks like a bee and foral phallus :) Click on the photos to see the full res versions

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Macro photography with Lumia 925 – Part 2

As you might have heard the Lumia 1020 has started turning up for folks who ordered these in the US. Today Paul Thurrot and Peter Bright both posted reviews of the 1020 and its an awesome device. My macros kinda look pointless in comparison :) oh well I will have to retake these when I get my hands on Lumia 1020 in a month or two.

Paul even posted a few pictures he took on flickr - he mentioned that flickr didn’t keep high res so these are smaller shareable pictures – scaled 5 meg ones. They are really rich in detail even the scaled ones. I thought let me try a few more so here are some more of the pictures I took today,

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