Microsoft launched Windows Phone 8 in October 2012 to compete against the iPhone and Android juggernauts that currently dominate the market. Despite getting some great reviews, the launch has had limited success, with many people overlooking this fledgling platform in favour of the aforementioned stalwarts. In the humble opinion of this writer, this slow uptake has been partly down to many people not being aware of some of the great features that Windows Phone offers – especially the excellent integration it offers with other Microsoft products such as Xbox and Windows 8. Here are my favourites:
1. Tie Your Facebook Account To Your Phone
One of the great things about Windows Phone is that you can tie your Facebook account to it, automatically syncing your contacts and allowing seamless use of Facebook’s messaging service whether you’re using Facebook’s website, your phone and now Windows 8 for your home computer. Not to mention that it enables one click sharing of photos (among other things!).
2. Get a Zune Xbox Music Subscription
Being a music lover, this is possibly my favourite things about Windows Phone. For £8.99 a month you can download and listen to as many songs as you want from Microsoft’s recently renamed music service. This started with their ill-fated MP3 player (which never quite made it to UK shores) but you can use it on your computer or even better; download music directly to your phone whenever you have a good enough 3G or Wi-Fi connection. As the name suggests you can also use it on your Xbox (and your home PC). It’s like Spotify in many ways but – in my humble opinion – better.
3. Get Your Head in The Cloud
Every Windows Phone comes with 7GB of free storage on Sky Drive and you can use this for pretty much anything you want. As with Zune, this isn’t just for your phone – you can set up specific folders on your home PC to automatically back up to Sky Drive, meaning you can make sure that all of your important files are backed up, and also, that you can access them from anywhere you have access to an internet connection. Because Windows Phone has built-in Office, you can view and edit important Word and Excel documents on the go.
4. Got Kids? You Need to Know About Kid’s Corner
Anyone who owns a smartphone or tablet and has children knows that kids absolutely love playing on touch screen games and creative apps. Turning on Kids Corner in the settings allows you to restrict access to certain functions of the phone. This means you can both stop your kids using things that you think would be unsuitable and ensures you don’t have to worry about them messing up all of your settings or accidentally sending text messages to your boss.
5. Find Your Phone
Lost your phone? Turn on ‘Find My Phone’ and you won’t have to worry quite so much. It uses GPS and shows your phone’s location on a map. While it’s not always pinpoint accurate, and carries the same limitations that most GPS devices do in that it’ll have difficulty tracking indoors, it will still show you the last location your phone successfully reported. In addition to this you can lock the phone remotely – or if necessary – erase it, ensuring that no one can access personal data. If you know the phone is in your house somewhere but you’ve left it on silent you can also use this dashboard to ring it – this will cause it to ring loudly whether or not the phone is set to silent. This one feature has helped me more times than I’d like to admit!