Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Just Got a Windows Phone -- Nokia Lumia 520

When it was time for a new phone a few months back, I went with Android: Goodbye HTC, Hello HTC. And I've been very happy with that phone. Performance is great, 4G LTE works well in the places I've used it, and tethering works well -- I've found that I prefer to tether in a lot of places rather than use the public WiFi. Google Now is a little bit creepy (how does it know what TV shows I might want to watch right now?), but I'm starting to get over that.

I also mentioned why I did not choose Windows Phone. But I had a chance to get a decent device really cheap, so I decided to pick up a phone for development purposes.

And here it is -- the Nokia Lumia 520:

First Impressions
I managed to get it on sale for $40. That was very hard to pass up for a new phone running Windows Phone 8.1. (Well it was advertised as Windows Phone 8.1, but it came with 8.0 installed. It was easy enough to get 8.1 on it through software update, but I would not have liked to wait if I was using this as my primary device.)

I didn't activate the phone (it's actually a GoPhone on AT&T). I hooked it up to WiFi at home and also set it up to tether with my HTC One. Both of those have worked great so far. It was interesting to get what looked like an SMS (under the generic heading "Messages") inviting me to check out features of Windows Phone even though I don't even have a phone number. But I guess that's something you can do when you wrote the operating system.

Out of curiosity, I set up the apps that I use quite a bit on my phone: email, calendar, contacts, Skype, and Twitter (to get started with). I found that I could add my Google account -- which is good. This brought in my Google contacts, set up a calendar, and also configured email. What's missing, though, is the specialization that Android apps offer for Google -- a big one that I miss (which I didn't think I would) is the tabbed Inbox. This did enforce that I made the right decision on my primary phone since I'm invested in the Google ecosystem at this point. (And I still don't have a good way to use Google Voice.)

Other than that, it's really hard to complain about a $40 device.

Windows Phone Development
I was wondering how difficult it would be to get the phone working with Visual Studio. It turns out it was pretty easy.
  1. Create a new Windows Phone project in Visual Studio (I actually picked a "Hub App (Universal)" since I was curious about universal projects).
  2. Plug in the phone via USB.
  3. Set the Debugger output to "Device".
  4. Build & Run.
  5. Get an error that says you need to unlock developer mode on the device.
  6. Follow the provided link.
  7. Follow the instructions to unlock the phone.
  8. Build & Run.
  9. Success!
That's wasn't very difficult. The thing that I liked about the process is that there were clear instructions on what to do if the deployment didn't work. I did not have to spend any time searching the internet for help.

Will I become a Windows Phone developer? I'm not quite sure at this point. But I'm more likely to play around with some stuff now that I have a device.

Happy Coding!

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