Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Windows 10 Phone Technical Preview - A quick overview

Hello World !

Writing down here after a long time. I keep posting articles on couple of blogs and eventually few of them got tagged under Channel 9 Blog4Fun as well. Last 6 months were crazy ! I am doing back to back talks on Windows Phone, Univeral Apps and Azure (IaaS) so was bit away from you all.

Today I am writing on Windows 10 Phone Technical Preview. I am one of the few lucky people in India who got access to Technical Preview for phone. I am calling myself lucky as most of my friends have high end Windows Phone (Even I have 1520) but like as usual "Bad news follows happy news". Everyone was jumping on Gabe Aul's twitter handle. The bad news is Windows 10 Phone Technical Preview will be only available on following phones :
  • Lumia 630
  • Lumia 635
  • Lumia 636
  • Lumia 638
  • Lumia 730
  • Lumia 830
Great !  What about my "flagship" devices like 1020,1520 etc. ? Oh wait you are in Queue !
What about HTC Phones? I will keep this question open.

In my personal view, rolling out low end devices as per my understanding is always good and effective. This helps to understand Bugs and bricking issues before it goes to flagship devices. Microsoft doing their best to get as close as possible to Developers and Consumers and allowing them to get bits via Insider Program. This also shows commitment of Microsoft towards community. In other aspect it is very effective channel for Microsoft to get feedback and reach out to end user.

There are so many discussions like Why it is not on other devices? How Windows 10 Phone Technical Preview demos shown on Lumia 1520 etc. Well if you read this blogpost especially "The earliest preview we’ve ever done" section it will address most of your queries.
So let's keep all debt aside and let's have a quick overview of Windows 10 Phone for Technical Preview which I am able to install on my Lumia 630. (It is currently running Cyan update)

As a per-requisite you need to enroll for Insider Program followed by downloading "Windows Insider" app here. Post installation you will get following screen provided your device falls in the list of supported device which I shared above.

 There are 2 builds as "Insider Slow" and "Insider Fast". The name itself suggest the frequency of getting updated build. So you can choose either of choice. Note that installing this build will void your device warranty. So install this on your own risk. Some rumors are going on about the rollback facility but I do not see this option here. You need to reboot your phone. Post reboot you can verify the build by going to about menu. You will see something like below :

Now let's start the pictorial tour with short description.

1. Brand new Start / Home Screen with Full Screen Background and "Vertical Tile"

Here is the Program Screen with and without Wallpaper (Once you apply Wallpaper, Now you can see that at background in Program screen as well)

2. Notification Center now have a lot of improvements. Firstly you can have multiple setting options there. Also you can now individually remove notification in a group of notification. In our WP 8.1 once we swipe then entire set of notification goes away. Here you can remove or act on individual notification. Also now you have collapse button to get more metadata associated with notification.

3. New Keyboard and New Keyboard languages added. Good news for people in India. Most of the languages are now supported. I can see my language "Marathi" (We now don't have to rely on Hindi or Devanagari Keyboard). I can also see Kannada, Bengali etc. keyboards. Now we have small "dot" within keyboard for scrolling as well (Remember the Red dot mouse button on keyboard on IBM ThinkPad? This is something similar)

4. Calling, Calculator and Photos have new look. Photos app looks is better with new UI. Calculator now is way better. It is no more Calculator for numbers but more than that. Calling screen got new look too.

Not only Calculator but it seems most of the Apps are now dominated by "Hamburger" Menu which is surprise !

5. Folders is no longer Folders app rather we have multiple folders kind of app. I will not call it as full functional File Explorer but overall this Folders App looks good.

6. Alarms is not just alarms, it is now a Combo of pinnable (Pin to Start) apps/features like Alarms, World Clock, Time and Stop Watch. All in one kind of functionality. Alarms are actionable and more informative than earlier.

7. New Setting UI where you will get lost completely. Not because options are removed but now they are logically arranged in categories.
8. Cortana now have "Hamburger" menu, She is improved dramatically (Azure ML it is? ;-) ..my wild guess).

Last screen allows you to share feedback for Cortana. Well I have already shared lot of feedback on most of the glitches.

So that is what I want to share with you. I tried to show you the pictorial tour. Right now we don't have any APIs or SDKs in place. So I am holding my horses here. I will try to post few more deep dive reviews as soon as we progress with builds and I progress with my evangelism.

If you asked me conclusion of this post or my views on Windows 10 Phone Technical Preview then it will be like this :

Amazing UI which still needs improvement. Most of the themes issues needs to be fixed. Themes for phone and Cortana are mismatching. Few apps are getting hang, few options in Settings are freezing in between. I did not observed any automatic restarts or reboot. I don't have SIM in my device but I assume there should not be any silly issues like autocalling or random calling etc. Overall amazing compare to Windows Phone current build in terms of capability, simplicity and features. I am still missing "Jumplist" and "Alphabetically Sorted" Settings options in Settings.Need some good wallpapers and ring tones. Looking ahead for some Apps specific for this Windows 10 Phone platform which will showcase features of the platform. Overall No special observations in Camera, Picture Quality, Audio and Video. I have not tried "flac" files for Music. IE I don't see anything special (My overall IE usage is very low).

On the other hand what i realized so far with Windows 10 Phone Technical Preview is most of the common sense features for which people wrote dozens of apps and loaded on Store are now part of Windows 10 Phone Technical Preview either as feature or as default provided apps by Microsoft ( For example Alarms, World Clock, Stop watch etc). So I think new apps will be better with better set of features and rich APIs once the entire ecosystem comes to life.

I will soon share more insights on Windows 10 Phone Technical Preview and I would like to hear your feedback as well. Feel free to buzz me on Twitter ( @VikramPendse)

See you soon !


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Text To Speech and Cortana in Windows Phone 8.1

Hi !

I have written a blog post on www.dotnetcurry.com on Text To Speech in Windows Phone 8.1 where I have shared information on various aspects of Speech in Windows Phone including Cortana, Here is URL :


Do read the post and let me know your feedback ! I am bit occupied in //publish event so I will be writing more soon here on this blog. Till then enjoy my post on DotNetCurry


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

First look at Windows Phone 8.1 Emulator

Hi! Hope you already know about the wonderful announcements made in Build 2014 recently about Windows, Azure and Windows Phone. So we are now in new era of Windows Phone as Windows Phone 8.1. I am here blogging on Windows Phone since it was in version 7. Journey continues and as a part of this ongoing long journey, today I am going to share what new things you can observe, analysis and utilize if you are planning to build Apps for Windows Phone 8.1. Many of us who have not yet installed the new bits might be under impression that it will not be very different emulator from 8.0. In reality you can see and experience tons of changes, some are small changes and some are totally new.

Windows Phone 8.1 SDK and/or Tools are now part of Visual Studio Update 2 RC. So now once you update your Visual Studio 2013 with this update, you are all set for building apps on Windows Phone 8.1. What only thing I don’t like here is I don’t get ISO for this and Update happens over the wire. It took lot of time (Almost 5-6 hours) to download and install, especially in countries like India where you have low bandwidth, it is painful. You can download Update 2 RC from here

New Windows Phone 8.1 Project :

First thing you will notice once you install tooling via Update 2 RC is Windows Phone Project Templates are now under Store Apps like shown below:


You can then choose Specific Template from Windows Phone Apps category like shown here:


So now we have 2 Set of Templates one with suffix (Windows Phone) and other with (Windows Phone Silverlight), so what is the difference and when to use what?

Answer is simple! If you have existing Windows Phone 8 App and if you wish to leverage some new features of 8.1 without modifying much of your current code then you need to take Windows Phone Silverlight App. Please visit here to know more about Silverlight Windows Phone 8.1 Project Templates If you take this template it does show you OS Switching dialog shown below:


If you choose Windows Phone Only Project Template (without Silverlight suffix) then your App will be by default taken to Windows Phone 8.1 Windows Runtime XAML(Same platform which used for building Windows 8 Apps). In this particular post I am purposefully not discussing things like Backward Compatibility and Universal Project App since I need to talk about it with you in great depth in my upcoming posts. So for the time being, let us quickly digest the different project templates. Another significant name change is for Panorama, Now Panorama is replaced with Hub. Let us talk more about Hub and WebView App templates in upcoming posts. So if you are planning to first do a Hello World and wish to put a MessageBox, it will not work as I said this project templates inclined towards Windows Runtime.

private async void btnClick_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)

{  MessageDialog msdlg = new MessageDialog("Hello World !!", "My First WP8.1 App");

await msdlg.ShowAsync();}

Home Screen :

Here is the First look of Emulator :


Once you run Emulator, you will notice couple of new things in Additional Tools as well as on Toolbar for Emulator, like now we have Multitouch Option here. This can be used to Test Multitouch scenarios. I have shown one scenario below where I am scaling one Image with this Multitouch.

image image

Volume Up / Down :

Now you can change the Volume by pressing “Volume Up/Down” key on emulator which will give you a quick dashboard to control Sound for Phone and Apps like shown below:


Additional Tools:

Most beautiful feature in Additional Tool I found is “Checkpoint”, Checkpoint helps you take Snapshot of your emulator state. You can Create or Restore old checkpoints and delete the same. Idea behind checkpoint is to fix and freeze the environment so that Developers don’t need to do common things repetitively like loading Contacts or Settings etc.


Another good additions are SD Card, Sensors and Notifications, I will talk about them with examples in coming posts. For today we will just have a look at them in a pictorial way.



Camera by default loads burst mode and not it shows couple of more options like Lens, Quick Front Camera toggling etc.



Much awaited Cortana helps you as your own Personal Digital Assistance. You can invoke it from Apps or from Search. You need to sign in with your Live Account on emulator to experience it. I played couple of Songs in front of my Laptop and guess what ! Cortana worked like Shaazam for me and identified what Music I am playing. This itself shows power of Cortana, Here is the first look:

image image

image image


Here is the new improved look of Calendar which now shows bit of Weather and also gives to look in different views like Day, Week, Month and Year.

image  image

Dialing / Calling:

Till Windows Phone 8 we use to Dial and Number and post call we use to Save the Number. Here in 8.1 now, once you type number and if you know its correct you can then save it right away by clicking on Save button on Dial Pad. Also it now shows Number of calls made by adding suffice (<Number of times dialed>). It also shows People icon next to number to navigate quickly to Contact. Also it is now showing Speed Dial.

image image


Developer Power Tools for Windows Phone 8.1 :

Here is the Quick Tool for profiling your Windows Phone 8.1 App which takes Traces (Performance Recorder),Application Verifier and Performance Monitor. It does not required to any new learning, it is easy and user friendly.


I hope with this little information shared above, you must have got glimpse of Windows Phone 8.1. Actually it is much more than that in reality. So let us explore more on Windows Phone 8.1 here in coming days. Let me know your feedback and keep visiting here for more Windows Phone 8.1 stuff.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Building Windows Phone Apps using App Studio Article in DNC.NET Magazine

Hi !

After a long gap.. I started writing again !

While my offline sessions continues, I wrote an article in leading .NET Developer Magazine DNC Magazine run by fellow MVP in Pune. It is the 11th Issue of this Magazine. I wrote a full length article covering all possible aspects of building Windows Phone Applications using App Studio Beta.

I highly recommend to Subscribe and Download the Magazine here . It covers lot of other wonderful .NET Articles too.


You can also read the complete App Studio Article on DotNetCurry site here.

Do check it out an let me know your feedback !.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My New Microsoft MVP Status, Xamarin and Steve Ballmer

Hello everyone ! long time…

My New MVP Status and  Summary of Journey as a MVP from last 6 years :

Writing after a long time. Yes ! I am no more Silverlight MVP !! I am now Windows Phone MVP rather 2nd Windows Phone MVP in India after my best friend Mayur Tendulkar who won the title recently. I won Microsoft MVP title 6th time in a row.


As a commitment, I will resume my blogging soon and will post some good stuff on Windows Phone like I use to give my best for Silverlight. You will not believe but the Transition from Silverlight to Windows Phone was not easy and equally “Painful” for me. With the growing popularity of HTML5 (I still call it as Hype), Silverlight lost its momentum. This put me in position to start look for new avenues and I found Windows Phone is one of the close one (XAML + C#). My mind is yet to accept that I love Windows 8 since I have Windows 8 but neither I upgraded to 8.1 nor I am fond of Metro aka Store UI, I am still prefer desktop mode. Not to blame my mind and not to blame Microsoft. It is my region who plays trick with me.Where are those devices in India?? Whatever ! and who cares.. I always worked for Community and I devote my time either here or with my wonderful local .NET User Group (Pune User Group, which is one of the most active and biggest UG in India or rather South Asia)

Xamarin :

While I was on vacation to Goa for South Asia MVP Open Days, I had lot of interaction with Xamarin Tools and enthusiasts in the same community. We exchanged our thoughts and what I found more interesting is that I can use C# to build Android and iOS apps.So it might happen that out of interest you could see me writing about Xamarin and talking about Xamarin using C#. Though I will be learning Xamarin and building expertise around just for my hobby and passion towards mobility, My entire focus will be always and always and always on Windows Phone Platform and it will be always at Top in my Community commitment list. So now its Windows Phone 24x7 on my head !

Steve Ballmer :

I personally feel that Steve Ballmer did a fantastic jobs after Bill Gates. During the Steve Ballmer era both Phone and Windows saw lot of innovation. Being and Becoming Microsoft CEO is not a easy job. I as a Microsoft Technology enthusiast will surely miss him and specially his love towards “Developers Developers Developers” .Since I am just a Senior Software Developer and not even hold 1% of Microsoft Stock on NASDAQ, I am holding myself back from posting my views on this topic and making shit on forums and blogs who are currently running long lasting discussions about Steve Ballmer’s replacement.I tell you, If you love Windows Phone then just post on your  Facebook wall “I Love Windows Phone”. Within a minute people will start shitting on your wall with Android and iPhone comparisons and facts sheets with dumb videos and Urls. Even its your personal view and people in your friend list not even developed “Hello World” on any Windows Phone, Android or iPhone, It became a habit of people to criticize Microsoft. So I tell my mind in such situations..”Either live with it or leave it !”. My friend and fellow Windows Phone MVP written a good post about this shitty habit here :

No Water on Moon?? Blame Microsoft !!

Whatever.. I love Windows Phone and other Microsoft Products irrespective of what people have their opinion for it. I will keep on working as Community Member and keep on contributing on Microsoft Technologies till I don’t step down from my work.

Thanks once again for making visit here and I will make sure you keep visiting here more and more in coming days !


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Introduction to Speech Capabilities in Windows Phone 8 – Part 3

Today I am going to post last part of this series, Hope Part1 and Part2 went well with you and hope you tried out the Speech Capabilities of Windows Phone 8. We already talked a lot about the different approaches of Text To Speech, In this we will see exactly reverse approach that its Speech To Text. Most of the time it is considered to be vary hard and difficult to implement, But with the given APIs in Windows Phone 8 makes them pretty easy to implement.So Lets see how you can build such app quickly.

Take a new Windows Phone 8 Application Project. Design I will leave that to you, Right now I have put this inside a Pivot item like this :


<phone:PivotItem Header="Speech2Text" DoubleTap="LoadSpeechToText">               

C# Code :

private async void LoadSpeechToText(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
           SpeechRecognizerUI myspeechRecognizer = new SpeechRecognizerUI();
           myspeechRecognizer.Settings.ExampleText = "Ex. Call,Search,Run";
           myspeechRecognizer.Settings.ListenText = "Listening...";


This will bring up the Popup where you need to suppose to talk or give command, To enable this functionality, you need to add two more lines of code

myspeechRecognizer.Settings.ReadoutEnabled = true;
myspeechRecognizer.Settings.ShowConfirmation = true;

Once you run this you will see our regular Speech Popup like this :


But just showing this screen is not sufficient, we need to capture the Text and display it to user, So for this we need to add few more lines of code

SpeechRecognitionUIResult Speechresult = await speechRecognizer.RecognizeWithUIAsync();
if (Speechresult.ResultStatus == SpeechRecognitionUIStatus.Succeeded)

Now you can see the result on a MessageBox, While doing the test I said “Nokia” and you can see the result on the screen.


And here you can see the Result on MessageBox.  finalNow its your decision where you want this piece of code to be use, There are lot of Business cases where you can use this kind of Speech Recognition. You can use this to launch certain Commands in your application or you can use to record voice as well and convert to text for any purpose.Hope you will find this useful and thus quick end of my Speech Capability series, I have kept it short but in coming days I am going to put detail article on these features by taking a Business Case.Till then Happy Coding, I will soon post a Calendar related article and we will see how we can use that API at our best.