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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why I still have Windows Phone 6.5 even in the age of Windows Phone 7 (Part 2)

After I wrote the piece on some reasons that I still have a Windows Phone 6.5 device, I happened to think of some other reasons why Windows Phone 6.5 is still useful that I forgot to include in the last post (if you haven't read it yet, here's the link to part 1. So here are some more reasons why Windows Phone 6.5 is still useful (even with Windows Phone 7).

The first four have to do with bluetooth support. The first one has to do with the profiles that are included by default. According to Microsoft itself, the bluetooth profiles that are supported are Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP 1.2), Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP 1.0), Hands Free Profile (HFP 1.5), Headset Profile (HSP 1.1), and Phone Book Access Profile (PBAP 1.0). One thing that is definitely missing is bluetooth keyboard support. I don't know about anyone else, but aside from maybe the phones with a built-in hardware keyboard (like the LG Quantum or the HTC Arrive), it can be cumbersome at times to use the onscreen soft keyboard. Having a hardware keyboard can be a big typing error preventer and allows text to be typed faster, meaning you get access to it faster. The iPad has this capability and the any Windows Phone 6.5 device (whether running the Broadcomm bt stack or the Microsoft bt stack) has this capability.

The next one also has to do with the file explorer, but with Windows Phone 6.5, I can do bluetooth file transfers. Since Windows Phone 7, does not implement the OBEX File Transfer protocol, this is not possible under Windows Phone 7. This means you can't use your laptop's bluetooth to send a file (like a word document or a new ringtone) to your Windows Phone 7 device. I do admit that this is a feature that I don't use a lot, but it's very handy when I do need to use it.

The next one is external gps support. With Windows Phone 7, I am limited to the gps that is included in the device. With Windows Phone 6.5, in addition to using the gps my device may have built-in, I can use bluetooth to connect to an external (hardware) gps with bluetooth and access functions in the external gps. I realize that many people are fine with what's built-in or with no gps at all (I will admit that I still use the old-fashioned paper "map" when I go on vacation trips in the car), but I have gotten reports from many people that a certain external hardware gps (there is no one specific external, hardware gps that I am referring to), performs better than the gps that may be built-in with the Windows Phone 7 device.

The next one is the ability to transfer a contact from one device to another via bluetooth. With Windows Phone 6.5, I could use bluetooth to choose a contact from my address book and send it to another Windows Phone 6.5 device and the contact would be in the second 6.5 device's address book. In Windows Phone 7, you cannot do this. I don't know much about the Phone Book Access bluetooth profile, but I imagine it wouldn't be too hard to use this to enable you send a contact (preferably from "People") from one Windows Phone 7 device to another, as long as the two devices are paired. This would definitely be useful in a case like Microsoft's TechEd conference (Microsoft, I hope you are reading this), where you have many people present and the giving of contact information is a normal activity.

The next one is lack of VOIP support in Windows Phone 7. With the advent of Mango, skype support will be (supposedly) be built-in, but what if you do not use skype? What if you use a 3rd party voip service? If this is the case, you are out of luck. With Windows Phone 6.5 (and even 6.1), you can use your device to make voip calls, and the best thing is that you can use the address book that's built-in to the os (configuration was a bit advanced, but there are utilities out there that make it easy).

The next one is the ability to make playlists on the device. With Windows Phone 6.5, Windows Media Player mobile allowed you to save a new playlist and edit existing playlists (there was one 3rd party program out there, called PlaylistMgr, that made making playlist on the device a lot easier than doing it from within Windows Media Player mobile and you could even include media files which were on the device, but weren't part of the Windows Media Player mobile library). Under Windows Phone 7, you have to make the playlist in the Zune (desktop) client first, and then transfer the playlist to the device. This can be annoying at times when you don't have your desktop or laptop handy and you still want to make a playlist. Add to this, my wish that Microsoft gives you the capability to add a youtube video to a playlist in the zune player as well.

The last one is the ability to do p2p multi-player gaming either via bluetooth or via wi-fi (and even cross-platform multi-player gaming). Under Windows Phone 6.5, it was possible to do both, and it made gaming on the platform even better (Orions: Legends of Wizards, anyone?). Under Windows Phone 7, this is not possible (mostly due to lack of socket support in the os currently), but I hear that Mango will fix this. Big things will come when things work like they do on the Xbox, you can either "link" other devices together or go multi-player on Xbox Live. You will still need a good internet connection though, for gaming on the internet (either wi-fi or 3G, EDGE will not cut it).

These are some more reasons that I thought of that I still use Windows Phone 6.5 in the age of Windows Phone 7. I hope that Microsoft will be reading this and fix (most) of these issues with future versions of Windows Phone.

Do you think that Windows Phone 6.5 is outdated or do you think there is still some worth to it even with Windows Phone 7 (and Mango coming)? Feel free to let me know here (in the comment box) or on Twitter (url for twitter is

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