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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Why I still have Windows Phone 6.5 even in the age of Windows Phone 7(.x): Part 4

Recently, I published part 3 on my "Why I still have Windows Phone 6.5 even in the age of Windows Phone 7(.x)" series. This is part 4, continuing from where I left off on part 3. If you haven't had a chance to read part 3 (or parts 1 and 2) yet, you can find it all here.

The fifth issue I brought up the first time was external gps support. 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. These days, gps systems seem to be all the rage. Evidence of this can be found with car manufacturers who, increasingly, bundle some kind of gps system in the vehicles they sell. However, these maps eventually become outdated. Phone manufacturers have also been using embedded motherboards which have a gps module onboard. All three major mobile operating system makers, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, have also included gps support in their respective operating systems, along with some sort of map software. I am pretty sure that Microsoft made gps a required hardware feature for phones running the Windows Phone operating system. This is fine for the consumer. However, the map software those software companies include in their operating systems depend on an internet connection. This is usually satisfied by a cellular internet connection. I live in West Virginia, where we still have 2g cellular internet in many places. This makes for a poor user experience when trying to use the map software. An external gps works great in this situation since its operation does not depend on an internet connection. External gps support would be great in the next version of Windows Phone, Apollo, but the current conditions in the computing world prevent this from being a much needed feature. There is more I could say about GPS, but I will save it for another article.

The sixth issue brought up is VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) support. 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). Until Skype came out for Windows Phone, there wasn't much you could do if you wanted to make calls via VOIP on Windows Phone. I don't expect this to change (much) for the current version of Windows Phone, Mango, but word has it that Microsoft will be adding support for Skype (native support, not just updated Skype app) and other 3rd party VOIP providers.

The seventh issue brought up was lack of playlist support. When I first wrote on this, it was before Mango was released. Mango did bring us playlist support. However, playlist support on the device is not perfect. You can create a playlist, but you can't edit it. You can't shift the song order in the playlist either. In my Windows Phone app, Mobile Media Manager, I attempt to solve these problems (and more). However, my app is crippled by the fact that I can't change song order while execution of the app is suspended (in other words, if you switch from my app to a different app, the current song won't change to the next song and will just stop playback UNLESS you navigate back to my app before the current song is over. This problem is not my own. The problem lies with Microsoft, where currently, you cannot play a Song ("Song" is the name of the class, part of the XNA framework, for those of you who are programmers) in the background (via BackgroundAudioAgent). If ANYONE knows how to fix this or how to get around this, please let me know as soon as possible.

The last issue brought up was 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?). With the current system, it is possible to do multi-player gaming in Windows Phone 7(.5), but you have to have a gold level subscription to Xbox Live in order to do so. I know its the same situation on the Xbox, but I think it would be great to be able to have a local multi-player session of a game as well, especially for people who own a windows phone, but don't own an Xbox.

So far, things are looking better for Windows Phone (7.x) than when it initially came out. However there is much it can improve on. As the next version of Windows Phone, Apollo, is not out yet, there is not much we know other than what Microsoft has told us. We will all just have to wait and see what else Microsoft has in store for Apollo, so stay tuned for more. If I happen to think of more on comparing Windows Phone 7.x to Windows Phone 6.5, I will update this article.

For those of you who are (software) developers and haven't downloaded the Windows Phone SDK yet, download it, and see what you can make. You might be surprised. If you are developing for Windows Phone on Windows 8, be sure to download Visual Studio 2011 as well.

So now, do you agree that Windows Phone 6.5 is still useful, or do you think that Windows Phone 7.x has matured enough that Windows Phone 6.5 isn't needed anymore? Share your thoughts in the comment box below, or e-mail me at You can also comment (and follow me) on twitter (twitter username is @rctechgeek). Feel free to subscribe to my rss feed as well. If you like this post, please share it with your family and friends.

In the meantime, while you are thinking about Windows Phone, drink some tasty Mystic Monk Coffee (use this link or click on the picture below to access the store and purchase). Trust me, it's good coffee (in most instances, much better than Starbucks coffee) and you won't regret buying some (just keep it away from your computer keyboard or laptop/tablet). For the summer, they are also offering Iced Coffee as well. If you like tea more than coffee, the monks also offer tea for sale. Using the link (or picture below) to buy the coffee (or tea) helps the monks out and helps me with college expenses as well.

Feel free to try out my apps for Windows Phone: Mobile Media Manager, a media player app I made which has some features which (I feel) are missing from the system Zune player, and BSA Eagle Tracker, an app that boy scouts can use to track their progress to Eagle Scout (when the scout handbook isn't always handy). New versions of the media player with new features/bug fixes is coming within a week (most likely sooner than this, but definitely within 2 weeks) of passing Microsoft Apphub certification. The update for the free, ad-supported version of Mobile Media Manager got denied in Apphub certification, but it will be resubmitted within the next day or two. The update for the paid version will be in certification with it (I've been busy lately, and hadn't had a chance to submit the paid version update to Apphub yet). BSA Eagle Tracker is also getting a bug fix for an obscure bug I noticed recently, so it is also due for an update.

BSA Eagle Tracker download:
Mobile Media Manager (paid, ad-free version) download:
Mobile Media Manager (free, ad-supported version) download:

Update (6-28-2012): Part 4 is located at

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