Still new on the market, Windows Phone 7 has been strongly backed by smartphone manufacturers such as HTC, Samsung and LG. Following the operating system’s announcements, a set of seven devices running Microsoft’s new mobile OS were launched on the market. If you are one of the lucky few that managed to get their hands on one of these Windows Phone 7 devices, then you’re in for some first steps into uncharted grounds.
The following guide contains a few tips for those that already got their WP7 smartphone and would like a few basic pointers about the OS’s capabilities.
Much of the Windows Phone 7 UI is based on hubs, which can be added, deleted, edited or moved. The same goes for the Start screen which is populated by default with only a handful of hubs. To add a new application to the homescreen, long press the icon of the app until a contextual menu will show up and choose “Pin to start”.
Uninstalling an application that you don’t need anymore can be easily done following the same process described above. Go to the list of applications, press and hold on the app’s icon and select “Uninstall” from the contextual menu.
Favorite contacts can also be pinned on the Start screen for speed dial. Simply browse the Contacts hub until you find the person you want and click on the “Pin” icon next to the name.
Windows Phone 7 comes with support for voice controls. To start the feature simply press and hold the Windows key below the screen and start giving voice commands to your phone.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 embeds an interesting option called “Correct misspelled words.” The feature is designed to assist those that are typing quickly using the on-screen keyboard. The option can be toggled from the Settings / Keyboard menu.
There still isn’t a lot of practical information about Windows Phone 7 available, so the following guide contains tips for those that already got their WP7 smartphone and would like a few basic pointers about the OS’s capabilities.
An interesting feature that has been embedded into Windows Phone 7 is called “Find my Phone” and helps users locate their device if they lost it or it has been stolen.
Users can activate the function from the Settings, Find my Phone option, as the feature is not enabled by default. “Find my Phone” saves the user’s location at certain, previously set intervals.
The integrated web browser features an option that can switch off mobile browsing, which makes Internet Explorer display only the desktop versions of the websites. Users can toggle the function on/off from the Settings, Applications, Internet Explorer menu.
Adding a bookmark for a favorite website on the Start screen can be easily done by clicking on the three dots displayed at the bottom of the screen and choosing “Pin to start”. The three dots always appear when you have more options and works just like the Menu button for Android OS.
Internet Explorer includes a useful “Find” feature that allows users to find a specific word on a webpage they are visiting. Simply press on the three dots, choose “Find on page” and type in the word you want to search for.
Even though this system is already beneficial in terms of energy savings, a few tips that will help Windows Phone 7 smartphone owners preserve their battery cannot hurt.
The safest and easiest way to save battery is to disable some of the system’s features and functions that are usually running in the background or open when a certain action is started. Of course, if you need any of the features mentioned below do not turn it off.
One of the main battery energy eaters is the Location service, which checks your location automatically, every now and then.
You won’t need this one unless you want to use the included geo-tagging feature or you want to know where you are located on the map.
To toggle these services browse into the Location option, Settings and slide the button to Off or On.
In case you really need to know where you are on Bing maps, but you don’t need the Geo-tagging feature, you can simply turn it off from Settings, Applications, Pictures & Camera and choose Off from the “include location (GPS) information in pictures you take.”
Data roaming is another feature that eats the battery’s energy, but also “boosts” your bill if you’re browsing the Internet when you’re abroad without using a Wi-Fi connetion. You can turn the feature off from Settings and Mobile Network.
It is also advised to turn off 3G connectivity if you’re not planning to use it for faster Internet browsing. You can find the switch to toggle between WCDMA and GSM mode in the Settings, Mobile Network menu.
The Voice Control feature of any Windows Phone 7 smartphone can be activated by pressing and holding the Windows key at the bottom of the screen. The feature helps users open various applications by voice commands.
Moving a specific Hub that you just created and pinned on the Start screen can be easily done by pressing and holding on the tile in question and moving it up or down.
By default, new hubs are added at the bottom of the Start screen. To remove one simply hold and press your finger on the tile until you get the „no pin“ icon on the display and click it.
To set up a Google Apps mail account you will need to enable Mobile mail for the system to work. That requires users to log in to their Google Apps dashboard and tick next to the „Enable Google Sync“ option, which can be found into Service settings, Mobile menu.
Users can also lock their phone’s screen in order to avoid making accidental calls when the device is kept in a pocket. Simply go to the Settings area and choose Lock & Wallpaper, then click on any of the five options offered: 30 seconds, 1 minute, 3 minutes, 5 minutes or never.
By default, the phone’s Start screen includes a People hub where all the user’s contacts are displayed. Adding or removing Facebook contacts from the People hub can be done from the Settings area, Applications, People and choosing to „Show all my Facebook friends“ or „Only add Facebook information to existing contacts“.
Import SIM Contacts
Made by LG, HTC or Samsung, Windows Phone 7 smartphones offer a new experience for tech-savvy users. However, getting to know a mobile operating system can take some time, especially for those with less technical proficiency.
Detailed below are a few tips and hints that users can take advantage of while handling a smartphone running Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform.
Forgetting your own number while using a WM7 device won’t be a problem because the OS displays the user’s number in Settings, Applications, Phone area.
Clicking the power button while the phone rings will silence it. This is especially useful when you’re in a meeting and cannot take the call.
Importing SIM contacts is easily done by clicking on the People hub and selecting “import SIM contacts”.
To disable caller ID so that your number won’t be displayed on the screen simply go into Settings, Applications, Phone, click on the “Show my Caller ID to” and then choose the setting you want: Everyone, No one or My contacts.
Resetting a Windows Phone 7 device can be done from Settings, About, and choosing the “Reset your phone” option bottom of the page.
If you want to flag an email for later use, you can do that by tapping and holding you finger on the email you need and choose the “Set flag” option. Do the same if you want to delete an email without even reading it, but choose Delete option instead.
Adding emoticons to an email or SMS message is very easy as each Windows Phone 7 device features a dedicated button on the on-screen keyboard. To see more symbols on the virtual keyboard press the More arrow to the left of the screen.
SkyDrive and Zune
Microsoft is trying to offer Windows Phone 7 users, as few as they may be at the moment, the whole package of useful services along with its mobile platform. However, Microsoft took Apple’s example and is currently offering only services that are developed by the company, such as Zune, Bing and SkyDrive.
This leaves the user to decide whether they want more freedom when it comes to additional services and features, or they prefer everything to be provided by a single company within a closed environment.
Windows Phone 7 integrates several services developed by the company, which add more features and functions to the platform. First-time users will find the tips detailed below handy when it comes to using Microsoft’s services.
SkyDrive is one of the Microsoft’s services integrated with Windows Phone 7 and lets users make backups of their data. Pictures that are stored in Pictures & Camera menu will be automatically uploaded to SkyDrive, but the option can be disabled from Settings, Picture & Camera, Auto Upload (uncheck).
Uploading pictures to Facebook can be easily done from the dedicated application by enabling the “Upload to Facebook” option, which will appear each time the user is viewing a picture.
To turn off the Xbox Live feature simply go to Settings, Applications, Games and select Off.
Even though every Windows Phone 7 smartphone comes with a dedicated Zune player to access the music, you won’t need to actually start the application to be able to listen to the music. Instead simply click on the volume button and a music player will immediately be shown on your display.
To use the fast forward command while in Zune music player, just press and hold the skip track icon at the bottom of the screen. Pressing it once will skip to the next track, but pressing and holding will fast forward the track.
The more people buy Windows Phone 7 smartphone, the more feedback will Microsoft receive, thus becoming able to identify faster what new features users need and what problems need to be fixed.
Unfortunately, Windows Phone 7 platform sales are anemic to say the least. According to carrier reports, Microsoft has sold only around 40,000 devices in the first day of availabilty, in contrast with Apple’s iPhone 4, which had 600,000 first-day preorders.
However, no matter how slow the sales go Windows Phone 7 remains one of the major mobile platforms available on the market.
Detailed below are several tips that might convince WM7 phone “wannabe” users that this is a user-friendly platform that offers a totally different experience than Android, iOS or Blackberry.
Sending a webpage to a friend can be easily done by clicking on the menu key and choosing the Share page. You will then be able to choose how you want to share the page: Messaging, Hotmail, Google Mail or through any other email account that was previously set.
While entering a weblink in the address bar, you can click on the .com button on the on-screen keyboard, but if you want to visit a .co.uk, .org or .edu website you can press and hold the .com button until you get these options.
To search for something within an application, simply click on the phone’s Search button (magnifying glass) once or press it twice to start searching on the Internet with Bing.
Another interesting feature that comes with the Windows Phone 7 platform enables users to get international dialing help when they’re traveling. Go into Settings, Applications, Phone and enable International assist. This will automatically correct the numbers you dial internationally or when you want to dial abroad.
the Three Buttons
Microsoft is trying to standardize all smartphones that run its Windows Phone 7 platform, so users should expect to get almost the same hardware in different form factors. One thing that will likely remain the same for all WM7 smartphone are the three main buttons at the bottom of the screen: Back, Start, and Search.
The Back button, as expected is used to take you back one screen, but it can also get you back to an application that you were previously using.
Basically, the Back button can be used to switch between apps that have been used, but this is only available to some extent.
The smartphone remembers all the apps and websites visited since the last time the screen was locked and will be able to take you back one page each time you press Back, until you get to the Start screen.
Of course, there’s an exception to that when you’re using the integrated Internet Explorer Mobile and press the Back button. You will be returned to a webpage that you previously visited instead to to a previous application.
The Start button can be used in two ways. When you press the Start button you will be returned to the Start area, no matter where you were. If you press and hold the Start button, the Speech function will be activated.
The Search button also has multiple uses, according to the application it used for. The Search button can be used to find what the user needs just about anywhere inside the phone.
Regardless if it’s something on the web that you’re looking for, a contact or even a particular application that can be found in the Marketplace, the Search button is your best friend.
Windows Phone 7 smartphones are known for not being able to function as storage devices for files other than pictures, music, videos and podcasts. Furthermore, synchronization with the PC is only possible through Microsoft’s own software called Zune.
Mac owners will most likely get the same synchronization solution in the near future, but until then the process can only be done on PCs running the Windows operating system.
Basically, to sync multimedia files between a Windows Phone 7 and a PC a user needs to install a free software package called Zune, on the computer.
With the help of the Zune software users will be able to organize their multimedia files, choose what to sync to their phones or download new content from Zune Marketplace.
After the installation of the software is finished, connect the smartphone through the USB cable and the Zune app will automatically start. Then, click on the Collection icon and choose any of the four categories: Music, Videos, Pictures and Podcasts.
Browse on your PC until you find the item you want to sync to your phone or enter the name of the file you’re looking for in the Search box.
Users can change the Zune software options to automatically sync all the music found on the PC, if they don’t want to bother selecting individual files.
Go to Settings / Phone / Sync Options and click on the items you want to change (for example, click All in the Videos section).
All pictures and recorded videos on the phone will be automatically copied to the computer the next time the smartphone is synchronized with the Zune software.
Wireless sync is also possible with Zune, as long as you select the corresponding option in Settings / Phone / Wireless Sync.
As a side note, Microsoft states that it might take up to 15 minutes for wireless sync to start and there is no way to manually force it to occur.
The ‘Me Card’
The Me card is the users’ profile on their Windows Phone 7 smartphone. This is the place where they can check their most recent messages posted on various social networking accounts such as Facebook and Windows Live.
It’s also the place that can be used to quickly respond or add a new message on your Facebook or Windows Live account. WM7 phone owners can find the Me card by clicking on Start and tapping the Me option.
The feature has been especially designed to meet any SNS (social networking services) user’s demands.
Currently, Microsoft’s platform supports Facebook and Windows Live accounts by default, so these services will be displayed on the Me card, if they are previously set up.
The company has plans to introduce Twitter support as well, but for the moment there’s no native support for this service.
To post a message to your Facebook or Windows Live account, tap your most recent message in the Me card area and type in the message you want to appear.
The message can be posted on more than one social network account if the user chooses too. Simply check the box next to each account to choose which ones you want to post to.
The same procedure can be followed to comment on a friend’s message or to like (or unlike) a friend’s Facebook post.
Users can also update their profiles picture displayed in the Me card simultaneously with their pictures from one the two social networks: Facebook or Windows Live.
To change the profile’s picture tap on the current one and find the one you want to replace it with. Move the picture as you see fit and tap the Crop option when you’re content with the result.
Before clicking Done, check or uncheck the social networks accounts that you want your new picture to appear on.