Denim Update on the Lumia 820

As I mentioned in my last post, the last of the ‘second generation’ of the original Lumia’s which included the 820 and 920 received the Denim update about a week ago. A couple of friends who own the 820 and 920 on EE also received the update (my 820 is on O2) so this appeared to be pushed out by Microsoft and wasn’t operator dependant. What was surprising for me was that the voice-recognition service Cortana was available as well. From what I’d read there was some doubt as to whether the app was going to be available as the CPU might not have been upto the job.

  

However, it was very nice to see once the update had completed – but when I tried to launch Cortana, it failed stating that my language settings hadn’t been set. The language and speech settings suggested that the correct speech add-on was already installed, which led to a few frustrating attempts to confirm the settings. I finally found the correct setting by going into settings -> speech -> speech language -> select your country language. This installs the add-on and if I remember correctly, the phone has to be rebooted (it reports that a critical add-on has to be installed). Once reloaded you can then use Cortana in the same way as the Lumia 830, ie. by pressing the search key and start speaking.

 

In addition, you get Lumia Camera – but not the version ‘5’ which has received so much attention. On the 820, the version number has hit 4.9.3.0 and at time of writing, there are no updates available. Rich capture isn’t available however, this is no bad thing as you still get all the settings to control aspects such as shutter speed, white balance and ISO value. The 820 still takes some excellent pictures with its 8MP camera, especially in automatic mode.

Something I have noticed in the two plus years that I have owned the Lumia 820 is that the four major updates which include the Windows 8.1 and Nokia / Microsoft specific features, thee hasn’t been and detremental change in the performance of the device. Compare this to the Apple iPad, where I have noticed that updating from IOS 6 to version 8 has slowed my iPad 2 down significantly and hit the battery life.

With Windows 8.1 update 2 (aka ‘GDR2’) on the horizon which will offer additional features such as Bluetooth HID profile for the connecting up of external keyboards, I hope to get a lot more use out of my Lumia 820.

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The Many Cameras of Lumia

One of the strengths of the Lumia series is the camera technology and variety of ‘lenses’ available to the smartphones. However, to someone who has just bought a Lumia, this can lead to a little confusion. To be honest, I had this problem when I changed from the 820 to the 830, because I was expecting the latest camera software to be installed, called Lumia Camera 5.
To help those beginners, here’s an overview of the camera software that comes with the Lumia and a few tips which is the best to use. Out of the box on the Lumia 830 of you look through the apps list, you have:

Camera
Nokia Camera
-or- Lumia Camera (more of which later)

The Camera App

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This is what you call your standard Windows phone camera app, which I assume its also installed on order brands of Windows phones (HTC, Samsung etc). It offers a number of ways to control the camera such as ISO value, exposure, burst mode, picture or movie and flash. It also has a link to the other lenses that are installed – such as Nokia Camera. You can pinch-zoom on screen to zoom in on something (note this is only a digital zoom) and press the shutter button. Tapping the shutter button on screen takes the shot without the focus assist light, pressing the physical camera button engages the focus assist light if it’s enabled in the settings. You can then see what you’ve taken by tapping on the icon in the top right corner which will open your shot in the photos app.

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If you want to make changes to the photo settings (for example manually controlling the ISO values) you have to go to the three settings ‘dots’ -> photo settings and make your changes there. This method is a little clunky compared to..

Nokia Camera App

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This is one of the free ‘lenses’ that are offered with Lumia phones that have some controls over the standard camera app. This can be started by accessing it through the Camera app or from the app list and can also be pinned to the start screen. It’s different in the respect that the common camera controls can be found on screen, instead of having to go through the menus described above. Personally I find Nokia Camera the best to use, simply because the camera controls are on screen, so I’ve added it as a shortcut to my start menu. In addition, you can set the default camera to launch when you press the camera button in ‘settings’ (go to the settings app, swipe to the right so the ‘applications’ list is shown, find ‘photos+camera’ and set the ‘Default Camera App’ to ‘Nokia Camera’.

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Lumia Camera 5
Because Microsoft is gradually replacing the Nokia name with the Lumia brand, the Lumia camera app is designed to replace Nokia camera. It’s being rolled out as part of the Lumia Denim update, which in the UK has been rolled out to the Lumia 930 and 1520 at time of writing. However, Lumia Camera 5 as its called, has no release date for the Lumia 830 for the SIM-free (country variant). Unfortunately, though the Lumia camera app is also available in the Windows app store, 830 owners can’t install it because it needs the Lumia Denim update – which is already installed!?! The situation is confusing to say the least! Putting things into perspective, I still have a fully functioning camera phone, an update would be very nice but it doesn’t stop me from using what is a very good camera phone. I’ll keep an eye on the update rollout and post any news I find.

Update Monday 9th February
I spotted a tweet from @AA_WP (the very nice chaps over at www.allaboutwindowsphone.com this evening stating that the country variant (CV) Lumia Denim update was rolling out here in the UK. It was also stated that it included an update to the problem where Netflix streams won’t play. I’ve installed the update which took about 50 minutes in total to complete, the main difference is that Lumia Camera 5 is now available. A separate app update is also made available – initial impressions are that it has an incredibly fast startup, takes some very nice low light images and has had a bit of an interface change.

Unfortunately it seems that either there is still a problem with Netflix as the stream still won’t play, or the report from @AA_WP was wrong and the Lumia Denim update hasn’t fixed it. If you want to take a look at their report, click on this link.

I’ll post more details over the coming days specifically about Lumia Camera 5 and if there is any further update to the Netflix issue.

Update Tuesday 10th February
Very bizarre – Netflix is working fine this evening! Only changes I made last night were to reinstall Netflix which didn’t resolve the issue. Then MeTweets broke, so I reinstalled that I left the device for the night. I’ve just caught ip on the All About Windows Phone thread above and I checked Netflix, oddly it started working fine! No idea why but I’m more than happy this has been fixed at last!