Lumia 820 Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2 / GDR2

On Friday night the second development build of Windows 10 for Phones became available to download via the Windows Insider preview programme. After a few hiccups during the release process and people hitting the servers with a ‘check for update’ request every few seconds, things settled down and the download became available. However what became apparent was that the phones that weren’t part of the initial preview, were getting Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2 aka ‘GDR2’. 

  

I decided to hang fire when requesting the update and waited until Saturday morning when things were quieter and my download request on my Lumia 820 came through without any delay. As per the initial reports I received GDR2, which to be honest I was pretty pleased about.

One of the things I’ve been wanting to try out is the Bluetooth HID keyboard support so later in the day, I dug out my keyboard (a no-name third-party keyboard) and switched on Bluetooth on the Lumia 820. It looked to pair the device and up popped the keyboard, so I typed in the code presented on screen, on the keyboard and hit return. I then loaded up Office and started a blank Word document and started typing. Despite one report that I’ve heard by Steve Litchfield at All About Windows Phone where the keyboard / screen response was delayed for about five seconds once you started typing. However mine was absolutely fine and I found the typing was accurate for the whole time I typed.

  

  

  

Still running Lumia Denim, but now on Windows 8.1 Update 2…

Pleased with that test, I then had a look at the next major difference which can be found in the settings menu. The seemingly random order list has been categorised into nine groups:

Network + Wireless

Personalisation

Accounts

System

Time + Language

Input + Accessibility

Privacy

Update + Backup

Extras

… which makes finding what you are looking for a little more logical – though I do have one slight criticism is that the items listed in each group aren’t in an alphabetical order – they are still in a random order.

I did also notice that you can change the name of the phone (as shown in the graphic above) which makes more sense so you can identify your phone on a network or Bluetooth search.

Another minor change is at the bottom of the start screen, instead of just a right-pointing arrow, you also have the words ‘All Apps’.

There are probably more ‘under the hood’ changes, but these are the main ones I’ve found so far. Though I haven’t found any reliability issues, you should note a few things if you want to try the update yourself:

If you sign up for the Windows Insider update process, there is no guarantee that you will get GDR2 – you may get the Windows 10 preview straight away, so its at entirely your own risk (and I accept no liability whatsoever if you brick your phone due to this article!)

I’m going to stay with GDR2 for a while before I try Windows 10 and see how the reliability pans out. Hopefully GDR2 will be released officially soon so I can update my Lumia 830!

Lumia News and Windows Phone 10 Preview Release 2

Bit of a mixed bag of news for this post, but stuff that’s all relevant to this blog. I’ll kick off with a mention that a few days ago, Microsoft posted that the next release of Windows 10 for Phones will include a lot more models in the supported line-up. This will hopefully include (from my perspective) the Lumia 820 – it is on the list, but the ‘final’ release may have a slightly adjusted device list if last minute bugs are found. A link to the Windows Insiders Preview Programme with the full device list (numbering over thirty phones) can be found here:

http://blogs.windows.com/bloggingwindows/2015/03/27/a-quick-update-on-windows-10-builds-for-phones-for-windows-insiders/

Hopefully the next test release will be available very soon and I’ll be able to try out Windows 10 for Phones on my backup Lumia 820.

Next bit of news is to do with the Lumia 830 manufacturing fault I had back in December. I came across this article on wmpoweruser.com last week: http://wmpoweruser.com/nokia-lumia-830-has-a-serious-hardware-flaw-stay-alert-while-buying/ 

The writer of the article had the same issue I had with their Lumia 830, where the screen started to come away from the outer aluminium housing, oddly enough at the same place on the right-hand corner. Though the articles headlines I think are a bit sensationalist, ie. I wouldn’t say that the 830 has a serious manufacturing fault, but awareness is always helpful but I wouldn’t dismiss the Lumia 830 because of a small batch of faults. Nokia has always provided excellent after-care along with a two-year warranty, so as in my personal experience, if something does go wrong, its how a company deals with it and in my case, the device was swapped out in just over a week – which I was more than happy with.

The final post in this news round-up is that the brilliant HERE maps have been updated for Symbian after nothing for two years. Bearing in mind that the Nokia account closure is imminent, this seems like almost like a last ‘hurrah’ towards the Symbian platform. I don’t know what will happen to the Symbian Nokia maps, once the account service closes down, as you now have to have a HERE account to use the maps app on the Lumia. I guess that the favourites will remain on the device but obviously there won’t be any synchronisation available. To update the maps, use the map loader and check for updates – they will have a date stamp of the 26th of February 2015.

  

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.