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!

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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

IMG_0396

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.

IMG_0395

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

IMG_0397

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’.

IMG_0394

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!