Monday, May 20, 2013

Automatic Picture Backup on SkyDrive (subheading iCloud gets all the press)

Incase you didn't know, I'm a huge fan of SkyDrive, a Microsoft based product that let's you store and share document's in the cloud, giving you access to your files no matter where you are.  As such, I have been deemed a member of the SkyDrive Insider's program.  Should you be interested in becoming an insider, learn more about it here:

Purchasing my Windows Phone

I took the leap a few weeks ago and switched my smart phone to a different model.  For several years now, I always used an iPhone.  In the beginning, it’s because it truly was the most innovative phone on the market, but in recent years it’s little more than average.  Meanwhile, I had often thought of getting a Windows Phone.. they do look sharp (note: as if that counts for anything?  Just last night some guy saw my phone and said “wow that’s a nice phone.”  The human in me said “thanks man” trying to sound cool and relaxed, the geek in me internally screamed thinking that I could have been holding a bright shiny yellow cardboard box, and the stranger wouldn’t know any different.  It’s just like buying wine because it has a pretty label, argh!), the OS is presumably polished, and to be honest, nary a negative word is ever said about the Windows Phone.  Therefore, this past week I went out and bought myself a Nokia Lumia 920. 

Of course, what makes a phone a good phone are the features, and in particular the features that set it apart – something that Michael E. Porter would refer to as a Competitive Advantage.  The phone is exactly as advertised… the camera is very nice – they even expose the lens to developer API’s, giving a lot of “app” functionality and option’s, to the point that you can find a number of apps that are specific to taking pictures and video.. pretty cool.  The OS is polished (as referenced above in my presumptions), it flows really really nicely, and the live tiles feature is very cool.  I do have 2 minor complaints however.  1, I wish you could change “some” of the tiles, more-so than just the size of the tile.  I wish I could make my “phone” tile small, but make it a different color, so it would still jump out at me when scrolling through my home screen.  The other feature I’d like to see is some sort of “lock” on the tiles.  As you constantly re-tool and swap live tiles with the phone, all tiles slide up and down, meaning you have to constantly re-learn where some tiles are as you edit your home screen.  These features are nit-picky and wouldn’t prevent me from purchasing this phone, but they are something I’d be excited to see.

Social Media and SkyDrive Integration

Now, there are 2 features that I absolutely love about my phone: it’s integration with social media and with SkyDrive cloud storage.  Windows Phone has a settings section called “Email + Accounts”, where you can input your account information for FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter (for more details, check out  Once inserted, all your friends\contacts\followers data is imported into your “People” (generic term for contacts, just didn’t want to re-use that term here).  When browsing People, it provides a one-stop-shop to send someone an email, SMS message, FaceBook chat, write on their wall, or even tweet them.  FaceBook notifications are shared seamlessly, and all new posted images on Twitter show in a social “camera roll” within your Photo’s section.  It really is a novel concept, as the phone almost “updates” itself.  Soon you’ll see yourself checking your phone for social updates in the same fashion as you would find yourself checking your phone for email.

And last, but certainly not least, is my other favorite setting, the integrated storage with SkyDrive.  I know I put a “disclaimer” up above about my SkyDrive Insider status.. trust me.. this feature is great because of how well it works.  In your “Email + Accounts” section, you can provide a Windows Live ID and password.  Once done, it will sync any “” email that you have through that service, but it will also “silently” integrate with your SkyDrive storage.  In doing so, all photo’s and video’s you take with your phone are automatically backed up on SkyDrive.  These aren’t stored in some proprietary backup file like some “other iService”, instead each individual file is available like a normal “jpeg” or video file.  You can download the images one\some\all when necessary from any PC whenever you have Internet access.  Additionally, when you store Office documents in your SkyDrive (Word, Excel, OneNote, or PowerPoint in particular), those files also appear for edit\review in the “Office” Hub, where you have native file support for Office files.  There isn’t any special downloading, it just sync’s on the fly because of how you added your account in the “Email + Accounts” setting.  It works as quietly and “seamlessly” (not to overuse that term..) as you would hope it would.  It doesn’t prompt you, or scream about how or what it’s doing, it just writes and syncs files, waiting for that time that you decide to drop your phone in the toilet, voiding your warranty and causing you to get a new phone.. but at least you won’t have to resync all your data on your new Windows Phone (because I guarantee you go and get another one), since all that data is in the Cloud!

Some Synced Pictures from SkyDrive

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