Last year I made an attempt to start a weekly post about Windows Phone and after only a few short weeks I came to an abrupt end after I published Windows Phone Roundup- 6th November 2011 which is, I’m sure you will agree, a pretty lame attempt. So here I am again only this time I’m going to call it “Windows Phone Wednesday” and I hope that without any inference of a regular schedule I won’t feel pressure to publish every week and when there is a gap I can resume without anyone knowing that I failed again.
I’m aiming to use these posts to either look at applications I’ve found, comment on recent Windows Phone news or topics, and just share my views about the platform including where it needs to do better. At the moment I’m not going to be drawn into the whole “Apollo” will they/won’t they debate because for now there is no hard evidence worth talking about.
That said let me begin…
This post (Note he didn’t say “week”; Ed) I thought I’d focus on a new Windows Phone app that Ian (Blog|Twitter) already posted about here Nokia Lumia Play To DLNA app released and is available from the Nokia Beta Labs website. While Windows Phone 7 doesn’t include DLNA support within the core operating system OEM’s are able to create their own solutions and Nokia has done just that with “Play To”. This means that you will either need to be the owner of a Lumia 710 or 800.
The application is simple but effective and has just three main options upon starting up: connection, pictures and videos. Tapping “Connection” takes you to a page that has a quick way to switch on and connect to a “WiFi network” with the currently connected wireless access point shown if you are already hooked up. The second item is the “share content” and when tapped will show a list of available targets. Unfortunately neither of our Panasonic HDTV or Blu-ray player can act as a target so I resorted to testing with Windows Media Player (WMP) as a play to target.
After the connection is established you can then use the pictures and video options to select the media to play. I tried a video first, a time-lapse video of the game Red Dead Redemption that I keep on my phone (full version here), which after an acceptable delay starting playing inside WMP:
The playback was smooth and responded well to switching between play and pause. Looking at the interface the playback controls are very simple with only a play/pause and progress bar. While there is no skip forward/back you can grab the progress bar and drag it to a required time but with no visual clues displaying the frame that feature is quite limiting. The good news is that the Play To application is “Mango” (Windows Phone 7.5) ready and therefore supports multitasking so hitting the home button doesn’t stop playback and you can return to the app by holding down the back button. Alternatively using the back button on the phone to “exit” the application stops playback.
I then tried out the pictures option and you can select from either the local cameral roll (pictures taken with the phone’s camera) or any that you have synced using the Zune desktop software.
This works similar to the video sharing and you can then use left-right swiping gestures to flick between different pictures which then, after a short delay, appear on the target display. As with video you can use the home button to leave the application running and the last selected picture will remain visible.
Finally the starting page of the application is a panorama so you can swipe right to quickly access recently shared media. There is also some nice integration with Windows Phone so when you open the pictures hub you will see “Play To” listed under applications but also some odd omissions, for example, when you choose “share” from a picture the application isn’t included as an option. You also won’t find this listed under applications in the music+videos hub.
Perhaps some of these are related to Windows Phone limitations or the fact that this application is still a “beta” for now. You will have also noticed that I haven’t mentioned the streaming of music and although this is missing for now it is planned according to the details on the Nokia Beta Labs post.
That’s it for now until the next Windows Phone Wednesday post but please do leave any comments or questions below or even better get in touch with me on TDL Mobile.