After months of longing to have a taste of Windows 10 Mobile preview, I finally got it, thanks to the Lumia 535. While I own a Lumia 930, that flagship device was originally excluded from the Windows Insider programme, effectively locking me out.
The funny thing is that I had this post in drafts already yesterday when I got wind of news that the latest Preview software build installs on the 930. I have also installed it on my 930 and it is really lovely. However, as this post was already in progress with photos of the Lumia 535 running the Preview, I decided to use it as it is.
So, what is Windows 10 Mobile Preview like? Visually, the latest build is significantly better than the previous build, which felt a bit like things were tacked on here and there. Everything looks better now. Now, as I delve into this, do remember that this is not consumer software. Its not even beta software. Its more of alpha. The Insider programme exists for testers and those who want to give feedback. This ‘review’ is just a matter of sharing my experience with it.
The first thing I noticed is that the Windows 10 Mobile preview desktop lags. It takes a bit to load properly when returning there from doing something elsewhere in the OS. As a matter of fact, after installing the Preview, it took several tries to get it to load at all. No differences have been made to the Windows Phone layout that we know. However, things have been tweaked here and there. It is more…fluid, for lack of a better word. I like the transparency effect on the tiles when a background image is set up.
A lot of visual and organisational changes have been to the drop-down menu and Settings. The structure in Settings is more logical. The drop-down menu is certainly more functional, providing even more accessibility to different parts of the OS. On the Lumia 535, once pulled down, I am unable to pull the drop-down menu back up. I hate to go through jumps and hoops to get back to the desktop. This bug doesn’t seem to affect the Lumia 930, as the drop-down menu responds appropriately whether up or down. Its still early days, and I can imagine that it will be fixed.
There’s a new look Store Beta, which looks and feels much better than the Store. Both of them co-exist on the OS now. There’s also a Video Preview app, co-existing alongside the Video app, and Music Preview, co-existing alongside Music. Project Spartan is here too, coexisting alongside Internet Explorer mobile. It looks and feels like a much better browser, but time will tell. Theres also a new cool File Explorer (separate from Files that you know). I will provide screenshots and more details about these ‘beta’ apps (Store Beta, Video Preview, File Explorer, Music Preview, and Spartan) in a follow-up post. Perhaps, I can make that post a video instead. But of course, the old versions of these apps will be gone in the final release of Windows 10 Mobile.
There are also visual changes inside apps.
The People hub has been totally overhauled in terms of look, feel and features. Rooms are gone on this Preview. And I am sad to see that go. You can still follow social updates in Groups. Is that the replacement for Rooms? Messaging looks and feels different too. You can attach a photo, video, or voice note in there now, and you can conveniently make calls with a well placed button. A conversation can be muted. Numbers can be easily blocked too. Yay!! Glo, I am looking at your robo-calls. Vengeance will be mine!
The ability to peg the phone to 3G only is also here. Most of my about 40 apps installed work fine. Unfortunately, the official Twitter app doesn’t launch anymore. It probably hasn’t been updated to work with the Preview OS.
The Email app doesn’t load either, but pops up a prompts to the Store. Tapping that didn’t launch anything though. But dont panic yet: there’s a new email app called Outlook Mail. The old Calendar is gone, and what we have now is Outlook Calendar. It supports various account types, including Outlook and Google. And from inside this new calendar app, you can tap an email envelope icon to switch to your mails inside Outlook Mail. Nice.
Lumia Camera still works fine, which is a relief! But like I said earlier, the Preview OS isn’t consumer software. It is for guinea pigs, which I am glad to be. Expect my follow up article with more details. In all, this latest build of Windows 10 Mobile Preview looks and feels good.