Windows Phone 8 Intermediate Level Help, How-To & Feature Guide

Hey folks. I feel like there's been a bit of a gap in bringing people up to speed with Windows Phone 8 (well, Windows Phone features in general) and I feel like I can help out a bit and maybe get some crowd-sourced help too.

Full disclaimer: I'm a Android and Windows Phone guy. I have two Android devices, A WP7 and a WP8 device too. I might do the same kind of guide with Android 4.2 once I get my hands on a Nexus 4 (Maybe in Feb).

Some things you should know about this:

  • I personally treat my start screen like a notification window in WP8. I have a lot of smaller tiles that simply serve as counters for me. With that being said, some of my suggestions may not make sense for you.
  • I love apps that help you find better quality apps in the Windows Phone Store. I personally recommend AppFlow and AppVegas. AppDetective is an interest one, too. As WP grows, I assume those apps will mean more to people.
  • The links that I provide to the WP Store are from the US. Sorry if this offends anyone. I DO recognize that there are other countries out there, so it's not from a point of ignorance.
  • This is meant to be constructive, not destructive. If you have something that can help, please do so!
  • It was a PITA getting on these links together, lol.

Some stuff that you probably didn't know

Unlocking methods and the lock screen

There's a number of ways to unlock your device. The two most common ways are to just hit the power button and slide up and unlock to camera (press and hold the camera button). From the lock screen itself, you can jump to different parts of the phone.

  • When playing music, tapping on the artist/track will jump to the music app that's playing it.
  • you can press and hold the bing/search key to unlock to Bing (can be disabled)
  • you can press and hold the start button to use voice commands (you can also disable this)

There are a number of apps that fill in feature gaps

  • For those of you who want an orientation lock while browsing the web, you might be well served by UC Browser
  • If you are like me and actually don't think that Flash is the devil, you can actually view sites that have flash content with FlashVideo + TubeMusic. I'm sure that will help people that want to view some of the more, urm, risque sites on the web from their phones. Mark you, the app is kind of pricey.
  • From a productivity standpoint, you can search your calendar with Calendar Search.
  • You can pass a webpage to your phone with send to wp7.
  • You can sync your desktop bookmarks with xmarks. (Lastpass is also available to those of you who use it)
  • You can share videos from via text message by downloaded SMS:// Share
  • You can actually stop music from play aka not just pause it by using Stop the music!.

And there are some features in the first party apps that people don't seem to use that much

  • You can continue listening to music playing from website when you put the device to sleep. Useful for those grooveshark users
  • You can search a highlighted selection in IE by just hitting the Bing/Search key
  • You can tap the person's name in the text messaging and email screens to bring up that person's card. From email, you can also search the directory for that person using that method. ( I have no idea why people don't use either all that much but it's something that drives me crazy watching. On Android or WP).
  • Bing Vision can translate text.

Some other things

  • In WP8, Bluetooth stereo headphones can receive audio during video playback
  • Turning off the NFC Radio seems to help people tremendously with their battery life on the 920
  • If there's nothing in the backstack (aka what you see when you hold the back button), when you scroll to the bottom of the start screen pressing the back button will take you to the top of the screen. The start button also does this.
  • When Bluetooth stereo headphones are connected, pressing play will play all music, shuffled.
  • In WP8, OneNote and Office are separated. Both connect up to skydrive though.
  • Soft reset on the Lumia 920 is Volume Down and Power for about 8 seconds.
  • You can add a phone number to speed dial and have Spoken Word Caller ID by first going into settings -> ease of access -> speech for phone accessibility -> on. That will turn on the Speaking CID. To add a phone number to speed dial, press and hold the start key -> say "save speed dial" -> pick a number between 1-10 (1 is normally reserved for voicemail) -> say the phone number, area code first. Now, when you want to use that speed dial, just open the dialer from phone and long press that number.

Some apps that serve a great purpose for me

Apps appear in order of my recommendation per category

Google Reader/RSS Feed: I use Weave more than Fuse these days.

Hope this helps. If you have a question, suggestion or addition, feel free to add it.