The much awaited Amber Update for the Lumia deivces is yet to arrive for Indian consumers, but if you’re eager to know how it fares, we’ve got the scoop for you.
The GDR2 update from Microsoft brings updates to the Windows Phone 8 OS such as Data Sense while the Amber update is Nokia’s own “value addition” to the GDR2, bringing features like the Glance Screen and Peek.
We got our hands on the official update and here is what the update has in store for you:
This is a nifty little updater courtesy Microsoft, which will come to every phone that gets the GDR2 update. The app essentially monitors your data usage. The app lays out the data consumed over Wi-Fi and cellular data separately, which is great if you want to monitor your data consumption. What’s great, however, is that the app lays out every single app’s data consumption incredibly neatly, and separated by Wi-Fi and cellular data.
Lastly, you can set a data consumption limit to make sure you don’t go over your monthly data limit. You can even set the date on which your data cycle resets and in case you end up using up more than you should, then Data Sense can disable the use of cellular data altogether to save your phone bill from blowing up.
Glance and Peek
One of the most excitable features about the Amber update was the Glance option being added to the Display settings. The Glance screen, once enabled, will display a live clock along with missed notifications. However, the best part is being able to wake the phone up with just two taps on the screen. The feature is extremely handy in case you need constant access to important information. However, the feature does consume battery, so Nokia came up with a work-around.
The Peek feature takes advantage of proximity sensors built-into the Lumia devices. Now to save battery, we simply enabled Peek from the Display settings, which turns off the Glance Screen, but allows you to bring it up by simply waving your hand over the phone. We tried waving our hand at various heights, but found that the feature works best when the hand is waved within an inch or two of the phone. Even if this isn’t the final build of the feature, it still works incredibly well.
The Amber update from Nokia finally enables the latent FM radio chip that’s been chilling in all the new Lumia phones (save for the 820, sorry folks). The radio can be accessed from the Music App, as the option now appears at the main menu, right under Podcasts. One thing we should point out though, like all phones that have the radio feature, the phone requires the use of headphones as an antenna, so if you’re using a set of cans whose cables are Kevlar coated (V-Moda) or are just generally of a thick gauge, you might have some trouble getting optimum reception.
Shutter Button Customization
Up until now, Windows Phone 8 did not allow the physical shutter button to be re-assigned to anything but the stock camera app. With the GDR2 and Amber update, the camera button can now be reconfigured to launch Nokia’s Smart Camera app that comes with the Amber update. Once Nokia releases the Pro Camera app, the one on the Lumia 1020, the physical shutter button could be reconfigured to run that too. While we do like this little flexibility, we would have really preferred if we could have the physical shutter button launch any camera app, even those downloaded from the Windows Phone Store such as Pro Shot.
Display Colour Profiles
Adding more customization to the phone, specifically the display, Nokia’s introduced “Lumia Colour Profiles,” a way to set your own colour temperature and saturation level for the screen. This is great for anyone who likes to have a specific colour grade to their display. Photographers who like their colour to be absolutely pin-point accurate are definitely bound to be excited by this little feature, as are we.
SMS and Call Filter
Up until now, there has really been no way of avoiding calls from unwanted elements, unless you dished out money for apps since no mobile operating system has the feature built-in. Apple’s iOS allows you to block all or select calls after a particular time, but there really is no real solution to filtering calls and messages. Nokia aims at changing that as they have included a “Call+SMS filter” setting, wherein you can set add your unwanted contacts to a “Blocked List” and from there on, calls or messages from those numbers. Trust us when we say this, it works SO VERY WELL!
CardDAV and CalDAV Protocols Support
Windows Phone users have been cowering under Google’s threat of cutting off ActiveSync support for quite some time now. What this meant was that once support was cut off, users wouldn’t be able to sync their calendars or contacts to their Windows Phone devices. However, with the GDR2 update, Microsoft has brought CardDAV and CalDAV support to Windows Phone devices, thanks to which you can continue syncing your contacts and calendars from Google. Also, you can now receive business cards over text messages.
The Amber update running on our Lumia 920 brings with it several major updates, all of which we have discussed above. They all work very well, given that we are running the final version of the Amber Update (or at least final up until now). The one thing we have definitely noticed is that ever since installing the update, our battery life has improved, even if just slightly. Even with the Glance Screen and Peek feature on, the phone is lasting us an entire day (if not just slightly more) with our usual barrage of WhatsApp, Facebook, about 3 hours of Phone calls and an incessant need to constantly fiddle with the phone.
While the Amber Update has started rolling out across various countries and carriers, it is yet to make an appearance on the Indian device pool. We are hearing the update could be coming to the phones by the end of August, but there is no official date for the rollout yet. However, once it does become available, we will surely be the first to let you know.