Troubles texting pictures and other media on your phone?

Most modern cell phones provide a way to send and receive short text messages via SMS (Short Message Service) and to send and receive short text messages with attached photos, videos and music via MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service). 

  • SMS (Short Message Service) is used to send text only messages
  • MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) is used to send text messages that include attached files (music, pictures, videos).

If the phone’s MMS APN (access point network) settings are not correctly configured for your cellular provider, you might still be able to send and receive SMS messages (text only) on the phone, but you won’t be able to send or receive) MMS messages on the phone. 

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Working with Documents on a Windows Phone via the Office Hub

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You can view and work with Office 2013 files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote) from your Windows Phone by opening up the Office Hub on the phone.

The Office Hub “places” screen is where you can access the folders and documents that are stored on your phone, any email attachments received to your Microsoft email account that you’ve opened on the phone, and all the folders and documents that are stored on your OneDrive or Office 365 (sometimes referred to as sharepoint) accounts.

When you access the OneDrive place through the Office Hub, you will also be able to access any folders and files that have been shared with your OneDrive account from another OneDrive account.

The Office Hub “recent” screen, which you can view by swiping over to the right is where you can create new documents and search for documents that are stored on the phone, as an opened email attachment, on your OneDrive or Office 365 account or across all four places.

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Pairing & Unpairing Bluetooth Devices with Windows Phone

Pairing a Windows Phone to another Bluetooth enabled device is pretty easy to do, but you might be disappointed when you do it.  When I got my first Windows Phone – a Samsung Focus (WP7) – one of the first things I tried to do was pair it with my Bluetooth keyboard.  The phone paired just fine, but nothing I typed on my keyboard showed up on my phone. After researching the problem I realized that the phone was missing the HID profile, which it needed to know what to do with the keyboard after the pairing was achieved! 

Bluetooth profiles possess the “capabilities” that enable a Bluetooth connected device to interpret and act on the commands received from another Bluetooth connected device.  In order for the Bluetooth radio in a receiving device to translate and act on the commands sent from another Bluetooth device, it must possess a compatible profile as the sending device.

The Samsung Focus does not include the Bluetooth HID profile (Human Interface Device) that would enable it to connect to and use external devices like mice or keyboards…..and unfortunately even today the latest Windows Phone 8.1 devices do not include this profile so I still can’t use my bluetooth keyboard with my phone.

(Click this link to review a wikipedia article for a more comprehensive description of bluetooth profiles and their related capabilities).

In this article I’ve provided a list of the Bluetooth Profiles that are supported on Windows Phone, and I’ve demonstrated how to pair and unpair a Windows Phone with another Bluetooth enabled device.

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The Files App Finally Gives Windows Phone 8.1 a File Explorer

Microsoft published a “Files” app to the Marketplace around the end of May that is compatible with Windows Phone 8.1 only.  The Files app enhances the phone’s functionality by providing the phone with File Explorer type access to user files.

I finally got some time to spend exploring all the goodness that the Files app brings to the phone. As you can see from the screenshot below, we can now access the various types of files we store on a phone in a way that is similar to a File Explorer. Instead of opening up the Office Hub to browse and share the Excel, PowerPoint, Word and other files that are stored there, we can find them via the Files app in the Documents folder; Music and audio files are stored in the Music folder, Photos and Videos are stored in the Pictures folder, etc. The Files app also gives us access to a Downloads folder and a Ringtones folder.

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Do You Need to Install Anti-Virus Software on Your Windows Phone?

I’m not concerned about viruses, malware or spyware invading my Windows Phone, and I don’t think you need to be concerned about them either for several reasons:

    1. The Windows Phone population is quite small. The people that write viruses hope to get the biggest bang for the smallest buck, so most of these folks probably aren’t interested in dinking around with such a small Windows Phone population and would most likely apply their talents elsewhere. But even if someone decided to write a virus to run on Windows Phone, it would be really difficult to actually install it to a phone.
    2. The only apps you can install to a Windows Phone are the apps found in the Windows Phone Marketplace.  All apps in the Marketplace have been reviewed and approved by Microsoft, so the likelihood of a developer sneaking a virus, malware or spyware on an app is pretty small
    3. Any app-related or app-created data is stored within the app’s exclusive file system which is partitioned off into its own “sandbox” – which is distinctly separate from the phone’s other app and system files. A third party app can only play within its own “sandbox,” so there isn’t a way for a third party app’s activity to invade the phone’s other app or system files. Even if an app managed to sneak some kind of nefarious virus/malware/spyware code onto a phone, the bad code would only be able to wreak havoc in the app’s own sandbox….what fun would that be
    4. Windows Phones run a distinctly different operating system than a Windows computer so the viruses/malware/spyware that affect computers won’t affect Windows Phones. Even if you managed to download some infected file from the internet, it wouldn’t run in the windows phone environment.
    5. There have been no confirmed instances of a destructive virus infecting a Windows Phone.

Over the years, there have been some “proof of concept” attempts by hackers to breach Windows Phones app sandbox security or to “jail break” the phone (much in the same fashion as Android devices), but none of these attempts have gained much traction before Microsoft closed the hole that was used by the hack.

Every now and then I’ll read about some rumored Windows Phone viruses/malware/spyware, but so far none of these rumors have ever materialized into any kind of real threat.  To date, there has not been any confirmed report of a viable virus, malware or spyware attack against Windows Phone.

You won’t find any antivirus apps in the Windows Phone marketplace.  But even if such an app existed, I wouldn’t install it to my phone…..The nature of antivirus software is to run continuously in the background, so installing and running antivirus software on a Windows Phone would most likely degrade the phone’s performance.  The use of such an app for a perceived threat that has yet to materialize just seems like overkill.

Installing antivirus software on a computer or a mobile device often gives a false sense of security and these common sense guidelines prevail:

  • Selecting questionable links in email messages, on websites, etc. should be avoided
  • Accessing any sensitive sites from any kind of device via a free wifi hotspot should be avoided.
    • The practice of jail breaking or side loading applications should be avoided (this practice is not possible on windows phone at this time).
  • Back up your computers and devices regularly. Then if your devices ever start acting strange, you can recover them by perform a factory reset and restoring your backed up data to them, thereby minimizing the loss of data when doing so.

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