Review–The Ultimate Microsoft Lumia 950XL Accessory Pack

Full disclosure – the review unit was supplied by Mobilezap. You can find this device and others at the Mobilezap category page at:

The Ultimate Microsoft Lumia 950 XL Accessory Pack

These days a new phone costs almost as much as PC, so it is important to firstly protect it and secondly to ensure you get full usage from it. The guys over at Mobilezap have provided me the Ultimate Accessory Pack for my new Lumia 950XL phone to review that should make ownership a whole lot better.

The first thing that I applied was the screen protector, of which you get two. Basically, these are a thin shields of plastic that sit on the screen to protect it from abrasions. It was easy to install and I must say that you can hardly even notice it once it is applied.

After protecting the screen, I put the phone in the clear FlexiShield case. It fits snuggly and doesn’t obscure any of the buttons. Hopefully now with protection on the front and back of the phone it’ll survive the normal bumps and scrapes most phones are subjected to in daily life.

Next, I set up the desk holder so the phone can rest comfortably in view on my desktop. The angle is easy to see, although it would have been nice to have one that was adjustable.

The car holder is really robust. Others that I have had over time felt really flimsy when taking the phone in and out of the mounting and tended to break after only a short time. This holder seems to be of a higher quality and ready for the hard work of being open and closed every time you mount your phone in the car. The USB power converter for the car is also great, supporting two USB connections that are plainly marked, which is really helpful in the confines of your car.

Another handy item in the pack is the addition charging cable which means I don’t have to keep ripping the one off my desk that came with the phone. I also like that the kit contains a microfiber cleaner to remove all those grotty finger marks I put on the phone. There ain’t nothing like a clean screen.

The only item I’m not quite sure I’ll be using regularly is the all in one stylus. However, it certainly works better than my fat fingers when it comes to stabbing commands into the phone. The redeeming feature of the stylus however is that it also doubles as a mini-stand, which is great for when I’m on the road.

I think a kit like this is mandatory when you buy a new phone, especially for me who uses it all over the place. It is really cheap insurance for the protection of the phone also as an enabler of the device where ever you travel. I’d certainly recommend this accessory pack to other Lumia 950XL users.

Thanks again to Mobilezap for getting me the accessory pack to review.

Windows Phone 10 Continuum is key

I continue to be a big supporter of the Windows Phone platform for many reasons, even as the market dwindles below one percent. I agree that there certainly aren’t as many apps as there are on Android and iPhone but that is not the whole story here. So let me explain my thinking on why Windows Phone is going to be so much more relevant in the future and thus why you shouldn’t write it off.

The growth in mobility is huge. Mobile devices out sell traditional desktop PCs by more than five to one with that growth only accelerating. Clearly, mobile is where it is all going. As our mobile devices become more and more capable we use them more and more and our traditional desktops less and less. You would then probably agree that there will come a day in the not too distant future, when the majority of users will have a mobile device as their primary device at work.

If a mobile phone is now your primary device all you really need is the ability to hook it up to a large screen and normal keyboard and ‘voila’, you now effectively have a desktop. So it would seem that the future holds people having a mobile phone they plug into some sort of docking station when they want to use it like a desktop.

Let’s turn our attention to the growth of the mobile phone market for just a second. Apple were the first to market with the modern mobile phone as we know it today. They still dominate the market because they have continued to capitalise on that innovation. Android emerged as a strong, and now dominate, competitor because it allowed more apps to be developed on its platform more easily than Apple. The analogy would be the state of play when it comes to desktop software, i.e. Apple Mac vs PC. Microsoft has a platform that was much easier and more widespread to develop for. Thus, it became the dominate player in the market.

Ok, so how do these concepts relate to Windows Phone you may ask? In one word. Continuum.

Continuum is a Windows 10 technology that allows the device to automatically reconfigure itself depending on its form factor. If you take a Windows 10 Surface machine and detach the keyboard, thanks to Continuum, it instantly changes the interface to be that suit for a tablet.

That’s great for PC’s with detachable keyboard BUT now think about Continuum on phones. You have a phone that you plug into a docking station that converts it to a desktop. As I mentioned before, this most agree, is the direction we are heading with mobile devices. That indicates to me that Microsoft is already ahead of the game with this concept. Android and iPhone don’t have that ability as yet to my knowledge, so Microsoft is already gaining experience in what will be the future of the way the majority of people use mobile phones.


I have a Lumia 950 XL phone that is running Windows 10 (and Continuum). I also have the phone docking station( (shown above) that allows you to connect your 950 XL to and then connect a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, an external monitor as well as plug in USB storage.


The dock small enough to be carried just about anywhere, so now I can transform my phone effectively into a desktop PC anywhere I am.


The way you do this is to plug the phone into the dock and then select the Continuum app from the list of apps on the phone.


You then let the phone know how you’ll be connecting to the dock, either wired or wirelessly. Again, note here that Microsoft has recognised that wirelessly connecting is going to be the easiest way for people to use this. That is, as long as the phone is near the dock, it will seamlessly connect to your full size keyboard and screen, transforming into a desktop PC .


Once Continuum is active the phone screen becomes a mouse pad, as shown above, and you have a Windows 10 desktop on the large monitor you are connected to. Thanks to my Bluetooth keyboard and mouse I effectively now have the full desktop experience.


You can go in and adjust the setting for Continuum on the phone as shown above.


You can adjust the display as well.


As well as controlling the desktop experience.

Now thanks to Continuum I have a Windows 10 desktop and a phone. Even with Continuum in operation, I can still use the phone as a phone, make and receive calls, run apps, etc.

You’ll get a much better idea of Continuum from the above video.

Thanks to phone based apps like Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etc you can still get your work done directly using the phone. Apps have to be written to support Continuum which many still need to be converted but for example apps like FitBit, TED and Audible are Continuum ready. I would expect to see more and more apps become Continuum ready in the future.

Of course the naysayers are going to point to the fact that you can’t run ‘normal’ desktop apps that businesses need to work because they only run on an Intel platform. Agreed, but the Windows 10 phone has a Remote Desktop app that allows to connect to any any desktop.


You’ll find that app here:

So now with this Remote Desktop app on my phone and with my phone connected to a large keyboard, screen and standard mouse I would suggest to you that I now have a complete desktop replacement.

In my case I used this Remote Desktop app to connect to an Azure VM without issue and run normal desktop apps just as you would on a PC. So now with the power of Windows 10 phone and Azure do you really need to have traditional servers and desktops inside the business? I’m thinking not.

So now, thanks to the Remote Desktop client, you have full access to all the software that is written PC’s anywhere, all directly on your device.

If you step back and take a look at what Microsoft is doing with Windows 10 phone in light of Continuum, I see them investing in a key mobile trend that most agree is the direction we are headed (just like Apple did with the iPhone). I see Microsoft allowing users the ability to connect to their legacy apps and continue to develop on existing platforms yet have these accessible via the device, thus giving users access to the greatest range of software (much like Android).

Thus, many have written off Windows Phone, however I’d suggest that people are overlooking how rapidly this market continues to develop and to be truly succeed you need to be play where ‘the ball is going, not where the ball currently is’. I don’t see Apple or Android investing in this replacement desktop paradigm, it is only Microsoft. In my mind that gives Microsoft a HUGE advantage in the mobile space and is the reason I see Windows Phone as a platform with far more potential than many see.

Those who look to the future and prepare stand a better chance of winning than those who only consider today. There is still a long way to go and much more development will be required but importantly (like Apple and iPhone), I think Microsoft and Windows 10 Phone is well placed to lead the pack going forward. So, ignore Windows 10 phone at your peril.

Get a free Display Dock for Lumia 950 and 950XL

Microsoft Display Dock

Microsoft is offering a free display dock for Australian customers who purchase a Lumia 950 or 950XL between November 2015 and March 2016. The display dock allows you to connect your Lumia 950 or 950XL phone to external devices such as keyboards, monitors, mice, etc. This supports the continuum features of Windows 10 Phone.

To take up this offer follow these steps.


Fire up your Lumia 950 or 950 XL and open the Lumia Offers apps. If you don’t have this app on your phone simply download it from the store.


When you opne the app you should see the Display Dock Offer as shown above. Select this.


Ensure that you email address is listed in the box on this next screen and select the claim button at the bottom of the page.


You should then receive an email with a promotional code and a link to a site where you can enter the code.


Just enter the code you received in the email and select Submit. The code will be verified and if all is correct you’ll then need to enter a shipping address for the dock.


You’ll then receive a confirmation email that you claim has been submitted and you should receive your dock in 6 – 8 weeks.

I think the display dock is a ‘must have’ for Lumia 950 devices and now there is no reason not to get one. Good on ya Microsoft.

A mobile device must have

A while back I wrote an article about how I use OneNote. You can find it here:

One of the ways I use OneNote

It showed how to get a personal OneNote notebook up and running with Office 365 and access it on all your devices. It also detailed the process that I use to create my shared ‘Daybook’ notebook which I basically use as a replacement for a traditional pad and pen.

One of the must have add-ons for OneNote in my books is Office Lens from Microsoft. The way Microsoft tout it is as a OneNote scanner for your pocket.

You start by downloading the Office Lens app on your mobile device:

Here for Android

Here for iOS

Here for Windows Phone

Once you have the app on your device you can use it capture things like business cards, white boards and even documents. To do this you simply use the Office Lens app to take a picture of the information. Once captured you can then save it in a variety of locations, including OneNote.


The way I use it is to capture expenses when travelling as you can see in the above screen shot. Here, I’ve taken a picture of a petrol receipt using Office Lens on my mobile and then uploaded that to my cloud shared OneNote notebook. This then makes that available to every device automatically thanks to the syncing wonders of OneNote.

When I return to my desktop, I can bring up the same OneNote notebook and view the receipt. Even better, I can use OneNote pages and sections to categorise the information so I know for example which trip it was part of. Even better, the information inside the receipt has been made searchable. Thus, as the highlight in the above screen shot demonstrates, I have searched for the text ‘invoice’ and OneNote found and highlighted that text inside the receipt (i.e. inside a picture I took on my mobile device!).

Can you imagine how much easier it would be to record all your casual receipts like this? Once they are captured with Office Lens, they can be uploaded to you OneNote notebook saved in the cloud. There they are not only backed up and saved, they are also searchable and easily ordered if required.

It really is amazing at how well Office Lens works with receipts and whiteboards. Combined with cloud based OneNote notebooks it creates a great system for not only capturing but also retaining and organising information for individuals and also for businesses. Image a system where travelling staff can capture their receipts directly into OneNote so they can be processed quickly by admin staff back in the Office.

Think of how much time it takes you or your staff to do paper based expense reports now. Think of all the space consumed by those paper expense reports. Also, what happens to the receipts after they have been processed? How long do they need to be retained for tax purposes? Many receipts are printed on thermal paper which fades over time. That is not good if they need to be retained.

Having a digital copy has so many benefits and combined with cloud based notebooks like OneNote, it can greatly increase the productivity of your staff and your business. The best bit is that both OneNote and Office Lens are already free and if you have Office 365 or (also free) you can take advantage of cloud synced notebooks to share the information between devices or between a team.

So if you enjoyed my previous OneNote article and are using OneNote synched notebooks, now you can take your productivity to the next level by using Office Lens. You can get even more done in your day by making the capture, retention and sharing of information simple and digital.

Mobile Device Management has arrived!


I was fiddling around in my Office 365 tenant and saw that the Mobile Device Management now appears as a license for the user as shown above.


I then headed to the Office 365 Admin portal and sure enough on the menu on the left hand side I see Mobile Devices.


When I select this I get some information on the right and a Get Started button which I press eagerly.


Office 365 starts settings things up for me and says it may take a few hours (!). Actually, it took the whole of about 5 minutes.


Now I see the above. I select the Manage settings in the top right.


From the window that appears I select Set up from Configure an APNs Certificate for iOS devices.


At the next screen I select Download your CSR file link and store it on my C: drive.

I then select Next to continue.


Here I select the link for Apple APNS Portal.


I login with a company Apple ID.


Once logged in I select the Create Certificate button.


I Accept the Terms of Use


I now upload the CSR file that I downloaded previously.


I receive confirmation that all is good. I select Download to get a copy of this Apple Certificate and store it on my local hard disk.


I return to the Office 365 Admin portal and upload the Apple Certificate I just downloaded into Office 365.


I now get the message that the Certificate Uploaded Successfully.


In the top right corner of the windows I now have a green check indicating that my Apple Certificate is uploaded and valid.


Select the link Manage device security policies and access rules near the top of the page.


I’m now taken to the Office 365 Compliance center and the option Device Management as shown above.


I select the option to create a new policy by selecting the + (plus) icon. I then given the policy a name and select Next.


Now I can select all the device security options I want.

When complete, I press Next to continue.


I now get the option to select more configuration options as shown above.

When complete, I press Next to continue.


I now elect whether I wish the policy to be applied to my users. At stage stage I will leave the option set to No and press Next.


I now get a summary to review and when complete I select finish.


You should now see your policy listed as shown above.

If I now want to apply that policy to a user I select the pencil icon to edit it.


I select the Deployment option on the left and then Yes. I then select the + (plus) icon that appears to add the desired user(s) to whom the policy should apply.


Unfortunately, at this stage I get the above error that doesn’t allow me to apply the mobile device policy to a user for some reason.

I suspect I have stuffed up somewhere so I’ll do some research and post an update soon.

Till then, if you see Mobile Device Management appear in your Office 365 tenant, have a play and let me know how you go.

OneDrive Windows Phone App updated


Microsoft has updated the OneDrive app for Windows Phone now to include the ability to access both OneDrive and OneDrive for Business in a single place like they recently did with other platforms.

To configure this, firstly ensure you have the latest version of the OneDrive app from the Windows Store on your device. Then go to the list of apps and select OneDrive.


If the app has been updated you should see Add OneDrive for Business as an option at the bottom as shown above. Select this.


You’ll now be prompted to enter your Office 365 credentials and Sign in.


You should see the account being added to your OneDrive app.


When complete your OneDrive should appear in the list as shown above. Select Files (under this new item) to view your OneDrive for Business content.


You should now see all your OneDrive for Business files in the app,


just as you would see them in a browser.

Nice improvement that brings the Windows Phone app to par with apps on other platforms.

Next lock screen for Android by Microsoft Garage

Here’s something a bit different from Microsoft, a screen lock for Android phones. Who’d though eh? An indication of the fact that Microsoft is becoming more platform agnostic, which of course displeases pure Windows people (you can never please everyone right?). But hey, more software the better right? Certainly for Microsoft!

Problem is that I can’t get in here in Australia on my device. Hopefully down the track when they make it available outside the US where I believe it is limited to currently.

If you want it, see if you can download it from:

and let me know what you think.

HERE maps for Android

In my experience the best nav app is Here from Nokia (yup, even better than Google Maps in my books). Going forward HERE isn’t part of the Nokia Microsoft bought, it is remaining a separate entity.

I use HERE maps on my Nokia Windows Phone 8.1 extensively (unsurprisingly) and was very pleased to discover that they are now offering HERE maps on Android devices for free! You can download it from this location:

but don’t stop there, you can find plenty of additional apps (especially for Windows Phones) here:

So, if you are like me and you love all the HERE stuff then take a moment to ensure you have them all on your devices and sign up for a free HERE account to link them all together.