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Tomorrow is a big day in the phone world, of course - worldwide availability of the new iPhones. Leaving aside the 'Pro' devices, well over £1000 (though I've got one in for imaging tests and general review), the 'iPhone 11' might well be the perfect point to jump 'all in' on iOS, given the impending cessation of Windows 10 Mobile updates and given the low price on the '11' and the maturity of its internals. Yes, yes, I personally am Mr Geek and thus will always go to Android, open file systems, and customisability - but for the non-geeks, maybe Rafe is right in choosing iOS and maybe tomorrow is the day?
2019 really has been the year of the folding phone - and not for the right reasons. The idea of a phone-sized device that unfolds to become a tablet (and vice versa) is such a tempting dream that we've been talking about as an industry for the last three years. Arguably 20 years if you include the Nokia Communicators, which unfolded to become a mini-laptop, in effect. We've seen attempts at a folding phone/tablet from Samsung and Huawei and with concepts from others, yet none of these approach the common sense of what Microsoft was patenting and prototyping back in 2016 for its reputed Surface Phone. So why hasn't someone else designed along similar lines? After all, a twin glass hinged unit would be cheaper and far more durable than bending plastic.
Security and identity theft are major concerns these days, with numerous high profile attacks, making two factor authentication for all your email, PIM, banking, and even social accounts mandatory. But relying on a phone number and SMS codes as the 'second factor' has a huge weakness - 'social attacks' on your phone network, with someone pretending to be you and thus gaining control over your SMS and number via a new SIM card, inserted in their phone of choice. Enter the concept of 'authenticator' apps on your phone, which work well but are a pain to set up more than once. Well, no more, since Microsoft Authenticator can now backup and then restore your established authenticated account keys. Here's how it all works.
It's a fair cop, this new accessory from Xiaomi doesn't connect (anymore) with Windows Phone or Windows 10 Mobile. But it's a good data point as to where the wearables market is going and will be of special interest to any fans of the old Microsoft Band, since this is very similar in many ways - except that it runs for a month on a charge and only costs £30! It's something of a technological miracle, saved from perfection only by holes in the Xiaomi integration into Android's notifications system - and in my phone's battery each day.
Autumn 2015, four years ago, saw Microsoft launch the Lumia 950 as part of an event in New York, with Panos Panay holding up the new phones and Bryan Roper demoing Continuum - all a little brief but there were also Surface devices to announce, so brevity could be forgiven. AAWP has been all over the Lumia 950 and 950 XL ever since, of course, covered in detail from many different angles and in many comparisons. But how well does the Lumia 950/XL hold up today as a smartphone, i.e. as a piece of hardware, perhaps (for once) leaving apps and service compatibility off to one side?
Windows 10 Mobile is now into its last three months of Microsoft's official support, though of course phones aren't going to suddenly stop working when 2019 ends. Under the hood here there are kernel and security fixes, for all phones currently running the '1709' branch (potentially most of you, see the links below). Grab this September 2019 update in Settings.
Back in March, I looked at the first hands-on videos with the F(x)tec Pro1 prototype, inspired by the classic slide and tilt mechanisms from the Nokia E7 (and N97 and N950), with full QWERTY functions hidden beneath a large touchscreen. Fast forward six months and the Pro1 is now a reality, with the company putting it up for pre-order, with hands-on videos of the 'final' hardware. A review handset is coming to AAS/AAWP in the next few weeks, but I thought a quick round-up was needed in the meantime.
When considering smartphone imaging, there are two end goals, depending on who you talk to. The populist opinion, catered to by the likes of Samsung and Huawei, is that the photos you take should 'pop', with exagerated edges and detail, enhanced colours, and so on. My view, even though I enjoy hyper-real images as much as the next man, is that photos should accurately portray the world you see, and with as little enhancement as possible. In other words, photos from a phone should be natural and with scope for enhancement later in software without worrying about starting from an edge-enhanced, over sharpened base...
Over one month on, here is the September 2019 update (4 new entries, 1 entry relinked) to the AAWP directory of curated UWP applications, those with native Windows 10 UI and which support different orientations, Continuum and even use on laptop or tablet.
Instagram, for a service that's not officially supported under Windows 10 Mobile anymore, is actually quite well represented. Winsta UWP is a nice general client that lets you post and interact with others, but it has a few functionality gaps, not least being able to see posted images in original detail and not being able to save media to your phone. Enter Saver for Instagram PRO, also a UWP for all Windows 10 devices, and which offers a different Instagram feature set, see the review here.