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Having set up expectations that Google's HDR+ computational photography in the new Pixel flagship can be considered 'PureView take II', or thereabouts, I thought it time to put this to the test. So I took three PureView flagships from various eras: Nokia 808, Lumia 1020 and Lumia 950 XL, and pitched them against the new Google Pixel XL. The aim, away from trivial sunny shots (hey, suits me, this is the UK in October!), is to really stretch the pixel combination systems, in reducing noise and finding detail and colour.
Another top UWP app for you today, running on anything with Windows 10, but with a mobile-optimised UI in particular. Diarium, as it sounds, is a daily diary - not a new concept on smartphones, but particularly well done here, integrating captured media and social activity into a computerised and exportable whole.
In this week's Insight podcast, guest Stephen Quin and I chew over the news stories and features from the last 12 days since the last podcast - including some of my rants, some of Stephen's, and a whole host of pricing, UWP apps, and platform comment.
We live in interesting times. There was a one year period (that ended a few months ago) where anyone with an older Windows Phone 8.1 smartphone (let's focus here on the more capable models, so say a Lumia 920, 925 or 1020) could opt to be part of the Insiders programme and 'upgrade' to Windows 10 Mobile. Many of us did that, some even went on to 'hack' Redstone and then Redstone 2 onto such devices - and many of us promptly went back to 8.1 because of the greater maturity and stability. Begging the question - can one really use Windows Phone 8.1 as we approach 2017? What are the drawbacks of living with the older OS?
Although it's somewhat galling to read of imaging advancements in the smartphone world that aren't being made by Nokia engineers huddled in a chilly Finland, it's worth putting into context where smartphone imaging seems to be settling and where this fits into the existing spectrum of phone cameras, with specific reference to classic Nokias of the past. You see, powered by ever faster chipsets, 'computational photography' is indeed where imaging has ended up and, on the whole, for the benefit of all.
I know what's you're thinking. a) There's never a good time to review a sniper game, since there's always some nutter in the news, plus b) this is freemium-fantastic, so surely Steve is going to hate it. However... this is really, really well done. OK, so the lowest freemium IAP is probably the 'real' price of the game, but Sniper Ops 3D is slick, fast and fun.
The recent stories surrounding the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, with it catching fire and even exploding, ostensibly due to over-ambitious use of space inside the phone applying pressure to the internal Li-Ion battery, caused me to mull over features in many past smartphones that seem - in hindsight - designed to specifically avoid a 'Note 7' style Lithium accident. Using the example of the Nokia 808 PureView and Lumia 640 XL, I show how such an accident is far, far less likely.
With eBay withdrawing its old Windows Phone 8.1 application from the Windows Store and (so far, at least) not providing a modern UWP app alternative, you may have guessed that there's an element of DIY involved in using eBay in the meantime, i.e. using eBay via Microsoft Edge. Though note that an awful lot of eBay's functionality is HTML based, so you do get a reasonable experience.
Less of a full UWP app (though it does work on all form factors) and more of an enabler, Web Tiles lets you replace token blue 'e' logos on your Windows 10 Mobile Start screen (or favicons at best) with full photos of whatever you'd like to stand in for the web sites and resources of your choice. Hey, and it's free too.
Did you know that your Lumia smartphone had an equaliser built-in? Possibly. But did you know that a) it doesn't only work with Groove Music, it works system wide, and b) it also works with the speaker on your phone and not just headphones? While this wouldn't be that notable on phones with a decent enough speaker, the Lumia 950 XL, in particular, has an unpleasantly tinny component (I went into detail here). Begging the question, can a little tweaking save the day?