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Brand new this week is the Honor 10, which - despite its sub-£400 price tag - boasts a ground-breaking new 'AI-based' camera. Software-based stabilisation, analysis of scene details to adjust processing for each interpreted depth layer, and to enhance subjects according to how people like seeing them. But how does all this hold up to the classic Lumia 950 - can all this new computational tech beat a quality classic?
I collar Rafe for a chat and catch-up - we talk PWAs, platforms, the changing of UIs and form factors, Skype and Teams. And a few tangents besides. So break out your classic 8.1 Lumia, unfold your Surface Mobile cardboard mock-up and sit down for a chatty 41 minutes of Insight!
Just to ring the changes, with a new mid-priced 'flagship' coming along from the Android world, I had the usual choice of what to compare it to from the Windows side - in the end, I plumped for the Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro, being of similar size, weight, style, and with similar levels of err... compromise. They're a good match overall, I think. Yes, Android is the smartphone OS of the modern age (90% market share?), but how does the Windows 10 Mobile offering compare?
Two weeks ago, I posted about considering the Lumia 1020 under its original Windows Phone 8.1 as a viable set-up, even in 2018. And it is, on the whole, I stand by everything I said in the original post. However, while it may be a viable set-up, it's most certainly not optimal, five years after launch, and six years after the launch of the Lumia 920, the archetypal 8.1 device. In an attempt to see just where the pain points are (other than the obvious, like no biometrics), I set about using Windows Phone 8.1 exclusively for 24 hours. And no cheating.
Only ever mentioned in passing here before and with all the SpaceX goings on awakening public interest in all things astronomical, I wanted to feature NASA Picture Galleries UWP in all its glory, for all Windows 10 Mobile handsets, Windows 10 hybrids, and so on. It's not a first party (i.e. NASA) application, but it does a cracking job of 'raiding' the NASA image archives in app form.
Whether you're using Windows Phone 8.1 or Windows 10 Mobile, the chances are that you've settled on the 'Bing image of the day' as your lockscreen. Stunning curated images from commercial collections, every day that are, seemingly, just as well suited to the portrait phone screen as to the landscape desktop aspect ratio - thanks to some clever selection and even more clever cropping. But a day later and they're gone. How can you enjoy them after the fact?
It won't have shocked anyone during the week when Webrox's (makers of Tubecast and other well known Windows 10 Mobile applications) CEO, Stéphane Graziano, was quoted on MSPU as saying that 'nobody cares' about the Microsoft Store and that the current situation is 'a disaster'. Unsurprising, I contend, because people use the desktop/laptop very differently to their phones. But although it's unlikely that PWAs could help Webrox, they could help bridge the gap for many others.
Over the last 18 months I've been adding to my curated directory of applications for Windows phones, including both 8.1 and Windows 10 versions. But, as we head into 2018 and with the latter really all that most (though not all) currently active Windows phone users care about, I've whittled it all down to UWP applications, those with native Windows 10 UI and which support different orientations, Continuum and even use on laptop or tablet. This is the mid-May update of the directory.
People think of Windows 10 Mobile being dead. Not quite. Not yet. We're still looking at (at least) a year of support in terms of monthly patches and fixes for Windows 10 Mobile 'Fall Creators Update'. And build 15254.401 (from .369) is fresh out today, so go grab it for all phones currently on the 'Fall Creators Update'. Meanwhile the Creators Update branch gets its regular patches and the Anniversary Update gets a first 'extension' patch.
By popular request, and in particular response to the arguably incomplete results coming out DxOMark in the last few years, I immodestly present what has come to be called 'SteveMark', as in a compilation of results of the real world tests I've been doing with a wide range of smartphone flagship cameras. Is there a top dog? Unsurprisingly, it depends on what you want from a phone camera, and also unsurprisingly, I present to you not one, but two Top 10 lists. Take your pick!