Steve is the editor at All About Windows Phone, which means any typos that slip through in the main stories are his responsibility (although, ultimately, you can still blame Rafe). He’s also one of the main writers, specialising in the camera and multimedia side of things when it comes to reviews and tutorials. When not working on AAWP and All About Symbian, Steve writes, produces and stars in The Phones Show, a fortnightly video show reviewing phones and smartphones in detail.
Recent Content by Steve
Regular readers will know that I'm a big fan of the Proporta emergency chargers, from the tiny credit card sized Pocket Power to the mighty Turbocharger 7000. But, of course, there are many other brands on the market, especially at the higher capacity end of the market. Which is why I've been taking a look here at the new 'Kinkoo Infinite One 8000mAh Portable Backup Battery Charger'. In white. And yes, the colour matters, as I shall explain!
A great pool game is always a good thing on a mobile device. Pool Arena Online is decent, at least. A great online multi-player experience is also always a good thing. And, again, Pool Arena Online is... decent. Put the two together and what have you got? A somewhat disjointed pool-centric gaming system that occasionally delights and often disappoints.
Never mind manufacturers (HTC) coming up with secondary 'depth' cameras in order to provide information for creating fake 'bokeh' effects, the imperfectness of that approach has shown that, in fact, you can create such effects using nothing more than a little software wizardry. The result will still look 'fake', but at least it can be done, as proved here by new Windows Phone application 'Intelligent Lens Blur'.
I remain constantly surprised by the lack of knowledge of basic physics by those who write 'battery saving' articles across the web, in the context of smartphones. By far the most common bit of advice - reduce the frequency of email, PIM and social sync - seems to be given for all phones and all platforms and it's actually highly misleading. The underlying physics is far, far more important, if you want to keep your precious battery life while travelling. For 2G/3G/4G certainly - but also, almost counter-intuitively, for Wi-fi too.
Having a 'proper' Xenon flash in your smartphone (we're talking Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020 here) doesn't necessarily give you better low light shots of people - you have to know how to use the technology to best effect too. After criticism from some quarters about 'missed shots', I thought a 'how to' guide to Xenon might be in order, whichever of Nokia's flagship camera phones you own.
One question we were keen to see answered with Windows Phone 8.1 (now out in preview form for developers and enthusiasts) was whether the update interval for 'background tasks', the bits of applications which run every so often in the background to do useful stuff like update live tiles, would change from the current 30 minutes in Windows Phone 8.0 to something more frequent. It does seem from our tests that the interval hasn't changed, but fear not for there's more to updating in the background in 8.1 than simple scheduling...
Coming along for the ride with Windows Phone 8.1 (out now in 'preview' mode) is a whole new application from Microsoft - Podcasts. Yes, you've guessed it, yet another podcatching application, except that this time it's from the people who make the OS and it's pretty darned slick. Unfortunately, it's also pretty darned limited, so podcast fans shouldn't uninstall their favourite third party podcatcher just yet. Part review, part feature, here's my assessment of this application that's arriving very soon.
Unbelievably, even after my exhaustive round up of podcatchers recently, it seems that there's another candidate to consider - and a potentially good one, too, with Podcast2Go both relatively new and also massively updated recently and taking it (almost) into the top flight of contenders. You'll see what I mean from the UI screenshots when I say that this is more than reminiscent of Pocket Casts (the top Android podcatcher). Emulating the best is clearly a good way to proceed, producing a top notch podcatcher, though UI purists will no doubt tut over the lack of adherence to Windows Phone UI guidelines.
The world of accessories fascinates everyone, of course, the drive to make everything smaller and smaller, yet still doing the same job. In this case, the ChargeKey microUSB, a full data and charging cable (i.e. all pins are connected through) that cuts bulk to the nth degree and fits nicely on a key ring. It's even shaped like a key and is a really neat accessory, albeit a little pricey.
SmartMusic isn't the very first attempt on Windows Phone to try and present an all purpose SkyDrive/OneDrive streaming music solution, but it does at least make the right noises: 'maintains a persistent connection so that long play times for a playlist will stay connected' and so on. Sounds about right for this sort of utility. But how well does it work and can it effectively be (Android's) Google Play Music but for Windows Phone?