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
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?
The latest in a series of 'how to' articles for Windows Phone beginners, a common task that many will want to do is send a family member or friend their location. Sounds simple for a smartphone, right? And it is, but it's worth noting the right way to do it rather than falling for one of the dozens of 'Here I am' style utilities in the Windows Phone Store.
I know it's probably terrible SEO tactics to link to a competitor, but in this case a) Windows Phone Central is a fine site (and hopefully they respect us too), and b) they're utterly wrong - in my humble opinion, on this particular issue. Yes, it's the thorny chestnut of phone form factors and, in particular a contention that 'it's time to redefine the smartphone: phablets are the future of mobile'. While I realise that this WPC article is probably just one voice among many writers, the concept itself is as interesting as it's possibly misplaced - and definitely worth exploring here, with quotes from past articles of mine on the subject and some new thoughts.
As widely expected, Microsoft took the wraps off Cortana, its next generation 'Personal Assistant', delivered on both Windows Phone 8.1 and Bing online. If you've seen Apple's Siri and Google's Now then you'll already know what to expect, but it's fair to say that Microsoft's later entrance into this market has given it time to play, learn and adapt, and Cortana could be more effective than its competitors. Moreover, Microsoft's philosophy behind Cortana harkens back to terminology from the 1990s... which in my eyes is long overdue.
HTC makes a big deal of its 'ultrapixel' camera when talking about its 'One' series, with the latest variant, the 'M8' in-house for testing. Large pixels, a brand new 'ImageChip', etc. Perfect for setting its 4MP results up against the (similarly sized) 5MP results from the Lumia 1020. Ultrapixels versus PureView 'superpixels'!