Each of the major smartphone platforms has its own voice assistant, but which is better for real world use? They're all getting smarter each year, of course, as their back-ends get upgraded, but at this point in 2015 I wanted to conduct a 'blind' test and get a data point or two. Or ten. The winner might surprise you too - Cortana was the early favourite, anecdotally, but an old hand stepped up to the plate in the end...
One of the most frustrating things about snapping photos of family is that anyone under about ten years of age just doesn't keep still. Not that you'd necessarily want them to a lot of the time, since a kid or pet doing something active, caught mid-stride, can be really effective and show off more of their character than an attempt at a traditional posed shot. The same applies to pets, wildlife and even nature itself, but there's a solution if you have the Lumia 930/Icon or 1520, as Rafe and I demonstrate below. (In fact, much of what follows also applies to the Lumia 830 and even the 640/640 XL too, albeit at much lower output resolution.)
Launched yesterday, Hyperlapse Mobile is already proving an interesting video utility, though I thought it worth pointing out some caveats and tips based on my own experiences so far. In short, it's still something of a novelty, but there's a lot of fun to be had and fully edited and polished hyperlapses can be rendered and then stitched/edited entirely on your Windows Phone.
Two years ago, it was accepted that Nokia led the camera phone market by some way. Devices like the niche 808 PureView and Lumia 1020 were way out in front and even the slightly cut down Lumia 930 and 1520 (with 1/2.5" sensors) were leading the rest. However, the latest iPhones and, in particular, the latest Android flagships, in the Galaxy S6 and LG G4 have now matched the Nokias and even exceeded them in terms of aperture, processing speed and functions. In this feature, I put the Lumia 930 (and later, the 1020) head to head, pixel to pixel, against the newest and best Android smartphone camera, in the LG G4.
Once upon a time there were 'smartphones' and 'phones'. Or 'feature phones' for the latter name if you were being a bit snobbish. Then we got to the stage where virtually all phones were 'smart' (i.e. online, apps, converged functions), so the distinction went away. And now, with the likes of the excellent Lumia 640 XL, we're on the cusp of seeing the same thing happen to that hated term 'phablets'. They'll all just be called 'phones' from 2016 onwards, you mark my words.
With eight years since the classic Nokia N95 was selling in the mainstream, with one of the first five megapixel cameras in the phone market and the best, with 1/2.5" sensor and 'Carl Zeiss' optics, I thought it would be interesting to see how far the technology has come. After all, the Lumia 930 occupies pretty much the same photo-enthusiast consumer spot, at least in the Windows phone world, yet it outputs at a nominal 5MP still. But how different would the pixels themselves be, with eight years of sensor, optics and processing tech improvements under the 930's hood?
With the announcement of 'bridges' to help Android and iOS developers compile their applications to native Windows 10 'universal' applications, many have questioned the future of Windows Phone as an OS. In a sense, they're right - Windows Phone as it exists now is about to cease to exist. But it will transition completely seamlessly (in theory) into the Windows 10 - at which point it will share a platform with the dominant desktop and laptop OS on the planet. And creating Windows 10 applications will see a dramatically bigger potential market - hey, I've done a handy graphic (below) to make the point!
One of the odd omissions on the Microsoft Band, reviewed here, is that there's no media control, unlike on other smartwatches. There's no music or similar tile available, for example. So if you're out running or walking or cycling and you want to pause or change playback, or similar, then you're out of luck, aren't you? Not really.
I reviewed Movie Creator back in November 2014, but the system just got itself a big update to support 4K video, i.e. burst or manually-selected video capture on the Lumia 930/Icon and 1520 - and, no doubt, future devices. In addition, there's now full integration with OneDrive, so the media you include doesn't have to exist on the Windows Phone being used to edit video anymore. Add in a few more enhancements for this new version and the time is right to see what Movie Creator can really do. Here's a tutorial to get you started.
The G4 is the very latest Android flagship and I'm comparing here with all we've got (for the time being) in the Windows Phone world, ye olde Lumia 930, now around a year old. Half the price as well, as a result, you'd expect the Lumia 930 to come off somewhat second best, but there are still things to chat about below, don't worry! With the 930 armed with WP 8.1 Update 2, I gave it my best shot...