Despite the various pros and cons for 'touch' over the years, we're firmly in a mode in the tech world now where touch makes the most sense, in terms of text input, controls and general interaction. So why haven't we seen screen sizes increase to fill most of the front area of our phones? I examine the history of the form factor, in terms of screen-to-body ratio, and wonder whether we can't have our cake and eat it, in terms of phones that are manageable yet with monster displays...
One of the bugbears of living on Windows 10 Mobile (and Windows Phone 8.1 before it) for me, was that Google+, the social network that everyone seemingly likes to forget yet which is beloved of geeks and tech communities, was essentially inaccessible. No client from Google (of course) and the mobile web version sucked. However, the arrival of a new HTML5-heavy site from the big 'G' allied to the latest Edge browser from Microsoft equals an experience that's only slightly less slick than a full native application. To say I was impressed is an understatement.
I recently became very frustrated with my Windows 10 Mobile smartphone when its Start screen steadfastedly refused to show me photos in the err... 'Photos' live tile. Set to the 'double-wide' size, this live tile is one of the stars of the platform, always looking stunning (provided you've taken some stunning photos to populate it with) - but what do you if it misbehaves? Turns out this is quite a common problem, so here are some specific and generic tips...
If I've heard one complaint about Windows Phone cameras and flagships like the Lumia 1020 and 950 over and over again it's this: "when I set the focus (manually) to 'infinity', my landscape photos are blurred". Thankfully, this issue is easy to demonstrate and to understand - and, indeed, to solve - or at least work around. I explain all below.
As already reported, Microsoft is planning to roll out the Windows 10 'Anniversary Update' on August 2nd, 2016, and 'expects' to begin over-the-air rollout of the same update to 'mobile' (i.e. phones) from that date too. Yet, despite a frantic pace of Insider test builds (several a week), time is, quite simply, running out, and Microsoft will either have to delay the Windows 10 Mobile version or roll it out with plenty of known issues.
The best photos? Well, some of them, at least. While flicking through some old paper DSLR magazines I was reminded how we can all learn from, and be inspired by, the photos taken by others. With that in mind, I've gone through some of the Lumia groups on Flickr and plucked out examples - all from 2016 - that are particular noteworthy. See which of these you like and then be inspired to match them!
The release of the official Formula 1 UWP app for Windows 10 prompted me to try it out during the British Grand Prix weekend. But I was also using PitlaneOne, a longtime favourite and also now with a UWP version for Windows 10. Turns out that the official app gives you very little for free, while the unofficial free app gives you just about everything you need. For obsessive detail though, the official F1 application does ultimately win out - at a cost.
With the Lumia 950 heading firmly into the mid-tier in terms of pricing, if not specifications, it's becoming more appropriate to compare it to the latest breed of high-spec mid-tier Android smartphones - typically those from brands other than Samsung, Sony and HTC. In this case Alcatel, whose Idol range has been creeping up ever further from the budget end of the market each year. With the brand new Idol 4 in hand, I compare it to the Lumia 950, blow for blow.
The number one request I get behind the scenes on AAWP is to compile a directory of the best applications for the platform - given the amount of rubbish/fakes in the official Store, despite my rantings over Microsoft Store QA over the years. So, with another big update for early July, i.e. Q3 2016, and now in more phone-friendly format, here's our directory of the very best of the Windows Phone (and Windows 10 Mobile) world. If you or someone you know is just starting out on the platform then look no further for suggestions.
Rafe and I were fortunate to spend some time recently with the HP Elite X3, its desk dock and lapdock. The phone itself was near final fit and finish and seemed almost ready for retail, ditto the desk dock, while the HP Lap Dock was a genuine prototype, but then this isn't scheduled to ship until (at least) a month after the Elite X3 itself. Read on for our first impressions of this 'evolution' in computing from HP.