Recent Features - How To

How to save battery, increase responsiveness, by disabling unnecessary background tasks

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In installing a popular Windows Phone application, I was brought to a crashing halt by a worrying error message. Happily, the message was clear enough about what to do and, as it turns out, quite a few of my third party applications had quietly been installed with 'background' capability. Disabling these permissions could result in increased battery life and phone responsiveness.

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The PDF (Acrobat) Reader round-up for Windows Phone

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Something that we all need sooner or later, on any computing platform, is a way of reading through Acrobat (PDF) files. To my knowledge, no mobile OS has ever supplied this by default, though many manufacturers often opt to include a viewer in shipping firmware. For Windows Phone, we're actually spoiled for choice, so I thought I'd round-up your options and proffer some opinions.

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How to: Avoid burned highlights in (Nokia) Lumia Camera

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There is one aspect of Nokia Camera (soon to be just 'Lumia Camera', of course) which has been catching me out, despite all my smartphone camera experience. I know what I'm doing wrong, I just never remember to correct it when taking photos in the heat of the moment. Most users will know what I'm talking about when I refer to 'burned highlights'. Here's how to avoid them.

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The Phone Photography Plateau + experimenting with LED flash to freeze motion

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I noted from yesterday's lengthy Apple announcements (of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus) that the cameras in each had been upgraded, to (allegedly) 1/2.6" sensors and, in the Plus's case, OIS as well. Which, in imaging terms, brings the iPhone at last up to near the top of the Nokia photography tree - the Lumia 1520/930 camera is very similar in size and specs (even if the image processing techniques are very different). Have smartphone cameras plateaued? And can anything be done to improve LED flash results?

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Where does Denim and the new Lumia Camera leave the 1020?

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We've heard a lot about PureView imaging, a new, faster Lumia Camera application, Moment Capture, Dynamic Flash and Rich Capture, buzzwords aplenty over the last few days at IFA 2014. And the mix of all of this in the upcoming ultra-slim Lumia 830 does looks very tempting. But I thought a few words about what will and what won't happen to the existing imaging flagship, the Lumia 1020, might be in order.

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Skype, the biggest villain on 2012/2013 Windows Phones

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One of the biggest bug-bears on Windows Phone in recent times, for me, has been the performance of Skype, especially in light of the emphasis on the application in hardware launches, e.g. for the Lumia 730/735 here. The issue is that, when returning to Skype on anything but the newer 2014 Windows Phones, even if we only just let the screen timeout and unlock it again, or even if we use the multitasking carousel, we still see completely unnecessary 'resuming....' dots, as shown in the video below.

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The importance of the Lumia 1020's Xenon flash - in daylight!

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It's a fair cop - I've written quite a bit over the years on why Xenon flash is a must in a camera phone, for evening and night time people shots, freezing motion and stopping typical low light blur. But there's more to a great Xenon flash in a phone camera. What about in daylight? Yes, really - 'fill in flash' is a technique used by professional photographers, yet something that's largely out of reach of people using phone cameras. Unless you have a Nokia Lumia 1020 and that all-important Xenon....

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How to: Control focus in a Nokia Lumia in order to take faster and better low light photos

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I've heard it said that Nokia's monster camera phone, the Lumia 1020, is "rubbish in low light because it doesn't focus fast enough". I disagree - what's happening here, and equally applicable to every other Windows Phone camera, is that there's not enough understanding by users on how camera phones focus in the first place. Which is why I thought a 'how to' article might be appropriate. Turns out that focussing can be happily controlled after all...

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