Having recently had quite a bit of experience of restoring Windows Phone backups to devices after resets and upgrades, I thought I'd answer a few Frequently Asked Questions about this boring but surprisingly important subject. If all goes well, you can - in theory - restore the set-up of one Windows Phone 8.1 or 10 device to any other. With some caveats, of course!
Recent Features - How To
If you use a Mac and run one of the newest Lumias, the 950 or 950 XL, or if you've updated one of your Insiders Preview devices to the latest OS, 10586 build 63, you may have been annoyed to see that Microsoft's 'Windows Phone' utility in the Mac App Store no longer connects through to the phone. So no music or media syncing, no browsing the phone's contents from a Mac. Except that there's a fix, helpfully suggested by AAWP reader Steve Forbes. So, with thanks to him, I've broken it all down into a tutorial below. Here's how to get Windows 10 Mobile and Macs talking again!
With the declaration up front that by 'older' I'm talking about native Windows Phone 8 devices like the Lumia 520, 620, 920, 925 and 1020, i.e. all Snapdragon S4-based handsets, the favourites of yesteryear (2012-2013), after much testing and pondering, I think I'm ready to recommend that anyone with these handsets think about staying on Windows Phone 8.1 and deliberately foregoing Windows 10 Mobile when offered. I've already reported on the speed differences between the two OS and, as at 10th January 2016, I'm sceptical as to how much this will change in the next few months.
One of the most common questions about the Lumia smartphones and their cameras is what to choose in settings in terms of resolution and capture. Oversampled? RAW? Full resolution? Under ideal light conditions, I thought I'd shoot a distant but detailed subject and look at the pixel level - and beyond - is there an obvious winner in terms of the quality/memory trade-off?
Slipping into one of the recent updates has been support for full colour Glance backgrounds on Windows 10 Mobile and the Lumia 950 and 950 XL - photo proof below. There's a small caveat, in that the system only works with images that don't keep changing - so there's no way to put up Bing images or weather or Flickr or Facebook. But the effect, with well chosen Glance background photos, can be striking, so it's worth knowing how to set this up.
One oddity of Windows 10 Mobile and the transition from Windows Phone 8.1 is that the OS can get confused by some applications. There's probably an underlying pattern to the issue, but I haven't spotted it yet. But I do want to point out a way of fixing the problem of applications which fail to work, bringing up a blank screen with just a Windows 10 search box. You can easily spot the miscreants - they're denoted by blank icons in your main application list.
Looking at the form factor, weight and flexibility of the new flagship Lumia 950, I spare a thought below for the original 'budget flagship', the Lumia 830, matching the newcomer in more ways than you might think. OK, so it's horribly outgunned at the end of the day, but commonly just over £200 now, would you accept that it's a bone fide 950 'lite'? Certainly with the replaceable battery and expandable storage it's perhaps a good bet for having a workable Windows 10 Mobile system without breaking the bank?
With imaging being at the heart of many Lumia smartphones, it was important to sort out the mess that was the imaging workflow under Windows Phone 8.1. Rather than a brace of camera applications, we now have just one*, now 98% complete**, plus we have a unified Windows 10 Photos store, available on phone, tablet/hybrids/desktops/laptops, essentially wherever you're signed in to your Microsoft account. Add in OneDrive, to link them all together, and you should have photographic nirvana. Well, not quite. This is Microsoft, after all, and I've got a few questions...
I'm sure most of us have been through several hard resets over the years, not least when messing around with Insiders Preview builds, but we're now close enough to the firmware that will be shipping in the Lumia 950 and 950 XL that I thought I'd not only reset my Snapdragon 800-powered Lumia 930 (trying to get close to the 950 spec) but also set it up from scratch, mimicking the new user experience and documenting it as I went. How close are Microsoft to an OS that will work first time for the Lumia 950 newbie? Very close, with just a few loose ends to tie up.
The Lumia 1020 has held itself apart from the Windows 10 Mobile story and all the Insider builds, with writers like me saying 'Stay on 8.1'. The specialised camera hardware and Xenon flash, the 2GB of RAM allied with the older S4 processor, the iconic status and operation which no one wanted to ruin with a beta non-optimised OS. But recent developments and builds have let the 1020 back into this 2016 mobile OS and it works surprisingly well. It's no 950 in terms of performance, but the Lumia 1020's imaging hardware will still be unique through 2016, I predict.