Recent Features - How To

Testing modern image processing: Apple vs Google (feat. Lumia 1020)

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Here, I'm not going near indvidual image pixels - the aim here is to look at the smarts in the multi-frame image processing from both Apple and Google (iOS and 'pure' Android) in terms of them helping out to render tricky scenes and lighting. After all, the vast majority of regular people's photos are only ever seen at 'screen' resolution, so let's look at photos as-is and not get too hung up on pixel level purity. Just this once, eh? As a benchmark for vanilla photos without any smarts or modern processing, I'm also throwing in some (by necessity) single exposure Lumia 1020 shots taken at the same time.

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Status report for September 2021: services and apps on Windows 10 Mobile

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Here, for September 2021, a month after the previous update, is the refreshed/latest news and comment on applications and services on Windows 10 Mobile - the OS itself has now had its very last security update, but it still works on the whole. This feature will summarise what's broken and what's not, along with workarounds where possible. Details and links have all been updated throughout. Note that I've kept the URL the same, so the last year of comments are all still here.

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Video capture, the hard, hard 'Pro' way

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There's a video capture question I have for you to answer, and it's this. Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do you? With apologies to Dirty Harry, it does seem as though there are two approaches to video capture on phones and it's not something we've ever covered before. Do you let the hardware and software work their auto-magic or do you take charge of everything, as if your smartphone was an old fashioned video camera or DSLR? The two approaches are completely opposite but are worth exploring, in terms of pros and cons.

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Should you take 'zoom' a lens at a time?

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It's potentially a technological hot potato, yet 99% of the world has come down on one side of the argument and Sony on the other. And it's not something we've ever covered in any detail. Essentially, what should go through your mind when using zoom (or ultra-wide) in a smartphone camera? Specifically, should you think in terms of using a particular lens for a particular shot or should you 'wing it' and fiddle with the interface until framing is perfect? Here I demonstrate that the latter approach is fraught with image quality problems.

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DeX, your mobile Android (Continuum) desktop, benchmarked

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Just as I was enthusiastic about Windows 10 Mobile's Continuum back in 2015/2016, I'm enthusiastic about Samsung's DeX to this day - it keeps getting updates and more functional, month on month. But how does it fare in daily use, as at July 2021? Admittedly there's the continuing bottleneck of the hardware component (I'm fortunate enough to own a rarity, below!), but how does the software fare when faced with a typical 'laptop'-like workload today?

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How to Upgrade to WP8.1 update 2 (GDR2)

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Guest writer Nico brings us another guide, this time to help bring Lumias on Windows Phone 8.1 up to '8.1 Update 2', otherwise known as 'GDR2'. Geeky? Yes. But terribly interesting for any AAWP reader trying to make 'ye olde' 8.1 work in 2021, despite the challenges.

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Weather apps for Windows 10 Mobile (that still work!)

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Weather apps are a smartphone staple and there's usually even one built-into every mobile OS. Including 'ye olde' Windows 10 Mobile, but with some extreme weather over the last few days in the UK I took a look at the weather reporting and forecasting UWP applications (for Windows 10) that still worked on Lumias. Some titles have moved on and require higher builds of the OS, so are Desktop only, while others seem to have lost contact with their data sources. Leaving the selection below, still more than enough for most people's needs?

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Why 'solar power banks' can never work. Avoid, avoid!

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The idea is a great one - combine the functions of solar panels and power bank in the one gadget, to have a single, self sufficient gadget that will just go on and on. Maths and physics unfortunately get in the way, and it’s worth exploring why. So don’t get tempted when you see these on Amazon or AliExpress - they will disappoint.

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Choosing between Android and iOS for the future...

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So we've moved on from Symbian, Blackberry OS 10, Windows Phone (in various iterations), not to mention Palm OS even further back. But which modern smartphone OS should you settle on, i.e. what are the pros and cons of each? I'm purely thinking about the two giants here: Google's Android (including Google Mobile Services) and Apple's iOS, both of which are in the middle of a major new version reworking. Note that this isn't an attempt to chat about niche OSes that almost no one uses, and that includes the China-only Harmony OS, based on Android Open Source Project, or indeed other Android forks and implementations. Maybe that's a feature for another day...

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10 tips to take better photos with your 2021 phone's cameras

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Please excuse the click-bait title, but the article's content is very real. I've tried to condense down my advice to friends and family in readable form. When I try and educate these people verbally I get loads of eye rolling and mockery, but deep down I know that their photos could and should be better. So, in case it proves useful to you - or to your contacts - here are my top 10 tips for improving your smartphone camera results.

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