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 as we move towards Autumn 2015 and new versions of the various platforms, I wanted to conduct an updated 'blind' test and get a data point or two. Or twenty. Reversing the result of a smaller sample of queries back in May, we now have an almost dead heat between Cortana and Google Now, with Siri not far behind. Things are hotting up in the voice assistant world!
Recent Features - How To
Yet another example of Windows 10 Mobile being rather more 'grown up' than Windows Phone 8.1, did you know that 'Calculator' on Windows 10 Mobile (most of you have probably joined the Insiders Programme by now, let's face it) is something of a powerhouse, not only providing three different calculators but also a veritable host of unit conversion functions. Heck, that's another few third party applications that you won't need to look out now...
Contact stores have always been a bit messy, as anyone else whose digital address book has been through numerous imports and transitions over the last decade will tell you. Add in multiple people lists, from each online service, and the only viable way to keep track of all of this information in a central place is your smartphone. Here are some pointers for keeping things simple on Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile...
There are three kinds of Windows Phone owner. The hard-core enthusiasts who will have been putting on every Insiders build of Windows 10 Mobile and they know all the tricks of the trade. Normal users who just want a phone that works and who will wait, blissfully ignorant of anything new on the horizon, until they're promoted with an official notice. And everyone in the middle, who quite fancies installing Windows 10 Mobile to see what all the fuss is about and to skip a probable four month wait for the finished article, but is scared stiff of what's involved. This article is for the third group and is intended to be the definitive guide!
There's a sweet spot for everything, whether it's the quantity of beer you buy in one go (e.g. a 'pint'), the number of children your family has (2, in the West, allegedly!) or, indeed, the number of megapixels in your captured photos. There will always be exceptions and regional variations, but taking the megapixel example in the context of camera phones, the tech world is now moving into uncharted areas of what I've often called the 'megapixel myth'. From this point onwards, it's mainly pain and little gain, I contend, unless manufacturers start to do cleverer things with all those pixels, in the manner of PureView classics like the 808 and 1020...
One of the cornerstones of Windows Phone for years was the Nokia/HERE Maps and Drive applications inherited from Nokia's Symbian days. And with Windows 10, all of this is changing, though perhaps not to quite the same degree as you might think. You won't see the HERE brand in Windows 10, but see below for some common questions and answers about Windows Maps.
One subject that we've never covered here on AAWP is the 'quiet hours' feature that debuted with Windows Phone 8.1 - something I realised when sitting in a car park after midnight waiting for my daughter's train to arrive and not realising that she'd been trying to call me for 15 minutes but my Lumia had muted her because it was past 00:00 and so 'quiet hours' was in place (to help me sleep!) Determined to fix things, I did so - and noted in the process that, on the new Windows 10 Mobile, the 'quiet hours' settings are slightly hidden. Making a beginners tutorial all the more appropriate.
It's an aspect of Windows Phone that has never been fully clear, and not helped by the fact that behaviour seems to change slightly with each new OS release, hopefully in a positive direction, with the goal being that you can drop and smash your smartphone (by accident!) and simply buy a replacement, sign in to your Microsoft account and have everything restored automatically without you having to lift a finger in terms of seeking out applications, settings and passwords. Although not approaching iPhone-levels of perfection, Windows Phone has been getting much better, but the question remains: how much actually is being backed up on your phone - wouldn't it be nice to have a statistic that you could look at? Turns out that there is!
Now, this isn't that common, but it happened to me - my OneDrive client, even on my recently reset Lumia 930, started playing up on Windows Phone 8.1. Essentially it had stopped showing any photos after a certain date, even after restarting the phone, trying to sync by adding new images, and so on. It was well and truly stuck. Happily, I also subsequently hit upon the solution, of which you might like to make a mental note.