As the resolution and quality of cameras in smartphones has risen dramatically in the last five years, it's easy to forget that these devices aren't just for snapping people and things around us right now. With the technology now included - here demoed on the especially capable Nokia Lumia 1020, but this also applies to any other decent camera phone, of course - it's perfectly practical to archive and transfer printed images from older times. In this feature, I explain a use case that made a lot of sense to me and I pass on a few tips.
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It's fair to say that voice control of Windows Phone has been somewhat underplayed by everyone over the last couple of years. Partly that's because it's been some way behind the state of the art in terms of Google Now and Apple's Siri, but that era is hopefully about to end when Cortana arrives in Windows Phone 8.1. But, with that still months away from our devices, it might be worth getting yourself into the habit of talking to your smartphone in the meantime. What exactly can you say/do on Windows Phone right now?
It's all very well seeing phone manufacturer after phone manufacturer adding faster image processors and (ever so) slightly larger sensors in their smartphone cameras. It's all very well them proclaiming in their marketing "the best phone camera ever". And, in extreme cases, even adding two lenses and two sensors. But, ultimately, physics wins. It always wins. Never mind the tiny sensors used in even the likes of the brand new Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2, use a large sensor like that in the Nokia Lumia 1020 and photos are immediately better, especially when allied to Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) and (when needed) also to a proper Xenon flash.
Due to the large sensors, wide angle optics and relatively long focal lengths, Nokia's 808 PureView and Lumia 1020 haven't traditionally been thought of as great for 'macro' photography, i.e. this is seen one of the only weaknesses of these two 'PureView' cameras. However, it's worth noting one top tip for achieving great results anyway - and, thanks to our friend Olivier Noirhomme, we have some stunning examples of the technique in action, as proof!
In all my time with Windows Phone, I've rarely found bugs that caused me to want to throw me phone against the nearest wall in frustration. Things that couldn't be done, full stop, yes. But not bugs that caused functionality to come and go. Below, confirmed by others and acknowledged by Nokia, is a short story of one such bug that is crippling to the user experience in day to day life.
I can offer no explanation for why the official Flickr client for Windows Phone has been allowed to languish in an almost unusable state [I blame Yahoo, Flickr's owner]. I can however explain how to use the popular 2flicka client to both browse Groups and then upload your own photos to them. In other words, you can fully contribute content to Flickr groups from your smartphone.
Navigating your Camera Roll (in the Photos hub) is simple, surely? You just flick up and down until you see the thumbnail(s) you want. Ah, but what about when, like me, your Windows Phone is the best part of a year old and you have well over a thousand photos (and videos) stored in the system? That's a lot of 'flicking' backwards and forwards. Surely there has to be a better way? There is, and it's built-in.
It's easy to forget how much functionality is built into the operating system in our smartphones - a prime example, demonstrated here, is scanning and applying OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to a page of text. No extra apps or expertise needed.
Windows Phone's virtual keyboard, with auto correct as you type, is pretty good, it even 'learns' new words that you use a lot, but you may be wondering how you can add your own custom words to the built-in dictionary in one fell swoop. I demonstrate how in the text below.
Windows Phone 8's Internet Explorer generally does a very good job of rendering web pages, but, unlike most desktop browsers, it is not very extensible, with no way to install add-ons. One partial solution to this limitation is to use bookmarklets to add basic navigation shortcuts (forward, top of the page) and simple tools (translate page) via Internet Explorer's favourites (bookmarks) feature.