Recent Features - Software

Everything you need is now... built-in. On Windows Phone

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It all started when I was browsing through lists of 'new' applications in the AAWP app store - there was so much rubbish, so much duplication of what we already have programmed by Microsoft and built-in on our Lumia Cyan/WP 8.1 smartphones - and then it hit me that a good number of users may not know about everything that's available for free from the OS maker? Microsoft's 'Bing' suite of applications (and yes, the name's thankfully getting deprecated these days), for example, are now remarkably good, yet some still have to be installed by the user....

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How to: Check for Store app updates NOW in Windows Phone 8.1

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One of the perennial frustrations for enthusiasts using Windows Phone is that there may well be a critical application update available for your phone, something you've been waiting for, yet it can take up to 24 hours before your phone actually tells you the update exists. Perhaps you've read about a big update on AAWP and are sitting there drumming your fingers on the desktop, waiting for it to hit your device? With Windows Phone 8.1, at least, you can check for updates NOW...

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Does using a different Windows Phone camera application affect photo quality?

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One of the interesting features of the Windows Phone world is the variety of applications that use the smartphone's camera. Often for gimmicky effect, but sometimes going for maximum quality and a possible direct replacement for Nokia Camera, the application that comes on each Lumia, as tested here. But do you sacrifice image quality by using another application? Using a controlled low light test, I decided to investigate!

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How to: implement 'Windows Phone Now', the 2014 edition

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You may remember, exactly a year ago, I looked at ways to create something of a contextual 'Google Now' experience using the Windows Phone 8 Start screen? Although not really adding much new ground for 2014 (and with Cortana not having hit the UK yet), I thought it would be appropriate to revisit the concept, at least, on Windows Phone 8.1, with more live tiles per screen? See below for my set-up, and comments welcome if you can improve it!

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'There's a Favourite for that!' (2014 edition!)

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The relationship between services and mobile devices has been through a few changes over the years, of course. The first iPhones didn't even support third party applications, while Windows Phone is widely perceived to have an 'app gap', despite there being hundreds of thousands of titles in its official Store. In both cases, it's the Web that picks up the slack, for those 'niche' services that may not (yet) have an official offering in the Store.

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Smartphone nirvana doesn't mean no effort is needed!

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I suspect I'm going to have people comparing me with the pot calling the kettle black here, considering the number of smartphones I get through, but more and more I'm realising that a lot of what's really smart about a smartphone is you - and your own set-up and preferences. In other words, chasing the very latest models and swapping devices every few months is - no doubt - fun, but it's expensive and at the end of the day I bet you set up your home/Start screens almost identically to those of your one or two year old devices - I know I do.

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The ultimate battery saving guide for Windows Phone 8.1

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A big issue for many people (now hopefully solved, in the DP update for 8.1) has been battery life with Windows Phone 8.1. Even with the latest update though, there are still things you can tweak to make sure that you end a heavy day without having to desperately seek out a power point. Herein is my 'Top 10 Tips' guide to improve your battery life as much as possible under Windows Phone 8.1.

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Goodbye, beloved Symbian... Hello, Windows Phone!

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1998 was the year. I got myself a second-hand Psion 5, running the grand daddy of mobile OS - EPOC, that evolved into Symbian. Yeah, the OS that we all love and hate in almost equal proportion. For the last 5 years, I have been exclusively on Symbian - Nokia 6120 Classic, E63, E72, N8 and finally, 808 PureView. Yet, mid 2014, it's time for a major change.

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Changes to Windows Phone's ('Best') photo auto-upload system going forwards

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If you, like us, have been using a Nokia PureView oversampling device like the Lumia 1020 or 1520 with the Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview then you'll have noted something rather odd. The photos backed up to OneDrive automatically are the full 34/16MP versions (at 16:9) rather than the 5MP oversampled versions previously sent up the virtual wires under Windows Phone 8.0. As it turns out, after talking to the people involved, Nokia (and Microsoft) are changing what's supposed to happen, as explained below.

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A plea for less complicated games...

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If you've been reading enough reviews on this site then you'll have got the picture of a modern, 2014 smartphone game by now. It's a free download, of course, and big (of course - watch out anyone on lower RAM devices). There are coins and fuel cans to collect, there are gold stars to earn and there are powerups, bonuses and medals available. You can customise everything cosmetically, and... never mind any freemium worries, you need a degree in game micro-management in order to get anywhere. Does anyone else yearn for games which don't require the player to keep track of so many ancillary numbers?

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