A month or so ago I published a feature highlighting the very best third party apps running on Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile. Running to many hundred recommendations, this feature is hopefully a useful and bookmarkable resource, especially when used directly on the phone. But... what about all the applications that AREN'T available on the platform?
Recent Features - Software
On the recent AAWP podcast Rafe and I chatted about the 'app gap' in the context of Universal Windows Applications. With some high profile banks and other establishments mentioned, I realised that I didn't feel my life was that incomplete without them on my phone. Yet how much of this is because I'm not able to have them because of my platform choice? Are we, as Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile users, secretly rather jealous of the riches on Android and iOS?
For owners of relatively recent Windows Phone 8.1 devices, at least. I'm not pretending that vast quantities of Android or iOS users will suddenly want to use the platform (though that would be nice), and I do think that there's a case for some older Windows Phones to stay on 8.1 purely for performance reasons. But for everyone else, the over the air upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile is bringing significant advancements in sophistication and, despite regular gripes about bugs and quirks, having been using the very latest Insiders Builds ('63' is looking good) and application updates, I find it unthinkable to not upgrade a compatible phone...
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!
One of the casualties of the recent update to Windows 10 (Mobile) Camera was the removal of 'bracketing' and this seems to have caused something of a stir. On balance, I believe this is just Microsoft simplifiying a rather confusing aspect of Camera's user interface for the majority, but I do accept that die-hard photo purists may miss the function and I suggest an alternative below...
The arrival of [deep breath] Windows 10 Mobile 10586 Build 63 a couple of days ago prompted me to examine the potential upgrade process for a generic Windows Phone 8.1 device, in this case a Lumia 640, expected to be in the vanguard of phones getting the over-the-air upgrade later this month. After worries over a poor update experience on previous builds, it does seem that, as of build 63, most of this is behind Microsoft and that we're close to an OS that can indeed be shipped to existing Lumias. (Caveats over older S4-based devices notwithstanding.)
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?
When Microsoft explicitly stated that they were making new flagships for "Windows fans", they weren't kidding. With the current state of the Lumia 950 XL and 950 in terms of stability, you'd have to be a real fan, a genuine dyed-in-the-wool enthusiast with the patience of a saint to appreciate the new devices in terms of suitability for day to day use. Not for the first time, parallels to Google's Nexus line spring to mind - surely the Lumia 950 and 950 XL should have been pitched as 'developer devices' from day one? It would certainly have headed off much of the current criticism in the tech press.
The trouble with things taking longer than expected is that projects then run into immoveable feasts. Quite literally, in this case, with Windows 10 Mobile seeing a massive flurry of activity in November and early December, getting SO close to a stable build for the new 950 flagships... only to then run into Christmas. So, what state is the OS in and how important will be the time (and inertia) lost?