We haven't mentioned the Lumia Windows on ARM (WOA) project for a long time, but that doesn't mean progress isn't being made. The idea, you may recall, is to hack Windows 10 on ARM (which exists for 'Desktop') onto a Lumia 950 XL (or 950), which has a modestly powerful ARM processor and should be up to basic tasks. No, this will never be useful day to day, but it's very definitely a cool and geeky project. The latest news/photo proof is of HDMI out (and thus Continuum of sorts) working, but we're using this opportunity to bring you bang up to date with the project.
Recent Features - Software
Here, for November 2020, 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 seven months of comments are all still here.
What happens to a media-specialising smartphone when its OS runs out of steam? I explore this in 'pimping' the 2017 IDOL 4 Pro, one of my favourite devices, into limited but effective action in late 2020. A super screen, premium build, superb wired audio, and loud stereo speakers all impress. Who cares about the rest of the world? (I've left the original early 2019 comments in place, for interest!)
Two months on from the previous update, here is the Autumn 2020 update (two additions, three apps removed, several links tweaked) to the AAWP directory of curated UWP applications, those with native Windows 10 UI and which support different orientations, Continuum and even use on laptop or tablet. Do please get involved in the comments to let me know of anything which has stopped working.
In the fourth 'gentle hacker' guest post from Nico, from Italy, he switches away from flagships and looks at older and lower end Lumias which struggle with the latest Windows 10 Mobile builds - WP8.1 is no longer practical, but what about a halfway house? What about sticking with 'Threshold', the very first W10M build from the end of 2015? It turns out that there's a sweet spot here where more apps and services work for these less capable devices. But as usual, put on your geek hat for best results!
Drawing on guest contributor Nico's experience, here's our guide to where each Windows Phone (8.1) and Windows 10 Mobile smartphone should end up. No, not Microsoft's official 'end of support' branch for each, but where an enterprising geek like yourself might take them with the aid of the usual interop tools and phone ID spoofing.
Windows 10's maps have always been pretty good, part sourced from HERE and partly from other places and their own research. You've been using them in the Maps UWP application in your Lumia or similar for years. Which is why I was fascinated by the video embedded below, with Microsoft's new (and much-acclaimed) Flight Simulator 2020 using Bing Maps and aerial imagery directly, applying elevation data and detailed 3D models to present a super-realistic world to fly in.
Never mind Huawei's infrastructure woes, the company's handsets will carry on being made and supported, though not with Google Mobile Services. Which is a huge disadvantage for most people in the Android world, but I still maintain that the app and services situation is 99% fine for someone coming from a Lumia and dependent on Microsoft services and apps. I've previously showcased the P40 Pro with everything installed and accessible from the default Huawei launcher, but I've now discovered that it's trivial to get the official Microsoft Launcher for Android installed and working. Giving even more of a Microsoft flavour to this imaging-centric Chinese phone for Western markets.
The arrival of genuine homescreen 'widgets' in iOS (see the screenshots below) has prompted more thought about the concept and about which mobile OS has mastered them, if any. Symbian and Android both had home screen widgets in 2009, while Windows Phone reimagined the idea completely for its 'live tiles' in 2010. And, a decade later, the iPhone joins the widgets party. But have any of these mobile OS really delivered? I say no. Or at least, not yet, with iOS 14's new implementation looking promising for the future.
Spotify is the most successful music streaming service in the world - but that doesn't mean that its attitude and its lawyers don't suck. They've gone after third party Spotify clients for years and Strix Music (née Spotimo) UWP is just the latest victim. Meaning that Strix Music for Windows 10 Mobile can't be published in the Microsoft Store, sadly. But don't give up - the application is available for side-loading onto your Lumia (or similar) and, with a few beta caveats, works just fine. Here's how to install Strix Music and set it up.