Recent Features - Software

Now that Microsoft's apps and services are cross-platform, why choose Windows Phone?

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The question came in Just before our last Insight podcast, and a very pertinent one it was too. Given all the cross platform releases by Microsoft and Nokia's HERE, surely many of the unique selling points of Windows Phone have now been removed - why would anyone now buy a Lumia, for example, rather than an Android or iOS smartphone for the same money? Great question, and it deserves a great answer... Here are 10 reasons why you might still want to go down the Windows Phone route.

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How to save battery, increase responsiveness, by disabling unnecessary background tasks

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In installing a popular Windows Phone application, I was brought to a crashing halt by a worrying error message. Happily, the message was clear enough about what to do and, as it turns out, quite a few of my third party applications had quietly been installed with 'background' capability. Disabling these permissions could result in increased battery life and phone responsiveness.

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The PDF (Acrobat) Reader round-up for Windows Phone

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Something that we all need sooner or later, on any computing platform, is a way of reading through Acrobat (PDF) files. To my knowledge, no mobile OS has ever supplied this by default, though many manufacturers often opt to include a viewer in shipping firmware. For Windows Phone, we're actually spoiled for choice, so I thought I'd round-up your options and proffer some opinions.

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How to: Avoid burned highlights in (Nokia) Lumia Camera

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There is one aspect of Nokia Camera (soon to be just 'Lumia Camera', of course) which has been catching me out, despite all my smartphone camera experience. I know what I'm doing wrong, I just never remember to correct it when taking photos in the heat of the moment. Most users will know what I'm talking about when I refer to 'burned highlights'. Here's how to avoid them.

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Where are the 1080p games?

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One of the most appealing aspects of Android smartphones of the last couple of years is that everything at the top end has been 1080p resolution (or above), meaning that there are a large number of games that really impress with graphical detail. It's partly why my main SIM often lives in a (somewhat hacked) Galaxy S4. With the Lumia 1520, then Icon and 930 all sporting 1080p displays, it's clear that Windows Phone has well and truly arrived in the high-def world, yet there are almost no leisure titles to use the capability. 

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Skype, the biggest villain on 2012/2013 Windows Phones

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One of the biggest bug-bears on Windows Phone in recent times, for me, has been the performance of Skype, especially in light of the emphasis on the application in hardware launches, e.g. for the Lumia 730/735 here. The issue is that, when returning to Skype on anything but the newer 2014 Windows Phones, even if we only just let the screen timeout and unlock it again, or even if we use the multitasking carousel, we still see completely unnecessary 'resuming....' dots, as shown in the video below.

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Loading... Resuming... Splash! But it's hopefully going to get better very fast

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Yes, 8.1 and Cyan are a big leap forwards for this platform, but it has to be said that there's one aspect of Windows Phone that continues to annoy and frustrate just about everyone. The title probably gives the game away - having your user experience ruined by continual loading and resuming messages, interspersed by animated dots.... Happily, things are about to get a lot better, real fast, as I explain below.

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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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