We're in an odd period for Windows on phones. Microsoft bought Nokia, made a couple of cracking releases and then stopped selling them, despite demand from enthusiasts. Meanwhile other licensees have come and gone, with the Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro here the currently sold 'flagship'. And I've been living (again) with the IDOL 4 Pro 24/7 for a couple of weeks with my main SIM - so how is it set-up? These articles are always popular, so here's my current Start Screen Set-up, as at December 2017.
Recent Features - Software
Following my musings on a dark reading mode in Edge on Android, I suspect the title here would be a FAQ if indeed enough people knew it was possible in order to ask how to enable it! After writing a few million words on AAWP over the last five years even I didn't know about (or remember) this feature, so I thought a 'how to' tutorial was in order.
Utterly subjective, of course. We're all different, but hopefully this top 12 will give you a starting point if you're too pushed for time to browse through AAWP's comprehensive directories of general applications and camera/media apps. Admittedly, those lists include software for both Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 Mobile, while the list below is UWP all the way, i.e. dedicated applications for Windows 10 (across all form factors).
With another update for mid-November 2017, here's our directory of the very best of the Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile world, now split into two for logistics reasons. On this page are general, news, productivity, travel, time, and more. See this page for anything related to imaging or consuming media of any kind.
For logistics reasons, we've split our applications directory for Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile into two, with a natural spin-off section being anything to do with imaging, camera, media and music/voice. This is the mid-November 2017 update. The original applications directory excludes these categories.
Forgive something of an observational rant, but with three decades in the computing world, I think it's valid to point out something that most commentators overlook. You see, an iPhone, Android or Windows Phone looks more or less complete in terms of its user interface and operating system - why should it be considered only a couple of steps away from disaster? Yet I contend that a modern OS is now so complicated that only genuine TLC can keep it on the rails. And that's not always forthcoming, especially in the world of Windows 10 Mobile, but also on some Android marques.
I collaborate with guest writer Noel from New Zealand to bring a healthy-ish data point on a classic phone and OS - amazingly, he's still living with Windows Phone 8.1 on his Lumia 1020. He goes into detail below, plus there are some comments from me too in answer to his concerns over updates and security.
Now here's a feature that requires a delicate preface if ever there was one. The whole point of AAWP was to write about Windows on phones, and I'm still fully believing in the idea of one OS on all form factors. Yet what if we change 'Windows' to 'Microsoft'? Given the company's lack of comittment in building their own phone hardware, Windows 10 Mobile is withering on the vine and so alternatives for people invested in the Microsoft ecosystem would seem a good bet for research. Now, guess what I've been doing for the last week?(!)
We hear a lot about Windows Phone and then Windows 10 Mobile having 'an app gap', but this glib phrase, often tied into the apparent failure of the OS commercially, doesn't really tell the whole story. With examples below, I explore when it does and - interestingly - when it doesn't apply...
The very idea seems ridiculous to the world at large in late 2017. Who on earth would buy or hang onto a smartphone running Windows anymore? Yet, despite obvious market share metrics in a world where iOS and Android dominate new phone sales, there are still major USPs that appeal to me - and which I document below in video form...