Coming along for the ride with Windows Phone 8.1 (out now in 'preview' mode) is a whole new application from Microsoft - Podcasts. Yes, you've guessed it, yet another podcatching application, except that this time it's from the people who make the OS and it's pretty darned slick. Unfortunately, it's also pretty darned limited, so podcast fans shouldn't uninstall their favourite third party podcatcher just yet. Part review, part feature, here's my assessment of this application that's arriving very soon.
Recent Features - Software
Over the years, I've looked at countless games on Windows Phone. The majority of them are deleted shortly after the review is posted, but many of them stay a week or two longer. Some of them are still on the handset after a few months, and in some cases years. Which games have been able to stay on my handset through deletions, save-finding missions, and hard resets?
The latest in a series of 'how to' articles for Windows Phone beginners, a common task that many will want to do is send a family member or friend their location. Sounds simple for a smartphone, right? And it is, but it's worth noting the right way to do it rather than falling for one of the dozens of 'Here I am' style utilities in the Windows Phone Store.
As widely expected, Microsoft took the wraps off Cortana, its next generation 'Personal Assistant', delivered on both Windows Phone 8.1 and Bing online. If you've seen Apple's Siri and Google's Now then you'll already know what to expect, but it's fair to say that Microsoft's later entrance into this market has given it time to play, learn and adapt, and Cortana could be more effective than its competitors. Moreover, Microsoft's philosophy behind Cortana harkens back to terminology from the 1990s... which in my eyes is long overdue.
No, no, I'm not talking about the user multitasking between applications using the carousel - the fast app resume system seems to work pretty well these days, with just the odd application that doesn't play well (cough - Skype). By multitasking, I'm talking about the 'smart' bit of a smartphone, the intelligence that's supposed to power the live tiles and application automation and which falls a bit short under current versions of Windows Phone.
If you wanted to know what feeding frenzy the media would start next after Flappy Bird, then wait no longer. The mainstream press, on the lookout for the next breakout hit, have uncovered 2048. This arithmetical sliding tile game was developed by Italian Gabriele Cirulli online, and his release of the source code has given app developers the green light to build and release their own versions for many platforms, including Windows Phone. If you're ready to say goodbye to your weekend, here are five 2048 clients for your smartphone.
It's fair to say that voice control of Windows Phone has been somewhat underplayed by everyone over the last couple of years. Partly that's because it's been some way behind the state of the art in terms of Google Now and Apple's Siri, but that era is hopefully about to end when Cortana arrives in Windows Phone 8.1. But, with that still months away from our devices, it might be worth getting yourself into the habit of talking to your smartphone in the meantime. What exactly can you say/do on Windows Phone right now?
I can offer no explanation for why the official Flickr client for Windows Phone has been allowed to languish in an almost unusable state [I blame Yahoo, Flickr's owner]. I can however explain how to use the popular 2flicka client to both browse Groups and then upload your own photos to them. In other words, you can fully contribute content to Flickr groups from your smartphone.
The world as it was back in 2006 or so. Symbian ruled the still fledgling smartphone world with over 50% market share. Windows Mobile had itself a niche, and Blackberry was still growing into an accepted smartphone platform. And all three allowed third party applications to multitask, to do what they liked in the background. This, it seems was one of the core tenets of what made a smartphone ‘smart’. Yet today, iOS and Windows Phone present a different and - much as it pains me to admit it - a better model for the 99% of humanity that has no interest in learning about RAM, GHz and background task management.
Podcatchers aren't the only app genre on Windows Phone that has seen a lot of competition - sound recording utilities is another genre that's worth taking a slice across. What follows isn't necessarily (yet) definitive, but I've tried to pick all the most likely candidates - so start with these. Whether you want to record your band, your voice or your baby, there's something for you below.