Recent Features

How to: issue and manage Microsoft Health challenges on Windows 10 Mobile

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An update last week to Microsoft Health brought in a new (and long overdue) feature - the ability to take part in multi-person challenges with your friends. Competing to see who can do (for example) the most steps over a given period has long been part of the Fitbit world and now you can do the same with Microsoft Health. Here's how it works under Windows 10 Mobile.

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Windows Phone and Windows 10 applications constantly updated - it's a big deal

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One of the almost unique features of Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile is that their Store applications are set up, by default, to automatically download and install updates (just as on the desktop). So, in daily use, apps will just 'magically' appear to gain functions and bug fixes, with no intervention. In contrast, iOS and Android default to notifying users of waiting updates when the relevant store application is run, relying on the user tapping to acknowledge and agree to update everything. Which approach is best? I contend the former, by a country mile.

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Adding (artificial) HDR punch to your photos

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HDR is somewhat contentious in the world of imaging. Anyone who's seen HDR images can tell in an instant that they don't claim to show the world as it really looked, but rather as it could be emphasised, bringing out all colours and all detail to maximum effect. The results can be dramatic, see some of the examples below. Now, the Rich Capture system on many phone cameras in the Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile world means that you can do a limited amount of HDR imaging, but what happens when you can't achieve as dramatic a result as you want to at capture time? i.e. Can clever software work wonders with your raw material?

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The Lumia 950/XL are *not* Quick Charge 2.0 compatible - but it doesn't matter!

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One of the tropes around the Lumia 950 and 950 XL launch was that they would be Quick Charge 2.0-compatible, we even quoted this ourselves a number of times in the run-up to the device launches. Yet, and with thanks to Martin Jeppesen for lots of extra research and comment here, it seems that the two flagships are not QC 2.0 compatible - rather they implement 'standard' USB Type C 'fast charging'. Some details and thoughts below.

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Lumia 640 (950 'lite) part 2: pitching the cameras head to head

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It seems as though lots of people enjoyed Alvin's viewpoint that the incredibly cheap Lumia 640 now makes a rather excellent little 'lite' version of the flagship 950 - although not mentioned by Alvin in depth, one of the core differences in terms of performance should be the capabilities of the cameras in each unit, and I couldn't resist pitching these two head to head in a real world shootout(!)

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Revisiting the Lumia 640: the ultimate Lumia 950 'lite'?

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There’s a ton of good things to be said about Microsoft’s mainstream budget device of last year and my current Windows Phone device of choice, the Lumia 640. But to my mind, what makes it most compelling is how much of the Lumia 950 experience you're getting for a tiny fraction of the cost.

# Posted by Alvin in Features || Comments

Of versions and branches - the evolving story of Windows Phone and Windows 10

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In story after story, in comment after comment, on site after site, there seems confusion as to the various versions and branches available for Windows Phone, Windows 10 Mobile and beyond, especially in terms of which devices can get be upgraded to which platform levels. Always of the belief that a really good diagram is worth a thousand words, I've laid it all out, for 'Lumia' devices, at least. If nothing else, bookmark this URL to get back to the diagram in future to clear up any misunderstandings with friends or colleagues.

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Smartphone design strategies: waterproofing, simplicity, repairability, upgradability

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It's tempting to blame the iPhone yet again for the modern trend towards 'sealed' phones, with no user-repairable parts, but that wouldn't be fair. Going right back to the start of the smartphone age (20 years!), there have always been some designs which are easy 'to get into' and some which most definitely... aren't. Here, with examples, are some of the pros and cons that the designer of a new smartphone has to take into account...

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Windows 10 Mobile: Hard to fall in love with yet!

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I really, really wanted to fall in love with Windows 10 Mobile. But it’s just not happening yet. Windows 10 Mobile has been a long time coming. Never mind the regressive name change bringing to mind the hoary days of Windows Mobile 6 and bloated bricks made by HTC; this is arguably the operating system that Microsoft has dreamed of all this time. A unified platform across all possible form factors playing host to a singular repository of feature-rich, beautiful applications that magically scale across different screen sizes and different processor architectures. 

# Posted by Alvin in Features || Comments

'LumiaPhoneTest' and proving your Lumia's hardware is fully working!

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It's not often that I come across a utility that I really should have known about already - in this case it's Microsoft's own 'LumiaPhoneTest', and dates from "2013-14", implying that it's not under current development anymore. Still, it seems to work fine and gives you low level access to hardware tests that would otherwise require a trip to a repair centre of some kind. In this case, I was verifying that my Lumia 930's four microphones all worked...

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