Recent Features

Lumia 435: Living with Windows 10 Mobile and a Snapdragon 200

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Having looked at Windows 10 Mobile build 10512 on the top spec Lumia 930 (2GB of RAM), on the 'budget flagship' Lumia 830 (with 1GB of RAM), and then on the genuinely budget Lumia 630 (with 512MB RAM), it's time to look at the new OS on something right at the bottom end - the Lumia 435, with only a Snapdragon 200 processor (the 630 and 830 have the Snapdragon 400 etc.) This smartphone had been precluded from previous Insider builds for resource reasons, but tihngs have now been slimmed down enough that the installation works fine. Common sense tells us that Windows 10 Mobile should be slower and less capable in this context - but, amazingly, the experience is almost as fast as on the rest of the Lumia range. See below for timing proof...

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Microsoft retrenched: from budget phones to 'premium flagships'

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In a recent Q&A (dug out by WC here) with Chris Capossela, the Chief Marketing Officer at Microsoft, some interesting quotes emerged to shed more light on Microsoft's revamped ambitions for Windows Phone, or rather Windows 10 Mobile from now on. Taken with Satya Nadella's own quote, I'm wondering, not for the first time, whether there will be any new budget or mid-tier Lumias from Microsoft in the future?

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Science and Medicine: the top 6 applications for Windows Phone

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AAWP reader and Lumia 1520 owner Raja Mass is also a PhD scholar doing research in the field of neuroscience. Compared to the other mobile OS, the application ecosystem here for Windows Phone (and Windows 10 Mobile) is relatively small and naïve, especially in science and medical related field. The main aim here is to highlight some of the applications which are very useful in research labs or clinics or general medical use.

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Pictured: Windows 10 Mobile's much-simplified imaging workflow

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With updates to Windows 10 Mobile's Photos and Lumia Creative Studio in the last week, with an update to Camera hotly expected for this week, and with Photos Add-ins appearing yesterday, it seems as if Microsoft's imaging strategy is coming together. But is it better than what came before it, back in the 'good old days' of Windows Phone 8.1? It's certainly much, much simpler - and I wanted to show this pictorially, so see the flow chart below. The mess and confusion from 8.1 was partly because it used some Microsoft apps and code, and some Nokia - with Windows 10 Mobile and Nokia no more (as is), everything's now under one roof, and it shows.

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Interacting further with our smartphones - 'long press' or 'Force Touch'?

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Last night in the USA, Apple unveiled its take on '3D Touch' (Force Touch) technology, the idea being to revolutionise the interface of our smartphones by adding something extra to 'touch'. In this case, pressing harder on the touchscreen to instigate a 'peek' inside some linked content and pressing even harder to then open ('pop') that content up on-screen. The tech is cool (considering that we're talking about glass!), and the UI concept sound, but I do worry that Apple has bypassed a more basic extension to touch - the long press (used in Windows Phone and even ye olde Symbian). And, as a result, may end up confusing as many people than they help, while also requiring that everyone buy new phones unnecessarily. Why am I mentioning all of this on AAWP? Because how we interact with our smartphones is very definitely of interest across the board. 

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Road tested: Still a way to go for Windows 10 Mobile Maps

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Having compiled a big FAQ for Windows 10 Maps (for mobile, I realise that the same application also serves the desktop and tablet) recently, with mainly positive remarks, I wanted to balance this with my observations based on a day of driving around in the South of England on Saturday with the latest build of the application. In short, plenty of promise, but also a long way to go (pun intended) before Maps is really ready for day to day navigation in end user hands.

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Time for Microsoft Store staff to stop playing lazy whack-a-mole and start paying attention

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Something of a storm breaks out on Twitter (etc.) every few weeks when someone notices that there's a new crop of 'clone'/'copy'/rip-off' applications in the Store, all trying to deceive casual users. We let the usual suspects know and, in time, at glacial pace, most of these get knocked on the head. But by then a new crop has appeared - a couple of blatant examples are shown below. Microsoft's Store staff, rather than simply publishing everything and waiting for people to complain about some infraction, need to actually look at what they're putting in the Store in the first place. If I can spot a ripped off app (usually a game) in seconds, then why can't Microsoft's staff, who are paid to do this for a living? 

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Cortana vs Siri vs Google Now vs Blackberry Assistant - fight!

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Each of the major smartphone platforms has its own voice assistant, but which is better for real world use? They're all getting smarter each year, of course, as their back-ends get upgraded, but as we move towards Autumn 2015 and new versions of the various platforms, I wanted to conduct an updated 'blind' test and get a data point or two. Or twenty. Reversing the result of a smaller sample of queries back in May, we now have an almost dead heat between Cortana and Google Now, with Siri not far behind. Things are hotting up in the voice assistant world!

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The quirky, powerful, two-way units converter that you didn't know you had...

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Yet another example of Windows 10 Mobile being rather more 'grown up' than Windows Phone 8.1, did you know that 'Calculator' on Windows 10 Mobile (most of you have probably joined the Insiders Programme by now, let's face it) is something of a powerhouse, not only providing three different calculators but also a veritable host of unit conversion functions. Heck, that's another few third party applications that you won't need to look out now...

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Lumia 630: Living with Windows 10 Mobile and only 512MB of RAM

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Having looked at Windows 10 Mobile build 10512 on the top spec Lumia 930 (2GB of RAM) and on the 'budget flagship' Lumia 830 (with 1GB of RAM), it's time to look at the new OS on something even lower spec - the two year old Lumia 630, with only 512MB RAM. Common sense tells us that Windows 10 Mobile should be more limited in this context - and it is in terms of big name games - but surprisingly the overall smartphone experience is very decent indeed and indistinguishable from the Lumia 830's, thanks to the lower screen resolution (WVGA).

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