It's some what ironic to see the gradual creep in size across the smartphone world, edging up to that of the original Lumia 1520 and 1320, 'phablets', announced in 2013. But, crucially, with one or two niche exceptions, nothing's got close to that 6" screen size. And for good reason, perhaps explaining why the 1520 and 1320 never really achieved significant success.
The Windows 8/10 Store is filling up nicely with third party applications and games - go have a look on your nearest laptop or desktop and you'll see what I mean. The usual suspects are there, from Facebook to Twitter to Amazon to Netflix. And on the gaming side, there's Minion Rush, Modern Combat 5, Crossy Road, and so on. Everything seems rosy, yet I've been talking to everyday users and I'm starting to have my doubts about how much this ecosystem will be used. And if it falls short of expectations, then it will may take the future of Windows Phone (Windows 10 Mobile) with it...
It has been a month since my last 'living with Windows 10 Mobile' feature - and since then we've seen a new build (10166) and are on the verge of another by by reckoning, plus there have been numerous core application updates via the Store. And with Windows 10 for the desktop now shipping to the great unwashed across the world, it's time for another snapshot of how the Mobile version is faring - I've been living with it for the last 48 hours and here's what's currently working and not working.
After a few questions on social media, I wanted to clear up a few misconceptions about Microsoft's Continuum feature for phones, announced at BUILD a few months ago. The idea was that 'new premium phones' plug into HDMI-capable screens, hook up to Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, to run their applications at full desktop resolution. And, most importantly, none of the existing Windows Phone hardware will be compatible with Continuum, but there are good technical reasons for this.
One of the cornerstones of Windows Phone for years was the Nokia/HERE Maps and Drive applications inherited from Nokia's Symbian days. And with Windows 10, all of this is changing, though perhaps not to quite the same degree as you might think. You won't see the HERE brand in Windows 10, but see below for some common questions and answers about Windows Maps.
It's all very well having world-leading HERE Maps data covering every street in the known universe (well, almost), but what about when you abandon your car and start hiking, cycling or even geocaching, out in the country? For this, you need extra software and data help. Viewranger, on other platforms, is very well known, but it's not available on Windows Phone - begging the question, what to use instead? In this updated feature, I run through over half a dozen very viable alternatives.
Look in the Windows Phone Store for BBC iPlayer (at least, if you're in the UK, anyone else need not apply!) and you'll see a client for this incredibly popular streaming and catch-up TV service from the UK's national broadcasting operation. Look a little closer and you'll see huge numbers of negative reviews, talking about laggy performance, constant buffering and break-up. How can an application be this bad? Well, in fact it's not. But it's also demonstrably in need of attention by the BBC, should anyone from the media division be listening to AAWP. You see, it only works fine on a specific portion of the Windows Phone hardware range.
There's something of a blanket assumption that everyone currently using Windows Phone 8.1 will upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile - after all, Microsoft has been promising that 'majority' of users will join the Window 10 ecosystem. But, after a few recent experiences of mine with budget devices, I thought it worth sounding a note of caution and reality - I'd put money on the actual conversion numbers to Windows 10 Mobile being significantly less than 50% and maybe as low as 15%...
Having decided a year or two ago that we can talk about unreleased products on AAWP, provided that there's enough evidence to support them, and with a wave of confirmations about an imminent Lumia 950 and 950 XL (note the next-gen renaming, signifying a generational jump from the current x40 devices), along with most of the specifications, it's time to look at what the new devices will bring to the table, over and above the existing Lumia 930 (the '2014 flagship', if you will) - which itself will get Windows 10 Mobile within a couple of months.
One subject that we've never covered here on AAWP is the 'quiet hours' feature that debuted with Windows Phone 8.1 - something I realised when sitting in a car park after midnight waiting for my daughter's train to arrive and not realising that she'd been trying to call me for 15 minutes but my Lumia had muted her because it was past 00:00 and so 'quiet hours' was in place (to help me sleep!) Determined to fix things, I did so - and noted in the process that, on the new Windows 10 Mobile, the 'quiet hours' settings are slightly hidden. Making a beginners tutorial all the more appropriate.