Build 10136 of Windows 10 Mobile, announced here, is significant because it marks the point in the latest evolution of Windows Phone where the next-gen builds are good enough for serious testing. I hesitate to say 'good enough for day to day use' because, like all early OS builds, battery life is questionable. But it's certainly good enough to load on all your applications and data (on a sacrificial device) and to, metaphorically, kick the tyres. Which is what I've been doing for the last 48 hours. Here's my report, caveats, warts and all. [Updated 23rd June with extra screens and amendments.]
It's chess all the way, perhaps the archetypal game on any computer platform - or in this case on the computer in your pocket - your smartphone. With a multitude of chess options on Windows Phone, I've picked out the best - and, because we don't do things by halves here, then pitted the two best against each other, to find a champion. Note that this is all playing against your phone - I'll cover playing online against other humans ('by post') in a future feature.
While it's true that we're all different and have slightly different needs when it comes to what lives on our smartphones, there are some common strands and requirements. Each of which has been growing over the last few years, begging the question of how large internal storage needs to be in today's (and tomorrow's) Windows Phones? The answer, as you can imagine, is especially relevant to those designed with no microSD expansion.
Now, I've saved this for a Friday because it's a little bit controversial. As in 'voiding-your-warranty' naughty. Mind you, if the problem described here occurred while under warranty you'd presumably avail yourself of a Care Point of some kind, so my caution is perhaps moot. The issue is that, on some Lumia 930s, the Qi charging is erratic. Typically it starts OK and then stops after a few minutes. Here's how to fix it.
The announcement that Facebook's changing APIs were causing an issue for older versions of Windows Phone seems to have caused unnecessary alarm. All of this is, quite simply, a non-issue for almost everyone reading this article. All that's happened is that the way Facebook is 'Connected' to your Windows Phone has changed. If anything, the new way of doing things is more reliable and logical. And here's proof in the form of a full walk-through on a newly set-up phone.
In this specific group test. I look at capturing high decibel music on a variety of new and classic smartphone cameras, four of which also have OIS to help keep the picture steady too. Add in low light conditions and a dozen factors trying to throw auto-focus out and you have the recipe for a decent multi-device group test. In the ring here were the Nokia 808 PureView, Lumia 1020, Lumia 930, Microsoft 640 XL, Google Nexus 6 and LG G4. Four of the six have OIS, at least three have HAAC microphones, and one has hardware oversampling per frame in real time. Game on!
Somewhat quietly, Lumia Camera Classic (i.e. not the new version 5.x) has been withdrawn from availability in the Windows Phone Store for the Lumia 830, 930 and 1520. This is significant because it takes away the choice between Nokia/Microsoft's 'classic' image processing and the newer 'enhanced' algorithms. From now on, it's enhanced or nothing*. As you'll see from my data points below, both generations of image processing have their pros and cons - I just would have liked to always have the choice.
It's all very well using an old classic like the (two year old) Lumia 1020: great camera, flash, and so forth. But, as I've documented here, the AMOLED screen ages significantly, plus the battery isn't what it once was. What better way to refresh the 1020 than give it a brand new screen and battery? Warning: scary screwdriver action follows - do not try this at home. Unless you really want to!
Still to be emulated fully on any other mobile platform, Glance screen remains one of the most pleasant features of many Windows Phones. But all implementations are not equal - so which devices have it and what are the caveats? I colour code things below! Also, what about upcoming Windows-running phones? What does the future hold for Glance?
'Filters', as referred to by many an app and article on other sites and in other ecosystems, are crude, very crude examples of image processing. Even more so when users take the photo with these bastardisations already applied, i.e. there's no way back. But this doesn't mean that it's wrong to think about processing photos take on a Windows Phone. Even on the phone itself, perhaps before sharing. Happily, Microsoft provides Lumia Creative Studio for all its own smartphones - and below I discuss what's going on and provide some guidance and tips.