With imaging being at the heart of many Lumia smartphones, it was important to sort out the mess that was the imaging workflow under Windows Phone 8.1. Rather than a brace of camera applications, we now have just one*, now 98% complete**, plus we have a unified Windows 10 Photos store, available on phone, tablet/hybrids/desktops/laptops, essentially wherever you're signed in to your Microsoft account. Add in OneDrive, to link them all together, and you should have photographic nirvana. Well, not quite. This is Microsoft, after all, and I've got a few questions...
At the various preview events around the world, including the one Rafe attended, reported on in this week's podcast, people I trust have been handling, nay fondling, the upcoming Lumia 950 and 950 XL flagships and delivering informal verdicts on the form factors. And there's one common thread popping up - that they all say that, of the two, they'd go for the 950 XL. Which is counter to my initial gut feeling, but I can absolutely see why.
I'm sure most of us have been through several hard resets over the years, not least when messing around with Insiders Preview builds, but we're now close enough to the firmware that will be shipping in the Lumia 950 and 950 XL that I thought I'd not only reset my Snapdragon 800-powered Lumia 930 (trying to get close to the 950 spec) but also set it up from scratch, mimicking the new user experience and documenting it as I went. How close are Microsoft to an OS that will work first time for the Lumia 950 newbie? Very close, with just a few loose ends to tie up.
With the Lumia 950 XL, Microsoft has caught up with the pack in terms of smartphone specifications, as you'll see below. But has it done enough to tempt users from other ecosystems by virtue of sheer hardware and integrated brilliance? Time will tell in a month's time, when the first reviews hit, but in the meantime we can get a great idea by looking at specs, features and expectations.
One of the most popular requests here on AAWP has been to apply a little rigorous benchmarking to both 'old' and 'new' versions of Windows on phones. In other words, if a user of, say, a Lumia 925 (a flagship phone in its day) were to upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile from Windows Phone 8.1, would they see speed gains overall, or experience a slowdown? The results are shown below - on older devices, Windows 10 Mobile is significantly slower, though with the caveat that newer, Snapdragon x00-based devices don't seem so badly off.
The titled question is one that's being asked more and more, of course, as the universal OS gets closer and closer, first in new hardware but then as an over-the-air (or cable) upgrade to most existing Windows Phones, in due course. We've had scattered information from various sources, plus my own opinions and hunches, so I thought a 'best guess' table might be helpful here. And yes, we'll keep it updated.
The Lumia 1020 has held itself apart from the Windows 10 Mobile story and all the Insider builds, with writers like me saying 'Stay on 8.1'. The specialised camera hardware and Xenon flash, the 2GB of RAM allied with the older S4 processor, the iconic status and operation which no one wanted to ruin with a beta non-optimised OS. But recent developments and builds have let the 1020 back into this 2016 mobile OS and it works surprisingly well. It's no 950 in terms of performance, but the Lumia 1020's imaging hardware will still be unique through 2016, I predict.
Microsoft Translator is a big thing, with versions for every form factor and with APIs and hooks into many other products - if you don't believe me, have a browse around the dedicated Microsoft Translator site here. The point is that there are a lot of behind-the-scenes resources in the (Microsoft) cloud dedicated to making Translator work. And with Translator now officially out of beta (after an eternity) on Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile, make sure that you have this installed and ready for use the next time you find yourself in a linguistic tough spot.
Almost as soon as cameras started to arrive on smartphones (the Nokia 7650 was the first - I still have mine!), bright minds started to wonder if it would be possible to not only snap a scene, but actively zoom the shot before capture (as you would on a standalone camera). Early approaches were terrible, of course, but then we had a succession of interesting approaches, most of which are grouped in the photo below. And, a decade later, in late 2015, is there a consensus, a winner?
I was listening to a few tech podcasts from the USA (notably TWiT) and it seemed that Microsoft's message about what Continuum is (and isn't) hasn't really sunk home, unfortunately. Every journalist and blogger watched Bryan Roper's demonstrations at Microsoft's event a couple of weeks ago, was suitably wowed and then - ahem - I hear some of them saying that (I quote) "Continuum will never take off until it works with Android or iOS". This level of misunderstanding is staggering. I'm tempted to say I don't know where to start but... you know me, I'll have a go anyway!