Having recently had quite a bit of experience of restoring Windows Phone backups to devices after resets and upgrades, I thought I'd answer a few Frequently Asked Questions about this boring but surprisingly important subject. If all goes well, you can - in theory - restore the set-up of one Windows Phone 8.1 or 10 device to any other. With some caveats, of course!
If you use a Mac and run one of the newest Lumias, the 950 or 950 XL, or if you've updated one of your Insiders Preview devices to the latest OS, 10586 build 63, you may have been annoyed to see that Microsoft's 'Windows Phone' utility in the Mac App Store no longer connects through to the phone. So no music or media syncing, no browsing the phone's contents from a Mac. Except that there's a fix, helpfully suggested by AAWP reader Steve Forbes. So, with thanks to him, I've broken it all down into a tutorial below. Here's how to get Windows 10 Mobile and Macs talking again!
One of the casualties of the recent update to Windows 10 (Mobile) Camera was the removal of 'bracketing' and this seems to have caused something of a stir. On balance, I believe this is just Microsoft simplifiying a rather confusing aspect of Camera's user interface for the majority, but I do accept that die-hard photo purists may miss the function and I suggest an alternative below...
I can imagine the meetings at Microsoft around eighteen months ago when the concept of the Insiders Programme was first suggested for Windows 10. We'd become used to being able to preview desktop OS a month or two before public availability, a beta or two if you will, but the Insiders initiative was something totally different - involving Joe Public and a hundred thousand others in (potentially) dozens of unfinished, often badly broken builds - both on the PC and then on phones. What could go wrong?(!) Talk about making an Operating System the hard way...
The arrival of [deep breath] Windows 10 Mobile 10586 Build 63 a couple of days ago prompted me to examine the potential upgrade process for a generic Windows Phone 8.1 device, in this case a Lumia 640, expected to be in the vanguard of phones getting the over-the-air upgrade later this month. After worries over a poor update experience on previous builds, it does seem that, as of build 63, most of this is behind Microsoft and that we're close to an OS that can indeed be shipped to existing Lumias. (Caveats over older S4-based devices notwithstanding.)
With the declaration up front that by 'older' I'm talking about native Windows Phone 8 devices like the Lumia 520, 620, 920, 925 and 1020, i.e. all Snapdragon S4-based handsets, the favourites of yesteryear (2012-2013), after much testing and pondering, I think I'm ready to recommend that anyone with these handsets think about staying on Windows Phone 8.1 and deliberately foregoing Windows 10 Mobile when offered. I've already reported on the speed differences between the two OS and, as at 10th January 2016, I'm sceptical as to how much this will change in the next few months.
One of the most common questions about the Lumia smartphones and their cameras is what to choose in settings in terms of resolution and capture. Oversampled? RAW? Full resolution? Under ideal light conditions, I thought I'd shoot a distant but detailed subject and look at the pixel level - and beyond - is there an obvious winner in terms of the quality/memory trade-off?
Slipping into one of the recent updates has been support for full colour Glance backgrounds on Windows 10 Mobile and the Lumia 950 and 950 XL - photo proof below. There's a small caveat, in that the system only works with images that don't keep changing - so there's no way to put up Bing images or weather or Flickr or Facebook. But the effect, with well chosen Glance background photos, can be striking, so it's worth knowing how to set this up.
When Microsoft explicitly stated that they were making new flagships for "Windows fans", they weren't kidding. With the current state of the Lumia 950 XL and 950 in terms of stability, you'd have to be a real fan, a genuine dyed-in-the-wool enthusiast with the patience of a saint to appreciate the new devices in terms of suitability for day to day use. Not for the first time, parallels to Google's Nexus line spring to mind - surely the Lumia 950 and 950 XL should have been pitched as 'developer devices' from day one? It would certainly have headed off much of the current criticism in the tech press.
Something of a time-machine enabled tradition at AAWP is that I attempt to predict the whole of next year's Windows mobile-related news, viewed from the start of 2017 in this case, looking back at 2016. As usual with this platform, there were ups and downs, but Windows 10 on a larger scale became truly pervasive.