Recent Features

Refreshing your old Lumia 1020, roll on 2016?

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In case you've been living under a rock, Windows 10 Mobile is being tested across the board and official updates aren't that far away. Yet the Lumia 1020, the camera-champion and with unique hardware, has already been singled out by both Microsoft and me, the former admitting that the new OS doesn't fully support the device yet, and the latter saying that 1020 owners should avoid the Windows 10 Mobile Insiders Preview for the time being. More on that below, but I also wanted to offer some thoughts on what you can do to help your 1020 feel 'fresh' in a time of great OS upheaval elsewhere.

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Into the depths of Windows 10 Mobile Camera: Oversampling?

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The Lumia 930, 1520 and Icon all feature the same 'PureView'/'oversampling' camera, of course, with a 20MP sensor oversampled to produce 5MP photos with higher purity, lower noise and so on. At least that was what happened under Lumia Camera under Windows Phone 8.1. Now that the OS and camera application have changed dramatically, is PureView still a 'thing' on the current flagship devices (and presumably on the upcoming 950/950 XL, with similar camera specs)?

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Verdict: Windows 10 Mobile at Build 10536, mid-September 2015

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Having been living with the very latest build of Windows 10 Mobile for the last 48 hours, I wanted to report back on how the Microsoft development teams are getting on. As many have observed, this is the first time that any of us have really observed a mobile operating system 'being made' - and we knew what we signed up for as 'Insiders'. Bit by bit, the OS has been coming together though and as of Build 10536 you really can use Windows 10 Mobile for daily use... as long as (cough) you don't mind glitches on an hourly basis and have chargers everywhere! 

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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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