In a month where there is a lot of attention on the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S5, the HTC One, and the Nokia Lumia 930, it's natural that there are going to be comparison articles, camera shoot-outs, and discussions around the specifications of the new flagships for the summer. It all makes for great content, and exciting reading, but it also takes away from another story, and one that perhaps is more indicative of the long-term path of smartphones in general. What about the budget handsets?
Microsoft's strategy is changing. The recent shift of policy to allow MS Office to appear on the iPad is the biggest flag, but you also have the availability of OneNote across Android and iOS (as well as Windows Phone), clients for Hotmail and Outlook across the platforms, and the reduction of the Windows licence fee for devices with a '9 inches or less' screen. Another upcoming step is going to be being less enterprise and more consumer focused. Media consumption as a service could be one of the key consumer selling points in 2014.
The latest in a series of 'how to' articles for Windows Phone beginners, a common task that many will want to do is send a family member or friend their location. Sounds simple for a smartphone, right? And it is, but it's worth noting the right way to do it rather than falling for one of the dozens of 'Here I am' style utilities in the Windows Phone Store.
I know it's probably terrible SEO tactics to link to a competitor, but in this case a) Windows Phone Central is a fine site (and hopefully they respect us too), and b) they're utterly wrong - in my humble opinion, on this particular issue. Yes, it's the thorny chestnut of phone form factors and, in particular a contention that 'it's time to redefine the smartphone: phablets are the future of mobile'. While I realise that this WPC article is probably just one voice among many writers, the concept itself is as interesting as it's possibly misplaced - and definitely worth exploring here, with quotes from past articles of mine on the subject and some new thoughts.
As widely expected, Microsoft took the wraps off Cortana, its next generation 'Personal Assistant', delivered on both Windows Phone 8.1 and Bing online. If you've seen Apple's Siri and Google's Now then you'll already know what to expect, but it's fair to say that Microsoft's later entrance into this market has given it time to play, learn and adapt, and Cortana could be more effective than its competitors. Moreover, Microsoft's philosophy behind Cortana harkens back to terminology from the 1990s... which in my eyes is long overdue.
HTC makes a big deal of its 'ultrapixel' camera when talking about its 'One' series, with the latest variant, the 'M8' in-house for testing. Large pixels, a brand new 'ImageChip', etc. Perfect for setting its 4MP results up against the (similarly sized) 5MP results from the Lumia 1020. Ultrapixels versus PureView 'superpixels'!
It's a fair cop, this article is unashamedly camera-centric and mainly about a smartphone that runs a rival OS, i.e. the new HTC One (M8) running Android. But what I have to say includes the Lumia 1020 for comparison throughout, does reinforce previous features of mine and points out that the 'exciting' new featues in the camera of this Android flagship are centred around the kludge of all time rather than having their roots in better physics and optics 'done right'.
Yesterday Microsoft announced the release of its Office productivity suite for the Apple iPad, an expression of CEO Nadella's self described "mobile first, cloud first" strategy. In addition, Microsoft also announced that Office Mobile for iPhone and Android phones is now available for free for both document viewing and editing.
No, no, I'm not talking about the user multitasking between applications using the carousel - the fast app resume system seems to work pretty well these days, with just the odd application that doesn't play well (cough - Skype). By multitasking, I'm talking about the 'smart' bit of a smartphone, the intelligence that's supposed to power the live tiles and application automation and which falls a bit short under current versions of Windows Phone.
No, not quite the same as Nokia's famous "More than your eyes can see"(! here's that pop video) - more, in this case, matching what your eyes can see. As someone who swaps devices on a fairly regular basis, I have observed something in my own behaviour, about how and when I use the camera in my smartphone. Judging from the comments of a few others in the tech world (notably James Pearce), it seems that I'm not alone in having my photographic imagination realised by the hardware in my pocket.