It's easy to forget how much functionality is built into the operating system in our smartphones - a prime example, demonstrated here, is scanning and applying OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to a page of text. No extra apps or expertise needed.
With the ever moving goalposts in the mobile world, it seems that the Samsung Galaxy Note range has been accepted as a bona fide 'phone', while anything bigger is a 'phablet'. Yes, everyone hates the term, but nothing better has come along in the meantime, so.... The Nokia Lumia 1520 and OPPO N1 here, both of which I've been reviewing recently, are definitely too big to be classed as pure phones - even by the Note brigade. Part phone, part tablet, do they offer the best of both worlds? And can I pick a winner?
You're right to do a double take - the Sony QX-10 isn't a phone. It's a camera accessory for a phone, the idea being that you clip it onto the back of an Android or iOS smartphone and use its better optics instead of the device's integral camera. In this case, for the purposes of comparison, a Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.4.2. Is it a kludge? Yep. Is it capable of results that rival those from the Lumia 1020? Absolutely. Which would I rather have in my pocket? No. Contest. Whatsoever.
Windows 8.1 is being 'rejigged' to look more like Windows 7 than Windows 8, as Microsoft appears to be backing down in its push to the Metro/Tablet interface across its desktop OS. It's an interesting move, and one that reminds me of the media's calls to carry on with Windows Mobile instead of switching to Windows Phone several years ago. While the switch back to the Windows 7 look feels right, I started to think... should Microsoft have stayed with Windows Mobile?
Windows Phone's virtual keyboard, with auto correct as you type, is pretty good, it even 'learns' new words that you use a lot, but you may be wondering how you can add your own custom words to the built-in dictionary in one fell swoop. I demonstrate how in the text below.
Windows Phone 8's Internet Explorer generally does a very good job of rendering web pages, but, unlike most desktop browsers, it is not very extensible, with no way to install add-ons. One partial solution to this limitation is to use bookmarklets to add basic navigation shortcuts (forward, top of the page) and simple tools (translate page) via Internet Explorer's favourites (bookmarks) feature.
Podcatchers aren't the only app genre on Windows Phone that has seen a lot of competition - sound recording utilities is another genre that's worth taking a slice across. What follows isn't necessarily (yet) definitive, but I've tried to pick all the most likely candidates - so start with these. Whether you want to record your band, your voice or your baby, there's something for you below.
What on earth is a Sozoom, I hear you ask? It's a third party (commercial) application that beautifully, and I mean beautifully shows up the underlying detail in the photos from the Nokia Lumia 1520 and 1020, by blowing up to 1:1 in the viewfinder/on the screen a tiny portion of the full resolution (typically 16MP or 34MP) version of a photo. I've featured Sozooms before, for example here, plus I last covered the Sozoom application here, but it occurred to me to give some advice to 1520/1020 owners looking to create a really effective Sozoom image.
The camera and chipset in the Lumia 1520 is especially interesting, as the hardware is thin enough to be part of a range of devices, yet with some of the PureView oversampling and lossless zoom from the likes of the 1020. But, in tests, how much extra does this new set of hardware and electronics give the end user (over the likes of the existing generation, e.g. Lumia 920 and 925)? How much 'purer' are 1520 photos and how much difference does the 2x lossless zoom make?
As Nokia's Devices and Services division heads into the bosom of Redmond, it looks like we might have another manufacturer signing up to Windows Phone. On the back of critical acclaim in the Android space, Sony is considering a move to add Microsoft's mobile platform to its portfolio of devices. Looking at what they can offer each other, this is a partnership that could produce something amazing.