Status report for November 2021: services and apps on Windows 10 Mobile

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Here, for November 2021, six weeks after the previous update, is the refreshed/latest news and comment on applications and services on Windows 10 Mobile - the OS itself has now had its very last security update, but it still works on the whole. This feature will summarise what's broken and what's not, along with workarounds where possible. Details and links have all been updated throughout. Note that I've kept the URL the same, so the last year of comments are all still here.

Lumia 950 and 950 XL

Post the final OS update by a full year we're in a declining phase of the OS, where most of the stuff that ever worked still works (and is supported), but things are definitely now falling off the edges, as it were. Which means that it's hard to keep track of it all - hence the table below, which I'll keep updated every month.

Note that some dates are approximate, since even we at AAWP can't see into the future with certainty! I've colour coded table cells, with pale red for 'on the way out, with workarounds and caveats', through increasingly dark shades, and red for 'no hope!'...

Microsoft services
Security updates The last update was in January 2020 - and was for the newest 1709 branch. Theoretically, the OS is now 'vulnerable', though in practice Windows 10 Mobile is now battle hardened and also an utterly miniscule target for attackers, so the lack of updates won't actually be an issue. I'd suggest that lack of support also means that people at Microsoft won't be testing services against Windows 10 Mobile any more, but we all know that they haven't been doing this for some time, sadly.
Firmware rebuilds If something goes horribly wrong and you need a fresh start then there are a couple of PC-based utilities to help out (WDRT - see the patch, plus OTC Updater*), though they rely on the original phone 'images' being still available on Microsoft's servers. I can't imagine the download bandwidth here amounts to much, but Microsoft will, at some point, shut down these servers, probably because things are changing server-side to accommodate new services and platforms. No end date is known, I'd guess, some time in 2021 or beyond. (* There's a question mark over OTC Updater, but here's the workaround...)

If all else fails, sites like lumiafirmware.com appear to have archived all the device images from Microsoft's servers. Actually flashing them on is VERY non-trivial, so I'll save a tutorial for when the official utilities break! Update: Lumiafirmware is down, so try http://cellomania.com/ffu/ 

Web browsing (Edge)

Edge remains a competent browser for most plain sites. But its development stopped as of Windows 10 branch 1703 almost three years ago, effectively, since the 1709 branch's Edge wasn't fully rounded out (in terms of service worker and other background operation). Which makes it something of a dead end if you're looking for more. Third party browsers like Monument Browser do more, though ultimately have the same underlying restrictions for PWAs and some other HTML5-reliant sites. Roughly half the PWAs out there work, roughly half don't - see the Flow column on AAWP for recommendations of the former!

Just as when Symbian's Web browser was deemed old hat in 2013-2015 because web sites and technologies had 'moved on', the same is largely true now for Edge (in v1709). Pages have grown since 2015, web technologies have evolved, and precisely zero web developers are testing against such an old (2016 era) browser. C'est la vie.

I'm just making the point that Edge was actually pretty great when it launched in Windows 10 Mobile at the time. It's the world that has changed...!

Auto-backups Until 'March 2020', i.e. over 19 months ago! Clearly someone at Microsoft has forgotten to turn this service off*, which is handy. It's not clear whether manual backups will be possible after auto-backups do eventually finish. Watch this space - as of today, 9th November 2021, both auto and manual backups are still working just fine. I suspect that this will finally stop in March 2022, when OneDrive support for Windows 7 and 8.1 is being officially pulled.

* This syndrome isn't unknown. No one at Microsoft has been specifically tasked with shutting the server off, so things will probably now just keep working until an infrastructure change for some other system physically impacts the backup servers!

Restoring from backups

Until 'March 2021' - in theory, if you hard reset a Windows 10 Mobile phone now then you'd have to rebuild it manually, installing from the Store, etc. Which will still hopefully function. I'll post a tutorial and check list as and when this definitely stops working. There's every chance that Microsoft will forget about turning this system off too!

Mind you, there's a school of thought which says that it's always best to build an app set-up from scratch anyway, in order not to put back stuff you don't actually need. PIM stuff and photos will come via the cloud and OneDrive etc. It's an option, anyway, going forwards, so do make sure that you have other data and documents on your phone copied onto other devices and media, as needed.

Store apps Application updates and installs should be fine until at least the end of 2021. The old 8.1 Store was given 30 months after end of support for the OS itself, if we extrapolate that to Windows 10 Mobile then the Store might last until summer 2022. But I think the end might come this Christmas, i.e. December 2021.

Notably, the trickle of new UWP applications in the Store has now pretty much dried up, and only a handful of popular titles are still receiving updates. The developer world has (understandably) moved on. But it's still important to have the Store fully available, in case you have to reset and restore a Lumia, since latest binaries come from here as part of the restore process.

Store client Ignore scare stories about the Store client itself not being updated anymore - updates with bug fixes and security tweaks will continue for at least a year, possibly more, albeit with new features and UI fanciments only the latest Windows 10 Desktop OS branches. And yes, some of these updates will have knock on effects for Windows 10 Mobile - we had problems with the Store needing a manual 'Refresh' recently - these got resolved, thankfully.
Auto-Photos upload to OneDrive Still working at the moment, as at 9th November 2021, and no finish date specified, though in theory at some point this year you'd have to upload images manually, as needed. No doubt Microsoft will forget to actually switch this off too, so it will carry on through 2022 until something breaks! I'll report back if this happens.

It's worth noting that the OneDrive client on iOS and Android is excellent - if you do switch at some point then you essentially carry on with the same interface, auto-backup, and photo stream in the cloud (subject to your storage plan, e.g. 1TB with Office Microsoft 365)

OneDrive music streaming Stopped from May 2019 onwards, at least from within Groove Music app. You can still stream from OneDrive or download from both first and third party applications though - see the linked article for suggestions.
OneDrive No cessation date for Windows 10 Mobile access announced, likely 2022 or way beyond - Microsoft is a cloud company in many ways now and OneDrive is central to its vision.
Office Lens

This being a cloud-centric OCR solution, it's utterly dependent on Microsoft allowing server access. It was announced that access to the OneDrive servers would stop at the end of 2020, and this has now happened, for Office Lens on both Mobile and Desktop. The idea is that the iOS and Android versions of Office include the same functionality and will be more convenient for most people. Go figure.

Outlook Mail, Calendar

No cessation date announced, likely 2022 or beyond. Outlook app development is all on newer Windows 10 branches though, so the current one on Windows 10 Mobile is only receiving small bug fixes and none of the sexier stuff you'll read about in the news.

Of worrying note is that auto-configuration of new major email/PIM accounts doesn't now work. I've tested setting up a Google account to work with Outlook on a reset phone and changes at Google's end mean that the relevant password and set up screens don't get handled properly. Similarly for Yahoo, and possibly others.

Note that existing phones with previously setup accounts will carry on working fine - the caveat above is for adding accounts to a Windows 10 Mobile phone. Plus native Microsoft email/PIM accounts are fine.

Office UWP applications Updates for these were stopped, as of 'January 2021', though the applications should carry on working indefinitely. The lack of updates after this is moot though, since main app development is all on newer Windows 10 branches, so the current Office UWP apps on Windows 10 Mobile have only been receiving bug fixes (at best).
Maps/Navigation

No official cessation date announced. 'Automatically update maps' seems to still work (i.e. doesn't throw up a server error) as of the middle of November 2021, but actual updates have now stopped - I haven't had anything offered since January 2021. Time will tell, etc! Ironically, HERE Maps/Drive and offline maps updates still work perfectly for 'ye olde' Windows Phone 8.1 because they're driven by HERE, not by Microsoft.

News No cessation date announced, likely 2022 or beyond. Functionality under Windows 10 Mobile has been frozen for a while, plus the system doesn't save one's sources/preferences in News, making it less useful. Sports content no longer works.
Weather As with News, no cessation date announced, likely 2022 or beyond, though Weather is simpler and everything still works just fine.
Microsoft To-Do This has now been announced as stopping at the end of 2021. The app will carry on working, but won't sync with cloud data and thus other devices.
Cortana This has now ended on Android and iOS, by the way, so it's not just W10M suffering. On my Lumias, and in most regions, Cortana/search is rather crippled, though do note that some basic operations do still work, including some Internet functions.
Films & TV (aka 'Movies & TV') No cessation date announced, but several rumours. Clever money has new purchases stopping soon and no access to past purchases stopping in 2022. Just a guess. I've checked and past purchases are still available, as at 9th November 2021, the DRM still works, encrypted movies and TV shows still play, and with no warning messages in-app. 
Skype No cessation date announced for the UWP app (the Desktop is now back to Win32, effectively), but it's 100% online and requires server integration, obviously, so I wouldn't be surprised if an end date for Skype on Windows 10 Mobile was announced soon. As at 9th November 2021 it's still fully working, including syncing all messages and calls.
Microsoft
Authenticator
In theory, this will keep working for ages if it's already set up, since it relies on tokens from the relevant sites and time-based calculations. But sites might revoke tokens and require re-authentication, so a system like this isn't guaranteed forever. It'll run OK during 2021, though note that Microsoft Authenticator does more on iOS and Android, include token syncing between signed-in devices (in theory - in my experience, this is patchy, anyway). It's just a shame that this potential sync doesn't include W10M, since the app was frozen too early in development. 
Social applications
Twitter

Official client is a PWA, but works very well (if already installed), apart from lack of push notifications to the Edge engine used (the usual lack of 'service workers' in the browser). Here's the latest changelog. API limitations at Twitter's end mean that there's now no fully working third party alternative (at least, one that also has access to DMs). 

However, of note is that this has now disappeared from the Store, so there's no way to install it again on a reset device, which is a huge shame.

Facebook Official (Osmeta-based, derived from iOS codebase) client has now been withdrawn from the Store, and even if you have it previously installed then it crashes and burns. There are numerous Facebook 'scraping' applications and options though, and these run faster and more efficiently than the Facebook original client ever did (go figure!) Do see the caveat here though.
Facebook Messenger Official (Osmeta-based, derived from iOS codebase) client also now not available anymore. Good riddance, arguably, since it was bloated. The solutions linked in our article here used to include basic Messenger support, through the Facebook mobile web interface, but this has now been retired by Facebook. 
Instagram

Official (Osmeta-based, derived from iOS codebase) client has now been withdrawn, being part of the Facebook 'empire'. There's an official Instagram PWA, but it's officially available patchily under Windows 10 Mobile, available as an upgrade through the Store only if you have the original installed. Very odd - it's not there otherwise. But don't despair, as the PWA has been recently upgraded and is available to anyone as a simple URL/favourite in the Edge browser.

There are also several third party alternatives, the clear favourite of which is the quirky, often unstable, but always improving Winsta UWP (which now features notifications).

Whatsapp The official WP8.1 client has now officially stopped working. If you need a Whatsapp replacement and don't want to switch platform then see Telegram, below.
Telegram Plenty of options here, with an official WP8.1 application (still in the W10M Store) that is gradually falling into disrepair, but also an official PWA that works OK (though with no push notifications, due to Edge limitations) and a third party app, Unigram Mobile Messenger UWP, which is fully functional and still available (after the original Unigram went off into Desktop-only realms).
Reddit No full access anymore. The Reddit site no longer works in Edge, and the Readit and Baconit UWP third party clients crash after sign-in. Both clients let you do basic Reddit browsing but some graphical elements are missing and, of course, you can't contribute or interact - because you can't sign in.
Viber This messaging app has a first party UWP application, but reviews have been patchy - it's not actively updated. According to readers, its functionality is now compromised, not least because if you have to set it up on a new phone then phone numbers aren't being recognised. Note that there is a workaround for first time set-up, but it's fiddly in the extreme.
Snapchat This has never been on Windows phones and never will be.
Pinterest There's no official client for this, but pinterest.com in Edge seems to be a PWA and acts like an application. Plus, if you still want a native UWP application experience, there's 'Piny - Pinterest with love' UWP or PinStar UWP, both of which still work well.
Media consumption  
Spotify

The official WP8.1 application still technically runs, but has now lost search functions and is clearly on the way out. Various third party applications were targetted by Spotify's lawyers and have now been withdrawn from the Store, sadly. Spotimo UWP was your best bet, and was reworked as 'Strix Music', and this is available for side-loading. Not ideal, but its 'LTS' (Long Term Support) version (v1.4.9 as I write this) does 'kind of' work and it's not too onerous to get it installed. Expect glitches galore, so be patient with it - it's all we've got!

Netflix

This official WP8.1 application has now stopped working on both 8.1 and also Windows 10 Mobile in most regions. This was broken and now, with a server-side change, works again! It seems Windows phone media handling was more robust than we'd feared! Mind you, in my experience, the loading time for video streaming is now so high as to make the client unpleasant to use.

Video Amazon has never had an official Prime Video application for Windows phones, but if you're happy to fiddle a little in Edge then you can watch this on the go. It's not trivial though and is a complete pain in the proverbial compared to the slick experience in a dedicated app on other platforms. Interestingly, an official Prime Video application for Windows 10 Desktop appeared recently.
Audible For audio books, the excellent Audible UWP application and Amazon's service continues to work well, as at November 2021. Plus try the newish 'button free' interface?(!)
Deezer For general audio (radio, podcasts, some audio books), there's an official UWP client for Deezer, but it's starting to hit the rails. Some 'front page' content no longer loads and the Facebook login method no longer works, but I was able to log in via a dedicated Deezer id and then stream music as usual.
YouTube One of the more famous spats between Google and Microsoft, this hasn't had an official application for years, though of course it works fine in the Edge browser. I'd recommend myTube!, Perfect Tube or Awesome Tube though, all UWP applications with slick interfaces and all kept bang up to date. Hopefully. YouTube does keep changing things though, so have all three UWP apps installed and go for the one updated most recently (myTube 4.1, as I write this - Awesome Tube and Perfect Tube have varying issues).
BBC iPlayer This has been browser-only for years under Windows phone and Windows 10 Mobile, but it's fine. There's the usual 'log into the BBC servers' and you're in and watching. There's no downloading of programmes for watching later though, for DRM reasons.
General
Third party UWP apps Curated into a 'best of' list here, new applications have been drying up in recent years, with just a handful of new titles each quarter now, though the Flow column on AAWP's front page gives a good idea of which applications (if any) are still punching through with any updates.

Lumia 950 XL and apps

Do please let me know, by email or in the comments, if there are any inaccuracies in the above table or if you have information to update it. Thanks.

PS. Another valid question might be what will happen to the sites themselves from 2022 onwards? We've now moved to a cheaper, faster, fresher server, but there are still some bits to do. All About Mobile has launched, albeit with some technical glitches as I write this, but at least it's secure (https). But a) do please join the occasional guest writers if you have something to say/review/discuss, email me at slitchfield@gmail.com, and b) well, you know where my tip jar is if you'd like to encourage me (Steve)...