Status report for October 2020: services and apps on Windows 10 Mobile

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Here, for October 2020, 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 seven months of comments are all still here.

Lumia 950 and 950 XL

Post the final OS update, we're in an odd phase of the OS, where most of the stuff that ever works 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 so often.

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, 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, 2021 or beyond. They're all still working right now, in October 2020, though I've had some reports on over-the-air updates being flaky for older phones. I'll report back as needed.

If all else fails, sites like lumiafirmware.com appear to have archived all the device images from Microsoft's servers. Actually flashing them on isn't trivial, so I'll save a tutorial for when the official utilities break and if AAWP is still 'on the air'!

Web browsing (Edge) Edge remains a competent browser for most sites, plus it syncs your history and favourites in the usual way. But its development stopped as of Windows 10 branch 1703 over two 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!
Auto-backups

Until 'March 2020', i.e. over seven 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, 7th October 2020, both auto and manual backups are both still working just fine. I'll keep you posted!

* 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' - after this, if you hard reset a Windows 10 Mobile phone then you'd have to rebuild it manually, installing from the Store, etc. Which will still hopefully function.
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 the previous Christmas.

Notably, as you'll have seen from the slow down in software stories in 2020, the trickle of new UWP applications in the Store has now dried up completely, 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 for Redstone 3 and above (i.e. on Desktop/Hololens, etc.) 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 and, in theory, will carry on until December 2020 - after that you'd have to upload images manually. 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 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 has been announced that access to the OneDrive servers will stop at the end of 2020, 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.
Office UWP applications Updates for these will finally stop in 'January 2021', though the applications will carry on working indefinitely. The lack of updates next year 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, likely 2022 or beyond. 'Automatically update maps' seems to still work as of October 2020, but you can also 'check for updates' and pick up new maps manually, in 'Settings/Apps/Offline maps'. Worth doing every couple of months, I reckon, there's usually a new map update when I check on each test device - the last update was on 26/9/2020. However, do note that live traffic integration has now stopped working.
News No cessation date announced, likely 2022 or beyond. Functionality under Windows 10 Mobile has been frozen for a while, but it is still getting tweaks to encompass new news sources and options. Sadly, there are glitches on Mobile, including not saving one's sources/preferences in News.
Weather As with News, no cessation date announced, likely 2022 or beyond, and everything still works just fine.
Microsoft To-Do No cessation date announced, but application updates have now stopped on Mobile, with new features only appearing on higher Windows 10 branch numbers, for the Desktop. Compatibility with base (textual) To-do data is still full as at October 2020 and is likely until at least 2021. 
Cortana This has now been announced as ended, including on Android, by the way, so it's not just W10M suffering. On my Lumias, and in most regions, Cortana/search can't even connect to the Internet to perform a basic web search now. Just forget Cortana ever existed. Sad.
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 2020. Just a guess. I've checked and past purchases are still available, as at October 2020, 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 (later this year, i.e. in 2020) for Skype on Windows 10 Mobile was announced soon. As at October 2020 it's still fully working, including syncing messages and calls.
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 be OK during 2020, 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, apart from lack of push notifications in Edge (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).
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!)
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 include basic Messenger support, though. 
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. 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 - of sorts!)

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 at least fully functional and available (after the original Unigram went off into Desktop-only realms).
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.
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
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.

 

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 October 2020. I'd be surprised if it's all still working by 2021 though.
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 (Awesome Tube, as I write this).
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 through 2019 and 2020, 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 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.

Delivering a 'report card' for the status above is tricky. I'd say that the OS is just about viable still, though with an increasing number of omissions (tap to pay, IoT support, online banking apps, commercial video streaming services) that have been there for a while now. But your comments and updates welcome!

PS. Another valid question might be what will happen to AAWP itself from October 2020 onwards? I did have one idea. Rafe and I are chatting about resources, of course, 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...(!)