The Surface Duo 2 continues to dominate headspace at All About Towers, with major improvements arriving today, with a feature-packed January 2022 update hitting the folding communicator over-the-air. So whether you've only just finished reading about its faux-Continuum mode or its Lumia-like image processing or my Bumpers review, this update is well worth taking note of since it's yet another software step forwards for this somewhat ground-breaking device.
Recent News - Android
In this privacy-paranoid world people are often looking for ways to avoid Big Brother, and one of the latter is Google, it seems. "/e/ OS" (odd and problematic name, see below for a quote) is a fork of AOSP (Android Open Source Project) that deliberately strips out anything to do with Google, at all levels, enabling (in theory) a more private phone experience. See below for some news from 'All About' favourite Fairphone regarding their new '4' coming with /e/ OS if you like. Personally? I think it's all poppycock. Read on.
Back in March 2020, so just under two years ago, Planet Computers launched the Indiegogo campaign for the Astro Slide 5G, the follow up to the Gemini and Cosmo Communicators, all with full mechanical QWERTY keyboards. While the latter two were more akin to the old Psion palmtop or Nokia Communicator form factors, i.e. clamshells, the Astro Slide 5G is similar to the classic 2010 Nokia E7 (on Symbian), with an external full touchscreen that slides out of the way when needed to reveal, in this case, the famous QWERTY key layout. We've been getting drip fed news from the Planet team over the last 12 months, so here's my round-up and summary.
Much linked to over the last few days has been a Google video showing exactly how to assemble a Pixel 6 Pro from first principles. But this is much more than someone reassembling something they've previously torn down - all the factory 'jigs', tools, and protective films are shown - despite the video quirks, it's a really interesting look at how a modern phone is 'made'.
Last covered back in March, PitlaneOne is a great UWP application for Windows. Including Windows 10 Mobile, for Lumias, etc. In fact, it's insanely great, which is why I thought I'd round up some of 2021's updates and highlight a few more of its features. In short, it's just about the best (free) way to keep track of the end of 2021's Formula 1 racing season. And did I mention that it's also available these days for iOS and Android?
Started as Project Andromeda with (an evolution of) Windows 10 Mobile, of course, the Surface Duo is now a year old and seemed the whole time like an experiment. Not least because its hardware design and internals were never really appropriate for use in a well-rounded smartphone - instead, the Duo had its roots in a productivity-centric pocket computer. But we now have the Surface Duo 2, ramping up the componentry to be competitive with the rest of the 2021 smartphone market.
Samsung has been holding a virtual event, launching the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Z Flip 3, with form factors the same as last year's, but with IPX8 waterproofing and tougher flexible displays, along with a new rubber-tipped, suspension-equipped S-Pen. Along the way, the Z Fold's selfie camera has gone under-display, giving a full tablet experience, which is pretty cool.
There was a Huawei event yesterday, which I'd failed to remember, and the P50 series phones were the star, albeit not very exciting for people outside China, since they come with the Google-less Harmony OS Android fork. But I was intrigued to see, GSMArena story below, that Huawei has started offering upgrades of internal storage for a wide variety of its phone models. Eh? Are they - literally - going to start opening up phones, desoldering chips and soldering in new ones? I don't think so, but there's certainly a lot going on here...
Announced back in June, Microsoft's popular OneDrive has finally gained full photo editing facilities - these went live server-side today, a few hours ago, for both OneDrive's Web interfaces and also for the Android client (the iOS client is presumably being worked on). Some screenshot proof below. Yes, yes, I know we're all drowning in photo editing utilities and services, but something official from what is many peoples' primary file/photo backup service isn't to be sniffed att.
With the huge success of Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020) on the desktop PC, it's only natural that attention has been given to improving mobile flight sims, i.e. those you can enjoy on the smartphone, without the headache of scheduling hours on a huge desktop set-up, with yokes, multiple monitors, and more. And with ever-more powerful mobile chipsets, enabling desktop-class graphics. Why not just enjoy a quick flight from your local airport in photorealistic glory, round the coastline, and back, all on your phone with nothing but your hands to tilt the device? Here's news from mobile favourite Infinite Flight...