The Microsoft Band 2 was favourably reviewed by me last year, but I'd lost interest in wearing it every day because it didn't do enough for me - yet an update today may just have changed my mind and the gadget is charging up as I speak. You see, the new Explore tile - demoed superbly in the video example below - lets you wander over hill and down dale, tracking where you've been on the Band display itself, giving you detailed positioning and the facility to mark particular spots. For anyone who like walking, hiking, mountain biking etc. to keep fit, the Explore tile could be an eye opener.
Recent News - General
PDF reader is, or rather was, Microsoft's first party Acrobat (PDF) viewer for Windows Phone and it had been kept available even for Windows 10 Mobile even though it wasn't really consistent with the UI guidelines. Come July 1st this year though, i.e. in less than two months, Microsoft is retiring PDF Reader for good, feeling that Edge is now competent enough at handling PDF documents.
Although Microsoft never gave an exact date for the start of the official Windows 10 Mobile upgrade for existing Windows Phone 8.1 users, it's fair to say that its hints were originally for late 2015 - which then slipped a little. However, at least Q1, 2016 was achieved, if only by a couple of weeks, with the arrival of Windows 10 (10586.164) for a whole clutch of devices, including the popular Lumia 640, 735, 830 and 930. There's an initial hurdle, presumably to make sure that only keener users get Windows 10, and then this will be replaced by the full 'pushed' update later.
The push from Windows Phone 8.1 to Windows 10 Mobile is about to become more urgent for many people, especially if they're heavy users of HERE Maps and HERE Drive+. The developer, (the ex-Nokia) HERE has announced that further development and non-critical updates of code and data will be stopped as of the end of this month (March 2016). I.e. things will carry on working, but don't expect anything to be improved. Meanwhile, all the HERE data is licensed, available, and updated, in Windows 10 Maps.
In the imminent absence of MixRadio from the Windows world, commercial music (and podcast) streaming service Deezer is stepping up to the mark, with a new, universal application that spans Windows 10 mobile, tablet and laptop/desktop. It builds on the existing Deezer app but offers a unified and 'seamless experience'. And, for MixRadio fans, the 'Flow' feature recommends instant music fixes.
Over at MWC 2016, HP has now revealed details of its upcoming ('summer') Continuum-capable, business-centric Windows 10 Mobile flagship. See below for PR photos and the stunning specifications. If anything, the HP Mobile Extender and Desk Dock 'accessories' are better thought out and more capable then Microsoft's first party offering, while the smartphone itself looks stunning.
As widely expected, ahead of MWC 2016, Microsoft has officially launched the Lumia 650, intended mainly for business use, and prioritising materials and appearance over blazing consumer internals. The result is an interesting specification sheet, but I think we have to trust Microsoft on this one - they did their research in terms of what businesses wanted for the Lumia 640 and 640 XL and now we're starting to see their replacements, a year on.
The expected 'Release To Manufacturing' build of Windows 10 Mobile (i.e. being flashed into the first batches of Lumia 550, 950 and 950 XL), build 10586.11 is now available to all the brave souls (like us) on the Microsoft Insiders Programme. Details and a few suggestions below.
Windows 10 Mobile, for those of us using the Insiders Build, has had broken Rich Capture for quite a while. I say 'broken', but it did work sometimes. And then didn't the rest of the time, usually when you needed it most. To recap, Rich Capture is 'HDR' plus 'Dynamic Flash', the idea being that different exposures (or, in the latter case, one with flash and one without) can be combined 'after the fact' in different ways. That this has been broken for a month has been a major thorn in the side of anyone using the Insiders builds of Windows 10 Mobile and now it's finally fixed.
The biggest news at today's Microsoft event in New York was, of course, the official announcement of two of the most leaked smartphones in recent times, the Lumia 950 and 950 XL flagships, designed to carry the flag for Windows 10 Mobile into 2016, with 'Hello' Iris recognition, Continuum support and upgraded specifications across the board, relative to the 18 month old Lumia 930.