After a gap of six weeks, it's my latest update for AAWP's directories of general applications (8 new entries, 2 removed), media, imaging and reading apps (3 new entries), and games (12 new entries). Your guide to the best of Microsoft's on-phone Store, every item has been reviewed - or recommended by readers here.
Recent News - Windows Phone 8
One of the nice surprises arriving from the 'Fall Creators Update' arriving in the 'Release Preview' ring was discovering that Microsoft has allowed a number of classic Lumias, including the 735, 830, 930/Icon, and 1520, to stay on the Creators Update and essentially acquiring full 'production' status, in the manner of a Lumia 650 or 950. This is notable as it will keep such handsets going and supported for much longer, until Spring 2019 at least.
Cue the usual unwarranted panic over the 'end' of something, but this particular item has been inactive and effectively dead for months, if not over a year. Today, July 11th 2017, is the official 'End Of Support' date for Windows Phone 8.1. Some quotes and comments below.
Even past the original March 1st deadline, Skype still worked fully on Windows Phone 8.1. But as of July, four months on, it seems as though a switch has been thrown somewhere and Microsoft's now deprecated Windows Phone 8.1 platform and its accompanying Skype client no longer allow sign-ins with the company's new centralised Skype architecture (done mainly to enable many-to-many calls/video).
A bevy of Skype and Messaging-related tweaks and stories has prompted me to round these up in a single post, for completeness. Takeaways include the 'Messaging+Skype' experiment being officially ended and that Skype UWP now supports animated GIFs 'inline', but there's more below too.
In addition to the Fast ring for Insiders, Microsoft has its own internal rings and test releases of the Windows 10 SDKs, meaning that keen developers can sometimes get a heads-up on changes that are heading everyone’s way. In this case, it’s Gustave M., with a screenshot seemingly showing that support for (ye olde) Silverlight applications is being dropped in an upcoming version of Windows 10 Mobile.
Whatever Windows 10 Mobile-running phone you own, whatever its status, the chances are that you have a new OS build waiting for you in Settings right now. This is, of course, Microsoft's regular 'Patch Tuesday', even if they don't call it that, and I've quoted a few example version numbers to look out for.
The Windows 10 Mobile Creators Update is set to roll out from April 25 through June 2017, though there's in fact little to get excited about in terms of timing. 'Production' status regular users won't know it's coming and thus won't care, while enthusiasts reading this can... get it whenever they like, thanks to the 'Release Preview' Insiders ring.
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.
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.