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 - Services
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.
The story so far... Telegram is a popular worldwide messaging system for smartphones, though Windows 10 Mobile phones had to make do with the third party Unigram Mobile UWP. Then the developer stopped compiling for Mobile and this was forked by another developer to create Unigram Mobile Messenger UWP (keep up at the back!) As of December 1st, Telegram itself changed its login architecture to force adverts on all users on iOS and Android (to help pay for the service), stopping Unigram Mobile Messenger from being able to log in and (soon) to stop working altogether. Happily, thanks to an active developer, we now have an update that works around the changes.
Another one bites the dust. Or is about to. Microsoft has formally announced that its To-Do service is to stop syncing with old clients (such as the one for Windows 10 Mobile) at the end of 2021. It's amazing that sync has carried on so long, to be honest. And you still have six weeks to switch to another platform if To-Do support is critical to you. Notably, if you just find it a useful place to store to-do items locally on a Lumia, you'll still be able to use the application 'offline', i.e. it won't actually stop working.
A slightly niche news post, but one that's important to anyone who accesses Twitter on Windows 10 Mobile or under any desktop browser. So perhaps that's more people than I'd at first have thought. For years, Twitter has been cropping (e.g. 4:3 and 16:9) photos to a 'letter box' (often the 'wrong' way) or square aspect ratio to try and keep people's timelines tidier - but it seems that users would rather see the whole of a posted image rather than just part of it, so Twitter has now dropped cropping in its web/PWA code. Which directly feeds into the Windows 10 Mobile Twitter app, of course.
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?
With the launch of iOS 15, the promised major enhancements to Apple Maps are available to the general public for the first time. Admittedly, quite a bit is only for major cities around the world, but this will expand and you can have fun exploring your own closest capital. Or just spinning the virtual globe and having run zooming in, rotating, tilting, and so on. Below I take a lot of this for a spin on my iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Another day, another new UWP title, at least during Launch 21. This time it's CryptoTracker, offering graphical and numeric analyses on up to 800 cryptocurrencies, along with portfolio tracking. Add in a choice of light and dark themes, plus it works on everything from a Lumia to a Windows 11 2-in-1. Top notch, and well done to the developer for letting 'ye olde' Lumias join in the fun.
It's raining new UWP applications for Windows 10 Mobile! Well, there's a new trickle anyway. This is FlairMax and it offers music recognition via either the Shazam or ACR Cloud services. Along with lyrics, though some parts of the application don't seem to be working yet. Technically it's still in beta, though. UPDATE: see below.
Not a smartphone but very mobile, the diminutive Surface Go has been a mainstay of my computing setup for three years now*. A Start screen and full Windows in landscape or portrait modes, and useable as laptop, tablet, or - in an emergency - as a phone with the LTE edition. Why this news post? Because Microsoft just issued a raft of low level system firmware patches, great to see its hardware fully up to date.