A couple of years ago I looked at chess games for Windows Phone, looking specifically at playing against the phone's AI and not human opponents. I promised then that I'd do a follow-up or two looking at playing other people online - and here's the first!*
Recent Reviews - Windows Phone 8
I can't believe it took me this long to find Video X Player Pro in the Windows Store. I blame Microsoft - for making (what is now) 'Films & TV' good enough, and the VideoLAN folks for making VLC temptingly good. But the former has a fatal flaw and the latter is fatally buggy (in my continued testing), leading me to look at this old but still updated video solution for both Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 Mobile.
I'm always a bit wary of third party web browsers - they're never as efficient and speedy as the tightly coded native alternative (e.g. Edge), unless they pull tricks like content compression and ad blocking. Coc Coc Browser (I'm omitting the Vietnamese character embellishments) is clean and modern but isn't as fast as Edge, confirming my suspicions. However, it's still noteworthy for its fledgling Extension support - with a first party video downloader ('Savior') the headline advantage.
Something for the weekend, sir? How about a Windows Phone game/app that shows you in gory animated detail how to make dozens of surprisingly realistic aircraft designs out of a sheet of paper? As someone who has a bit of the child in me still, and who sometimes has to entertain small relatives, this mobile app turns out to be a star turn.
Guest writer Gilbert Schwaab brings us a review of (and tutorial for) GeoMeterPro 10, a UWP mapping and navigation application that I'd not heard of before, but which looks comprehensive, with extensive plugins. There's an older 8.1 version too, so no one need feel left out!
Word games are a bit of a guilty, time-wasting pleasure for most of us - they certainly keep the old grey matter chugging away and while away tiresome waits when needed. And Equal Words is beautifully constructed and pitched, almost the perfect mobile game, with just the clumsy cross-platform port that lets it down.
This has been around for a while, but I'm just catching up with some side projects of major UWP app developers. Photo Shader sounds like a fairly ordinary image adjuster/filter package, but there are numerous ways in which this shines - literally. It's a full UWP app for phone/tablet/desktop/Continuum and works faster than anything except Microsoft's own Lumia Creative Studio. For which this is excellent competition - and also actively supported. See below for my full review and some examples of Photo Shader's capabilities.
You've seen brain-bending, mind-mangling puzzles before. But never this hard, never this eye-boggling, never this enjoyably frustrating. Inspired by the famous optical illusions of MC Escher, nothing in the block puzzles here is quite what it seems. Beautiful puzzles, beautiful music and no time pressure make this the perfect mobile brain-training geometrical puzzle.
I've always been a huge fan of Lunar Lander style games - balancing retro rocket pulses with gravity and wind shear, avoiding obstacles in order to land upright on a trickily-positioned pad. And 'Landing Confirmed' here is a new Windows Phone game in the genre, having been ported from Android, combining classic Lunar Lander concepts with outrageous mechanisms and layouts. It's insanely hard - and addictive. And best of all, seems to be completely free. What are you waiting for?
It's that time of year, when the sun starts making regular appearances in the sky and when I start to think about walks, camping and the great outdoors. Which means smartphone accessories that - ideally - prove really useful, doing multiple jobs with minimal bulk. In this case, a USB power bank that you can leave facing the sun to charge itself from empty, and which doubles as a powerful flashlight or tent lantern.