Back in the midsts of time (2011) I reviewed International Snooker, giving it a rave write-up - but ever since have still been eyeing up the more modern 'Pro' version, effectively a re-write, over on Android and iOS. And now the new, full game is on Windows Phone and I'm expecting great things. Summary: I wasn't disappointed, though do see my caveat in bold below!
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Microsoft's own reviewer's guide for this, the Band, talks about it being 'the first device powered by Microsoft Health', and this is the key to understanding the accessory itself. Introduced initially in the USA at the end of last year, there was a feeling that it might never reach the rest of the world in that form, since the Band was quite clearly a 'version 1' and with many flaws. That it has made it to the UK in late April 2015 is handy because it means we get to play with it - and appreciate it, but don't be fooled that the Band is attempting to be a serious mass market product yet. Wait for 'Band 2', slimmer, lighter, tougher and cheaper.
What's a reviewer to do when faced with a trio of official Lumia headsets but to review them? They range in price and purpose too, thankfully, giving me something to get my teeth into - or at least my ears. The one sentence summary if you're into audio quality? Pass on the Comfort and make a beeline for the two Coloud accessories - they're of higher quality in several ways.
Even though we reviewed the more unusual and unique Lumia 640 XL first, don't be deceived - it's the vanilla 640 that will receive the lion's share of Microsoft's marketing and the lion's share of the resulting sales. It's cheaper, more normally sized, yet still has decent components and is just about everyone's idea of a "'my first smartphone' that doesn't suck". Which sounds rather dismissive of the 4xx and 5xx series of Lumias, but the 640 is a cut above these devices for not that much more money on the High Street.
The lengthily titled 'My Memories Interactive Slideshow' does essentially what it says in its name but it's not just another photo browser - this one comes with optimisations that help solve a very common family use case: "Can I look through your photos?", asked by a five year old and followed by them getting very confused at family snaps interspersed by boring 'grown up' stuff.
With one eye on Asian phablet-loving markets and the other on business markets in Europe, Microsoft has very carefully tailored the new Lumia 640 XL to appeal to both sets of users while keeping cost as low as possible. In the process, with remarkably few compromises and impressing at almost every turn, the 640 XL just became the de facto phablet for anyone wanting to spend £200 rather than £600.
So there I was, responding to a reader request to do a round-up of Flickr apps for Windows Phone. And then it dawned on me that a) there are really only two (thus making it not so much a round-up as a comparison!) and b) we'd never covered Flickr Central on AAWP before. So, in advance of an upcoming head to head comparison, let's start with a full review of this free application. The summary? It works well on the whole, trailing the better known Flickr Booth only by virtue of a few quirks and a little lack of 2015 development.
I know, I know, yet another podcatcher for Windows Phone. How is it that this app genre is getting so crowded when other genres remain sparse and barren? Must be something to do with the Lumia hardware being pretty good for playing back media, I think. In any case, by virtue of being developed after other solutions, CastCenter manages to be fully formed at launch, with every feature I normally demand and a few others besides. It's an easy recommend, with a trial version handling 3 podcasts and only £1.50 or so to unlock CastCenter fully.
The world of Twitter clients is a strange one on any platform - after all, there are free clients for this social service from Twitter itself, there's the good mobile web version, and so on. And still developers keep popping up clients, not even deterred by the knowledge that they'll get blocked if they get too successful (100,000 users). The reason is that a Twitter timeline needs extremely efficient curation and presentation if it's not to overwhelm the user - in a crowded app genre, Aeries pulls out all the stops and ends up at the top of the pile.
The new bottom of the Lumia range is upon us, a low price but does it all represent a compromise too far, as on the ill-fated Lumia 530? Surprisingly, no, the compromise is very modest, as long as you're happy with a slightly smaller screen and don't need to shoot macro photos...