In a crowded marketplace, it's always good to carve out a niche - and this is what Microsoft did in the wearables space with the original Band, reviewed here. The idea was to do a lot more than a humble 'fitness band', yet stop short of a full smartwatch. As a result, the Band could be a big aid to your life while keeping a multi-day battery life. It was clunky though - and now we have the Band 2, in theory more comfortable, more durable and better in every way. We're well away from 'prototype' territory this time round, and it remains the smartest thing you can hook up to a Windows Phone, in particular...
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Sygic is an independent navigation product that's been around for the best part of a decade, existing in the margins while the big smartphone players like (first) Nokia, then Google, Apple and Microsoft, have made navigation an expected, free, part of every device in 2015. It's a tough market to be in and Sygic is doing its best to adapt. But on the evidence of this first 'universal' beta for Windows 10 Mobile, you'll have to really, really want some of the more niche features and be prepared to pay through the nose for the privilege.
The successor to the wildly popular Hitman GO, Lara Croft GO takes many of the same turn-by-time strategic moves in isometric 3D, and adds lashings of moveable scenery, monsters, and creepy atmosphere, all lovingly created with the same professional touches as in Hitman GO. I've been returning to this on journeys and other instances of downtime and it's just as addictive as its predecessor.
Fancy weaving from side to side and running over zombies? This is the zombie/driving hybrid game that everyone's been talking about. And it's on Windows Phone too. But is Route Z any good, how does the freemium pitch work, and what about the implementation on Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile? Here's my full review and verdict.
Getting the right 'moment' on camera has always been tricky, whether it's your kid's sports day or a birthday party. It's so easy to miss the moment, especially on camera-centric devices like the Lumia 1020, which is why shooting 1080p video and worrying about extracting the perfect 2MP 'still' later on is an attractive alternative. I've previously covered Vid2Pix, but that has some serious bugs that come back, erratically, to annoy. Instead, give Frame Grabber a try, it's potentially much faster and seems more stable in doing this most difficult of jobs - deconstructing MP4 video!
If there's one category of application that really shouldn't need to exist, it's music playback, since every computing platform includes this functionality out of the box. However, time spent with music, as well as ways of indexing and accessing it, is a very personal thing and there are a number of third party music player for Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile, each attempting to add their own 'spin' (pun intended) on the genre. In this case, Loco Music Player, with a wide choice of themes and lightning fast track indexing.
You may remember that one of my core 'must haves' for any computing platform is a KeePass client, with all my private data kept these days in the Cloud but mirrored on every computing device I own. From passwords to social IDs to engine numbers to bank details, it's all there, standalone and perfectly encrypted. Yet the likes of '7Pass' on Windows Phone haven't really matured, so I've switched to MetroPass, offering full upload (if not sync) back to the Cloud.
Yes, yes, I know I just reviewed the equivalent product for the Lumia 640, but a) this is in black, b) it's Friday, and c) there's a chance to have a dig at Microsoft over Qi charging again... This is the black official back cover replacement and it's for the larger device, the Lumia 640 XL, transforming my 'consumer' white 640 XL phablet into a mean black business machine...
I have to admit that I gulped a little at the price (£20) for this, the official Microsoft 'cover' for the Lumia 640, but I take it all back. When handing it round friends and family, physically melded with the phone, the general reaction was incredibly positive, turning a non-descript budget (in this case, black) Lumia into something of a blue leather object of desire. Really. It's that nice.
For a mobile platform 'without a YouTube client' (i.e. an official app from Google), Windows Phone sure has plenty of YouTube clients provided by third parties. And now the free Perfect Tube joins the fray, from the same developer as Perfect Music, reviewed here. And, like the music player, it's something of a triumph in terms of UI but ultimately slightly let down by real world performance and implementation in places, on my test Lumia 930.