Cortana, Microsoft's voice assistant, was always a latecomer to the party, following Siri and whatever Google were calling their voice tech at the time, but it was right up there in terms of functionality in 2015. However, with the withdrawal from 'mobile' and with the ending of support for Windows 10 Mobile in January 2020, what Cortana can actually do has gone downhill, with many people, including me, concluding that the assistant was dead and useless. That's not... quite... true, since there are numerous voice queries that still produce sensible results. With quite a few caveats, as you might expect!
I know, I know, the Lumia range is fading into memory now - but fans of the way the likes of the Lumia 950 could be disassembled in seconds to replace the battery, then a batch of Torx screws and everything else came out, will love the new Fairphone 4, due in for review this week. In fact, there are even less screws involved than on the Lumia, the screws are standard cross-heads, spare parts are more obviously available, AND the assembled phone is bang up to date Android, competitive in terms of components, and has guaranteed updates for many years to come. And, like the Lumias, there's no need to use a case - ever. This, ladies and gents, is where someone clinging onto a Lumia should perhaps look. Below, I compare the devices, spec for spec.
In the latest in our occasional series on smartphone photography, I may have moved on from a Lumia as a day to day phone, but the ideas and ambitions are still there. In this example, I use zooming, cropping and healing to deliver a cinematic shot from an otherwise unspectacular scene. See what you think and don't forget to think about sending in your own best shots and the story behind them!
Hugh Jeffreys is an Australian YouTuber and he's been doing some partial dismantling and component swapping in recent years, specifically to challenge the 'Right to repair' on Apple's iPhones. In the video embedded below, he explores the latest iPhone 13 range and discovers that Apple is digitally pairing even more components than in last year's phones. But is this actually a problem? Although I applaud the right to repair in general, the sheer complexity and quality of some modern products perhaps move them into different repair territory...
Although most smartphones have shot decent video for a decade, actually putting this footage to slick use using a video editor has almost always been something you would do on a desktop/laptop, after copying the MP4 files over. But I was recently forced to put together a semi-pro video on just my phone - and it turned out pretty well. Given the interest in this sort of thing, I've cross-posted this on AAWP as well as AAM, the latter since - probably obviously - the smartphone in question here is the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Now, editing big video projects on a phone is somewhat extreme, but see below for proof and some tips and tricks.
One of my favourite things a smartphone can do is help me go to sleep when my mind is whirling. Now, this isn't a new concept in smartphones, since there are third party applications for both Windows 10 Mobile and Android that play, for example, the sound of rainfall, the ocean, a bubbling stream, and so on. The idea is to mask out other sounds that might distract you from sleep and it works really, really well. Bringing me to this simple 'how to', highlighting that Apple has (quietly) added basic 'background sounds' into its latest iOS 15 - for free, and for everyone.
The latest in my 'Life after Lumias' series, and almost six months on from my previous article on this subject, I have several tweaks and a new pick. These are my top suggestions for smartphones to replace a Windows-powered device, now that Windows 10 Mobile is now long unsupported and as services gradually start to wind down. I've tested just about everything on the market and here's my updated verdict in terms of functionality, future viability, and - crucially - value for money! It's also hopefully a good guide for anyone looking for a new smartphone generally and wondering where on earth to start.
Here, for October 2021, a month after the previous update, is the refreshed/latest news and comment on applications and services on Windows 10 Mobile - the OS itself has now had its very last security update, but it still works on the whole. This feature will summarise what's broken and what's not, along with workarounds where possible. Details and links have all been updated throughout. Note that I've kept the URL the same, so the last year of comments are all still here.
Shooting video on our phones is something we all do from time to time, usually when out and about with family, and especially with kids, who you want to capture as photogenically as possible at every age, so that you can look back when they're older. And, off to one side in Apple's tweaked Camera application for the iPhone 13 range, is a new video capture mode that aims to please. With this in mind, and with a superb example clip from an iPhone 13 owner, here are my thoughts on the new system, including how it actually works.
The final imaging test sequence with the Sony Xperia 5 iii before it temporarily goes back to Sony PR, I had several people ask how its imaging was compared to the Lumia 950/XL. And, with a new monthly update under the Sony's belt, I'm happy to oblige. Again, it's a 'bells and whistles' (and jacks and ports) option in 2021 for an old Lumia fan, but just how does the camera quality stack up? Sadly, I think I've found a significant flaw - (yet again, as we often say with Sony) hopefully fixable with updates.