Recent Features - Software

All About... Bluetooth music

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No, not another site(!), but a genuine attempt to dig into Bluetooth music, i.e. hooking up your smartphone to Bluetooth headphones and the gradual increase in audio quality over the last decade. When did it get so good and what are the underlying protocols and numbers? Here's where you need to know your codecs from your acronyms and your kilobits per second from your profiles...

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The curated UWP app directory for W10M: Spring 2021 update

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Six months on from the previous update, here is the Spring 2021 update (three additions, five apps removed, several links tweaked) to the AAWP directory of curated UWP applications, i.e. those with native Windows 10 UI and which support different orientations, Continuum and even use on laptop or tablet. Do please get involved in the comments to let me know of anything which has stopped working or disappeared from the Store.

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Windows Phone 8.1 in 2021. No Store, no MS account - what still works?

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As part of a week of Windows Phone 8.x features and tutorials, and four years after Microsoft stopped official support for the OS (and 18 months after the on-device Store physically stopped working), what does still work in Windows Phone 8.1 and what's a no-go? If you pick up a classic Lumia 1020 or 920, for example, at a bargain price, how do you get things going in a meaningful way? tldr; Social networks are a no-go, email is hit and miss, cloud storage is very sketchy, but Office, sat-nav, music, weather, and original photography are all as good as ever. [NB: despite being a big update of an existing article, I've left all comments intact.]

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Status report for May 2021: services and apps on Windows 10 Mobile

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Here, for May 2021, 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 ten months of comments are all still here.

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'Piny - Pinterest with love' UWP updated for 2021

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A full four years ago I looked at a fledgling UWP Pinterest client for Windows 10 Mobile - and, believe it or not, it's still being updated, with the latest in the last few days. The developers, Chococode, are one of the last active UWP app developers compiling for Windows 10 Mobile, so credit to them. Piny UWP is now £4 if you want to zap the ads, so it's slightly pricier than it was originally, but heck, at this stage in Windows 10 Mobile's existence, it's worth showering active developers in beer, so buying them a pint in this case is money well spent, I contend.

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2021 Smartphone photo storage thoughts

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With Google stepping back from their original vision for Google Photos, year on year, changes are afoot in the phone photo storage world. So I thought a round up of your options in 2021 would be worthwhile. This being cross-posted to AAWP, it's highly appropriate to suggest that Microsoft's OneDrive, as used originally back in Symbian (as 'SkyDrive') and then Windows Phone days, is still perhaps the premium repository for all your photos and videos. But there are alternatives galore...

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My Top 20 free Microsoft Windows 10 wallpaper/theme packs

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Almost exactly a year ago, I was struck by the quality and beauty of one of Microsoft's official Windows 10 Wallpaper/Theme packs for Windows 10. Each with stunning colours and composition, and each with 15 (or so) wallpapers for your PC/hybrid to cycle through and generally take theme and colour cues from. So I wrote a guide for adapting these for Windows 10 Mobile, e.g. on a Lumia. Since then we've had dozens of similar packs, i.e. many hundreds of super-high-end images, so I thought I'd pick my top 20, in case you too feel like a wallpaper/theme change for your PC/phone.

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Which are the best Windows 10 Mobile games still available?

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So... it's 2021 and Windows 10 Mobile has been out of support for well over a year. But plenty of AAWP readers still have Lumias, notably the 950 and 950 XL, plus the IDOL 4 Pro, Elite x3, and even older phones like the Lumia 930 and 1520, upgraded. In search of some games to while away the time until Spring and the end of lockdown, I thought I'd round up my favourites that are still available in the Store, for new installation. See if you get inspired to put on your gamer hat!

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How to: get Microsoft's Over-the-cable Updater working again

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Internet security protocols evolve over time and this can scupper older platforms and their support tools. In this case it's Microsoft's rather handy Over-the-cable Updater utility. This runs with a command line interface under Windows and - in theory - updates any Windows phone (8.1 or 10) to the latest officially supported OS/firmware version. Very useful over the years, but security (TLS) changes at Microsoft's end have broken it - and it seems there's no hope at this stage of Microsoft fixing the tool to work seamlessly with the newer Internet security. Hence this slightly geeky workaround.

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'Your Phone' vs Samsung DeX for Windows

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Last week I looked at how Microsoft's Your Phone system had been evolving over the last 12 months, but I did tease that I wanted to compare it to Samsung's DeX for Windows (or Mac) - both seem to offer functions that have overlap, to say the least. Having established that Your Phone's core features can be helpful but that the concept isn't exactly foolproof or mainstream, is DeX for Windows (or Mac) any better?

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