As of a few days ago, Microsoft killed the Windows Device Recovery Tool (WDRT) on their servers. As I write this you can't download the Windows application and if you try to run an installed copy of WDRT then it fails at the first hurdle when trying to check 'home' for a possible application update. The good news is that there's a patched version of the tool that still works just fine - at your own risk, of course! UPDATE: Now restored at Microsoft's end.
Recent News - Windows Phone 8
Starting off (in the smartphone world) with Series 60 (on Symbian) handsets, transitioning through Windows Phone 7.x phones, and ending up on Android, LG has officially closed its Mobile division, with the short statement quoted below. It's been a rocky road for LG, but even back in the mid 2000s at the Symbian shows, I never really felt their heart was in it, at least in terms of selling to - and supporting - the West. Some thoughts and a few looks back below.
A year ago, Netflix stopped working on all Windows-powered phones - the fear was that this was a conscious decision by Netflix to axe streams to specific platforms. In fact, it turns out that something was just 'broken'. And clearly the broken bit affected enough customers on enough legacy platforms that Netflix's engineers tracked down the bug and fixed it - Netflix works again on Windows 10 Mobile!*
For anything which can run full-on Windows 10, a significant new UI and services element just hit the Dev Channel (my Surface Pro is on this, hence the screenshots below). See also the quote from Microsoft about this - adding weather and more to the taskbar is a nice touch providing one has the screen real estate.
A day later than planned, but Microsoft has now thrown the server-side switch on Office Lens as a separate app on both Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 Desktop. From now on, it's a service inside the likes of Office (for all platforms). Which makes sense in a way and it's nice to have it integrated, but I for one will miss it as a general purpose OCR and archival tool. See below for links, quotes and screenshots.
For the last 20 years of smartphone cameras, from the earliest Symbian handsets (Nokia Nseries, mainly, then the 808 PureView) through the Lumias (1020, 950, mainly), and with iPhones and Android handsets also providing highlights here and there, users have had two main options in terms of phone imaging, both compromised. That changes this week, do please read on.
Earlier in the year, in May, we had an offline maps update for Windows 10 Mobile, months after the platform itself went 'end of support'. At the time, and with the TomTom deal announced, we thought that this was the last offline maps update we would see for Windows 10 Mobile. But not so - a few days ago we had another, with bang up to date late 2020 roads. Not bad for an out of support OS, I think.
Long time AAS readers will remember the Nokia N93, a unique multi-form factor smartphone with a barrel camera that included a genuine continuous 1-3x zoom lens system. It worked superbly, at least in good light, with the caveat that the reduced aperture when zoomed meant that evening and night shots suffered. Partly because of this, Nokia (and then the world) moved to computational photography and smart cropping into large, high megapixel sensors in order to try and zoom without the same degree of aperture loss, cuminating in 2012's Nokia 808 and 2013's Lumia 1020. But now comes news that a continuous zoom lens system may be making a come back, 14 years on from the N93...
The story so far: HERE Maps (née Nokia Maps, then Navteq) provided all the map data for the mapping and car navigation in Windows Phone for years*. Windows 10 brought a first party mapping client from Microsoft, but using all the HERE map data under the hood, on Desktop and Mobile. But over the last few years Microsoft has been getting cosier with TomTom, a rival map (and traffic data) supplier, and has now announced that future map updates will come from TomTom. Details below, plus I muse on how this affects Windows 10 Mobile and 'Windows 10 Maps' on our phones.
The trouble with launching a flagship smartphone a full year before availability (in this case, for reasons of encouraging developers to write for a new form factor) is that the specs can end up being a bit... underwhelming. And while I'm certainly not a benchmark obsessive, there are some spec points which - if true - will be very disappointing. Specifically, in term of imaging, battery, and Google Pay compatibility.