A slightly niche news post, but one that's important to anyone who accesses Twitter on Windows 10 Mobile or under any desktop browser. So perhaps that's more people than I'd at first have thought. For years, Twitter has been cropping (e.g. 4:3 and 16:9) photos to a 'letter box' (often the 'wrong' way) or square aspect ratio to try and keep people's timelines tidier - but it seems that users would rather see the whole of a posted image rather than just part of it, so Twitter has now dropped cropping in its web/PWA code. Which directly feeds into the Windows 10 Mobile Twitter app, of course.
Much linked to over the last few days has been a Google video showing exactly how to assemble a Pixel 6 Pro from first principles. But this is much more than someone reassembling something they've previously torn down - all the factory 'jigs', tools, and protective films are shown - despite the video quirks, it's a really interesting look at how a modern phone is 'made'.
Last covered back in March, PitlaneOne is a great UWP application for Windows. Including Windows 10 Mobile, for Lumias, etc. In fact, it's insanely great, which is why I thought I'd round up some of 2021's updates and highlight a few more of its features. In short, it's just about the best (free) way to keep track of the end of 2021's Formula 1 racing season. And did I mention that it's also available these days for iOS and Android?
With the launch of iOS 15, the promised major enhancements to Apple Maps are available to the general public for the first time. Admittedly, quite a bit is only for major cities around the world, but this will expand and you can have fun exploring your own closest capital. Or just spinning the virtual globe and having run zooming in, rotating, tilting, and so on. Below I take a lot of this for a spin on my iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Started as Project Andromeda with (an evolution of) Windows 10 Mobile, of course, the Surface Duo is now a year old and seemed the whole time like an experiment. Not least because its hardware design and internals were never really appropriate for use in a well-rounded smartphone - instead, the Duo had its roots in a productivity-centric pocket computer. But we now have the Surface Duo 2, ramping up the componentry to be competitive with the rest of the 2021 smartphone market.
Something of a cheat, in that I'm having to summarise other people's thoughts on the new iPhone 13 Pro range this year, since I'm not buying it (as in previous years), mainly because the update from 12 to 13 series is so relatively small. But I've been reading and watching the reviews and I thought it worth rounding up the verdicts, including some that highlight a serious shortcoming in the iPhone stills camera system - something that Apple should fix in a software update.
Ah yes, high resolution sensors continue to evolve. While not as technically sophisticated as Nokia's PureView RGB oversampling back in 2012 (just saying...), the new 'ChameleonCell' system from Samsung in the HP1 works on a (wait for it) 200MP sensor in either 2x2 (reducing the raw sensor resolution down to 50MP), 4x4 (ditto 12.5MP), or even full resolution pixel configurations, depending on available light. However, the pixel layout was also released and I have some serious colour rendering worries...
Another day, another new UWP title, at least during Launch 21. This time it's CryptoTracker, offering graphical and numeric analyses on up to 800 cryptocurrencies, along with portfolio tracking. Add in a choice of light and dark themes, plus it works on everything from a Lumia to a Windows 11 2-in-1. Top notch, and well done to the developer for letting 'ye olde' Lumias join in the fun.
Not a smartphone but very mobile, the diminutive Surface Go has been a mainstay of my computing setup for three years now*. A Start screen and full Windows in landscape or portrait modes, and useable as laptop, tablet, or - in an emergency - as a phone with the LTE edition. Why this news post? Because Microsoft just issued a raft of low level system firmware patches, great to see its hardware fully up to date.
Samsung has been holding a virtual event, launching the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Z Flip 3, with form factors the same as last year's, but with IPX8 waterproofing and tougher flexible displays, along with a new rubber-tipped, suspension-equipped S-Pen. Along the way, the Z Fold's selfie camera has gone under-display, giving a full tablet experience, which is pretty cool.