The arrival of genuine homescreen 'widgets' in iOS (see the screenshots below) has prompted more thought about the concept and about which mobile OS has mastered them, if any. Symbian and Android both had home screen widgets in 2009, while Windows Phone reimagined the idea completely for its 'live tiles' in 2010. And, a decade later, the iPhone joins the widgets party. But have any of these mobile OS really delivered? I say no. Or at least, not yet, with iOS 14's new implementation looking promising for the future.
Recent Features - Windows Phone 8
I get asked every so often to condense my years of (ahem) photographic wisdom into digestable form - and set against the background of phone camera hardware and software which is constantly improving. It has been six years since I did something along these lines on AAS or AAWP, so let's put that right now. Your typical 2020 smartphone camera system will take pretty good photos in full 'auto' on its own, but what can you do to take the next step?
The arrival of the Realme X3 SuperZoom, another smartphone with much hyped zoom camera system had me scurrying for some zoom favourites of yesteryear for AAS and AAWP readers, plus I also threw in the current champions, the iPhone 11 Pro and Huawei P40 Pro, for good measure. Six contenders then and I'll throw various zoom and low light use cases at them. Note that it's not all about extreme zoom, as I contended in an editorial last week, sometimes it's about zoom versatility.
A blast from the past, but I had the pleasure of interviewing Juha Alakarhu on my most recent Phones Show Chat podcast, published yesterday and embedded below. Juha is, of course, the man who co-crafted the cameras in the Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020 (and various Nseries and the Lumia 950 before and after) - and is respected as something of an imaging guru in the industry. Do have a listen, he reveals some of the background to the two champion 41MP camera phones, including just how hard the 1020 was, in particular, having to combine the 808's power with the expected OIS after the Lumia 920's release.
When considering smartphone imaging, there are two end goals, depending on who you talk to. The populist opinion, catered to by the likes of Samsung and Huawei, is that the photos you take should 'pop', with exagerated edges and detail, enhanced colours, and so on. My view, even though I enjoy hyper-real images as much as the next man, is that photos should accurately portray the world you see, and with as little enhancement as possible. In other words, photos from a phone should be natural and with scope for enhancement later in software without worrying about starting from an edge-enhanced, over sharpened base...
Yes, the likes of the Huawei P30 Pro have brought 5x telephoto lenses to the smartphone world. But for casual, real world zooming, i.e. modest zoom on likely subjects at 2x and 3x, what are the pros and cons of computational versus optical zoom in smartphone cameras? I explore this, with the help of the Lumia 1020, a modern Pixel 3, a modern Samsung, and that aforementioned P30 Pro...
In this latest 'Anatomy' imaging feature, I look at ways to 'think differently', in terms of angles, framing and positioning, to capture memories and create interest. My subject this time? A steam train heading off to the sea-side, though I was hampered by overcast conditions - not that this put me off!
I've simplified the title slightly, of course. The Lumia 950 wasn't a 'Nokia' product, but a Microsoft branded one by the ex-Nokia engineers. Still... the last one, the Nokia 9, is named accurately, though it's the 'new' Nokia under HMD's management. Everything's 'bought in', with the imaging here licensed from Light, though HMD is keen to apply the old 'PureView' brand. Ensuring that yours truly resurrects the PureView classics of old to carry out a detailed camera (stills, video may come after) comparison. Let the PureView battle commence!
MWC 2019 has wrapped, but not without echoes of MWC 2012, where Nokia took the wraps off something it had been working on for five years, the 808 PureView, much to everyone's astonishment, not least that it ran Symbian, considered 'old' even in 2012. The big reveal was the use of a 41MP sensor, of course - and here I want to reminisce about the aims of 'PureView' and the resurgence of the brand and also the technology. Not necessarily in the same phones!
Back in early 2010 I was part of a panel of people giving feedback on different aspects of phone functions, software and hardware, run on behalf of Nokia. The latter section was about handling a variety of unmarked (non-running) prototypes and saying what we thought about the physicality. Two, in particular, caught my eye, with QWERTY keyboards and slide'n'tilt displays. One went on to become the Nokia E7, running Symbian, the other (larger, which I preferred) went on to become the Nokia N950, running MeeGo. And now, in 2019, inspired directly by these designs, we have a new Communicator, shown off at MWC.