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Microsoft Lumia 550 Review

Now that the excitement over the launch of Microsoft’s flagship devices, the Lumia 950 and 950 XL is over, it’s time to pay attention to the Lumia 550, the first low-end device launched by Microsoft running Windows 10. Microsoft has always delivered compelling budget smartphones at the entry level position and the Lumia 550 is the latest device in the lineup that aims to deliver. Let’s check out what the Lumia 550 has to offer users.

Microsoft Lumia 550 Review

Let’s start with the hardware. Typical to past Lumias, the exterior comes with a polycarbonate case that is simple and sturdy, which looks just about ideal for a device of this class. The trouble with the black matte though is that it is prone to collecting fingerprints and smudges.

The Lumia 550 has a 4.7″ screen with 1280×720p resolution and PPI of 315, making images and text crisp and clear looking. The bright colors and good viewing angles make it a good screen to have on a low end device as this one. It measures 136.1 x 67.8 x 9.9mm and weighs 142g, which is quite heavy for a 4.7 inch device.

Since the screen is small, the on-screen navigation controls may feel a little pesky, but you can swipe away the controls if you plan on playing a game or watching a movie. Plus, it is super easy to use in one hand. Windows 10 Mobile even offers a one-hand mode that you can switch to if you want to bring down content from the top of the screen without having to reach that far.

The right side of the device holds the volume up, volume down, and power buttons. At the top is a 3.5mm audio jack and at the bottom is the standard MicroUSB cable for charging. The back panel is removable and holds the slots for the expandable MicroSD card (up to 128GB) and Nano-SIM. Since the device comes with just 8GB of internal memory, you’ll have to get yourself a MicroSD card to store your photos, movies and music.

Microsoft-Lumia-550-Preview

Microsoft has optimized the Windows 10 Mobile platform very well and that is probably why you find the device working well with a Snapdragon 210 processor with 1GB of RAM. Whether you are browsing or doing light-weight tasks, things run quite smoothly. However, if you attempt to run too many apps you’ll feel the performance taking a hit. Since you won’t be doing heavy duty tasks with the Lumia 550, you can expect the 2100 mAh battery to last a while. If you use the device for normal activities, you can get through the entire day without having to search for your charger and that’s a big plus.

As with all Microsoft devices, the biggest problem that Microsoft is still having is the lack of good quality apps in the App Store. Although Microsoft is pushing hard with its Universal Apps program, top notch apps are only trickling in and that’s a serious problem that Microsoft needs to tackle with greater urgency, especially if it wants consumers around the world to take its smartphones seriously.

As far as the operating system goes, Windows 10 Mobile is great at bridging the gap between devices, but there are many software bugs that Microsoft still needs to iron out. Issues reported include the Start screen disappearing, apps not launching and tiles disappearing as well. The issues appear only temporarily but they do spoil the overall user experience – something no consumer will like to see after having spent their hard earned money on a big brand such as Microsoft.

Microsoft-Lumia-640-Review

Otherwise, you get a great Windows 10 experience, with Live tiles, pinning and resizing options, live tile notifications, the swipe down Action Center, Cortana integration and so on. The Messaging app is integrated with Skype, so you can simply send and receive Skype messages via the Messaging Hub. Call quality is good although the speakers offer only average volume levels. Using the headphones is the best way to get the most out of your music.

Coming to the camera, the Lumia 550 is fitted with a 5-MP autofocus lens with an LED flash at the rear and a 2-MP front-facing camera. The shots from the rear camera are not amazing, but good for day time shots. Don’t expect to be taking professional photographs with this one and forget about taking shots in dark environments. The front facing camera is okay to take selfies and if you want to take videos, the quality is about 720p for the rear camera and 480p for the front camera, both at 30fps.

Unlike the high end models, you don’t get Continuum support with the Lumia 550. Continuum is a new Windows 10 feature that lets you get a Windows PC like user experience by plugging in your phone to some peripherals.

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The Lumia 550 is a great device if you are just starting out on your Windows 10 smartphone journey. Remember that this is a low end device and the features it offers are precisely the kind of features you can expect from a low end device. Despite the fact that it costs about $140, it is a device that looks good, is sturdy, and offers you a good experience for a device of its class. No great feat to be achieved with this one, but it is a perfect choice if you’re starting out or looking for a secondary device to have on you.

Microsoft Lumia 950 Review

Microsoft may be riding a high wave on the strength of its Windows operating system, Office suite, and Xbox gaming consoles, but when it comes to smartphone devices, they are not just lagging behind, but getting an astonishing amount of ridicule for their efforts thus far. Is all that about to change now that Microsoft is directly involved in the production of Windows Phones? The launch of Microsoft’s flagship device, the Lumia 950 could just hold the answer to that question and to the survival of Microsoft phones in the future as well.

Lumia-950-Review

The question is whether Microsoft has just intended the Lumia 950 to be a flagship device that users will upgrade to (since there hasn’t been a Windows Phone launch in quite a long time!) or is this one that will break through the barriers of mediocrity that has plagued the smartphone arm of the company and emerge as the go-to- phone for the future generation? Let’s find out.

We’ll start with the hardware. The first thing you’ll notice about the Lumia 950 is the polycarbonate shell and unimaginative design. The shell is only available in 2 colors, black or white and lacks the premium look that you’d expect in an expensive device such as the 950. On the bright side, you’ll probably end up having fewer scratches in the long run. Another plus is the advantage of having a firm grip on the phone if you’re using it single handed for taking photos in a crowded subway.

Under the shell lies the SIM and expandable storage slot sections and the removable battery. The right edge of the phone is lined up with the standard Volume Up and Down buttons followed by the Power and Camera button while the phone’s USB-C port sits at the bottom.

The Lumia 950 has a 5.2-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 AMOLED display, which sits beneath a sheet of Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The display resolution at 564 pixels per inch (ppi) matches the Galaxy S6 while bettering the iPhone 6. Although not as slim as the iPhone 6S and the Samsung Galaxy S6, the Lumia is still lightweight, measuring about 8.25mm thin and weighing 150g.

Lumia-950-Camera

It has a 20 MP, Zeis Lens, PureView and OIS enabled rear camera that lets you capture great photos, while the 5MP front camera features a wide-angle lens, which is decent enough for taking selfies with your buddies. The camera is also capable of 4k video recordings with the ability to record up to 120 fps slow motion in 720p. Overall, there’s nothing new or groundbreaking about the phone’s camera, but it does a good enough job that an iPhone or Samsung would do.

The Lumia’s spec sheet lists the latest Qualcomm processor, the 64-bit, hexa-core Snapdragon 808; 3GB of RAM, 32GB of onboard storage, which can be expanded to as much as 200GB via a microSD card, and an Iris scanner. Powering this device is a 3000 mAh battery that can last up to 9 hours and 30 minutes if your usage involves web browsing via Wi-Fi, 10 hours of 1080p video playback and 18 hours of talk over 3G. So at least on paper, the phone should take you through the day.

So while the hardware isn’t the most exciting thing about the Lumia 950, the software is what’s worth noting. Microsoft has finally managed to bridge the gap between its smartphones, tablets, and PCs with Windows 10 operating system. That said, if you’re expecting a complete UI overhaul from Windows 8, you won’t see that on the Lumia 950. However, there are plenty of desktop features you’ll enjoy using such as Microsoft’s fun virtual personal assistant Cortana, the new Edge browser, and the mobile versions of the Mail and Calendar desktop apps. These features should definitely appeal to users who want the Windows desktop experience on the phone.

Microsoft-Lumia-950

The new Windows 10 Hello feature is also available on the Lumia 950, making it super easy to log in to the phone by just looking at it; no PIN or password is required. Again, the lack of a fingerprint scanner may be disappointing to some. The most interesting feature of Windows 10 on mobile is Continuum, the feature that turns the tiny phone into a full-fledged PC. You’ll however need to pick up some additional components for this to work such as the $99 Display Dock, a mouse and keyboard and an external display, such as a TV or a monitor. Once you plug the phone to the dock and to the rest of the peripherals, your phone content will get displayed on the big screen, giving you a wholesome Windows 10 user experience. I’m not talking stretched out images to fill up the big space but appropriate resizing of tiles and content that’s on your phone.

Continuum still has some way to go though, because it supports only a handful of apps, most of it being Microsoft’s own contribution. It may not also be convenient or practical for users to carry around the different peripherals to get the Continuum experience on the go. Also, the Microsoft Store still lags behind badly when it comes to Universal apps with even big names like Twitter and Instagram still not being as good as the ones on Android or iOS.

Lumia-950-Windows-Experience

Overall, the Lumia 950 is a pretty decent phone. It has a nice looking screen, a great camera and feels solid. When it comes to smartphones, Microsoft is still way behind leaders like Apple and Google. What would have made a powerful impact in the space would have been a smartphone that wasn’t just visually appealing, but also highly innovative and app rich. If you expected the Microsoft Lumia 950 to offer you one such experience, you should know by now that it is not the case. If on the other hand, you are a big Windows Phone fan, (and probably hate the iOS and Android ecosystem) you might be eager to upgrade to the newest flagship device. In such a case, the $550 Microsoft Lumia 950 is probably one that might catch your eye.

Snapchat for Windows Phone: What Will It Take to Land on the App Store

Mention the word Snapchat to a Windows Phone user and he will most likely shake with anger and vehemence. Why? Because this popular video messaging app is still not available on the Windows Phone App Store with no likely release prospect even for the foreseeable future. What is worse is that since December of 2014, even third party applications that were substituting for Snapchat for Windows Phone went missing. The reason? Snapchat had emailed all third party app users to refrain from using the apps or face the consequences – a possible account ban.

Most Windows Phone users were outraged by what had happened – after all, if the company did not have an official app nor had plans to develop one, it was only fair that they appeased their Windows Phone user base with alternate options.

Snapchat for Windows Phone

User Reactions to Takedown

Reactions to the take-down ranged from anger and fury to pleading and cajoling.

One user questioned Snapchat on Twitter saying: “Just wanna know why there’s no snapchat for Windows phone??? pls, develop it or give the rights back to 6snap!” and then pleaded “and i’m saying it with all my heart, consider it!”.

While another user had this to say: Hey @Snapchat and @snapchatsupport can you give windowsphone people some love icons.

Snapchat has however not softened its stand despite continued requests and pleas. The company apparently even had to take down its support page that allowed users to request the app for different platforms, due to the huge volume of requests it received for Windows Phone support.

Developer Rudy Huyn of 6snap, one of the best alternatives for Snapchat for Windows Phone and the most popular choice among its users was hopeful for a sensible resolution. He took to Twitter to inform his app users that he would be working closely with Microsoft to convince Snapchat to change its mind. That was almost 10 months ago. He even advised his Twitter followers/users to keep the app on their phones in the hope that things will change.

In January of 2015, Rudy made an unprecedented move. He offered to give Snapchat access to the 6snap source code with a request not to desert its Windows Phone users. That also appeared to have fallen on deaf ears. (Obviously Snapchat can make its own Windows Phone app and doesn’t need support from a third party developer to make that happen.)

Then in April of this year (2015), Rudy reported that 6snap won’t be coming to Windows Store after all, since Snapchat was firm on the ban.

Why the Ban?

To be fair to Snapchat, the reason for the clamp down on the third party plugins was cited as breach of security. A huge number of photos and videos from Snapchat users were stolen and posted on the web. Third party apps that used reverse-engineered APIs were found to be the source of the breach and the company was left with little choice but to ban them.

Although this explains the reason for the takedown, it still does not explain why Snapchat won’t make an official Snapchat for Windows Phone app. Perhaps, Snapchat CEO Evan Speigel’s reaction could offer some insight. In a Twitter chat with a Windows Phone user back in 2013, he flippantly remarked that he “didn’t think anyone used those.

However, it seems that Evan is either grossly ignorant or indifferent to the steady growth of the Windows Phone market. But what about the passionate pleas of the app fans? After all, a company can ill afford to turn a blind eye to such an outpouring of user requests.

Future of Snapchat for Windows Phone

Let’s face it! Windows Phone users love Snapchat. Although there are those who feel violated by Snapchat’s indifference to their pleas and swear that they are better off without it, there are those who still continue to petition the company. Windows Phone users are encouraged to sign a petition on Change.org to make Snapchat for Windows Phone. At present there are over 51000 petitioners but the campaign needs more steam (perhaps a celebrity endorsement?) if it is going to make Snapchat turn around and take notice.

Windows users can continue to hope for a change of heart from Snapchat (there was one vague tweet that raised hopes in May 2015 but nothing has emerged thereafter). Or hope that someone has the vision to create a noteworthy Snapchat competitor that can transform the way users snap and share photos and videos with the world.

Microsoft for its part could do more to encourage the big players to build apps for its platform. It should be plainly clear to them by now that Windows Phones can never be spoken of in the same breath as iPhone and Android if they don’t have the best apps in their kitty. And until that situation is fixed, people like Evan are only going to say “didn’t think anyone used those.”

What do you think of the sorry state of affairs concerning Snapchat and Windows Phone? Is the customer king no more?

20 Best Windows Phone Games So Far

The Windows App Store may not be on par with the iOS and Android App stores as yet, but that doesn’t mean there are no quality apps and games available for you to download and enjoy. In fact, we recently covered twenty of the best Windows Phone apps that are a must have on any Windows device. And if you are someone who loves to play games on your phone, here are the best Windows Phone games that you simply mustn’t do without.

Crossy Road Windows Phone Games

Crossy Road

Why did the chicken cross the road? The answer to that question probably lies in this endless jumping game. You play a chicken who must try to reach his home without dying. Dangerous hazards and obstacles are lined up along the way that can cause immediate death. And if you stay too long in one place, an eagle might swoop down on you and carry you away. Life’s tough in this endless arcade game, but then there’s so much fun attempting to beat the odds as well.

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Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Monument Valley is an isometric puzzle game that will have you leading a princess through mazes and optical illusions by moving platforms and creating bridges with the hope of reaching the final destination. The game’s hand-crafted artwork is breathtaking and is a feast for the senses. The sound effects are another high point in the game and is best experienced with headphones. If you love puzzle games, you’ll enjoy exploring the fascinating worlds in Monument Valley. Price: $3.99

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Geometry Dash

Geometry Dash

If you love rhythm-based running games, Geometry dash is one for the collection. There are plenty of levels with unique soundtracks for each one and the game gets progressively difficult as you hit the higher levels. Thankfully there are checkpoints for respawning, should you die before completing a level. Other highlights of the game include practice levels, user created levels, customizations and a wide variety of game modes and icons. Achievements and rewards will make you coming back for more. Price: $1.99

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Asphalt 8 Airborne

Asphalt 8: Airborne

This top arcade racer game for Windows Phone is powered by an all new physics engine making it possible to perform high-speed aerial stunts, barrel rolls and wild 360 degree jumps in the coolest cars on the planet. 13 unique locations, 95 high performance cars, 9 seasons and more than 300 events in the Career mode means you’ll be spending many hours enjoying the thrills and spills of the game. Asphalt 8 also offers multiplayer support, so you can enjoy racing against up to 12 opponents. Do you have what it takes to top the leaderboards. Only one way to find out!

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Phoenix Force Windows Phone Games

Phoenix Force

The Earth has been burned to ashes and monsters and evil creatures roam the lands. The Phoenix has risen from the ashes but must now work towards restoring the planet by bringing essential gems to the Tree of Life. This highly challenging strategy game with over a hundred boss battles will keep you on your toes and smash all your boredom away.

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Major Mayhem WP

Major Mayhem WP

Enjoy 48 levels of non stop run and gun as you attempt to rescue your girlfriend from the Forces of Evil. The game has picturesque 3D environments filled with plenty of bad guys and the only way to stop them is to use guns, grenades and other deadly weapons at your disposal. Major Mayhem has over 150 mission objectives and 100 achievements to earn and collect. It is a game that can quickly turn addictive. You have been warned!

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Pako

Pako

Pako is a simple, straightforward game that’s completely fun to play. You are stuck in an enclosed area and the cops are chasing you. Your car has no breaks so you’ll be dodging incoming vehicles while attempting to overrun the cops. The game’s primary challenge is how long you can hold out. Do you have what it takes to be in the Top 10. Download Pako and find out!

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Rail Rush

Rail Rush

Rail Rush is a fun endless runner where you hit the rail cart and head into the mines to collect gold nuggets, gems and other precious stones. The game has 10 worlds including the Amazon jungle, the terrific Undersea World, Horror Land, and the wonderful Snow Land, apart from many other secret levels. You can switch between 18 different characters, pick up cool powerups and collect in-game achievements while tilting and swiping your way around and there’s never a dull moment in this addictive runner.

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Think

Think

As the title suggests, this one’s a brain teaser set in a minimalistic environment. The game is designed to be played with friends and family as you work together to solve the visual clues. For instance, you’ll need to look at a bunch of images and decipher what it is trying to tell you. The game’s hint system involves communicating with an AI and this interaction in itself offers a whole new level of manipulation. Think has over 360 puzzles spread across 30 chapters and it’s a fun game to play with a group of friends.

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Royal Revolt

Royal Revolt!

In Royal Revolt, you play a prince who has been sent to Bogsmarts to study magic. When you return home, you find that your greedy relatives have usurped your father’s throne. Its time to pull together a few trusted knights and heroes and employ magic and spells to kick your wicked relatives out of the castle. Royal Revolt proves that magic and combat action can never go stale!

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Age of Sorcery

Age of Sorcery

Age of Sorcery is a fantastic massively multiplayer online (MMO) that has you building an empire and developing its cities while undertaking several dangerous adventures. You must hunt down legendary monsters, conquer palaces abandoned by the Gods, form alliances and fight many wars. The game looks gorgeous with awesome animations and the extensive world map offers plenty of game time. You can invite your friends, form alliances, and conquer and raid other players in real time, if you have a good stable network connection, that is.

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Imperia Online The Great People

Imperia Online: The Great People

Another must-play for MMO fans is Imperia Online: The Great People. The game has you recruiting soldiers, commandeering armies into epic battles and conquering neighboring lands in order to become Lord of the Medieval Realm. The game is highly addictive with a good level of depth and you are sure to have fun inviting friends, forming alliances, battling foes, and earning in-game achievements to prove your awesomeness.

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Despicable Me Minion Rush

Despicable Me: Minion Rush

Enjoy the company of the cutest creatures on the planet – the Minions (from the movie Despicable Me of course!) as they jump, roll, dodge and chatter their way through exotic worlds to complete fun missions. The game has plenty of unpredictable moments and hilarity, and you will encounter secret areas, pick up unbelievable power ups and take on the boss boss Gru himself apart from many new villains. Custom animations, cute voiceovers, 3D graphics and dynamic camera angles make this a must-play game on your Windows phone.

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Dragons Blade II FX

Dragon’s Blade II FX

This is a classic turn-based RPG that you can play online at your own pace. You build a team from 11 unique classes and begin your adventures across various continents by battling hundreds of monsters and big bosses. Your rewards are treasures that will help you strengthen your team. Online play allows you to chat with other players, join guilds, play mini games and fight PvP battles and guild wars. There are over 40 hours of story based gameplay, so if you have plenty of time on your hands, make sure you pick up Dragon’s Blade II FX.

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SongArc

SongArc

If you loved Guitar hero, you will love SongArc even more. This highly addictive game has some groundbreaking music and innovative game play that lets you decide which part of the song you want to emphasize – the guitar, the vocals, or the drums. Tap shapes to the beat of the music to reach the arc and in the process add your own unique touch to the music. That’s what thousands of SongArc players around the world are doing, having created over 40K custom music sheets in the process. Love music? Love mobile games? Hit the link below.

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Doors

Doors

Doors is another example of how you can make a simple straightforward game so challenging and addictive. Here, you solve hidden mysteries to open the door and escape the room. You need to collect items by finding them hidden in places of special interest and open the door using them. The game has plenty of variation and the puzzles are not so easy to crack. If you still haven’t tried the game, better late than never.

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Century City

Century City

Century City is a tapping game that requires tapping a gold mine to pile up the money needed to build your city. Beautiful artwork, plenty of mini games and a social aspect (you can invite friends, compete with them, visit their city and collect rare rewards) make this a fun game to download and enjoy.

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Nightmares From The Deep The Cursed Heart

Nightmares From The Deep: The Cursed Heart

One of my favorite games in this list comes from Artifex Mundi, developers of the best hidden object adventure games on the planet. In this adventure, you play a museum owner who must trace an undead pirate who has kidnapped your daughter to sacrifice her in order to resurrect his dead mistress. The game takes you through haunted territories and chilling locations where you must confront the past and solve mysteries before its too late.

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Township

Township

Township is a fun city building game that also involves a bit of farming. You run your farm, harvest crops, run processing facilities, sell goods and build your city with the revenue generated. There are plenty of activities to indulge in – from exploring mines to sailing off to far off lands and if you had a dream to create your own perfect city, you can bring it to life on your Windows Phone with Township.

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War Inc - Modern World Combat

War Inc – Modern World Combat

We finish off this mega list with yet another awesome MMO/ RTS game set in a futuristic world – War Inc – Modern World Combat. The year is 2085 and the world as we know it is gone, ruled as it is, by the ruthless War Corp. Your job is to build powerful towers, form armies, and conquer your foes in intensive battles. This is a comprehensive battle game with an amazing battle play, in depth strategies and a deep upgrade system. You can join and fight with and against millions of players online for glory and worldwide domination. Enjoy!

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20 Best Windows Phone Apps of All Time

Windows Phone users, do you have the best, most useful and entertaining Windows apps on your phone? Not sure? With thousands of apps in-store and more and more new ones being added everyday, you can get bogged down trying to find the ones that really matter. Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Just check out this list of the 20 best Windows Phone apps and download them at your leisure because it doesn’t get better than this.

Wikipedia Best Windows Phone Apps

Wikipedia

If you need an encyclopedia in your pocket Wikipedia is a must have. The app has plenty of great features including Cortana support, multiple language search support, options to read articles in offline mode, search by location, and Pocket integration for reading later. Other notable aspects of the app include a quick summary view, options to save as favorites, view previous versions, add live tiles for quick access and share via Facebook, Twitter, mail or by generating a QR Code.

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My Piano Phone

My Piano Phone

Playing games and watching video clips is great fun, but you can do something more constructive with your Windows Phone too, such as learning to play a musical instrument. Thanks to My Piano Phone, you can choose to learn how to play an acoustic piano, electric piano, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, trumpet, drum kit or violin. My Piano Phone is a great time killer as you have plenty of songs to learn and I’ll bet you’ll have lots of fun doing it as well.

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1 ToolKit

#1 ToolKit

Do you have a torch on your Windows Phone? Or a magnifier, or a recorder, or a stop watch. No? Well you don’t have to download all these essentials as individual apps. Just grab #1 Toolkit from the Windows Store and you’ll get 16 tools in one go. You’ll get a Ruler, Compass, Protractor, Flashlight, Mirror, Magnifier, One Tap, Unit and Currency converter, Noise meter, Recorder, Timer, Stop Watch, World Clock, and Speed Meter. Cool, isn’t it?

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Movie Maker 81

Movie Maker 8.1

Movie Maker 8.1 is a powerful video editing app that allows you to bring out your creative movie making skills on the Windows phone. You can use videos, pictures and music to create your movie with no time constraints holding you back. Custom camera features, editing tools, customizable MP4 and MP3 compressor, and the MP3 Studio and MP3 Recorder tools lets you make the most of your media resources and when you’ve created magic you can share it on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook or save it on OneDrive. The only way to experience all the rich features of the app is to download and try it.

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DubStep Pad

DubStep Pad

You don’t have to be the world’s great Dubstep fan to create some cool tunes. Just download the app on your Windows Phone and enjoy mixing different beats to create your own sounds. You can also record the tunes and enjoy listening to them at your leisure. Download the app right away and dubstep your blues away.

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Flixster

Flixster

Nothing can be more entertaining than checking out all the latest movie trailers and catching up on all the critical reviews of the latest releases. Your access to all this is Flixster. Not only do you get to check out the top box office hits, upcoming movies, and new DVD releases, you can look up show times in a theatre near you, and find nearby restaurants using Yelp. Plus, you can search for movies by title, create a list of movies you want to see, rate movies you’ve seen and set movie posters as your lock screen background. Add a live tile on your Start screen to access all this info even without opening the app. And the best part, if you have an UltraViolet Collection, you can stream the movies you own or rent and watch them on the app.

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CamScanner

CamScanner

Named as one of the 50 best mobile apps by TIME magazine, CamScanner is your go-to app for scanning, storing, syncing and collaborating on documents while on the go. The app is packed with plenty of powerful features including using unlimited annotations, copying, exporting and reading recognized texts to other apps, converting to PDF or JPEG files, batch scanning multiple pages and merging documents. CamScanner is a must have productivity app for your Windows Phone and it costs you nothing to download and use. So go for it!

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Das Image

Das Image

Pictures tell a thousand words. Sometimes all you need to do to unwind is head over to a picture gallery, scroll through hundreds of topical images and get lost in the beauty of it all. Das Image makes this job easier for you by giving you access to endless HD images from Bing, Flickr, Picasa, 500px, FFFFound and Instagram. You can also search for images using keywords such as super models, celebrities, cars, cats, and more, save these images to use as wallpapers or share them with your friends.

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Dictionary

Dictionary

It never hurts to have a dictionary on your person and if you agree with me, this one should do nicely. Just as you expect with any other dictionary, you can search over 150,000 words and definitions, find synonyms and antonyms, learn a new word every day, and play word games to improve your crossword solving skills.

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Runtastic

Runtastic

No app collection is complete without a fitness tracker and the one that we recommend for Windows Phone is Runtastic. It tracks all your fitness activities, records the duration, distance, speed, calories burned and a whole lot of other stats. You can also manually add workout entries for indoor workouts, show off your live stats to family and friends (if they are impressive) and get some live cheers from them as well for your efforts. This fitness app isn’t just work work work, you can have fun with it too!

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PhotoFunia_Screens

PhotoFunia

Photounia is a cloud-based photo editing tool that lets you add amazing effects to your photos and create photo montages for sharing with others. There are over 300 effects to choose them and all that you need to do is select your photo to start applying them. If you want to have some fun with your photos, this one’s definitely going to bring a smile to your face. So hit that download button now.

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officelens

Office Lens

Another brilliant productivity app that you simply must pick up from the Windows Store is Office Lens. The app lets you convert images to PDF, Word and PowerPoint files, digitalize notes on whiteboards and blackboards, sketch ideas and take snapshots of them, and save all your captures to OneDrive. It’s a fantastic scanner from Microsoft and it’s a must have for every professional who works on the go. So go get it!

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media explorer

Media Explorer

If you’ve got your files and documents in multiple cloud solutions such as Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive, pick up Media Explorer and you’ll be able to manage your storage, move, copy, browse, upload and download files easily.

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CurrencyConverter

Currency Converter

If you’re a travelling man or work with world currencies all the time, pick up this handy app that can do the conversions for over 160 countries. The app keeps all the rates updated regularly and offers even offline support. Ka-ching!

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Accuweather

AccuWeather – Weather for Life

There isn’t a day that goes by when you don’t wonder about the weather. Whether you need to check it for your daily commute or for your travels, you cannot go without a weather app. For your Windows phone, we recommend the beautiful AccuWeather. The app offers minute-by-minute weather forecasts, hourly forecasts for the next 72 hours, and extended forecasts for the next 15 days that you can instantly check out on your lock screen. If you live in select countries, you’ll also get severe weather alerts and warnings. The app offers 3 customizable live tiles that will update automatically to keep your abreast of any changes.

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Picture-Perfect

Picture Perfect

Another great app for photo enthusiasts is Picture Perfect. Powered by Aviary, the app lets you use the one tap feature to enhance your photos. The app’s cosmetic tools help you remove blemishes and redeye, and create cool memes using stickers and tons of effects. Once you’ve cleaned up your pictures and added the right touches to it, you can add captions and share them with the world.

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Wunderlist To-Do List Tasks

Wunderlist: To-Do List & Tasks

Every smartphone needs a to-do app to help you organize your daily activities and the extensive features in Wunderlist: To-Do List & Tasks makes it our choice for the Windows Phone. You can create lists and to-dos on your tablet or PC and access it on your phone as the app instantly syncs all of your data. You can just as easily share lists with friends and contacts, have conversations about your tasks, attach photos, PDFs and presentations to your to-dos and even share and delegate tasks right from within the app. With Wunderlist, you’ll never forget a task or miss a deadline. A happy life is one that is well organized and Wunderlist is an app that can certainly do that.

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Allrecipes

Allrecipes

Become the chef of the house with a spin of this app on your Windows Phone. There are over 50,000 thousand recipes to inspire your meal of the day and there are instructions, picture guides and videos to help you serve up a yummy meal for your loved ones. The app’s notable features include pinning for daily recipe suggestions, Cortana support, step by step videos, and accessing your favorites in the digital Recipe Box.

WindowsPhoneStore

Password Padlock

Password Padlock

No app list is complete without a password manager. After all its simply impossible to keep all your passwords at your fingertips. With Password Padlock, all you need to do is remember one master password, which is used to encrypt all the other passwords in your collection. You can backup and restore your encrypted passwords to OneDrive, backup on one computer, tablet, or Windows Phone and restore it on another and create passwords in a language of your choice.

WindowsPhoneStore

Adobe Photoshop Express

Adobe Photoshop Express

The Windows Store has a great collection of photo editing apps and it would be a shame to finish off this list without this one. Adobe Photoshop Express has a handy Auto Fix option for one touch enhancements, slider controls for exposure, contrast, and clarity, one touch filters to apply stunning effects, and plenty of cool IAP packs where you can enhance your photo editing capabilities. This free app will make a nice addition to your photo app collection for sure.

WindowsPhoneStore

Do you use an app that you think needs to be part of this list? Let us know in the comments.

How to Make Windows Phone App

You don’t have to be a whiz at coding to build a smartphone app. That’s why the folks at Microsoft have developed a free platform for anyone to build an app for Windows devices. If you have a unique idea to build an app on Windows Phone, but don’t know how to get started, this quick guide should point you in the right direction.

Microsoft’s Windows App Studio is the go-to-place to build your app, publish, test and share it with the world. This is a free online app creation tool that lets you create an app from scratch or choose from a wide variety of templates covering topics such as sports, product catalogs, city guides and so on. You can drag and drop content such as images, videos and RSS feeds in a few clicks, apply theme colors, create live tiles and generate the source code for editing the app according to your requirements. The Windows App Studio website also has plenty of resources and guides to help you get started right away.

Here’s a quick step by step walkthrough of how to build your Windows Phone app.

1. Go to Windows App Studio website.

2. At the top right corner of the screen, click Start Now.

3. In the next page, sign in with your Microsoft credentials.

4. Next, grant the necessary app permissions and register yourself.

5. You will then be taken to the Template section where you can preview the different templates and see what they contain. You can also create an app from scratch using the Empty App template.

6. If you are creating an app from scratch, you will enter the design area where you can add an app title, upload a logo, include content, apply themes, tiles and publishing information. As you add content to your app, you can see a live preview of it on the Windows Phone screen to the right of the screen.

The Content area also lets you add up to 6 sections on the app. Sections are basically pages that contain data such as articles, images, videos and so on. You can add an RSS feed, a TouchDevelop app script, a HTML component and so on.

7. Once you’ve defined your content, you can select the Themes tab to add colors to the background, foreground and application bar. You can choose between a light, dark, and custom theme and customize them to your requirements.

8. The Tiles tab lets you change the appearance and behavior of the tiles that appear on the Start screen. You can select from 3 template types and finally determine the splash and lock screen images while you’re on this section.

9. Finally when you are ready to publish the app, you can head over to the Publish Info tab, add an app description, select a language and associate the app with the Windows Store. For this purpose you need to sign up to the Windows Dev Center and reserve your app.

Once the formalities are complete, you can generate the app package.

The App Studio will create 3 types of packages. You can generate the app to side load on the phone to test it out. Before you go ahead with testing, you must install a certificate available as a QR code on the screen. Once the certificate and app are installed, you can open up the App from the App list and test all the pages and functionality of the app.

You can then submit your app to the Store by following the guidelines detailed in the Dev Center.

The Windows App Studio offers detailed guides, videos, and reference material for anyone without coding skills to create Windows apps, test them and submit them for publishing to the Windows Store. If you have a plan to build an app for Windows, be sure to explore the Windows App Studio to learn more.

How to Sync Windows Phone to PC

If you own a smartphone, chances are you want to sync data on your phone such as documents, music, photos or videos to your PC or move stuff from your PC to the phone. If you own a Windows Phone device, you have a number of options to sync your phone to your PC, although they are not the most intuitive methods available.

If you are using Windows Phone 7, you need to make use of the Zune PC software for syncing. If you own a Windows Phone 8 you can make use of the Windows Phone app for syncing. If your PC is running Windows 10, then the Windows Phone Companion app should do the trick. Whatever method you use, it all involves connecting your Windows Phone to your PC. Let’s take a closer look at some of the methods available to sync your Windows Phone to your PC.

How to Sync Windows Phone to PC Using File Explorer

Whatever Windows Phone version you own, if you need to do a quick transfer of photos or videos from one device to another, the simplest way to do it is by connecting your phone to your PC using a USB cable.

1. Open Windows Explorer, otherwise called File Explorer.

2. On the left pane, under Computer (also called This PC), click your phone’s name, then click Phone.

3. Right-click the files you want to copy and click Copy.

4. Navigate to the location where you want to copy the file to, and click Paste to complete the file transfer.

Sync Windows Phone 8 to PC Using Windows Phone App for Desktop

The Windows Phone App for Desktop (Works on PCs running Windows 7 and Windows 8) lets you sync photos, videos, songs, music playlists, podcasts from iTunes or Windows Libraries, and songs that can be used as ringtones between your phone and PC. If you are using a Mac you can get the Windows Phone app for Mac instead. The only downside to this method is that the app may not be available in all countries. To sync your Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 device using the app:

1. Download and install the Windows Phone app for desktop.
2. Connect your phone to your PC using a USB cable.
3. In the Windows Phone app for desktop wizard that opens up, if necessary, check the box that says Import photos and videos to my PC.

sync windows phone to pc using Windows phone app for desktop

4. Then select the option to sync music, videos and more from iTunes or Windows Libraries.

5. Then click Continue.

6. In the next screen, you will see all the music files available on your PC for syncing. You can select the photos, videos, podcasts and ringtones tab to see the respective files in that category that is available for syncing.

sync wizard

At the bottom of the screen, you can also see how much space you have on your phone and SD card. You can select individual files for syncing, sync all or add and remove folders before syncing.

7. If you want to sync the data on your phone to your PC, select the phone tab at the top right corner of the wizard. Then select the items you want to sync and hit the Save to PC button.

sync phone to pc

When the sync process is complete you can close the dialog and unplug the USB.

Sync Windows Phone 8 to PC Using Windows Phone App

If your PC is running Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, you can use the Modern/Metro app called Windows Phone app to sync your files. The app displays files with thumbnail previews making the transfer process a lot easier. Here’s how to do it.

1. Download and install the Windows Phone metro app.

2. Open up the app on your PC.

windows phone app

3. Connect your phone to your PC using a USB cable.

4. On the Welcome screen, click All done.

5. In the next screen, scroll horizontally on the app until you see the Add to Phone option.

6. Click the Add to phone button to see a dropdown list of items you can sync.

add to phone

7. Select an option and then select the files you want to sync with your phone. All the files you click on will appear at the bottom of the screen. Once you’ve selected everything, click Add.

select files to sync

Your files should now be synced.

Conclusion

Despite the availability of different methods for syncing your Windows Phone to your PC the fact remains that Windows Phone users are still getting a raw deal when it comes to an intuitive method of moving data around. Using a wired option is highly unpopular but is the only one available at the moment. One hopes that Microsoft will make it possible to sync data over WiFi sooner rather than later.

How to Change Microsoft Account on Windows Phone

If you own a Windows Phone, chances are that you have used your Microsoft account credentials to configure your device. However, there may be times when you want to change the account you use on the phone. This can happen if you have more than one Microsoft account and want to use the other account, or you want to use the account that is synced with your Xbox Live services or you may have moved to another country and therefore want to change it. Whatever the reason, changing your Microsoft account is possible, although it comes with certain restrictions if you are using Windows Phone 8 or earlier. In this post, we’ll show you how to change Microsoft Account on Windows Phone 8 and earlier and on Windows Phone 8.1.

How to Change Your Microsoft Account in Windows Phone 8 and Earlier

If you are using an earlier version of Windows, you can change your Microsoft account only by doing a factory reset. This means your accounts and settings including your music, videos, pictures, apps, games, and documents will be deleted.

Therefore, you need to make sure you backup or move all your phone content to your PC to prevent loss of data. OneDrive is a natural choice, but go with what works best for you.

The next thing to do is to make a note of all the apps that you have on your device. You may want to use them again with your new account, so noting them down will help you quickly find them on the Windows Store when you are ready to configure them again on the new account.

Another point worth remembering is that if you have purchased digital stuff that uses Digital Rights Management (DRM), you won’t be able to use them on the new account. You simply have to buy them again. That goes for any apps or games you purchased on the Windows Store as well.

Finally, if you are changing your Microsoft account make sure to use the account associated with your Xbox gamertag or you might end up facing a whole lot of problems.

Now that you know what to expect when you change your Microsoft account on your Windows Phone, here’s how to get started

How to Reset Your Windows Phone 8 and Earlier

1. On your Windows Phone, go to Settings. On the system tab, tap about.

2. On the about Settings screen, scroll down and tap the reset your phone button.

3. You will see a warning message on your screen asking you to confirm that you want to erase all your personal content. Tap yes. (Make sure you have a backup of your data before you hit the Yes button).

Your Windows phone will now restart and you’ll be shown the Welcome screen. Follow the steps in the Welcome wizard to configure your Windows Phone (like you did the first time) with your new Microsoft account.

After you have set up your new account, you can install the apps you used on your old account and add back your backup files.

How to Change Your Microsoft Account in Windows Phone 8.1

Users with a Windows Phone 8.1 don’t have to go through the factory reset way to change their Microsoft account. Using an Alias should do the trick. An Alias is basically another personal or professional email address (Gmail, Yahoo or others) that is used to sign in to Microsoft services or devices. Your account’s primary alias is what you see on your Windows PC, Xbox, or Windows Phone but you can easily create and select another email address (Alias) and set it to be the primary one. Here’s how to get started.

1. Go to Outlook.com and sign in using your existing Microsoft credentials.

2. At the top right corner of the screen, click the Gear icon and from the drop-down select Options.

Outlook options

3. On the Options screen, in the Managing your account section, click Aliases: manage or choose a primary.

manage or choose an alias

4. In the Manage your account aliases page, in the Account alias section, click Add email.

add email

5. In the Add an alias page, select either Create a new email address and add it as an alias OR, Add an existing email address as a Microsoft account alias.

You need to enter the new email address you want to associate with your Windows Phone.

add an alias

6. Click Add Alias.

You will now be taken back to the previous screen where you can see your new account (alias) added. Click Make primary to make this your primary alias.

make primary

Now that you have assigned an alias, you can go to your Windows Phone 8.1 device settings and check your Microsoft account credentials reflecting the updated email address.

Note: If you don’t see the change right away, give it a few minutes to get updated.

Although changing your Microsoft account on a Windows Phone 8 device or earlier is highly tricky, this process has been made dead easy if you have a Windows Phone 8.1 device. So the next time you plan on changing your account, use this tutorial as your guide and have a trouble-free changeover.

Install XAP files on Windows Phone using an SD card

XAP is a file format for Silverlight applications that is also used to install application software on Windows Phone 7 and 8 phones. With Windows Phone 8.1 Microsoft has replaced XAP by APPX to bring unity in app development of Windows Phone and Windows Store apps.

install-xap

Anyone who wants to download a Windows Phone app that is not available in the Windows Phone Store can download a XAP file onto the SD card and install them manually.

If you have a link to a XAP file, here’s how you install it on your Windows Phone:

  1. 1. Download the XAP file onto your computer.
  2. 2. Connect your Windows Phone to your PC using a USB cable.
  3. 3. Transfer the XAP file to your phone SD card. I suggest you create a separate folder calls Apps and transfer the file to that folder just to keep things more organized.
  4. Note: You can also transfer the file to the Phone internal storage.
  5. 4. Disconnect the phone from the PC.
  6. 5. On your Windows Phone, tap the Store icon to open it.
  7. 6. Tap the 3 horizontal dots icon at the bottom of the screen to bring up the menu.
  8. 7. Tap Install local apps.
  9. 8. Select the app or apps you want to install and then tap Install.

Note: You must have an active internet connection to install XAP apps as they need to be verified in the Windows Store.

How to change the name of your Windows Phone

If you have more than one Windows Phone at your disposal and need to keep track of them, you’ll need to know the names of the devices. Better yet, you can assign a name that makes it a lot easier for to track such as Rita’s Personal Phone or Rita’s Work Phone. Another reason you might want to change your Windows Phone name is when you want your Bluetooth name to reflect your name. Whatever the reason, you can change the name of your phone by connecting it to your PC.

To find your Windows Phone name, go to the Settings screen, scroll down and tap on about. You will see your Windows Phone name along with the Model and Software version. To change the name of the device:

  1. Connect your Windows Phone to your PC via a USB cable.
  2. Open File Explorer. On the left navigation pane, you will see your Windows Phone link show up. Alternatively, click This PC and you’ll see the Windows Phone icon show up on the Devices and drives section.
  3. Right-click the Windows Phone icon and select Rename.
  4. Add a name of your choice.

The MWP guide to tethering your Windows Phone

The Internet has become such as huge part of our lives that we simply can’t go without it even for a moment. But in reality, you don’t always have Internet access on the go. Maybe you’re on a vacation and your hotel doesn’t offer free WiFi or your standard modem at home just broke down and you’re temporarily out of connectivity. Whatever the reason, you can have a standby option for continuous Internet connectivity using a feature called Tethering.

Tethering is the process of using a mobile device such as your phone to act as a WiFi hotspot (or modem if you will) for connecting another device such as a laptop to the internet. You can connect the laptop to the phone via USB, Bluetooth or WiFi.

Tethering offers many benefits. You can connect to the Internet without the need for a 3G/4G data plan, you can access the Internet in situations where you don’t have access to any free WiFi hotspot, or if you’re in the stuck in your car in the middle of nowhere, your 3G/4G plan is all used up and you desperately need to check an online map to find directions, you’ll find tethering a blessing. Tethering can also be more secure than a free public WiFi hotspot as the data is sent directly through the phone.

Despite its many benefits, tethering does have its downsides; your phone battery may drain faster; the download speeds may not be as fast as you’d normally get and so on. However, the biggest drawback to tethering is that it is dependent on the carrier and the cell phone model.

Major wireless carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile require you to sign up for a data plan that covers tethering. Once you sign up for one of these plans you can connect over Bluetooth, WiFi, or via a USB cable. Alternately, you can buy a premium app from the Windows Store, bypass the carrier tethering fees and create the mobile hotspot.

We’ll show you how to tether your Windows Phone in two situations:

Tethering your Windows Phone if Option is Available

To know whether or not you have tethering available:

  1. Open up your Windows Phone and head over to the Settings screen.
  2. On the system tab select internet sharing
  3. Internet sharing is turned off by default. Turn it on and then tap setup at the bottom of the screen.
  4. In the next screen, add a name for your WiFi hotspot and give it a password.

Internet Sharing

That’s it. Now all you need to do is go to the Wi-Fi connection settings on your laptop (or device you want to connect to), search for the mobile Wi-Fi hotspot you just created, and enter the password.

Congratulations! You just tethered your Windows Phone to share your Internet with other devices.

Tethering your Windows Phone if Option is NOT Available

If tethering is not available on your device, you will get an error message on the internet and security screen when you turn on the Sharing option. In such cases, you can call your carrier and sign up for a plan OR you can follow the steps outlined below.

On Your Windows PC:

  1. Download the Universal (32/64 bit) driver/application (TetherIt-PC).
  2. Double click the downloaded file and then install the TetherIt-PC.msi file. Just follow the steps in the wizard to complete the process.
  3. TetherIt PC application

    Note: The TetherIt-PC application requires Microsoft’s .NET framework 3.5. If .NET 3.5 framework is not already installed, the Windows operating system will detect and guide you to download/install it.

  4. Open the TetherIt-PC application. If necessary, in the User Account Control dialog box, click Yes to give access to the app.
  5. Click on the Create Tethering Network button.
  6. create-tethering-network

Note: If you see a message from Windows Firewall blocking some features, check the Private Networks option and click Allow access. You may be required to choose a network location. In such cases, select Home.

On Your Windows Phone:

  1. On your Windows Phone, download the free Tether It app from the Windows Phone store.
  2. Open the TetherIt app and go to Settings/WiFi screen.
  3. WiFi Tether It App Home Screen

  4. On the Wi-Fi screen, connect to the WiFi network. If prompted, enter the SSID and password shown on the TetherIt-PC application screen.
  5. Note: If you see an error message that you need to run this command from a command prompt, right-click on the TetherIt-PC icon and select Run as Administrator.

  6. Go back to the TetherIt home screen and tap on Start/Stop Tethering.

Start tethering

You are now ready to connect other devices to your mobile hotspot. The TetherIt-PC application will display the amount of up/down-stream traffic. To stop tethering, just hit the Destroy Tethering Network button.
That it! Remember that even though you use a third party app to bypass the carrier terms, if this comes to the knowledge of the company, they may block your services.

How to take reflection photos on your Windows Phone

Today, you don’t have to own a DSLR to capture stunning photos and images. Smartphones can do the job just as well. Understanding your phone’s camera settings, setting the right resolution and light conditions and knowing the rules of composition may be essential, but above all that you need to have a creative eye that can perceive things differently if you want to be an outstanding photographer. If you’ve got yourself a Windows phone with a particularly good camera, you can do more with your photos using reflections.

windows-phone-reflection

Reflective photography involves making use of any reflective surface, such as the surface of a lake, a cracked mirror, or a frosty window pane to capture images. Photos captured with reflections have a surreal, out of this world look and can turn any ordinary photograph into a piece of art. If you are keen on taking your photography skills to the next level, capturing reflective photos is a great place to start. In this post, we’ll learn a little bit more about how you can capture fantastic reflective images but before that, let’s first understand the capabilities of your Windows Phone camera.

Understanding Your Camera Settings

First things first! Do you know all the features of your Windows Phone camera? You probably know that tapping on the screen will bring the focus to that area or how to turn on the Flash but can you manipulate the exposure settings on your phone under the right situations? What are the different levels of contrast and when do you use them? Well, the answer to that and more is to understand your basic camera features. These settings may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but should be common for most phones.

White Balance:

Most light sources including sunlight and light bulbs don’t emit a pure white color. Sometimes a light source will tinge your photos with a shade of orange or blue. The camera’s White Balance setting is designed to even out those color “temperatures” and display a whiter image. Most Windows Phone cameras will have a default White Balance setting that will work fine most of the times, but you can also manually select one for different lighting conditions such as sunlight, light bulb, cloudy and so on.

ISO:

International Standards Organization (ISO) is the level of sensitivity of your camera to light. ISO settings can range between 24 to 6400 + and the higher the ISO setting, the greater the sensitivity of your camera and vice versa. A higher ISO usually results in a grainy image, so the general rule of thumb is to make your ISO levels as low as possible. But there may be times when a higher ISO is needed such as when the object of your focus is moving and you’re trying to capture a still shot. On the other hand when there is plenty of light around, having a low ISO is preferred. Most Windows Phone cameras have automated ISO settings, but you can never trust them enough. Manually raise and lower to ISO and experiment to see which works best for you.

Contrast, Saturation and Sharpness:

Contrast is the difference in color, tone and texture between white and black in your images. An increase in contrast will make shadows darker and highlights brighter. Adding contrast makes your images look more vibrant while lowering contrast can give the effect of a dull image. Saturation has the effect of increasing the difference between colors instead of just black and white. Sharpness has the effect of increasing the contrast only along the edges of an image. Although contrast, saturation, and sharpness may appear to be independent features, they are inter-related and changing any one of them can create complex effects in your photos. Before you tweak these settings ask yourself what you are really trying to achieve with the photos.

Windows Phone Winter Photo

Exposure Value:

The Exposure value determines the balance of the shutter speed and relative aperture. If your shutter speed is slow, your images may have a washed out look and you’ll need to set a lower exposure value. On the other hand, if your images are too dark, you’ll need to up the EV setting to lighten the image. Most Windows Phones have a default neutral exposure correction, but you can tweak them to a higher or lower setting according to your requirements.

Panoramic Images:

Panoramic images are images captured from an elongated point of view and are often multiple images put together to create a whole. Windows Phone makers like Nokia and HTC have panorama apps either built into the Camera app or make them available as a separate app, but you can also download third party apps to take panorama images. When you shoot panoramic images, the key is to hold the phone steady. On Windows Phones, the panorama mode moves the screen from left to right so you shouldn’t attempt to move it right to left or top to bottom.

Windows-Phone-Miami-Panoramic

Burst Mode:

A Burst mode captures a string of images and selects the best one of the lot for saving. Depending on the manufacturer a burst mode can range between 5 to 15 shots and is perfect for capturing impromptu expressions. Although the Burst mode only requires turning on the switch, it works best in low resolutions and for electronic sharing. Secondly, it usually locks the focus and captures the images, so you may not want to attempt capturing moving subjects.

Image Stabilization:

In Windows Phones, image stabilization is fairly new and works by increasing the ISO setting to allow for faster shutter speed thereby reducing blurring caused by shaky hand movements. However, this also has the effect of reducing the quality of images.

Macro:

The Macro feature in Windows Phone is basically a close up shot that records the finer details of the subject. In this setting your phone will focus on the subject from about 6 to 10 inches away so the key here is to make sure that you have the requisite lighting to capture your shots and avoid shadows.

windows-phone-macro

Geo Tagging:

This feature lets you add your location tags to your image’s EXIF file, so that when you look back on the image years from now, you will know exactly where you captured the image. One downside to this is that should you share the images with others, they will also be able to see your location data. You can keep this information private though by tweaking the Windows settings.

Scenes and Effects:

Plenty of Windows Phones now come with predetermined scenes such as sports, nightlife, and food in portrait and landscape modes. Some phones like the HTC Titan II can even intelligently detect and select the best scenes to affix to a picture. Effects range from black and white to sepia and negative and are basically a collection of filters that can be applied to images while the camera is processing it. If you want an old-time look to your images you can choose sepia or simply go for a black and white copy. Experiment with different effects to see what works best for your shots.

Capturing Reflective Photos on Your Windows Phone

Now that you know more about your camera settings its time to take a look at how you can take reflective photos on your Windows Phone.

Train Your Mind to See Reflections

The tricky thing with reflections is that our brain generally tends to overlook or blur them out of our minds. You’ll first have to tune your mind to see a parallel universe where reflections exist. It could be in the most ordinary of situations – on the dining table, in the pool, or in a shopping mall. Go around your environment and spend time looking around. Most of the beautiful reflective photos captured are done near a water body so get yourself to a lake or other nearby river and try to list down as many reflections and you can find. Suddenly you will see a world of possibilities that never existed before.

Add Elements to your Reflections

Once you have identified reflective objects, try to add new elements or props to make it more creative. You could use a brightly colored object, a human model, or a flying drone to bring the reflections to life and add some drama and context to the image.

Go for the Dramatic

There are reflective images and there are reflective images that spike your curiosity. Look out for extraordinary situations where you can capture images out of the ordinary – maybe a polar bear swimming under a glacier, a rainbow filled sky in a puddle of water, or a fireball captured in an eye lens. Try to find elements that add colors and tones to your photos and if you’re doing this outdoors do it just after sunrise or sunset, when you’ll get the best colors and tones.

Shoot from Different Angles

With reflective photos you don’t always need to shoot large bodies of water. Many beautiful masterpieces have been shot with just a single drop of water. When you’re going macro try to get as low an angle as you possibly can. If you’re using flash, keep the lighting low so that it won’t illuminate the background and take the focus away from the subject. In other situations try shooting from different angles to get the right viewpoint that focuses on the colors in your environment. You can do an extreme closeup shot or capture a part of the subject and the whole of the reflection. The choices are aplenty. Take different versions of the reflective image so you can come up with more creative uses for it post processing.

Keep the Symmetry

Symmetry is when you have one side of the frame or screen mirroring the other side. The two sides evenly balance horizontally or vertically to create a perfectly image. Take advantage of the fact that reflections naturally create mirror images. You can use the grids in the camera app to line up images to create the perfect symmetrical balance.

Windows Phone Photo Simetry

Capture Textures and Patterns

Try to look for patterns and textures in your reflections, such as a rippled water effect causing the tress or clouds to reflect in unusual patterns in the water. This can give the images an artistic and painted look naturally.

Reduce Distractions

Make use of negative spaces in your images and keep your compositions simple. Negative spaces are basically large tracts of empty spaces that have the effect of making your subject stand out and draw viewers focus to the main subject. Having lots of negative space can evoke powerful emotions as the focus is solely on the subject.

Conclusion

Windows Phones cameras have dramatically improved over the years and its only going to get better. That leaves a world of creativity at your fingertips. With a little imagination and a lot of practice, you can train your eyes to look into a parallel world where unusual, wonderful and intriguing ideas exist for capturing reflection photos. So go ahead and start making magic with your Windows Phone.