Notes on Lumia 650 with Windows 10 Mobile Part 2

Continued from Notes on Lumia 650 with Windows 10 Mobile Part 1

Windows Phone 8.1 vs. Windows 10 Mobile

Microsoft made much hoopla about tying Windows 10 with Windows 10 Mobile. This announcement was subsequently marred by disappointing Windows Phone 8.1 users who owned devices that weren't included in the Windows 10 Mobile rollout.

Despite Microsoft's talk regarding Windows 10 on all devices, for better or worst, WP8.1 is still very much present in the code of Windows 10 Mobile. This brings along much of the limitations and issues of 8.1 even with the fresh aesthetic and functional changes of Windows 10 Mobile. 

Windows 10's controversial update method doesn't apply to Windows 10 Mobile. Instead, it makes use of Windows Phone 8.1's manual update and a revamped Microsoft Store Downloads and Updates process.
From a purely subjective point of view, it's hard for me to decide which I prefer. For example, although having a more powerful version of Office sounds like a good idea on my Lumia 650, I was prefectly happy with the features included with the Excel on WP8.1.  At this point of my usage of Windows 10 Mobile, the changes that are most obvious are the following:

1. The onscreen keyboard now has a somewhat redundant trackpoint akin to IBM Thinkpads. Moreover, switching keyboards from English to Spanish to French input now uses the spacebar in Win10 Mobile instead of a dedicated Language button in WP8.1. The keyboard in WP10 Mobile also has a more intelligent control bar compared with WP8.1 and offers helpful suggestions depending on the open app. For example, options for adding an image or recording appear on the control bar when working in OneNote.

Windows 10 Mobile added a trackpoint, a space bar language changer, and an improved keyboard control bar.

2. Outlook Mail, Outlook Calendar, and Alarms & Clock replace Windows Phone 8.1 Calendar, Alarms, and Inbox.

3. File Explorer replaces Files, which was a late addition to WP8.1.

4. The Camera app now supports HDR, which is a mixed blessing on the underpowered 650 because previewing an image takes a long, long time depending on the type of photo you took.

5. The Clipboarder app, which had to be installed separately in WP8.1 to copy and paste from Bing Translator, is now unnecessary in Windows 10 Mobile.

6. Office for Mobile, which was a crippled version of Office preinstalled with WP, is replaced with feature-filled Office 365 versions of Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Word.

7. The Navigation bar is now part of the touch screen rather than physical touch keys. Depending on the app, you can swipe it up or down to hide and reveal the navigation bar.

8. Newer versions of free apps from Microsoft, such as Bing Translator and Skype (Skype Video for WP10 Mobile), are available (which may or may not be preferrable).

Note: I actually prefer the WP8.1 version of Bing Translator over the newer version for WP10 and Windows 10. However, the new version of Skype Video nicely integrates with Messaging.

Bing Translator now uses the same UI as the full Windows version.
9. The Flashlight option is now included (you had to install an app for flashlight in WP8.1).

The Action bar has an extended set of options, including the Flashlight.
10. Microsoft Maps replaces HERE Maps, though Microsoft Maps was already available for WP8.1 prior to WP10 Mobile.

11. Lumia apps like Play To and Lumia Camera are no longer available.

12. The XBOX, Voice Recorder, and Weather app come standard with WP10 Mobile.

13. Battery Saver, Storage Sense, and WLAN Sense were all integrated to WP10 Mobile Settings.

14. Additional personalization options for the Start Screen are now available.

15. Nearby Numbers app is a new feature for detecting services in the area.

16. The Settings are organized into categories similar to Windows 10 for tablets and desktop. The separate Applications screen has been removed, while a Search bar for settings has been added.

Groove Music, Movies & TV, and Photos for Windows 10 Mobile

Trimmer versions of the Windows 10 Photos, Groove Music, and Movies & TV apps replace the now retired Mix Radio, XBOX Music, and XBOX Video apps with mixed results. 

The Windows 10 triumvirate of apps has never been very good on under-powered tablets and even slimmed down, the Photos, Groove Music, and Movies & TV app just don't work well with the Lumia 650's 1 GB of RAM and poorly clocked Snapdragon processor.

From the three apps, the Photos app suffers the most from the transition to Windows 10 Mobile. Indexing of photos and even previewing can be a chore on the Photos app, and as mentioned, often struggles to display photos taken using the Camera app on the 650. If you have a huge library of images on the micro SD card, the app has a penchant for crashing when rendering thumbnails, or even opening photos.

Groove Music noticeably takes a few seconds to recover from sleep, or even to playback audio stored in the micro SD card. On the upside, Groove Music performs better the more you use it, especially if your MP3s are stored on the micro SD card. Moreover, thanks to the screen of the 650, Groove Music can display long album, song, and filenames, a problem that XBOX Music had on the older and smaller Lumia 925.

The larger screen of the 650 has an advantage when displaying music titles in Groove Music. The XBOX Music app on WP8.1 wasn't the best player but was fairly lightweight.

Note: It took me awhile to get used to browsing through MP3s and switching screens in Groove Music but found it to be eventually usable. Music controls appear on the lock screen by default, which is pretty useful.  I'd be remiss, however, not to mention that Groove Music struggles to refresh itself after unlocking the screen or switching from a different app, a behavior that you don't notice in Android or iOS audio apps. 

Movies & TV, while having little problems rendering videos, takes a minute or two to display videos stored on the external micro SD card (particularly if it's a large 64 GB micro SD card like mine). Multi-tasking between these three processor heavy apps shows how badly the processor performs with Windows 10 Mobile and shows the developers have a long way to go in terms of optimizing Windows 10 Mobile for under-powered processors. Oddly enough, Movies & TV seems to support lesser file types than its desktop version. If you have videos that use different containers and encoding, you can use VLC for Windows 10 Mobile instead.

Continued from Notes in Lumia 650 with Windows 10 Mobile Part 3


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