Another look at Windows 10 Mobile (OS build 10.0.15063.297) Part 1

Although Microsoft has stopped producing Windows 10 Mobile products, recent updates in May prove that some of the improvements and changes made to the operating system might make its way to Windows 10's upcoming release for RT devices, and possibly the vapourware that is the Surface Phone.

Having used Windows Phone 8.1 (Lumia 925 specifically) and Windows 10 Mobile (Lumia 650) devices, it's easy to notice how far Microsoft's mobile OS has come. Its market share is small, but the updates that are streamed to users of Windows 10 Mobile indicate that the devices are indirectly being used as a testing ground for future Windows Mobile and possibly RT devices.

The Settings have clearly been improved. In previous builds, and even Windows 10 Mobile's first full upgrade release, Settings were crippled and had very few configuration options. Today's Settings on Windows 10 Mobile's devices, however, demonstrate that Microsoft could very well have set up comprehensive and stable settings for the mobile OS.

The following is a list of improvement to Settings for Windows 10 Mobile. I use an entry-level Lumia 650, the cheapest of Microsoft's last set of WP10 devices. Surprisingly, despite its modest hardware, the Lumia 650 holds up very well and is usable for the humble Windows 10 Mobile fan.

1. Bluetooth - I've written several articles on Bluetooth for Windows 10 Mobile and Windows Phone 8.1 here at Unsolicited But Offered over the years, but the recent build improves on Bluetooth support on devices like the 650. Apart from renaming the Settings area as Bluetooth & other devices (Settings > Devices > Bluetooth & other devices), the system is better equipped for connecting and disconnecting from multiple Bluetooth devices. Moreover, Bluetooth clients are identified based on the type of protocols supported (audio, data, etc.).

I occasionally use my Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 with the Lumia 650 for language studies and switching back and forth between my Moto G4 Plus and the 650 is pretty easy. The lag time between detecting available Bluetooth devices is almost imperceptible.

For macOS users who own a Windows 10 Mobile device, using Bluetooth data transfers is the best way to transfer files from WP10 devices to macOS apart from OneDrive or cloud storage.

2.  Display and Wireless Display - The modest Lumia 650 doesn't support Wireless Display, which is a standard feature for Windows 10 desktops running Intel and AMD processors. However, Display settings (Settings > System > Display) include options for managing the screen element sizes on the Lumia 650. Users should be careful, however, as reducing the screen element sizes on WP10 devices like the 650 can make it difficult to use. Note that changing the screen elements requires a reboot.

3. Notifications & actions - The Notifications & actions (Settings > System > Notifications & actions) received some attention recently from the Windows 10 Mobile devs. Diligent users will have more granular control over functionality of apps installed on their Lumia device. The settings are more app specific now, and the option to disable every related action can be useful power-frugal users. To access advanced notification/action settings, tap an item from the list of apps.

When visiting the Notifications & actions screen, note that the system may take some time before it lists the apps and services running on your device. On the Lumia 650, there is a lag before the list is displayed despite the limited number of apps installed on my smarpthone.

4. Audio routing - An improved functionality that was absent in Windows Phone 8.1 is Audio routing settings. Audio routing settings is non-intuitively found in Settings > Phone. It's not a setting wired headphone users will find important, but with the ubiquity of Bluetooth headsets (and their corresponding drop in prices), users may prefer audio to permanently emit from Bluetooth devices rather from the occasionally embarrassing external speakers.

5. USB support - Windows 10 was designed to work with different form factors, but for entry-level devices like the Lumia 650, USB support is limited to charging and data transfers. Although connecting the Lumia 650 to Linux has been problematic of late, and support for macOS wired USB connections have been dropped, you can disable the message prompt that pops up whenever you connect to a PC by going to Settings > Devices > USB.

USB support for Windows 10 Mobile will clearly be an important factor if and when Microsoft re-releases the OS for RT devices and manufacture the non-existent Surface Phone.

Continued in Another look at Windows 10 Mobile (OS build 10.0.15063.297) Part 2


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