Wednesday, July 19 - 11:04 pm

OneDrive announcing version history support for all file types:

With these improvements to version history, you can see and restore older versions of all your files in your OneDrive. Previously, version history only supported Office files. Now, version history is compatible with all file types, so you no longer need to worry about your PDFs, CAD files or even your photos and videos getting accidentally edited—you’ll always be able to restore or download a previous version. OneDrive will keep an older version of your files for 30 days. Expanded version history support has started rolling out and will be available to everyone this summer.

I'm subscribed to Office 365 because of OneDrive. Although there are things they're doing that I may not agree with, the OneDrive team in general are consistently adding value to their £7.99 per monthly fee.


Saturday, July 15 - 12:45 pm

Two words are all that's needed to most accurately describe the OnePlus 5: iPhone fast. If you've ever wondered what it'd be like to have an iPhone running Android, look no further. I've been so, so impressed with this phone. Although performance is the reason to buy an OP5, there's a lot more to it, mostly great.


It doesn't feel like an iPhone. And I don't actually think it looks like one either. It feels premium and Midnight Black sexy. The fit-and-finish is something I admire every time I take out the phone. Heck, I actually sometimes take it out just to admire it. It's pretty manageable in one-handed use most of the time, especially if you've got bigger hands than me (most likely) and/or use the on-screen navbar.1 The one misstep is that it's incredibly slippery in the hand. So much so, I actually purchased phone insurance for the first time (as well as a couple of dBrand skins). Another niggle is with the hardware buttons on the sides of the phone. The phone is beautifully thin but I think there's room for them to have been slightly bigger for a more assured press.

In a contest between less pixels and more battery, in an unusual (but welcome) move for a flagship device, the latter was prioritised. Although the screen packs less pixels than other flagships, it doesn't matter because it's still a beautiful display. Battery life has been better for it, consistently and comfortably lasting an entire day. Win-win. Dash charging is legit too. Especially appreciate how the phone remains cool when I'm using it while it's being charged.

Making it 3/3 is a camera that by default takes beautiful pictures. I don't know whether it's better/worse than the competition, but I do know you won't be disappointed by it. It's really fast too. For the second lens, I'd have a preferred a wide-angle because of my shooting preference. Maybe in the future phones will ship with more than two lenses to cater for every situation. Or maybe interchangeable lenses become a thing. Finally, Portrait mode is cool but a little finicky; I expect it to continue being optimised with software updates.

My biggest gripe with the hardware is the mono speaker and, more specifically, its placement on the bottom of the phone; watching a video in landscape requires you to carefully grip the phone to avoid blocking the speaker grills. Not a showstopper but highly inconvenient. Especially crappy because the display's size and quality make me want to watch video on this.

A few minor points:

  • The fingerprint sensor is lightning quick but I'm not particularly fond of its pill-shaped design. I think it looks ugly (and is actually one of the reasons I was always put off by the Galaxy design pre-S8); as far as geometric shapes go, I much prefer a circle. But I realise that would exacerbate claims that the phone is an iPhone copy.

  • Most days I switch between "Silent", "Do not disturb" and "Ring" modes. The Alert Slider thoughtfully ensures I don't need to turn on the phone's display to do so - one of those little things that make a big difference to each day. An issue I have though is in "Do not disturb" mode I can't set it to stay silent when a phone call comes through. The workaround is to either only allow (favourite) contacts to get through or repeat callers (i.e. presumably urgent calls). Neither option is great.

  • Changing phone profiles during the average day is common. The Alert Slider acknowledges this. But taking pictures is even more common. And so I wish there was a dedicated camera button to help speed things up and make taking pictures more satisfying by enabling a more tactile experience. This is probably the feature I miss the most about Windows Phones.


I know stock Android is all the rage within tech circles. That and being on a budget is why I went with the Nexus 5X when I decided to switch to Android in early 2016. Coming from Windows Phone where the experience was delightful even on the low-end, I went into this with high expectations. This was a Google phone. Yes, it didn't pack as much power as its 6P sibling, but Android was several iterations old. And so I still expected it to fly. And, to be fair, it did some of the time. But not all the time. Less so at the end of every day. Less less so with time. The other disappointment was while the most visible/important layer of Android is unquestionably good, the admittedly less important but not unimportant middle layer of polish was absent when you dig deep. Although I consider the gap to have reduced, significantly in many areas and bettered in some even, Android as experienced on the 5X for me still trailed iOS in the overall design and performance stakes. What I really didn't expect was OnePlus' OxygenOS to address this. But it has. No doubt helped by 8GB of RAM. OxygenOS is understated in the best possible way. It's uninterested in adding more bloat to Android, instead focused on carefully applying a considerate layer of polish to the experience.2 The OnePlus 5 has actually changed my opinion of Android. Buttery smooth. Finally. My next phone will need to run OxygenOS.

Maybe more than performance, an even better reason to buy the OnePlus 5 is its price. I know a £500 phone is not cheap, but for almost £200 less than a Galaxy S8, after ~1 week of use, for me it's a no-brainer. If you do, you won't regret it. But don't be mislead, even if the OnePlus 5 cost the same as a Galaxy S8, I'd still go with it because of its superior performance and OxygenOS.3 I've been seriously productive because of these two factors; multitasking is a breeze with no sign of stutter regardless of what I throw its way. But your priorities may be different.4 If they're not, then the OnePlus 5 is highly recommended. Especially if you're on a Windows Phone and don't want an iPhone.

1. I didn't because you get more screen estate with the capacitive buttons and it's more predictable as they're always there, unlike the software buttons whose visibility may vary depending on what you're doing.

2. A beautiful dark theme that's carefully applied everywhere (and not just selectively like in other Android skins) is my favourite addition. It gives the phone a similar overall look and feel to the one that pulled me towards the Zune and later Windows Phone.

3. Although I can't ever see OnePlus hitting price-parity with established high-end flagships in the future (especially as their prices increase), I won't be surprised if it gets a little more expensive with each iteration. Considering what you get in return though, I won't complain, because as a OnePlus fan (and not customer) I'm more interested in seeing them succeed than saving myself a few pounds. In the meanwhile, I'll savour this relative bargain.

4. Such as wireless charging, minimal bezels, expandable storage and water resistance. For me, it's actually a simple and clear choice. Performance is essential. The rest are luxuries.


Wednesday, July 12 - 9:03 pm

Tobias Klika, developer of one of my favourite ever Windows Phone apps, Poki, asks poignantly:

Now this is a really good question. I think there are a number of factors at play here. The main being when you're in a store where almost everything is being given away for free, then as a customer why pay for anything? Furthermore, a lot of the time Store users aren't looking for anything specific but window shopping - the last thing on their mind is to get the wallet out. On the other hand, when someone visits your app's website, you've got home-court advantage. You're the one app in your store. These customers are usually looking for something specific. To them, the difficulty is finding what they're after. But once they have, payment is not an obstacle. This is why if you're an indie and making a decent living away from the Store, there's little incentive to make the move: not only are potential new customers' expectations to pay (much) less than what you're charging (if pay at all) but there's a Microsoft 30% tax too.


Tuesday, July 11 - 11:22 pm

The death of Windows Phone is not news. But it's official now. Sad because were it not for apps, I'd have no complaints using a Windows Phone 8.1 phone as my daily driver. These many years later.


Monday, July 10 - 11:44 pm

Adobe's Christian Cantrell observing Windows 10 through the eyes of a Mac user:

If you hadn’t been keeping up with Windows, and you were to walk into a Microsoft store to play around with the latest and greatest in Windows hardware and software, you would almost certainly be blown away by how modern and polished the experience has become. In some respects, it might even make macOS look a tiny bit dated. But buy a Windows computer, take it home, and start using it as your daily driver, and very soon you’ll begin to encounter vestiges of versions past. You will encounter multiple ways of accomplishing the same things, seemingly different configuration options which actually compete with one another, other similar configuration options which aren’t associated with one another at all, and sometimes even more than one version of the same application. You’ll see fonts rendered differently, menus stashed in different places, and wildly different UI conventions. With the new and emergent Fluent Design System, we might even be about to get yet another design language woven into the Windows 10 experience before discrepancies in the old ones have been fully reconciled or eliminated.

Mac users are Mac users because of the software - the craftsmanship of not only MacOS but its third-party apps. Especially so these days when you consider the recent Windows hardware renaissance.


Sunday, July 9 - 8:21 pm

Speaking of value for money, John Gruber recently caused a stir by stating he hopes Apple's next hero iPhone is priced at $1,500 or higher because:

I’d like to see what Apple can do in a phone with a higher price.

His follow-up helped clarify his position and makes a highly reasonable business case for Apple to pursue this aggresive price point. What John's proposing may actually be Microsoft's strategy too.

Let's face it. Smartphones have got boring. I say that in the best possible way. For things to get interesting again, it makes sense to remove the one factor stopping innovation: price.

I'm not a cheapskate. Value for money is however always a consideration when I'm buying anything. That's why I'm not buying the new Surface Pro. That's why I did buy the OnePlus 5. Although a $1,500 iPhone is not something that interests me as a consumer, the tech enthusiast thinks it's necessary.


Sunday, July 9 - 7:25 pm

An Android phone that doesn't suck that costs less than $100. $70 even! If you're on a budget, you're getting more bang for your buck than ever before.


Saturday, July 8 - 11:22 am



Saturday, July 8 - 11:08 am

Brad Sams on this week's The Sams Report speculating on a new ARM prototype mobile-like device floating around Microsoft right now:

The following makes sense but is uninteresting:

1) it runs on ARM.

2) it won't be cheap.

Next, this also makes sense but is interesting:

3) it aims to re-engage OEMs with Microsoft's mobile play by creating a new device category similar to what the original Surface accomplished with 2-in-1's.

Finally, this makes no sense but is helluva interesting:

4) Alex Kipman is working on the display. That is HoloLens' inventor. Also the guy who recently claimed the phone is dead.

The last point does however make a lot of sense when you pair it with 3). This device will be less Surface Phone, more HoloLens Mobile. I still have concerns that however interesting the hardware may end up being, software may make it DOA. I would hold off until Windows is Fluent, Store has serious traction, and Edge is as good as Chrome.


Update: speaking of an expensive mobile device with a holographic display coming out in 2018.


Saturday, July 8 - 12:16 am

Paul Thurrott reporting on the most recent Surface Pro reliability problem:

It looks like Microsoft has a new Surface reliability problem on its hands: According to hundreds of customers in its support forums, the new Surface Pro spontaneously shuts down, even when the device is in use.


So I’m going to guess that this problem doesn’t impact all Surface Pros. But then that’s what makes reliability issues like this so painful: You never know what you’re going to get. With the infamous Skylake-based problems in Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, one’s results were equally sporadic, with some people having nothing but problems and others reporting problem-free usage. (I had issues with all three Surface Books I tested, but my Surface Pro 4 never had any issues.)

Microsoft are no longer new to hardware. This is their fifth Surface Pro. This shouldn't be happening. My Surface Pro 4 was unreliable for many months. Although it took them a while, Microsoft eventually fixed the problem and to their credit have continued to support the device with regular updates even though it's approaching two years old. But they shouldn't need to. It should just work out of the box.

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