Microsoft/Nokia Windows Phone 8 Event

So, the Windows Phone 8 OS has been officially unveiled by Microsoft, and the new hardware from Nokia has also been revealed.  There will be lots of in-depth, comprehensive articles floating on the Internet (the best of which I’ll link to here), but here are the bullet-point highlights!



Slightly disappointing, as this event was a mere tease at Windows Phone 8. Microsoft have stated that a full launch event will happen in the near future. However, in addition to the already announced features, the following was showcased:

  • The fairly brilliant maps available on Windows Phone 7 (and 7.5) has been enhanced, and Windows Phone 8 will introduce Indoor Maps. Basically, you’ll be able to see and navigate the inside of airports, train and bus stations, shopping centres, etc – with a full directory service (location, phone number, opening hours) of all the shops inside.
  • The new Live Tiles has been emphasised – a reminder that there are now three sizes (small, normal and double-wide). As before, information from your phone, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other sources can be knitted together into a single Live Tile for relevant, “at-a-glance” updates.
  • A minor (but *much* requested) feature – screenshots are now supported in Windows Phone 8.
  • In the camera, the Zoom Bar has been removed. You now use the more intuitive pinch-zoom gesture instead…
  • The new Camera App supports “Lenses”. These are links to specific applications that use the built-in camera app. So, third-parties can now write apps which can be directly accessed by the Camera App. Photos taken with these “lenses” are tagged with the app, and can be opened directly into that app – allowing the special features to show through. A great example is Photosynth – using the Camera Roll to browse to photos taken by the Photosynth “lens”, you can click that image and suddenly access a 360 degree panoramic view that you had taken with that app.
  • Windows Phone 8 now supports automatic, full-resolution uploads of photos to SkyDrive.  This also includes any photos taken by third-party apps or “lenses”.
  • …er, and that’s mostly it! The rest is rumour and speculation for now. The full Windows Phone 8 feature set will be unveiled later this year. Bah!



First, there is a short promo video. Watch it now! Smile

So, the Lumia 920 is Nokia’s new flagship Windows Phone 8 device. It’ll have:

  • Nokia PureView: introduces a new assembly type for cameras built into smartphones. The entire camera assembly “floats” in the phone, stabilised by a series of tiny springs. This allows the sensor to “float” and stay still, reducing blurriness when taking low light and night shots, and also allowing very steady HD video to be recorded.
  • The PureView technology allows 5-10 times the amount of light to be captured by the sensor, compared to any other smartphone camera. This allows much better capture of images in low light or night shots. Brilliantly, The Verge have captured images of shots taken from a current market-leading handset (the Samsung Galaxy S III), and the Lumia 920.



  • Nokia PureView also records very, very stable HD video. A side-by-side comparison was shown at the event.  Suffice to say, the video footage taken by the PureView camera was incredibly smooth and steady. Nokia have now released a YouTube video demonstrating the difference in quality.
  • The Lumia 920 supports wireless charging. Adopting a current industry standard, they will be partnering with multiple organisations (such as Virgin Atlantic, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and other venues) to offer “pads” where you can simply place your phone and have it charge.  As Nokia support the Qi industry standard, expect compatibility with other manufacturers’ devices when they come into the market.
  • A great demo of the ease of wireless connectivity was given when Nokia unveiled a new speaker from JBL. You just tap the phone with the speaker system to allow the devices to pair and the music to automatically stream from phone to speaker wirelessly (using NFC to pair and Bluetooth to stream – but all that happens automatically, as you just need to tap them together). Then, just place your phone on top of the speaker and it’ll wirelessly charge. Neat! Smile
  • Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive continue to be offered to Lumia owners. Both apps allow full offline access of information, which is especially useful if you’re travelling abroad and don’t want to pay roaming charges.  Maps offers walking directions and a directory service of shops/places, and Drive offers full sat-nav capabilities…
  • Nokia City Lens offers an “augmented reality” view showing distance and information on shops, stations, landmarks, etc. Just hold your phone up where you are, and it’ll show the relevant information (The Verge has a great photo of this)


  • Nokia Smart Shoot is a new camera application – great for taking photos of landmarks or galleries (and other tourist spots). Basically, it takes a series of images and can combine them into one. So, say there is a random person who walks across your photos that you want removed – just tap that person and the software will compare multiple images, and remove the person from that one shot, combining many photos into one and removing any unwanted objects. Cool! Smile
  • Hardware-wise, the Lumia 920 sports a 4.5” curved display (similar to the subtly curved display sported by the Lumia 800).  The camera still uses a Carl Zeiss lens.
  • The display supports “super sensitive touch”, allowing you to use the touchscreen with your fingernails, or even through gloves (and not the special gloves, but any “ordinary” ones)!
  • Nokia PureMotion HD+: offers “better than HD resolution”. It’s WXGA, which is a 1280×768 resolution.
  • The PureMotion HD+ also sports enhanced ClearBlack display, which uses smart polarisers to automatically adjust the screen colour tone and brightness based on the amount of sunlight hitting the display.  This is not simple brightening and dimming of the display, but full colour, brightness and contrast adjustment, on-the-fly.
  • The PureMotion HD+ display also has an incredibly high refresh rate, ensuring that there’s no blurring at all when scrolling at speed…
  • For the display geeks, it has been confirmed that the Lumia 920 sports an IPS TFT display, and not the controversial PenTile display that the Lumia 800 sported.
  • The build-quality of the entire phone is incredibly robust! Even the keys and camera badge on the back are made from ceramic – basically making them impossible to scratch!
  • Finally, it comes in five colours – black, grey, white, red and yellow… Smile




In addition to the flagship Lumia 920, the Lumia 820 was also unveiled. Sporting a slightly smaller 4.3” display, it also comes with built-in NFC, and wireless charging. No PureView or PureMotion HD+, though.




So, a few disappointments:

  • Pricing and availability for the Lumia 920 and 820 was not announced, other than a vague “Q4” for “selected territories”… Sad smile
  • Not all the Windows Phone 8 features were unveiled – we were given a teaser more than anything else. The full unveil will be in a forthcoming event…



Already, there are a glut of articles on today’s announcements. The best are listed here:


And that’s it, really. Hopefully the bullet-points are easier to digest, and there’s a bunch of links just above for full, in-depth articles! Smile

The “Social” with Bing Maps

It still surprises me how little-known the Bing Maps “Map Apps” are.  The Map Apps can add powerful functionality to the already great Bing mapping service.

With the recent announcement that will now be redirecting over to Bing Maps, I thought it might be a convenient time to point out some of the more “socially-focussed” Map Apps.  Feel free to jump straight to a particular Map App:


Where Can I Find Map Apps?

Easy – just press the button on the menu – shown in the screenshot below.  There are lots of Map Apps – hover over each one to get a short description, and try them out (note: some of them are US-centric, so don’t be surprised if you can’t find cheap fuel prices in the UK)!  Try out the Silverlight version of Bing Maps here

Bing Maps

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Facebook: My Friends

Have you ever wondered how internationally dispersed your Facebook friends are?  Well – wonder no more!

If you let Facebook and Bing Maps play with each other, then a nice Map App is My Friends.  This Map App shows you geographically where all of your Facebook friends “live” (provided that they’ve shared this information with you).

Try out My Friends here…  (Remember to click Connect to allow Bing Maps to speak to Facebook!)

My Friends

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Twitter: Twitter Maps

Another nice social Map App, and the first one of two which integrates well with Twitter (well, out of the two that I’m going to cover).

Twitter Maps takes advantage of geo-tagged tweets by displaying your search results overlaid on Bing Maps.  Using this Map App, you can see who has recently tweeted in your local area, or how many people are tweeting about a specific event/product/anything in a certain geographic area.

As an example – the screenshot below shows people who have recently tweeted about Halo: Reach within the UK (well – and some strange foreign-types at the lower-right of the map).

Give Twitter Maps a whizz here

Twitter Maps

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Twitter: Tweet Heat

Tweet Heat is the second Twitter Map App that I’d like to “big-up”.  This Map App also uses geo-tagged tweets, but in a different manner from Twitter Maps.

This Map App analyses each tweet and determines how positive/negative/neutral the tweet topic is.  It’s possibly best described by the intern who created it: “The map app helps users visualize the public response/feeling towards a product, event or really any topic”.

Did I say intern?  Yep I did!  It’s utterly fantastic to hear that Microsoft helps to foster such creativity and ingenuity within the organisation – even challenging interns to create astonishing tools.  Read more about the genesis of Tweet Heat here.  (As an aside – this isn’t a unique occurrence – the Audio Record feature in OneNote was also created by an intern.  More on Microsoft interns here…)

Anyway – I digress.  Try out Tweet Heat here…  And just to get you started – general sentiments on Halo: Reach throughout the UK below…!

Tweet Heat

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OK – so Photosynth isn’t strictly speaking a “social” app, but it has strong social elements within its DNA.

Microsoft Photosynth is actually a great service for creating massive panoramic, gigapixel or 3D photos by stitching together multiple pictures.  The technology is spectacular, and you can easily upload and stitch your own photos.  Thanks to geo-tagging, it’s been possible to integrate Photosynth with Bing Maps.

Below is a terrific example of the integration between photos and mapping.  Go access and zoom/pan/gaze directly here


There’s a great number of Photosynth images to see – below is a screenshot of those scattered around the UK.  According to the Map App, there are currently 40,989 Photosynths made from 2,973,935 photos at this particular moment.  Go see all them here.


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In Short…

There are a great number of interesting – and sometimes useful – Map Apps available already, and the count is ever-increasing.  If you want to keep up-to-date on the latest developments, remember to visit the Bing Maps Community!