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!
WINDOWS PHONE 8
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!
NOKIA LUMIA 920
First, there is a short promo video. Watch it now!
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!
- 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!
- 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…
NOKIA LUMIA 820
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”…
- 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:
- The official Windows Phone Blog has an announcement here, and lots of photos/videos here.
- The Verge has a brief overview, and an in-depth hands-on with photos and video of the Lumia 920.
- Similarly, Engadget also has a brief overview and a hands-on with full photo gallery and video of the Lumia 920.
- All About Windows Phone provides an excellent recap on the general announcements and details on the Lumia 920 too. They also have a brilliant article on the PureView technology.
- Nokia have published details of the new Lumia family, and the product pages for the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820.
- Finally, if you have some time to spare, you can watch the entire webcast direct from Nokia.
- UPDATE 06 SEP 12: Nokia also have a Flickr photo set of the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820.
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!