Just a short post! I’ve been *very* fortunate to be invited by the UK Windows Phone team to attend the Windows Phone 8 launch event in London on 29th October!
I’ll be making the most of my opportunity to touch, stroke, rub and fondle the latest Windows Phone handsets from Nokia, HTC, Samsung and others! Exciting, exciting times!
Anyhoo – if you have any burning questions for the Windows Phone team, any of the handset manufacturers, or indeed just want an opinion on anything while I’m down there, drop a comment/question below and I’ll do my level best to get an answer for you! 😀
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:
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!
There’s going to be a cr@pload of information about Windows Phone 8 hitting the web, so I’m just providing the highlights of the Summit announcements in quick, chronological order. Bear in mind that these announcements were pitched at developers – new features and functionality for end-users to be announced sometime in the near future!
UPDATE 3: The Verge has published a very in-depth article on Windows Phone 8: http://vrge.co/NQh4Eb
UPDATE 2: The Windows Phone team have also blogged about the news announced today: http://bit.ly/M7ukUe
UPDATE 1: Just sticking an update here. The Windows Phone team have now posed a YouTube video on the new Windows Phone Start Screen: http://bit.ly/MhxdOC
- Easy to forget, but today is the FIRST official announcement that the next Windows Phone will be called Windows Phone 8. No big surprise, but it’s been known as “Apollo” before today.
- According to Amazon US, 7 out of the 9 top-rated smartphones run Windows Phone!
- Windows CE (Windows Embedded) – the foundation of Windows Phone, is going to be replaced by Windows Core (basically the Windows NT kernel), the same platform that will power Windows 8.
- Confirmation of Native Code support – write your apps once, and (with tiny tweaks) run it anywhere in the Windows ecosystem. This extends to DirectX and driver support – write once, run anywhere.
- Support for dual-core processors at launch, with multi-core support built-in (ridiculously, the platform supports up to 64 cores – as if we’ll ever see that in a smartphone)!
- New maximum screen resolution of 1280×768 (WXGA).
- Support for removable Micro SD cards. I think this is less important than people think, thanks to integrated SkyDrive access.
- NFC support is built-in, and mandatory.
- IE10 will be integrated into Windows Phone 8. IE10 will support twice the number of HTML5 features that IE9 on Windows Phone 7.5 does.
- New Wallet Hub revealed. Stores credit/debit card details, membership cards (car/airline/store/etc.), vouchers and coupons. Allows third-party app integration into the new hub. Also supports NFC “Tap to Pay”.
- Bing Maps to be replaced with Nokia Maps. Like the existing Nokia Drive app, maps for different geographic locations can be downloaded for offline use.
- Full Exchange ActiveSync Device Management support.
- Encryption and Secure Boot for Windows Phone 8. Plus, the ability to sign/deploy internal corporate apps.
- Windows Phone 8 features a new version of the Metro interface.
- Windows Phone 7.5 and Windows 8 has two tile sizes – square and double-square. Windows Phone 8 has three tile sizes – quarter-square, square, and double-square.
- Note the Nokia Drive tile below – it can now contain live information. In WP8, Live Tiles become much more powerful!
- Windows 8 games and apps can run on Windows Phone 8 with the smallest of code-changes. This means that the number of apps/games for WP8 will EXPLODE! After all, Windows 8 is going to have a HUGE market share just by default of being the next Windows OS.
- Also – it is implied that you’ll pay for a game once, and run it on either your phone, Tablet or PC. This depends on the software developer, but Windows 8 and WP8 will share a common marketplace.
- NFC “Tap and Send”. Simply tap your WP8 to another phone or PC to share music, photos, files, or other data. Easiest way to pair/transmit information!
- Below: Joe Belfiore demonstrating how you can tap your phone to your tablet to kick off a multi-player game! The devices create an ad-hoc peer-to-peer network connection for multi-player communications!
- Below: Demo of the new Wallet Hub.
- Below: Note the Chase bank details. If your bank allows, you’ll be able to check your balance FROM WITHIN the Wallet Hub. From there, you can click on the link to launch the actual bank app.
- Below: Demo of the vouchers, deals and coupon integration with the new Wallet Hub.
- Local Scout now has integrated Deal Cards – basically they are digital coupons. You can add these coupons to your Wallet Hub, or share them with other people…
- In-app purchases are allowed. In-app and Marketplace purchases can be integrated with the Wallet Hub, allowing you to choose your method of payment (see screenshot below).
- Windows Shared Core allows Direct3D on WP8 devices. Also, the networking comes from the W8 family – so expect improved Bluetooth. Not mentioned at the event, but it’s worth pointing out that, having NFC coupled with Bluetooth, will make connecting devices really easy!
- Voice over IP and Video Chats are now natively supported by WP8. This means they can continue to function through multitasking, and also over a lock screen.
- All WP7.5 apps will run on WP8. However, WP8 apps will not run on WP7.5 (not surprising, due to the switch from Windows CE to Windows Core).
- It’s OFFICIAL now. WP8 WILL NOT be available for WP7 devices. There will be at least one more release for current hardware (Windows Phone 7.8), but you WILL NEED to buy a new device for WP8. This is not as bad as it sounds, as your existing device doesn’t have WXGA, NFC, dual-core, etc.
- Nokia ToPlay (DLNA app), Nokia Counters (dashboard of notifications), Nokia Music 3.0 app refresh, Nokia “Camera Extras” (upgrade of core camera features) – all announced, and will be coming to existing Lumia devices.
- Updates to Nokia Maps, Nokia Transport and Nokia Drive also announced.
…and that’s it for the moment! Keep your eyes peeled over the next two months for end-user feature announcements!