WorldWide Tech & Science. Francisco De Jesùs.
Windows Phone 8 features details.
Microsoft officially unveiled its Windows Phone 8 platform yesterday, a device operating system that is set to power new smartphones from Nokia, HTC and Samsung. While the platform was previewed in June 2012, the company used an event yesterday to showcase several new features that have not previously been revealed.
It also provided an update on its app ecosystem, stating that it is approaching the point where 46 out of the top 50 titles available for other platforms have been ported to Windows Phone – which Joe Belfiore, corporate VP for the company, described as “huge progress for us”.
New features showcased by Belfiore included “Kid’s Corner”, which it describes as a “worry-free way to share your phone with your kids” by limiting the features available to prevent accidental misuse; and Rooms, which enables users to create private groups with which to share information – with some features also made available to users of smartphones powered by other OS platforms.
Also new is Data Sense, which uses compression to minimise the amount of data transferred; offloads data to Wi-Fi where appropriate; and adjusts usage when nearing data bundle limits.
Belfiore said that this feature will be made available in partnership with mobile operator partners, and is “rolling out with mobile operators starting with our [November] launch and going into 2013”. The first named operator supporting it is Verizon Wireless.
Windows Phone 8 is also being positioned as “the perfect companion for your Windows devices and your Xbox”, in partnership with the Skydrive cloud storage platform. This will enable users to share images, video and music between different terminals, with Belfiore adding that “it’s the first cloud service that fully integrates and syncs your Office documents, so you can access them from any of your devices”.
As with the earlier Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 7.5 platforms, the latest version of the platform centres around a “tiles” interface, which can be used to push personal information to the home screen of the device. These can also be used by app developers to deliver content, and information can now also be pushed to the device’s lock screen.
Belfiore noted: “I would say that the state of the art in the core smartphone experience hasn’t really evolved much in the five years since its inception. If you think about the predominant user experience on most of the smartphones people are using today, it was standardised by Apple and the iPhone, and essentially that same interface was copied by Android and Android phones, and it really hasn’t evolved all that much. The static grid of icons has been the standard on smartphones.”
Devices powered by Windows Phone 8 are set for launch next month. In a US-focused release, it was said that “major mobile operators will start selling Windows Phone 8 in the coming weeks”, with Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA on board.
Microsoft was less forthcoming on the rollout plans for international markets.