Windows Phone 8: the new features
The new Windows Phone 8 is finally official and quite frankly it beat our expectations - Microsoft definitely delivered with dual-core processors, high-res screens, deep Skype integration and expandable storage, but it actually surprised us with the new awesome Start Screen and the work it’s done with games. Also, it’s bringing some other new features in conjunction with carriers like the Wallet with NFC.
Add to that improvements to the very core of the system with better multitasking and shared core with Windows 8 that will allow easier porting of application not only from Windows 8, but also from Android and iOS.
Nokia added some of its own magic juice with Nokia Maps, offline maps with turn by turn navigation, and Microsoft is definitely looking more mature than ever in the mobile OS battle.
And that’s not even half the new things! So don’t hesitate - check them all out below!
It’s so hard to pick through all the news about Windows Phone 8, but probably the biggest thing is the platform’s support for dual-core processors, which make all the magic you’ll see below possible.
And since a smartphone is dominated by its screen, we were thrilled to see that Windows Phone 8 now finally supports 720p displays in 15:9 and 16:9 aspect ratios.
Freedom-lovers would love this - Windows Phone 8 is now not limited to only the build in memory of the device. Get a microSD card and expand the storage to your heart’s content.
Microsoft is partnering with Audible to bring a somewhat better voice commands and tries to play catch up to Apple’s Siri and its paler sibling in the form of Samsung’s S Voice. Microsoft demoed how you can now search for things and listen to ebooks. All of this is also coming to WP Mango devices.
An NFC chip is in the core of future mobile payments and easy file transfers between devices, and it’s in Windows Phone 8.
The new Start Screen is probably the biggest news in Windows Phone 8 visuals. We love it - you can now add small-sized Live Tiles that look almost like icons and with that Windows Phone 8 almost looks as if it supports widgets, but in its own way without directly copying Android, which we can only welcome.
Microsoft is baking in Skype to look almost indistinguishable from the native calling app. We’re not even sure if it’s not exactly like the native calling app! While this will infuriate carriers, it’s great news for users who can now save a lot on minutes.
Straightforward as it is, offline turn-by-turn navigation and maps suddenly make Windows Phone one of the best if not the best mobile platforms for those who value good maps across the world.
Multitasking is no longer the no-background apps affair. It’s still not real multitasking a la Android but now VoIP apps (read, Skype) and apps using your location are allowed to run in the background, not just music.
NOVA 3, Asphalt 7, Words with Friends, Draw Something - these are just some of the high profile titles coming to put WP on par with Android and iOS. Porting your Windows title with DirectX is also now easier.
With NFC comes mobile payment, and Microsoft claims it’s doing it right with full support from the carriers.
Bigger news than you might see on the surface, the new Windows NT kernel allows all the awesome things you just read - from multi-core support to DirectX gaming.
IE 10 comes baked in the platform and it smokes Safari and the Android browser in the SunSpider Java test. It’s also much closer to the desktop version of the browser in terms of productivity.
Burst shot and panorama are our new favorite features in the camera app on the latest Android devices, and now Windows Phone 8 has got them too. Plus, it’s still got that shutter button!
Now, WP 8 is ready for enterprise with trusted shared Windows core, encryption, secure boot and IT device management. Office is also coming improved but we don’t yet know to what extent.
No more dealing with cables - future updates to WP8 devices will simply arrive OTA style.
And Microsoft is promising it will support the new devices for at least 18 months with all the updates, so there will be no wibble-wobble.
It’s not just about the quantity, but it still matters. 100,000 apps finally outline the Windows Phone Marketplace as the serious third platform.
And all of them will be using Qualcomm chips, so we can only hope it will be those 28nm battery-efficient S4s.
Existing devices will only get the visual flare of the new Start Screen but none of the other improvements. Sad face.