As fans of Foster the People, we actually had the first wait for a keynote to start that we actually enjoyed, dancing around to Pumped Up Kicks like you do, then some other music, it was like listening to Capital at 12 at night! But anyway, back to the keynote! People at the event were also warned not to record the event via video or Photography, but hey, I’m sure many will! ps, it is bad I’ve noticed there using the same remote for presentations as mine!
Event kicked off with a video montage of Windows Phone 7, its amazing to think just how far its come in not so long, from release, to NoDo, to Mango, and we really can’t wait to see what happens next.
Keynote kicks off with a guy called Terry with discussions about the upcoming Windows 8 and the recently announced tablet Microsoft Surface. Then talk of Windows Phone history, how 3 and a half years a go Microsoft started designing a whole new re-imagined version of Windows Mobile, out came Metro on Windows Phone, just think only 18 months ago the first Windows Phone came out. In the US its amazing how 7 of the top 10 phones on Amazon are all Windows Phones.
Windows Phone 8 Developer Preview
Joe Belfiore comes on stage, if you don’t remember he’s the guy of the Mango video. Talk beginning about the shared core of Windows 8, kind of how Windows 8 is going to tie in with Windows Phone. Some interesting talks about how different ranges of phones that go high and low end, so could this mean Windows Phone 8 is more tied with lower end but also higher end, dual core maybe.
He’s also confirmed that all Windows Phone 7 apps only need a small update to work on Windows Phone 8. Also an interesting discussion of how Windows 8 apps on the desktop could run on Windows Phone 8. And now to 8 major platform features to be shown today, however they won’t be showing end user features sadly.
1. Dual Core and more
Windows Phone will support further more cores, but mainly focusing on Dual-Core devices, although the OS can run on 60core processors! What!
2. Two New Resolutions
Windows Phone will now support WXGA resolution and 720P resolution, but the good news is if you’ve got standard Windows Phone 7.5 apps will run as-is in the new resolutions, but like Retina on iOS you can add higher resolution imagine.
3. MicroSD Support
Windows Phone 8 will be able to support microSD, to increase storage and also as an easy way to transfer files to the phone. Plus, unlike Windows Phone 7, this can be added later on from the phones purchase. No mention of how far in storage it will allow.
4. Internet Explorer 10
5. Native Code = Killer Games
Windows Phone 8 will allow game developed on ActiveX, just like on Windows desktops, this is going to mean some absolutely killer games, even with similar graphic development as on the desktop, which could be incredible as it allows easy ports of games from desktop to mobile. Plus some good news for big games on iOS and Android that struggled to arrive on Windows Phones can now be so much easier coded to run on Windows Phone, great news there too! In a demo of this, a demo was shown off of a Game Sample running on a tablet, but how easy it is to run on the phone. Whats incredible about this is how quickly and easy its going to be to transfer applications from tablets to mobile and even computers to mobile, which can only make Windows Phone 8 even better when it comes to graphically intensive apps and even more.
Microsoft also shown how the same Native Code from iOS and Android apps can be used to easily port games and applications to Windows Phone, very very useful for Windows Phone.
6. NFC Support
NFC or Near Field Communication will be supported in Windows Phone 8, but as they were quick to note, it will work far further than the phone but also with desktop and other devices. In a demo of NFC capabilities, Microsoft showed off a NFC add in the Wired magazine issue, and it worked instantly. Also more example shown, all sound very QR code tags like to me, but without the need of scanning. But it is very impressive, although this is really a standard demo of what NFC can do, but great to see it on Windows Phone 8, and it really does remind you just how impressive NFC really can be.
A new feature of Windows Phone 8 in sharing is a feature called ‘Tap & Send’, essentially allows you to transfer files over ‘Tap & Send’ and it works pretty well, if this works with other platforms it could really fill that need for Bluetooth OBEX. The feature also works over third party software, an app called SpellIt is the one used for the demo. One thing that was good to note was in just 2 days a Windows Phone Mango game works on Windows Phone 8 with all the new NFC features built in, including working with multiple players, but incredible over a internal Wi-Fi network created by the phone and other device, no need for an actual network, and connects together using NFC, which is awesome!
A feature demoed a video was using NFC in a restaurant, by ordering payments via the phone, scanning it with the restaurant and then also receiving a menu and ordering through NFC, so useful when you think about it, be great to see this integrated, unfortunately I can’t see it happening anytime real soon, nice concept tho still for NFC.
7. The Most Complete Wallet Experience
iOS6 isn’t even out and Microsoft had already thought of the new Passes feature for Windows Phone 8, but unlike iOS, Windows Phone will have NFC to make it so much better, with the new Wallet Hub. Will support gift cards, credit cards and more. In comparison with Google Wallet, Windows Phone will work with mobile operators to keep it more secure. This also includes an interesting pronunciation of Orange, or or-aaaannngeee. Every Windows Phone will include the Wallet experience, but they are working with mobile operators to keep things secure, but in the meantime will be allowing third party app support for NFC in the meantime. In the demo, they showed off a Debit card, Paypal and more, plus information about transactions including balance information and previous made transactions and notifications of requested transactions from other people, such as transferring money to someone else using the phone. Another feature of the Wallet experience is a feature called Deals, which is useful for people who are obsessed with coupons and more for example, which is awesome, also integrates with QR Codes. Wallet experience also integrates with Local Scout allowing you to even buy things before you turn up and pay when you arrive using the Wallet. Windows Phone 8 now also uses the Wallet feature to purchase apps In-App, useful for apps and features to be added with In-App like on iOS.
And don’t worry, all Wallet purchases are protected by a number pin you choose, this doesn’t have to be related to your card pin either.
8. NOKIA Maps/Drive Built In
NOKIA Maps will be built in to ALL Windows Phone 8 devices, this means that all Windows Phones can get the Turn By Turn directions, offline mapping data, and more. Anyone who’s owned a Lumia device know how useful these features are. Also NOKIA Maps will have an API to help developers take advantage of that, a NOKIA representative is set to demo this. One thing new added in Nokia Drive is adding location and maps information straight at the Start screen, and yes with live updates.
9. Better Enterprise Support
Windows Phone 8 will support Bitlocker Encryption and Secure Boot, LOB App Deployment, Device Management, trusted shared Windows core and familiar Office apps which were highlighted, all of which are set to improve the Windows Phone 8 experiences in the enterprise. Businesses will also be able to deploy apps in their own way without using the Marketplace. Intranet support and a company customisable app called the Company Hub. Company Hub will be a company specific application that has customisable features tide in to that specific company, such as Intranet only information within the App, Company Profile information available to be edited, customised Marketplace with apps specifically for that company available only in the Company Hub. SDK and API will be available later in the Summer, no release dates announced.
10. New Start Screen
Windows Phone 8 will have a new Start screen, talks now about Live Tiles. In Windows Phone 8 there are some massive innovations, smaller and bigger tiles, all in all, much bigger integration and customisation. We have to admit that this re-invented innovations with the Start screen is pretty darn impressive, the only word for it is wow, people cheering! Now for a demo with a NOKIA prototype. Windows Phone will also have more colours in the Start screen too. One of the most incredible thing about the new Windows Phone 8 apps is how you really group apps and types of apps all easily.
11. Better Development and Massive Developer Updates
- Hardware eccelerated Direct3D, very useful for games. Could this mean Unreal Engine can finally arrive on Windows Phone 8, who couldn’t for Windows Phone 7.
- Native Code (C and C++) and .NET support in development, plus a feature called Compiled in the Cloud
- Cross platform driver support. Drivers created for hardware on Windows Phone, will run on Windows 8 tablets and PCs too with no required modification.
- Multi-tasking Improvements, apps can now run in the background!
- More languages supported
- Havok Technology Suite gets a demo (by an Irish person). The entire Havok Technology Suite is set to arrive on Windows Phone 8 to improve coding environment for application compilation. Some high quality HD gaming was previewed, all running very smooth and taking advantage of every byte of graphics memory in the core to deliver the best in gaming performance, this is a major level in Gaming on Windows Phone and finally iOS has a big competitor in Gaming development in the mobile-sphere where Android is falling short. All I’m going to say is if what is shown is what will be on a mobile device well I’m very impressed, and this is the same technology used to create games like Skyrim and Halo on Windows and X-Box 360.
- Early partners announced. Gameloft, with Asphault 7 Heat, Nova 3 and Big Fish with Fairway Solitaire, and many are are set to come. A demo was also shown of an iOS game now available on Windows Phone. Whats interesting is he mentioned it was an iOS port, wondering if that means it will be easier to bring iOS code for development on Windows Phone 8, and it took just 2 weeks to do. Plus information on how native code used to create iOS and Android apps can be used to port apps for Windows Phone, this is a real deal breaker for Developers to go on Windows Phone now, they’ve no excuse now!
- Multi-tasking features were announced too. 1. Deep integration has been added in to Windows Phone for VoIp and Video Chat, which will run in the background, an example was shown of Skype, so you can receive a Skype call whenever as if it was a phone call on Windows Phone 8, awesome! This service will also be available for ALL developers and all applications, nice! 2. Background Location is another multi-tasking feature thats been announced that now work in the background, and once again this is available for all applications and expected to be available on Nokia Drive out of the box and also feature Live Tile updates EVEN with Mapping applications, this is incredibly impressive, OK we maybe getting a bit over excited but it is awesome. Also some new Siri like talk features announced for Drive
- All Windows Phone 7 apps will run on Windows Phone 8.
- Visual Studio 2012 will support development for both Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8, which is interesting as it makes us a tad worried on how they are going to do upgrades, as nothing has been mentioned.
Windows Phone 8 is now taking Speech so much further than launching applications and Search. You can now talk and confirm in Mapping applications as was demoed. Whilst the Speech was a bit buggy at start, but it allows you to command applications using Speech, interesting addition is how it confirms what it thinks you said. Whats interesting is that this is going to be available for ALL applications and developers, something Siri can’t do yet. Also Audible is now available for Windows Phone 7.5 today.
Other things to note (some that were noticed now)
- Battery information shown outside of apps constantly, no note of percentage tho, still icon based.
- Zune now simply called Music and Video
Windows Phone has reached 100,000 application in the Marketplace, already, and in faster momentum than any other platform
- Zynga apps coming to Windows Phone
Hardware and Software Updates
- NOKIA, Huawei, Samsung and HTC announced as the main Windows Phone 8 OEMs with apps available in 180+ countries, 20 more than Apple iOS.
- Software Updates: Now over the Air updates. All devices will be fully supported for at least 18 months from device launch, much better than Android.
News for current Windows Phone 7 Devices
Windows Phone 7 devices will get an update called Windows Phone 7.8 update which will be released actually with most major features of Windows 8 including the new Start experience, although no information on what won’t or when the update will come. Application compatibility will be shared between Windows Phone 8.0 and Windows Phone 7.8.
On stage comes NOKIA Representative. Nokia are to introduce some new apps and updates notably;
NOKIA PlayTo, NOKIA Counters, which is an easy way to track data usage. New version of NOKIA Music with offline Mix. Camera Extras, including Self Timer, Action Shot extension, panorama, smart group shot which captures a series of images and allows you to improve expression of faces which is a bit odd but cool.
Updates are also coming to NOKIA Maps with ability to upload photos and place reviews. NOKIA Transit will get a review finally allowing you to pin locations. NOKIA Drive will also have new feature called Commute, which learns how you drive and allows you to change route to faster options, but also if you change route it will still show you how to get to your location.
Things to remember
Better hardware, and faster
Amazing Games with new Native Coding support
Improved Multi-Tasking with Dual Core and more graphics support
Talk with Apps
In App Purchases
New Screen Resolutions
NFC and more
Existing Windows Phone 7 devices will get a 7.8 update delivering ONLY TWO features, but big ones. The new Start experience, and compatibility with Windows Phone 8 titles.
Windows Phone 8 is expected “later in the Summer”