The Windows Phone 8 event was kicked off by Joe Belfiore showing off his Windows Phone 8 device, similar to the existing Windows Phone advert with Steve Ballmer, and Joe asked everyone to show their own Windows Phone device, amongst a massive stage set.
Windows Phone Updates
- Microsoft will unveil Samsung Ativ S, HTC 8X and 8S and Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 with availability of all devices week(s) to come.
- Windows Phone Marketplace (soon to be Store) now has 120,000 with 47 of the top 50 on iOS and Android will be available on Windows Phone 8 with many more to come.
- 50 more languages will be available on Windows Phone and 191 countries will be able to use Windows Phones too.
Joe talked about how the interface of mobile phones is generally the same, the same icon based UI standardised by Apple with the iPhone and copied by Android, all equaling a boring icon interface, with Windows Phone people is the focus of the user interface and no boring icons, meaning every Windows Phone looks unique.
So now lets get to feature announcements.
New Live Tile Interface with Live Apps
Same as shown in June, Windows Phone will have small, medium (as on WP7) and larger tiles, which means much more usability and use from each and every app on your phone, Microsoft call apps that truly take advantage of this, Live Apps. One thing thats instantly noticeable on the screen is that FaceBook on Windows Phone 8 will be very good, finally.
..in the Lockscreen
Live Apps will also be able to take advantage of the Lock Screen, the apps will be able to set the Photo in the Lock Screen, which will be ever changing overtime you use your phone, with notifications and much more. FaceBook, as an example, will be able to show FaceBook Photos, notifications and so much more, FaceBook on Windows Phone is finally good again! Other apps will be available to be used in the same way, the text as well on your Start screen currently used up with the Calendar, will be able to use that area for that app, very impressive!
Some new Apps optimised for Windows Phone 8
- FaceBook (as mentioned)
- Twitter supports much improved notifications, faster performance and better Live Tile integration
- New version of Skype will allow natural integration with the phone, allowing the Skype app to receive messages and calls at any time, its always on without running the code in the background and draining battery!
In fact a whole bunch of new apps will be coming to Windows Phone including Words with Friends, Draw Something, CNN, PayPal, Temple Run, Urban Spoon, Fairway Solitaire, Pandora (with 1 year free), Angry Birds (full collection), and so many more.
Windows Phone 8 will support unity coding meaning much easier coding for Windows Phone in cross platform capability, in fact the Windows Phone SDK is now available.
Windows Phone 8 will support a feature called Data Sense which offers functionality which allows efficient ways to save data on your data plan. You can set how much data you have on your current cell phone plan and the phone will tell you when you’re close to reaching your limit, but also use the data more efficiently!
Microsoft will have a system that will compress every website you browse in the cloud, similar to Opera, and will have functionality to help you find WiFi hotspots near by. Data Sense will also offload data upon you reaching the end of your monthly amount. This gives you an incredible (average) 45% more web browsing with the same plan with Data Sense turned on!
The Data Sense app also shows you how much data you’ve used on Cellular and WiFi, as well as where that data is coming from, incredibly useful to find out where all your data is going, this is going to be really useful.
Unfortunately only Verizon (US) will support Data Sense on launch, but everyone else coming end of the year and 2013.
Whilst Joe quietly mentioned In App Purchases on the intro which is coming in Windows Phone 8, Joe showed his own kids asking to use his phone and then, don’t know if it was a good idea but, brought them on stage to demo the feature which kind of worked when they did it correctly! Kids Corner allows you to set Games, Apps, Music and more that you want in Kids Corner, in the Lock Screen you can drag to the right and then unlock the specific Windows Phone experience set in Kids Corner.
To demonstrate how useful Kids Corner is Joe introduced a little known actor called Jessica Alba. Coming on stage she talks about her own business (Honest Co.) and basically talked about how awesome her Windows Phone 8 is and how useful she finds it, and especially how useful Kids Corner has been following her unfortunately message posted on her Twitter which Kids Corner could solve and more!
New Sync Utilities coming to Windows and Mac OS X
Microsoft will be releasing tools for syncing on the PC/Mac as well, making people switching from an iPhone with iTunes, or Android, to easily be able to put all their content on Windows Phone, utilities will be available to be download on either Windows 7 or Mac OS X, and a truly beautiful one for Windows 8, to easily and quickly sync all content to Windows Phone. All with cleaner interfaces and so much easier and quicker to use, who wants to be a on a computer to sync a phone anyway!
In the People Hub, in a section called Together, along with Groups, Windows Phone 8 will have an awesome feature called Rooms. A Room is a unique shared place to have special areas to do so much things only between a set amount of people. You can sent private messages just to the Rooms, Calendars, Photos and Notes all between just people in the Room, a Family Room comes by default, but this is an awesome feature. For other platforms, demonstrated was iOS, Calendars will sync, but thats about it, Rooms is made for Windows Phone 8.
Windows Phone is the perfect companion to Windows 8, by not only looking the same and working in the same way, they completely integrate with each other, documents sync effortlessly and NFC of course works seamlessly and the best feature of this to help is SkyDrive. SkyDrive will come with 7GB of free storage and allow phone backups in the Cloud, all your documents in the Cloud with new Voice Notes in Onenote, Photos at full resolution in the Cloud, all on SkyDrive, and 7GB is the largest free storage on any platform! In comparison with iCloud, photos as an example on stay on iCloud for 30 days, whereas on SkyDrive all content remains forever!
Camera Features (Lens)
In Windows Phone 8 you get Lenses, which allow much further integration with apps in the Camera and all photos will be uploaded to SkyDrive at full resolution. The Camera app has also been updated with pinch to zoom, easy quicker buttons for Flash, video and front facing which is awesome!
XBox Music, the service that will replace Zune, will be seamlessly integrated with Windows 8, Xbox and Windows Phone 8. Playlists created on Windows 8 seamlessly appear over the air on Windows Phone, visa-versa, everything works in the Cloud, even the library, if you buy a new song on Windows 8, you can access it on Windows Phone 8 seamlessly without any cables.
Steve Ballmer came on stage to summarise and talk devices. Windows 8 and Windows Phone really will work perfectly together thanks to a Microsoft Acount, with Pinning you can easily customise your Start screen in ways unimaginable on other platforms.
Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 will be available starting next week! The Nokia Mapping software will be available on all Windows Phone 8 devices.
Samsung will be announcing the Ativ S, thin and light with a massive 4.8 inch display.
HTC will be announcing the Windows Phone 8X and 8S, with Beats Audio, also will be available in the coming weeks.
All Windows Phone will start going on sale this weekend
In the US, Verizon will receive a Samsung Ativ Odyssey in December, as well as the Lumia 822 and a Windows Phone 8X coming thanksgiving. T-Mobile will get the Lumia 810 on November 14th, AT&T will get the 820, 920. All phones in every colour option will be available through Microsoft Store.
Some extra unannounced features were app resume from the Start screen
Build conference attendees got given a Lumia 920, Surface RT with Touch Cover and 100GB SkyDrive storage, nice.
Windows Phone 8 Developer Centre slashed to $8 for 8 days, hurry up and sign up, its $99 after that!
UK retailer Phones4U will get all Windows Phone 8 devices in all colour ranges
An extensive view of Windows Phone 8 is available to watch featuring Joe Belfiore, available below;
EE to sell Lumia 920 on Friday November 9th
Whilst we didn’t see much of what we didn’t know before, I think its fair to say that Windows Phone 8 is going to be incredible an we most certainly can’t wait for it to be in our hands really soon!