At today's Windows Phone Summit, Microsoft announced a new software update that will be available for existing Windows Phone handsets. Labelled Windows Phone 7.8, the update will feature some of the core elements of Windows Phone 8 that can be supported on the older hardware, including the new Start screen.
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As part of the Windows Phone Summit today, Nokia's Senior Vice President, Kevin Shields, announced a string of additions (Counters, Contact Share, PlayTo, Camera Extras) and updates (Nokia Music 3.0, Nokia Drive 3.0) to the company's exclusive app collection for its Lumia devices. Microsoft also credited Nokia with arranging a deal with games company, Zynga, for bringing Words with Friends and Draw Something to Windows Phone, with a two month exclusivity period for Nokia Lumia devices.
At an event in San Francisco today, Microsoft offered a first look at the key platform features of the next version of Windows Phone. Windows Phone 8 will have a common core with Windows 8, sharing the same kernel, file system, device drivers and security model, closely aligning the two operating systems.
The second update to the AAWP (All About Windows Phone) app, version 1.3, is now available from the Windows Phone Marketplace. The latest update adds a font-size option and support for landscape orientation when viewing stories. It also improves the app's handling of images and offline usage scenarios.
In a press release this morning, Nokia has revealed plans to "sharpen its strategy, improve its operating model and return the company to profitable growth". The company will be cutting up to 10,000 jobs by the end of 2013, closing its famed Salo factory in Finland, making a series of targeted investments around location and product experiences, making changes to improve the competitiveness of its feature phone business and making chnages to its leadership team.
Nokia also updated its financial guidance for Q2 2012, indicating that competitive industry dynamics are negatively affecting its smartphone business to a greater extent than previously expected. As a result non-IFRS Devices & Services operating margin will be below the Q1 2012 level of -3%.
Xbox SmartGlass, which Microsoft announced at E3 this week, is a combination app and service that enables mobile devices (e.g. a Windows Phone device or a Windows 8 tablet) to act as companion "second screens" for Microsoft's Xbox console. In Windows Phone terms Xbox SmartGlass is the next generation of the existing Xbox companion app. The key aim of SmartGlass is to make "entertainment smarter, more interactive and more fun" by providing a more immersive user experience.
An update to Nokia Maps, version 2.0, is now available from the Windows Phone Marketplace. The new version adds support for syncing favourites (saved) places to maps.nokia.com, enables the pinning of routes to the start screen and adds the ability to submit reviews and photos of places directly from the app.
More than 100,000 apps have now been published in the Windows Phone Marketplace and new content is currently being added at the rate of 313 apps per day. At the time of writing, 100,145 apps have been published. Of these, 26,493 were added in the last three months and 9,391 were added in the last month. These apps come from just over 23,825 different publishers.
Microsoft has released Photosynth, an app for creating advanced panoramas, for Windows Phones. Using information from the phone's on board sensors (camera, accelerometer, compass and gyroscope) it can create "sphere" panoramas (i.e. a complete "3D" visualisation of everything around you). The panoramas can be viewed on the phone, shared to social networks (Facebook and Twitter), or uploaded to the Photosynth website.
When Microsoft and Nokia announced their partnership in February of last year, executives made it clear that the partnership would extend beyond smartphones into other business areas, such as location and mapping. The latest fruits of this collaboration are now apparent, with the addition of traffic information and geocoding algorithms, from the Nokia Where Platform, to Microsoft's Bing Maps.