Nokia Maps for Windows Phone 8 has been updated to version 3.1.1. The new version has an improved traffic layer, showing more congestion information, in a clearer manner. In addition the app's public transport routing functionality now offers deeper integration with the Nokia Transport app, allowing easy access to richer public transport information.
Nokia's Cinemagraph camera lens app has been updated to version 2.5. The new version adds the ability to share captured cinemagraphs (animated GIFs) via messaging, email and social networks. Previously, cinemagraphs could only be saved to SkyDrive.
Google has announced the end of life for Google Sync, which was designed to give access to Gmail, Google Calendar and Contacts via Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync protocol. Starting from January 30th 2013, consumers will no longer be able to set up new devices using Google Sync, although existing connections will continue to function. The news will, potentially, effect those setting up a new sync connection to their Google Calendar and Contacts from a Windows Phone device after the specified date.
WPCentral, ZDNet and a number of sources are reporting that some international variants of the HTC 8X are receiving an over the air (OTA) update. The update, which takes around 20 minutes to complete, fixes a rebooting issue that was impacting a limited number of devices, adds support for WiFi connections to be "kept alive" while under the lock screen, adds a reject by text option, enables support for drafts in the Messaging app, and adds a 'select all' option in the Messaging app menu.
At the Le Web conference in Paris, Marko Ahtisaari, Nokia's EVP Design, announced the Nokia Lumia 620, a mid range smartphone running Windows Phone 8. The latest addition to the Lumia line up, which is Nokia's most affordable Windows Phone 8 device to date, has a 3.8 inch WVGA (800 x 480) TFT screen, 8GB of internal memory, microSD card support, a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor running at 1GHz, and a 5 megapixel camera.
The Lumia 620 will cost £155 / €190 / $249 before taxes and subsidies and will ship in January 2013. It will be available first in the Asia Pacific region, followed by the Middle-East, Europe and the Americas, and comes in seven different colour variants.
In response to user demand, Microsoft has released a preview version of Skype for Windows Phone 8. Compared to the Windows Phone 7.5 version, the app is more deeply integrated in to the phone, with hooks into the People hub, notification system, lock screen, and calling experience. Most importantly, it is now "always on" allowing Skype messages and calls to be received, even if the app is not running in the foreground.
The Windows Phone SDK 8.0 is now available for download. It is a full-featured development environment, sitting on top of Visual Studio 2012, which can be used to create apps and games for Windows Phone 7.5 and Window Phone 8.0 devices. In addition the Dev Center has been refreshed, and is now open for Windows Phone 8 app submissions. As an added incentive to encourage developers to submit apps for publication Microsoft is reducing the registration fee for Dev Center to $8, after a $91 rebate, for the next 8 days.
Microsoft today, at an event in San Francisco, announced the formal launch of Windows Phone 8. Detailing a slew of new and updated software and service features, complemented by a strong line-up of hardware from Nokia, HTC, and Samsung, described, by Steve Ballmer, as "killer hardware".
Key features include closer integration with desktop Windows (services, cloud storage, common core), updated People hub (rooms), added parental controls (Kid's Corner), live lock screen with customisable notifications and automatic background images, additional voice command support (dictation in select apps, supported in third party apps) and deep VoIP integration (including Skype).
Microsoft is set to formally launch Windows Phone 8 at a number of launch events around the world, and a live stream of the presentation via the Windows Newsroom. Windows Phone 8 represents Microsoft's latest approach to the smartphone world. Coupled with the recent launch of Windows 8 and Surface, it brings together many parts of the Windows world into a single ecosystem.
Nokia and US operator Verizon today announced the upcoming availability of the Nokia Lumia 822, which will cost $99 with a two year contract, and will be exclusive to Verizon. The Lumia 822 is an operator-specific variant of the recently announced, Windows Phone 8 powered, Nokia Lumia 820.
The Nokia Lumia 822 has support for Verizon's LTE 700 (Band XIII) and CDMA (800 and 1900 MHz) bands, as well as GSM and WCDMA bands (for use when romaing internationally). Verizon announced the Lumia 822 as part of its fall portfolio, and the handset should be in stores shortly.