One of the more interesting aspects of the Build 2014 conference for developers was the principle of the unified Windows application. Can this really be a write-once run-everywhere (everywhere that is Microsoft)? Not quite, but it's as close as you can practically get and allows the Windows platform to be promoted as a single entity over all the platform options, which will be of benefit to Windows Phone.
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Today at its Build developer event, Microsoft formally unveiled Windows Phone 8.1, the next generation of its mobile platform. Key highlights include the Cortana personal digital assistant, updated and more personal Start and lock screens, a refreshed notification experience with Action Centre, improved enterprise support, and the advent of Universal Apps that share a common code base between Windows 8 and Windows Phone.
Microsoft today announced the availability of Office Lens, a Windows Phone app that its describes as a "OneNote scanner for your pocket". More prosacially, the provides a way to use your phone's camera to get the content from things like business cards, receipts, whiteboards, and douments into OneNote, Microsoft's note taking and information gathering tool.
In a blink and you'll miss it moment during Microsoft's pre-MWC press conference Joel Belfiore made a brief mention of a number of enterprise features, including VPN and extended MDM support, that will be added to the next version of Windows Phone. The update, which will be delivered in the spring, will be available on a range of new devices and as an update for all existing Windows Phone 8 devices.
Following on from last week's Windows Phone Preview SDK leak, additional details about Windows Phone 8.1, drawn from an examination of the MUI strings (multi-language user interface) found in the filing system of the SDK's emulator, have been posted to Sinclairnat0r.com. Highlights include support for trusted NFC apps, the addition of app data to the built-in backup feature, and support for auto-updating of apps.
Details of some of the new features and changes in Windows Phone 8.1 have been posted to a thread on social news site reddit in what appears to be a NDA-breaking leak from a developer who has early access to the platform SDK. Items of interest include an updated Internet Explorer (based on IE 11), the introduction of VPN support, new storage sense and battery sense features, and many new app and system settings.
Panagraph, a computational photography app that creates David Hockney inspired multi-image mosaics, is now available in select markets (US, AU, NZ) exclusively for the Lumia 1020. The app, which was first mentioned at the Lumia 1020 launch event in New York, uses gestures to manipulate and break up high resolution images for artistic effect.
Microsoft today published the Xbox Video app to the Windows Phone Store, enabling the purchasing and viewing of video content on Windows Phone 8 devices. The arrival of the app completes the initial roll out and relaunch of the Xbox video service and fulfils Microsoft promise to provide a multi-device, cloud-enabled, "three screen" video service.
Nokia Motion Monitor Beta, the latest release from Nokia Beta Labs, allows you to use your Lumia 1520 to track your physical activity, based on steps and motion detected by the sensors built into the phone. The new app, which provides functionality akin to wearable accessories such as Fitbit Ultra and Nike Fuelband, is enabled by new hardware, built into the Snapdragon 800 SoC, that off-loads sensor data processing from the main processor, thus allowing the necessary tracking algorithms to run constantly in the background whilst using very little power.
As part of a relaunch of its streaming music service, Nokia has renamed its Nokia Music app to Nokia MixRadio. The new version of the app also adds a new "Play Me" feature, which offers a personalised mix crafted from your unique music profile. Also new is the capability to share mixes by social network, email, and SMS, and the ability to "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" down tracks, something that helps refine your personal music profile.