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).
All About Windows Phone is pleased to announce a new channel through which we can deliver the Windows Phone news you need to know. You may recall that we released an official Windows Phone application earlier this year (plus two subsequent updates). To accompany this, we can now officially unveil our Windows 8 and Windows RT application. It is already available in the Windows Store, and is free of charge – just like out Windows Phone app. Furthermore, this application has been written by the same developer who created our Windows Phone application, Geoff Webber-Cross.
More than 125,000 apps have now been published in the Windows Phone Marketplace and new content is currently being added at the rate of 215 apps per day. At the time of writing, 126,530 apps have been published, of which 113,170 are available for download (live). Of these, 15,822 were added in the last three months and 5,673 were added in the last month. These apps come from just over 30,000 different publishers.
Nokia Xpress for Lumia has been brought into the Windows Phone world via Beta Labs and 'offers a new way to save data, time and money while you find and enjoy interesting web content'. In other words, it's a proxy-server-based browsing system that compresses web content in much the same way as the famous Opera Mini - though there are some very interesting layout and subscription twists here, which we break down for you below.
Nokia Reading, an eBook and news reading app, has received a major update to version 188.8.131.528. The key new feature is News Stream, which provides a friendly and visually rich user experience for consuming RSS (news) feeds from newspapers, blogs, and other websites. In addition, DRM-free eBooks (PDF and ePUB formats) can now be imported from SkyDrive, complementing the built in eBook store.
An update to Nokia Maps, version 2.5, is now available from the Nokia collection in Windows Phone Marketplace. The new version improves the ability to plan and edit routes, adds support for Groupon offers integration (currently US only), and, in select areas, will show live traffic data on the map.
The Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh update is now widely available for the Nokia Lumia 800 and Lumia 710. The software update includes both the generic "Tango" platform updates (MMS updates, SIM contacts) and a number of Nokia specific updates (Internet tethering, flip to silent). In most cases a three stage update process will be required, which takes around an hour to complete.
Nokia has published the third major release of its car satellite navigation app, Nokia Drive, to the Windows Phone Marketplace. The headline update is the new "My Commute" feature, which learns about your driving preferences and helps you make decisions about which routes to take. Other updates include automatic day/night mode, support for favourite places, and the ability to pin destinations to the Start Screen.
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.
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.