Microsoft today formally announced the forthcoming availability on the third major software update for Windows Phone 8 (GDR3). The key features of the update include support for higher resolution displays (1080p), support for more powerful hardware (Snapdragon 800), a new Driving Mode that is triggered where you phone connects to a pre-defined Bluetooth accessory (e.g. car kit), and improved accessibility options (screen reader and associated functions).
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The latest set of Kantar Worldpanel data, released today, shows that Windows Phone's share of smartphone sales continues to grow in Europe, but is stagnant in the US and China. In the three months to the end of August 2013, Windows Phone devices made up 9.2% of smartphone sales by unit volumes in the EU5 (Germany, UK, France, Italy, and Spain), but only 3% in the USA and 2.1% in China.
Adidas and Nokia have teamed up to create a Windows Phone version of Adidas' miCoach app and service exclusively for Nokia Lumia users running Windows Phone 8. Adidas miCoach is a fitness and activity tracking app that aims to help keep you in shape, with personalised training plans and coaching feedback that help you work towards your personal fitness goals. It is also the first fitness app for Windows Phone to include support for a Bluetooth SMART heart rate monitor.
Nokia yesterday published additional material about its proposed transaction with Microsoft that will see the sale of its Devices & Services business and a major patent licensing agreement. The information is intended to give shareholders more information ahead of the proposed 19th November EGM (Extraordinary General Meeting) at which shareholders will be asked to follow the board's recommendation and vote to approve the proposed transaction with Microsoft.
Microsoft and Nokia today announced that they had signed an agreement whereby Nokia will sell its Devices & Services business and license its patents to Microsoft for €5.4 billion. The transaction is expected to close in Q1 2014, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.
The move will be seen as a key part of Microsoft's future devices and service strategy and was, perhaps, inevitable given its reliance on Nokia for Windows Phone devices, especially after rumours about such a transaction were floated earlier this summer. It will shake up both the Windows Phone ecosystem and the mobile industry more generally, drawing clear lines between major technology players, but also leaving questions about the business sustainability of smaller players.
The transaction will close the mobile phone chapter in Nokia's 150 year old history and reshapes a company that remains one of Europe's leading technology brands.
Kantar Worldpanel data, released today, shows that, in the three months to the end of July 2013, Windows Phone devices made up 8.3% of smartphone sales unit volumes in the EU5 (Germany, UK, France, Italy, and Spain), the highest ever level for the platform. Windows Phone also reached a record share of smartphone sales in Mexico (12%), taking second place behind Android, but ahead of BlackBerry and iOS, the first time this has happened in a market of significant size.
The Nokia Pro Camera app, which provides a superior user interface and experience to the standard Windows Phone Camera app, is now available for Lumia 920, 925 and 928 handsets that are running Windows Phone 8 GDR2. This means the app is available for all Nokia Lumia 925 devices and for Lumia 920 and 928 devices that have been updated with the Lumia Amber software update.
Nokia today started the roll out of its Lumia Amber software update. The update, which ships on top of the Windows Phone 8 GDR 2 update, brings a variety of improvements to Nokia's Windows Phone 8 devices, including improved image processing (better camera ouput), the availability of Nokia Smart Camera to all devices and Nokia Pro Camera for select devices, improved lockscreen and display settings features (including the addition of "Glance" and "double tap to wake"), the return of flip to silence functionality, in place update for HERE maps data, support for call and SMS blocking, and more.
App Highlights, which is pre-loaded on most Lumia devices, has served as Nokia's primary app promotion and recommendation channel, and is an important part of the company's app strategy. From today, it will be replaced, on Windows Phone 8 devices, by the App Social service and app. App Social, which was previously available through Nokia Beta Labs under the name App Highlights Social, adds a social and community element to the existing App Highlights concept, including the ability to curate your own list of app recommendations.
Microsoft has released a beta of a new tool, Windows Phone App Studio, that lets you build basic Windows Phone apps in your browser for free. It is envisioned as a way for first time developers to get started with app creation without having to know any code, but may also be useful for more experienced developers as a prototyping tool.