Windows Phone 8: speech, wallet and more games coming
Nokia, Samsung, and HTC will support the new Microsoft operating system which will be released in October
MICROSOFT UNVEILED Windows Phone 8 (WP8) yesterday, confirming the mobile operating system will share core code with its desktop version Windows 8, and will add support for mobile Wallet and Near Field Communications (NFC) when it is released in the autumn.
"The biggest thing today is that Windows Phone 8 has a shared common core with Windows 8," said Windows Phone Manager Joe Belfiore at the Windows Phone Summit in San Francisco. "For us, this is a huge release and a huge year."
Among the new features are:
BRAND NEW START SCREEN
Microsoft's redesigned start screen spans the width of the screen now – earlier versions were narrower. You'll be able to resize each individual live 'tile' from the start screen to one of three sizes. There's also support for new colour themes, which Microsoft didn't reveal yesterday. Today's Windows Phones have room for up to eight live tiles: WP8 will have room for up to 32 live tiles.
YOU CAN SPEAK TO WP8
Microsoft is also offering speech integration - you will be able to launch, control and search through apps with voice commands. The company showed a video depicting the rather odd scenario of a user sending a text message using only spoken words.
WHAT ELSE IS NEW?
There's also support for in-app purchases, and a "wallet" for storing sensitive account information and loyalty cards. Phones also get over-the-air OS updates, instead of tethering to the desktop to update.
ARE MICROSOFT JOINING THE MAP WARS?
Yes. Another announcement, the addition of Nokia's mapping technology, shows how Microsoft is gunning for iOS and Android. The maps will feature turn-by-turn directions and support offline maps. All Windows Phones will come with Internet Explorer 10, which will include anti-phishing technology.
ANY BAD NEWS?
For existing Windows Phone owners, yes. There's no upgrade path from Windows Phone 7.5 handsets to the forthcoming OS. So if you've just bought your Samsung or Lumia phone it's already obsolete.