Those of you reading the blog this week will notice that many of the big hitters in the tech world are announcing stuff. First we had Apple at WWDC, then Microsoft with a launch of a tablet and in the coming weeks Google will be showing what it has planned for the future of Android. Today though we are heading back to the world of Microsoft for a look at the new Windows 8 phone. Now I’m not going to go over everything that was announced because we could be here all day.
It appears as though Microsoft has learnt a lot from Apple, because not only have they learnt about tablets but they have also learnt that having one development platform is key to your survival. Windows 8 phone and Windows 8 desktop will share the software base, now what does this mean? Well basically it means that you will have a greater choice of hardware available to you and that applications you purchase will be available across multiple platforms. Imagine buying an application on your phone and then being able to use it on your tablet and your desktop. This can only help improve the consistency of the users experience.
They also announced hardware spec improvements, now if you’re reading this you may already be aware, but for those of you not in the know I’ll give you brief overview of Microsoft’s conditions for making a Windows phone. As it currently stands Microsoft set the hardware specifications for every device that gets sold, this makes work a bit easier for them and insures a consistant user experience. This is more akin to Apple than it is to the ”everything goes” aspirations of Google. While this a good idea, the spec has not been updated for a very long time and was starting to lag behind even the lowest end phones. So today Microsoft announced some necessary changes to the spec; they’ve added support for multicore, micro SD, multiple screen resolution and NFC support. These may not be ground breaking and have been around for a while on competitors phones but they are surely needed for windows phone to stay relevant.
All these companies seem to be hedging their bets on maps these days, first Google then Apple, then today Microsoft made a big deal of maps. Firstly Bing maps are being taken out of Windows phone (for now) and being replaced by Nokia maps. I think they have choosen to do this to leverage Nokias’ already exsisting map data that they have been hoarding for years in the hopes that this is comparable to Apple and Googles’. I’ve used it, I think it’s a solid alternative and found its walking directions to be pretty top notch. Naturally it will include the now standard offline mode, turn by turn directions and NAVTEQ map data. I think this is step one in the merging of Bing and Nokia maps because it makes no sense for both companies to explore separate mapping strategies. Merging them will mean that Bing, Nokia and Facebooks’ data will all be available and because these companies don’t directly compete, there should be no conflict of interests.
They also launched an Apple passbook and Google wallet competitor. This will be a payment service very similar to Barclays’ NFC payment service. I like this idea because I already use my phone as my bus and train ticket so why not my banking aswell. They have added a pin function though so payment will require you to input the pin prior to purchase, something I think this technology needs if it is to convince none tech people to adopt this technology. Naturally this will contain offers and these offers will also be available in Nokia maps with all the other business information about that particular business. As well as containing all your payment information this will also include all your loyality cards as well. This gets me quite excited because im a loyality card fanatic and I have a lot of them, this is probably because I’m cheap but you know.
Windows phone 8 now supports in app purchasing just like its rivals. It also claims to have 100,000 apps available including some of those big hitters like Draw Something and everything from Zynga. They also announced that Internet Explorer 10 would be coming to Windows phone further blurring the line between desktop and phone. Again just catching up to its rivals but they will also be available in 50 languages and more than 180 countries. For those keeping count that’s 25 more than Apple. They also announced that they would be getting rid of that piece of crap known as Zune software, something I thought they should have done a long time ago because it made no sense for a company to have 2 programs that do the same thing.
They announced that all Windows phone 7 applications would be backwards compatible but unfortunately they would be updating current phones to Windows phone 8. They will however get Windows 7.8 which will bring many of the front facing changes to the user, just not the under the hood variety. This is such a shame but I think it’s a nesscessity for Microsoft to move forward. These devices don’t support the new hardware spec so they won’t really get anything out of the OS other than a performance hit and Microsoft has made Windows phone 7 quite fluid and dynamic so far. I really like the look of this and I think a Windows phone may be my next phone, this, like the tablet, will be available at the launch of Windows 8.
They also made a big deal about businesses and because I’m not really interested in that here’s a link: