Thursday, June 28, 2012

Windows Phone 8 Features and preview

 While the market is buzzing with ios 6 features, its features, its criticism, its competition with Android upcoming Android 5.0 Jellybean Os, there comes a silent killer in the form of Microsoft next major upgrade to its Windows Phone OS- Windows Phone- code-named 'Apollo'. With major hardware changes, revamped start-screen, a new wallet hub and an announcement that was always imminent- No Windows 8 upgrade for existing Windows 7.5 users though they would get taste of some of new features through Windows 7.8 upgrade.( This also includes Nokia's Flagship Nokia Lumia 900 users and every other windows Phone based device). Has Windows Phone finally become a worthy opponent ti Android and ios? Will these 'major update' attract consumers preferring the former two OS's? Should you consider buying a Windows Phone based smartphone after a few devices come up with Apollo built-in? Read on as I answer your queries, Provide details about the new features Windows Phone 8 offers and show how exactly consumers would receive it.
So what new features are Offered by Windows Phone 8? The new features offered can be broadly classified into three groups- the first is the hardware based upgrades, the second group includes software based upgrades while the third group includes new app-based features announced that will also come built in with Apollo. Here is a complete run-down of the two-

1) Hardware features: While Windows Phone is a great Os, The limitations that were put by Microsoft on the Hardware requirements forced manufacturers to compromise on many necessary features including a micro-SD card slot (Yes, you read it right). So here's how Microsoft has corrected its mistakes.

a) Micro-SD Card slot can now be provided- The changes made by Microsoft into their Windows Phone platform has made Apollo version of the OS to support a micro-SD card. This solves one of the major hardware related problems of the platform.

b) Windows Phone 8 will support multi-core processors: Windows 7.5 Mango devices run on a single core processor. The Mango OS ran perfectly on those chips but to provide enough power to the features of Windows Phone 8 and to make sure developers don't find it single-core chips a restriction in creating quality apps, Microsoft has given a green signal to the multi-core chips. Also the devices would 'specifically run on Qualcomm chips just as previous windows Phone devices did' as said by Microsoft.

c) Windows Phone devices would say hello to NFC sharing-  As rumors suggested, Windows Phone 8 devices would support NFC sharing. While NFC isn't a completely new concept, Microsoft's efforts to push the technology forward by making its platform capable of supporting NFC chips would ultimately help Windows Phone match the likes of Android and take a step forward towards a future where every Smartphone would be NFC enabled.

d) Better Screen resolution: While Windows 7.5 Mango based devices were confined to sport a 800X480 pixels resolutions, Apollo based devices can easily push the limit. Apollo can support three different resolutions which includes 1280X768 WXGA displays and even 720 p resolution at 1280X720 in 16:9 ratio. Its not retina display exactly, but that's a major upgrade- trust me.

2) Software based upgrades: While hardware features of Apollo just correct Mango's limitations, Software based upgrades provide some real make-over. From a new start-screen to change of the native code- all has been done. Here's a complete list-

a) Sharing of native codes codes between between Windows 8 (The desktop version) and Windows Phone 8: So what will it do and what's exactly a native code? That's what you might be thinking, aren't you? If explained in simple terms, sharing of native codes would make Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 almost similar in terms of capabilities. Metro apps designed for Windows 8 can be made to run on Apollo easily with minor tweaking. This would generally make the job of developer's easy and in turn would result in increase in the number of apps available in Windows marketplace(Another step towards competing with Android and ios)

b) Internet Explorer gets revamped: New windows version comes with a new Internet explorer- IE 10.
The new IE 10 features Smart Screen, an anti-phishing filter that uses data from Windows PCs to block malicious websites in real time

IE 10 also received a new JavaScript update and according to Microsoft it now four times faster than IE 9's JavaScript on Mango. The HTML 5 support has also been doubled. According to to recent SunSpider scores that measures a browser's JavaScript execution performance, IE 10 performed the best.

c) New Start screen: Apollo most visible and attractive end-user feature is surely its new start screen. In order to make Windows phone 8 feel much more personal and customizable, Microsoft has provided the option to now choose between 3 different sizes for the Live Tiles. Users can now select a small, medium or Large size for the tiles on the home screen according to their needs and preference. Now the entire screen is available for Live Tile pinning — the arrow and empty space on the right-hand side have disappeared. To that end, users can pin more on their Start Screen.

3) App based features: Microsoft surely has been working hard to provide its users an array of features and also to make sure that their work is better than Google and Apple. Here's what microsoft has managed so far-

a) Bye-Bye Bing Maps, welcome Nokia Maps: Microsoft has announced that Windows Phone 8 Apollo maps will run on Nokia's mapping technology, built directly into the onboard Maps App.Some key features include: Global NAVTEQ map data, offline map support, turn-by-turn directions, and map control for developers. 3-D navigation didn't make it.

b) Windows Phone 8 for business: Windows Phone 8 will come with a complete security platform with secure boot and encryption (which greatly reassembles Windows Bitlocker). It'll make app distribution and deployment flexible for business, offering up a mechanism for private distribution and full-on onsite management. Businesses will also be able to manage Windows Phone 8 devices through a software management system. Also, Apollo will run on Microsoft Office suite however, how it will work on the mobile platform is still to be seen.

c) Wallet experience: Windows Phone 8 will feature a new wallet hub where users can store their credit and debit card information, third party loyalty and membership cards and coupons and deals. It is quite similar to ios 6's passbook app though the Windows phone app also supports NFC tap-to-pay.

Microsoft revealed that all of user's credit card and debit card information will be stored in a secure Sim Card while Google Wallet is built directly into the device. There is still some time before tap-to-pay comes to USA so, don't be too happy yet.

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