Less than a week after unveiling its new Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft has also launched Windows Phone 8, the latest version of the company’s smartphone operating system, calling it “a truly personal phone experience”.
As part of the announcement, Microsoft revealed new features, along with the range of new smartphones from Nokia, Samsung and HTC, each with their own differentiated designs, colours and features. Windows Phone 8 devices will go on sale in November in South Africa. Microsoft South Africa’s Anthony Doherty says live tiles, which allow users to customize the start screen and update automatically, are the heart and soul of Windows Phone.
“With a similar look and feel, the same technology core, and the same built-in SkyDrive cloud service, Windows Phone 8 is built to work seamlessly with Windows 8 PCs, tablets and the Xbox 360 console,” said Doherty.
“For example, now you can edit a document on the go with Windows Phone 8 and pick right up again on your PC when you get home.”
Windows Phone 8 offers a range of new features to make users’ smartphone experience even more personal, including:
- Live Apps, which bring information directly to the start screen, such as weather and news headlines. Live Apps such as Facebook can even deliver real-time information right to the lock screen with updated wallpaper.
- Top apps. The Windows Phone Store has 120 000 apps to choose from, such as Angry Birds Star Wars, Cut the Rope Experiments and Disney’s Where’s My Water.
- Kid’s Corner. Exclusive to Windows Phone 8, Kid’s Corner is a worry-free way to share your phone with your kids, so they can play Angry Birds without texting your angry boss. Parents can now hand over their phones to the kids without worrying about deleted photos, misdirected emails, unapproved purchases or accidental phone calls. After a simple setup, parents can activate a specialized place on the phone for kids to play — complete with their own customisable Start screens — where they can access only the apps, games, music and videos picked by parents.
- Rooms. Sometimes you want to share and chat with one group, not your entire social network. Rooms allow you to create private groups of people who have Windows Phone 8 — like your family members best friends or fantasy football league — and easily connect with just them. Chat, share calendars, shopping lists or photos in an ongoing conversation where only those invited can join in. You can share some aspects of Rooms with friends and family on other smartphones as well.
- Always-on, premium Skype experience. With the new Skype app, coming soon to Windows Phone 8, you can make and receive Skype calls just like a regular phone call. Simply tap a friend or family member’s contact card in the People Hub, or just pick up when the phone rings. Skype is always on and available so you can choose how to connect with people.
Nokia, Samsung and HTC have announced an array of phones for Windows Phone 8, featuring large, vivid screens, new camera innovations, NFC capabilities, and bold colors. Each phone offers unique features and comes in a variety of price points.
- Nokia: The Nokia Lumia 920 offers state-of-the-art photography that fits in your pocket, and it is the world’s only smartphone to include Optical Image Stabilisation. The Nokia Lumia 920 offers wireless charging. The 920 continues the beautiful Lumia design with polycarbonate body, and we cannot wait to get our hands on one. Expect the Lumia 920 in SA by end November 2012.
- HTC: The Windows Phone 8X by HTC was designed with sleek lines and radiant colors to match Windows Phone’s new Live Tiles. This phone also breaks new ground in optics with 1080p video recording, f2.0 aperture and a dedicated HTC ImageChip on the main 8-megapixel camera and an ultrawide-angle lens on the front camera that lets you fit up to four people in the frame for a premium Skype experience. The 8X and its smaller sibling, the 8S, both boast a killer music experience with Beats Audio and exclusive built-in amps that pair perfectly with Xbox Music. If the build quality is anything like the One X phone, we think the 8X will be a great device. According to Mybroadband, the 8X will land on Vodacom 7 November and MTN on 16 November.
- Samsung: The Samsung ATIV S brings the biggest screen to Windows Phone, with a bright 4.8-inch touch screen and large battery for extended battery life. Wrapped in brushed aluminum, the ATIV S balances high-end materials and technology with a hairline design and light weight. The ATIV Odyssey was announced today as the latest Windows Phone from Samsung with more details to come. The design continues the same design language as Samsung’s Galaxy devices. Mybroadband mentions that the Ativ S lands in SA in Q1 2013, despite it being showed off at a recent Samsung event in Johannesburg.