"Hello, my name is Windows Phone 8"
The biggest day in Windows Phone history kicked off with a bang this morning, with matching big announcements and even big stars. If you missed the chance to see the event's festivities, join us past the jump as we break down all of the news tile by tile.
"Reinvented Around You"
Joe Belfiore was on stage in San Francisco to host the big reveal, and one of the first things he talked about was how Windows Phone sets itself apart from the competition. At one point, he had an entire slide dedicated to showing just how dull the software in Androids and iPhones looked. Then he went over all of the Start Screen's new features which we first saw back in June. The message of the event was to drive home the fact that Windows Phone 8 has become among the most customizable mobile operating systems ever created. Where Android wants to emphasize features, Windows Phone wants to put the focus back on the people in your life.
Belfiore then dove into the infinite discussion about apps, and that the Windows Phone Store is now home to more than 120,000 apps in total with plenty more on the way. Speaking of, this was the moment when Microsoft officially unveiled Live Apps. So what are Live Apps? It is basically a term used to describe apps that provide live information and can integrate throughout various areas of the operating system.
The most impressive implementation of the latter was the all-new Lock Screen, which can in fact be updated with content from these Live Apps. Belfiore demonstrated the all-new Facebook app which can push a collage of photos to your lock screen, as well as a new version of Groupon which shows you the latest deals. Then there's the ability to push Bing's daily photo to your lock screen, and to add custom text where the calendar appointments usually go.
It's not just about the capabilities though, because there are a ton of new apps coming to Windows Phone 8. Facebook is getting revamped, Twitter is going to receive better notifications, the (expected) new native code-ready version of Skype, and more. Oh, and did we mention Pandora is finally arriving on Windows Phone 8? Expect it in early 2013 with a complimentary year of ad-free streaming!
Flood of new Xbox Games
How could Microsoft talk about apps without putting a special emphasis on games? After all, this is the only smartphone platform with Xbox under the hood and today Microsoft pulled out some big guns. Here's a list of some of the games coming to Windows Phone 8 this holiday:
- Temple Run
- Jetpack Joyride
- Angry Birds Star Wars
- Angry Birds Space
- Draw Something
- Words with Friends
- Fairway Solitaire
- Asphalt 7: Heat
- Cut the Rope
- Disney’s Where’s My Water and Where’s My Perry
Microsoft says that by the time these apps and games are released, Windows Phone 8 will have 46 of the 50 most-used apps from other smartphone platforms. Cue applause.
Kid's Corner with Jessica Alba, and more new features
Rounding out the announcements made, Belfiore invited a special guest to talk about the finally-confirmed Kid's Corner feature: Jessica Alba! The celebrity hottie turned full time mommy was recently spotted with a Nokia Lumia 920 in paparazzi photos, and now we know why.
Alba was there to talk about how one of her kids managed to get access to the Twitter app on her phone and tweeted messages out to her 4 million followers. Segueing into Windows Phone, the new Kid's Corner feature creates another instance of the Start screen where parents can control what apps, music, and other content their kids have access to. In other words, no more Alba toddler tweets.
Moving on from that, Belfiore dived deeper into some other new features that have been completely revealed as of today. Data Sense is a deeply connected service that links with your carrier to provide extremely granular specs about your Wi-Fi and Cellular data usage, including which apps are using up the most data on your phone. It can also conserve cellular data as you approach your monthly limit, compressing pages in Internet Explorer 10 to provide up to 45% more web browsing on the same data plan. Data Sense will also keep an eye out for Wi-Fi Hotspots nearby and automatically connect to them to help ease the burden from your cellular plan. Verizon will offer Data Sense on their WP8 phones, and hopefully other carriers will enable the feature as well.
Next up was the oft-rumored Rooms feature which is a new part of the People Hub in which you can share content with members invited into the Room. As leaked before, you can share Notes, Photos, Calendars, and Chats. The feature will be baked into Windows Phone 8, but is also compatible with Windows Phone 7.x devices and even iPhones.
Finally, Xbox Music is coming to Windows Phone 8 in a big way. The app completely purges any mention of Zune while also providing all of the perks with the new service. Xbox Music Pass, Smart DJ, and syncing playlists are all supported in the new Xbox Music app as well as locally-stored music of course. Wondering just how you'll sync that content to your WP8 device? Microsoft has promised syncing clients for Windows 8, Windows 7, and OS X.
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So that's the entire 90-minute event in a nutshell for easy digestion. Once we get the full video from the presentation, we'll update this post with a link.
In the meantime, keep checking back on Windows Phone Daily for all of the news coming out today! There's more to see, so stay tuned!
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