Windows Phone Summit

Microsoft has finally started to talk about the highly anticipated major update to Windows Phone, codenamed Apollo. With it we get a glimpse into the brand new Windows Phone 8.0, we've had a chance to assess some of the features that are inbound with this update and for the developers out there, it's time to start getting excited about a few of the features we're going to highlight.

  • Native C++ development
  • App-to-app communication APIs
  • NFC & Bluetooth stacks
  • In-app purchasing and the Wallet

Some of the biggest news of course is the shift in the base of the system to the new 'WinPRT' (Windows Phone RunTime), a subset of Windows Phone 8 (WinRT) with a few COM and Win32 APIs available for good measure. That means that a fair amount of code written for WinRT will be directly portable to this new WinPRT based framework.

Read on past the break for our take on exactly how Microsoft has opened up a new world of development possibilities...

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We heard mention of the Audible.com Windows Phone app yesterday at the Windows Phone Summit and today, the Audible.com app launched. The free app taps into Audible's audiobook library of more than 100,000 titles and delivers them to your Windows Phone.

If you haven't signed up for an Audible.com account, the Windows Phone app includes eight excerpts from various authors to let you try things out. There are listening achievements, Facebook and Twitter integration to let you share with friends what you are reading...err..listening to, and the app supports Audible.com, Audible.uk and Audible.de.

Audible for Windows Phone is a free app and you can grab it here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.  We'll take Audible out for a test drive over the next day or two and get a review on the site shortly.

Thanks, everyone, for the tip!

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We've covered a lot of ground today with nearly 7,000 of you joining us for our Live Blog this morning of Microsoft's Windows Phone Summit.

And there's no doubt we're still reeling from all of the new things announced today from Windows Phone 8 to Windows Phone 7.8. We can talk endlessly about it but for now, we'll just leave you with the full -hour presentation for you to enjoy.

So grab your favorite potable and curl up to your computer's LCD display to feast your eyes on the future of Windows Phone.

Source: Channel 9

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Join us for our special Windows Phone Summit podcast as we discuss Windows Phone 8 and Microsoft's new vision for our mobile OS. We answer your questions, cover the main points and clarify some others. 

Join Daniel Rubino, Rafael Rivera and special guest, Paul Thurrott of SuperSite for Windows for an exciting and authoritative discussion on today's announcements.

Full HD video after the break...

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An interesting tweet from Nokia USA is suggesting that the Windows Phone 7.8 update will be rolling out in the coming weeks. Now we've seen Nokia have short turn arounds with past updates (the connectivity issues) but that mainly dealt with in-house issues.

The Windows Phone 7.8 update is a little different in that it is coming from Microsoft and has more cooks in the kitchen so to speak. We also don't know what changes the 7.8 updates will have beyond the Start Screen modifications.

While we like the customization features Windows Phone 7.8 brings to the table, we're going to be a little skeptical on the "coming weeks" time frame.

Who knows, is it too far of a stretch to think the Tango update could become the Windows Phone 7.8 update?  

Update - Looks like Nokia may have got their messages a bit mixed up. They Tweeted to us a clarification on the whole update:

"The update coming to Lumia owners in the coming weeks will bring Wi-Fi sharing and flip-to-silence. Start screen update is TBD."

Thanks, Alexander, for the tip!

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Now that the dust has settled on the Windows Phone Summit and we have a feel for Windows Phone 8 and a definitive answer as to the future of existing Windows Phones, how are you feeling?

There was always an air of uncertainty that existing Windows Phones would be eligible for update to Windows Phone 8. Still we had hoped that these phones would be updateable but with limitations.

While our Nokia Lumias and HTC Titans won't be able to run Windows Phone 8, they will see a Windows Phone 7.8 update. Some may see Windows Phone 7.8 as window dressing by giving Windows Phone 7 the appearance of running the Windows Phone 8. Some may not care for NFC or Windows 8 platform additions but will enjoy the more customizable Start Screen.

But is the Windows Phone 7.8 update a nice touch or not enough?  A bitter pill of sorts.

While some may see today's news as a bitter pill, there is some solace in knowing that Nokia is continuing its support of the Lumia line by releasing new apps and updating current apps. While our existing phones may not be able to make the jump to Windows Phone 8, it's nice to see they aren't being left completely behind. The 7.8 update may not be what everyone wanted to hear but it will add to an already nice Windows Phone system.

So what say you?  Does Windows Phone 7.8 do the trick until you can upgrade to a new Windows Phone or is Microsoft leaving existing devices out in the cold?

 

Are you satisfied with the Windows Phone 7.8 update?
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HTC isn't the only Windows Phone partner throwing their support behind Windows Phone 8. AT&T released a brief statement that leaves no doubt that the wireless carrier will maintain a strong Windows Phone presence in their smartphone lineup. The statement reads,

AT&T plans to carry a new line of Windows Phone 8 smartphones launching later this year. The unmatched leader in Windows Phone –offering the very first 4G LTE Windows Phone smartphones in the U.S. – AT&T is home to the most robust Windows Phone portfolio of any carrier.

AT&T has backed Windows Phones from the start with the Samsung Focus, LG Quantum and HTC Surround.   While this isn't much of a surprise, it is nice to see the wireless provider voicing their continued support for Windows Phones. AT&T currently has five Windows Phone 7 devices in their line up including the Samsung Focus 2, HTC Titan II and Nokia Lumia 900. It will be interesting to see what new devices are in store for AT&T later this year.

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We already knew from todays earlier Microsoft event that HTC would be continuing their support with Windows Phone but a press release direct from HTC has just hit my inbox so I thought I had better share.

Note the way that Peter Chou says 'smartphones' and not 'smartphone'. I presume we will see more than one new device then? Super news.

HTC, a global leader in mobile design and innovation, today pledged its ongoing support of Microsoft by backing the new Windows Phone 8 platform. Building on the two companies’ long mobile partnership dating back to 2000 and including more than 40 million phones sold, HTC will be bringing new Windows Phone 8 smartphones to market later this year.

“HTC is committed to Windows Phone more than ever and we are excited to be bringing new Windows Phone 8-enabled smartphones to customers later this year,” said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC Corporation.  “With the introduction of Windows Phone in 2010, Microsoft initiated a new powerful mobile ecosystem with a consumer experience that was both unique and user friendly.”

“We have seen great momentum for Windows Phone since its launch in 2010, with 100,000 apps now in the Marketplace”, said Terry Myerson, Corporate Vice President of Windows Phone at Microsoft. “HTC is one of our closest partners and we share a common goal in driving people-centric innovation, which makes it easy to work together. We can’t wait to see how HTC brings Windows Phone 8 to its product portfolio”.

 

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Nokia joined Microsoft today at the Windows Phone 8 Summit to announce a handful of new apps and a few updates to existing apps. The new apps and updates are scheduled to hit the Lumia line of Windows Phones next week.

  • PlayTo is a DLNA app that will let you share music, videos, and photos wirelessly with other DLNA compatible devices.
  • Nokia Counter is an app that will let you monitor data and voice usage.

Updates will also be pushed through to Nokia Maps, Drive, Transport and the camera app.  Here's what we know about the updates.

  • Nokia Transport will have the capability to pin a location to your Start Screen for quick reference and when tapped, will pull up all the transportation services within that area.
  • Nokia Drive will add a feature called My Commute that has your Windows Phone monitor your commuting patterns and map out the best route possible.
  • The camera app will get a few new extensions that will give the camera a self-timer, a burst mode, a panorama mode and Smart Group Shot. Smart Group Shot will take several pictures of the same group and select the most suitable facial expressions (avoiding subjects with their eyes closed, mouth open, looking away, etc.)and combine it all into one shot.  You can also choose which facial expression to use as well.

Details on when these new apps and updates will become available was left at "starting next week".  We aren't sure if we'll see all hit at once or a few at a time over the next few weeks.  As details come into better focus, we'll pass it on.

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Gaming news coming out of the Windows Phone Summit is that Zynga's long-anticipated Words With Friends and DrawSomething, by newly-acquired OMGPOP, are finally coming to Windows Phone. The two social games have been loved on iPhone and Android for some time and will make their way to Windows Phone sometime this fall.

There's no exact release date for either, but we're already wasting time at work thinking about it.

Update: See the full Nokia press release after the break

 

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Microsoft today announced the expansion of voice over telephony (VOIP) for Windows Phone 8, enabling the integration of Skype into the phone OS in addition to any other 3rd party VOIP applications.

Come this fall users will be able to have Skype as well as any 3rd party VOIP clients fully integrated into the Windows Phone dialer and contacts, giving a near seamless user experience. Background tasks and notifications will be handled by the OS allowing VOIP apps to manage calls across cellular and data connections. In addition, Bluetooth connectivity will also "just work" with Skype and other VOIP apps.

Developers will appreciate the array of new APIs that allow them to “plug in” to the Windows Phone 8 VOIP system while maintaining application and system stability.

The announcement comes on the heels of the Windows Phone 7 app update and should alleviate current user cmplaints about Skype's limitations on the platform, which we've detailed in the past.

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Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.8

The question of what Microsoft would do for those current Windows Phone users who have generation 1 and generation 1.5 devices like the HTC Titan or the highly popular Nokia Lumia 900 for Windows Phone 8 has finally been answered.

Windows Phone 8’s main features involve new hardware like multi-core processors, NFC and higher resolution displays. Phones like the Lumia 900 cannot take advantage of these new features but Windows Phone 8 also brings additional changes to the Start screen which current users can take advantage of.

In able to ensure that current customers have the best and latest from Microsoft, the company is officially offering Windows Phone 7.8 as an OS upgrade. Windows Phone 7.8 will still be based on the CE kernel and won’t enable advanced Windows Phone 8 features like app and games that use native programming, but it will give current users the new Start screen and appearance of Windows Phone 8.

The new Start screen in Windows Phone 8 has three new elements, including

  • Variable tile sizes, including user customizable selection between small, medium and so-called “double wide” tiles
  • Removal of the “gutter” aka “the gap” known as the off-centered space to the right of the Start screen. The gutter was a carry-over from the Zune days but now Tiles will be evenly distributed on the Start screen
  • New tile colors – yes, while the 10 + 1 model of Accent colors for Windows Phone carried us for nearly two years, Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.8 will offer a wider selection of colors

Although not being able to directly upgrade to the new NT kernel of Windows Phone 8 may be a bit of a letdown for current users, the Windows Phone 7.8 upgrade should offer new Windows Phone users nearly the same experience considering their lack of advanced hardware.

Update: Nokia just announced Play To DLNA support, Counters for data information, Nokia Music 3.0 and Camera Extras for all current Lumia phones

Do you think it’s a fair compromise and are you satisfied? Let us know in comments.

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In the smallest kept secret, this morning in San Francisco, CA Microsoft announced details of the upcoming Windows Phone 8 operating system codenamed “Apollo”.

Accelerating what was started with Windows Phone 7, Microsoft is continuing down the path of “Mango” and building for the next generation of hardware.  As detailed by Joe Belfiore during a keynote speech, Windows Phone 8 is due out “this fall” and will contain many new features both for developers and consumers.

As expected, details on new device resolutions, multi-core CPU support, near-field communications (NFC) and native C++ development were given during the Microsoft sponsored Windows Phone Summit. While the software-development kit (SDK) was not released for developers, one is expected to be delivered by the end of summer where more technical guidance will also be granted.

The big focus for this morning is on the new architecture, the NT kernel, for Windows Phone and what it means for developers, OEMs and IT professionals. With Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 desktop based on the same core, developers can more easily leverage their apps by sharing overlapping code between the two platforms. Such a move should great enhance app development on Windows Phone as desktop developers will have to only engage in minor coding fixes to port their app to the new mobile OS.

Moreover, applications for Windows Phone 7.x will automatically run on Windows Phone 8 with little or no changes to the code of the app.  Apps coded on Windows Phone 8 will conversely run on Windows Phone 7.x as well so long as they don’t use native coding (apps coded with native C++ won’t run on Windows Phone 7.x since they use different APIs).

While plenty was shown off there is still plenty more that will come later this summer when the Developer SDK is released.

Developing...

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We're here at the Marriott Marquis for the Windows Phone Summit where Microsoft is expected to reveal details on Windows Phone 8, including new resolutions, current device upgrades, developer tools and more.

Join Daniel Rubino and Rafael Rivera live as we cover the Keynote speech and any follow up developer sessions.

<a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=b0f6c338c8" href="http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=b0f6c338c8" >Windows Phone Summit</a>

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A sneak peek of what's beyond the escalator for Windows Phone 8

We're here in lovely (and surprisingly chilly) San Francisco for the other big Microsoft event this week--the Windows Phone Summit

During this one-day event, Microsoft are expected to show off bits of Windows Phone 8 aka Apollo. The big question though is what are they going to talk about specifically and what do we already know? We'll give your our thoughts and expectations below. Some of this we've been revealing over the last few weeks and hopefully you were clever enough to catch it.

  • Upgrades - Will Microsoft finally answer the question regarding legacy devices getting the new OS? Yes, they will. You should know our position on the matter, we detailed it back in April when we talked about a two-pronged approach. We're still standing by that position.
  • Resolutions - We told you there were four a few weeks ago but now we're confident that one of those were dropped. In short, besides the 480x800 display resolutions you'll also see the addition of 768x1280 and 720x1280.
  • A new UI? - Will the new Windows Phone 8 look like Windows Phone 7? For the most part we're betting on yes, it will look the same. There are some changes but if you were expecting it to look like Windows 8 desktop, we'd say calm your expectations.
  • Native development - Yup, expect some news in this regard for Windows Phone 8. We've heard from game developers that this optional path for app development will be discussed
  • Skype and VOIP - Microsoft are expected to talk about how Skype (and 3rd party VOIP apps) can be more deeply integrated into the OS
  • Nokia Mapping - Microsoft and Nokia have teamed up and not just for phones but back-end services. Their relationship goes deep with mapping in Windows Phone.
  • Windows 8 kernel - What makes Windows Phone 8 such a big deal is the expected switch from Windows CE to NT (and Win 8 PRT) for its core. This will have huge ramifications for app developers and as a technology philosophy for Microsoft. 

There is a whole list of other changes we're also expecting in Windows Phone 8 from Data Sense to NFC to all the enterprise tools (BitLocker) to removal SD card support. Windows Phone 8 should rival Windows Phone "Mango" in terms of new features both for consumers and developers.  

Whether or not Microsoft talks about all of that tomorrow remains to be seen. Our hunch tells us that since there's so much to reveal, Microsoft will show only some of Windows Phone 8 during the summit. That makes sense if you're trying to control the message and trying to ensure that the finer details are all absorbed.

The view from the Marriott Marquis last night

Regardless, you can tune in the official Microsoft live-stream of the event tomorrow. But you'll also want to keep a browser Tab open on Windows Phone Central too as Rafael Rivera and myself will be on hand here all day making sense of all the news as it comes out.

That means yes, we'll have a live WPCentral Podcast sometime tomorrow afternoon, numerous technical articles from myself, Rafael and Jay Bennett, some interviews and as much media as we can upload.

It all starts at 9:30am PDT/12:30pm EST and you'll definitely want to catch all of it right here on WPCentral.

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