Today Joe Belfiore, the guy from Microsoft we all know when it comes to Windows Phone and keynote announcements, took the stage in San Francisco to reveal a few new features for Windows Phone 8 that we had not heard about before.
He did start off by taking a swipe at Apple and its new iPhone 5 which added an extra row of static icons – they key word being static – and compared it to the personal experience Windows Phone brings to your handset. A lot of attention was paid to this being your phone and the way live tiles bring information to your Start Screen.
He mentioned that the Windows Phone Store was now over 120,000 apps and that 46 of the Top 50 apps across other platforms were either on Windows Phone or coming soon. I imagine that at least one of the four missing apps is Instagram however, I am not sure what the others could be. A couple of other Windows Phone Store stats he gave was the number of languages were doubling to 50 and that the number of countries with access to the WP Store would triple to 191.
During the first video highlight, embedded below, they showed about how personal the phone can be I saw at least one cameo in there and it was Cam Newton of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
Here is a summary of the new features he revealed:
- Live Apps. These new type of apps are all focused on bringing live data to your Windows Phone lock screen. Whether it be photos from Facebook or tweets from Twitter the options are fully customizable. There was a rumor a few days ago that we might be seeing a live image type lock screen, similar to Windows Dream Scene, but there was no mention of this. Maybe it was the live images that you can have there that caused some confusion. Currently the lock screen shows you notifications for messages, email and phone calls but only a static image which you can select. This looks very intriguing and unique.
- Data Sense. This feature will allow you to better control your data usage on your Windows Phone and will use a compression technology that will actually give you 45% more data usage. The feature comes with an extensive dashboard to help you track data usage all the way down to your individual apps. The system is smart enough to sense a WiFi network that you can join and send some of the data via that network to save some of that bandwidth.
- Kid’s Corner. This feature allows you to set up an environment on your phone just for your kids and you control what parts of the Windows Phone they can access including, games, apps, etc. They brought Jessica Alba on stage to help talk about Kid’s Corner which confirms why we saw pictures of her using a Windows Phone in the last couple of months.
- Pandora for Windows Phone App will be available in 2013 and will include one year of service with no ads.
- Windows Phone App Companion for your PC. This app is for those who do not have Windows 8 or want to use the cloud to sync your music and videos. It allows you to sync from Zune, Windows Media Player and iTunes. It is also available for your Mac and Windows 8. The download is free.
- Rooms. This is similar to groups on Windows Phone 7.X and allows you to connect with a specific group of people and it allows private sharing of your location, photos, collects together chats via messaging, etc. Even users of non Windows Phone can get some level of data from the room on their handset.
The keynote was wrapped up by Steve Ballmer who recapped Microsoft’s week with the Windows 8 and Surface launches and now the Windows Phone 8 event. He did mention the hardware and showed off a few handsets. He did share some hardware and carrier info but pretty much things we had already heard with a few dates thrown in for a couple of carriers. No pricing was mentioned for any of them.
Apparently, after the keynote went off the air, all of the attendees were given an HTC 8X Windows Phone to take and start using the Windows Phone 8 features.
Below is a 19 minute video where Joe walks through these features a little more in depth and also mentions a new feature that did not get mentioned during the keynote – the Windows Phone 8 Word Flow Keyboard.
Alas, the keynote wrapped up without nary a mention of updates for those of us still on Windows Phone 7.X and, as you saw earlier today, there are a lot of Windows Phone 7.X users who are not real happy with the Redmond company as this new update comes out.