Only days after the official launch of Windows 8, the Redmond-based company held a media breakfast in San Francisco unveiling the many new features of their latest offering, The Windows Phone 8 Apollo. It will be going head to head with major competitors’ devices such as Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android. And Microsoft in return has pinned many hopes on the latest device trying to produce an OS that will rise to the high standard of others on the market.
The key theme of today’s event was centered on the new Start screen as well as the device’s Xbox live and Microsoft Office integration. There will now be 3 different touch tile sizes to choose from and they will be much more interactive.
At the event today Greg Sullivan, a Senior Product Manager for the company said: “We’ve improved the notion of using touch tiles pretty dramatically,” ”The apps that light up are much more dynamic and have much more information that’s relevant to the user.”He continues to speak on the personalization abilities of the device’s interface saying“You can really customize and make the phone a reflection of what you care about in ways that aren’t possible on the other platforms.”
This seems to be another main feature Microsoft is promoting heavily at the moment, the ability to customize your device to be a reflection of your likes, habits, and needs. Something that neither Apple nor Android Smartphones can achieve.
So what can we expect to see from the newest addition to the Microsoft family? Here’s a brief overview:
Windows Phone 8 Apollo Interface
Obviously we need to begin with the Start Screen. They have expanded the design to fit the entire width and said goodbye to the arrow which once encouraged users to swipe for access to more apps. This provides much more space which you can full with your favorite Tiles after customizing them to the size and color you want. The Live Tiles can be re-sized also and provide real-time dynamic information on anything from the weather and sports scores to your latest tweet. This makes notifications much easier to find as you can view the notification on the Live tile it correspond to.
On The Inside
The performance has improved, dramatically. The Windows Phone 8 Apollo is faster and smoother than its predecessor and it seems as though Microsoft have spent some serious man hours fixing up those annoying little glitches providing users with a solid platform. Another bonus is Microsoft will provide software updates directly to users rather than waiting for the networks to push them out.
People Hub Rooms
Windows answer to social media integration. Rooms allow you to connect with your friends and family in your own private space and you can use them to chat, arrange events, and share photos. It comes with a ‘Family Room’ pre-installed, but you can create whatever kind of room you like. They also include support for iPhone and Windows Phone 7 users meaning you won’t need to wait for your friends and family to get a Windows Phone 8 to connect.
At long last, a company thinking outside the smartphone box and giving parental controls to mums and dads across the nation. If you have ever handed over your phone to your child to get some peace you will understand the need for this. Windows Phone 8 Apollo allows you to keep your lock screen locked but provides a separate ‘corner’ for your kids to get into. You decide what’s in the corner and customize it any way you see fit, meaning there will be no accidental phone calls or purchases. By far one of my favorite new features, because it keeps all your data, tucked away safely while others explore your phone.
You will be able to stream and purchase music through any of your Windows devices regardless of where the purchase was made. Xbox upgrade also includes SmartGlass which gives you control of your Xbox 360 through media control, navigation, content searches, and the store all through your phone.
This is an important feature that will not only monitor your data usage in each app but also inform you if you’re getting close to your limit. Even better, it will compress the websites you visit to save data and search for WiFi to save you $$. Microsoft boasts it can cut your data usage just from web browsing by as much as 45%.
The new Windows Phone 8 Apollo will start hitting retailers within the next few weeks in the US with companies such as Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Best Buy confirming this. We have our fingers crossed that the Windows Phone 8 will carve out a place in the smartphone marketplace for the company.