Today Microsoft announced its latest version of Windows Phone, just days after the official release of the brand new Windows 8 desktop operating system. Offering up quite a nice set of new features, Windows Phone has never looked better. The problem is, we’re still not sure if it’s enough to get the attention Microsoft wants in an iOS and Android world.
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the new features on Windows Phone 8
Live Apps allow your lockscreen to display information such as Facebook photos, Groupon deals, news headlines, flight information, and more without needing to unlock the handset. This is one of our favorite new features for Windows Phone 8.
Top Apps Microsoft also announced that it’s reached 120,000 applications in its app portal, and it’s growing very fast. While it’s a nice number to reach, Windows Phone significantly pales in comparison to Android’s 650,000 applications and iOS’ 700,000. Still, of the 50 tops applications available across operating systems, Windows Phone currently have 46 of the 50, and will soon offer Pandora, which will come with a full year of ad-free music.
Kid’s Corner sounds convenient, and it is, but it still might not be completely necessary. Either way, if you’re a parent, you’ll likely find the new feature useful. Kid’s Corner essentially locks down most of the handset, and offers up a set of pre-defined applications and games for your child. This will alleviate potential texts, emails, tweets, and whatnot from being sent while your kid is using the phone.
Rooms will let Window Phone users to chat and share things like shopping lists and calendars to those you invited into your room. While Rooms is designed for Windows Phones, some features will be offered to other smartphones in the future.
Data Sense is designed to let you manage your data to its fullest extent. Not only will Data Sense compress web page images for you, and a lot more to make sure that you’re always in know when it comes to your data consumption. Like other solutions we’ve seen in competing operating systems, you’ll also be able to see how much data is being used by each individual application as well. Unfortunately, Data Sense will only be available for Verizon out of the gate, with more carriers to follow in 2013.
Always-on Skype – We’re certainly not surprised that Microsoft pushed the Skype Experience on Windows Phone 8. The fully integrated app always runs in the background but has been optimized to ensure that it won’t dampen your battery life. You man make or take a call using Skype as you would your regular phone application, making its ease of use almost unrivaled.
While it’s hard to call Windows Phone 8 unimpressive, we’re still questioning if it’s enough to take on the likes of iOS and Android. Windows Phone touts how it’s OS is about “you”. Maybe it should ask HTC how that worked out for them, even if one of the best devices running Windows Phone is a HTC device.
The launched of Microsoft’s new desktop OS will soon make users more familiar with Live Tiles, which in reality are slightly dumbed down widgets. It may be Windows 8 itself that helps Windows Phone take off, even if it has received a questionable response. Nonetheless, Windows Phone is a refreshing take on what a smartphone should be, and while it may take a while to get the marketshare it wants, Microsoft is definitely not backing down from the space.
Microsoft also mentioned that during the holiday season you won’t be able to turn on your television, open a magazine, or do much else without seeing a Windows Phone ad. So, get ready for that. The holiday season is going to be an interesting war between Apple and it’s newly updated line of products and Google with its new Nexus line.
It’s a great year to be in the market for a smartphone. Is Windows Phone on your list?
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