Microsoft presented some information about the Windows Phone 8 operating system a while ago, the company’s newest mobile operating system.
Some of the new features are using a common platform with the Windows 8 OS, improving multitasking, personalizing Live Tiles from the Start screen or support for dual-core processors and HD resolutions.
These improvements also come with small updates or software additions that can transform the Windows Phone 8 into an important rival for Android 4.0 and iOS 6.
These are the main new features included in Windows Phone 8
Customizing the Start Screen
Microsoft continues to bet on the appreciated “boxes” named “Live Tiles”, which makes it different than iOS and Android, however on WP8 it introduces a better customization of the Start screen.
Live Tiles can be re-sized by the user to occupy a quarter, half or the entire width of the screen, and the user can use more background colors and themes. Furthermore, the Start screen now occupies the entire width of the display.
Support for Dual Core Processors
One of the main disadvantages of the Windows Phone 7.5 OS was the lack of support for multi-core processors, so smartphones had a relatively modest hardware platform compared to top smartphones based on Android or iOS.
However, things are about to change: Windows Phone 8 finally brings support for Qualcomm dual core processors, a feature that should allow manufacturers such as Nokia to finally release a smartphone with top notch technical specifications.
In the future there will also be support for quad core processors, however at the moment Microsoft provided no additional information.
Multiple Resolution Support – Including HD
One of the reasons why iOS enjoys some of the best applications is the existence of a single resolution for iPHone: 960 x 640 pixels. Android developers, for example, have to deal with multiple reasons, which makes it harder for them to create kick-ass applications, applications without problems and bugs.
Microsoft decided to take the middle route with the new Windows Phone 8 and it will offer support for three different resolutions.
Besides the 800 x 480 pixels resolution on WP7.5, consumers will be able to purchase smartphones with WXGA resolutions ( 1280 x 768 pixels, 15:9 aspect ratio ) or 720p ( 1280 x 720 pixels, 16:9 aspect ratio ), the last one being ideal to watch HD videos.
Windows 8 Integration
Microsoft’s decision of going on two separate operating systems for smartphones and tablets when Apple and Google only bet on a single platform appeared to be wrong.
However, things turned out to be fine: Windows Phone 8 benefits from the same platform as Windows 8, and Microsoft revealed some of the advantages for the gaming industry: a game developed for Windows 8 can be easily ported on Windows Phone 8 and the other way around, thus offering the possibility to game developers to create quality games in a shorter time and for a wider range of consumers.
Another reason why Windows Phone 7.5 failed to make good impressions was the inferior multitasking compared to Android and iOS. Microsoft however improved this aspect and Windows Phone 8 includes two major additions.
Firstly, mobile apps through data services, like Skype or Viber, are integrated in the calling feature and they can permanently run in the background, this offering a similar experience as on the Android.
Secondly, the turn-by-turn navigation application detects your position and offers orientation tips even when it runs on the background.
Audible, A service Similar to Siri
Voice commands get more importance nowadays, and Microsoft could not miss the opportunity of implementing such a feature.
The application is named Audible and it allows you to issue multiple voice commands to open audio files or to search on the Internet. The main innovation is that developers will be able to include such voice commands in their own apps, which does not happen on iOS.
Just like Siri, the functionality of such a feature is limited in other languages, but it remains to be seen how efficient Audible will be for the English language.
Besides the features described above, Windows Phone 8 includes multiple improvements, many of them being available on rival mobile platforms.
Predictably, Windows Phone 8 will use Nokia Maps which include turn-by-turn navigation and can also be used offline. Furthermore, developers can create applications to use Nokia Maps also offline, which is something that will significantly reduce data traffic.
Also, Windows Phone 8 offers complete support for NFC technology, which allows you to transfer files between two smartphones very fast through the Tap-Send feature.
One of the main NFC applications will be Wallet, a rival for Google Wallet and Passbook ( iOS 6 ) which will allow you to make payments with your mobile phone and to store information such as discount coupons.
Windows Phone 8 will come with Internet Explorer 10, which provides better speed compared to the default Windows Phone 7.5 web browser and an anti-phishing filter which automatically detects malware websites.
And not least, Windows Phone 8 includes support for microSD cards ( useful feature if the internal memory of your phone is not so generous ) but also BitLocker encryption which is useful for those who are using a smartphone for business purposes.
Four big phones manufacturers will create Windows Phone 8 smartphones: Nokia, Samsung, HTC and Huawei. The most notable absence is LG, however the company recently announced that they are going to stop using the Windows Phone platform because of it’s lack of success.
Current Windows Phone 7.5 users do not get the Windows Phone 8 Update
The rumors that have been circling the internet for a while were confirmed officially: users who own Windows Phone 7 smartphones are not going to get the Windows Phone 8 OS.
The news is unpleasant for current Windows Phone 7.5 OS, which will have to make do with an update named Windows Phone 7.8 which will include only some of the features introduced on Windows Phone 8.
Until now, for Windows phone 7.8, Microsoft only confirmed the presence of the new Start screen.
The main effect of this decision is fragmenting the Windows Phone operating system and losing some of the advantages it had compared to Android.
The side effect will be the accelerated loss of interest for Windows Phone 7.5 smartphones, and Nokia will be the most affected company.
This means that in the near future we are going to see huge discounts on phones like Nokia Lumia 800, Nokia Lumia 710 or Nokia Lumia 610, especially after the first Windows Phone 8 smartphone appear on the market.
Windows Phone 8 is finally the mobile operating system which, at least at first glance, seems capable of competing with Android and iOS.
And this happens not only because of the support for multi-core processors and HD resolutions but also thanks to improved multitasking and developers support to create better applications and games.
And if apps developers will promptly answer Microsoft’s call and will develop quality applications, it’s likely that Microsoft Phone 8 will engage in the battle for the most popular mobile operating system title.