By Jonathan Charles | Jun 21, 2012 11:16 AM EDT
Microsoft officially unveiled Windows Phone 8 to the world Wednesday, June 20, which represents the next generation of hardware and software for the platform. Before the announcement, Mobile & Apps posted its predictions; from the announcement, here are the features we liked.
Start Screen 2.0
The start screen in Windows Phone 7 looks great, but isn't that functional: tile sizes can't be greatly customized, and if users want to see all of the installed apps then swiping to the right presents a list. That's addressed in Windows 8: Microsoft now allows Windows Phone 8 users to resize the titles in one of three sizes - small, medium or large - which allows many more apps to be on the screen concurrently and allows users to emphasize the most important content.
Regardless of the tile size, live information will be shown. The point of offering three title sizes is to show more detailed information as the tiles get bigger. A large message title will show a preview of the latest message, while a small phone title will show the number of missed calls and voicemails (if there are any). It means power users can put dozens of apps on the screen, while casual users can keep things simple.
Windows Phone 8-Windows 8 Integration
This was mentioned in the June 20 prediction run-down, and Microsoft unveiled the ability for developers to build apps simultaneously for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. That's great because the Windows Phone 8 marketplace will grow as Windows 8 grows - Microsoft announced the former has 100,00 apps - which will probably be pretty rapidly if Metro is adopted, so the app consistency should rival that of iOS. Hopefully Microsoft will introduce some type of universal app indicator like that on iOS, which shows apps that work on the iPhone/iPod and iPad.
Multiple Cores, Resolutions
Another correct prediction becomes a reality in Windows Phone 8: multiple cores, and increased screen resolutions. As a result of the move to the Windows NT Kernel Microsoft does, in theory, support up to 64 kernels in Windows Phone 8. That brings the operating system firmly in line with iOS and Android devices - the Samsung Galaxy S3 uses the quad-core Exynos processor - while Windows Phone 8 supports three resolution types: WVGA, WXGA and 720p. Aspect ratios are 15:9 and 16:9.
Another successful prediction, another unveiling: Microsoft revealed Windows Phone 8 does support expandable storage through microSD cards. SD cards only work with Windows Phone 8 devices, though.
NFC, Virtual Wallet
NFC on Android allows users to pay for items, Passbook for iOS retains credit/store card information in one app. Microsoft is doing both, with partnerships including Chase Bank and Orange France. A "Tap + Send" feature emulates Bump for iOS and Android, allowing users to knock two phones together and share contact information.
Windows Phone 8 has no firm release date, just this fall. It could launch around the same time as Windows 8, and Microsoft Surface. Microsoft said the latter is launching around the time of Windows 8 because Surface uses the operating system. The Windows 8-Windows Phone 8 integration could mean Microsoft's mobile operating system follows a similar route.
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